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SmackDown Live Recap & Review – Episode 963

WWE SmackDown Live
Episode 963

Original Air Date: January 30, 2018
Event Date: January 30, 2018 (aired live)

City: Philadelphia, PA
Venue: Wells Fargo Center

Commentary: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton


Ring Area
Shinsuke Nakamura heads to the ring. He starts talks about whose faces he put his knee in at the Royal Rumble. At Wrestlemania, AJ Styles is going to get a knee to the face, and there’s going to be a new WWE Champion.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn come out and head towards the ring. They don’t look happy. Owens says he and Zayn were screwed out of their title at Royal Rumble when the referee counted a pinfall on Owens when Zayn was the legal man. Owens goes on to say that they deserve another title opportunity, so it will be Owens and Zayn Nakamura faces at Wrestlemania.

Nakamura says Styles is a winner, and Owens and Zayn are losers. AJ Styles’ music plays, and Styles comes out to the stage. Styles says that Owens and Zayn can complain as much as they want, but Styles will be facing Nakamura at Wrestlemania. He then suggests that he and Nakamura team up to face Owens and Zayn tonight.

Owens and Zayn back away, leaving the ring. They have a brief discussion before getting up on the ring apron and saying, in unison, “nope.” Nakamura and Styles knock Owens and Zayn down to the floor. Owens and Zayn get upset.

Daniel Bryan informs Owens and Zayn that they will be facing Styles and Nakamura tonight. He also says that even though the referee made a mistake in their title match, the decision made in the ring is final. Owens tells Bryan that he has to make it right. They deserve better. Bryan agrees. He says that Owens and Zayn will get another title opportunity. Next week, Owens will face Zayn, and the winner will challenge AJ Styles at Fastlane.


Match 1
Fatal Four Way US Title Number One Contender Match
Rusev w/ Aiden English vs Zack Ryder vs Jinder Mahal w/ Sunil Singh vs Kofi Kingston w/ Xavier Woods, Big E
(referee: Jason Ayers; guest commentary: Bobby Roode)

Show/Hide Results

Result: Rusev forces Kofi Kingston to submit to the Accolade
Time: 12:43

Match Thoughts
Good match. It was a little all over the place, but I liked it. It felt like anyone could win, though two of the guys definitely seemed like heavier favorites.


The Usos are coming up next.

The Ascension ask Breezango questions from the internet when Gable and Benjamin walk in. Gable says The Fashion Files are an embarrassment to the SmackDown tag division. Benjamin asks Breezango if they can beat Gable and Benjamin tonight. Gable answers for them. The answer is “no.” Gable and Benjamin then turn over Breezango’s table before leaving.

Ring Area
The Usos head to the ring. They talk about beating Benjamin and Gable 2-0. But that’s nothing new. They list all the teams they have on lockdown (complete with some silly new prison-bar graphics on the screen). They then talk about “Day One Ish,” saying it’s about facing the struggles of life together. They’re not saying they’re the best tag team, but they’re the best tag team.

As The Usos leave, the Bludgeon Brothers come out and head to the ring for a match.


Match 2
The Bludgeon Brothers vs Chris Wylde & Rory Gulak
(referee: Danilo Anfibio)

Show/Hide Results

Result: Erick Rowan pins Rory Gulak after a double crucifix bomb
Time: 1:50

Match Thoughts
A squash, but I liked how Rowan forced the guy in the ring to tag his partner just by picking him up and running one guy into the other. Other than that, it was a kick, a few throws, and a crucifix bomb.


Daniel Bryan announces the first ever SmackDown top ten list, a new recurring thing for the show.

Tye Dillinger goes to Shane McMahon and begins to talk about his issues at the Royal Rumble when Baron Corbin barges in and complains about Owens and Zayn getting yet another opportunity. Corbin wonders if Shane is even still in charge. Dillinger makes a comment about Corbin’s Money in the Bank which Corbin doesn’t appreciate. They begin to argue when Shane tells en to settle it in the ring.

