SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon Called Out Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
After Owens and Zayn cost Team SmackDown the victory at Survivor Series, the only logical next step was for Shane to fire them. Obviously, they're top stars like they pointed out, but Shane firing them would've made sense given all the grief they have caused him in recent months. Daniel Bryan continued to tease tension with Shane by overruling (?) his decision and instead placing the duo in a Lumberjack main event with The New Day (following up on Owens and Zayn ditching them last week when Raw invaded).
Shelton Benjamin def. SmackDown Tag Team Champion Jey Uso
It was really cool to see Benjamin back in singles action for the first time since returning to WWE. He had a solid showing with Jey and they had a nice little outing, but the real key here was Benjamin and Gable showing signs of turning heel. That has been the case for weeks now, so it truly does look like a double turn is in the works. The teams are fine the way they are now honestly, but if The Usos are the more popular tandem, maybe it will be for the best.
The Bludgeon Brothers def. The Hype Bros
It was never a question of who would go over considering the string of losses The Hype Bros have accumulated in recent months, but I didn't know what to expect from the re-debut of Harper and Rowan as The Bludgeon Brothers. They made quick work of Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley and completely dominated them, but I can't say I'm high on the goofy gimmick as of now. At least we know they can go in the ring.
WWE Champion AJ Styles Attacked The Singh Brothers
Maybe it's because he's a babyface, but I thought Styles did a much better job of addressing his Survivor Series loss to Brock Lesnar than The Miz did on Monday's Raw, and I loved that he even teased a rematch down the road (sign me up!). We all figured his feud with Jinder Mahal would (unfortunately) resume after the pay-per-view, but this was a solid verbal exchange with Mahal confirming that he'll be invoking his rematch clause at Clash of Champions. Styles laying out The Singh Brothers was just a nice touch.
Natalya def. SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair by Disqualification
These two always work well together, so I wasn't surprised that this was another solid match from them. It wasn't as strong as their encounter last week, but I didn't expect it to be given that show emanated from Charlotte's hometown. The debuting trio of Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan caused the match to be thrown out when they attacked both men. SmackDown getting some new blood for its women's division was long overdue, but this was pretty random. On paper, they don't have any chemistry together and it feels like a carbon copy of what we saw on Raw. I guess time will tell where they go with it.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn def. The New Day in a Lumberjack Match
This wasn't your typical Lumberjack match because members of the roster only attacked Zayn and Owens and not New Day, which was perfect given their cowardly characters. It was entertaining on the whole and the finishing sequence was fun. The heels needed the win way more, but I'm not sure how much it meant considering New Day annihilated Zayn afterward. Owens vs. Randy Orton is confirmed for next week, though, so that should be good.
The entire episode was built around Owens and Zayn and whether or not they would be fired, and ultimately, they were not. The main roster call-ups were notable and it significantly shakes up the women's division, but none of the matches were particularly memorable with the possible exception of the main event. If nothing else, the build has begun for Clash of Champions with the WWE Championship main event set in stone, so we'll see how the rest of the card comes together in the coming weeks.
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