Last week, the WWE Universe were informed that the WWE Championship will be defended in a Handicap match at the Royal Rumble. At the behest, rather cynical suggestion of AJ Styles, the General Manager of SmackDown Live, Daniel Bryan booked a handicap match between Styles and the team of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
Kevin and Sami had defeated AJ Styles separately in the past couple of weeks, but all eyes were on Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. The authority figures haven’t been able to see eye – to – eye, and have tried to one – up each other.
It isn’t just the men who have been the centre of attention, however, as Becky Lynch returned last week. With the Riott Squad running riot, it was Charlotte Flair, Naomi and Becky that stood up to the trio. So with Royal Rumble fast approaching, what did the Superstars have in store this week?
Let us take a look at what transpired on SmackDown Live.
AJ Styles speaks about the handicap match on SmackDown Live
The WWE Champion opened the show this week, as he sat down with Renee Young to talk about the recent events. Renee prodded AJ to talk about Daniel Bryan, and if he was doing the right thing. Styles said he did not agree with Daniel’s decision, but that he would step up and defend the title at the Royal Rumble.
However, he was interrupted by Kevin Owens and Sami, and the duo talked about beating him at the Royal Rumble. The chirpy duo vowed to walk out of the event with the WWE title, but were interrupted by Shane McMahon.
With AJ Styles being placed in a handicap match, Shane wanted Kevin and Sami to go through the same fate. The Commissioner of SmackDown Live announced a 3 – on – 2 Handicap match in the main event, with AJ Styles, Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura teaming up to take on Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn!
Backstage, Shane ran into Daniel Bryan, who looked at him disapprovingly. Bryan told Shane that it was a good main event, as both men shook hands apprehensively.
Becky Lynch faced Ruby Riott in a singles match, with Charlotte and Naomi in Becky’s corner, while Liv and Sarah were in Ruby’s corner. After a decent back and forth match, it was Lynch that trapped Ruby in the Dis – Arm – Her, as Riott tapped out.
The Bludgeon Brothers faced The Ascension, who had Breezango in their corner. However, before the match even began, Breeze and Fandango hightailed to the back, leaving Konnor and Viktor on their own. Harper and Rowan didn’t take much time to dispose off their opposition, and attacked Konnor after the match, leaving both men in a heap.
Mojo Rawley advances in the United States title tournament, to face Bobby Roode
Former friends turned foes collided this week, as Zack Ryder faced Mojo Rawley, with the winner advancing to the next round of the United States Championship tournament. Bobby Roode, who was scheduled to face the winner of the match, was at ringside to scout his next opponent.
Ryder and Mojo competed in a back and forth encounter. While Mojo had the upper hand in the first half of the match, Ryder turned things around briefly. However, Rawley stopped Zack in his tracks, and connected with a running forearm to pick up the victory.
Post match, Roode and Mojo came face to face, with Rawley eventually leaving the ring, as Bobby pandered to the fans.
Benjamin and Gable complain, get a title rematch at the Royal Rumble
Last week, we almost crowned new champions on SmackDown Live. In fact, Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable were just yards away from walking behind the curtains with the tag team gold. However, the erroneous call was quickly rectified, forcing Shelton and Chad to restart the match – a match they ended up losing.
So the duo wasn’t chuffed with the decision, and vented their frustrations this week. Gable and Shelton held the officials responsible, and directed their ire towards them. However, Daniel Bryan made his way out, and explained to them that it was the correct decision.
Gable and Benjamin then patronised Bryan, and Gable asked what more the duo should do to win the titles. With Chad asking if they had to beat Usos twice in one night to win the gold, Bryan announced a 2 out of 3 falls match at the Royal Rumble for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship! Daniel led the fans in a ‘Yes’ chant to close the segment.
Aiden English announced that he and Rusev would participate in the Royal Rumble match. The duo faced Breezango, and while Rusev and English were firmly in control for the majority of the match, a quick roll up secured the victory for the stars of The Fashion Files.
AJ Styles, Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura have the last laugh
In the main event, Styles, Orton and Nakamura teamed up to face the two Superstars who have become a thorn in their side. However, before the match, Orton made it clear that he was gunning for the WWE Championship.
Bryan and Shane McMahon then argued backstage, with each of them pointing their finger at the other. McMahon lashed out at Daniel, calling his decisions erratic and irresponsible.
Orton, Nakamura and Styles managed to work together during the match, but Owens and Zayn managed to isolate Orton. However, as the faces gained the upper hand, the sneaky twosome tried to walk to the back. Shane McMahon then made in a No Count Out affair, leading to Owens blasting the opposition with a chair!
Shane once again made it a No DQ match, as the faces finally cornered their opponents. Nakamura nailed Sami with a Kinshasa, and Orton dropped him with an RKO, as the faces picked up the victory.
Orton, Nakamura and Styles celebrated their victory, as SmackDown Live went off the air.