By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,171)
Live from Kansas City, Missouri at T-Mobile Center
Aired January 28, 2022 on Fox
[Hour One] Smackdown opened with their opening montage while AC/DC’s “Are You Ready” played… Michael Cole and Pat McAfee checked in on commentary and hyped the show’s previously advertised matches and segments…
Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair made her entrance while Cole played up the possibility that she could become the first champion to win the Royal Rumble and choose her challenger for WrestleMania.
Flair cut a promo about the craziness of the Rumble match. She said she could have coasted, but instead she entered the match as champion with the intention of winning and choosing her opponent for WrestleMania.
Shayna Baszler made her entrance and joined Flair inside the ring. Baszler said Flair is an incredible competitor, but she said she wouldn’t hesitate to snap her like a twig if it comes down to the two of them in the Rumble match. Baszler said she would waste no time in declaring Flair as her opponent for WrestleMania if she wins the match.
Aliyah made her entrance. She said she wasn’t sure if it was okay for her to be out there, but it seemed like anyone could walk out. “Who are you?” Flair asked. Aliyah introduced herself and spoke about being in her first Rumble match and taking part in her first WrestleMania. Flair said she doesn’t have a chance of winning. Aliyah boasted that she beat Natalya in record time.
Natalya made her entrance and called Aliyah rude, clueless, delusional, and lucky. Natalya joined the other women in the ring and said she was a three-time world record holder and said she would make it four at the Royal Rumble.
Shotzi came out and said all of the massive egos colliding with each other was a preview for the Rumble. She spoke about how it was descending into chaos and that opens the door for her to sneak right in and seize the spotlight. Flair told the other women that they don’t belong in the ring with her and they don’t stand a chance of winning.
Sasha Banks made her entrance. Banks soaked up the cheers once she was in the ring and then declared, “The Boss is back, baby, and I’m ready to Rumble.” Banks threw the mic down and glared at Flair, who smiled and waved at her. Banks responded by slapping Flair across the face.
The wrestlers started brawling while Banks stood on the apron and watched. Aliyah cleared Baszler from the ring with a dropkick and appeared to be the last woman standing, but Flair returned to take her out. Banks entered the ring and blocked a Flair kick and then threw one of her own. Banks tossed Flair over the top rope…
Powell’s POV: I’m surprised they didn’t save Banks to be a surprise for the Rumble match. I questioned the timeline the company put out for Sasha’s injury, which was supposed to keep her out of the Rumble match. It just seemed unlike WWE to issue an update for something other than a long term injury. Even so, it’s good to see Banks back in time for the Rumble. It was also good to see Baszler, who hasn’t had a match on WWE television since mid December.
Backstage, Sheamus and Ridge Holland were interviewed by Megan Morant. Sheamus presented Holland with a face shield to protect his nose, which was broken the last time the two men faced Ricochet and Cesaro. Sheamus and Holland made their entrance for the tag match… [C]
1. Sheamus and Ridge Holland vs. Ricochet and Cesaro. The babyface duo’s entrances were televised, and a pre-taped Ricochet promo aired. The broadcast team acknowledged that it was Sheamus’s birthday (44) and McAfee yelled happy birthday to him when he ended up at ringside early in the match. Ricochet performed a flip dive onto Holland on the floor. He came up short, but he popped right up. [C]
Cesaro caught Sheamus in a small package and had him beat, but Holland broke up the pin. Sheamus blasted Ricochet with a knee to the face. Cesaro got a near fall on Sheamus and set up for his finisher, but Sheamus backdropped him.
Cesaro ducked a Brogue Kick and then set up The Swing. Holland, who had made a blind, entered the ring and slammed his face mask into the face of Cesaro. Holland followed up with a powerslam and scored the pin. Cesaro acted like his nose was broken afterward…
Sheamus and Ridge Holland defeated Ricochet and Cesaro in 10:45.
Seth Rollins was shown walking backstage. The broadcast team hyped his face-to-face meeting with Roman Reigns for later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: The tag match was fine and gave Smackdown more in-ring time in one match than it has in the entire first hour some weeks.
The hometown team Kansas City Chiefs imagery was shown and McAfee noted that they will host the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship on Sunday…
Powell’s POV: Raw is in Cincy on Monday. The building will be one big party if the Bengals win, but it could be like a morgue if they lose.
