RAW’s Day 1 was quite the show. Now we get to see if the blue brand can cap off the WWE’s New Year’s Knockout Week in the same style. The scheduled card already sounds impressive, and, on top of that, Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns is scheduled to be there, so let’s see if the show delivers.

The first WWE Smackdown of 2024, dubbed New Year’s Revolution, was at the sold out Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC. That’s British Columbia for my American readers. Here are my thoughts:

  • The recap package on The Rock’s RAW appearance, culminating with his Head of the Table comment, started things off, and now Roman Reigns is already here? Methinks we’ll get a response from the Tribal Chief tonight. Also poor Kayla Braxton. Roman ignoring her is one thing, but her bestie Paul Heyman? That’s uncalled for.
  • We’re starting right away with the United States Championship Number One Contender Tournament Finals between Kevin Owens and Santos Escobar. Now this was a match I was looking forward to, despite having pretty much figured out that it had to end with KO winning, as Escobar versus Logan Paul at the Royal Rumble just wouldn’t make sense. Who do you cheer for?
  • And speaking of Logan Paul, here he is, to join the commentary team of Corey Graves and Kevin Patrick. Smackdown had just become a two-man booth again, and now it would be a three-man booth again, just for the first match.
United States Champion Logan Paul joins the commentary team of Corey Graves and Kevin Patrick on WWE Smackdown New Year’s Revolution 2024
  • Joaquin Wilde and Cruz del Toro taking out Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo before the match made perfect sense, meaning it would be one-on-one. I almost thought, for a moment, that KO would win it right off the bat, using the distraction to hit a Frogsplash and go for the pin, but it was only a two-count.
  • The rest of the match was a good one, and both competitors came off strong, though the crowd seemed more interested in chanting “Logan sucks!’ and booing Paul whenever he got up from the commentary table. Eventually, Escobar evaded a Stunner, went for a small package, only for KO to kick out and hit Santos with another Stunner for the win.
Kevin Owens hits a Stunner on Santos Escobar during the United States Championship Number One Contender Tournament Final on WWE Smackdown New Year’s Revolution 2024
  • After the match, it was time for Logan to do some great heel work, insulting the Vancouver Canucks, and telling Owens he shouldn’t be able to win the US Title, as he is Canadian. KO just hit him with the hand still in the cast, knocking him to the ground. Vintage KO, and nice to see how they’re continuing to use the hand injury to propel the story. Looking forward to their Rumble match.
  • This Vancouver crowd didn’t seem to get the memo that Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits were now a babyface faction, but Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford brought them up to speed. Over all this crowd was not as loud as WWE crowds have been recently, and it wasn’t because of the show. Vancouver is not Montreal (we were louder at last week’s house show), and they have a rep for being very chill.
  • Lashley’s babyface promo really seemed to set this faction in the right direction for the new year. And now it looks like they’ll be feuding with a solid, and brand-new heel faction of Karion Kross, the Authors of Pain (AOP), along with Scarlett and Paul Ellering. Maybe Lashley and company will need some help…Bianca Belair, maybe?
Karion Kross and AOP after attacking Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits on WWE Smackdown New Year’s Revolution 2024
  • Regardless, it seems like Kross has finally found himself in a good angle. And all it took was some friends. I’m excited to see where this leads.
  • WWE Women’s Champion Iyo Sky needed a clean victory, ie one without anyone from Damage CTRL helping, and she got one. It wasn’t an easy win, though. In fact, it was a great match. Challenger Mia Yim really impressed, making this a high-flying back-and-forth affair. She executed a Styles Clash off the second rope, in what was clearly a match highlight. It didn’t put Iyo away, because the champ managed to get her hand on the rope to break the count. Then Iyo avoided a splash, hit Yim with a Meteora into the barricade, and won with a Moonsault. This was a high flying match that got both women over (or more over), and a solid centerpiece for the show.
Mia Yim just before hitting a Styles Clash from the second rope on WWE Women’s Champion Iyo Sky on WWE Smackdown New Year’s Revolution 2024
  • After we got Damage CTRL congratulating Sky, and Bayley being pushed, by Dakota Kai, into a match next week against Bianca Belair. Still looks like the faction may end up kicking out their leader.
