This week's SmackDown Live may not have had the advantage that Raw had this week when it comes to sheer star power, but it did have something else going for it. That something else was the latest edition of the blue brand couldn't feel much flatter than last week's episode. Yes, a new United States Champion was crowned, but for the most part, it felt like half of the SmackDown Live roster was missing. This week they had no such problems and here are five Huge Takeaways from the very last show before Sunday night's Royal Rumble.
5. AJ Styles Continues To Give Kami What They Want
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have got pushing AJ Styles' buttons down to a fine art. It didn't take long for their opening promo on SmackDown Live this week to annoy the WWE Champion so much that he came to give his two cents. Zayn and Owens revealed that was exactly what they were attempting to do and continued to goad Styles into making bad decisions. The Canadian pair challenged the champ to back to back matches against the both of them later that night, just five days before he defends his title against them in a handicap match. Styles being Styles, he accepted of course. In fact, he didn't even give Daniel Bryan the chance to book the matches after the GM joined him at the top of the ramp and just took it upon himself to say that the matches would be taking place later that night.
4. The Rumble Before The Rumble
In preparation for the first ever women's Royal Rumble match this Sunday, two of the competitors who will be in the bout, Naomi and Liv Morgan, went one on one this past Tuesday. The rest of the Riott Squad were at ringside for the duration of course, but they were gradually joined by other women who will be in the 30 woman match this weekend. Once Naomi managed to roll up Morgan for the win her fellow faction members rushed the ring and chaos ensued. All the women who had been surrounding the ring began throwing one another over the top rope and demonstrated that come Sunday all friendships and allegiances will go out the window in favor of trying to win that WrestleMania title shot.
3. RKOs For All
Shinsuke Nakamura and Baron Corbin will both enter the Royal Rumble match on Sunday night, and after a heated encounter backstage on SmackDown Live this week they wound up warming up for that match by going one on one this past Tuesday. The matchup between the two of them was actually a pretty good one with some finisher reversals and false finishes that would have had fans wondering exactly which way the match was going to go. Well, it turns out neither man was going to win, at least not clean in the middle anyway. Just as The Lone Wolf was being lined up for a Kinshasha, Randy Orton appeared outta nowhere and nailed The King of Strong Style with an RKO. Not wanting to leave Corbin out The Viper delivered one to him too. Could Orton make it back to back Rumble wins on Sunday?
2. The Rise Of Xavier Woods Has Not Been Stunted
For the longest time, Xavier Woods was viewed by most as the least important member of the New Day. Big E has the size, Kofi Kingston has the tenure, Woods didn't bring much to the table on paper. Now he does as week in, week out he continues to demonstrate just how great an in-ring performer he really is. WWE showed their faith in him by having Woods progress in the United States Title tournament and although he didn't win his momentum hasn't been stopped. Woods and Kingston teamed with the eventual winner of the aforementioned tournament, Bobby Roode, to take on the team of Rusev Day and Jinder Mahal in six-man tag action on Tuesday night. The reason for all the praising of Woods is because the New Day member is the one who won his team the match, pinning Aiden English for the victory.
1. One For Styles And One For Kami
AJ Styles accepted the challenge at the beginning of the night to take on Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in back to back matches. Early on, things looked very good for The Phenomenal One. Styles made extremely short work of KO and mere minutes into the match he had his opponent tapping to the calf crusher. An enraged WWE Champion wouldn't let go though and although Zayn came to the ring and broke things up, the damage had already been done. While The Underdog then began his own match with Styles, his partner in crime was being tended to by officials at ringside. Periodically, throughout the second match, Styles continued to put the boots to Owens as well as continue to wrestle Zayn. Splitting his time like that is ultimately what cost him as the final time his attention strayed Zayn hit him with a Helluva Kick and a Blue Thunderbomb before pinning Styles for the win. If AJ lets his focus stray like that on Sunday, then he will be losing that title.
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