A Royal Rumble video package aired with various Rumble stats…
Naomi made her entrance. Meanwhile, Sonya Deville was shown attempting to intimidate referee Dan Engler in the backstage area. Engler told her that he had to call the match down the middle and walked away… [C] Deville made her entrance…
2. Sonya Deville vs. Naomi. Engler brought the women together and told them that he wanted a fair match. Deville ducked under the ropes a couple of times to stall, which drew some heat from the crowd. Naomi got the better of the early offense until Deville caught her going for a baseball slide. Deville slammed Naomi from the apron to the floor. [C] Deville performed a spinebuster for a two count.
[Hour Two] Deville kipped up after being slammed to the mat and went on the offensive. Naomi performed a cross body block from the top rope for a near fall. Deville came back by shoving Naomi into the corner and then put her down with Alexander Hammerstone’s Nightmare Pendulum (the broadcast team didn’t know what to call the move) fr a near fall.
Naomi came right back with a Full Nelson Slam. Naomi grabbed Deville and tried to pull her into the middle of the ring. Deville held onto the apron. While the referee was adjusting the apron, Deville thumbed Naomi in the eye and got a two count. Naomi hit a clunky Rearview and followed up with a split-legged moonsault for the win.
Naomi defeated Sonya Deville in 11:45.
After the match, Naomi took the mic and referred to Deville as Cruela while saying what he did wasn’t enough to stop the glow. Naomi told Deville not to slip on her tears on the way out. Deville headed to the back while Naomi sang the goodbye song.
Deville returned and barked for the production team to cut Naomi’s music. Deville said she couldn’t let Naomi got to the Rumble match without a surprise. Deville announced that she will be in the Rumble match…
Powell’s POV: There were some clunky moments, but it was still fun to see the payoff to this long feud. I’m surprised they actually followed through with it. For that matter, I was waiting for Deville to pull Naomi from the Rumble match as post match punishment, but I guess their feud will continue during the Rumble instead.
Backstage, Smackdown Tag Team Champions Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso were interviewed by Kayla Braxton. They said Roman Reigns will still be WWE Universal Champion coming out of the Rumble. The Viking Raiders showed up and talked like cartoon characters. Erik and Ivar brought small axes with them, which intimidated the Usos…
Sami Zayn made his entrance for another In Zayn segment with Jinder Mahal and Shanky as his guests… [C] McAfee hyped Fox’s coverage of Sunday’s NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams…
Zayn was in the ring with Mahal and Shanky. Zayn and Mahal sat in chairs with mics on a table in front of them. Zayn said the In Zayn show is now officially a podcast. Zayn said this is what the show should have been from the beginning rather than him doing stunts.
Zayn said he never wanted to hear the name Johnny Knoxville again. He said it was a show for intelligent people discussing smart topics. Zayn assumed that Shanky had never heard of Knoxville until he showed up on Smackdown. Mahal informed Zayn that “Jackass” is huge in India, and said he loves the bungee porta-potty stunt, which upset Zayn.
Rick Boogs played his guitar on the stage and interrupted Zayn. Boogs introduced himself and Shinsuke Nakaura. Boogs played his guitar while he and Nakamura entered the ring. Zayn pointed at the Intercontinental Title. Nakamura cleared Zayn from the ring with a kick…
Cole hyped the upcoming tag team match and then set up the WWE 2K22 video game teaser video… [C]
Powell’s POV: Heel Sami hosting a podcast is perfect because podcast hosts are idiots. Er, wait…
3. Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs vs. Jinder Mahal and Shanky. The match was joined in progress. Sami Zayn sat in on commentary. Boogs wanted to tag out, but Zayn pulled Nakamura off the apron. Mahal attacked Boogs from behind, but Boogs no-sold it and pumped himself up. Mahal got intimidated and tagged out. Boogs ended up slamming Shanky with what the broadcast team called the Boogs Cruise and then pinned him…
Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs beat Jinder Mahal and Shanky in 3:05 of television time.
Powell’s POV: Boogs is fun in small doses and they wisely kept the match brief. But it’s time to move the Intercontinental Championship. Nakamura rarely defends the title and spends most of his time teaming with Boogs these days.
