WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 17
Friday's edition of SmackDown promised two things: big returns to the ring and rivals finally clashing.
Robert Roode fought Roman Reigns in a tables match to determine the stipulation for the Big Dog's Royal Rumble showdown with King Corbin.
John Morrison competed in his first WWE match in years against Big E as a part of the growing rivalry between The Miz and The New Day.
Kane returned to WWE with an eye on Jan. 26's Royal Rumble. One of the Rumble's greatest competitors had a chance to write a new chapter in his legacy.
Sasha Banks finally promised to be in the ring with Lacey Evans, with The Sassy Southern Belle getting her grudge match against The Legit Boss.
With the Royal Rumble approaching, these matches and moments defined the blue brand.
Kane Helps Daniel Bryan Catch the Fiend
Kane announced he would compete in the Royal Rumble match. Bray Wyatt appeared from The Firefly Fun House to remind The Big Red Machine of what he did the last time they crossed paths.
The Fiend appeared to attack Kane, but the veteran turned around and smiled. Daniel Bryan showed up and hit Wyatt's monstrous alter ego with a running knee and pulled out his dreadlocks before The Fiend retreated.
Backstage, the Planet's Champion then challenged Wyatt to a strap match.
WWE does not need Kane right now. So many stars could have taken spots in the Rumble match. The Big Red Machine has a massive legacy in the match, but he's far past his prime.
It was nice to see Team Hell No together again, though. Bryan was able to use his old friend to get the edge on The Fiend again. Kane has no energy for this anymore, but he still works well off of Bryan.
John Morrison vs. Big E
The Miz and Kofi Kingston played big roles in this match, as John Morrison needed a few key distractions to take over. His athleticism was impressive, and after The A-Lister saved him from Big E, The Shaman of Sexy hit Starship Pain for the win.
Morrison def. Big E by pinfall.
Morrison looked good in his return to action, though that was not surprising. He has been competing in various promotions during his time away and knows exactly what WWE wants. As long as he's fast and athletic, he will thrive.
Miz and Morrison continue to get the upper hand on New Day. This will probably lead to a tag team title match sooner rather than later, which should be good fun.
The Usos vs. The Revival
The Usos looked as good as they ever have and dominated The Revival in an action-heavy clash. Jimmy and Jey ran over Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, and an Uso splash won the match.
In an interview backstage, The Revival stated they would need to make a change since WWE would not change for them.
Usos def. Revival by pinfall.
Jimmy and Jey are still an incredible tag team after their time off. While this match could have been much stronger with more time, it was still a solid sprint that reintroduced everyone to The Usos.
While The Usos rise, though, The Revival fall. Wilder and Dawson promising a change could be interesting. The old-school tag team gimmick is good for them but not in WWE. They feel out of place.
Bayley vs. Lacey Evans
In a brawl backstage, Lacey Evans injured Sasha Banks' ankle. Adam Pearce found The Legit Boss and Bayley in the trainer's room and told them that The Role Model would fight The Sassy Southern Belle in a non-title match instead.
While the SmackDown women's champion pushed Evans and punished her repeatedly, Evans caught her with the Woman's Right to take a huge win.
Evans def. Bayley by pinfall.
WWE continues to protect the match between Evans vs. Banks far more than protecting the champion. Bayley has been treated like the lesser competitor throughout this feud with The Sassy Southern Belle.
At the Royal Rumble, Evans will win the title so that she can feud with The Boss all the way to WrestleMania. At least this first match was decent enough to hint that the Rumble title clash will also be good.
Braun Strowman Demands His WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
Braun Strowman used a backstage segment to demand his WWE Intercontinental Championship opportunity from Shinsuke Nakamura at the Royal Rumble.
Shortly thereafter, Sami Zayn interrupted Elias to deny The Monster Among Men his request. The Drifter made fun of Zayn, Nakamura and Cesaro until the heel stormed the ring. Strowman had to come out to save Elias, sending The Critic of the Critics and The Artist running.
The Monster's journey to the Intercontinental Championship has been a slog despite all the talent involved. Zayn and Elias trading shots on the mic should have mattered more than it did, but it was just a waste of both men.
Cesaro and Nakamura don't feel like they have any personality left. The Critic of the Critics has become the only thing that matters in the group.
Alexa Bliss vs. Sonya Deville
Sonya Deville told Mandy Rose that she should invite Otis to stand at ringside for her match against Alexa Bliss.
God's Greatest Creation fell off the turnbuckle into Otis' arms, and this distracted Deville enough for The Goddess to catch her with a rollup.
Bliss def. Deville by pinfall.
WWE needs to give the women more time in the ring, even in these smaller feuds. This was a bad match. Deville was not into it at all. And it barely felt like The Goddess was trying.
The hints of Otis causing Fire and Desire to break up are interesting but disappointing. Rose and Deville keep each other interesting and hide each other's faults.
Roman Reigns vs. Robert Roode
Robert Roode attacked Roman Reigns before the bell. The Glorious One also managed to dodge Reigns' charge at him to send The Big Dog crashing through the steel barricade. King Corbin came out to get a closer look.
Dolph Ziggler caught Reigns with a superkick, and the three men tried to send him through the announce table. Instead, The Usos splashed The Showoff through the table. Reigns speared Roode through a table in the ring to win.
Afterward, The Big Dog announced he wanted to fight The King in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
Reigns def. Roode by sending him through a table.
This might as well have been a six-man tag team match given all the outside involvement. The same will be true of the Falls Count Anywhere match—that stipulation is inviting interference.
The sooner the Reigns-Corbin feud ends, the better. It is time for The Big Dog to move on to a better story. Reigns has spent too much time playing off uninteresting villains since returning in February.