WWE Smackdown New Year's Revolution Review (06/01/2024)
By Mick Robson
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As I said in the last review, Smackdown reviews aren't a regular thing, but I'm making an exception this week due to the special theme attached. This week's SD is titled New Year's Revolution, which was also the name of a WWE PPV between 2005-2007.
The main event is about as loaded as you're going to get on free TV- a triple threat No. 1 Contender's match between Randy Orton, AJ Styles & LA Knight, with the winner facing Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble PPV. Speaking of the Tribal Chief, Reigns makes a rare Smackdown appearance just days after his cousin, The Rock, called him out in a sense on Day 1 Raw. We also have the finals of the US contendership tournament as Kevin Owens takes on Santos Escobar, with the winner facing US Champion Logan Paul at the Rumble. So we'll have a good idea of the Rumble PLE by the end of the episode.
Let's do this!
To kick off the show, a SUV is shown pulling into the arena. Kayla Braxton tries to get a word with Reigns and Paul Heyman, but is laughed off.
Our commentators for the night are Corey Graves & Kevin Patrick. No Michael Cole. I never thought I'd reach the point where I'd miss Michael Cole. Owens & Escobar make their entrance, followed by Logan Paul for guest commentary.
Match 1: US Contender Tournament Final- Kevin Owens vs. Santos Escobar
Escobar shows up with Angel and Humberto, but they're almost immediately chased off by the LWO's Wilde & Del Toro. Owens catches Escobar with a superkick, cannonball and Frog Splash, almost ending it in seconds. Escobar fights back as Logan continually trash talks KO on commentary. Owens reverses a superplex attempt by Santos into his own inverted twisting superplex. Escobar avoids the Stunner and a pop up powerbomb attempt initially, but Owens manages to connect with both eventually to advance to the Rumble.
Winner: Kevin Owens (at 17:00)
Star Rating: ***1/2. Lengthy match and high quality on a technical level, but it was hard to buy into Escobar winning, particularly as Logan was heavy on the insults towards Owens on commentary, preemptively hyping that Rumble match. The commentators tried to steer him towards a little trash talk towards Escobar too, but he didn't really take the hint.
Post-match, Logan grabs a mic and enters the ring to talk more trash, but Owens simply lays him out with a punch to end the segment.
Bobby Lashley makes his entrance with The Street Profits, and then we go to a commercial break.
Back from break, we're backstage with Logan Paul. Sarah Schreiber is looking for a scoop, but Grayson Waller and Austin Theory shoo her away to try and help their buddy Logan. Cameron Grimes walks by and has a laugh, so Grayson shoves him. WWE staff separate the two.
To the ring- poor Lashley had to wait out a commercial break AND a backstage segment. He talks about 2023 not being his year, then declares for the Royal Rumble in a few weeks. The music of Karrion Kross hits, and he comes out with a dark-haired Scarlett... and Paul Ellering. The returning AOP attack Lashley and The Profits from behind. Kross enters the ring and drops Lashley with an F5. That reminds me of Brock and Bobby's underwhelming feud from a year or so ago. Time will tell if the return of AOP is a good thing- I was a bit indifferent on them before.
Match 2: WWE Women's Championship- Michin vs. Iyo Sky (c)
It's a bit slow moving in the early going, almost seemed like Michin may have hurt herself in some way. Iyo eventually picks up the pace, waking up the crowd, and Michin rises to it, scoring with a suicide dive. Iyo fires back with a springboard missile dropkick. Sky attempts the moonsault but Michin gets the knees up. Dragon suplex gets a near falll for the challenger. They battle in the corner and Michin counters a hurricanrana attempt with a Styles Clash! Sky is forced to grab the ropes. Michin goes for another dive but misses, allowing Sky to hit the double knees, followed by the moonsault for the win! And still.
Winner: Iyo Sky (at 11:00)
Star Rating: ***. Not the most engaging/exciting start, but the final stretch was good, with the second rope Styles Clash being a fun and ambitious moment. A bit like the first match, Michin never felt like a true threat to win, she hasn't had that build-up, which undercut a lot of possible tension if she was presented as more credible.
