Featuring a match between a former Intercontinental Champion and a recent challenger for the title, this January 15th episode of SmackDown features a contract signing between Adam Pearce and Roman Reigns for their match at the Royal Rumble.
We start off the show with Roman Reigns looking over his Royal Rumble contract. Paul Heyman says it needs a stipulation, one where Roman Reigns would be given the freedom to teach Adam Pearce a lesson in fear.
Jey Uso VS Shinsuke Nakamura
This is it. Nakamura face turn. It’s happening. Jey Uso even came out first to spit some bile at Nakamura before he came out. All the pieces are in place, all WWE has to do is not have Brock Lesnar come back to beat him up. The two start off trading some strong strikes, but Jey quickly realizes he’s outmatched in that department as Nakamura drops him with a clothesline and delivers a knee drop for 2. Jey fights back with a back elbow and a scoop slam for 2.
Nakamura fights back with some strikes, but Jey quickly regains control with a brutal Irish whip. He goes for another but gets caught by a kick and a series of knees. Nakamura continues the assault with a facebuster as some stomps in the corner. He locks in a chinlock, but Jey fights out, so he slams him into the corner and delivers Good Vibrations. Cesaro’s music hits and he makes his entrance as Nakamura delivers a baseball slide dropkick. Don’t know why he didn’t just come out with him in the first place.
Nakamura throws Jey face first into the ringpost as we go to commercial. When we come back, Cesaro is on commentary, and Nakamura is Irish whipping Jey into the corner. Jey throws him to the outside and delivers an enziguri before bringing him back into the ring and delivering an uppercut. He beats the King of Strong Style down in the corner, going wild with some brutal stomps and a hip attack. When he goes for another, he gets hit with a single-leg dropkick.
Nakamura continues the assault with a series of kicks, a knee to the stomach, and a shining wizard. He goes for an attack in the corner, but Jey kicks him away. Nakamura goes in again, this time stacking Jey on the ropes and delivering a sliding German suplex for 2. Jey fights out of an exploder suplex and delivers a Samoan drop for 2. Jey delivers a kick, an uppercut, and a back suplex into a neckbreaker for another close 2. Jey goes for a splash in the corner, but Nakamura dodges and delivers a flying knee from the second rope.
He looks for the Kinshasa, but Jey catches him with a superkick. Jey goes for the Uso Splash, but Nakamura gets his knees up. The King of Strong Style looks for a spear in the corner, but Jey moves and he hits the ringpost. Jey rolls him up and puts his legs on the ropes for leverage, but the ref catches him. He argues with the ref, allowing Nakamura to clear his head and deliver the Kinshasa for the win.
Winner via pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura
Match Rating: 3.5/5
Backstage, Sonya Deville confers with Adam Pearce about his Royal Rumble match with Roman Reigns. They are interrupted once again by Paul Heyman, who goes on and on about how Adam Pearce has the opportunity of a lifetime. He tells him that his match at the Rumble is a No DQ match, and for some reason, Pearce accepts this and signs the contract.
Backstage, Jey Uso continues to argue with referee Charles Robinson, the ref who called out his feet on the ropes during his match with Nakamura. He tells him that he’s going to get fired if he messes with the Tribal Chief.
Kayla Braxton interviews the Street Profits, who somehow seem just as happy and energized without the titles. They say that they’re going to get their titles back, that the sequel of their match with Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode will end differently.
Backstage, Roman is talking to Apollo Crews. We don’t get to hear what they’re saying, as Paul Heyman interrupts them. He has the contract that Adam Pearce signed. Roman refuses to sign it, saying he wants a Last Man Standing Match instead. Paul says that Pearce would never agree to that stipulation, and Roman tells him to get him to.
Natalya (w/Tamina) VS Liv Morgan (w/ Ruby Riott and Billie Kay)
With a punk edition Billie Kay on commentary, Liv Morgan locks up with Natalya. Liv takes out Natalya with a hurricanrana. She delivers a back elbow and a monkey flip, but Natalya delivers an STO and a version of the Stun Gun. Natalya beats down Liv in the corner, and delivers a brutal suplex. When she goes for another, Liv rolls her up for 2. Natalya delivers a clothesline for her own 2 count, then locks Liv into a backbreaker submission.
Liv maneuvers herself to the apron and rolls Natalya up with a Sunset Flip, before delivering a series of kicks and a Shining Wizard in the corner. Natalya pulls her face first into the second corner and delivers a discus clothesline for 2. Kay leaves commentary to yell encouragement at Liv, who narrowly escapes a Sharpshooter attempt. She’s able to deliver the Jersey Codebreaker to Natalya, but she only gets a close 2 count. Kay starts yelling at the ref, but Tamina gets in her face. She runs into the ring to escape her, distracting Liv and allowing Natalya to roll Liv up for the win.
Winner via pinfall: Natalya
Match Rating: 3/5
Rey Mysterio (w/ Dominik Mysterio) VS King Corbin
With Dominik on commentary, Rey uses his speed to hurricanrana Corbin into the turnbuckle. Corbin delivers a brutal clothesline and a back suplex for 2, and he trash talks Dominik as well. Rey reverses another suplex attempt into a bulldog, but Corbin uses his aggressive power advantage to toss Rey to the outside and deliver a clothesline. He then shoves Dominik, trying to get him to hit him so Rey would lose the match. He brings Rey back in the ring and pins him for 2.
Corbin chokes Rey on the ropes and continues to taunt Dominik before dropping Rey with a big right hand. Rey fights back with a basement dropkick and a seated senton, but when he goes for a crossbody, he gets caught. He fights out of Corbin’s grasp and sets him up for the 619, but the King catches him and delivers the Deep Six for a close 2. Corbin goes for a ring-around-the-ringpost clothesline, but Rey catches him with a kick. He goes for a baseball slide dropkick, but Corbin ducks it and delivers a back elbow.
