WWE Smackdown is airing live from Raising Cane’s River Center in Baton Rouge, LA starting at 8pm Eastern. As it stands, there are currently two matches announced for the show – John Cena vs. Baron Corbin in the main event, and The Wyatt Family vs. American Alpha in a Smackdown Tag Team Championship rematch.
We will have live coverage of the show as it airs live starting at 8pm. Be sure to join us both here and on Twitter, @RingRap!
The show opens up with a recap of the events leading up to last week’s match between The Miz and Dean Ambrose. It started with a slap from Renee Young after Miz crossed the line about their relationship, and progressed from there. The video focuses on Ambrose begging the ref to eject Maryse rather than disqualify her, and ultimately, Ambrose picked up the win, taking the Intercontinental Championship from Miz.
We go to the arena, and Greg Hamilton introduces Dean Ambrose. It appears we are getting an Ambrose Asylum segment. Ambrose welcomes us to the show, and says it’s the first one hosted by the Intercontinental Champion. He says he wants to be the first champion on Smackdown Live to officially enter the Royal Rumble match. He then talks about trying to get a live alligator for the show, but they don’t have the right permits, so they use an alligator head prop instead.
Ambrose then starts to introduce his guest, but then The Miz and Maryse interrupt. Miz says Ambrose is undoing all the hard work he’s put into restoring the title to it’s former glory, and now he’s going taint the integrity of the Royal Rumble match. He then officially enters himself into the Royal Rumble match.
Miz pivots to talking about last week, when he “stole” the title after convincing the referee not to DQ the match. Miz says he wants to have the opportunity to do the right thing before he ties him up in legal fees. He asks Ambrose to hand over the Intercontinental Championship. Ambrose says he does have something that belongs to him and he deserves to have it back. Miz says Ambrose came to his senses, and he’s doing the right thing. But as The Miz reaches for the belt, Ambrose flips it back and hands him a Miz Participation Award.
Miz says how funny Ambrose is, and then throws the award in his face and attacks him viciously. He lays into Ambrose with a series of fists to the head. He sets Ambrose up and Maryse swings with a slap, but Ambrose ducks and she hits Miz instead. Ambrose hits Miz with Dirty Deeds, and then picks up the title and the award. He gives the award to Maryse, and walks off.
Not a bad opening segment. Both Ambrose and Miz are good in their roles, and Miz still values the title, which undoubtedly he’ll try to get back in a rematch.
A video package highlights the Nikki Bella/Natalya saga, dating back to Survivor Series. After the package, Nikki Bella is on her way to the ring when Natalya attacks her from behind, laying her out on the ground. She says “See you out there, Nikki,” and heads to the ring herself, as Bella sells her leg.
Natalya vs. Nikki Bella
The Action: Bella hesitates before heading down to the ring, but she does, and she looks pissed. The bell doesn’t even ring and Bella takes Nattie to the mat. Nattie retreats to the floor and Bella tackles her on the ramp. David Otunga says Natalya crossed Bella one too many times. Nattie slams Bella head-first into the barricade, and tosses her back in the ring. Bella fires back and follows her out of the ring, stopping her from retreating over the barricade. Back in the ring – and this still isn’t a match – the brawl continues. Three more referees run down to break it up, but they can’t keep the two separated. The action spills outside, and Nattie locks in a Sharpshooter on the floor before walking away.
The Reax: A good pull-apart brawl from the ladies, both of who have some solid heat on their feud. It’s good that the women on Smackdown don’t take any shit from each other, and makes their brawls feel authentic and natural.
Backstage, Dasha Fuentes interviews Dolph Ziggler about his attack on Kalisto last week, and his brawl with Apollo Crews backstage. She informs him that Kalisto demanded a match with him, and she asks for an explanation. Ziggler breathes a little heavy, but doesn’t say a word. He walks off, and the fans respond positively. We go to break.
Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler
The Action: Ziggler is going to need new music if his heelish tendencies continue. Anyhow, Ziggler doesn’t play up to the fans nearly as much as usual, which is nice. The bell rings, and Kalisto immediately goes on the offense. Kalisto hits a hurricarana, and Ziggler bails out to ringside.
Back in the ring, the two counter each other. Ziggler locks an arm bar. Kalisto fights free and gets a two-count on a backslide, but Ziggler maintains control. Kalisto hits a kick to the head from the apron, but Ziggler drops him neck first across the ropes and we go to break.
We return to Ziggler stretching Kalisto out. Kalisto starts to get some momentum, and counters a superkick with a rollup for two. Ziggler cuts him off with a dropkick. Kalisto hits a crucifix out of nowhere and gets the win.
