We open with Michael Cole and a very-excited Pat McAfee welcoming us to Friday Night SmackDown! You all know Pat's gonna lose his voice calling the Rumble tomorrow, right? That's right--the Royal Rumble is tomorrow, Saturday, at 8pm Eastern! Cole and McAfee run down the matches announced for tonight's card earlier today. But first things first, it's time to hear from the Queen!
Flair makes her way out to woos and boos as Cole throws us back two years, to when Flair won the Royal Rumble. I'll throw us back three years, to when Asuka won the first ever WRR. Cole then explains how a Rumble (battle royal) match works in case we weren't sure. Flair begins by insulting the Chiefs, claiming that she's going to do something that the Kansas City Chiefs can't do, and that's bring home another championship. The crowd gives her a lot of heat for that, and she goes on to claim KC's hearts will be broken on Sunday (lies! Go Chiefs!) Flair then addresses the general tropes of a Royal Rumble--betrayals, surprise alliances, returning Legends, et cetera. Flair pivots, stating she didn't have to enter the Royal Rumble match and the crowd boos her heavily. She states waiting on someone else to win, allowing fate or chance, to determine her competition is not her style. She wants to take control and prove shes' the most dominant champion in the history of the WWE. Flair states that when she wins the Royal Rumble, she'll make history as she chooses a challenger of her own design to take her on at WrestleMania. Shayna Baszler makes her way out with a new theme. :(
Baszler enters the ring on the mic and tells Flair that while she's a great competitor, "tomorrow night if it ends up being me and you again, I will not hesitate to snap you like a twig. Limb by limb. But you know what? I'll make you a promise. After I throw you over the top rope, I won't waste any time declaring you as my opponent for WrestleMania. See, all you'll have to worry about is making sure your limbs are healed in time." They're then interrupted by Aliyah who now sports an "Aliyah 3:17" shirt, part homage to Austin 3:16 and a nod to her record-setting win over Natalya. Aliyah isn't sure if she should be out there, but she's nervous and wants to win the Rumble. Flair questions who she even is, then tells Aliyah that she stands zero chance of winning tomorrow night. Aliyah explains she beat Nattie in 3.17 seconds and--is then cut off by Natalya. Nattie makes her way to the ring, too, calling Aliyah lucky, clueless, and delusional. Natalya reminds us that she is a three-time Guinness World Record holder and tomorrow night will be her fourth record.
Shotzi Blackheart makes her way out next, loving the chaos in the ring. She claims their discordance will enable someone like her (Shotzi) to sneak "right in and cease the spotlight." All five women exchange words. Flair gets on the mic and tells them that they're all delusional as none of them stand a chance and, on cue, here comes Sasha Banks! The Boss enters the ring, alongside the other five, and announces that the Boss is back. The in-house crowd is behind Banks whereas, up til this point, it's mostly been digital crowd reactions. The crowd breaks out in a loud Sasha chant and Banks slaps Flair, feigning innocence. Natalya attacks Aliyah, Shayna attacks Shotzi, then Natalya clotheslines Flair while Banks stands on the apron, coaching on the chaos. Baszler sends Flair out of the ring. Aliyah drops Nattie with a step-up Enziguri and Shayna is dropped by a dropkick off a rope rebound. Flair re-enters the ring and sends Aliyah out of it. She turns to find Banks in the ring with her and attempts a Big Boot. Banks catches her foot, mocks it's smell, then dumps Flair over the top rope.
After cutting a short, pointless promo backstage, Sheamus and Ridge Holland make their way out for the rematch you never knew you wanted for twenty-seven whole days in the making. We head to break. When we return, Ricochet makes his way out to new music and Cesaro comes out to a new tron/lighting...think the Matrix. We start off with The Bar as Sheamus and Cesaro lock up, jockeying around the ring. Cesaro dominates and pushes Sheamus into the corner. The ref forces a break and Sheamus exclaims, "keep your dirty mitts off me". Pat McAfee informs us that it's Sheamus' birthday and he yells happy birthday to him. Sheamus and Cesaro lock up in the ring, with Cesaro taking Sheamus down with a side headlock. Sheamus breaks the hold with a big forearm. Cesaro whips Sheamus into the ropes, but the Celtic Warrior runs him over on the rebound. Sheamus runs off the ropes and attempts a running hip toss but Cesaro counters! Cesaro with a standing Stomp. Cesaro with an arm crank while tagging in Ricochet leads to a diving arm breaker off the top. Ricochet loses control and here comes Ridge Holland for the first time in twenty-seven days (thanks, McAfee). Ridge Holland is wearing a black protective face mask, similar to Sheamus' old one. Ricochet wastes no time sending Ridge outside and hitting a suicide strike as we head to break!
