The New Day kickstarted the proceedings for the New Year’s Day episode of SmackDown LIVE and announced that all three members would be entering the Royal Rumble Match later this month.
The trio stated that their goal was to main event Wrestlemania and become WWE Champion and at the same time, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston mocked Universal Champion Brock Lesnar.
Samoa Joe vs Jeff Hardy
Like recent weeks, Samoa Joe continued to be a thorn for Jeff Hardy as he immediately went on the attack and took control of the match at the very beginning.
Similarly, Joe seemed to have an answer for Hardy’s high flying offensive manoeuvres as he expertly intercepted and avoided nearly every one of his moves until the Charismatic Enigma landed the twist of fate.
However, the Samoan Submission machine evaded the Swanton Bomb and rolled outside. The action drifted ringside before Joe locked in the Coquina in the middle of the ring and Hardy had no choice but to tap out. Consequently, Samoa Joe’s victory qualified him for the Fatal 5 Way main event match on SmackDown LIVE last night.
Shinsuke Nakamura crashes Rusev’s celebrations
New United States Champion Rusev declared that his reign will be long and luscious and he would defend his title against anyone with courage, pride and honour. But, every celebration in WWE is incomplete without a spoilsport, so, Shinsuke Nakamura sneakily attacked Rusev and struck him on the back of his head.
The former US Champion unloaded on Rusev although Lana interfered and applied a Rear Naked Choke on Nakamura. The Bulgarian Brute took advantage of the situation to deliver a Matchka kick and Nakamura fell right on top of Lana.
Rusev went to check on his wife but allowed Shinsuke the opening to strike back with the Kinshasa.
AJ Styles doesn’t regret attacking Mr.McMahon
AJ Styles encountered the McMahon family and said that he wouldn’t apologize for attacking Mr.McMahon last week. The Phenomenal One added that they were going to see the Real AJ Styles in the Fatal 5 Way match and even teased attacking Vince again.
Meanwhile, Shane McMahon told his father to be careful of what he wished for after AJ exited their office.
Naomi vs Sonya Deville
Naomi was prepared to take on Mandy Rose however a last minute change in plans saw her squared up against Sonya Deville.
In what seemingly turned into a handicap match, Naomi didn’t lose her focus on her opponent until she was interrupted by Rose, who revealed that she couldn’t help but think of Naomi’s husband, Jimmy Uso and showed her a picture that she sent him earlier that evening.
Sonya Deville capitalized on Naomi’s distraction and flattened out her counterpart for the three count.
Becky Lynch confronts John Cena
John Cena made his return to SmackDown LIVE after a gap of more than nine months. The Champ repeatedly asked “Why am I here?” to which he didn’t have an answer.
He insisted for someone’s music to hit and for everyone’s surprise, Becky Lynch answered the call. The Man proclaimed that Cena personified what WWE was and now it was her turn to fill in the shoes.
The duo was later interrupted by Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega. Cien’s business manager declared that 2019 was going to be the year of Almas while Cena had no hesitation in challenging them to a mixed tag team match against himself and Lynch.
John Cena & Becky Lynch vs Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega
Andrade “Cien” Almas looked to make a name for himself at the expense of John Cena and did a very good job of cutting the ring in half right of the bat. After laying out some severe punishment on the 16-time World Champion, Almas missed with the double knees in the corner and allowed Cena the much-needed opening to tag in Becky Lynch.
The former SmackDown LIVE Women’s Champion wasted no time and took control immediately. Meanwhile, Andrade’s timely intervention distracted Becky but the former NXT Champion was met by Cena, who landed the five knuckle shuffle and capped it off with his new finisher, The Lightning Fist.
Zelina Vega rolled up her opponent but Lynch reversed it into the disarmher and picked up the win via submission for her team.
AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe vs Mustafa Ali vs Randy Orton vs Rey Mysterio – Fatal 5 Way No.1 Contenders match for WWE Championship
In a chaotic cycle of events, the action emptied everywhere both in and out of the ring. For a short span of time, Samoa Joe and Randy Orton inadvertendly joined forces and attacked AJ Styles, with Joe sending the Phenomenal One crashing through the announce table.
Orton and Joe had a staredown before they were taken out separately by Mustafa Ali and Rey Mysterio. With three superstars laid out ringside, Ali and Mysterio battled each other in a 1-on-1 matchup and their high-risk offence was duly appreciated by the WWE Universe.
The Viper sent Mysterio crashing on the floor and struck the RKO on Ali but his pinfall attempt was broken by a flying leg drop out of nowhere by Rey. The former World Heavyweight Champion then landed the 619 on Orton but was intercepted by Joe on the apron as he looked to finish it with the frog splash.
Meanwhile, Styles took advantage of the situation and landed a 450 springboard on Orton for the win and earned a rematch for the WWE Championship against The New Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble.