WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Roman Reigns hates Seth Rollins for splitting up The Shield
SmackDown’s Royal Rumble go-home show also welcomed back Sasha Banks from injury
The build to Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins at the Royal Rumble got deeply personal on the go-home edition of WWE SmackDown. The final Friday night before the 2022 Royal Rumble added a layer of emotional stakes to its universal title match and welcomed back Sasha Banks from injury.
Reigns and Rollins were held until the night’s closing segment, tasked with adding levity to their championship program. Rollins finally managed to get under Reigns’ skin, leaning into their shared history as part of The Shield. At the opposite end of the card, Banks made her return 26 days after suffering a heel injury and seemingly stamped her entry into the Royal Rumble match.
CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from T-Mobile Center in Kanas City, MIssouri.
Roman Reigns hates Seth Rollins
Reigns and Rollins made their individual entrances to the ring for one last verbal encounter ahead of the Royal Rumble. Reigns claimed it was an easy decision to interfere in last week’s main event. Instead of allowing Rollins to pin and embarrass Reigns’ family, the champ had the pleasure of punching Rollins without changing, what he called, the match’s inevitable course. Rollins argued that if getting pinned by him is an embarrassment, Reigns has repeatedly shamed his bloodline.
Reigns claimed their past feuds were water on the bridge, but Rollins got under his opponent’s skin by acknowledging how he betrayed Reigns and Dean Ambrose (now Jon Moxley in AEW) in The Shield. Reigns admitted he tried to forgive Rollins for splitting up The Shield but couldn’t.
“I hate you,” Reigns said.
A heated, visibly emotional Reigns repeatedly shoved Rollins. The universal title challenger cackled maniacally in the face of his foe before Reigns tried to sucker punch Rollins but the former champ was nimble in his evasion and escape.
Sasha Banks makes a surprise return ahead of the Rumble
The show opened with SmackDown Women’s champion Charlotte Flair, who will compete in the women’s Royal Rumble match with plans of choosing her No. 1 contender for WrestleMania, should she win. The women’s Rumble was teased with Natalya, Shotzi, Allyiah, and Shayna Baszler each making their way to the ring to make their case heading into the event. Prior to a scuffle, Sasha Banks made an unexpected return. Banks suffered a heel injury at a house show on Jan. 2 and had been absent since. Banks stood tall in the ring, after tossing Charlotte to the floor after the other women had been thrown out.
Reigns and Rollins continue to excel with what little time they had to build their universal championship program. Multiple storylines are woven into their Royal Rumble clash: Reigns’ inability to beat Rollins in title matches, Rollins’ betrayal of The Shield and The Usos’ absence from ringside. Rollins’ supervillain persona could benefit from a touch more nuance. Reigns’ emotional delivery was spot on. The women’s Royal Rumble match already had intrigue thanks to the impending return of several legends. Banks’ injury bounce back may have been better saved for Saturday night. Grade: B
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
- Ridge Holland and Sheamus def. Cesaro and Ricochet via pinfall. Holland tagged himself into the match, much to Cesaro’s surprise. Holland headbutted Cesaro with the face mask and landed his finisher, the Emerald Flowsion.
- Naomi def. Sonya Deville via pinfall after landing the Rear View and a split-legged moonsault. Afterwards, Naomi celebrated finally getting some revenge on Deville. Unfortunately for her, Deville slipped on her blazer and entered herself into the women’s Royal Rumble match.
- The Usos had a verbal altercation backstage with The Viking Raiders. Erik and Ivar became number one contenders to the SmackDown Tag Team championships earlier this month.
- Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs vs. def. Jinder Mahal and Shanky via pinfall after Boogs scored with the Boogs Cruise. Prior to the match, Mahal and Shanky were guests on a live edition of the InZayn podcast. Shots at Jackass star Johnny Knoxville were taken ahead of his entry into the Royal Rumble.
- Big E and Kofi Kingston (The New Day) def. Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss via pinfall after clocking Moss with the Midnight Hour. Prior to the match, Kingston and Big E expressed how a Royal Rumble win for either New Day member would be cause for celebration. Also prior to the match, Corbin and Moss took digs Drew McIntyre, saying they forced the Scottish Warrior into early retirement.