WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 20

Erik BeastonJanuary 21, 2023

WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 20

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    How frustrated will Roman Reigns be Friday night after signing the contract for Royal Rumble?
    How frustrated will Roman Reigns be Friday night after signing the contract for Royal Rumble?Credit: WWE.com

    Kevin Owens will challenge Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at Royal Rumble, but Friday night on SmackDown, champion and challenger put pen to paper in an explosive contract signing.

    The promo segment headlined a broadcast that also featured the first contest of the SmackDown Tag Team Championship Tournament, pitting Drew McIntyre and Sheamus against The Viking Raiders.

    Who emerged from that match victorious, and what went down when Owens and Reigns came face-to-face?

    Find out now with this recap of the January 20 broadcast.

Match Card

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    • Contract signing for Royal Rumble between Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens
    • SmackDown Tag Team Title Tournament: Drew McIntyre and Sheamus vs. The Viking Raiders

SmackDown Tag Team Title Tournament: Drew McIntyre and Sheamus vs. The Viking Raiders

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Two weeks after The Viking Raiders attacked Sheamus and Drew McIntyre in a moment captured exclusively for WWE.com, the teams battled in the opening match of the SmackDown Tag Team Championship Tournament.

    It was every bit the heavy-hitting bout expected, with both teams clubbing their way to sustained advantages at different points in the match. The babyface Banger Bros would have to fight from underneath on more than one occasion, but McIntyre and Sheamus did and, ultimately, worked together to score the win over the very game Erik and Ivar.

    There is a real argument to be made that this should have been the final of the tournament. Erik and Ivar are still relatively fresh in their reboot, and beating them here so decisively without any build for the tandem feels like the wrong move.

    Of course, if not them, who?

    Legado del Fantasma could use a signature win or two before battling the Banger Bros. Ditto for Giovanni Vinci and Ludwig Kaiser of Imperium. Even Hit Row, fresh off a heel turn on Ricochet, can hardly afford a loss.

    Considering McIntyre and Sheamus are former WWE champions and top stars on the blue brand, it is difficult to imagine any of the other teams in the tournament knocking them off, so the argument may be for nought.

    At least The Viking Raiders had the chance to steal the show from the opening match spot, reminding fans, officials and analysts of their skills and doing so against top-tier talent.


    Result

    Sheamus and McIntyre defeated The Viking Raiders


    Grade

    B+


    Top Moments

    • Michael Cole sent WWE's condolences to the family of Jay Briscoe, who passed away unexpectedly Tuesday. The Viking Raiders, Ring of Honor alumni, sported "Dem Boys" armbands in memory of their friend.
    • The pace quickened with the hot tag to McIntyre and his ensuing Michinoku Driver to Ivar for two.
    • Ivar countered a Claymore Kick from McIntyre with a spin kick.
    • McIntyre leveled Erik with a Claymore, setting Ivar up for the Brogue Kick from Sheamus for the finish.
    • Backstage, Roman Reigns got testy with Sami Zayn, questioning why he is worried about running his plans past the Honorary Uce when pressed by Zayn about the events of last week's show.

LA Knight in Action

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    Credit: WWE.com

    LA Knight squared off with Greg Jones in one-on-one action next, and before the bell, the egotistical NXT export cut a promo promising to beat Bray Wyatt at Royal Rumble in their first-ever Mountain Dew Pitch Black match.

    Despite mind games from Wyatt, Knight dispatched of Jones in short order before the familiar tune of the Firefly Funhouse theme filled the arena.

    WWE @WWE

    "Now that I think about it, you should be scared of the dark." 😉<br><br>An unexpected return of Firefly Fun House... and it's just as unsettling as we remember it being. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BrayWyatt?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BrayWyatt</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/RealLAKnight?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RealLAKnight</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://t.co/qVsqRUc9Ok">pic.twitter.com/qVsqRUc9Ok</a>

    Wyatt appeared, and high jinks involving his puppets ensued before Uncle Howdy interrupted with a video, reminding The Eater of Worlds that all he needed was a little push.

    The only person who really knows where the Wyatt story is headed is the man himself, but it certainly appears to be progressing after a month or so of stagnancy back in 2022. The reintroduction of the Funhouse gang raises the question: how long until we see The Fiend?