After the match, Ziggler immediately lays Kalisto out with a clothesline. He sells the loss, and then hits a few punches on Kalisto, still frustrated. He rolls out of the ring, then looks to the chairs, grabbing one at ringside. Ziggler lays into Kalisto with two chair strikes. As he starts to head up the ramp, Apollo Crews runs out and the two brawl on the ramp. Ziggler gets the best of him, using the steel chair on Crews in the ring. The fans are into it as Ziggler takes another swing. He hits Kalisto with the chair one more time, just for good measure.
The Reax: Well, I’d say it’s a full-fledged heel turn at this point, and it sets Ziggler up for a feud with both Kalisto and Crews, though I feel like Crews is the direction they’re going to head in.
Backstage, Dasha interviews American Alpha about their match against The Wyatts. Jason Jordan says Bray thinks of himself as the Alpha and the Omega, but they respectfully disagree. As long as they have the titles, they’re the only Alphas around. Chad Gable says it’s not cockiness – it’s confidence. They’re not underestimating The Wyatts, but they’re ready to go to war. They’ve beaten them before, and they’ll beat them again. Jordan says it doesn’t matter if it’s a God, a serpent, or whatever Luke Harper is. When you step in the ring with American Alpha, you can try to hang with them, but you can’t, and you can try to take the titles from them, but you can’t.
The Reax: A good promo from these two, who showed some of the chemistry and unique delivery that made them so popular in NXT. Probably their best mic work on Smackdown to date. They stayed away from being silly and goofy, but still managed to sneak in some of their charm.
After the commercial, Renee Young asks John Cena about his match against Baron Corbin and how he’s looking to make a statement with John Cena. Cena says Corbin has already made a statement since he’s gotten there, but Cena is the one that need to make the statement after AJ Styles called him a has-been. Cena says he makes his statement by picking out the toughest guy in the room and knocking his teeth out. He ends the promo saying his time is now.
Bray Wyatt and company cut a creepy promo, saying that unlike the bonds of his family, nothing lasts forever, and not the devil is at American Alpha’s doorstep. Randy says “We’re here.”
American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) (c) vs. The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton w/ Luke Harper) for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
Winners: American Alpha to retain the Smackdown Tag Titles
The Action: Wyatt and Gable start it off. Gable makes a blind tag and Jordan hits a dropkick on Wyatt. A roll-up leads to do. Jordan hits shoulders in the corner and takes Wyatt to the mat. Wyatt tags in Orton, who starts to dismantle Jordan. Jordan tries for a suplex out of the corner. Blind tag to Gable, who takes Orton to the mat. Orton hits an elbow and an uppercut, cornering Gable. Wyatt tags in. Wyatt sets Gable up in the corner, but Gable turns it into an arm bar on the ropes. Gable nearly gets hit by Sister Abigail, but turns it into a roll-up. Action spills outside briefly.
Back in the ring, Wyatt hits a running elbow to take Gable down. Orton tags in and drops Gable back-first onto the barricade twice. He stomps Gable and makes the tag. Wyatt focuses on the ribs with a swinging gut buster. Tag to Orton, who hits a slingshot suplex for two. Tag to Wyatt. Gable hits a jaw breaker and makes a hot tag to Jordan. Jordan lifts Wyatt up with a side suplex, and does the same to Orton. He hits a pair of running shoulders in each corner. Jordan heads up top, and Luke Harper provides a distraction. Wyatt attacks, tags in Orton. Orton hangs Jordan on the ropes as we go to break.
Randy Orton has control when we return. Shockingly, he’s got Jason Jordan in a headlock. Tag to Wyatt, who hits a nasty looking charge in the corner. He connects with a running senton for two. Jordan hits a desperation clothesline, taking Wyatt to the mat. He makes the hot tag to Gable as Orton tags in as well.
Gable hits a northern lights suplex and attacks Orton in the corner, then flies off the turnbuckle onto Wyatt. Gable bridges a German Suplex on Orton for two. Wyatt and Jordan go tumbling outside. Gable heads up top and hits a flying clothesline for two. Luke Harper goes for another distraction, and Orton jabs Gable in the eye, then sets Gable up on the ropes (intentionally knocking Harper over in the process), and hits his spike DDT. Orton sets up for the RKO, but Luke Harper is not amused, and tries to get in the ring. Gable takes advantage of the distraction, knocking Orton into Harper and rolling Orton up for the pin.
After the match, Harper and Orton exchange nasty looks. Orton is pissed, and the two get in each other’s face. Harper walks around in a circle and pushes Orton. Orton pushes back, and Wyatt gets in between the two. Orton tries to push past Wyatt, and Harper throws a superkick, but hits Bray accidentally. Bray stands up and separates the two once more. He looks at Orton and talks him down, then talks Harper down before leaving the ring along. Harper follows next, Orton left in the ring alone.
