KO stood tall over the Tribal Chief (Photo: WWE)
Last night’s show opened up with the Tribal Chief and Paul Heyman making their way to the ring as the Universal Champion addressed Adam Pearce and KO.
Roman insisted the duo only got one over on him last week because he doesn’t get the mentality of ‘card subject to change’, as he claimed his back hurts from carrying the whole damn company.
Pearce – who has really shone as an authority figure during the pandemic era – interrupted and insisted things are getting out of control, but Reigns felt disrespected.
In the end, Heyman ripped into Adam and challenged the NWA Hall of Famer and five-time world champion to come out of retirement for a match, which he accepted.
We were told that the champ had left the building, with Owens and Jey Uso nowhere to be seen.
Eventually, it as time for the main event, but Heyman slipped twice and feigned a leg injury before challenging Pearce from last week and naming a replacement.
Roman hit the ring, and cracked Pearce with a Superman Punch before needing a low blow to stop a comeback in its tracks.
Card subject to change… (Photo: WWE)
However, KO appeared and saved the WWE official as he laid into Reigns, battling the Universal Champ near the ThunderDome screens and then back into the ring.
A Stunner had the desired effect as officials pulled the two Rumble opponents apart, but a second Stunner led to Owens hitting the Pop-up Powerbomb to send Roman crashing through the announce table.
These two should have an absolute barnstormer of a Last Man Standing Match at the Royal Rumble on January 31.
Best of the rest: Cirque du Sommelier Reginald shines against Sasha Banks
Before we get into the rest of the show, let’s give a nod to Sami Zayn for being his usual brilliant self as he handcuffed himself to the barrier as a sit-in protest for much of the show.
Anyway, back to in-ring action as the opening match saw the Women’s Tag Team Champions Charlotte Flair and Asuka defeated the Riott Squad in a damn fine opening match.
Of course, Billie Kay accidentally cost Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan the match, but the duo still looked strong.
Cesaro wasn’t going to face Bryan again (Photo: WWE)
Daniel Bryan cut a promo on the excitement – and literal buzz – of the Royal Rumble and its countdown before he was interrupted by Cesaro rubbing in last week’s win.
The Swiss Cyborg didn’t want to repeat past glories, instead issuing an open challenge which tag team champ Dolph Ziggler accepted.
The two didn’t get a particularly long time, but they more than delivered and put on a fantastic match with Bryan on commentary, and Cesaro won to keep building momentum.
SmackDown also saw Carmella’s sommelier Reginald make his in-ring debut against Sasha Banks in a very fun match.
Yes, there were some slightly awkward moments, but this was an absolute blast to watch as the Legit Boss picked up the win by Reginald showed off his Cirque du Soleil experience with some brilliant acrobatics.
Elsewhere, Big E and Apollo Crews battled over the former’s IC Title, before Sami Zayn uncuffed himself and hit both of them with Helluva Kicks to stand tall.
We also saw Bayley and Bianca Belair in an obstacle course challenge, with the former getting a time of 1:12 despite cheating by running around walls instead of climbing over them.
The EST of WWE faced a more difficult course, with hurdles raised and Otis swapped in for Chad Gable for the fireman’s carry segment – but she still won by 17 seconds.
However, Bayley attacked after the bell and threw her into a basketball hoop as the segment descended as expected.
Finally, Dominik Mysterio looked to avenge his father Rey against King Corbin and put on a decent but unremarkable showing as the latter picked up the win with The End of Days.
WWE SmackDown results and grades (22/01)
- Charlotte Flair and Asuka defeated The Riott Squad (B)
- Cesaro pinned Dolph Ziggler (A-)
- Sasha Banks made Reginald tap out (B-)
- IC Title: Apollo Crews beat Big E (c) via DQ (B-)
- King Corbin pinned Dominik Mysterio (C)
- Adam Pearce vs. Paul Heyman descended into Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns brawl (A for the whole segment)