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WWE Smackdown Spoilers: Jan. 12, 2016

Results from the Smackdown tapings set to air on USA Network on Jan. 14 that saw a huge title change and a return of an absent star.

Alberto Del Rio got retribution and won back the U.S. title with a little help from Wade Barrett

Dean Ambrose continues to bring an edgier feel to the Intercontinental Championship by challenging Kevin Owens to a Last Man Standing match. That’s interrupted by Sheamus, but then Owens comes out to accept Ambrose’s reverse challenge for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.

The heels attack Ambrose, but Neville, oddly enough, makes the save.

Ambrose and Owens are absolutely brilliant together, and this Last Man Standing match should be an early contender for Match of the Year. Both know how to take and inflict pain, and they have their respective characters completely nailed down.

Dudley Boyz def. Luke Harper/Erick Rowan (Tables Match)

This match is not a great one, and Rowan is again on the losing end of a match. After the result, Braun Strowman goes on the attack and sends both Dudleyz through tables..

It’s tough to say what the plan is for the Wyatts right now. For the most part, it seems like the Royal Rumble is their main focus, and a Bray Wyatt victory with the assistance of his family of monsters would be incredible. But on the other hand, the rest of the Wyatts have seemingly begun a foray into the tag division. 

Next up is an interview segment with freshly-crowned United States Champion Kalisto. He tells JoJo about how he’s going to succeed despite his lack of size, just like famous Mexican wrestlers Rey Mysterio Jr. and Eddie Guerrero before him.

Guerrero wasn’t necessarily small, but it’s never a bad idea to invoke his name as a legend.

Social Outcasts def. Jack Swagger/Zack Ryder/Goldust/Damien Sandow

That’s not a typo; there’s actually a Sandow sighting. Unfortunately, he’s on the losing side as Dallas gets the victory over Ryder. Bo inadvertently knocks Slater off the ring apron in the process, so hopefully the Social Outcasts are a short-lived project.

Not that the group was a bad idea as a way to get guys involved ahead of the Royal Rumble, but the group doesn’t have much hope of sticking. The only one that’s believable as a serious competitor right now is Curtis Axel, so adding them together is an obvious fresh take on the Job Squad.

Alberto Del Rio def. Kalisto (United States Championship Match)

Yes, just one night in reality and three nights in television time after Kalisto upset Del Rio for the U.S. belt, it gets put right back on Del Rio. Wade Barrett accompanies his League of Nations teammate to the ring and provides the assist for Del Rio to get the victory via submission.

This is perhaps the most egregiously frustrating example of the WWE writing team’s much-maligned “50-50 booking.” Kalisto has become wildly popular recently and has soared despite losing his partner Sin Cara to an injury.

Further, fans were overall excited about the young Latino flyer’s victory on Monday, and it’s hard to see what taking the belt off him accomplishes, besides allowing for a potential title change in favor of the face at Royal Rumble.

Becky Lynch def. Brie Bella

This one builds somewhat off Monday’s action, when Lynch interfered with Brie’s match against Divas Champion Charlotte before it could even begin. Unfortunately for Brie, she’s unable to get her revenge as Becky gets the win by submission, using her finisher the Dis-Arm-Her.

This is another step in what is a pretty clear build to Lynch vs. Charlotte for the belt at Royal Rumble. That match could take a fairly big spot in the evening, perhaps just before the main event to give Owens and Ambrose some logical time to rest before returning for the 30-man melee.

The story the ladies have told so far is worthy of such a spot, and it will go a long way toward defining the division for 2016.

Dean Ambrose/Neville vs. Kevin Owens/Sheamus (no contest)

Non-finishes are becoming a tradition for the Owens-Ambrose feud, which makes their Last Man Standing match, even more fitting. Another appropriate facet of this Smackdown main event are the fairly random teams, with neither side having any real reason to work together. Sheamus even has three other men he’s actually in a stable with, but this is a fun and interesting matchup anyway.

All four men end up spilling outside in this one, and Ambrose and Neville end the night by hitting their finishers on Owens.

It’s nice to see the Royal Rumble card setting up more slowly and organically than some of the past pay-per-views. Owens and Ambrose was a possibility from the get-go, but they built to the actual match stipulation slowly while leaving time for a build.

The U.S. title situation isn’t ideal, but, at least having Kalisto’s first title reign end after three days provides motivation for the Slammy winner. 

As for the Divas, Becky and Charlotte are the best options for the NXT-loving crowd with Sasha Banks hampered by injury. Other than that, fans have gotten an opportunity to see lots of current talent in action leading up to the World Heavyweight Championship main event battle royale, and there are several options that would seem likely for WWE.

Here’s to hoping the real winner doesn’t get spoiled before the event on Jan. 24.

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