The Reax: Good heat for the post-match angle. It seems like most fans want Orton to turn on The Wyatts, but personally I want Harper to turn. I admit – I didn’t like Orton and Wyatt at first, but they’ve won me over as a team. Harper could use a fresh start though. As far as the match goes? Very enjoyable, and the right team won. American Alpha looked good here, but The Wyatts were still protected.
We see a video package for Baron Corbin, who says tonight his prey is John Cena. He mocks Cena’s Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect. “Mr. Never Give Up is going to get Beaten Up.” He calls it Cena’s End of Days.
We get a video recap of WWE’s press conference for WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans.
Backstage, Becky Lynch talks to Daniel Bryan about her match against La Luchadora last week. She explains that Alexa Bliss was under a mask, but she doesn’t know who the other one was. As they try to reason it, Bliss walks in, says she went undercover trying to find out who La Luchadora really is. The two start to bicker. Bryan says he doesn’t know who La Luchadora is, but he does know that Bliss tapped out last week. He makes a match for the title between the two, and says their match will be held inside a steel cage to ensure there’s no interference. Bliss is pissed, Lynch is pumped.
Carmella (w/ James Ellsworth) vs. CJ Lunde
The Action: Lunde is in the ring when Carmella makes her entrance. Carmella hits a Bronco Buster in the corner. The fans chant “Let’s go jobber.” Funny. Anyhow, Ellsworth grabs Lunde’s foot, and Carmella takes advantage of it. It’s sloppy, but we end up getting to the Code of Silence for the win.
The Reax: A very sloppy match, basically meant to further establish Carmella and Ellsworth’s relationship. Special thanks to our awesome followers on Twitter, who hooked me up with an identification for our friendly jobber.
We get a video clip from Raw last night, with The Undertaker announcing his entrance into the Royal Rumble. I’m still pissed he didn’t make that announcement on Smackdown.
After the break, the announcers hype up the cage match for next week, as well as Talking Smack. We go backstage to Carmella and Ellsworth. She calls him a good luck charm, and says she has a surprise for him. He gets ready for a kiss, saying he’s waited 32 years for the moment, and breaks out breath spray before puckering up. She tells him all good things in time, and says she’s taking him clothes shopping. “I haven’t bought a new suit since that time I was supposed to graduate high school!” Funny.
We go to Baron Corbin, who Dasha Fuentes tries to interview. Corbin cuts her off, saying that Cena has been saying his time is now for a long time, and he’s been good on his word, but Corbin changes outcomes, saying it’s Cena’s End of Days. AJ Styles walks in and says tonight is Corbin’s night, but he’ll be on commentary tonight, so “do your best AJ Styles impression and Beat up John Cena!”
AJ Styles heads to ringside. We go to break. We come back to Noam Dar cutting a promo hyping 205 Live, and then Baron Corbin makes his entrance.
Baron Corbin vs. John Cena
The Winner: John Cena
The Action: The bell rings as a divided crowd chants “Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks.” Cena fires the first punch, and Corbin no-sells it, talking trash instead. He catches Cena with a big boot, and whips Cena into the corner. Corbin talks trash to AJ Styles at ringside, and tosses Cena to the floor as we go to break.
We come back to Cena trying to set Corbin up for an AA, but he topples over instead. Corbin lays into Cena with fists, and again, talks trash to Styles. He rolls out of the ring and addresses AJ face to face, and Cena follows him outside, but Corbin gets control again quickly, laying elbows into Cena’s head. Back in the ring, Cena yanks the ropes, sending Corbin over the top. The two brawl, and Corbin charges Cena, but Cena dodges and slides into the ring, sending Corbin into the steps. Nice spot.
Back in the ring, Corbin hits a slam for two. Corbin yells at the referee. Cena staggers to his feet and hits a series of rights, but Corbin hits a sidewalk slam (Mauro calls it a Deep Six, AJ corrects him) for two. Corbin taunts the fans, posing in the ring. He talks trash to Cena. Cena fires back with rights, and leaps at Corbin, who catches Cena with a bear hug. Cena pries himself free, Corbin slides under the ropes and slides back in, and Cena hits a tornado DDT. Cena hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle and goes for the AA, connecting in the middle of the ring and getting the pin.
The Reax: Corbin looked strong throughout the match, with Cena getting the pin after taking a beating the entire time. But Cena winning is the right call, as he’s got the title match, not Corbin. That said, Corbin is most certainly being groomed for the main event this year, and he’s handling it well.
Overall, a good show. No major complaints here, with everything leading up to a purpose of some sorts. It’s somewhat paint-by-numbers until we get to the Rumble, but that’s fine.
Smackdown continues to build their characters in a solid direction with matches that make sense, and once more, it’s enjoyable to watch.
Please join me over at 205 Live now, which is just getting started! Thanks for reading!