SmackDown airs tonight (Jan. 20) with a live show from Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. This is the eight SmackDown episode during the nine week build towards Royal Rumble, which takes place on Jan. 28.
Kevin Owens needs help against The Bloodline
A contract signing is scheduled for tonight’s episode of SmackDown. Kevin Owens and WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns will put pen to paper and make their title match at Royal Rumble official
The Tribal Chief will likely be flanked by The Usos, Solo Sikoa, Paul Heyman, and Sami Zayn during this segment. That’s in strong contrast to Owens, who right now has nobody watching his back. If Owens can’t find a couple friends (or Banger Bros.) to stand by his side, he’s probably going to get his ass kicked, because WWE contract signings rarely remain peaceful and he’s completely outnumbered. In fact, we just saw last week that Sami Zayn by himself is about an even match up for Owens.
Speaking of Sami, a potential victory over KO was seemingly taken away from him by The Bloodline because they preferred hurting Owens over winning a wrestling match. Zayn was not clued into the plan and was taken back by what happened. It’s the first time that Sami wondered if The Bloodline is just using him for their gain.
Zayn’s become a much more confident wrestler in recent weeks. That it looked like he had KO beat might be interpreted as a threat to the Tribal Chief, because Roman doesn’t seem so confident that he can handle Owens in a fair fight.
If WWE is planning to book a championship match between Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn four weeks from now in Montreal at Elimination Chamber, then business has to pick up soon regarding Zayn’s departure from The Bloodline. A contract signing does not seem like the ideal angle to expedite that process. But if Kevin Owens can’t find anybody in the locker room to watch his back, his best bet for escaping in one piece tonight will be to use his mic skills to widen the tension and paranoia between Sami Zayn and everyone else in The Bloodline.
The rest of the title scene
The Usos will defend the SmackDown tag team titles against the winner of a tournament that begins tonight with a first round match of The Banger Bros. vs. The Viking Raiders. Sheamus and Drew McIntyre want to pulverize Erik and Ivar after an unprovoked attack two weeks ago.
SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair was attacked in the backstage area by Sonya Deville last week. Flair already defeated Sonya in a title match earlier this month, so this provocation is how Deville plans to receive one more shot at the gold.
Intercontinental Champion Gunther is on top of the world after retaining his belt against Braun Strowman last week. With his biggest challenge to date now in the rear view mirror, Gunther is looking ahead to winning the Royal Rumble match.
Bayley and WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions IYO SKY and Dakota Kai have their hands full Raw with Becky Lynch, Mia Yim, and Candice LeRae. It’s worth noting that Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler have done nothing on WWE television thus far in 2023, so maybe they will set their sights on the tag team titles whenever they return.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
– Bray Wyatt sounds a lot more dangerous and sure of himself as we get closer to the Mountain Dew Pitch Black match with LA Knight at Royal Rumble. Will Knight lay a trap for Wyatt tonight and try to turn his lights out one week early?
– Karrion Kross questioned Rey Mysterio’s parenting skills last week, which led to a skirmish that ended with Rey choking out in the Krossjacket. Mysterio vows to win the Royal Rumble match again, but he’ll have to find a way to put Kross down in order to accomplish that feat.
– Tegan Nox got a measure of revenge on Xia Li last week when she beat her in a singles match. Is that the end of their mini feud?
– Lacey Evans is coming back to WWE television soon. At least that’s what they keep telling us.
– Liv Morgan slapped Raquel Rodriguez in the face last week. She paid the price for her reckless behavior when Rodriguez decisively beat her in a match and declared her spot in the Royal Rumble. Will Morgan try to poke the bear again tonight?
– WWE still needs to reveal a full bracket for the number one contender’s tournament for the SmackDown tag titles. Some of the probable teams in the field include Imperium, Legado del Fantasma, Hit Row, Braun Strowman & Ricochet, and New Day.
– Speaking of tag teams, how do Ridge Holland and Butch feel about their fella Sheamus choosing to join the tournament with his Banger Bro instead of his Brawling Brutes?
– Shotzi was injured about six weeks ago, and WWE said she’ll be out of action for six weeks. If my math is correct, that means she could return on tonight’s show.
What will you be looking for on SmackDown?