Roman Reigns may have champion's advantage at the Royal Rumble; however, he will not have the The Usos aid in a universal championship clash against Seth Rollins. The decade-long story of Rollins and Reigns continued on Friday's episode of WWE SmackDown, sprinkled with a mention of All Elite Wrestling star Jon Moxley.
Rollins had a contingency plan for The Bloodline on Friday's episode of SmackDown. "The Architect" leveraged his hand into a main event tag team match against The Usos. If Rollins won, Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso would not be permitted ringside for Reigns vs. Rollins. Elsewhere on SmackDown, WCW legends Eric Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett made surprise appearances, as well as former WWE champion Big E.
CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins make a wager
The show opened with Jimmy and Jey Uso praising Reigns and his record-setting run as WWE Universal champion (fun fact: The Usos also recently eclipsed their own record as longest-reigning SmackDown tag team champions). Rollins cut the celebration short, remarking that Reigns owes his success to The Usos the same way The Shield served as Reigns' pedestal. Notably, Rollins referred to their Shield alum Dean Ambrose as "Mox". Ambrose goes by Jon Moxley in AEW.
Rollins challenged Reigns to a wager. If Rollins and a partner of his choosing beat The Usos on SmackDown, the twins will be barred from Reigns vs. Rollins at the Royal Rumble. The Usos accepted the challenge before Reigns could reply, arguing that no one would team with Rollins. Queue Sir Freakin's best friend from Raw, Kevin Owens. Reigns added the clause that should Jimmy and Jey beat Rollins and Owens, Rollins would abandon his claim to challenge Reigns for the Universal championship at the upcoming pay-per-view.
Halfway through the program, Rollins told Kayla Braxton how the rewards of beating The Usos tonight outweighed the risks. After all, Rollins has beaten Reigns in every 1-on-1 championship encounter to date.
Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens def. The Usos via disqualification after Reigns popped Rollins with a Superman Punch. Rollins led the crowd in chanting his song before and during the match, and his high-flying offense popped the Nashville fans. Momentum swung back and forth. Key spots included a pop-up Samoan drop from The Usos and a fisherman buster delivered by Kevin Ownes off the top rope. A likely match-ending stomp was intercepted by Reigns. The universal champion slid into the ring and clocked Rollins with a Superman Punch. The act won Rollins the wager but it was done on Reigns' terms.
Rollins and Reigns are doing a great job building to Royal Rumble with limited time. These men know each other so well and are using a back catalogue of stories to build momentum. Rollins comparing The Usos to The Shield was well done, and mention of Jon Moxley popped pro-wrestling fans in. Bonus points for Rollins digging at Reigns' inability to beat him in past title matches. The main event match pitted four talented performers together and they delivered. No complaints on the tag team contest. Grade: B+
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
- Kofi Kingston def. Madcap Moss via pinfall after landing Trouble in Paradise. Kingston redeemed his loss to Moss last week. With King Woods out injured, Kingston enlisted New Day buddy Big E to counteract Happy Corbin's shenanigans. Post-match, Big E delivered a Big Ending to Moss.
- Aliyah def. Natalya via disqualification after Natalya stomped an endless mudhole into her opponent. Much was made pre-match of Aliyah's record-setting sub-four-second win over Natalya last week. Summer Rae was spotted in the crowd and Xia Li rushed in to make the save after the DQ.
- Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) def. Los Lotharios (Angel Garza and Humberto) via pinfall after felling Humberto with the Viking Experience.
- Charlotte Flair def. Naomi via submission after last-minute special referee Sonya Deville pulled the Nashville Screwjob. First, Deville exited the ring to avoid counting a six-second-long pinfall for Naomi. She subsequently rang the bell before Naomi could tap to the Figure 8 leg-lock. Later in the show, Eric Bischoff made a surprise appearance, conferring with Adam Pearce. Deville was informed that she will likely face Naomi one-on-one as a consequence of her interference in tonight's match.
- Sami Zayn delivered the In Zayn sequel, attempting to recreate Jackass star Johnny Knoxville's earliest stunt. Zayn tested a taser on himself. Enter Knoxville, who snatched the taser, saying it hadn't been turned on and then stuck Zayn, sending him to the canvas. Knoxville concluded by tossing Zayn out of the ring prior to his Royal Rumble entry.
- Sheamus def. Ricochet via pinfall after dropping him with a Brogue Kick. "The Celtic Warrior" was accompanied by Ridge Holland, weeks after Ricochet broke Holland's nose.
- Rick Boogs and Shinsuke Nakamura met Jeff Jarrett backstage. Jarrett complimented Boogs on his "mighty fine" guitar-playing. Some appropriate name-spelling ensued.