The first WWE Smackdown of 2017 airs tonight starting at 8pm from Jacksonville, FL, and it is already looking to be a stacked show. Currently announced, WWE World Champion AJ Styles and John Cena sign the contract for their title match at the Royal Rumble. Plus, The Miz defends his Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose, and Baron Corbin takes on Dolph Ziggler in a singles match.
We will have complete coverage of the show starting at 8pm Eastern. Join us here and on Twitter, @RingRap for all the details!
We are kicking things off with The Miz and Maryse, heading down to the ring. The announcers recap the events of the past few weeks, with Miz insulting Renee Young. Miz grabs a mic and soaks up the boos. He says they are the “It” couple, and calls his title the most prestigious in WWE. He says in the new year, he has only one resolution – to be more forgiving. He stresses the word “forgiving” and says someone owes him an apology, and he requests that “she” come out to apologize. He threatens to hold up the show until Renee Young comes out to meet his request.
Miz goes on, venting about personal feelings getting in the way of professionalism and believes that Ambrose got his title shot because Young is friends with Daniel Bryan, her Talking Smack co-host. Miz accuses Young of sacrificing her journalistic integrity for “dirty deeds with Dean Ambrose.”
And then, Dean Ambrose heads to the ring, looking pissed. Miz bails out to the apron while Maryse stands in the way, blocking Ambrose from advancing. She slaps Ambrose, and Miz leaves ringside, with Maryse joining him. Ambrose says the hardest part of his night is over, because Maryse hits “way harder” than Miz does. His music plays out the segment.
The announcers hype up the contract signing between AJ Styles and John Cena, plus Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin, up next!
Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler
Winner: Baron Corbin
The Match: Corbin tries to get in a sneaky punch to start things off. Ziggler leaps onto him and both men trade reversals early. Corbin gets control and whips Ziggler hard into the corner. Ziggler charges him and gets dropped by an elbow for two. Corbin chokes Ziggler on the ropes, then knocks him off the apron to the floor.
Back in the ring, Ziggler starts to recover, and even counters a slide under the bottom rope by Corbin. Ziggler connects with a dropkick, and Corbin bails out of the ring as we go to break.
Back from the break, Corbin is standing on Ziggler’s head. Ziggler somehow fights his way into a half-nelson instead. He punches out of the hold and leaps onto Corbin, onto the ropes, and eats a punch. Ziggler hits a Stinger Splash and a swinging neckbreaker for a two-count. He misses a Fameasser, but kicks out of a nasty clothesline. Ziggler dodges a shoulderblock, sending Corbin into the ring post. He scores a Fameasser and a near fall. Corbin tosses Ziggler across the ring, and Ziggler hits a Zig Zag in retaliation. Corbin kicks out. Corbin hits Ziggler with an End of Days, and it puts Ziggler away.
After the match, Corbin grabs a chair and enters the ring with it. Before he can attack, Kalisto runs out for the save. He hits the chair out of Corbin’s hands and ducks a charge, sending Corbin out of the ring. Kalisto grabs the chair and taunts Corbin, and turns around to Dolph Ziggler superkicking him in the face.
The fans start chanting Yes! Yes! Yes! as Ziggler says he didn’t need Kalisto out there and never asked for him.
The Reax: Not a bad match. I was about to say that Ziggler was a lost cause, but literally as I typed it, he kicked Kalisto in the face. The fans (and I) have been waiting for Ziggler to do something different for months now. This is definitely heading in the right direction, but let’s see what the follow-up is before we judge.
After the break, James Ellsworth approaches Carmella backstage. He thanks her for the kind words, but can barely find the words to wish her luck in her match. He tells her he got her something, and takes the shirt off his back. She hesitates, and thanks him, then asks him to join her at ringside.
Mojo Rawley, Rhyno, and Apollo Crews are backstage. Ziggler busts in and kicks over chairs and garbage cans. Crews says what he did to Kalisto was uncalled for, and says Kalisto is his friend. Ziggler attacks Crews, but the brawl is broken up quickly.
A video replays the events of Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss from last week, with a bit of interference from “La Luchadora.”
Becky Lynch vs. La Luchadora
Winner: Becky Lynch
The Match: Lynch hits a series of forearms to the back and a judo throw to send her to the mat. Lynch hits a Becksplex. La Luchadora bails out of the ring and slides underneath it. She comes out the other side looking much smaller and thinner. She attacks Lynch and goes for a Twisted Bliss, but misses, and Lynch locks in her Disarmer for the win.
After the match, Lynch takes the mask off, and it’s Bliss, but Lucha 1 sneaks in and both attack Lynch. Bliss hits a DDT to Lynch, and both leave the ring
The Reax: Not much to the match. All story here.
