Smackdown Notes: The Usos retain, Reigns vs. Owens official for Royal Rumble, Hit Row turns heel

Photo Courtesy: WWE

January 6, 2023

FedEx Forum – Memphis, TN

By: John Kleinchester

SmackDown kicked off with The Bloodline wreaking havoc at ringside. Sami Zayn said they were putting everyone on notice and that 2023 belongs to them. Roman noted that it wasn’t him that lost, it was Sami. He asked Sami if he wanted to be him or if he wanted to run The Bloodline. Kevin Owens interrupted just as Reigns was getting heated and told Roman that his problem isn’t with Sami, it was with him. Owens challenged Reigns to a title match at the Royal Rumble and Reigns brashly agreed. 

After the break, Charlotte was shown arriving to the arena in a BMW convertible. Michael Cole noted that she was now a 14-time champion and she would be making an appearance later in the evening.

A backstage video from earlier in the day was shown with Santos Escobar complimenting Kofi Kingston’s legendary Royal Rumble appearances but then changing gears saying that the sun had set on The New Day. This led to a match between the two. Michael Cole noted that this year would mark Kingston’s 15th appearance in the Rumble. 

This match was designed around the two competitors essentially pretending as if they were in the Royal Rumble and celebrating “eliminations” over the top rope to the floor. Santos Escobar won after Legado Del Fantasma distracted Kofi allowing Escobar to hit the Phantom Driver for the win.

Sami Zayn tried to enter The Bloodline’s locker room so he could talk to Roman but was denied by Paul Heyman. Heyman reassured Zayn that at least he still loves him. 

Backstage Liv Morgan declared her intentions to enter the Royal Rumble this year saying that if she had it her way she’d enter at #1.

A recap of Bray Wyatt being attacked by Uncle Howdy last week was shown. LA Knight was then interviewed about how he felt going into his Mtn Drew Pitch Black Match™ with Bray Wyatt at the Royal Rumble. Knight claimed that no one was talking about Wyatt and everyone was talking about him. Cole called the match “unique and unlike anything we’ve ever seen before”. 

Karrion Kross & Scarlett faced off against Madcap Moss & Emma following up on the backstage altercation with Emma slapping Scarlett for insulting Moss two weeks ago. After Kross & Scarlett won, Kross put a Rey Mysterio mask on Moss and then displayed a Mysterio tarot card putting Rey on notice.

Michael Cole and Wade Barrett noted how Money in the Bank would be coming to The O2 Arena in London on Saturday, July 1st. 

Sheamus & Drew McIntyre were shown in a video from earlier in the day with the pair at Jerry Lawler’s bar in Memphis. The two reminisced about beating the hell out of each other over the years while chopping each other increasingly aggressively. They agreed that if they could do that to each other, they should be able to destroy The Usos. The segment ended with Sheamus’ “banger after banger” bit but this time the rest of the patrons in the bar joined in on the chant. For some reason.

Charlotte Flair came down to the ring and cut a promo saying that the one thing she is not is complacent and she would knock down any obstacle in her way. Sonya Deville interrupted challenging Charlotte to a match. The crowd chanted “whoop that trick” which apparently is a Memphis Grizzlies term and Charlotte accepted. Shockingly, Charlotte prevailed via Figure Eight.

A Cody Rhodes video package aired highlighting his return at last year’s Wrestlemania and his subsequent pectoral injury. Wade Barrett said he couldn’t wait for Rhodes to return.

Another Lacey Evans video aired, ignoring the fact that she was promoted to debut last week. Evans said that the Cobra Clutch was her method of destruction and she was shown tapping out a competitor with the move. The video ended with the words “Your Next Mission”. So it seems as if she’s back in the promo closet for at least a little while longer.

Next up Ricochet and Top Dolla had a Royal Rumble Qualifying match as a result of Ricochet making fun of Top Dolla’s top rope botch from a few weeks ago. Ricochet won in under two minutes. Interestingly Michael Cole said that “the winner of the Rumble match –  a championship in the main event at Wrestlemania” seemingly indicating a possibility of having two separate title matches.

After the match, all three members of Hit Row attacked Ricochet which led to Braun Strowman coming out to make the save.  There was no indication if there would be other Royal Rumble qualifying matches to come over the next three weeks despite the fact that earlier in the show Liv Morgan simply declared her spot in the Women’s Rumble. 

Roman Reigns told Paul Heyman to summon Sami Zayn. Sami arrived and apologized to Roman for giving him any indication of wanting to take over The Bloodline. Roman rejected Sami’s apology and turned the tables apologizing to Sami explaining that Kevin Owens was right – Roman was mad at Owens not Zayn. Reigns gave Zayn the opportunity to redeem himself by facing Kevin Owens next week on SmackDown. When The Usos’ music hit for the main event, Reigns held Sami back from heading to the ring asking him to stay and watch the match with him.

The Usos successfully defended the Undisputed Tag Team Championships after an Uso double-team using the ropes for leverage to pin Sheamus. 


Announced for SmackDown Next Week in Green Bay:

  • Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

Friday Night SmackDown Results:

  • Santos Escobar over Kofi Kingston in 9:52
  • Karrion Kross & Scarlett over Madcap Moss & Emma in ~3:30 (time estimated, match began in commercial break)
  • SmackDown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair over Sonya Deville in 6:46
  • Royal Rumble Qualifying Match: Ricochet over Top Dolla in 1:56
  • WWE Undisputed Tag Team Championship: The Usos over Sheamus & Drew McIntyre in 13:14
About John Kleinchester 155 Articles
New Jersey born and raised. Wrestling fan since Lex slammed Yokozuna on the deck of the USS Intrepid. Favorite Wrestler of all time is Owen "The Rocket" Hart.