Big E and Kofi Kingston were interviewed by Kayla Braxton in the backstage area. She asked how it felt to have Big E “officially back on Smackdown.” Big E asked if a bear shats in the woods and if a pig’s posterior is made out of pork. Kingston said it was great. He and Big E agreed that if one New Day member wins the Rumble, then they all win the Rumble. The New Day duo made their entrance… [C]
Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss made their entrance. Footage aired of their attack on Drew McIntyre at WWE Day 1. A pre-taped promo aired with Moss telling a cornball joke about McIntyre. Cole said McIntyre did not need surgery, but his return date is unclear…
Powell’s POV: That’s great news regarding McIntyre. I assume he’ll be returning soon given the way they reminded viewers that Corbin and Moss injured him. I just wish he was coming back to work a more meaningful feud. The laughing hyena act continues to be awful and it won’t do McIntyre any favors to work with them. It would be a different story if creative would pull the plug on the Happy and Madcap nonsense in favor of going with Baron Corbin and Riddick Moss.
4. Big E and Kofi Kingston vs. Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss. The heel duo ended up at ringside early on. Kingston dove onto them, but they caught him and tossed him into the ring post. [C] Kingston was isolated coming out of the break, but he quickly made a hot tag.
Big E performed suplexes on both heels. Corbin cut him off with a shot to the throat, but Big E put Moss down with a uranage and followed up with a belly to belly suplex on Corbin. Big E splashed Corbin and then tagged out.
Corbin caught Kingston coming off the ropes and gave him a backbreaker. Kingston eventually battled back and tagged out. Big E and Kingston hit the Midnight Hour on Moss, which led to Big E getting the three count…
Big E and Kofi Kingston beat Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss in 7:10.
A video package showcased the Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley match for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble…
WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns made his entrance for the final segment… [C]
Seth Rollins made his entrance and joined Reigns in the ring. Reigns told Kansas City to acknowledge him. Rollins asked Reigns if he thought he was Patrick Mahomes. Rollins boasted that he played Reigns like a fiddle last week when he got The Usos barred from ringside.
Reigns said it was a simple decision. He said he could have let Rollins embarrass his family by letting his cousins get pinned. Rollins asked if it was an embarrassment to be pinned by him. Rollins said if that’s the case, then Reigns has brought more embarrassment to his family than anyone.
Reigns told Rollins that he’s living in the past. He said it’s 2022 and he’s in God mode now. Rollins recalled cashing in his Money in the Bank contract on Reigns, and beating him in his first match back from knee surgery. “Like I said, man, water under the bridge,” Reigns said.
Rollins asked about the time he took a steel chair to Roman’s back “and changed the game forever.” Reigns’ face showed that he was agitated. “That one stings a little bit, doesn’t it?” Rollins asked. He said what he did was for Roman’s own good because he knew it would propel him to superstardom.
Rollins said Reigns has him to thank for all of his success. Rollins said Reigns has done it all other than beat him when it matters most. Rollins told Reigns that it will be nothing personal when he takes the title from him. “My brother, I will always love you,” Rollins said before cackling.
Reigns stood silently. Rollins asked if the cat had his tongue. “Chair to my back, breaking up The Shield,” Reigns said. “I’ve tried to forgive you, I really have, but I’ll never forgive you for what you did to us. I hate you.” Rollins laughed and said he knows it, and Reigns will hate him even more after their match.
Rollins told Reigns that his Bloodline is a joke. Rollins called Reigns father, uncle, and other family members a joke and said it would all go up in smoke after their match. Reigns shoved Rollins, who laughed and asked if he was going to hit him. Reigns teased leaving, then turned and went for a Superman Punch. Rollins ducked the punch and left the ring. Cole said Rollins was in the head of Reigns and questioned whether it would be enough for him to take the title on Saturday night…
Powell’s POV: This is such a strange build. Both men are heels, but it seems like they hope fans will side with Rollins. Meanwhile, nearly everything Rollins recalled was him taking delight in his past heel antics, and it was hard to blame the Reigns character when he said he hates Rollins. Despite all of this, there does seem to be a lot of interest in the match and it feels like fans are siding with Rollins. Go figure. I will return shortly with my weekly same night audio review of Smackdown. Let me know what you thought of the show by grading it below.
Join me for my live review of the Royal Rumble on Saturday night.