  • So no in-ring Roman promo, but Paul Heyman in the back, talking at mid-show instead. Hmmm, I guess Roman’s involvement will be physical this week.
  • Heyman was in his usual fine form. He artfully put The Rock in the same boat as the three challengers fighting tonight, as well as Cody Rhodes, Brock Lesnar, and CM Punk, while placing his Tribal Chief on the same level as….Taylor Swift. Yes, it works, because Roman’s challengers are effectively all on the same level right now.
  • I’m not sure what food gets served at a Dinner of Relevancy. Also, if Roman Reigns invited someone to such a dinner, how would that make it possible for them to sit at the Head of the Table? Heyman said it was the only way. Wouldn’t Roman still want to sit there? When someone invites you to dinner, you don’t usually take their seat. Maybe if The Rock crashed a Dinner of Relevancy? Just trying to unpack the metaphor.
  • So, the internet was right. Tyler Bate was Butch’s surprise tag team partner against Pretty Deadly. No, I don’t think they’ll change Butch’s name back to Pete Dunne. Rather he and his former NXT adversary are now the new Brawling Brutes, with Ridge Holland on NXT, and Seamus returning to join them on Smackdown.
  • The match was good, as expected. Butch had been working quite a bit with Pretty Deadly recently, and Bate worked with them both on NXT, so they worked well together once again. Elton Prince and Kit Wilson have been winning recently, so them taking the L here, specifically to Bate’s Double Tyler Driver 97, made sense. Welcome to the Main Roster, Tyler!
Butch and Tyler Bate double-team Kit Wilson on WWE Smackdown New Year’s Revolution 2024
  • Not sure what sort of opportunity Ashanti Thee Adonis is in for, but given his segment with Adam Pearce’s placement on the show, it might be a notable push.
  • The Triple Threat Match to determine who would face Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship at Royal Rumble was a solid main event on paper, and an exciting match to watch in practice. That despite, or maybe because of, the ending. While I was pretty sure Randy Orton was going to win, because it made the most sense storyline-wise, considering where all participants could be headed, I thought LA Knight could win, too, and AJ Styles in that spot was conceivable as well. When the match happened, there was enough back-and-forth, big moves, and false finishes to keep me guessing. I love it when wrestling does that. I also loved how they played on the no disqualification aspect of a triple-threat with AJ grabbing the ref’s hand before Knight could pin Orton (very Bloodline Sami Zayn). And then, just as Orton was about to win, after hitting the RKO on Styles, Knight yanked the ref out of the ring. Good stuff.
AJ Styles, LA Knight, and Randy Orton at the start of their triple threat match to challenge Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble on WWE Smackdown New Year’s Revolution 2024
  • But as we all know, the result ended up being no result. Roman Reigns, Solo Sikoa, and Jimmy Uso saw to that by interfering, and taking out everyone. The crowd, at one point, chanted “Rocky! Rocky!” and I thought that, just maybe, The Great One would make a second surprise return in the same week. But they should have been chanting “Aldis! Aldis!” because what the Smackdown GM did was an even better result. A Fatal Four-Way for the title at the Rumble is a swerve I was not expecting, but it makes so much sense in retrospect. I also love how it was done as an aside to Paul Heyman and the camera, and I find it an interesting choice not to let the live crowd know, at least not when the show was still on the air. Maybe they were informed before the local “hero” Chelsea Green and Bianca Belair dark match.
Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, Solo Sikoa, and Jimmy Uso celebrate after taking out Randy Orton (in the ring), LA Knight, and AJ Styles, as Nick Aldis confronts Paul Heyman (bottom right) on WWE Smackdown New Year’s Revolution 2024
  • A fatal four-way gives something to the Rumble match something any other stipulation (except for a triple threat) can’t: A conceivable loss for Roman Reigns. Roman losing the title without getting pinned keeps him strong enough to main event Mania with The Rock with only the Tribal Chief status on the line. This means Rock can conceivably win and not have to drop the championship almost instantly. It also means Cody can finish his story with, say, Randy, in the opener. I’m not saying they’ll do this, in fact I think they won’t. But the possibility of such a thing happening gives the Rumble match stakes it wouldn’t have with a single challenger.

WWE Smackdown New Year’s Revolution delivered some solid matches, and lived up the promise started at Day 1 by further building the Road to WrestleMania in an unexpected, and quite interesting way.

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