The show opens up with a video package recapping last week’s Main Event between AJ Styles & Kevin Owens and a look at how Kevin Owens defeated the WWE Champion AJ Styles in the Non-Title Main Event Match.
Tom Phillips welcomes us to the first SmackDown Live of 2018. He is joined by Corey Graves & Byron Saxton.
Commentary then hypes up the main event match for tonight between AJ Styles & Sami Zayn as well as our tag team title match, and AJ Styles makes his way down to the ring.
He wishes everyone a happy new year and welcomes everyone to the first SmackDown of 2018 and reiterates that this is the House That AJ Styles Built. He says that he is sure plenty of superstars have made new year’s resolutions and so has he. He says that he is taking the WWE Championship to WrestleMania and walking out with the title still around his waist. And maybe that’s not gonna happen with Sami and Shane McMahon getting involved, so that leads to his second resolution, beating Sami Zayn tonight.
The question is, with the man that allowed Sami to be in Kevin Owens’ corner allow the opposite? Well that man offered to come out and tell us his position tonight.
Daniel Bryan makes his way down to the ring. As soon as Bryan gets all the way into the ring and before he can say anything, Shane McMahon comes out as well. Shane says that he had the best intentions when he came to the ring last week, trying to make sure it was a level playing field but inasmuch as his actions may have lead to Styles losing, he apologizes, and AJ accepts that apology. McMahon then says that he has been accused of having a vendetta against Zayn and Owens, and he knows Bryan thinks that.
As much as he has his issues with those two, he thinks that Bryan has an equal and opposite kinship with them. So Shane ask Daniel why on earth would he let Sami ringside last week otherwise? But before he gets to that, he’s got a bigger question. Is the Yes! Movement becoming the Yep! Movement? Shane cuts Bryan off before he can answer and says that he doesn’t think he’ll keep Owens from coming down tonight, so in the spirit of fairness, he’ll be at ringside tonight himself.
Bryan says that’s not exactly what he was thinking but since he’s declared himself ringside, they might as well have Owens out there too. And if both of them are out for the main event, Bryan wonders why he shouldn’t be at ringside himself, and lets the crowd in a “Yes!” chant over it.
Commentary shows us the bracket for the United States Championship tournament and hypes up the match between Xavier Woods and Aiden English, but first we’ll see our tag team title defense after the commercial break.
Back from the commercial break, we are just in time for the entrances of the tag team title match.
The Usos come down to the ring with mics in hand and cut a promo on Gable and Benjamin, talking about their resolution to become the tag team champs, but standing in front of them is The Usos, who are soon-to-be three-time tag team of the year, grinding 365 days a year, volatile tag team champions. They welcome Chad and Shelton to the Uso Penitentiary.
The Usos (c) vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin: The SmackDown Live Tag Team Titles are on the line in this one. Shelton and Jimmy start off. Gable tags in early but gets knocked off the apron. Jimmy goes up top, but Shelton runs up and takes Jimmy down with a suplex. Gable comes in and follows up with a shot from the top for a two count as Jey breaks the pin. The two teams go back and forth until Shelton and Jimmy get the hot tags. This leads to Shelton and Gable hitting the double team off the top for a three count after a short match. Winners & new SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions: Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin
After the match, The Usos argue with the referee while the new champions leave with the titles and celebrate. Another referee runs down and says something to them. The second referee enters the ring and talks with the original referee. Apparently Jey was still the legal man. We get a replay on the big screen. The replay shows that Jimmy was not the legal man. Greg Hamilton talks with the referee and announces that he has recognized his mistake. The referee decides to reverse his decision, and restart the match as Gable and Benjamin argues with the referee.
The Usos (c) vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin: The referee calls Gable and Benjamin back to the ring and takes back the Title Belts. This one is back on. The Usos knock Gable and Benjamin to the outside and beat them down around ringside. Back in the ring, Jey works over Shelton and hits a Samoan Drop. Jey goes to follow up with the running butt bump in the corner, but Gable pulls Shelton to safety. Gable distracts Jey and Shelton rolls him up for a two count. Shelton and Gable go for the double team off the top, but Jimmy makes the save. He superkicks Gable and then The Usos double-superkick Shelton. Jimmy Uso goes up top and hits the big splash on Shelton for the win. Winners & still SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions: The Usos
After the match, The Usos celebrate the win as Gable and Benjamin recover at ringside. Gable is furious. We go to replays. The Usos continue celebrating as Benjamin and Gable continues to argue with the referee at ringside.
