The New Day kicks off the festivities announcing that there will be a Fatal 5 Way to determine who will face Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble for the WWE Championship. Mustafa Ali, AJ Styles, Rey Mysterio, and Randy Orton. The fifth competitor will be decided in just a moment as Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe do battle for the final spot.
Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe: Pretty basic stuff. Hardy hits a Swanton but Joe rolls to the outside making sure Hardy could not execute a pin. On the outside, Joe puts Jeff in a Coquina Clutch. Jeff makes it back into the ring at the count of nine. As soon as Jeff got back in the ring Joe slaps the Clutch on again. The referee calls for the bell when Jeff is unresponsive and Joe wins the match. Joe will be included in tonight’s Fatal 5 Way to determine the new number one contender for the WWE Championship.
AJ Styles enters the McMahon’s office but he isn’t here to apologize for clocking Vince last week. Tonight Styles plans to show them the REAL AJ Styles.
Rusev and Lana are in the ring to celebrate Rusev defeating Shinsuke Nakamura. The new champion cuts an odd promo and while Rusev is leading a “Rusev Day USA” chant he is attacked from behind by Shinsuke Nakamura. Lana tried coming to the aide of her husband, jumping on the back of Nakamura. Rusev hits Nakamura with a Machka Kick with Lana still on Nakamura’s back. While Rusev is checking on his wife he is kicked by Nakamura then hit with a Kinsasha for good measure.
Naomi vs. Sonya Deville: We were under the impression that Mandy Rose would be the one facing Naomi but after removing her shirt to remove an Usos shirt underneath, Naomi is jumped from behind by Sonya and the bell rings. As Naomi has things well in hand Mandy gets on the mic to inform Naomi she took a provocative photo for Naomi’s husband while she was getting dressed. Mandy shows the picture on the big screen sending Naomi into a rage. Naomi takes her eye off the ball allowing Sonya to hit her with a Shoten Kai for the win.
John Cena returns telling us about his year in which he spent most of it outside of the WWE. Cena senses someone is going to come out and lay down a challenge to Cena so he’s not going to waste time. What Cena didn’t expect was THE MAN Becky Lynch coming down to the ring who is here to tell Cena that she is the one on top of the mountain. Lynch and Cena are interrupted Zelina Vega and Andrade “Cien” Almas. Vega and Almas say that Almas is the future and Cena is a thing of the past. Cena has no issue with teaming with Lynch to face Almas and Vega in a Tag Match and so it shall be.
John Cena & Becky Lynch vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega: I really enjoyed this match. Cena really let Andrade shine, working as the underdog and getting the hot tag to Becky which everyone wanted to see. Vega was great on the outside, taking shots at Cena with the referee’s back turned. Cena hit Almas with an AA then a Lightning Fist sending Almas to the outside. Throughout the match, Becky and Cena were sort of doing a oneupmanship which concluded with Becky tossing Cena to the outside after he hit the Fist. Lynch slaps on the DisarmHer and Vega taps. Cena satisfied with the win goes to shake the hand of his partner but Lynch just gives him the “You Can’t See Me” and struts out.
Charlotte, Carmella, and Becky Lynch all want a shot at Asuka and the SD Women’s Championship, Triple H says he’ll take all of their claims under advisement.
Rey Mysterio vs. Mustafa Ali vs. Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton: Styles is definitely showing a different side of aggression taking out anything that moves. That is until he is taken out by Joe with a Uranage through the commentary table. Mysterio and Ali had a wonderful exchange. Mysterio looks like the Mysterio of old with each outing. Ali held his own against everyone, I hope he is a big player in 2019. Ali gets hit with an RKO but the pin attempt is broken up by Mysterio who connects with a 619 on Orton. Before Mysterio can hit the West Coast Pop Joe blocks him. Styles comes out of absolutely nowhere with a Springboard 450 on Orton to get the three count. Daniel Bryan will be defending the WWE Championship at this year’s Royal Rumble against AJ Styles.
For the first show of 2019, SmackDown was really good. Every match had a purpose and left the door open for logical stories to be told down the road.
What did you think of SmackDown Live tonight? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.