7 Ups & 6 Downs From Last Night's WWE SmackDown (Jan 22)

Randy Orton stands tall as SmackDown's quality dips ahead of the Royal Rumble.

Randy Orton Samoa Joe

Last night's WWE SmackDown was a mixed show carried, for the most part, by a strong series of individual performances across multiple segments, with the creative team laying several eggs throughout.

We're used to the writers reverting to formulas on Network-era go-home shows, but these were SmackDown's most filler-packed two hours in a long time. Few of these matches and angles pushed their storylines forward in any meaningful way. They weren't bad, but several gave the impression that WWE were content to take their foot off the gas and coast to the Royal Rumble on inertia.

Much was promised ahead of the show. A rematch of last week's awesome Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio clash had workrate-focused fans salivating, particularly with Zelina Vega banned from ringside. Elsewhere, Vince McMahon was in the house to meditate the latest AJ Styles/Daniel Bryan face-to-face, Naomi looked set to finally get her hands on the meddling Mandy Rose, and a pre-booked Cesaro vs. The Miz singles match guaranteed shenanigans in the tag division.

The Rumble card is stellar. It didn't need extra hype, but it would have been nice to see WWE deliver an episode more in-line with SmackDown's recent excellence. Not that it was a net negative, though...


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