We head backstage where Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn is being interviewed. Owens scoffs at the idea that he’ll affect the outcome tonight and he asks what makes tonight different from last week. This morning he had an omelette, last week he had his eggs sunny side up, that’s different. Last week was Chicago, this is Orlando, that’s different. But the outcome won’t be different tonight, because Sami is going to beat AJ Styles.
Zayn then says that all Bryan is doing is being a good general manager and nothing changes the reality of the situation and this continues to be the Sami and Kevin Show. Owens says that Zayn is going to tear the House That AJ Styles Built down brick by brick tonight.
Commentary hypes up a six-women tag-team match as well as the rematch between Breezango and The Bludgeon Brothers, and we go to a commercial break.
Back from the commercial break and we are just in time for the entrances of the next match, but The Bludgeon Brothers don’t even bother with the match, they just clobber the hell out of Breezango.
The Ascension runs down for the save but The Bludgeon Brothers take them out as well, and Viktor gets hit with the double crucifix powerbomb.
We head backstage in the locker room area where The New Day are trying to get Xavier Woods to guess a present they’ve bought him for the new year. He has several incorrect guesses before he calls that it’s pancakes in the shape of 2018 with whipped cream and whatnot. He says that he appreciates it, and points out that if he wins the United States Championship, they all win the United States Championship.
He goes to blow out the candle and makes a wish until Rusev Day shows up. Aiden English says that he wishes for every single day to be (big pause) Rusev Day. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen when he beats Woods tonight and moves on to be United States Champion. Rusev then mocks The New Day for acting like children, blowing candles out and making wishes, and he blows the candle out for them to show them what he thinks of their wish.
We then go to a commercial break.
Back from the commercial break, Mojo Rawley cuts a promo about when he beats Zack Ryder in the tournament next week, he will be back where he belongs. Woo woo woo, you know it.
Rusev Day are in the ring, but it’s Rusev who is singing today. He sings about how English is going to win and then Big E does the usual New Day promo.
Xavier Woods vs. Aiden English (United States Title Tournament First Round Match): English takes control early on until Woods dodges a shot and sends him flying outside. Rusev has a brief stare-down with Kofi and Big E at ringside. Woods misses an Honor Roll and hits the floor hard. English takes Woods back in the ring for a two count, as we see Jinder Mahal and The Singh Brothers backstage watching on a monitor. English beats down Woods in the ring until Woods comes back with some strikes. Woods follows up with a backbreaker for a two count. They trade pin attempts until English plants Woods with a powerbomb. English takes Woods up top, but Woods reverses and back drops English down to the mat. Woods goes up top and taunts Rusev, then hits the flying elbow on English for the win. Woods advances in the U.S. Title tournament. Winner: Xavier Woods
After the match, The New Day celebrates at ringside as Woods goes to the US Title that is on display and we see Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers watching on a monitor backstage. The New Day celebrates more by throwing pancakes at the commentary team and we go to replays.
We head backstage where Natalya, Tamina, Lana, and Carmella are interviewed about their match for later on tonight. Natalya says that they are feeling pretty good and before there was a Riott Squad, there was a Welcoming Committee, and that’s them. Carmella says that it’s 2018 now and the party is over, and Lana quotes a famous American saying, “only fools rush in”. In reality, she says that the Squad showed their hand, and Tamina finds that foolish.
Natalya says that tonight they are going to show the Riott Squad that while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, there is no substitute for the real thing, and we go to a commercial break.
Back from the commercial break, we are shown NBA Hall of Famer and former WCW Superstar Karl Malone in the front row.
The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan) vs. The Welcoming Committee (Natalya, Tamina & Carmella): Liv and Natalya start off and trade holds until Natalya hits the discus clothesline for a two count. Natalya goes for a Sharpshooter but Liv escapes and rolls outside. Ruby and Logan check on her at ringside as Liv takes a breather. Logan and Carmella tag in and Logan takes control. Logan knocks Natalya off the apron, but Carmella is able to tag in Tamina who comes in and cleans house. Ruby runs in but Tamina superkicks her down. Tamina hits a Samoan drop on Logan next. Tamina goes up top, but Liv pushes her off while Ruby distracts the referee. Logan hits a running knee to the head on Tamina for the three count. Winners: The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan)
After the match, Ruby Riott gets on the mic and says that she bets everybody in Orlando believes in magic, but magic isn’t real. It’s just like the crowd, phony. Riott also says that day in and day out we all pretend our way through our dreary lives, pretending we’re happy when deep down we are all miserable and we all need a strong dose of reality, so take a good look, because The Riott Squad is real. Their destruction? Real. Their success? Real. And that is why they are all going to be in the Women’s Royal Rumble Match. All the other women dream. Before Riott could finish what she was saying Charlotte Flair interrupts and she makes her way down to the ring.
