– Tonight’s WWE SmackDown on FOX opens up with highlights from two weeks ago where WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns took out Kevin Owens, and then last week where Reigns forced Adam Pearce in to becoming his new #1 contender for a title match at the Royal Rumble by winning the Gauntlet Match.
– Paul Heyman is backstage with WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, who is going over the contract for the Royal Rumble match with Adam Pearce. Heyman didn’t like the contract when he saw it, but thinks the match needs a stipulation, one where Reigns can be Reigns and teach Pearce about fear and respect. Heyman offers to take the contract to Pearce for some adjustment. Reigns hands it over to Heyman and Heyman says Reigns can consider this handled. Heyman walks off and thanks Reigns.
Jey Uso vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
We go right to the ring as Jey Uso makes his way to the ring for tonight’s opener. Michael Cole welcomes us to SmackDown. He’s joined at ringside by Corey Graves. Uso takes the mic and talks about how he and Reigns run the show. Not Adam Pearce or Kevin Owens or anybody else in the WWE Universe. Uso’s family calls the shots in WWE, not Pearce, but Pearce will find out the hard way at The Rumble. Uso says if we thought they were satisfied with just SmackDown – think again. Uso says everyone should thank Reigns for fresh towels and hot food in the locker room, and for millions of fans tuning in each week. The boos get louder. Uso then hypes himself up as Main Event Uso, and then announces his spot in the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match. Uso says he’s going to win the match, then go to RAW to win the WWE Title from Drew McIntyre or WWE Hall of Famer Bill Goldberg at WrestleMania 37 because it’s his bloodline who owns all of WWE.
But before The Rumble, Uso says he has business with Shinsuke Nakamura. He goes on about how everyone bragged on Nakamura’s Gauntlet Match performance last week but it was nothing special, especially when he and Reigns shut Nakamura down. Uso goes on talking trash about Nakamura until the music interrupts and out he comes to a pop. Nakamura takes the mic and says Uso is Reigns’ little puppet. Uso goes to charge but Nakamura drops him with a kick to the head. Nakamura celebrates to a pop as his music hits and we go to commercial.
Back from the break and the bell rings as they start brawling. Nakamura charges and drops Uso with a clothesline. Nakamura drops knees to Uso for a 2 count. Uso turns it around and rocks Nakamura, then slams him in the middle of the ring. Uso sells an arm injury and takes his time covering for the pin attempt. They trade right hands now. Uso gets knocked into the corner but fights out. Uso whips Nakamura hard into the opposite corner and he goes down.
Nakamura misses one kick but levels Uso with the next. Nakamura drives knees to Uso’s shoulder while he’s down. Nakamura takes it to the corner and then slams Uso on his face. Nakamura drives more knees into Uso while he’s back down. The referee backs Nakamura off Uso in the corner but Nakamura stomps some more. Nakamura grounds Uso to the mat with a chinlock now.
Nakamura takes Uso back to the corner and works him over but the music interrupts and out comes Cesaro. Nakamura kicks Uso to the floor and into the announce table. Nakamura then launches Uso into the ring post. Cesaro walks around the ringside area and points to his partner as he rolls back into the ring. We go to commercial with Uso down on the outside as Cesaro walks past him.
Back from the break and they tangle with Nakamura on the apron. Uso blocks a shot and knocks Nakamura to the floor. Uso slams Nakamura face-first into the apron and brings it back in, staring Cesaro down. Cesaro is now on commentary. Uso beats Nakamura back down. Cesaro also announces his Royal Rumble spot while on commentary.
Uso stays on Nakamura in another corner and stomps away while he’s down. The referee backs him off. Uso with the running back splash in the corner, and more stomps. The referee checks on Nakamura. Uso charges again but Nakamura jumps up and meets him with a big kick. Nakamura with another kick to level Uso. Nakamura with more kicks and a knee to the gut Nakamura with a sliding knee while Uso is down. Nakamura runs into a boot in the corner. Nakamura turns it back around and hits sliding snap German suplex for another 2 count.
