WWE Smackdown Live Review & Results: January 9th 2018

#FREETHETAGTITLES   

That was what was on Chad Gable’s sleeveless tee when he and “The Golden Standard” Shelton Benjamin went to the ring and air their grievances about their not having been champions after last week’s controversial Tag Team Championship match. We like this segment. Benjamin and Gable had a chance to come out, be on the mic, and express themselves to the crowd. This was necessary, because since their debut as a team, they were portrayed as just very talented, technical wrestlers with slightly too much confident. Furthermore, the storyline progressed the way it should be. Benjamin and Gable’s “victory” over The Usos (and The Usos’ victory over Benjamin and Gable) was a source of debate, so the right thing was done: A 2-out-of-3 falls match for the championships at Royal Rumble, to determine the winners. And in WWE logic, true winners would be able to pin their opponents twice in one match. We always like it when special stipulations were not just added for the sake of stipulations, but as a way to resolve a dispute.

Rusev Tumbles

WHAT? WWE writers, do you even listen to the crazy reaction of the crowd to RUSEV DAY? Do you even notice the rising popularity of RUSEV DAY? How dare you people let Rusev and Aiden English lose in such borderline humiliating fashion? Against BREEZANGO? How dare you. Rusev was dominant the entire time he was legally in the match. At one point, he essentially took on both members of Breezango. And then he lost, not by a bad-ass tandem finishing move (if Breeze and Fandango had one), but by a schoolboy pin. We could not care less what this might have to with the Breezango – Ascension story, but many would not be happy to see their favorite team going down like this. Way to go.

Restart the Match Once, Shame on You. Restart the Match Twice,…

First off, let us just take a moment to say this: Oh man, look at this star-studded main event! This in itself goes to show just how quality the Smackdown Live roster is right now, and the only thing that separates must-see television and channel-changer is the story-telling. And this match was must-see television. Well, not in the way we would like it to mean, anyways. If we look at the bigger picture, we could see that the focus was not on the five-star five stars and their amazing match. The focus was on the rumbling scuffle between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. Shane McMahon came out and restarted the match twice, changing them to No Count-out and Anything Goes, respectively. We are sure this would play into the Smackdown Live’s Authority storyline somewhere next week. And that was the problem, one that WWE never seemed to figure out. A wrestling show should focus on wrestlers, NOT the people who (in kayfabe at least) manage them. Not our way to end Smackdown Live.

Overall Review:

The show started strong enough, involving all the main players of Smackdown, but slowly staggered through the hour-or-so before the main event. The main event was, by a far margin, the show-saver. Besides that match, only Mojo Rawley’s dominant performance against Zack Ryder (and to a negative light, RUSEV DAY’s loss) was anything of note. Nonetheless, the star-studded show-closer could not focus the audience’s attention to the wrestlers that did their superb jobs tonight. Instead, all the limelight seemed to be on the authority figures, a perpetual problem since the appearance of Stephanie McMahon. In a show headlined by the likes of AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton, John Cena, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn, not building the show around the wrestlers can be a huge problem for Smackdown Live going forward.