WWE followed up the Royal Rumble with a strong showing for Raw on Monday. Could they do the same with SmackDown Live? Without a major main event match to speak of, Tuesday’s show worked its way ever-so-slowly into the WrestleMania season.
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura got the first taste of each other as they shape up the storyline heading into their WrestleMania match, Rusev earned a shot at the U.S. Title and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn had a hiccup in their otherwise happy team dynamic.
The show wasn’t one the company will write home about the action was solid enough. Here are your winners and losers for SmackDown Live, January 30, 2018.
Sometimes Rusev Day doesn’t equal a Rusev win. On Tuesday, it did. It seems that perhaps the WWE has gotten the hint and with the popularity of Rusev, they finally moved him forward as a major player and he’ll now get a shot at the U.S. Title.
Whether or not the WWE follows through remains to be seen but Rusev absolutely deserves a chance to shine. After winning a Fatal 4-Way match, Rusev came out on top and with the win and the final push by the company, Rusev was a winner.
Loser: Shinsuke Nakamura
It would have a good idea to follow up Nakamura’s Royal Rumble win with another strong performance that didn’t require too much in the way of speaking or promo work but instead, WWE got it half right. Nakamura plays better as the strong, silent type. When he’s asked to plug his own promo with a lot speaking, it doesn’t seem to play out as effectively.
Even though the Money in the Bank opportunity wasn’t officially cashed in, it’s wise of the WWE to keep teasing the idea that Carmella is dangerous and could cash it in at any time. It isn’t realistic to think that Carmella will play a large role in any real storylines leading into WrestleMania, so every once and a while if she shows up and threatens her opportunity, it keeps her in the back of everyone’s mind.
Loser: Dillinger and Corbin
It seems like neither Baron Corbin nor Tye Dillinger are in the forefront of the writing team’s thinking. Both had poor showings at the Rumble and neither wowed on SmackDown Live. Dillinger’s treatment is especially puzzling as he’s quite over with the fans.
Dillinger could have a long run as a babyface character but the WWE doesn’t seem confident that he can pull off the gig. So, both talents got thrown into a match with each other that didn’t offer much.
Winner: Bludgeon Brothers
They were one of the few talents not to show up at the Royal Rumble, so in an effort to ensure fans didn’t forget about how dominant they are and how they’ll likely be the next great challengers for the Usos, WWE gave them another dominant win.
It was also fun to watch the Bludgeon Brothers pass the Usos on the way to the ring, thus teasing the idea that these two teams will eventually come face to face. It finally appears the WWE is going to move the Bludgeons on from taking out enhancement teams. This is a definite win for both teams.
Winner: Gable and Benjamin
There was a risk after the Royal Rumble that both Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin could head down a negative path since they lost two straight falls to the Usos and could find themselves out of the tag team title picture. It still may be the case that they’re no longer title contenders, but WWE felt the need to make them look strong in a match over Breezango.
Gable and Benjamin should not be pushed aside and it appears the WWE agrees. If a program with Breezango doesn’t come out of this, they will have a worthy opponent soon enough.
Winners: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
The storyline between Owens, Zayn and the SmackDown Live management team was growing a bit stale and with Daniel Bryan doing absolutely nothing in their Royal Rumble match despite all the buildup, a slight change of direction was a smart thing.
The rift between Zayn and Owens is smart even if it takes a while to materialize. WWE should slow play this and their match next week is just the beginning of some interesting twists.
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