The January 23rd, 2018 edition of WWE SmackDown Live took place at the Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
– The go-home show for Royal Rumble 2018 opes up with Tom Phillips welcoming us to Washington, DC. He’s joined by Byron Saxton and Corey Graves at the broadcast table.
– Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn come down to the ring to kick off this week’s show. They get on the mic and start ranting about SD Commissioner Shane McMahon, and WWE Champion AJ Styles. They say AJ has no chance at leaving the Royal Rumble with the strap. They say not only will they take the Title from AJ on Sunday, but they’re going to hurt him. AJ comes out to the stage to interrupt. AJ says they have the advantage Sunday since it’s a handicap match, but as long as he has any fight left in his body, he will make sure they do not become co-WWE Champion. AJ reminds them that this is the house AJ Styles built. Owens and Zayn propose that AJ wrestle them in separate singles matches tonight, back to back, to see what Styles has got. Daniel Bryan comes out to interrupt, and says enough is enough. Bryan says Owens and Zayn are two of the best to step in the ring, and they’re right about how hard it is to win a handicap match, but he has the upmost faith in AJ. AJ cuts on Bryan and questions his motives. AJ says he accepts the two matches against Owens and Zayn tonight, and he’s going to be the one hurting them. AJ drops the mic and has a brief stare-down with Bryan before leaving.
– Daniel Bryan is backsktage with Shane McMahon. Shane doesn’t like that AJ is being booked in two matches right before a Title defense on Sunday. Bryan says he has faith in AJ, and Shane says he isn’t sure if Bryan is shooting straight with him. Bryan asks if Shane is questioning AJ’s ability to defend himself tonight, and Shane says he’s not.
– Chad Gable vs. Jey Uso: Jimmy Uso and Shelton Benjamin are both at ringside for this one. Gable shoots for the leg to start, and they go back and forth with holds. Gable slams Uso to the mat and tries to keep him grounded. Uso ducks a shot and sends Gable out to the floor, then follows him out and beats him down at ringside. Back in the ring, Jey works over Gable until Gable catches him with a Northern Lights Suplex for a 2 count. Gable starts firing up but misses a moonsault. Jey sends Gable outside and hits a dive on Gable on the floor near Shelton. Back in the ring, Jey goes up top but misses. Jey recovers and does connect with a Samoan Drop on Gable. Gable gets to his feet and they brawl until Gable is able to catch Jey with a big German suplex for the three count.
Winner: Chad Gable
– After the match, Gable celebrates the win with Benjamin.
– Shinsuke Nakamura is backstage for an interview about the Royal Rumble on Sunday. Baron Corbin interrupts and says Nakamura is all hype, and he doesn’t care about the fans because they don’t pay his bills. Corbin trashes the fans and Nakamura, and Nakamura proposes that they rumble tonight to see who’s really all hype.
– Naomi vs. Liv Morgan: Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan are at ringside. Naomi takes control early on and hits a side walk slam for a two count. Liv connects with some kicks, but Naomi answers with some kicks of her own. Liv sends Naomi face-first into the turnbuckle, then hits a double stomp to the back of the head. Liv continues to beat down Naomi as Natalya, Lana, Becky and Carmella come down to ringside for a closer look. Naomi comes back with some kicks on Liv and springboards over the rope with a sunset flip on Liv for the three count.
– After the match, Ruby and Logan hit the ring and attack Naomi. Becky runs in, then everyone else at ringside runs in and there’s a big brawl. It leads to the women all throwing each other over the top rope to the outside. It’s down to Natalya and Naomi, but Women’s Champion Charlotte comes out to the stage to interrupt and they stop fighting. Charlotte wishes them all good luck on Sunday, and especially to the winner of the women’s Rumble match, because they’ll have to face her.
– We see selfie videos from Tye Dillinger, The Miz & Asuka, and Carmella & Big E promoting the Royal Rumble and the Mixed Match Tag Challenge.
– Baron Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: Nakamura starts this one off strong with strikes on Corbin, then he does the Good Vibrations in the corner. Corbin rolls outside for a breather and Nakamura follows him out. Corbin throws him into the apron, then back in the ring, and Corbin starts walking up the ramp. Nakamura rolls back outside, where Corbin hits an uppercut then throws Nakamura into the ring post. Back in the ring, Corbin controls the next moments of the match and beats down Nakamura. Nakamura finally fires back with a running boot to the face, then a running knee strike in the corner for a two count. Nakamura picks up Corbin and goes for a suplex, but Corbin fights out. Corbin hits an elbow and goes for a suplex of his own, but Nakamura fights out and hits a reverse suplex. Nakamura sets up for the running knee, but Corbin dodges it and hits the Deep Six for a 2 count. Corbin runs the ropes and hits a big clothesline for another 2 count. Corbin goes for the End of Days, but Nakamura reverses it into an armbar. Corbin gets out, but Nakamura decks him with a heel kick. Nakamura sets up for a Kinshasa, but Randy Orton runs in and hits an RKO out of nowhere. The ref calls for the bell and this one is a DQ.
Winner via DQ: Shinsuke Nakamura
– After the bell, Corbin gets up and he’s not happy. Corbin charges at Orton, but Orton catches him with an RKO too. Orton poses on the turnbuckle before leaving.
– We see some highlights from last night’s RAW 25th Anniversary show.
– The New Day comes out to the ring handing out pancakes and cereal. They talk about last night’s RAW 25h Anniversary, and then move on to the topic of the U.S. Championship, which brings out U.S. Champ Bobby Roode. Roode says he’s going to be the best U.S. Champion in history, which will be no easy task. The New Day starts interrupting his promo and they do the “glorious” thing together. Jinder Mahal is out next with one of the Singh Brothers. Rusev is out next with Aiden English, and we’ve got a six-man tag.
– Aiden English, Rusev & Jinder Mahal vs. Bobby Roode, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods: Rusev starts off strong with a big boot to Kofi. Rusev hits a cheap shot on Woods too, but then Kofi starts making a comeback. Roode and English tag in, and Roode unloads with offense. Roode hits a neckbreaker on English, then knocks Jinder off the apron. Roode follows up with a Blockbuster on English. Jinder comes in and Roode hits a spinebuster on him. Rusev runs in but Kofi comes flying off the top and takes him down. Jinder and Rusev roll outside, and Kofi hits them with a suicide dive. Roode and English still go at it in the ring until Woods tags in. Roode hits a spinebuster on English, then Woods immediately follows up with a top rope elbow drop for the three count on English.
Winner: Bobby Roode, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods
– AJ Styles comes out to the ring, and then Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn come out. Before Owens and Zayn get to the ring, Shane McMahon comes out and orders that Zayn not be at ringside for Owens’ singles match against Styles. Shane tells Zayn to come backstage with him, while Owens protests that Daniel Bryan said it was okay for Zayn to be at ringside. Shane says if there is any interference tonight from either of them, they will be fired. Shane ends up leaving and taking Zayn backstage.
– AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens: Owens starts off strong here and beats down AJ in the corner. Owens goes for the running cannonball in the corner, but AJ dodges it. AJ drops Owens and locks in the Calf Crusher in the middle of the ring. Owens tries to fight it off, but taps out, and AJ wins via submission after a very short match.
Winner: AJ Styles
– After the bell, AJ continues to hold onto the Calf Crusher until Sami Zayn runs down and breaks it up. Sami hits a cheap shot on AJ and then starts beating him down all over ringside. We see Shane and Daniel backstage watching on a monitor as Zayn pummels on AJ in front of the broadcast table at ringside. Sami gets in the ring and AJ starts to recover. AJ tells the ref he’s good to go, and the ref starts the Zayn vs. Styles match net. Owens is still at ringside selling his leg from the Calf Crusher. According to Shane McMahon, if Owens tries to interfere, he will be fired.
– AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn: Sami immediately takes the fight to AJ and starts beating him down on the mat. We see company staffers and medics still checking on Owens at ringside. Shane and Daniel are still watching on a monitor backstage. AJ ducks a shot from Sami and fires back with a series of strikes. AJ hits a running forearm shot on Sami, then hits a splash in the corner. AJ goes for a fireman’s carry, but Sami escapes. AJ throws Sami out to ringside right next to Owens. Styles follows up with a suicide plancha on Sami at ringside. AJ throws Sami back in the ring, then gets on the apron. AJ turns his attention to Owens, then starts beating him down at ringside. Zayn rolls back out to ringside and clotheslines Styles down to the floor. Back in the ring, Zayn and AJ trade strikes back and forth. They fight up to the top turnbuckle where AJ hits a Frankensteiner on Sami. They trade strikes again until AJ catches Zayn with a fireman’s carry neckbreaker for a two count. AJ goes for the Styles Clash, but Zayn fights out. Sami hits a kick and a chop, then a tornado DDT. Zayn charges at AJ in the corner, but AJ stops him with a boot to the face. AJ goes for the moonsault reverse DDT and misses, but he does connect with a Pele kick for a 2 count. Sami fights back with some elbows to the face, then a Michinoku Driver for a 2 count of his own. Owens is still being loaded on to a stretcher at ringside, and he seems to be stalling so he can keep watching the match. Sami and AJ fight back up to the top turnbuckle, but AJ slides through the legs and drops Sami. AJ hits boot to the midsection and attempts the Styles Clash, but Sami escapes and rolls outside. AJ kicks Sami from the apron, then throws him back in the ring. AJ turns his attention to Owens again, and this time flips him off the stretcher at ringside. Referee Charles Robinson tries to cal down AJ. AJ rolls back in the ring and Sami immediately hits a big boot, then a Blue Thunder Bomb for the three count.
Winner: Sami Zayn
– After the match, Owens struggles up to his feet to congratulate Zayn on the win. Owens and Zayn celebrate in the ring as AJ lays on the mat. Owens and Zayn stand over AJ and yell at him, then raise their hands as SmackDown goes off the air.