From the moment Daniel Bryan welcomed us to Royal Rumble weekend, the stakes were set rather high. We saw wins for superstars on the rise and more of disappointment for those in need of change. The Rumble go-home-show gave us a just flavour of what to expect on Sunday night.
Here are your top performers and biggest losers from this week’s Friday Night Smackdown:
WINNER – Braun Strowman
The last action before Royal Rumble was just as chaotic as the traditional thirty-man match itself. Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Big E, Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro, Sheamus, Otis, The Miz and John Morrison (phew!) faced off in a ten-man tag, hitting signature offense after signature offence, even after the pinfall. That was until a wrecking ball cleared the ring.
The return of Braun Strowman hyped Royal Rumble perfectly. Here’s the superstar with the most eliminations in the match’s history, reminding us all what damage a big man can truly do. The Strowman Express tore through AJ Styles before absolutely manhandling an in-form Cesaro and recent Intercontinental champion Sami Zayn. He’ll have a big role to play come Sunday night.
WINNER – Bianca BelAir
Bayley held the Smackdown Women’s Championship for a record 379 days. She saw off all comers in 2020, until Sasha Banks solved the puzzle and toppled the Role Model. Bayley was one of the hottest, most in-form superstars in WWE last year, and Bianca BelAir beat her clean in the middle of the ring on Friday night.
Rightly billed as the biggest win of her career, the victory makes the EST of WWE a top tier competitor in the women’s division. That’s how much this win should do. BelAir is a phenomenal athlete with a shining personality. A marquee victory, in a rivalry that should run for some time, will give her real momentum en route to a future title feud.
LOSER – Kevin Owens
To win the Universal Championship on Sunday, Kevin Owens needs to be at his absolute best. The champion, Roman Reigns, is bulletproof at the moment, with Jey Uso, Paul Heyman and a plethora of underhanded tactics all at his disposal. So, to beat the Tribal Chief, Owens needs his head in the game.
Friday was billed as The Final Showdown between champ and challenger, and it was Reigns who came out on top. Owens got riled by the ultra-cool champion’s comments about his father and grandfather and let his anger out in a wonderfully fiery promo.
If that’s a sign of how things will go on Sunday night however, Owens’ fire may take Reigns to the limit, but it may also be his downfall.
LOSER – Rey and Dominik Mysterio
Despite Dominik jumping the Lone Wolf during his entrance, King Corbin picked up another win against the young upstart on this week’s show. The son of the Greatest Mask of All Time took the fight to Corbin, hitting him with some impressive offense, but the match was less than seamless and it ended the same way it did last week: End of Days.
This rivalry is hurting the Mysterio family, with Dominik looking softer than he did during the long programme with Seth Rollins, and Rey Mysterio has been unable to help his son get past the King of the Ring winner. The rivalry’s going to continue, with more ingredients to be added, but right now everything’s going against the father-son duo.
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