After the break, the announcers hype 205 Live, and then Daniel Bryan heads to the ring. He welcomes us to the WWE Championship contract signing, and then introduces the challenger, John Cena. Cena heads off the ramp to greet a fan, tosses him his towel, and then slides into the ring. Bryan then introduces AJ Styles. Cena sits, Styles stands. Styles asks Bryan why they’re doing this, saying the two of them go back over a dozen years. He says they competed in front of basically nobody because they loved what they did. But Cena is not like them – he’s off TV for four months and comes back and gets a title match. Bryan says he understands where he’s coming from, but he has to understand where Bryan is coming from – Smackdown beat Raw in the ratings for the first time ever. He cites Cena’s return and Styles’ main event as the reasons, and he wants to keep the momentum. The best way is AJ Styles vs. John Cena at the Royal Rumble.
Bryan reminds Styles he’s beaten Cena three times already, and then wishes both of them luck before walking out of the ring. Styles turns to Cena and calls him the luckiest man on the planet being gifted a title match by the man that is basically his brother in law. Styles says they have to do what’s best though, and the match truthfully is best for AJ Styles. Styles said it was last year that Cena told him that Styles needed to win to prove he needed to stay in the WWE, but now if Cena doesn’t get the win, it proves that he doesn’t belong in WWE. He says noone saw him because he was a ghost, and Smackdown beat Raw in the ratings because Styles was champion. “Spoiler alert: We can do it without you, John.”
Cena says he’s got a lot of respect for him, but Styles cuts him off. He says he’s covering his tracks, and he heard him on Talking Smack – how he said he was wrong about The Rock, but Styles says he was actually right. He told the truth about The Rock and it’s also the truth about Cena. Styles says John Cena has been great for WWE – has been. Styles says when Cena looks in the mirror, he knows he will never be as good as The Rock in Hollywood, and in the ring he will never be as good as AJ Styles.
Styles grabs a pen and signs the paper. Cena takes the mic and says part of being a man is being humble enough to admit when they are wrong, but it’s also knocking when to stand up for yourself. Cena says Styles made the biggest mistake of his life – he pissed off John Cena. He says Styles is right – he needs a win to prove he belongs because of chumps like Styles that think he left. He says he lost all respect for Styles and calls him a “punk little bitch.” Cena says everyone that ever despised him believes Styles is the one that is meant to replace him. He says he’s got passion – he showed up after a shoulder injury in only four months. He says Styles goes where they tell him to go, but Cena has to have them tell him to stop. He says anyone else in his shoes would’ve already gone to Hollywood, but he’s still there, and that’s passion.
Cena says this is more than just “you and me.” He says Styles is no different than anyone that has tried to knock him off, and realize on their best day they could never beat him. Cena tells him to bring his family and friends to the Royal Rumble, but most importantly, bring his A-game. He’s still going to take his championship. “Why? Because I’m John Cena. Recognize.”
Before the two can come to blows, Baron Corbin storms out onto the stage, mic in hand. “On my first day in the WWE, I won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. So I’m making it known right now that I’m the first Smackdown Live Superstar that’s not only entering the Royal Rumble match, but I’m winning it.” He says he doesn’t care who he faces – he’s leaving WrestleMania the WWE Champion. Cena says he’s glad Corbin is out there, because he knows Styles isn’t gonna fight him, but he’ll pick a fight with the toughest dude in the room. Corbin threatens Cena, and says he’ll knock his teeth down his throat. As Cena takes off his shirt, AJ Styles hits him with a flying roundhouse to the back of the head. He takes his title and leaves, leaving Baron Corbin to stalk Cena. Corbin says AJ is right – Cena’s time is up – and walks away.
The Reax: A good segment. Cena and Styles were at their best, and it makes me very excited to see their match. Both men feel like they still have something to prove. As far as Corbin goes, well he certainly benefited from last week’s main event, and I’m glad to see it looks like they’re going to use that momentum to get him into some more high-profile feuds going forward. I could easily see him and Cena going at it coming out of the Rumble, regardless of who actually wins the title match.
Maryse is walking backstage, and approaches Renee Young. Maryse slaps Young “on behalf of her husband,” and scolds her for slapping The Miz before walking away.
The Reax: It’s starting to feel like Renee Young and Maryse will tangle it up in the near future, and that, honestly, is not something I’m interested in.
Carmella (w/ James Ellsworth) vs. Aliyah
The Match: Carmella locks in a headlock early on. Carmella flips out of a snapmare. The two seem to be more interested in one-upping each other. Carmella gets mean and hits a series of punches. The announcers start combining Ellsworth and Carmella’s name. Aliyah hits a northern lights suplex for a near fall. She climbs onto the second rope, but Ellsworth grabs her foot, providing a distraction. Carmella uses the opportunity to lock in the Code of Silence for the win.
