SmackDown Recap: January 16, 2018
S2018 episode 961 Aired on January 16, 2018

A GLORIOUS new United States Champion is crowned as Roode overcomes Mahal

In an impromptu main event, the Final of the United States Championship Tournament went down when Jinder Mahal took on Bobby Roode after each qualified earlier in the night. Elsewhere, the women of Team Blue continued to slug it out as the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble draws near.

The stakes couldn’t have been higher when Jinder Mahal kicked off Team Blue by taking on Xavier Woods, with the winner advancing to the Final of the United States Championship Tournament.

With Woods and Mahal being flanked by The New Day and The Singh Brothers, respectively, the two Superstars battled it out in the ring knowing that they each had formidable backup at ringside, at least until Samir & Sunil tried to get involved and Big E and Kofi Kingston chased them to the backstage area. The Modern Day Maharaja attempted to use his size and strength edge to leverage out a victory, but The New Day member refused to go down easy, using every tactical advantage he could find throughout the contest.

However, despite a valiant showing from Woods, he suffered a major setback when he missed his signature top-rope elbow drop. From there, Mahal brutalized Woods, throwing him neck-first into the bottom rope and drilling him with a brutal Khallas to advance to the Final.

With the conflict between The Riott Squad and the rest of the Team Blue Women’s division escalating by the week, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan squared off against the all-star team of SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair, Naomi and Becky Lynch.

The momentum swung back and forth, as both sides attempted to assert dominance while also looking to gain a critical edge less than two weeks away from the historic first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble Match.

In the bout’s critical moments, a surging Naomi was hitting anything that moved, but with the referee distracted by the melee outside the ring, Ruby drilled the former SmackDown Women’s Champion with an illegal kick from the apron, and Morgan capitalized by planting Naomi with an impressive jaw-jacking maneuver to pick up another huge win for The Riott Squad.

With both Superstars having already won grueling battles earlier in the evening, Bobby Roode and Jinder Mahal went toe-to-toe with the iconic United States Championship on the line.

The two Superstars engaged in a hard-hitting contest, as SmackDown LIVE Commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan watched from ringside. Roode and Mahal were unrelenting, both going deep into their playbook while vying to become United States Champion for the first time.

With Roode in serious jeopardy, The Glorious One seamlessly countered the Khallas into the Glorious DDT for the 1-2-3, sending the WWE Universe into a frenzy, becoming the new United States Champion and ensuring that the star-spangled title was now… GLORIOUS.

In other action … Bobby Roode def. Mojo Rawley in the Second Round of the United States Title Tournament.