Washington, D.C is host to tonight’s edition of Smackdown Live, the go-home show for the Royal Rumble. It’s been a painfully slow build to the annual Big 4 PPV; the blue brand has been in a holding pattern since November’s Survivor Series, and many of the storylines have developed little, if at all.

That being said – it’s the go-home show to a major PPV. It’s been shoved down our throats, but it truly will be historic; I have my complaints about the women’s division, but I’m super excited for the women’s rumble match, and I’m sure there will be a major development on that note tonight.

Let’s get to it – I’m @SpennyLove, and you’re reading Win Column Sports official Smackdown Live Preview for the Royal Rumble go-home show!

Last Week’s Smackdown:

WWE.com

The biggest (and only) development from last week’s edition of Smackdown was the finale of the United States Championship tournament; Bobby Roode is your new U.S. champ, and while the right decision, it was one that felt slightly underwhelming.

I can appreciate what they were trying to do in building Roode as a face and having him wrestle twice in one night; however, the finals of the championship tournament was disappointing, and it leaves more questions than answers. What’s next for Jinder Mahal? In fact, what’s next for any of the tournament’s participants? The only one who leaves with a clear direction is Roode, and even then I feel as though he should be turning heel sooner rather than later. Perhaps a championship is just what he needs; I thoroughly enjoyed his run as NXT’s top titleholder – maybe he’ll do the same for the U.S. Championship.

The Other Stuff:

  •  Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin attached the Usos from behind during an interview segment
  • AJ Styles cut a promo on Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
  • In a shocking turn of events, the Riott Squad took on Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Naomi in a multi-woman tag bout.
  • The following did not appear: Rusev Day, the New Day, Baron Corbin, 

State of the Belts:

Forbes.com

Can AJ Styles please stop calling them “Kami”? While I have my complaints about the storyline, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have been the only consistently entertaining parts of the main event scene. Shall we not at least give them the respect they deserve? Man, I’m starting to see how they think the Smackdown staff have it in for them. Anyways – last week’s episode only featured the WWE Championship once, and in a backstage segment to boot. With this being the go-home for the Royal Rumble, I’m sure their champion will be given a spotlight tonight – as well as his challengers.

The Usos were giving an interview backstage last week when they were attacked by Gable & Benjamin; now, Jey Uso will battle Chad Gable in singles action on tonight’s go-home show.

Charlotte Flair, apparently, is Smackdown Women’s Champion – but you wouldn’t know that given how little the championship has been featured. Technically, she’s exceeded the 30-day limit without defending her title, having not put it on the line since December 17th’s Clash of Champions. Usually, that would strip a champion, but in a world that Brock Lesnar exists – who hasn’t defended since September – that simply won’t happen.

Here and There:

WWE.com

Rusev Day will join forces with former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal to take on the New Day and recently-crowned United States champ Bobby Roode. How WWE can still see Rusev and Aiden English as heels astounds me. Perhaps this is how they start their turn? Mahal and Rusev do have their history together, and the Maharaja is directionless after losing to Roode in the tournament finals last week…

Liv Morgan battles Naomi in what can only be considered a meaningless match. However, I can at least be glad that we’re getting a singles match between the ladies – at least until the action “unexpectedly” breaks down at ringside. Let’s get to the Royal Rumble!

Where the hell is Baron Corbin? While he’s never been my favourite wrestler, it’s odd that he hasn’t made an appearance since losing to Bobby Roode in the first round of the U.S. Championship tourney. What’s next for the Lone Wolf?

Three Things to Watch For:

  • After so many legends appeared at RAW25 last night, will Smackdown have any surprises for us? It’s the go-home show for the Royal Rumble, so there’s always the possibility of a big return. Will someone come back and declare themselves?
  • With the aforementioned Bobby Roode winning the United States Championship, will Dolph Ziggler come back to claim what, technically, he never lost?
  • Will we see another match added to the Royal Rumble card? Or, will any directionless wrestler simply end up in the Rumble match? We wait.

That’s our list! Don’t forget to check out our official Royal Rumble predictions, coming to you this Friday. Let us know your thoughts in the comments, or at @WCSportsCA!

WWE Last 5:

Smackdown Live Preview: January 23rd – Royal Rumble Go-Home
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Spencer Love

Once stood in front of Cedric Alexander in line at a hotel. Slightly big deal.

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