Preview: WWE SmackDown Tonight (1/20/23) – Friday Night SmackDown Card

wwe smackdown tonight - roman reigns and kevin owens contract signing

Just two more episodes of SmackDown are set to take place prior to the upcoming Royal Rumble event on January 28th. The road to the ‘Rumble is still being written and WWE SmackDown tonight will have a big say in some of what we can expect as we travel the Road to WrestleMania. Tonight’s SmackDown airs live from the Little Ceasars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. As of this writing, just one match and one segment have been announced but both should have a huge impact on storylines going forward. Let’s take a look at the card for WWE SmackDown tonight.

WWE SmackDown Tonight – Full Card

Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns Sign their World Title Match Contract

If last week was any indication, tonight’s contract signing between undisputed champion Roman Reigns and his Royal Rumble challenger Kevin Owens should be a chaotic scene that could play out one of a few ways. Last week, Reigns sent his top lackey Sami Zayn to handle business against Owens but just when it looked like Zayn would put away his longtime frenemy, the Bloodline attacked Owens causing the disqualification. Clearly it was more important to the Tribal Chief that his ‘Rumble opponent be left bruised and battered than it was for Zayn to prove his worth. And for the first time since the Bloodline angle with Zayn began, the Honorary Uce seems questioning of his place in the family. It’s been building for weeks but as Zayn watched the rest of the Bloodline lay out Owens to end SmackDown last week, it was clear there was at least an ounce of conflict in his eyes.

So back to the contract signing and what that means. While it is unlikely WWE uses SmackDown tonight to fully turn Zayn against the Bloodline, they could very well plant the seeds. Maybe Zayn doesn’t move against Reigns’ group but does something at the contract signing that questions his loyalty. Then, at the Royal Rumble, Zayn can either prove his loyalty (but we’ve already been down that road) or more likely, stand aside Owens instead. Reigns would no doubt still retain the championship, but this could be setting up for what many are expecting is a Zayn/Reigns title match at the upcoming Elimination Chamber in Zayn’s hometown Montreal. It seems unlikely Zayn would win the championship under current circumstances but should WWE opt to split the titles and move Zayn back to Raw, the pop in Canada would be tremendous for their local hero.

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No matter how Zayn chooses to align himself on WWE SmackDown tonight and at the Royal Rumble, make no mistake, there will be carnage in the ring when the contract signing is all said and done. In fact, expect this to be the main event of the show as the ending will no doubt set the stage for what happens next week and beyond.

Banger Bros Clash with Viking Raiders in First-Round Match of SmackDown Tag Title Tournament

Speaking of carnage…the same should be expected when Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Ivar and Erik all meet in the ring on Friday night. McIntyre and Sheamus are becoming quite the formidable tag team having come close to dethroning the Usos for the titles last week. The Scotsman and Irishman came up short but not for lack of effort. After the match was over though, their effort was greeted by an unexpected and unprovoked beatdown at the hands of the Viking Raiders, who are simply here to cause as much damage as possible. The attack led to the WWE SmackDown grudge match tonight, which will also serve as one of the first round meetings for a tag team tournament where we still don’t know all of the participants.

Viking Raiders vs Sheamus and McIntyre is a high quality bout that could be worthy of the tag team contendership finals but as such, one of these teams will be moving on and the other will have to go back to the bottom of the ladder.  The metaphorical ladder of course. The world isn’t ready for these four brawling warriors to toss literal ladders at one another. Maybe next time on TLC.

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As of now that’s all that has been announced for WWE SmackDown tonight. We will be sure to update if any more announcements come out before the show as there are a number of stories still up in the air.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this report and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can check out an almost unlimited array of WWE content on the WWE Network and Peacock.