We return as Sheamus connects with an Irish Curse backbreaker. Holland enters and hoists up Ricochet, ramming him into the turnbuckles multiple times before tossing Ricochet across the ring. Sheamus taunts the crowd, yelling, "are you not entertained?" Holland slows the pace, dropping a knee across Ricochet's face before cranking the neck. Holland with a slam and a back drop before attempting a cover. Holland has to constantly adjust his face guard. Holland gut-wrench Ricochet up and over his right shoulder and bends Ricochet's back at a sharp angle across his shoulder. Ricochet escapes and both men make hot tags. Cesaro comes in hot, hitting a series of mini European uppercuts to rock Sheamus into the corner. Cesaro mounts the turnbuckles and unloads lefts and rights on Sheamus. Cesaro hits a beautiful springboard corkscrew uppercut on Sheamus. A work of art. The action spills outside, where Cesaro charges Sheamus and rams him into the barricade. Sheamus is sent into the ring and Cesaro climbs the turnbuckles. Cesaro looks for a flying cross body; Sheamus rolls through with it and attempts to reverse it into an Irish Curse backbreaker. The ref loses control as Holland and Ricochet both get involves as we build towards the ending. Sheamus with a huge big knee to Ricochet's chin that gets replays. Cesaro misses a blind tag from Sheamus to Holland, allowing Holland to end the match with a headbutt--wearing his protective mask--and pinning Cesaro.
Your Winners, Sheamus & Ridge Holland!
Naomi makes her way out and, as she does, we find Sonya Deville in the back attempting to intimidate the ref for tonight's match. She reminds him that he works for her and all but blatantly asks him to cheat. He apologizes as he's going to call the match fair, and that's that. This match is (supposedly) finally up next! When we return, Deville makes her entrance in black vinyl and rubber--a new, Cat Woman-esque fight outfit. Deville attempts to dodge Naomi early on, and uses dirty tactics at every chance. Deville grabs Naomi by the hair and whips her face-first into the canvas. Deville puts on a week submission and tries to claim Naomi's out. Naomi breaks free and takes Deville down with a headscissors takedown. Deville again uses the ref to get Naomi to back off. Deville and Naomi finally get into it, with Deville using strong kicks to chop away at Naomi's legs. Deville eats a slap from Naomi, then a jumping single-foot dropkick before she flees outside. Naomi follows her and rams Deville into the apron twice. Naomi sends Deville into the ring and covers for one. The crowd needs to be checked for a pulse, sadly. Deville counters a baseball slide attack into a DDT to the ringside floor as we head to break.
When we return, we find Deville in control of this match. McAfee and Cole highlight some of the action during the break, which saw Deville continue to keep Naomi grounded with working holds. Naomi escapes one and kips-up. Naomi with a mule kick followed by a springboard backpack stunner! Naomi with a splash in the corner before running Sonya across the ring and face-first into a turnbuckle! Naomi climbs up top and hits a diving cross body lateral press for a close two! Naomi runs at the corner, looking for another springboard move but Deville shoves Naomi into the turnbuckle. Deville quickly executes a stalling suplex and converts it into a modified Jackhammer, which McAfee calls a "suplex into a sidewalk slam." Naomi with a Full Nelson and a pin attempt but Deville kicks out. Deville messes with the apron, causing the referee to attend to it. Sonya uses the distraction to rake Naomi's eyes then pulls her tights as she rolls her up. Naomi kicks out. The crowd shows a little life and starts a Naomi chant. Naomi hits the Rearview on Deville, follows it up with a split-legged springboard moonsault and covers for the three!
Your Winner, Naomi!
Naomi plays up to the crowd, stating that "we did it" together. Deville then announces she's entering the Royal Rumble tomorrow in an effort to get revenge on Naomi.
The Usos are cutting a promo when the Raiders walk up. The Usos tell them that they stink. The Raiders tell them how much they love their axes, as you can use them for eating, hunting, trimming beards, and cutting titles in half. The Usos leave. Okay.
Sami Zayn makes his way out for his weekly InZayn program with a huge announcement to make. We head to break. When we return, the set is in place. Zayn mentions there are some changes due to the semi-destruction of the set last week. Zayn now announces that InZayn is a live podcast. He welcomes his first guests, the Modern Day Maharajah Jinder Mahal & Shanky. He reminds us that Shinsuke Nakamura still owes him a title match, and tries to talk down about Boogs but the crowd has none of it. Zayn asks Jinder to speak, and he does--but Zayn cuts him off. Zayn repeatedly tells us how he never wants to hear the name Johnny Knoxville ever again, which of course causes a chant from the crowd. Zayn claims his show is for intellectuals. "For example, Shanky, I would love to pick your brain about consumerism in a post-modern society." Haha. Mahal states that he's embarrassed Nakamura time and time again. Like Nakamura has Boogs, Mahal has Shanky as his protege. Zayn makes a comment about Jackass not being in India, and Mahal corrects him, stating Indians love Johnny Knoxville. Shanky mentions he loves the port-a-potty prank. Zayn insults Kansas City to loud boos--and they're interrupted by Booooooooogs! Shinsuke Nakamura makes his way out with Boogs to the ring. The crowd loves Boogs and so does Pat McAfee as he freaks out for Boogs once again. Nakamura kicks Zayn, ending the disjointed and odd segment.
