SmackDown Recap: January 2, 2018
S2018 episode 959 Aired on January 2, 2018

The disunity between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan came to the forefront during AJ Styles' main event showdown against Sami Zayn, leading to a huge Royal Rumble WWE Title Match announcement. Elsewhere, Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable finally got their two-on-two opportunity at SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos.

Following another controversial situation involving Commissioner Shane McMahon inadvertently costing WWE Champion AJ Styles his match against Kevin Owens last week on Team Blue, Shane-O-Mac made a point to apologize to Styles during the opening moments of SmackDown LIVE. With Team Blue General Manager Daniel Bryan also in the ring, Shane declared that he would be in The Phenomenal One’s corner for tonight’s match between Styles and Sami Zayn. With that out in the open, The “Yes!” Man responded by stating that he would not only allow Owens to be at ringside, but that he too would be at ringside tonight.

After weeks of tit-for-tat and a key non-title pinfall victory by Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable, the explosive tandem finally got their first two-on-two opportunity at the SmackDown Tag Team Titles against The Usos. The incredibly action-packed contest saw momentum shift back and forth several times. It appeared that Benjamin & Gable had picked up the victory when Benjamin pinned Jimmy 1-2-3 after he and Gable executed a vicious double team maneuver. However, it was soon revealed that Jey was actually the legal man, and thus, the match was restarted.

With a new lease on life, Jimmy & Jey recovered, weathering Benjamin & Gable’s storm and superkicking both Superstars into oblivion and getting the win after a big splash.

With Kevin Owens in Sami Zayn’s corner, Shane McMahon in AJ Styles’ corner and Daniel Bryan seemingly in a neutral corner, Zayn and Styles faced off in a thrilling main event.

With an odd aura surrounding the contest due to the three men lurking at ringside, Styles and Zayn engaged in combat. In the match’s pivotal moments, KO attempted to interject himself into the contest after the referee took a tumble. This caused Shane to get physical with Owens, then prompted the official to throw KO out from ringside. However, he was one-upped by Bryan, who then suggested that Shane-O-Mac should also be ejected. This distraction caused Styles to get caught with a pinpoint Helluva Kick from Zayn, which resulted in another controversial victory for The “Yep!” Movement.

After the contest, Styles was so worked up that he, in frustration, challenged both Owens and Zayn to a 2-on-1 Handicap Match. Surprisingly, Bryan then got on the microphone and declared that exact match would happen … at the Royal Rumble … for the WWE Title.

In other action … The Bludgeon Brothers vs. Breezango … Xavier Woods def. Aiden English in the first round of the United States Championship Tournament … and The Riott Squad def. Natalya, Carmella & Tamina.