IT was an exciting night for WWE’s blue brand and the prestigious US Championship – with a dramatic conclusion to the title tournament.
And with just two weeks until the Royal Rumble, the stakes are high for every superstar.
Here are five things we learnt from last night's SmackDown…
In what should have just been a night of the US title semi-finals, Jinder Mahal beat Xavier Woods and Bobby Roode defeated Mojo Rawley.
But Jinder sent out the Singh brothers to attack Roode, prompting Roode to challenge him to the tournament final later on the show – which GM Daniel Bryan accepted on Jinder’s behalf.
Roode later defeated the “Modern Day Maharajah”, reversing a Khallas attempt into his Glorious DDT.
It originally looked like WWE was going to have Jinder win the belt (the evil foreigner gimmick is an easy foil for the US belt – ask Rusev) but putting it on Roode is the right call.
The only question is: what happens when Dolph Ziggler – the man who seemingly forfeit the US title by abandoning it in the ring – returns?
AJ was interviewed by Renee Young backstage about his handicap match with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at Royal Rumble – and his promo material was awful.
He went for cheap fat jokes – claiming his handicap match is actually 3-on-1 because KO counts as two people – and started referring to Kevin and Sami as “Kami”.
It’s not AJ’s fault, of course. This is WWE’s scriptwriters at their worst (we can just imagine Vince guffawing backstage at the fat jokes).
Thankfully, AJ can survive the embarrassingly bad writing. When he gets in the ring he’s still the best wrestler in the world.
Rumours are circulating that Kevin Owens in injured and has been pulled from several live shows – and both he and Sami Zayn were absent last night.
Hopefully this is just a precaution ahead of the title match at the Royal Rumble and won’t affect WWE’s creative plans.
(Whatever those are – this storyline is genuinely unpredictable.)
Instead of more action from the Yep Movement vs AJ, WWE ran a promo package on the feud and let the US title tournament take centre stage.
It’s been a rough few weeks for SmackDown’s new all-female trio.
Two weeks ago Becky Lynch returned and sent the Squad packing – and last week Becky tapped Ruby Riott with the Dis-Arm-Her.
But last night the Riott Squad were back on form in tag team action against Charlotte Flair, Becky, and Naomi.
Liv Morgan got the win for the Squad when she hit a Codebreaker on Naomi – a decisive win just two weeks before the first ever women’s Royal Rumble.
Tag champs The Usos cut a backstage promo on their two-out- of-three falls match with Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin at Royal Rumble.
But Gable and Benjamin jumped the brothers from behind and laid them out with a vicious beat down.
(It’s already been a bad week for The Usos, after Jey Uso was arrested for drink driving last Sunday.)
Gable and Benjamin have been acting heelish the past few weeks – does this attack mean they’ve gone full heel?
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