WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Analysis from January 24

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2020

WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Analysis from January 24

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Just 48 hours before the Royal Rumble goes live on WWE Network, the Superstars of SmackDown set the table for the annual extravaganza by ramping up all remaining hype and giving fans a taste of what to expect Sunday in Houston.

    Roman Reigns and The Usos' ongoing rivalry with King Corbin, Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler gave way to a six-man tag team main event that not only paid off weeks of television but provided the last bit of build for Reigns' Falls Count Anywhere war with Corbin at the pay-per-view.

    Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt signed the contract for their Universal Championship clash to round out Friday's show, which had great impact on the build to the annual Rumble spectacular.

Roman Reigns and The Usos vs. King Corbin, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The six-man tag pitting Roman Reigns and The Usos against King Corbin, Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler kicked off the show but quickly became a 3-on-2 Handicap match when Jimmy Uso tweaked his knee coming off the top rope before falling victim to a Zig-Zag into the steel steps.

    With the competitor escorted out of the arena by medical personnel, Reigns and Jey Uso were left to fend for themselves heading into the break.

    The Big Dog and his cousin cut off the ring, isolating Ziggler from his teammates. The Showoff eventually made the tag, though, and King Corbin downed Jey with a big Deep Six for a near-fall. Like their opposition just moments earlier, the heels worked to keep Uso from his partner.

    The hot tag to Reigns sparked a babyface comeback, as The Big Dog unloaded on any and all opposition before him. That came to a sudden end when Reigns found himself on the arena floor and on the receiving end of a beatdown at the hands of Corbin and Roode while Ziggler distracted the official.

    Reigns fought out of an armbar and powerbombed Roode to the mat. Instead of making the tag to a still-recovering Jey, Reigns remained at the mercy of the heels, who dragged him back to their corner and continued their assault.

    Just as Reigns created separation, Jimmy Uso returned to the squared circle and received the hot tag. He exploded into the match, taking down Roode with a Samoan Drop and wiping out Corbin and Ziggler with a tope.

    As Reigns fought Corbin into the crowd, Uso delivered a big splash from the top rope on Roode to secure the win.

                   

    Result

    Reigns and The Usos defeated Corbin, Ziggler and Roode.

              

    Grade

    A

           

    Analysis

    This was a fun way to kick off the show and a welcome change of pace from the promos that typically start WWE programming.

    The story of Jimmy Uso's injury and miraculous return was well done and added a new wrinkle to an otherwise tired formula. That he was allowed to star when Reigns is the most prominent member of his team was interesting—in a good way. Little changes here and there help to freshen up a product that feels all-too-familiar way too often.

    Reigns and Corbin brawling into the stands was a nice touch as the company built anticipation for their Falls Count Anywhere match Sunday night too.

    On the surface, this looked like any other multi-man tag match. But in execution, it was refreshing and did everything it set out to do as far as hyping one of Royal Rumble's highest-profile singles matches.

Michael Cole Interviewed Lacey Evans, and a Brawl Broke out

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Michael Cole interviewed Lacey Evans regarding her women's title match against Bayley at the Royal Rumble.

    Evans recalled the emotions she felt watching Sasha Banks taunt her daughter before Bayley attacked her from out of nowhere.

    The champion pounded away on the Sassy Southern Belle before retreating backstage.

    Kayla Braxton attempted to interview Dana Brooke and Carmella regarding the women's Royal Rumble match but found herself interrupted as Evans and Bayley reignited their brawl heading into the break.

    After the commercial, a match pitting Fire & Desire against Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross was interrupted when Evans and Bayley brawled back to the ring. Referees and officials pulled apart the women in a preview of Sunday's contest.

                  

    Grade

    B+

           

    Analysis

    As a segment that broke from the monotony of another tag match featuring the champion and her top contender, this worked.

    The intensity has increased with every passing week, to the point that the wrestlers cannot be around each other without engaging in a hard-hitting brawl. It is nice to see that sort of approach taken to a women's program, as we have not seen that since Evans and Becky Lynch were at the height of their disdain for one another.

    That it also allowed for some last-minute hype for the women's Royal Rumble only solidified the grade.

