WWE Smackdown is coming at us live from the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, TX, hot off the heels of the Royal Rumble this past Sunday. Randy Orton is your Royal Rumble winner, and appears to be heading to Wrestlemania for a title match. But, with things between him and Luke Harper breaking down, the Wyatt Family seems to be in shambles. How will Orton handle the win? Will Bray demand Orton offer his victory up as tribute?
Plus, John Cena defeated AJ Styles to become a 16-time champion. When will Styles demand his rematch? Does someone else step up to the plate? The WWE Championship is already confirmed to be on the line at Elimination Chamber in two weeks. Will the rest of the participants be announced as well?
All this, plus further developments in the Alexa Bliss/Naomi feud, and much, much more! Join us starting at 8pm Eastern for live coverage of the show, and join us on Twitter for live tweets throughout the night!
A video package opens the show, hyping up the events of the Royal Rumble just days ago. They superimpose written quotes from various top news agencies including CBS Sports, ESPN, and the Los Angeles Times while showing Randy Orton winning the Rumble, and John Cena winning his 16th World Title.
We segue backstage to AJ Styles watching the package on TV. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are with him. Shane says he and Cena tore the house down, and Bryan says it couldn’t have gone any better. Styles says he doesn’t want to wait until Elimination Chamber for his rematch, and Bryan says he’ll get his chance. They confirm he, John Cena, Bray Wyatt, Baron Corbin, The Miz, and Dean Ambrose will all be in Elimination Chamber. Dean Ambrose steps in and says that’s all he wanted to know, and he starts to walk away, and AJ tells him to keep walking. Ambrose walks back in, reminds him of the time James Ellsworth screwed him out of the title and suggested they settle their past differences. AJ tries to play it off, but Shane makes it a match for later tonight.
And then we go to the arena, with John Cena heading out. The announcers plug his win and the upcoming Elimination Chamber. Cena tries to encourage the fans to get riled up and “tell him how they feel.” Naturally, The Champ is Here. Cena talks about being a man, and says part of being a man is being able to admit when you are wrong and being able to say they’re sorry. Cena says he hears people chanting for AJ Styles – and he apologizes. He says he was wrong about AJ – he is not just a guy from Atlanta, but an elite-level WWE Superstar that brings out the absolute best in him. He says they may disagree, but Styles’ performance in the Royal Rumble is what that championship is all about. He calls Sunday a history-making occasion, and says people are asking him how he’s going to celebrate. Cena says there’s no time for confetti or champagne because in two weeks the title is on the line in Elimination Chamber. He’s going to celebrate history by doing what he loves the most – saying Smackdown is the place to be, John Cena is the man to beat, and “If you want some, come gets some.”
He’s interrupted by The Wyatt Family music. Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton walk out onto the ramp. Wyatt says The Champ is Here, and says everything is right with the world. “Hooray!” Wyatt says the more things change, the more it stays exactly the same. He calls it a vicious cycle, and the hands of fate have dealt him back that championship. Wyatt says in two weeks, Cena will be trapped like a rat inside Elimination Chamber with him. “There will be no where to run, there will be no where to hid, and I promise you John, when everything is said and done, I will be leaving that Chamber the new WWE Champion.” He says the world will finally enter the Era of Wyatts.
Randy Orton speaks up and says if Cena makes it out of the chamber alive with the title, he’ll be waiting for him at Wrestlemania. One way or another, the Wyatts are going to set that championship free. Wyatt says “We’re here.” Both men walk down the ramp and Cena readies for a fight.
The Wyatt music hits, the lights go out, and then come back on. Luke Harper stands next to Cena, looks at him, and turns to Bray and Orton, who bail out of the ring. Shane McMahon’s music hits and he walks out to the ramp, and he turns that combination into a tag match… up next!
Typical Cena promo here, which is fine. I like the idea of Bray getting in the title mix, so I’m curious to see how that plays out at Elimination Chamber.
Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton vs. John Cena & Luke Harper
The Winner: Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton
The Action: Cena and Wyatt start it off. Wyatt quickly tags in Orton. Cena points at the Wrestlemania sign, but Harper tags himself in before Cena and Orton can touch. Harper attacks Orton immediately. Harper hits a dropkick and catapults him into the ropes.
Outside the ring, Harper stalks Orton, and Bray stands between them. Harper rolls through the ropes and comes at Orton from the other side, hitting a back suplex onto the announcer’s table. Orton rolls back into the ring and tags in Wyatt.
Wyatt and Harper have a staredown. Harper backs up and tags in John Cena. Cena looks confused. He and Wyatt trade blows, with Wyatt getting control of the exchange. We go to break, and return to Wyatt hitting a running senton for two. Orton tags in and hits a draping DDT. Orton counters an RKO attempt. After a double-clothesline, Orton tags in Wyatt, who immediately walks over to Harper and stares him down. Wyatt misses a senton but tags in Orton, who hits a powerslam.
Cena fires up and hits his sequence leading into the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He sets up an AA but Orton counters with a back breaker. All hell breaks loose and Harper teases a Sister Abigail on Wyatt, but it never happens. Orton hits Cena with an RKO to end it.
A very formulaic tag match. The most interesting thing in the match was the Harper/Wyatt relationship. I’m not certain we’ve seen the end of where it’s going either.
