SmackDown Recap: January 23, 2018
S2018 episode 962 Aired on January 23, 2018

Feeling backed into a corner, WWE Champion AJ Styles found himself in another jam when he agreed to take on both Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in back-to-back singles matches on SmackDown LIVE. Elsewhere, the Team Blue women threw down in a wild melee just five days before the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble Match.

With their 2-on-1 Handicap Match against AJ Styles for the WWE Title at Royal Rumble just five days away, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn weren’t bashful to show their confidence and excitement. Clearly taking exception to their hubris, Styles hit the scene to verbally combat The “Yep!” Movement. Words were exchanged, and a challenge was laid down: Owens boldly upped the ante on Styles and suggested he accept two singles matches against him and Zayn back to back tonight.

This prompted SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan to make his arrival, but before he could really say much of anything, Styles cut him off and accepted the matches after implying that Bryan – due to his recent behavior -- would probably just put him in the match anyway.

In his first of two matches against The “Yep!” Movement, AJ Styles squared off against Kevin Owens in a rekindling of one of 2017’s fiercest rivalries. Styles would not need to have eyes in the back of his head to keep an eye on Sami Zayn because SmackDown LIVE Commisioner Shane McMahon declared that if either “Yep!” Movement member interfered in the other’s match tonight, he would fire them on the spot. Because of this declaration from Shane-O-Mac, Styles fought freely against Owens, defeating him quickly with the excruciating Calf Crusher.

However, before The Phenomenal One could even begin to start thinking about his upcoming match with Zayn, Sami blindsided him with a relentless attack. With the match between Styles and Zayn already scheduled and Owens vs. Styles having concluded, this was not in violation of Shane’s pre-match decree.

With Sami Zayn having taken advantage of a loophole in Shane McMahon’s stipulation for the evening, he continued to pounce on AJ Styles as their match officially began. Zayn would not let up, but in a surprise to no one, neither would Styles, who fought back valiantly. During the match, Kevin Owens remained at ringside tending to what appeared to be an injured ankle.

Eventually, a stretcher was called for Owens, but that didn’t stop The Phenomenal One from trying to get his licks in on KO whenever he could while still fending off Zayn. With KO being loaded onto a stretcher, The Phenomenal One dashed out of the ring and flipped it over, laying Owens out. However, the distraction proved critical, as Zayn jumped on Styles when he re-entered the ring, hitting him with the thunderous Helluva Kick and the Blue Thunder Bomb for the win.

After the contest, an exhausted Styles tried to muster the strength to get up, as Zayn and Owens celebrated Sami’s major victory and the possibility of being the first-ever co-WWE Champions on Sunday.

In other action … Chad Gable def. Jey Uso … Naomi def. Liv Morgan … Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin ended in a no-contest after Randy Orton made his presence felt … and Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston & Bobby Roode def. Jinder Mahal, Rusev & Aiden English.