Braun Strowman and Elias vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro

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    Credit: WWE.com

    In a tag team match set up by the previous week's interactions between the individual Superstars, Braun Strowman teamed with Elias to battle intercontinental champion Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro.

    The heels controlled the match through the commercial break, working over Elias while The Monster Among Men watched from the ring apron. A jumping knee by Elias to Nakamura allowed him to make the tag to his partner.

    Strowman exploded into the match and sent Nakamura flying across the ring. A second-rope knee to the face allowed Nakamura to stun his top contender and tag Cesaro into the match. The Swiss Cyborg partnered with The Artist to drop Strowman with a double Russian leg sweep.

    The Monster Among Men recovered, dropping Cesaro with a big powerslam before Elias finished him off with an elbow drop from the top rope.

              

    Result

    Strowman and Elias defeated Cesaro and Nakamura.

            

    Grade

    C

             

    Analysis

    There was not much to this match.

    It was fairly paint-by-numbers, with the only surprise coming in the form of Elias picking up the win for his team rather than Strowman, who probably could have used it to further stake his claim for a shot at Nakamura's IC title.

    Cesaro again suffered the defeat, setting him up as the fall man for his trio. Despite his status as one of the most gifted in-ring performers in the world, he cannot gain any sustainable momentum and thus finds himself in situations more suitable for wrestlers with a third of his talent.

Kofi Kingston vs. John Morrison

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The rivalry between The New Day, The Miz and the returning John Morrison continued Friday when former WWE champion Kofi Kingston battled Morrison in singles competition.

    Morrison controlled the pace of the match, dominating the first half of the bout and trapping Kingston in half Boston Crab coming out of the commercial break.

    Kingston finally fired off sustained offense, mounting a comeback that had The Shaman of Sexy reeling late. He delivered a Boom Drop and set up for Trouble in Paradise, but Morrison caught him with a kick to the face for a near-fall.

    Morrison delivered a Spanish Fly for a count of two. Kingston recovered and answered with SOS for another near-fall.

    The heel eventually finished off Kingston with Starship Pain to make it 2-0 against The New Day, as eagerly pointed out by commentator Corey Graves.

                

    Result

    Morrison defeated Kingston.

            

    Grade

    B+

               

    Analysis

    This was a match Kingston and Morrison likely could have had a million times in their sleep. They are no strangers to each other and have faced off many times throughout their careers, so it was no surprise that the quality was what it was.

    Morrison's win, and the commentary team's investment in putting it over as a huge accomplishment against the reigning tag team champions, was a nice touch and proof of the company's dedication to getting the former ECW and IC champion over with fans early in his second run with WWE.

    What that means for The Miz, who has not been afforded that same opportunity to build credibility among fans, remains to be seen. Hopefully, he can siphon some heat from his tag team partner.

Contract Signing for Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Daniel Bryan hit the ring to a sizable pop from the WWE faithful for the contract signing for his Universal Championship Strap match against The Fiend on Sunday at Royal Rumble. Bray Wyatt would not join him, opting to appear via video screen.

    Wyatt asked why Bryan would want to strap himself to The Fiend and reiterated the word of the day, "mistake," which he claimed the No. 1 contender was making by agreeing to such a contest.

    The arena darkened, and when the red lights came up, The Fiend stood across the ring from Bryan, a leather strap in his hand. The masked monster applied the mandible claw, leaving Bryan unconscious in the ring.

    From there, he unleashed a brutal lashing on the babyface before signing the contract and standing tall in the center of the ring. He disappeared, leaving Bryan to struggle to his feet to close out the broadcast.

                    

    Grade

    A

              

    Analysis

    There was nothing to the promo that we have not heard before, but the lashing by The Fiend was a suitable taste of things to come and a reminder of how dangerous a situation Bryan is putting himself in.

    This worked, providing an effective last bit of hype for a match that is somehow flying under the radar in terms of the most anticipated of the Rumble card. Given the quality of their previous matches, and the chemistry demonstrated therein, there is a strong likelihood Bryan and Wyatt steal the show and provide this year's show with that one defining match that stands the test of time.

    Not unlike the one they wrestled against each other back in 2014.

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