More back and forth between the two. Uso catches Nakamura with a Samoan Drop in the middle of the ring for another 2 count. Nakamura delivers strikes but Uso kicks him down and uppercuts him. Uso lifts Nakamura and drops him into a neckbreaker for another close 2 count. Uso goes to the top but Nakamura rolls to the corner. Uso charges but hits the turnbuckle when Nakamura misses. Nakamura with a knee from the second turnbuckle for another close 2 count.
Nakamura waits for the Kinshasa now as fans cheer him on. He charges but Uso meets him with a superkick. Uso goes to the top as fans boo him. Uso flies for the Uso Splash but Nakamura gets his knees up. Nakamura charges into the corner but hits the ring post shoulder-first as Uso moves. Uso rolls Nakamura up for the pin to win but the referee caught him using the tights for leverage. Uso and the referee argue now. Nakamura rolls him from behind and goes right into the Kinshasa for the pin to win.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
– After the match, Nakamura stands tall as his music hits. Graves reveals Cesaro vs. Daniel Bryan for later tonight. Cesaro hits the ring and celebrates with Nakamura as we see Uso down on the outside.
– We see how King Baron Corbin did to Rey Mysterio last week. Their match is coming up tonight.
– Still to come, the premiere of the new “Ding Dong, Hello!” talk show segment from Bayley. Her special guest will be Bianca Belair.
– We see Sonya Deville backstage talking to Adam Pearce. Deville wants to talk strategy for Pearce again but Paul Heyman walks in. He shakes hands with Deville. Heyman hands Pearce the contract for the Universal Title match at the Royal Rumble. Heyman says Pearce has the opportunity of a lifetime in his hands. He goes on with his sales pitch and reveals that the new contract will make Pearce vs. Roman Reigns a No DQ match. Heyman interrupts his own promo to tell Deville how good her perfume is working, creeping Deville and Pearce out. Pearce is annoyed by Heyman and his pitch. He ends up signing the contract and saying this will mean that he gets injured, which is what Heyman and Reigns want to see. He hands the contract back to Heyman after signing it. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and Jey Uso is arguing with referee Charles Robinson in the back. Uso says Robinson is about to lose his job if he doesn’t do it right. Uso storms off.
– We see how Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode defeated The Street Profits to win the SmackDown Tag Team Titles last week. Kayla Braxton is backstage with The Profits now. They dismiss the idea that they might be scared of the champs, and go on about how they’re going to run it back. Montez Ford isn’t happy with what Roode and Ziggler did to Montez Ford. They say when the rematch happens, bodies will drop. Ford says they’re up and they want the smoke.
– Paul Heyman, Roman Reigns and Apollo Crews are backstage. Heyman walks in with the contract for the match with Adam Pearce and Reigns tells Crews to stay so he can watch and learn from this. Reigns asks Heyman if the contract was signed. Reigns ends up saying he’s not going to sign the contract. He doesn’t want No DQ, he wants Last Man Standing. Heyman doesn’t believe Pearce will agree to that stipulation. Reigns says he will because Crews is going to make him. Reigns wants Pearce to sign the contract in the ring later tonight. Reigns hands the contract back to Heyman and tells him to consider it signed. Reigns goes back to chatting with Crews to end the segment.
– Still to come, Rey Mysterio vs. King Corbin. Also, Bayley’s new talk show premieres. Back to commercial.
Natalya vs. Liv Morgan
We go back to the ring and Natalya is in the ring waiting. Out next comes Liv Morgan with Ruby Riott and Billie Kay. Kay steps out in front of The Riott Squad on the stage, sporting a new punk look, and awkwardly rocks out. They hit the ring together and Kay joins the announcers.
