Like last week, SmackDown Live has taped ahead of time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania so that the wrestlers don’t have to work on New Year’s Day.
New Year!! New Day!!
The New Day celebrated New Year in the ring and announced their entries for the Royal Rumble. Kofi Kingston talked about lack of title opportunities for him and had to be calmed down by Wood. Big E was dressed up as the (New Year’s) Baby and he started throwing pancakes in the crowd taken out from his diapers.
Samoa Joe vs Jeff Hardy- Qualifier for WWE Championship Contender Match
The winner of this match will get to participate in the Fatal 5-Way match in the main event of the night to determine the no 1 challenger to Daniel Bryan’s WWE Championship. Joe started the match focusing on Hardy’s leg like the last week’s match. Hardy turned it around and started working on Joe’s leg. He went for a leg lock but Joe rolled out of the ring.
As Joe took control, Hardy tried to counter by Whisper in the Wind but Joe hit him with a dropkick. Jeff got in the match with his signature sequence also involving The Twist of Fate and The Swanton Bomb. Joe rolls out of the ring to avoid the pin. Hardy followed him to the floor. Joe put him in the Coquina Clutch. Joe beat the 10 counts from the referee. He once again put Hardy in the Coquina Clutch to pass Hardy out.
Winner- Samoa Joe by submission
Do you want to see the Real AJ Styles?
AJ Styles goes to Shane McMahon and Vince McMahon backstage. Styles said that maybe he should apologize for last week’s action but he won’t. He claimed that we will see the real AJ Styles later tonight in the Fatal-5-way match. Styles then teased attacking Vince again. Vince stopped Shane as he was ready to retaliate to AJ. AJ goes away. Shane then asked Vince he really wanted to see the real AJ Styles. Vince gave a crooked smile and replies yes.
Rusev vs Nakamura Intensifies!!
Rusev and Lana came out to the ring to celebrate Rusev’s US title win last week on SmackDown. Good reception from the crowd. Kayla Braxton interviewd Rusev until Nakamura came out of nowhere and hit Rusev with Kinshasa. Lana tried to defend Rusev but Rusev caught her with a kick meant for Nakamura. Nakamura hit Rusev with another Kinshasa and posed with United States title.
Naomi vs Sonya Deville
Naomi was ready to take down Rose even before the bell and referee had to control her. Rose moved out of the ring and it turned out Sonya was actually the opponent after some drama. Naomi kept control briefly and kept Sonya down. Mandy Rose provided Sonya with a distraction to come back. Deville hit a sliding knee before Rose once again ran a distraction to allow Sonya to hit her new finisher to get the pin.
Winner- Sonya Deville
John Cena comes out to the ring and put out a challenge and hoped someone would respond to it. The Man Becky Lynch heads to the ring and told Cena that she would replace him as the face of the company. They were soon interrupted by Zelina Vega and Andrade Almas with Vega claiming that both Becky and Cena are history. Cena ended up challenging Vega and Almas for a mixed tag team match against him and Lynch.
John Cena and Becky Lynch vs Andreas Almas and Zelina Vega
Lynch knocked Vega down with a shoulder and hit a dropkick. Vega tagged in Andrade and Becky was ready to take on him, but she has to eventually allow Cena to get in the ring. Andrade hit some quick strikes after Vega distracts Cena. Cena reverses a suplex but Almas continued his control over the match. Cena avoided a double knee in the corner and made the tag to Becky. She unleashed a series of strikes on Vega. Cena took down Almas with his signature moves and hit him with F5. When he went for the pin, Becky threw Cena out of the ring and made Zelina tap to get the win. Cena went for a handshake with Lynch after the match but she taunted him with the You Can’t See Me gesture and left.
Winner- John Cena and Becky Lynch
Backstage, Miz was pitching concept art for matching outfits to Shane McMahon for their tag team. They’re all awful designs and Shane
Asuka is with Triple H backstage. Hunter praised Asuka for winning SmackDown Women’s title and for being on a roll. Charlotte Flair, Carmella,
Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles vs Rey Mysterio vs Mustafa Ali vs Randy Orton – Fatal-5-way match to determine Daniel Bryan’s WWE title opponent at Royal Rumble
To start the match, Ali goes after Samoa Joe first while Rey and Randy lock up. Joe threw Ali out of the ring and AJ did the same to Joe, starting the match on a high note. Styles took out Mysterio with a backbreaker before going after Orton. Styles’ rampage was stopped when his effort to return in the ring was stopped by a punch from Orton. Mustafa hits a rolling X-factor on Orton for a two count. Some exhilarating moves followed where every wrestler countered each other’s move. AJ Styles had taken his game up a few notches and he again took everyone out. Joe finally tripped him on the apron, Orton followed with a backbreaker on him on the apron and Joe slammed him through the announce table.
Orton and Joe locked their eyes when Ali and Mysterio took them out with high-flying moves. Rey and Mustafa start trading takedowns. Ali hit a Spanish Fly on Mysterio from the top turnbuckle but got himself hurt. When he went for the pin, Joe broke it. Joe countered the 054 and put him in the Coquina Clutch near the ring. Rey broke it up with a 619 on Joe and then he hit Ali with another 619. Orton then tripped Rey and went inside the ring to hit RKO on Ali but Mysterio breaks up the pin with a flying leg drop. Mysterio then hit another 619 on Orton. As he was about to jump back in the ring, Joe got involved with him in the ringside. AJ took the advantage and hit the 450 on Orton for the pin and the win. Have to say that this has been one of the best matches on SmackDown in recent times.
Winner- AJ Styles
AJ Styles will now face Daniel Bryan for WWE Championship Title at Royal Rumble.