WWE SmackDown Results: Biggest Winners, Losers and Moments from January 10
The SmackDown brand continued to prove why it is the best, most enjoyable WWE-produced show on television this week with another exemplary episode that bred numerous winners and losers.
Former NXT standouts continued to find success in key roles. One in particular benefited from working alongside the greatest Superstar of this generation.
Then there was the former world champion whose recent losses awakened a beast within, leading to a recent heel turn and brutal beatdown Tuesday night.
The less lucky included two former rivals whose new stories may be intriguing but whose execution was less than stellar.
Who are these Superstars?
Take a look with this recap of the Jan. 10 edition of SmackDown.
Winner: Baron Corbin
The Lone Wolf wrestled a main event match Tuesday night against John Cena that may not have gone his way from a win-loss perspective but, more than any of his performances to date, proved to the WWE Universe that he is a main event competitor in the making.
Corbin was fast, crisp and aggressive as he battled the franchise Superstar of WWE. He looked every bit the 15-time champion's peer rather than an inexperienced NXT starlet hoping to make an impact in the marquee match.
Much will be made of the fact that he lost the match—and cleanly—thus "halting his momentum." In reality, he went toe-to-toe with the man most consider the measuring stick in WWE and performed spectacularly. He did not win, but perhaps more importantly, he convinced fans he belongs.
Now, when the time comes for him to appear more frequently in the main event scene, Corbin will be subjected to fewer buffer feuds with Kalisto. Instead, he will leap right to the top of the card, with the rub he got from working Cena in a TV main event fueling his run.
Carmella was done a great disservice Tuesday night when she was booked in a squash victory over CJ Lunde.
Lunde, known to fans of independent wrestling as ThunderKitty, is a throwback of sorts. She moves and wrestles in a style more associated with Mildred Burke than Becky Lynch. Her style does not necessarily appeal to the masses, nor is it necessarily easy to work with.
Carmella has never been what one would call the best in-ring performer, nor is she experienced enough to alter her style to match that of her opponent. What she is, though, is a charismatic worker. Unfortunately, Tuesday's match and opponent did not play to her strengths, and the result was a sloppy match that failed to inspire confidence or excitement from fans.
In the midst of a storyline in which she engaged James Ellsworth in a relationship that screams "manipulation" rather than love, she needs to be spotlighted. Perhaps booking her against a worker with a modern style against whom she can look dominant rather than foolish would be the best way to go about maximizing her potential.
Winners: Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss
The Jan. 17 episode of SmackDown will see Becky Lynch battle Alexa Bliss for the women's title inside a steel cage, as Daniel Bryan announced during a brief backstage vignette involving the champion and her top contender.
Both Lynch and Bliss hit the right notes during their confrontation—their characters on full display for the fans to see. Lynch, the babyface, and Bliss, the heel, made logical arguments as they went back and forth.
Yet it was Bryan's announcement that made them both winners.
Lynch and Bliss come from similar backgrounds in NXT. No matter how talented they proved to be during their time with the brand, someone was always pushed further and harder than them. They were both drafted to SmackDown, a show widely considered WWE's "B" show, but rose to the top of the women's division.
Now, they are in the midst of a feud every bit as good as Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair's over on Raw—just without the benefit of high-profile pay-per-view matches.
Next week's match is yet another example of the faith WWE Creative has in them to go out and perform up to the expectations that such a gimmick bout carries.
Loser: Nikki Bella
Nikki Bella showed great intensity and aggression as she hit the ring and rained down on Natalya with furious rage, pounding away at her head and face with rights and lefts and then tossing her around the squared circle.
While that is a great way to portray the growing disdain Bella has for her former friend, it is a crappy way to convince fans that the knee she supposedly injured right before that in a backstage attack is actually hurt.
Not once during the brawl between the female Superstars did Bella remember to actually sell the knee that became a focal point of the segment moments later.
It was not until The Queen of Harts delivered a sickening chop block and applied the Sharpshooter that Bella finally remembered, "Oh yeah, my knee is supposed to hurt."
As improved as Bella is, the little things—like consistently selling an injury—are what keep her from joining Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Bayley as elite in-ring performers.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler snapped Tuesday night, and it was glorious.
The Showoff was upset by Kalisto in singles competition. One week after blasting the masked Superstar with a superkick, he grabbed a chair and worked him over, smacking the steel off the spine of the former United States champion.
He followed up with another chair-assisted beating to Apollo Crews, wearing him down and leaving him lying at his feet.
The aggressive, nasty, violent Ziggler was a revelation. After three years of the generic Showoff persona, a change of character was much-needed. A veteran of the mat game at a crossroads, unable to buy a win for the last two months, he has allowed his frustration to get the best of him.
This development makes for an infinitely more interesting storyline than anything he has been handed to this point on SmackDown, including the outstanding feud with The Miz.
Whether this earns him a higher profile on the show or keeps him snuggled peacefully in the midcard, renewed motivation to prove he is the best—be it as a heel or babyface—should result in a much more interesting Ziggler for fans to enjoy.