Natalya locks up with Morgan and takes it to the ropes. She backs off and delivers a stiff shove. They go at it and Morgan nails a big takedown. Morgan with a running back elbow in the corner. Natalya gets the upperhand on a test of strength but Morgan counters and launches Natalya to the mat. More back and forth between the two with counters. Natalya slams Liv’s neck over the top rope to boos. Natalya unloads in the corner with lefts and rights as fans boo and the referee warns her. Natalya with some trash talking.
The referee warns her again. Natalya with a snap suplex to Liv, then a kick to the back. Liv ends up countering with a roll up for 2. Natalya comes right back with a clothesline for a 2 count. Natalya hoists Liv into a backbreaker submission on her shoulder as Tamina Snuka also looks on from ringside, supporting Natalya.
Liv fights in from the apron and rolls Natalya up for 2. Liv with big kicks and an enziguri to drop Natalya. Liv with a running knee to the jaw in the corner. Liv stands on Natalya and the bottom rope to stomp away in the corner now. Natalya counters a move and drives Liv into the middle turnbuckle. Natalya with the discus clothesline for a close 2 count. Billie goes over and yells at Ruby, apparently for not helping Liv. Liv kicks out of Natalya’s pin attempt again. Liv ends up dropping Natalya into knees for a close 2 count.
Billie is still yelling at ringside. She goes over and yells at the referee now, but gets in front of Tamina. Tamina asks her what is wrong with her. Kay shrieks some more and backs away, but stumbles into the ring and then back out of the ring. This leads to Natalya rolling Liv up off the distraction for the pin to win.
– After the match, Natalya’s music hits as she heads up the ramp with Tamina, celebrating. Kay realizes The Riott Squad isn’t happy with her. We go to replays. Billie stands with Liv and Riott in the ring but they’re annoyed.
– We see what happened last week in the Gauntlet between The Mysterios and King Corbin.
Rey Mysterio vs. King Baron Corbin
We go back to the ring and out first comes Rey Mysterio with his son, Dominik Mysterio. Rey hits the corner to pose as fans cheer him on. Back to commercial.
Back from the break and out comes King Baron Corbin by himself. Dominik is now on commentary. The bell rings and Rey counters a power move to start, driving Corbin into the corner and unloading. Corbin turns it right around and clotheslines Rey from behind. Corbin then taunts Dominik. Corbin drops Rey again with a big right hand. Corbin with a big back suplex for a 2 count. Rey counters another back suplex and drops Corbin with a bulldog.
Corbin with a knee to the gut before launching Rey under the bottom rope to the floor. Rey lands on his feet but Corbin runs out and levels him with a big clothesline. Corbin approaches Dominik. Dominik goes to stand up but Corbin shoves him back down in his chair. Corbin brings it back in at the 8 count and covers Rey for a 2 count.
Corbin chokes Rey on the middle rope while taunting Dominik. Corbin stands on Rey’s back next, still taunting Dominik while the referee warns him. Corbin with a big running right hand to the face of Rey. Corbin continues to taunt Dominik while Graves is pressuring him on commentary.
Rey dodges a big right hand and fights back again. Rey with the top rope senton. Rey with a springboard crossbody but Corbin catches him in mid-air. Corbin puts Rey on his shoulders but Rey turns it around and drops Corbin into the ropes, in position for a 619. Rey runs for it but Corbin comes right at him and nails Deep Six for a close 2 count. Corbin is frustrated now. Corbin charges but runs out and right back in. Rey meets him with a kick to the jaw. Rey slides out under the rope with a baseball slide but Corbin ducks it and comes back up with an elbow to the face.
Dominik steps to Corbin at ringside. Corbin rolls Rey back in and turns around with a right hand to Dominik in the face. Rey slides and kicks Corbin from the ring. Rey goes to capitalize but Dominik storms the ring. Rey immediately stops his son and gets him to leave the ring but Corbin takes advantage of the distraction, nailing Rey with End of Days for the pin to win.
