On a day where much of the news in wrestling centered around All Elite's rally, WWE put on a fairly strong program with Tuesday's SmackDown Live.
Sure, wrestling fans were buzzed with the anticipation of All Elite's new roster which included Neville and Chris Jericho, but if they were too busy chatting about AEW to watch SmackDown, they missed more than a couple very strong matches, a push in the right direction for Andrade 'Cien' Almas, a big win for Becky Lynch and some fine storytelling woven in between.
As it did when it finished the year 2018 with the momentum, SmackDown Live seems to be the show to beat in 2019. Here are your winners and losers for SmackDown Live, January 8, 2019.
Winner: Styles and Bryan
SmackDown Live is doing a bang-up job of promoting their marquee matchups right now and the opening of the show that included Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles was no different. A strong promo by Bryan, followed by a decent match (and predictable win) for the champion, but a sneak attack by Styles really built towards their bout at The Royal Rumble.
Unlike the night before on Raw where Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman only teased the idea of mixing it up, Styles and Bryan held nothing back. This was a good way to kick off the program on Tuesday night.
Winner: Andrade "Cien" Almas
The match was great so everyone was a winner but the participant to get the real rub here was Andrade "Cien" Almas who got a big win over Rey Mysterio, likely setting up a feud between the two. This is only good for Almas who was underutilized in 2018.
The move where Mysterio flips Almas over in a reverse 360 piledriver was incredible. This is the kind of thing that really makes SmackDown Live stand out and why many are calling it the show to watch over Raw each week.
There were many people I spoke with after the show who liked the Rusev segment, but for some reason, I'm not one of them. A different side, a vulnerable side of Rusev is not a bad thing, but if he was going to try and look sympathetic, he needed to go all in (pardon the pun on a day like today).
Instead, Rusev tried to look emotional while also cracking jokes about his Hemsworth-like body. The backstage fight was cool, but having Nakamura in the truck was awkward, only being useful to suggest Rusev was surprised to find Nakamura hiding where he was backstage when he went looking for him.
Not the worst segment ever, but it was missing a few pieces to make it a winner.
Loser: The Usos
In a match that should have been better than it was, the Mandy Rose distraction takes away from what the Usos are as a team. This storyline with Jimmy likely won't go anywhere and if it does, it will probably be in a bad direction for the team once Naomi becomes the divider of the brothers who are so often distracted the losses pile up.
Meanwhile, The Bar will move away from the Usos to focus on The Miz and Shane McMahon.
Winner: No. 1 Contenders Match
As one might expect with the three competitors in the ring, this was a great way to close the show. Carmella held her own making sure she didn't get overlooked and Lynch and Flair were their usual excellent selves.
This was an edge-of-your-seat kind of matchup where the right winner was chosen. Lynch will move on to face Asuka (the two women offered an excellent staredown) and Lynch will potentially roll onto WrestleMania for her shot at Ronda Rousey.