Several major returns and a surprise debut took place on the special New Year’s Revolution edition of WWE SmackDown, shaking up the landscape of the blue brand’s roster heading into 2024. The show saw the return of former tag team champions The Authors of Pain, the main roster debut of UK standout Tyler Bate, and other surprise names that could lead to new alliances and championship opportunities.
Authors of Pain Return and Join Forces with Karrion Kross
In the biggest return of the night, former NXT Tag Team Champions The Authors of Pain came back to WWE programming after over three years away. Akam and Rezar, accompanied by legendary manager Paul Ellering, attacked Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos after their title defense against Sheamus and Drew McIntyre .
This shock return was further enhanced when Karrion Kross and Scarlett came out, with Kross seeming to recruit AOP as his backup. The three tandems aligned in a show of force, possibly setting the stage for Kross to challenge for Roman Reigns’ Undisputed WWE Universal Championship with AOP watching his back .
Akam and Rezar have not been seen on WWE programming since August 2020. Their alliance with Kross opens up many exciting storytelling opportunities and adds further depth to the SmackDown tag team division . Kross himself returned to WWE last April but has bided his time, waiting for the right moment to strike in his bid for championship glory.
|Potential Feuds for AOP & Kross Faction
|The New Day
Fan reactions to AOP’s return have been overwhelmingly positive. Many praised the timing as perfect for Kross to make his move towards the world title picture with credible backup behind him . Others expressed relief that AOP opted to return to WWE instead of joining rival promotion AEW .
Tyler Bate Debuts On Main Roster
In another surprise of the night, acclaimed UK wrestler Tyler Bate made his main roster debut, teaming up with Butch to defeat Pretty Deadly. The 26-year old Bate is a one-time NXT UK Champion and the inaugural WWE NXT UK Heritage Cup winner .
Bate was revealed as Butch’s mystery tag team partner against Pretty Deadly members Kit Wilson and Elton Prince. The duo overcame the pesky challengers, with Bate pinning Wilson to pick up a win on his first main roster match .
Butch seemed excited to team with Bate, someone he has known well from their days together in NXT UK. Fan response was also positive, with the vocal SmackDown crowd chanting “This is awesome!” during the bout .
Bate’s arrival opens up plenty of new match possibilities for SmackDown. He could be added to Sheamus’ Brawling Brutes faction with Butch and Ridge Holland, creating a dominant four man group. There is also speculation he may challenge Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER, in a battle of hard-hitting European strikers .
|Potential Opponents for Tyler Bate
Bate’s debut furthers the recent effort to elevate NXT UK talent to bigger opportunities on WWE’s flagship shows. Former NXT UK stars Butch, Ridge Holland and Ilja Dragunov have already established themselves on the SmackDown roster over the past year and Bate looks to follow in their footsteps.
More Surprise Appearances
Beyond the major returns of AOP and Tyler Bate’s debut, the New Year’s Revolution edition of SmackDown also featured some other surprise appearances that could play into storylines going forward:
WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle was spotted backstage in Vancouver ahead of the show, sparking speculation of the Olympic gold medalist making another appearance after recently serving as guest GM .
Hot prospect Gable Steveson competed in a dark match before SmackDown, defeating former Hurt Business member Shelton Benjamin. This keeps Steveson sharp as he continues training for his imminent main roster call-up .
There were rumors circulating that even more names could show up, though no other major surprises took place. Some sources speculatedHall of Famer Trish Stratus or injured star Cody Rhodes were possibilities. While they didn’t appear, one or both could show up to spark a new rivalry as we build towards WrestleMania season .
|Potential Future Surprise Appearances
What’s Next After New Year’s Revolution
The special New Year’s Revolution edition of SmackDown saw WWE pull out all the stops to kick off 2024 with a bang. Fan excitement was palpable both amongst the live crowd and on social media. Now SmackDown must build on these surprise returns and debuts to drive intriguing new storylines on the road to WrestleMania .
All signs point to Reigns vs. Kross becoming a marquee championship feud in the coming months. Meanwhile, The Authors of Pain instantly injected themselves back into the SmackDown tag title picture that The Usos have dominated for most of 2022.
There is plenty of speculation around what Tyler Bate will do next, with no shortage of fresh matchups for the popular young UK talent. The same goes for Gable Steveson, with his main roster debut looming. Overall, SmackDown received a strong talent injection to drive fan interest into the new year.
The next test is to build on this momentum instead of allowing things to go stale. With major names like Cody Rhodes and even The Rock possibly circling for WrestleMania season, the time is now for SmackDown to catch fire and make 2024 a year to remember for WWE. Last night’s electric New Year’s Revolution show was the perfect launching point to do just that.
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