The Reax: Good to see Aliyah get a little main roster time, as she’s spending most of her days down in NXT. This was all about Carmella and Ellsworth though.
We return after a break to Breezango heading to the ring.
Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) vs. American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable)
Winner: American Alpha
The Match: Gable hits a belly to belly immediately, tags in Jordan, who hits a running shoulder in the corner on Fandango, and goes straight into Grand Amplitude for the win.
After the match, Bray Wyatt and company appears on the screen. He tells them to cherish the moment while they can, because sooner or later reality will hit. “You haven’t really won anything just yet.” He says they have only made their family stronger, and next week they will reclaim what is rightfully theirs. Harper and Orton move into frame, and Orton says “Run.”
The Reax: It doesn’t get more squashy than that match did. I’m fine with it, and looking forward to the tag match next week. By the way, did it seem like Orton cut Harper off? Harper looked a little… pissed.
Back from break, Nikki Bella and Natalya stand in the ring to deal with their whatever. Bella says she doesn’t despise her. She says she and her sister worked hard to make the Bella name special. Natalya says she’s gotten nothing from her name, but Bella asks her about her theme and submission move. Natalya calls her sick and selfish, and says they all saw the tweet Bret Hart sent out about Bella, giving her kudos. Natalya doesn’t want to know what Bella did to get that tweet sent, and says she’s better than Bret ever was. She accuses Bella of using sex appeal to get what she wants. She says beauty fades, and when it does, John will leave her, and she will die alone. Bella hits Natalya with an elbow to the face, and Nattie drops like a bag of rocks.
The Reax: This segment felt like it was being laid on a little thick.
Dean Ambrose is walking backstage towards the ring when Dasha approaches him, asking about his mindset after Maryse slapping him. She can barely get the words out without stumbling over them. Ambrose says he’s going to take away the thing that’s most important to The Miz – not his wife, but the Intercontinental Championship.
Ambrose marches to the ring with a purpose in the main event as we go to break. We come back to Jack Gallagher plugging 205 Live. Short, sweet, and completely necessary to get cross viewership.
Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz (c) (w/ Maryse) for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Winner: Dean Ambrose to become the NEW WWE Intercontinental Champion
The Match: Ambrose immediately takes Miz to the ground. Miz runs out of the ring and Ambrose gives chase. Back in the ring, Ambrose lays in stomps and chops. Ambrose goes for an early Dirty Deeds. Miz bails out again.
Ambrose turns his back to The Miz to goad him into the ring. He attacks Miz almost immediately and tosses him over the barricade outside the ring. Ambrose crotches Miz on the barricade and hits a running elbow. He rolls Miz into the ring for a two-count, and Miz, once more, bails out. Ambrose tosses Miz over the announcer’s table. Maryse gets in his face, and Miz hits a dropkick through the ropes. He tosses Ambrose into the steps and takes a moment to regroup as we go to break.
Out of the break, Miz charges Ambrose, but Ambrose tosses Miz over the top to the floor. He leaps off the top turnbuckle and connects with an elbow. Back in the ring, Ambrose continues the momentum with charging elbows and clotheslines. Miz counters a bulldog, but Ambrose rolls him up for a two-count. Ambrose hits a swinging neckbreaker for a near fall. Miz attacks Ambrose and goes for a superplex off the top rope. Ambrose fights free with headbutts. Maryse gets on the apron to distract Ambrose. Miz counters Ambrose and hits Skull Crushing Finale for two.
Miz lays into Ambrose with a series of Yes Kicks. Ambrose gets a boot to the face, but hits a rebound clothesline. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds, but ends up clotheslining Miz over the top rope. He dives out of the ring, and once more, Maryse gets in his face, slapping Ambrose. The referee asks her why she would do that, and as he goes to DQ The Miz, Ambrose stops him and begs him to toss Maryse out of the match instead. He kicks Maryse out, but The Miz attacks Ambrose from behind with the title. Ambrose barely kicks out. Miz drags Ambrose to his feet, but Ambrose reverses it and connects with Dirty Deeds. He covers Miz and gets the pin.
The Reax: From the moment Ambrose’s music played, this match was hot. Ambrose and Miz did an awesome job of making this feel like an absolute fight, and the crowd popped huge when Ambrose got the cover. Ambrose looked so determined and confident going into this match and coming out of it. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for both of these men.
Another strong episode of WWE Smackdown. Not much to complain about – we got some much needed character development with Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin stating his intentions to be champion, two women’s feuds (three if you count Maryse and Renee Young) and a hot main event for a secondary title that actually has meaning.
Please take a moment to vote in our Smackdown poll and let us know what YOU thought of the show. Meanwhile I’m heading over to 205 Live… now!