By: Keila Cash
Location: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philly Fatigue: Is It Super Bowl Sunday Yet?
Graphic Arts Overload: The night when the WWE Production Team had too much fun using graphics from Final Cut Pro X.
· SmackDown Live kicked off with the winner of the 2018 men’s Royal Rumble describing how he kneed Sami Zayn, John Cena, and Roman Reigns in the face to punch his ticket to WrestleMania. Shinsuke Nakamura noted that AJ Styles would suffer a similar fate at Mania with the WWE Championship on the line.
· Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn came out to burst Nakamura’s bubble because they were screwed out of the WWE Title thanks to an incompetent referee and Shane McMahon’s endless thirst for revenge. Owens and Zayn were entitled to a rematch which would derail the Styles vs. Nakamura dream match at WM.
· KO and Zayn were about to double team Nakamura when Styles came to the rescue. Styles and Nakamura wanted a match against Owens and Zayn. The dastardly duo declined only for Styles and Nakamura to knock them off the ring apron as the opening segment came to an end.
· In breaking news, Daniel Bryan made the tag team match official for later tonight while booking a blockbuster main event for next week. Owens and Zayn will face off in a number one contender’s match with the winner moving on to face Styles for the WWE Title at Fastlane in March. To say that the besties were not pleased with this news would be an understatement.
· The opening segment was nothing special, but Sami Zayn continues to be the saving grace with his over-the-top antics.
· Rusev made Kofi Kingston tap out to the Accolade and will face Bobby Roode for the United States Championship next week. The Fatal Four Way match featuring Jinder Mahal, Zack Ryder, Rusev, and Kofi Kingston was solid. The ending was strong as the bout broke down into a parade of finishes with Ryder dropping Mahal with the Rough Ryder and Rusev nailing Ryder with the Machka Kick.
· Kingston tried to hit Rusev with Trouble in Paradise, but Rusev ducked out of the way. Kingston went for the SOS, but the Bulgarian Brute countered with the Accolade for the win.
· This was Rusev’s biggest win in months which means only one thing…There will be many more Rusev Days to come!
· The Usos cut a hell of promo touting their superiority over the tag team division. Jimmy and Jey were dripping with confidence and passion as they had me hooked from start to finish. They’ve grown so much as performers because they are being themselves which makes them stand out from the pack.
· In a sign of things to come, The Bludgeon Brothers came out at the end of The Usos’ motivational speech to destroy a random tag team in 90 seconds with the double chokeslam.
· Harper and Rowan & The Usos had a great feud a few years ago that set the tag team division on fire. If WWE plans to revisit this rivalry, I am all for it because both teams bring out the best in each other.
· Charlotte avoided disaster when Carmella failed to cash in the Money in the Bank contract after she accidentally dropkicked the referee out of the ring.
· The Riott Squad soften Charlotte by beating her ass in the ring. Ruby Riott had a decent script for a change and delivered her lines well, but her cadence was forced. It was too Villainess of the Week for my taste, but I digress.
· Carmella tried to get the ref’s attention, but he was down for the count. Charlotte got to her feet and was ready to fight which caused Carmella to call off the cash in. This was a nice tease because the Princess of Staten Island has five more months to hold the briefcase before her automatic title shot becomes null and void.
· Baron Corbin defeated Tye Dillinger with End of Days in a decent match. The crowd heat was virtually nonexistent for the most which made the bout a drag to watch from home.
· The cracks are starting to show when it comes to the renewed friendship of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. This reunion was automatically set to implode from the moment Zayn saved Owens at Hell in a Cell. Once a backstabber, always a backstabber… Et Tu, Owens?
· Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable defeated Breezango when Benjamin pinned Tyler Breeze with the Powerbomb/Diving Clothesline combination. The match was fine, but it was rough in spots as Gable and Fandango botched a couple moves midway through the match. The crowd couldn’t give two shits about either team as they started up a lukewarm Eagles chant. The Super Bowl can’t come soon enough…
· AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Kevin Owens
& Sami Zayn when Nakamura nailed Owens with the Kinshasa for the win. Zayn and Owens bickered throughout the match, but cooler heads prevailed when Zayn broke up a pin count on his best friend’s behalf.
· However, the truce was short-lived when Styles shoved Owens into Zayn which knocked the latter off the ring apron and onto the floor. Zayn told Owens to kick rocks as he headed backstage. Owens put up a good fight, but it wasn’t enough to eke out the win.
· Renee Young interviewed Zayn backstage as he voiced his frustration for only being known as Kevin Owens’ best friend. KO has experienced the thrill of victory while Zayn has been lingering in his shadow for far too long. He vowed to beat Owens next week and defeat AJ Styles at Fastlane to become the new WWE Champion as SD Live came to an end with Styles and Nakamura posing in the ring.
· This was an interesting way to end the show. The tension between Owens and Zayn has come out of left field despite the fact that their renewed friendship was set to detonate at any time. It feels rushed, but I have a feeling that the creative team is swerving the audience. Perhaps Zayn and Owens will fight to the proverbial death in order to main event WrestleMania. Something tells me that both men have a plan up their sleeves that will come to fruition next week. If not, here comes Chapter 75 of the Owens-Zayn feud.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was middling at best. The Philly crowd was emotionally spent after WWE held four shows in the same building over the past four days. The four for four deal is a great marketing ploy, but it will drain the audience by day three unless it’s WrestleMania weekend.
· SD Live felt like an extended episode of Raw during the second hour because the in-ring action was lackluster until the main event.
· Elsewhere, Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon got along this week which fanned the flames when it comes to both men jockeying for power. It’s been an on and off storyline over the past couple of weeks. Did WWE realize that it’s wrong to give fans false hope when it comes to Bryan being cleared to compete in the event McMahon turns heel or vice versa? If so, the creative team pumping the brakes makes sense. If not, they are playing a dangerous game that could blow up in their face. We still have a couple of months of television to see how it all plays out, but the situation looks dicey at the moment.
· Next week’s show should be better as SD Live emanates from the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Owens vs. Zayn should be great if both men are given enough time to shine. I still smell a couple of rats plotting behind the scenes, but we shall see how it all plays out. It should be an interesting night, to say the least.
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!