    Or, perhaps, was that character deemed such a failure that the Royal Rumble will bring with it a new incarnation for Wyatt?

    Whatever the case may be, it definitely sounded like Alexa Bliss laughing along to the jokes told by the Funhouse puppets, another nod to her ongoing downward spiral into madness.


    Result

    Knight defeated Jones


    Grade

    B


    Top Moments

    • "I will off your on-switch!" Knight warned Wyatt ahead of their Pitch Black Match at Royal Rumble.
    • Wyatt welcomed fans back to the Firefly Funhouse, where Ramblin' Rabbit admitted Knight was cool, only to be told to "shut the f--k up" by Sister Abigail in an amusing bit.
    • "I told ya so. All you needed was a little push," Uncle Howdy said via an interrupting video.

SmackDown Tag Team Title Tournament: Los Lotharios vs. Hit Row

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The second of the night's SmackDown Tag Team Tournament matches featured Hit Row's Ashante Thee Adonis and Top Dolla squaring off with Los Lotharios' Humberto and Angel.

    Oddly enough, the Latin lovers played the role of babyfaces as WWE Creative continued the heel turn of the opposition.

    B-Fab interfered, Ashante scored the rollup on Angel, and Top Dolla prevented Humberto from making the save as Hit Row advanced to a showdown with Sheamus and McIntyre on next week's show.

    It was too short to be very good, and the fans struggled to get into it, mostly because they did not know who to cheer. Los Lotharios have been heels for so long and have not been featured consistently enough for fans to get behind, making this one less successful than it could have been.

    Hit Row has the presence and charisma, but booking them against heels, in their first appearance as heels, is hardly the way to get them over right out of the gate.


    Result

    Hit Row defeated Los Lotharios


    Grade

    C


    Top Moments

    • Cole made a crack about Top Dolla staying grounded, a reference to his botched dive a few weeks back, and the big man brought the match out to the commentary table. He berated the announcer before continuing his attack on his opponent. It was a nice reminder that he is not willing to be the butt of the joke anymore. 

Charlotte Flair In-Ring Promo

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    Credit: WWE.com

    A video package recapped the physical altercation that occurred in the backstage area between SmackDown Women's champion Charlotte Flair and Sonya Deville a week ago as The Queen entered the arena for an in-ring promo.

    Flair called out Deville, who wasted little time obliging her. They went back and forth over who is more entitled than the other before Deville nearly managed to sucker The Queen into a championship match, only for Adam Pearce to interrupt.

    A cheap shot from the heel to the champ ended the segment without accomplishing a single thing.

    This was a total throwaway segment that served as a disappointing follow-up to last week's refreshingly intense backstage brawl. My guess? A Royal Rumble title match between the rivals, with no real drama of a potential title change to speak of.


    Grade

    C-


    Top Moments

    • "Let me guess; you don't think I'm worthy, do you?" Deville questioned Flair after reiterating her desire for a rematch for the blue brand title.
    • "Every single time I walk through that curtain, I'm a star. And every single time I open my mouth and speak, you shut yours and listen!" Deville spit facts. 
    • "Are you saying the other women in the back aren't stars?" Flair asked Deville. 
    • Flair suggested Deville focus on the Rumble instead of trying to jump everyone in line.
    • Backstage, Paul Heyman waxed poetically to Reigns, suggesting that it is better to have Zayn on the side of The Bloodline than against it, especially as a showdown with his friend, Kevin Owens, draws near. 

SmackDown Tag Team Title Tournament: The Brawling Brutes vs. Imperium

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The SmackDown Tag Team Championship Tournament continued with familiar foes battling for the right to advance to the semifinals as The Brawling Brutes' Butch and Ridge Holland squared off with Imperium's Giovanni Vinci and Ludwig Kaiser.

    Holland and Butch had the heels reeling late in the match, surging after being on the defensive throughout the commercial break. The heels, though, rallied late, with Vinci laying out Butch before joining Kaiser for an Imperium Bomb for the win.

    At this point, it should surprise absolutely no one that these two teams are capable of a banger of a match every time they oppose each other. They have worked together a ton, both on TV and at live events, and their chemistry is undeniable.

