The first WWE SmackDown of 2018 took place at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL on January 2nd.
The following recap was written by Eric Lynch for Rajah.com
Before the show, a spot runs on the USA Network featuring shots of fans in the Amway Center and Tom Phillips promotes an AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn match later tonight.
The first SmackDown of 2018 opens up with a video package looking at the history between Kevin Owens and AJ Styles, with Owens defeating AJ last week in a non-Title match.
Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton are on commentary tonight.
AJ Styles comes out to the ring first to kick off the show. AJ says he knows everyone else in the company’s new year’s resolution is the to win the Royal Rumble, but he is to leave WrestleMania with the WWE Title belt still around his waist. AJ questions Daniel Bryan’s decision last week, seemingly in favor of Owens and Sami Zayn, and invites Bryan out to explain. Bryan comes down to the ring, but before he can start, Shane McMahon comes out to the ring too. Shane apologizes to AJ for last week, and he questions if Bryan is in cahoots with Owens and Zayn. Shane says he’ll be at ringside for tonight’s main event, and Bryan says we may as well have Owens at ringside too. Bryan also says he may as well be at ringside too. Shane says it looks like they’re starting off 2018 with a bang. They shake hands and leave.
The announcers show us the brackets for the WWE U.S. Title Tournament, which will finish at the Royal Rumble PPV.
The Usos (c) vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin: The Usos’ Tag Team Titles are on the line in this one. Shelton and Jimmy start off. Gable tags in early but gets knocked off the apron. Jimmy goes up top, but Shelton runs up and takes Jimmy down with a suplex. Gable comes in and follows up with a shot from the top for a two count as Jey breaks the pin. The two teams go back and forth until Shelton and Jimmy get the hot tags. This leads to Shelton and Gable hitting the double team off the top for a three count after a short match.
Winners & new Tag Team Champions: Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin
As Gable and Benjamin and celebrating on the ramp with the Tag Title belts, referees are reviewing the replay of the match at The Usos’ request. The ref determines that Jey Uso was the one pinned for three, while Jimmy Uso was the legal man. The ref decides to reverse his decision and restart the match.
The Usos vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin: The referee calls Gable and Benjamin back to the ring and takes back the Title belts. This one is back on. The Usos knock Gable and Benjamin to he outside and beat them down around ringside. Back in the ring, Jey works over Shelton and hits a Samoan Drop. Jey goes to follow up with the running butt bump in the corner, but Gable pulls Shelton to safety. Gable distracts Jey and Shelton rolls him up for a two count. Shelton and Gable go for the double team off the top, but Jimmy makes the save. He superkicks Gable and then they double-superkick Shelton. Uso hits the big splash on Shelton for the win.
Winners & still Tag Team Champions: The Usos
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are backstage for an interview with Renee. They talk about Owens, McMahon, and Bryan all being at ringside for tonight’s Styles vs. Zayn main event. Owens says tonight’s outcome will be similar to last week: Last week Owens beat AJ, and this week Zayn will beat AJ.
Breezango’s rematch with The Bludgeon Brothers is up next.
We see a video package looking at RAW’s 25-year history, and promoting the 25th-anniversary show on January 22nd.
Breezango vs. The Bludgeon Brothers: The Brothers attack before the bell and destroy Fandango and Breeze as the ref tries to get them to stop. The Ascension runs in for the save. Konnor and Viktor jump up on the ring apron, but get knocked right off by the Brothers. They take Viktor in the ring and double team him while Konnor lays on the floor. Rowan and Harper look at the bodies scattered around ringside and their music hits. They leave without the match ever having officially started.
Winner: No contest
The New Day is backstage. Kofi and Big E present some “2018” pancakes to Xavier to ring in the new year. English and Rusev interrupt and talk some trash before Rusev blows out the candles. Rusev and English walk off.
We see a pre-taped promo from Mojo Rawley, talking about how he will defeat his former partner Zack Ryder in the U.S. Title tournament next week.
Aiden English vs. Xavier Woods: Rusev sings this time instead of English, and does a quick song about how English will be the new U.S. Champ until the New Day interrupts with their entrance. English takes control early on until Woods dodges a shot and sends him flying outside. Rusev has a brief stare-down with Kofi and Big E at ringside. Woods misses an Honor Roll and hits the floor hard. English takes Woods back in the ring for a two count, as we see Jinder Mahal and The Singh Brothers backstage watching on a monitor. English beats down Woods in the ring until Woods comes back with some strikes and a rack. Woods follows up with a backbreaker for a two count. They trade pin attempts until English plants Woods with a powerbomb. English takes Woods up top, but Woods reverses and backdrops English down to the mat. Woods goes up top and taunts Rusev, then hits the flying elbow on English for the win. Woods advances in the U.S. Title tournament.