Ring Area
Charlotte heads to the ring. In the ring, Renee Young asks her about watching the first ever women’s Royal Rumble match. Charlotte thought it was great, but she wanted nothing more than to be in the match. She was part of a huge moment though; she was there when Ronda Rousey showed up. Charlotte knows she’ll be champ heading into Wrestlemania, but who will she face? The Riott Squad interrupts and comes out to the stage.

Ruby Riott mocks Charlotte, saying her ego is as big as her father’s. Riott says Charlotte is talented yet arrogant and entitled. She is just a cheap imitation of her father. The Riott Squad enters the ring, and Charlotte wonders if Ruby is done.

The Riott Squad attacks. Charlotte fights back and ends up getting all three Riott Squad members out of the ring. They attack again, this time pummeling her. Ruby, Sarah, and Liv each get some moves in before Ruby hits Charlotte with a Riott Kick.

As the Riott Squad is about to leave, Carmella runs past them on her way to the ring. She has a referee with her. Carmella decides to cash in her Money in the Bank contract. After handing the briefcase to the ref, Carmella goes for a kick on Charlotte. Carmella misses, hitting the referee instead. As Carmella yells for the referee to get up, Charlotte gets back to her feet. Seeing Charlotte up, Carmells gets out of the ring, grabs her briefcase, and leaves. The match never started, so her contract is still intact.

AJ Styles approaches Nakamura and wonders if he wants to talk strategy. Nakamura says he’s going to beat Styles at Wrestlemania. Styles wonders if Nakamura heard him correctly, but Nakamura repeats what he said before. Nakamura says he’s messing with Styles. He wants to win tonight, but he is going to beat Styles later.

Carmella tells Renee Young that she is the most dangerous woman on SmackDown Live. Renee Young cuts Carmella off as she talks.


Match 3
Tye Dillinger vs Baron Corbin
(referee: Mike Chioda)

Show/Hide Results

Result: Baron Corbin wins via pinfall after End of Days
Time: 6:26

Match Thoughts
This was okay I guess. Dillinger started off strong, but this was a Baron Corbin match.


Aiden English sings that Rusev will win the US Title next week on Rusev Day. Rusev tells Bob Roode pretty much the same thing.

Bobby Roode says he might have an appointment on Rusev Day, but as champ, his schedule fills up very quickly.

Sami Zayn tries to look on the bright side of their match next week. He and Owens talks about how opportunities aren’t good if they fail. Sami says he won’t fail in their tag match, because he has Owens in his corner. Owens agrees. Zayn won’t fail. Tonight.


Match 4
Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable vs Breezango
(referee: Charles Robinson; watching in the back: The Ascension)

Show/Hide Results

Result: Shelton Benjamin pins Tyler Breeze after a tandem powerbomb and diving neckbreaker
Time: 3:39

Match Thoughts
Good match. It was kind of short, but they fit a lot of action into it. Breezango had some fairly good offense, though it did feel like they were just trying to keep up with Gable and Benjamin most of the time. Gable and Benjamin pressed the pace and the attack. This was a pretty good match for them.


Match 5
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakamura & AJ Styles (WWE Champ)
(referee: Jason Ayers)

Show/Hide Results

Result: Shinsuke Nakamura pins Kevin Owens after Kinshasa
Time: 11:04 (1 break)

Match Thoughts
Good match. The main story was all about Owens and Zayn not getting along, and Zayn eventually bailing on the match. Between all the story though, there was some good action. This was fine for a SmackDown main event.


Renee Young asks Sami Zayn if his friendship with Kevin Owens is over. Zayn says this isn’t about friendship, it’s about opportunity. Owens has been champ. Now it’s Zayn’s time. He’s going to beat Owens next week, and he’s going to beat Styles for the WWE Title at Fastlane.


Show Impressions
This show was okay. I didn’t care about the Corbin match or the Bludgeon Brothers squashing some more local talent, but the other three matches were enjoyable. I like that Nakamura has finally gotten something real to do on the show. And the tease of Carmella’s Money in the Bank cash-in was good.

Match of the Night
Fatal Four Way US Title Number One Contender Match
The main event was alright too, but I tend to like a straightforward over one heavily influenced by story in the way the main event was.



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