SmackDown Live was always going to be a completely different show than Raw was just one night earlier. With no returning WWE Legends or attempts to fit in angles that didn’t have enough time to develop on TV, the blue brand had two solid hours to give fans a story heading into the Royal Rumble. For the most part, it delivered.
As expected, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and AJ Styles were the focal points of the show and they did an admirable job of getting the WWE Universe intrigued in their Triple Threat match and leaving a few unanswered questions. Chad Gable and Jey Uso showed that their team’s best 2-out-of-3 match between the Usos and Gable and Benjamin could steal the show and The Viper made fans remember he’s still a threat.
Here are your winners and losers for SmackDown Live, January 23, 2018.
Winner: Chad Gable
Gable is proving to be a star in the making and he’s going to lead himself to stardom if he keeps having strong matches like the one he had with Jey Uso on Tuesday. If this match is any indication of what these two teams will offer in their best 2-out-of-3 falls match, fans are in for a treat at the Royal Rumble.
While his partnership with Shelton Benjamin is serving Gable well now, it’s a matter of time before WWE sees the potential in Gable to do amazing things on his own.
Winner/Loser: Liv Morgan vs Naomi
This wasn’t a terrible showing by either competitor but the match itself was a setup for the ending melee which was the most important part of the segment. The idea was to show that its every woman for themselves on Sunday.
When Charlotte came out to explain the impact of what it would mean for the women to win the Royal Rumble, it emphasized how important this historical occasion will be for these women. This really will be an important night for the women of the WWE.
Winner: Randy Orton
He’s been surprisingly absent and rumors were he wasn’t terribly pleased about being left off the 25th Anniversary of Raw, but showing up to take out both Shinsuke Nakamura and Baron Corbin was a solid twist cementing his importance in the Royal Rumble match itself.
Orton likely won’t win but that doesn’t mean he’s not a threat every time he’s in one of these matches. It was his job to make people remember that and he did.
Loser: Kevin Owens
The short match and ultimate loss suffered by Owens could be a bad sign as far as his rumored injury is concerned. The angle to get him through a quick match made Styles the aggressor which worked but if Owens is hurt and unable to take part in any major way during the Royal Rumble, it would drastically affect that handicap match and be a real bummer.
Zayn’s attack on Styles compensated for Owens’ lack of involvement and it showed just how tough Styles has it come Sunday if both competitors are ready to compete.
Winner: AJ Styles
While outnumbered, Styles was aggressive and ferocious and he proved, even with a loss to Zayn that he’s ready to battle come the Royal Rumble. His victory over Owens was a good way to overcome what might be a significant injury to K.O and his loss to Zayn shows there’s an outside chance the title could change hands.
Winner: Sami Zayn
Not lost in all of the Owens’ injury questions and the Styles’ personality change is that fact that Sami Zayn picked up a huge win that was important for his development. Many might see Zayn as the weaker of the two partners but his victory on Tuesday gives fans the idea that he could walk away with the WWE Heavyweight Championship and that would be no small thing.
There is an underground that follows Zayn in a major way and if he does win the title, there would be a lot of happy campers.
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