Winner: Xavier Woods
Kofi and Big E celebrate with Xavier after the match, and they look at the U.S. Title belt on display at ringside.
Carmella, Tamina, Lana, and Natalya are backstage for an interview. They’re all going to be in the Royal Rumble, and they cut promos on the Riott Squad ahead of tonight’s six-woman match.
NBA Hall of Famer and former WCW star Karl Malone is shown in attendance at ringside.
The Riott Squad vs. Natalya, Tamina, & Carmella: Liv and Natalya start off and trade holds until Natalya hits the discus clothesline for a two count. Natalya goes for a Sharpshooter but Liv escapes and rolls outside. Ruby and Logan check on her at ringside as Liv takes a breather. Logan and Carmella tag in and Logan takes control. Logan knocks Natalya off the apron, but Carmella is able to tag in Tamina who comes in and cleans house. Ruby runs in but Tamina superkicks her down. Tamina hits a Samoan drop on Logan next. Tamina goes up top, but Liv pushes her off while Ruby distracts the ref. Logan hits a running knee to the head on Tamina for the three count.
Winners: The Riott Squad
After the match, The Riott Squad stands tall in the ring and Ruby cuts a promo. She bashes the Orlando fans and bets they “believe in Magic.” She says The Riott Squad is a strong dose of reality for everyone. Ruby announces that the three of them will all be in the women’s Royal Rumble match. SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte comes out to the stage to interrupt. Charlotte says she believes in magic and dreams, but also has a dose of reality for Ruby – actions have consequences. Charlotte introduces Naomi, and then introduces Becky Lynch. They charge the ring and brawl with The Riott Squad at ringside. Charlotte brings Logan in the ring and hits a big boot on her that sends Logan back outside. Naomi takes out Liv, then Becky takes Ruby in the ring for a Bexploder. Becky hits one Liv next. Charlotte, Becky, and Naomi stare down The Riott Squad as they retreat back up the ramp.
Baron Corbin cuts a pre-taped promo for the Royal Rumble. He says he can’t wait to compete in the Rumble match, where it’s 30 people and “anything goes.” Corbin feels confident he’ll go on to main event WrestleMania 34.
Daniel Bryan comes out to the ring and greets fans along the way. Shane McMahon is out next, and our main event is up next.
AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn: This one is a non-title match. Kevin Owens is also at ringside, along with Bryan and McMahon. Styles takes down Zayn early on, but Zayn fires back with some right hands and kicks. AJ hit some chops to the chest, but Sami shuts him down with a back body drop. AJ comes back with a dropkick that stuns Zayn and sends him rolling outside for a breather. Owens checks on him, but AJ and Shane chase him off. Bryan gets between Shane and Owens. AJ throws Sami back in the ring but is distracted by Owens for another moment. On his way back in the ring, AJ eats a boot to the face from Zayn. Zayn turns it around now and continues beating on The Champ That Runs The Camp. AJ fights back with elbows, kicks, and a lariat that drops Zayn. AJ follows up with a forearm shot to the grounded Zayn. AJ hits a splash in the corner, then a pumphandle gutbuster for a two count. Zayn hits some elbows on AJ then drops his throat across the top rope. Sami goes up top, but AJ knocks his leg out from under him. AJ lifts Sami off the top rope in a fireman’s carry and drops him into a neckbreaker for a two count. AJ looks for the Styles Clash, but Sami blocks it. Sami escapes and hits a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Zayn waits for AJ to get up then goes for a big boot, but AJ ducks and locks Sami in the Calf Crusher. Zayn reaches the bottom rope to break the hold. AJ and Sami trade strikes in the middle of the ring until AJ stuns him with a Pele kick. AJ hits an elbow to the face, then he attempts the Phenomenal Forearm, but Zayn ducks. The ref dives outside to avoid behind hit by Styles, and Owens distracts the ref. AJ rolls up Zayn in the ring, but the ref is distracted by Owens. The ref gets back in and counts two. Shane shoves Owens, then yells at the ref and the ref ejects Kevin from ringside. Bryan gets on the mic and tells Shane if Owens is leaving, then Shane should leave with him. After the distraction, Zayn hits a running big boot to AJ and rolls him up for the three count.
Winner: Sami Zayn
Sami and Kevin celebrate on the ramp as Shane looks disturbed at ringside. AJ gets on the mic and says Sami and Kevin can’t do anything on their own. AJ says he doesn’t know whose side Bryan is on, and tells he and Shane to stop bickering like children. AJ says he’s the WWE Champion and he wants to fight without someone else getting involved. AJ says why not make it a handicap match since they keep running in. Daniel Bryan takes him seriously and books AJ vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn in a handicap match at Royal Rumble. Bryan gets on the announce table and does the “yes” chant, as Shane and AJ look on in disappointment.
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