WWE SmackDown effects: Kevin Owens lays out The Bloodline by means of himself forward of 2023 Royal Rumble

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Kevin Owens does not need a helping hand. Owens laid out The Bloodline en masse on WWE SmackDown ahead of his undisputed WWE universal championship match against Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble.

Friday’s episode of SmackDown was as much about the strained relationship between Sami Zayn and Reigns as it was about Reigns vs. Owens. The tumultuous chemistry between The Bloodline members continues to sidetrack the faction from the very real threat of Owens.

SmackDown also kicked off and completed the opening round of a tournament to crown No. 1 contenders for the undisputed tag team championships currently held by The Usos. Drew McIntyre and Sheamus, Imperium, Brawling Brutes, Legado Del Fantasma and Viking Raiders were among the tandems involved. 

CBS Sports was with you all night with recaps and highlights of all the action from Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. 

Owens stuns The Bloodline, Zayn and Reigns are feeling strained

SmackDown opened with The Bloodline arriving to the arena parking lot. Zayn was in a good mood, fooling around with The Usos before Reigns snubbed a fist bump.

Zayn requested an audience with Reigns later in the evening. Reigns asked for honesty and Zayn expressed how he felt slighted by The Bloodline last week. Zayn had been tasked with defeating Owens and was on the verge of doing so when The Usos and Solo Sikoa intervened. For a split second, it crossed Zayn’s mind if Owens was right about The Bloodline using him. This set Reigns off. The undisputed champion was miffed about running his plan by Zayn. Reigns demanded that Zayn leave the locker room, suggesting it was time for Zayn to stop using The Bloodline and return to Owens. 

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During the second half of the program, Heyman calmed down a seething Reigns. The special counsel asked Reigns to consider Zayn’s value to The Bloodline heading into a match against Zayn’s estranged best friend. Heyman later approached Zayn and informed him that Reigns wanted to speak to the “Honorary Uce.” 

Reigns apologized to Zayn for his outburst, crediting Heyman for reeling him in. Reigns understood that Zayn only wanted a clear line of communication. Reigns pointed to how they are both perfectionists. Reigns said it was his mistake to expect the same sort of love from The Bloodline that he gives to the family. Zayn assured him The Bloodline loves Reigns and that Zayn will always put the group first. Reigns asked Zayn to sort out all of The Bloodline’s departure details so that they can leave as soon as the contract to wrestle Owens is signed.

Reigns sat comfortably at the negotiation table in SmackDown’s closing segment. Owens snuck up on The Bloodline, dropping Solo Sikoa and planting Reigns with a stunner. Owens sidelined The Usos then drove Reigns through the table with a pop-up powerbomb. Owens signed the contract and faced off with Zayn before fleeing into the crowd.

The Bloodline, Zayn and Owens continue to deliver some of the most compelling pro wrestling television in quite some time. Originally, members of The Bloodline feared that Zayn was worming his way into the group. It’s now becoming evident that while Zayn is fully committed to his adopted family, Reigns is manipulating his pawn. Owens — for his part — has been presented as a strong challenger to Reigns and got the best of everyone this week in “Stone Cold” Steve Austin fashion. Grade: A+

What else happened on WWE SmackDown?

  • Drew McIntyre and Sheamus def. Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) via pinfall after Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick on Ivar. McIntyre and Sheamus advance to the second round of a tournament to crown No. 1 contenders for the tag team titles.
  • LA Knight def. Greg Jones via pinfall after landing a snapmare driver. 
  • Bray Wyatt’s “Firefly Funhouse” returned as he provoked Knight ahead of their Pitch Black match at the Royal Rumble. Uncle Howdy was also featured.
  • Hit Row (Top Dolla and Ashante Adonis) def. Los Lotharios (Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo) via pinfall after Adonis rolled up Carrillo with help from B-Fab. Hit Row advanced to Round 2 of the tag team tournament.
  • Braun Strowman announced his participation in the men’s Royal Rumble match.
  • Sonya Deville blindsided Charlotte Flair during a verbal confrontation.
  • showed off the Cobra Clutch in a military-themed vignette.
  • Imperium (Kaiser Ludwig and Giovanni Vinci) def. Brawling Brutes (Butch and Ridge Holland) via pinfall after hitting the Imperium Bomb to Holland. Kaiser also hit Butch with a brainbuster to the outside. Imperium proceeds to Round 2 of the tag tournament.
  • Legado Del Fantasma (Cruz del Toro and Joaquin Model) def. Maximum Male Models (Mace and Mansoor) via pinfall after hitting an enzuigiri and side Russian leg sweep combination on Mansoor.
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