3 Ups & 5 Downs From Last Night's WWE SmackDown (Jan 9)

A night of unlikely highlights and rigid formulas.

Kevin Owens Randy Orton

Booking an episode of SmackDown can't be a tricky affair if recent evidence is anything to go by.

The writers largely stick to the same tired formulas, with only the names changing on a week-to-week basis. One night, we'll get Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn opening the show, then seven days later, it'll be Shane McMahon. There'll be squash match, a guest commentary spot, some fun tag action, an overbooked main event, a crowded women's segment or two, and there's your show.

On good weeks, the quality of the performances transcends the restrictive framework, resulting in a fun, breezy watch harking back to SD's late-2016 peak. But on the other side of the equation, we get shows like last night's.

This was SmackDown at its most predictable. A couple of fun highlights aside, it was largely paint by numbers, with all the bookers' favourite tropes present and correct. AJ Styles responded to his Royal Rumble handicap match, Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin aired their grievances, and Becky Lynch stepped back into the ring, but there were no major developments, even from the brand's biggest stories.

Let's break it down...


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