Kevin Patrick throws backstage to a Paul Heyman interview. Heyman reacts to The Rock's comments, saying that he wants to be relevant and sit at the Head of the Table. "The only ways to go viral are to date Taylor Swift or mention Roman Reigns". He lists a few other guys who have mentioned Reigns, including CM Punk, who he welcomes back and acknowledges as the OG Paul Heyman guy- before he "upgraded". The focus turns to the triple threat, but whoever wins is getting smashed by the Tribal Chief.
Great promo. Acknowledges the big elephant (or Brahma Bull) in the room, presents Roman as a big deal, and ties into hype for the high stakes matches in the here and now. Also, it gives Rock ammo that it was Heyman, and not Reigns himself, to give the response. Well done.
Backstage, Damage CTRL celebrate Iyo's victory. Bayley has plans for their faction to hold all the gold. Bianca Belair interrupts, because she's the EST, she's going to win the Rumble, not Bayley.
Match 3: Pretty Deadly (Kit Wilson & Elton Prince) vs. Butch & Tyler Bate
This was billed as "Butch and a mystery partner". but Bate felt like the obvious choice, given all the history there, which- credit to him- Kevin Patrick went right into to start this match. Bate shows off his slick techhnical wrestling, and chemistry with Butch in double team moves. They even hit a dive/moonsault at the same time. This one ends when they hit a tag team Tyler Driver for the 3.
Winners: Butch & Tyler Bate (at 8:00)
Star Rating: **1/2. Pretty Deadly had limited sustained offense here, but they can always claim that the surprise threw them off. Nice Smackdown debut for Tyler Bate. Now, let's turn Butch back into Pete Dunne already!
Patrick hypes The Rock's Raw appearance. It's gotten over 171 million views this week.
Backstage, Ashante Thee Adonis is with Smackdown GM Nick Aldis. Ashante feels lost and wants an opportunity. Aldis has an idea, which perks Thee Adonis up before we throw to the main event.
Match 4: No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat- Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles vs. LA Knight
The intensity in this one is ramped up as all three fight at ringside for an extended time. Orton back suplexes Knight on the announce table. "This is awesome" chants ring out through the arena. Back in the ring, Orton hits powerslams on both Knight and Styles. Styles fights back and clears Orton out of the ring, allowing him to hit a springboard 450 splash on Knight for a near fall! I haven't seen him hit that move since his first year in WWE, I'm sure. AJ's on a roll, and takes down Orton as well. He goes for the Phenomenal Forearm- but Orton counters with the RKO! He covers, but LA Knight pulls the ref out of the ring.
Roman Reigns' music hits, and the Undisputed Universal Champion walks out with Solo, Jimmy and Heyman. They hit the ring and attack everyone. Nick Aldis, who was watching the match ringside, tells Heyman to tell Reigns that congratulations, he's got all 3 men at the Rumble in a Fatal 4 Way.
Winner: No Contest (at 15:00)
Star Rating: ***1/2. This was fun, high quality action, and hit that highest gear in the final couple of minutes, only for the lack of conclusion to spoil things a little. I wish they got to this Fatal 4 Way in a better way than this. Reigns' character is typically pretty cerebral, and this trick backfiring is "dumb heel 101". At least the fatal four way itself will be awesome at the Rumble.
I thought New Year's Revolution wasn't as strong a special episode as Day 1. Of course, not every show can have a Rock return, but even putting that aside, I thought a commonality between the two shows was a strong opening match and strong main event, but Raw's was better in both cases. The women's championship match was just "okay", which basically applies to everything else on the show that wasn't the opener or main event.
One big positive of New Year's Revolution is that it set up future shows. We know the US title match, WWE title match, and some morre Rumble entrants. And the Heyman promo, which was high quality and likely a significant step on the part to Rock vs. Reigns.
Overall Score: 7/10
Until next time, take care.