SmackDown Recap: January 9, 2018
S2018 episode 960 Aired on January 9, 2018

Shane McMahon put Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn against a wall when he scheduled them in a 3-on-2 Handicap Match against WWE Champion AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton. However, the challenges presented by the Commissioner wouldn’t stop there for The “Yep!” Movement.

WWE Champion AJ Styles kicked off SmackDown LIVE with an in-ring interview conducted by Renee Young. Styles vented about the position Team Blue General Manager Daniel Bryan put him in last week when he placed The Phenomenal One into a 2-on-1 Handicap Match against Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn with the WWE Title on the line at Royal Rumble. Styles stressed that he was trying to keep himself removed from the beef between Bryan and Shane McMahon, but he didn’t sound overwhelmingly thrilled with either.

Before he could continue to expand, however, he was interrupted by his Royal Rumble opponents. The “Yep!” Movement, in no uncertain terms, claimed that they would beat Styles down at Royal Rumble and go on their way to becoming co-WWE Champions. However, their dreams quickly came crashing back down to earth by the arriving Shane-O-Mac. The Commissioner revealed that they would be in yet another Handicap Match against Styles … just with Shinsuke Nakamura & Randy Orton as The Phenomenal One’s partners.

Following her straight fire return to SmackDown LIVE last week, Becky Lynch, flanked by SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair and Naomi, took on Ruby Riott, who had Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan of the Riott Squad by her side.

The action was explosive, as The Irish Lass Kicker sought retribution for The Riott Squad’s ruthless attack that sidelined her for several weeks. Near the end of the hard-hitting brouhaha, Lynch locked Riott in the excruciating Dis-arm-her, and with Charlotte and Naomi keeping the rest of The Riott Squad at bay via an intense ringside staredown, Riott was forced to tap out to give Lynch a clutch win in her first match back.

In the complete inverse of what WWE Champion AJ Styles will have to face at the Royal Rumble event, The Phenomenal One teamed up with Shinsuke Nakamaura & Randy Orton to take on the undermanned Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn in the main event of SmackDown LIVE.

The “Yep!” Movement did their best to keep it competitive in the early goings, but then finally chose to walk off and take the count-out loss. However, Shane McMahon refused to see the match conclude in such anti-climactic fashion and came out to announce that the bout would now be no count-out. Shane-O-Mac had to pop in again when KO & Sami tried to get themselves disqualified after Owens assaulted his opponents with a steel chair, leading Shane-O-Mac to declare that this was now also a No Disqualification Match.

Styles retaliated by pelting KO with a chair in an attack that led both men to the backstage area. From there, Sami was left to tangle with Orton and Nakamura all by his lonesome, and he soon became the recipient of a steel steps attack and was driven into the announcer’s table. That all led to the reeling Zayn eating both a Kinshasa and an RKO for a crushing, albeit controversial, loss.

In other action … Becky Lynch def. Ruby Riott via disqualification … The Bludgeon Brothers def. The Ascension … Mojo Rawley def. Zack Ryder in a First Round United States Championship Tournament Match … Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable demanded justice … and Breezango def. Rusev & Aiden English.