WWE SmackDown Grades and Reactions for January 19, 2024

WWE SmackDown brought us one step closer to the 2024 edition of the Royal Rumble.
Roman Reigns Jan 2.jpg
Roman Reigns Jan 2.jpg /

Undisputed Universal Championship contract signing

Just a week away from the Royal Rumble, SmackDown GM, Nick Aldis hosted an official contract signing for the Undisputed Championship to kick off the show. Randy Orton, LA Knight, and AJ Styles all made their way to the ring to sign the contract and enter themselves in an enormous World Title match. However, Roman Reigns failed to make an appearance. Instead, was the Wiseman, Paul Heyman. 

Heyman informed Nick Aldis personally that Reigns would not be signing that contract tonight. Aldis responded with a threat of stripping the championship away from the Tribal Chief. This resulted in Heyman complaining, following Knight shutting him up to agree with Heyman that this should not be a fatal forway, but a one-on-one title match between him in Reigns. Ultimately this led to a breakout fight between Styles and Knight. Orton then assures Heyman Personally that he will vanquish Solo later tonight, scaring the daylights out of Heyman. 

This was an Amazing kick-off to the show and set up both the double main event of the night and the Fatal-4-way match at the Rumble. Classic Bloodline story building that seems to be gradually coming out of the rather dull phase it’s been in since Wrestlemania 39. At the same time, It continued to make Orton look strong, a theme that has been recurring in the past handful of weeks. Such a push has more and more people speculating about the outcome of this title match at the Rumble. 

Grade: A

Carlito and LWO Vs Legado Del Fantasma

Santos Escobar has taken his revenge to new heights, targeting Carlito and the rest of LWO. His newly formed faction is fully despite his former mentor Rey Mesyterio, a man whom Carlito and the rest of the LWO hope to see very soon after he recovers from injury. 

The match showcased Escobar and Carlito very well, with no doubt to continue the feud between the two in the future. Carlito still shows no age in his performance. Additionally, Angel and Amberto have been brought back in a very relevant way. Both of them looked like they hadn’t missed a beat at all. The action was thrilling and was a great start to Legado Del Fantasma’s run as a faction.

 Maintaining stable factions is an organic way to keep this story consistent until Mysterio finally comes back to feud with Santos when he’s healthy. It was no surprise that Escobar ended up getting the 3-second roll-up on Carlito for the victory, a classic way to prolong feuds and build to future matches.

Grade: B

Pretty Deadly Vs. Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne

WWE has officially changed Butch’s name back to Pete Dune, reminiscent of his NXT UK days. His teammate and long-time friend, Tyler Bate successfully convinced Dunne to become a semi-official tag team for the time being. Now, their second match as a team was once again against Pretty Deadly. 

The match was quite brief as expected, the best thing that came out of it was the story-building between the upcoming team of Dune and Bate. You could also see the intensity in Dunne’s moves, as he goes out of his way to hurt his opponents, signaling that he’s still the Bruiserweight that so many remember fondly.

The match ended with a predictable victory for Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate. Pretty Deadly has been consistent on TV, but mostly to put over talent such as Dunne and Bate. This could lead to Dunne and Bate being a game changer in the tag division and maybe even a title match between them and The Judgment Day in the distant future. 

Grade: C+

The K.O Show with Logan Paul

Logan Paul has held the United States Championship for over two months without defending it once. K.O. looks to stop that at the Rumble by taking the championship for himself, but before that, he must host another edition of The K.O. Show (Which was once the main event of Wrestlemania in case you forgot.) This time, with the man whom he cannot stand, Paul himself. Paul is amazing at being a heel on TV. He’s been a natural from Day 1 selling himself as a bad guy. However, Kevin Owens doesn’t stay down. 

K.O. retaliated well with the whole crowd behind him. It was mostly generic face talk, but it certainly kept up with Logan’s promo. Ultimately, Paul hit Owens with a K.O. punch. He surprisingly pulled himself up, showing his strength and resilience. Paul ended up with the last laugh, leaving K.O. laid out outside of the ring. A proper build-up to what should be a blockbuster match.

Grade: B+

Kayden Carter and Katana Chance Vs. Unholy Union (Women’s Tag Team Championships)

Carter and Chance have been champions for some time, and this match Vs. Unholy Union seemed over before it started. The reason is that Damage Control was at Union, scoping out the tag titles, teasing Damage Control as future champions. While the match was average and quick,  The champions retained and Asuka and Kairi Sane stepped up and challenged Carter and Chance for the tag titles. Carter accepted as Baley could still be heard on commentary, yelling about how Damage Control is gonna run through the competition and become champions.

Grade: C

L.A Knight Vs. AJ Styles

While a lot is surrounding the Royal Rumble title match, L.A Knight and AJ Styles have had an inner feud that has been rather brutal. Knight’s title opportunity was seen as a sign of disrespect from Styles, as Styles was next in line for a title shot. The match was very brief and was disrupted early by the enforcer, Solo Sikoa.

This match was rather dull, especially for Styles. It always seems that if he wants to put on an amazing match, he easily can. Tonight might not have been one of those nights. While Styles showed his anger and frustration towards night, the match served more as a foreshadowing of who AJ’s main target at the Rumble will be. Not even ten minutes in, Solo spoils the match, gets in the ring, and calls out Orton for the main event.

Grade: C+

Randy Orton Vs. Solo Sikoa and Roman Reigns signs the contract

Again, This match didn’t last long, but was crucial in the building of the title match. Jimmy Uso, Styles, and Knight all took part in interfering with the match in some form.  The match was quick-paced but ended with Randy Orton winning with an RKO. Shortly after the match, Reigns showed up to attack Orton and finally sign the contract. The show went off the air seemingly with Reigns standing tall, but just as he went to deliver his signature spear, he was met with an RKO out of nowhere. Orton stands tall above everyone, leading people to believe anymore that he’ll emerge victorious at the Rumble as world champion.

Grade: B-