Flair congratulates The Riott Squad on their victory and Ruby on her speech, but she disagrees. She says that she is a dreamer, and like everyone here, she believes in the power and magic of her dream. Flair says that you must find something you are passionate about and your world can change, but Riott says that she believes in reality, so Flair says that she will give her a dose of her own.
Flair says that actions have consequences, so she is going to introduce someone who wants to teach all three of them a lesson and it’s Naomi. But wait, Charlotte says that she has one more, someone who wants to make them pay for their actions and it is Becky Lynch. The three of them charge the ring but The Riott Squad meet them halfway and we have a brawl.
Charlotte gets in the ring and hits a boot on Logan, Naomi has a springboard kick for Morgan, and Lynch hits the exploder on Riott. Another exploder for Liv and Charlotte, Becky and Naomi stands tall in the middle of the ring. Charlotte, Becky and Naomi stare down The Riott Squad as they retreat back up the ramp.
Commentary hypes up our main event and we go to a commercial break.
Back from the commercial break, we are reminded that John Cena will be in the Royal Rumble Match and this is followed by some hype for the Royal Rumble PPV itself.
We head backstage where Baron Corbin is being interviewed. Corbin stares into the camera and smirks a little before saying that the Royal Rumble was designed for him and he can’t wait. He reminds us of the rules and again says he can’t wait. The Lone Wolf is officially in the Royal Rumble match, and he can’t wait to main event WrestleMania.
We head back to ring side where we get the entrances for our main event which is next. First comes WWE Champion AJ Styles, then SmackDown Live GM Daniel Bryan, followed by SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon, and then we go to a commercial break.
AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn: This one is a non-title match. Styles takes down Zayn early on, but Zayn fires back with some right hands and kicks. AJ hits some chops to the chest, but Sami shuts him down with a back body drop. AJ comes back with a dropkick that stuns Zayn and sends him rolling outside for a breather. Owens checks on him, but AJ and Shane chases him off. Bryan gets between Shane and Owens. AJ throws Sami back in the ring, but is distracted by Owens for another moment. On his way back in the ring, AJ eats a boot to the face from Zayn. Zayn turns it around now and continues beating on Styles. AJ fights back with elbows, kicks, and a lariat that drops Zayn. AJ follows up with a forearm shot to the grounded Zayn. AJ hits a splash in the corner, then a pump-handle gut-buster for a two count.
Zayn hits some elbows on AJ then drops his throat across the top rope. Sami goes up top, but AJ knocks his leg out from under him. AJ lifts Sami off the top rope in a fireman’s carry and drops him into a neck-breaker for a two count. AJ looks for the Styles Clash, but Sami blocks it. Sami escapes and hits a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Zayn waits for AJ to get up then goes for a big boot, but AJ ducks and locks Sami in the Calf Crusher. Zayn reaches the bottom rope to break the hold. AJ and Sami trade strikes in the middle of the ring until AJ stuns him with a Pele kick. AJ hits an elbow to the face, then he attempts the Phenomenal Forearm, but Zayn ducks. The referee dives outside to avoid a behind hit by Styles, and Owens distracts the referee. AJ rolls up Zayn in the ring, but the referee is distracted by Owens. The referee gets back in and counts two. Shane shoves Owens, then yells at the referee and the referee ejects Owens from ringside. Bryan gets on the mic and tells Shane that if Owens is leaving, then Shane should leave with him. After the distraction, Zayn hits a running big boot to AJ and rolls him up for the three count. Winner: Sami Zayn
After the match, Sami and Kevin celebrate on the ramp as Shane looks disturbed at ringside. AJ gets on the mic and says that Sami and Kevin can’t do anything on their own. AJ says that he doesn’t know whose side Bryan is on, and tells Bryan and Shane to stop bickering like children. AJ says that he is the WWE Champion and he wants to fight without someone else getting involved. AJ says why not make it a handicap match since they keep running in. Daniel Bryan takes him seriously and books AJ vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn in a handicap match at Royal Rumble. Bryan gets on the announce table and does the “yes” chant, as Shane and AJ look on in disappointment as SmackDown Live goes off the air.