WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins take a trip down memory lane

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Twitter Screen Capture / @WWE

The decade-long story of Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins has a new chapter on the road to WrestleMania. WWE SmackDown took a trip down memory lane, reflecting on the rise and fall of The Shield in the build-up to Reigns' Universal title defense against Rollins at the Royal Rumble.

The interwoven careers of Reigns and Rollins were a focal point of SmackDown from start to finish, ending in a face-to-face meeting with the friends-turned-foes. This follows last week's reveal that Rollins will challenge Reigns for the Universal championship. Reigns attempted to get the upper hand on Rolins with help from The Usos; however, Rollins was far too conscious of his old teammate's game plan.

The evening's other major event witnessed Lita's return to SmackDown, her first trip to the blue brand in 20 years. Lita expressed a desire to add two major milestones to her illustrious career and got the better of SmackDown women's champion Charlotte Flair.

CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from CHI Health Center in Omaha.

Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins relive The Shield glory days

WWE SmackDown kicked off with a video recapping Rollins' assignment as Universal championship contender. Later in the broadcast, a short video package looked back on Reigns and Rollins' start in WWE as members of The Shield. Halfway through the program, SmackDown aired another video package reminding fans of the 10-year-long journey of Rollins and Reigns. One night after The Shield defeated Evolution back in the summer of 2014, Rollins turned his back on Reigns and Dean Ambrose (now Jon Moxley in AEW) by attacking them with a steel chair. Another flashback touched on how Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and pinned Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight championship at Wrestlemania 31.

Reigns and Rolling met face-to-face at the conclusion of the show. Rollins pointed out how he has won every single one-on-one match between them. Reigns accused Rollins of living in the past and said that he's now in "God mode" as he closes in on a record-breaking universal championship reign. The two continued to trade barbs until The Usos unsuccessfully attempted to attack Rollins. who was able to duck away and escape up the ramp unscathed.

The build to Reigns vs. Rollins wasn't particularly exciting, but we'll give WWE a pass. They were forced to pivot after Reigns contracted COVID days before Day 1. His positive test forced WWE to adjust plans for that pay-per-view, the Royal Rumble, and possibly WrestleMania.. The production staff did a fantastic job of reminding fans of how long the rivalry between the two dates back. It was a smart call to draw a decade of source material in what is essentially a two-week build to a major PPV championship fight. Reigns and Rollins were honest in their assessments of one another, a nice touch. Grade: B

Lita returns to SmackDown for the first time in 20 years

Huge chants for Lita broke out following a big pop for the WWE hall of famer's entrance. Michael Cole interviewed her in the ring, complimenting the former WWE Women's champion on her accomplishments. Lita said she is back to add two major milestones to her legacy: win the Royal Rumble and headline Wrestlemania. Reigning SmackDown Women's champion Flair interrupted the legend, promising to cut Lita's return short. Lita threw a "giant head" jab that got over with fans on the shoulders of her star power. Lita then faked a slap, eliciting a big flinch from Flair, before a subsequent Twist of Fate on the champion closed out the segment. That entrance music still rocks.

What else happened on WWE SmackDown

  • Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) def. Los Lotharios (Angel Garza and Humberto), Jinder Mahal and Shanky, and Cesaro and Mansoor via pinfall after the Viking Raiders dropped Humberto with the Viking Experience to become the number one contenders for the SmackDown Tag Team championships. Prior to the match, the Usos entered the ring wearing shirts with Paul Heyman's face scratched out. 
  • Sami Zayn debuted InZayn, a stunt segment intended to rival Johnny Knoxville's Jackass. Zayn announced his intentions to ride a shopping cart, fly off a ramp, clear the ring and land on crashpads place on the opposite end. After Zayn repeatedly delayed -- and eventually passed on the stunt, Shinsuke Nakamura cracked Zayn with a Kinshasa. Rick Boogs, sporting a new short haircut, the military pressed Zayn and ejected him from the ring on the crash pads.
  • Aliyah def. Natalya via pinfall after rolling up her opponent with a schoolboy pin. Natalya ravaged Aliyah before the bell. It was an act of retribution after Aliyah dismissed Natalya's her accomplishments as a multiple-time Guinness World record-holder.
  • Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville complained backstage about the heat. Later that evening, as the executives were still having trouble with the thermostat, Naomi tried to pick a fight with Deville, leading to Pearce booking a rematch between Naomi and Flair.
  • Sheamus def. Ricochet via pinfall after landing a Brogue Kick. Sheamus took part in a pre-match segment, promising to enact revenge on Ricochet for breaking Ridge Holland's nose with a flip gone wrong. Ricochet, in a pre-recorded segment, took pleasure in breaking Holland's nose and looked forward to executing the same level of damage to Sheamus.
  • Madcap Moss def. Kofi Kingston via pinfall after landing a Punchline. Prior to the match, Kingston delivered good and bad news. The bad news: King Woods has suffered a calf injury and will not compete in this year's Rumble. Good news: Kingston will compete. This led to an interruption by Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss, leading to the match.
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