In a last minute announcement, WWE has added a huge match to tonight’s Smackdown with major implications for the upcoming Royal Rumble premium live event. Randy Orton will go one-on-one with rising star and Bloodline member Solo Sikoa just days before Orton challenges Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.
Orton Demands Answers from Reigns
According to reports, Orton opened the show demanding answers from Reigns about recent attacks from The Bloodline, leading Reigns to instead offer Orton a match against Sikoa. With tensions high headed into their championship bout this Saturday, many see this as Reigns attempting to weaken his top challenger right before their title showdown.
“It looks like Reigns is trying some last minute tricks to get in Orton’s head and throw him off his game” said Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer. “Whether it works or not, adding this wrinkle adds some real unpredictability to the Rumble title match.”
Stakes High Heading into Blockbuster Title Fight
Reigns vs Orton is already set to be a blockbuster main event with major implications for Reigns’ historic title reign. As WWE.com noted, Orton earned the right to challenge Reigns again by winning a fatal four way number one contender’s match on the New Year’s Day episode of Smackdown. This will be a high pressure situation for both men.
* Reigns has held the WWE Universal Title for over 850 days
* Orton is a 14 time World Champion
* Orton and Reigns have feuded before, but Orton has never beaten Reigns definitively
Mind Games Continue with Surprise Logan Paul Appearance
In another surprise move, controversial social media star Logan Paul appeared on tonight’s show for an edition of the KO Show hosted by Kevin Owens. Paul got into a war of words with Owens, reminding the audience he will be entering the Royal Rumble match this Saturday.
According to WrestlingNewsSource, Paul continued the mind games by mentioning he looked forward to potentially challenging Reigns or Orton for their title after winning the Rumble match. Paul has made waves since signing with WWE last year, and seems poised for a major push heading into Wrestlemania season.
Pretty Deadly and Dunne Continue UK Showcase
In addition to the high stakes main event, Smackdown continued showcasing talent from WWE’s NXT UK brand. NXT UK Tag Team Champions Pretty Deadly defended their titles against the team of Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate.
While Pretty Deadly managed to retain, the match showcased the best of the mat based, technical style the UK brand has become known for. And with the NXT UK brand rumored to be shutting down soon, this may have been one last chance for fans to see top UK talent perform on the main roster.
Chaos Reigns Heading into Royal Rumble
With the Rumble just days away, tensions seem higher than ever on the Smackdown brand. The mind games and surprises continued right up through the main event contract signing. In a shocking twist, Orton hit his trademark RKO finisher on Reigns to close out the show, sending the champion a clear warning before their upcoming fight.
“Seeing Reigns taken out by the RKO added a shocking exclamation point to end the show” said Alfred Konuwa of Forbes. “This late addition of Orton vs Sikoa shows WWE pulling out all the stops to build last minute excitement.”
While Reigns remains the heavy favorite, Orton seems more focused and intense than ever. With Paul and 29 other superstars gunning for championship gold in the Rumble, both champion and challenger need to survive the grueling match itself before even facing each other one on one. The road to Wrestlemania begins this Saturday, with twists and turns promised at every step along the way.
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