WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 29
Four huge victories at Royal Rumble 2019 changed the face of SmackDown Live to start The Road to WrestleMania off right.
The biggest was certainly Becky Lynch's win in the women's Royal Rumble, last eliminating Charlotte Flair to earn a title shot that she announced she wanted against Ronda Rousey on Monday Night Raw. This set up fascinating fallout for the blue brand's women's division.
Most notably, Asuka, who defeated The Man at the Rumble, was left without a challenger for WrestleMania. The Queen was certain to be looking for a championship opportunity after getting so close, but many others were also in the running.
This controversial victory and Seth Rollins' announcement he would challenge The Beast Incarnate at 'Mania left everyone scrambling for a shot at The Beard. The Phenomenal One still had a claim, while others like Rey Mysterio, Andrade, Randy Orton, Samoa Joe and Mustafa Ali would be looking for that shot.
Finally, Shane McMahon came up big in his first tag team match with The Miz. The two outshined The Bar and captured the SmackDown Tag Team Championships, ushering in a new era in the tag team division.
All these victories set up a combative and exciting January 29 edition of SmackDown Live with so many WrestleMania opportunities hanging in the balance.
Charlotte Flair Ruins Becky Lynch's Moment
Becky Lynch opened the show to talk up why she chose Ronda Rousey as her opponent for WrestleMania, cutting an inspired promo about all the hard work she has done to get to this point.
Charlotte interrupted to taunt The Irish Lass Kicker, who responded by sucker-punching The Queen. The two got into a brawl outside the ring with officials having to separate them.
As a result of the fight, Lynch was shown leaving the show early after refusing medical attention, clearly badly limping.
Monday night, Lynch was excellent working off Ronda Rousey; Tuesday, she was back to working perfectly off Charlotte. With a crowd that was hot for her every word, this was the perfect stage for The Man to stake her claim as the top star in WWE.
The only concern here is WWE will insert The Queen into Rousey vs. Lynch. While it would still be a great 'Mania match, it would not be the same as the two women finally getting their chance to fight.
Charlotte would be better off challenging Asuka in a rematch from last year.
United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs. R-Truth
R-Truth stated that he earned this title shot against Shinsuke Nakamura, as Nia Jax had ripped away his guaranteed No. 30 spot in the Royal Rumble match.
This was a smart way to follow up cheating the veteran out of his guaranteed reward for winning the Mixed Match Challenge.
While Nakamura looked the better wrestler for much of this match, he was not quite ready for Truth. In a bizarre apparent mistake, The Artist got rolled up by the veteran, who just barely got three.
It is hard to say how planned this finish was, but it worked as Truth stole a win.
R-Truth def. Nakamura by pinfall to become the new United States champion
The match was pretty bland, which was not surprising. Truth can't deliver as much in the ring these days, but the end result elevated everything. The new champion got to add one last title reign to a career that is reaching its end.
This wasn't the end of the story, but it would have been fine if it was. While he's been in and out of WWE for a long time, the 47-year-old has rarely been rewarded for being one of the most entertaining performers in the company.
United States Champion R-Truth vs. Rusev
Rusev interrupted R-Truth's celebration to demand he put his title on the line, as he did not deserve his victory.
After Carmella and Lana got into a shoving match, with the latter seemingly getting hurt again, Truth finally agreed to the contest.
The Bulgarian Brute looked dominant, but he also didn't know what he was getting into, as the champ rolled him up for three. Afterward, Rusev lost it and attacked Truth, teaming up with Shinsuke Nakamura to do the damage in a baffling display.
Backstage, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson questioned Rusev's actions and challenged him to a match. Nakamura accepted the tag team match challenge for his new partner. The Super Athlete told The Artist he would only team with him this one time.
Truth def. Rusev by pinfall to retain the United States Championship
Following up a welcome surprise, this was an embarrassing misfire. The match was over too quick to be anything, but it was the aftermath that was a complete mistake. For no reason in particular, one of WWE's most popular midcard talents turned heel.
Rusev has been a villain for much of his run in WWE. He turned babyface because it was the only possible option. The fans were all behind him. To ruin his run so quickly by turning him again destroys what momentum he had and makes no sense.
Andrade Makes a Statement at Rey Mysterio's Expense
Rey Mysterio was set to fight Samoa Joe, but Zelina Vega interrupted to taunt the luchador. This allowed Andrade to sneak up and attack The Master of the 619, laying him out in impressive fashion.
This was a great way to promise this feud is far from over.
While it would have been nice to see Mysterio vs. Joe, this was the right move for now.
El Idolo got to stand tall, and a feud that has already produced two showstoppers rages on. Now, a real story is developing, and the two should get a bigger stage on which to steal the show.
Shane McMahon Surprises The Miz in Title Celebration
Shane McMahon organized a celebration for his and The Miz's victory at the Royal Rumble, with Boy Wonder showcasing a video package he made for The A-Lister and their new team.
Afterward, the SmackDown Live commissioner brought out Miz's father, who said he loved his son and was proud of him for his achievement.
McMahon then announced a Fatal 4-Way elimination match next to crown the new No. 1 contenders to the tag team titles.
It's been a rocky road to get to this point, but it has worked for the most part thanks to the work of both men. Miz especially has sold how important it has been to him to team up with McMahon. The two come off as genuine friends now.
This may not last long, but it's hard not to be invested now. This second babyface run for The A-Lister is starting off on the right foot.
Sheamus & Cesaro vs. The Usos vs. The New Day vs. Heavy Machinery (Elimination)
After a competitive start in this match, Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight caught Kofi Kingston with the Compactor for the first elimination.
While Heavy Machinery fought hard to stay in this bout and looked good against some of the best tag teams on the blue brand, Sheamus eliminated them with a Brogue Kick.
The Usos took back momentum when it mattered most, winning with a superkick and diving splash combination to take the win and become the new No. 1 contenders.
The Usos def. The Bar, Heavy Machinery and New Day to become the new No. 1 contenders to the SmackDown Tag Team Championships
This was a good match that was well-booked to allow Heavy Machinery to stand out without getting overpushed.
The two big men looked like they just might run the gauntlet but could only get one elimination before the biggest tag team on the brand overwhelmed them.
It is good to see Jimmy and Jey Uso getting this shot rather than rehashing Shane and Miz vs. The Bar. It should be fascinating to see what the brothers can do against the unlikely team.
Daniel Bryan Trashes the WWE Championship and Gets His Elimination Chamber Match
Daniel Bryan brought out the one man who understood him, Rowan. They trashed the WWE Championship and revealed a new title made from oak and hemp.
This angered former champion AJ Styles, who stormed to the ring.
Randy Orton interrupted, with Jeff Hardy, Mustafa Ali and Samoa Joe following suit. Each wanted a shot at the champion, but Bryan refused them all.
Triple H appeared on the TitanTron to announce they would all compete inside the Elimination Chamber for the WWE Championship on February 17.
The new championship is perfect for Bryan. It's a fresh look that stands out, and it was the perfect set up for what followed. He arrogantly announced this new title would last forever, and everyone had something to say about that.
It was awkward to have some of this segment happen during the commercial break, but the end result was perfect. We now have a star-studded Elimination Chamber match that should be a perfect main event for the next WWE pay-per-view.