Winner: King Corbin
– After the match, Corbin stands tall as his music hits. We see Dominik down at ringside trying to recover. Dominik joins Rey in the ring and they talk as Corbin taunts them from the ramp.
– Still to come, Cesaro vs. Daniel Bryan.
– Adam Pearce is walking backstage when Paul Heyman approaches him with the contract. Pearce asks if Roman Reigns signed the contract for the Royal Rumble. Heyman says there was a little wrinkle but no, Reigns did not sign the contract. Heyman says Reigns agreed with Pearce’s concerns with a No DQ match. Heyman goes on with another pitch but Pearce doesn’t want to hear it, he asks Heyman where he’s going with this. Heyman mentions the Last Man Standing stipulation and tries to sell him on it. Pearce asks who that will benefit but Heyman says he’s not in the business of giving spoilers. Pearce is once again annoyed but he’s about to sign the contract. Heyman tells him to take his time because he will be able to talk it over with Reigns in the ring later tonight. Heyman ends up walking off after saying he’s going to consider this handled.
– We see crew members setting up the ring for Bayley’s “Ding Dong, Hello!” talk show segment. The set includes a door in the middle of the ring. Back to commercial.
– Back from the break and Dominik Mysterio is with Rey Mysterio. Dominik says his dad has been fighting giants his entire career and now he’s backing down? Rey says he’s not backing down, he’s just being smart about battling King Corbin and Dominik should do the same. Rey goes on about how impressive Corbin has been. Dominik doesn’t care what he’s done… Rey interrupts and says if Dominik wants to take care of Corbin, he knows just the guy to talk to.
– We go back to the ring and the announcers introduce the newest talk show segment – “Ding Dong, Hello!” Bayley steps through a front door prop in the middle of the ring as fans boo her. She has a chair and end table, and a stool for her guest. Bayley welcomes us and brags about how her show already has more views than the rest of the division.
Bayley goes on and introduces her guest, Bianca Belair. Belair is directed to go to the other side of the door. Bayley tells her to ring the bell and the loud door bell rings once again. Belair comes in and takes a seat in Bayley’s chair. Bayley points out how that’s her chair but Belair won’t give it up, complimenting her on how comfortable it is. Cole mentions how both Superstars will be in the Royal Rumble. Bayley plugs Belair’s upcoming WWE Chronicle documentary on the WWE Network. She has a sneak peek and yells for the footage to be rolled but instead we see a clip of Bayley pinning Belair last month. Bayley apologizes and says it’s time to get to the hard hitting questions.
Bayley asks about the “EST” nickname. Belair explains and Bayley says it sounds like the nickname is based on everything Belair did before she got to WWE. Belair can’t believe Bayley is getting upset over her confidence and nickname. Bayley says based on what Belair is saying, Bayley should be called the best because she recently pinned Belair. Belair isn’t happy. She says Bayley can take her show, go put on her dusty gear and they can have a rematch now. Bayley proposes an obstacle course competition for next week, the Ultimate Athlete Obstacle Course. Belair laugh and accepts the challenge. Belair says Bayley has some “EST” in herself too, but there’s no way she can beat Belair. Now “Ding Dong” that, Belair says. Belair dances and taunts Bayley as her music starts up.
– Cole sends us to an Alpha Training Academy segment from earlier today, showing Chad Gable getting Otis ready for the Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan is training backstage with them. Kayla Braxton walks up and Bryan talks about how the Alpha training way boosts his confidence and he’s glad to prepare for the Rumble with them. She asks if his confidence was hurt last week with the Gauntlet Match and Shinsuke Nakamura. Bryan has nothing bad to say about Nakamura. Bryan mentions how he and Nakamura shook hands after the match last week. Here comes Cesaro interrupting. Cesaro says Bryan doesn’t speak for his partner, adding that Nakamura only shook Bryan’s hand out of pity last week. He ends up taking a shot at the training methods of Otis, Gable and Bryan. Bryan offers to show Cesaro how good their training methods work.
Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro
We go back to the ring and out comes Daniel Bryan to a “yes!” chant. Bryan hits the corner and poses in the corner as fans chant with him. Back to commercial.
Back from the break and Cesaro is already in the ring. The bell rings and they lock up. Cesaro drops Bryan with a shoulder and covers for a 1 count. Cesaro with a headlock now. They run the ropes but Bryan nails an arm drag and starts working on the arm now. Cesaro tries to fight free but backs Bryan in the corner. The referee counts and Cesaro nails a back elbow to the jaw. Cesaro with a running uppercut into the opposite corner.
Cesaro talks some trash now. Cesaro whips Bryan across the ring but misses when charging in. Bryan with kicks now. Bryan with the running dropkick into the corner. Bryan takes Cesaro down by his arm and works on the arm and shoulder again. Bryan drives a knee into the spine twice, keeping Cesaro down. Cesaro scoops Bryan and slams him in the middle of the ring. Cesaro keeps control until Bryan rocks him with forearms. Cesaro with another quick takedown for a quick pin attempt.
Bryan ends up dropping Cesaro awkwardly on the back of his neck. Cesaro rolls to the floor clutching his neck. Bryan goes to the top and flies, taking Cesaro down on the floor. The referee counts as Bryan kicks away. Cesaro ducks and Bryan kicks the ring post. Bryan goes down clutching his leg as we go back to commercial.
Back from the break and Cesaro is in control. They trade big uppercuts now. Bryan unloads but gets cut off. Bryan lands bad on his leg but nails a drop toe hold. Bryan goes right back to the arm. Bryan counters and takes Cesaro down with a bulldog. Bryan goes into the Yes Lock now. Cesaro powers up from it and stomps on the hurt legs now. Cesaro with a Cesaro Swing now, then the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring.
Cesaro tightens the hold but Bryan inches to the bottom rope. Cesaro transitions into a new submission to stop Bryan from going for the rope. Bryan counters and goes for the arm again, locking in another Yes Lock now as Cesaro screams out. Cesaro finally gets his foot on the bottom rope to break the hold. They get up and Bryan yanks the arm. Bryan takes it to the top rope and goes for a big hurricanrana but Cesaro stops him in mid-move. Cesaro overpowers and turns it into a big superplex to the mat. Cesaro can’t believe it but he makes the 2 count as Bryan kicks out.
Cesaro clubs Bryan with strikes while they’re both on the mat. Cesaro goes for the Neutralizer but its blocked. Cesaro runs into a boot in the corner. Bryan blocks the uppercut and backslides Cesaro for a 2 count. Bryan with Yes Kicks now. Cesaro blocks the first but the second knocks him to the mat. Cesaro is bleeding from his head now as they both struggle to recover. Bryan starts a “yes!” chant in the corner. He charges but Cesaro catches him in the big uppercut, then the Neutralizer out of nowhere for the pin to win.
– After the match, Cesaro stands tall to some boos as his music hits. We see Bryan down on the mat as the Cole calls this a career-defining win for the veteran Cesaro.
– Kayla Braxton is backstage with Carmella and her sommelier, Reginald. Carmella says she told the truth about SmackDown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks last week. Carmella says when it comes to natural talent, Banks can’t touch her. Carmella says she’s here again tonight but she doesn’t see Banks anywhere. She goes on and says Banks is hiding because she knows… Banks suddenly attacks but Reginald quickly gets in the way to make the save. Banks tells Reginald to tell Carmella that she can have her title shot, as long as Banks can have Reginald in a match first. Banks walks off and laughs. A worried Reginald turns to Carmella but she’s all smiles.
Apollo Crews vs. Sami Zayn
We go back to the ring and out comes Apollo Crews. Back to commercial.