He also punches Dominik, and Rey gets fired up and attacks with a 619. Dominik tries to go into the ring after the King, but Rey stops him, and the distraction allows Corbin to grab Rey and deliver the End of Days for the win.
Winner via pinfall: King Corbin
Match Rating: 3/5
Paul Heyman catches up with Adam Pearce, telling him that Roman wants a Last Man Standing Match. He tells Pearce that he can think it over and then talk to Roman about any concerns he has.
Backstage, Rey scolds Dominik for picking a fight with Corbin without a plan. Rey also says that if he does want to get back and Corbin, he knows who to talk to.
It’s time for Ding Dong, Hello! hosted by Bayley, with special guest Bianca Belair. Quick side note, the theme song for the talk show has a saxophone sample in it, and I have the same saxophone loop on my computer, because it’s on Splice, a music sample downloading service. I don’t know what to do with the knowledge that both I and the WWE music guy use Splice, I just thought I’d put it out there.
Bianca comes out, and she makes her go behind a prop door before talking to her. Bayley says she has a preview of Bianca’s upcoming WWE Chronicle, but it’s just footage of Bayley beating Bianca in their match a few weeks ago. Bianca challenges her to a rematch, but Bayley says she has nothing to prove to her. Bayley challenges her to an obstacle course next week, to see who is the superior athlete.
Cesaro VS Daniel Bryan
Cesaro starts off using his power advantage, delivering a shoulder tackle for 1. He locks in a headlock, but Daniel Bryan fights back with an arm drag. He wrings the arm of the Swiss Cyborg, and slams it over his shoulder. Cesaro backs Bryan into the corner and delivers a back elbow and an uppercut. He tosses him to the other corner and delivers another uppercut. He goes for a third combo, but Bryan moves out of the way and delivers some hard kicks to the legs of Cesaro.
He delivers a bulldog to the left arm of Cesaro and then targets said arm, twisting the wrist joint. Cesaro fights out and delivers a scoop slam. Bryan fights back but gets dropped by an STO by Cesaro for 2. Bryan monkey flips Cesaro to the outside and then dives from the top rope onto the Swiss Cyborg. He delivers some kicks, but Cesaro ducks and Bryan hits the ringpost as we go to commercial.
When we come back, Cesaro is focusing on the left leg that Bryan kicked the ringpost with. Bryan looks to make a comeback with some strikes, and then locks in the Yes! Lock. Cesaro reverses it into a Giant Swing into a Sharpshooter, but Bryan reverses it back into the Yes! Lock. Cesaro is able to get to the ropes, and Bryan continues to focus on the arm of Cesaro. The Leader of the Yes! Movement looks for an avalanche hurricanrana, but Cesaro turns it into a giant superplex for a very close 2.
The Swiss Cyborg looks for the Neutralizer, but Bryan reverses it into a backslide for 2. He delivers the Yes! Kicks, but when he looks for the running knee, Cesaro catches him with a Very European Uppercut and then the Neutralizer for the win.
Winner via pinfall: Cesaro
Match Rating: 3/5
Kayla Braxton interviews Carmella, who says that Sasha Banks is hiding from her. Sasha proves her wrong by attacking her, but Reginald the sommelier breaks up the fight. Sasha says that Carmella can have another title shot, so long as Banks gets Reginald in a match. Reginald seems averse to the idea, but Carmella seems good with it.
Apollo Crews VS Sami Zayn
With Big E on commentary, and also on a very comfy looking couch, Apollo Crews attacks first with a dropkick and a series of right hands. Crews tosses Sami with a belly-to-belly, but Sami fights back with a clothesline to the outside. Sami looks to slam Apollo into the announce table, but Crews does it to him instead, before delivering a moonsault off the table. He goes to the top rope, but Sami knocks him off and stomps him down in the corner. Sami delivers a flying elbow off the second rope, for 2, and pins him two more times in frustration.
He goes for another flying elbow, but Crews catches him and tosses him with a massive German suplex, a step-up enziguri, and a standing moonsault for 2. Sami rolls up Crews, but the ref catches him using the tights, and breaks up the pin. Sami delivers an exploder suplex into the corner and looks for the Helluva Kick, but Crews rolls him up using the tights, unfortunately for Sami, the ref doesn’t see that instance, and Crews gets the win.
Winner via pinfall: Apollo Crews
Match Rating: 3/5
Roman Reigns comes out to the ring with his posse, and Adam Pearce comes out to meet him. He has a seat and the classic contract signing chairs, but Roman doesn’t sit. He makes Adam give him his chair and then moves it to the head of the table to sit. Adam Pearce reluctantly signs the contract, and Roman signs it as well, but veeeeryyy sloooowlyyyyy. Pearce tells him that he’s waited all night for him to do that., and a slight flash of concern passes across Roman’s face.
On his way out, Pearce begins to stumble, saying his knee is hurt, and he says that he might not be cleared to wrestle at the Royal Rumble. He also says as a WWE official, he is able to pick a suitable replacement in the match. He motions to the entrance ramp, and Kevin Owens enters, signs the contract, and stares down Roman Reigns.
SmackDown January 15
I was enjoying the show thoroughly; Billie Kay was fun, Cesaro and Bryan had a great match. Then came the ridiculously anticlimactic ending. Kevin Owens has had title shot after title shot, but here he goes with another one. I was looking forward to whatever Adam Pearce was gonna do at the Royal Rumble, but I was let down. And I’m even a K.O. fan, so you know this was such a real disappointment that I’m looking past my enjoyment of his wrestling.