    It does feel somewhat like Butch and Holland have taken a backseat of late, especially with Sheamus partnering with McIntyre, and their loss here did nothing to negate that observation.

    Considering the number of heels teams in this tournament, it would have made sense for them to pick up the win and, at the least, tease a showdown with The Celtic Warrior in the final.

    At the same time, Imperium is a high-profile heel act on Friday nights, and building momentum for them is hardly a bad thing. Vinci and Kaiser face the winners of Legado del Fantasma and Maximum Male Models.


    Result

    Imperium defeated The Brawling Brutes


    Grade

    B+


    Top Moments

    • "Ridge the Fridge, England's answer to William Perry," Wade Barrett said, namedropping a member of the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. 
    • Vinci drove Holland into the ring steps, momentarily taking him out of the equation. He followed up moments later with a springboard moonsault to Butch.
    • Vinci delivered a brainbuster on the floor to Butch, setting Holland up for the finish.

SmackDown Tag Team Title Tournament: Legado del Fantasma vs. Maximum Male Models

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    Credit: WWE.com

    ma.çé and mån.sôör returned to SmackDown, accompanied by Maxxine Dupri, as they battled Legado del Fantasma's Cruz del Toro and Joaquin Wilde in the final tournament match of the week.

    The match gave the model wannabes an opportunity to showcase their abilities after being off of television for a bit, but this was all about Legado del Fantasma. Del Toro and Wilde showed up and showed out, winning a fairly easy match and cashing their ticket to next week and a showdown with Imperium.

    Again, the tournament is heel heavy, but Legado del Fantasma is talented enough and has the ability to pull off the crowd-pleasing high-flying offense to win the WWE Universe over against Kaiser and Vinci.

    If it is given enough time, that has the potential to be a gem of a match.

    Kudos to Zelina Vega, who continues to make the most of every second of television time and should be doing more than she is right now.


    Result

    Legado del Fantasma defeated Maximum Male Models


    Grade

    C


    Top Moments

    • Prior to the match, Karrion Kross cut a promo on Rey Mysterio in which he revealed the two of them will compete against each other next week.
    • Zelina Vega joined the commentary team and revealed that both she and Escobar will enter their respective Royal Rumble matches next Saturday night.
    • Cole made reference to Maximum Male Models' search for ma.çé, as seen in their social media postings, proving the voice of WWE is paying attention. 
    • Backstage, Reigns admitted fault, saying he understands Zayn's desire for clear-cut communication. He told Zayn to have everything fueled up and ready to go before finally giving him the long-awaited fist bump, for which the crowd popped.

Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns Sign the Contract for Their Royal Rumble Showdown

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Roman Reigns made his normal, godlike entrance into the arena ahead of the contract signing for his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship defense against Kevin Owens at Royal Rumble.

    Instead of the same, repetitive and predictable segment that we have seen a thousand times before, Owens attacked from out of nowhere, dropping Solo Sikoa before delivering a Stunner to The Tribal Chief. He put him through a table, signed the contract and stared down Zayn as he hit the ring to make the save.

    The Prizefighter made his way through the crowd, standing tall among the fans to close out the show.

    This was great.

    Owens has such a connection with the audience that stuff like this, smart and true to the performer himself, almost always hits. He brings intensity in situations like these and helps to elevate them.

    From an overarching story perspective, Reigns made the mistake of sending Zayn away with the Usos, meaning he endured the beating before they could rush back to the arena to make the save. How likely is he to take the blame after another instance of Owens getting one over on him and, when he inevitably does not, what happens when he takes his frustration out on Zayn?

    We have seen Sami take the brunt of his Tribal Chief's anger and mounting paranoia. Are we drawing nearer to the moment that he stands up for himself and undergoes the most organic babyface turn in years?

    All signs would seemingly point to yes, and when it happens, it will be glorious.


    Grade

    A+


    Top Moments

    • Heyman cowering in the corner at the threat of Owens was more of the same excellent work from the wise man.
    • The image of Owens standing among the fans, staring down at the Bloodline from the stands, was apropos. He is forever over with the WWE faithful because he is the antithesis of the prototypical Superstar. 
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