After a break we return to find the match under way. Boogs, in a very impressive spot, holds the gigantic Shanky in a vertical suplex for a lengthy period. After the move, Sami Zayn sneaks behind the ref's back and attacks Nakamura on the Apron. Mahal takes a tag in and beats on the back of Boogs head in the corner. Rick Rude Boogs fires himself up, dropping Mahal with a Polish Hammer and Shanky with a trio of hard shoulders. Boogs' haircut and mustache favor Freddie Mercury of Queen fame, and even McAfee calls it. Boogs ends the match with his new finisher, the Boogs Clues--a powerslam.
Your Winners, Rick Boogs & Shinsuke Nakamura!
We return from a break with the New Day ready to go in the ring. Corbin & Moss come out to their casino music to a mostly indifferent crowd. KC better wake up by Sunday's Chiefs game. We get clips of Corbin & Moss ambushing Drew McIntyre a month ago, using a chair to sideline the Highlander with a neck injury. Can't lose his head, after all. When we return to the ring, Moss and Corbin exchange lame jokes on a pre-recorded clip ahead of the bell. Big E and Madcap Moss start us off. Moss runs off the ropes and plows into Big E, knocking the former WWE Champion down hard to the canvas. Big E takes a shot, using a big elbow to drop Moss. Big E tags in Kofi and Kofi leap frogs over Big E's back, crashing onto Moss and attempting an early cover. Corbin comes in and choke tosses Kofi into the corner, following it up with a running splash. Corbin uses another single-hand choke toss to send Kofi into the corner. Corbin takes a swipe at Big E, allowing Kofi to recover. Kofi drops Corbin with a dropkick, then the entering Moss with a dropkick as well. Kofi climbs the top turnbuckle and dives to the outside but Corbin & Moss catch Kofi and slam him into the ring post! We head to break!
We return to find Corbin & Moss double-teaming Kofi. We're reminded that this is the first time Big E and Kofi Kingston have tagged together in eighteen months. Kofi escapes a double-team attack and tags in Big E. Big E uses a pair of belly-to-belly suplex tosses to drop Corbin and Moss. Big E with a Urinage to Moss in the corner followed by another belly-to-belly on Corbin! Big E looks for the Big Splash and finds it--325 pounds crashing down on Corbin! Big E fires up the crowd and tags in Kofi. Kofi goes up top but Corbin shoves Big E, causing him to crash to the outside, and allows Corbin to catch Kofi with a chokeslam. Moss hits the Deep Six and looks for a cover but fails to garner the win. His mentor, Corbin, enters the ring but Big E prevents the double team. Kingston fights free of Moss' lock and Big E takes the blind tag. Big E and Kofi work together to hit the Midnight Hour and pick up the win! Noticeably, the announced winners were "the team of Kofi Kingston and Big E"--not the New Day.
Your Winners, the New Day!
Our Tribal Chief begins his entrance at 9:45pm--we await his arrival and Rollins' as we head to break! When we return, our Head of the Table awaits us in the ring. Seth Rollins comes out immediately, wearing his best 1960's Joker suit and tie. Roman opens us by demanding Kansas City acknowledge him. Rollins ask Reigns if he thinks he's Patrick Mahomes, and cackles. Rollins "will acknowledge (that) last week I played you like a fiddle" in getting Reigns to cause the DQ, barring the Usos from ring side. Reigns replies it was a simple decision, either let Rollins embarrass the Bloodline by pinning his cousin or smack Rollins in the face which he did. Rollins states that if being pinned by him (Seth) is embarrassing to the family, then Reigns must be their biggest shame as he's never beat Rollins in the big matches. Reigns tells Rollins he's in God Mode; Rollins reminds Reigns that he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract at WrestleMania to defeat Reigns, and he also defeated Reigns after returning from a leg injury. Reigns continues to insist its just water under the bridge. Rollins asks if its still water under the bridge when he recalls taking a steel chair to Roman's back and "changed the game forever." Reigns makes angry faces as Rollins cackles.
"Let me tell you something about that moment. When I took that chair and I put it in your back, I knew I was doing it for your own good." Rollins then takes credit for all of the private jets, millions of dollars, and WrestleMania main events that Reigns has experienced. Rollins tells Reigns that he's done it all except "beat(ing) me when it matters (the) most." He tells Roman that it won't be personal when he takes the title from him, adding "my brother, I will always love you." Reigns makes grumpy faces for a few long moments. Rollins mocks Roman, stuttering as he asks Reigns if the cat has his tongue. Reigns remains quiet as Seth cackles. Reigns recalls the "chair to my back. Breaking up the Shield. I tried to forgive you, I really have, but I'll never forgive you for what you did to us. I hate you." Rollins cackles loudly as he auditions for the role of the evil Sith Emperor. Rollins insults Roman's entire family, calling his cousins, siblings, parents--the whole bloodline--a joke. Reigns smacks the mic free and the two have words off mic. Reigns attempts a Superman Punch but Rollins has him scouted and ducks under, escaping up the ramp as we end our program!
That does it, folks, as the stage is finalized for tomorrow night's Royal Rumble. Don't forget to check back here for all your live needs as Boone's got you covered. Have a great weekend, stay cool, stay frosty and stay safe out there, Rajahmaniacs. See you all Monday Night for Raw.