Back from the break and Cole shows us last week’s Talking Smack when co-host Paul Heyman gave a pep talk to Crews over his loss to WWE Intercontinental Champion Big E. Crews waits in the ring now as Sami Zayn makes his way out, who Cole calls Mr. Conspiracy Theory. Sami has his documentary crew right behind him filming, capturing all the conspiracies against him. We see Big E laying on a couch at ringside, with a cup of fruit. Cole says the winner of this match may receive the next title shot from Big E.
The bell rings and Crews immediately nails a big dropkick. They trade shots and Sami kicks Crews but runs into a big overhead throw. Sami ends up clotheslining Crews over the top rope. He lands right next to Big E’s couch. Sami goes out and taunts Big E, calling him brother. Big E says Sami can’t call him brother. Sami works Crews over but Crews fights back and slams his face into the announce table. Crews with a standing moonsault from the table.
Crews brings it back in and goes to the top but Sami cuts him off and sends him to the mat. Sami works Crews over in the corner while he’s down. Sami leaps of the second rope with an elbow to the face for a 2 count, and another, and a third pin attempt put of frustration. Crews comes back and catches Sami as he comes off the second rope again, hitting a big German suplex. More back and forth now. Crews with an enziguri. Sami with two more roll-ups but on the second the referee catches him using the tights for leverage.
Sami and the referee have words. Crews charges but Sami catches him with a big Exploder suplex into the turnbuckles. Sami stops to tell his film crew to make sure they get this. He charges in the corner but Crews rolls him up, using the tights for leverage and the referee doesn’t see it.
Winner: Apollo Crews
– After the match, the music hits as Crews goes to ringside celebrating. Sami screams at the referee about the tights as Big E looks on laughing. Crews picks up the Intercontinental Title belt off Big E’s couch and stares at it. Big E gets up and tells him to keep playing and see what happens. Crews tosses the title back to Big E and they keep yelling semi-friendly fighting words at each other.
– We see Adam Pearce backstage shaking his head at the contract for his Universal Title shot. Pearce starts walking to the ring as we go back to commercial.
– Back from the break and announced for next Friday is Apollo Crews vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Roman Reigns with the title on the line, plus Bayley vs. Bianca Belair in Bayley’s Ultimate Athlete Obstacle Course Challenge.
– We go back to the ring and out comes WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman and Jey Uso. The ring is set up for a contract signing for Reigns’ title defense against Adam Pearce at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Reigns enters the ring and raises the title as the boos get louder. Pearce comes walking out next, with no music, and the contract in his hand. Cole reminds us that Pearce vs. Reigns will now be a Last Man Standing match.
Pearce nervously enters the ring and Reigns tells him to have a seat. Pearce is the only one sitting. Heyman offers to put Reigns’ seat at the head of the table, because he is The Head of the Table, but Reigns wants to stand. Heyman starts talking about the contract to Pearce, but Uso grabs Pearce and yells at him to get his ass up because he’s taking too long. Pearce sits back down on the other side of the table as Reigns also takes a seat at the head of the table. Pearce signs the contract.
Reigns smiles now, then smiles at Pearce and says that will be the last contract he’ll sign. Pearce closes the contract and says he’s waited all night for Reigns to do that. Pearce stands up and exits the ring with the contract. Reigns is confused. Pearce marches up the ramp but starts limping. Uso, Heyman and Reigns look on from the ring, confused. Pearce stops and says his knee has been hurting all day long. It must be one of those old injuries that creep up on you at the worst possible time, but don’t worry… standard WWE contracts all the same thing… Pearce’s mic is having some technical difficulties. Pearce starts talking about being able to find a suitable replacement for the Rumble match with Reigns, and a suitable replacement is just what he has in mind.
The music of Kevin Owens hits and out he comes. Owens immediately signs the contract as Pearce holds it for him. Reigns looks on from the ring and he’s not happy. Owens stares down at the ring, smiling at Reigns and taunting him. Pearce is also in a better mood now. SmackDown goes off the air with fans cheering Owens on.