James Ellsworth walks out onto the ramp, dressed in the clothes Carmella bought him last week. He asks the fans to be quiet – he’s got something important to say. He asks them not to be rude, and then shushes the fans. He gives a little speech introducing Carmella.
Carmella vs. Delilah Dawson
The Action: JBL is completely incensed that Mauro is trying to call this match legit. Dawson is wearing a blue singlet over a blue bra with blue hair. Ellsworth gets involved and takes out her legs when Dawson starts to get in some offense. Carmella hits her submission finisher for the win.
Kalisto makes his entrance for a match as we go to break.
Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler
The Winner: Dolph Ziggler
The Action: Ziggler attacks immediately, grounding Kalisto. He hits a leaping elbow to the chest. Kalisto hits Ziggler with a set of kicks, and follows it up with a springboard cross body. Backstage, Apollo Crews looks on as Ziggler recovers and regains the advantage.
Ziggler talks trash, and Kalisto counters. Ziggler cowers in the ropes and uses the ref to gain an advantage. He superkicks Kalisto for the win.
After the match, Ziggler tries to rip Kalisto’s mask off. Apollo Crews comes out to make the save. Ziggler bails out into the audience.
Kalisto can be used so much better than this. I’m fine with Crews getting something out of this, but it’s otherwise disappointing.
Backstage, Dasha Fuentest interviews Becky Lynch and Naomi about their upcoming tag match tonight. Lynch says Mickie James screwed her out of her championship. She says Mickie thinks she forgot about her, but she didn’t. She’s used to being attacked from all sides – the left, the right, and now, apparently, from the past. Naomi talks about how she isn’t a nobody and pinned the champ on Sunday. She says Alexa Bliss felt the glow, and tonight she and James will feel the Glow Fire.
Naomi & Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James
The Winners: Naomi & Becky Lynch
The Action: Lynch and James start it out. Lynch audibly beckons her to fight her, so naturally James tags out. Lynch takes Bliss down, and tags out to Naomi, who hits a sunset flip off the apron for two. She follows it up with a leg drop. Bliss fires back, gaining the advantage. Rapid tags between her and James. Bliss hits a sloppy pair of knees into her moonsault knees.
Hot tags for both ladies. Lynch is on fire, taking down James who crawls into the corner. Forearm in the corner into a springboard sidekick and an exploder suplex for two. Lynch heads up top, and Bliss distracts her, giving James a chance to take Lynch down. She kicks Lynch in the face and gets a two count as Naomi breaks up the pin. We go to break.
Back from break, Bliss has Lynch in a headlock. Bliss stands on Lynch’s hair, then tags in James, who corners Lynch with a foot to the throat. She distracts the referee, allowing Bliss to choke Lynch from the apron. James hits a hurricarana out of the corner. Lynch starts to fire back, but James uses the hair to keep Lynch under control. Tag to Bliss. Lynch tries to make a hot tag, but Bliss holds her back, but Lynch is able to get through. Naomi hits a springboard cross body on Bliss, a dropkick knocking James off the apron, and she’s on fire. Naomi unleashes her flurry of kicks, then slams Bliss face-first into the canvas. Lynch tries to come in and the referee keeps her out. Bliss and James double-team Naomi. Lynch manages to tackle James out of the ring as Naomi hits a split-legged moonsault on Bliss for the win.
Naomi is starting to get over with the crowd in a good way. They’re reacting to her offense, popping for her hot tags, and getting excited for her wins. James is already showing her veteran instincts, pulling out basic moves that noone uses any more. It’s refreshing in a way, and I can see Bliss is already starting to pick up some of the cues.
Dasha interviews American Alpha backstage. She wants to know what’s next for the tag champs. They’ve been wondering the same thing, and say they’ve been standing there for a month with noone stepping up to the plate. Gable says it’s like noone can hear them begging someone to try to take the titles. He covers his eyes and starts swinging his belt wildly – and Jordan ducks repeatedly. Gable says they’ll go to the ring and issue an open challenge for the tag titles. He says someone will show up, and asks her to wish them luck. Gable walks away, and Jordan hesitates, waiting for Dasha to wish them luck. She does, he leaves.
After the break, American Alpha head to the ring.
American Alpha (c) vs. The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships
Well, maybe not. The Ascension walk out. Then The Vaudevillains. Then Breezango. Then Rhyno and Heath Slater. And a huge brawl breaks out with everyone fighting everyone. We go to break.
We come back to maybe four or five referees still trying to get some order together. Eventually in comes down to American Alpha and Rhyno & Slater in the ring, but no match.
We see a video from last week when Natalya attacked Nikki Bella. Backstage, Daniel Bryan is on the phone when Nattie walks in. She’s accompanied by two security guards. She says she doesn’t feel safe at work anymore. Bella walks in and mocks her for hiring security. The two bicker as Bryan tries to speak, and eventually he screams “ENOUGH.” He confirms the two will have a match at Elimination Chamber.
Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles
The Winner: AJ Styles
The Action: Ambrose and AJ come out before the break, and when we return, Neville cuts a promo hyping up 205 Live. Meanwhile, The Miz and Maryse are on commentary. AJ and Ambrose pace themselves with various arm drags and wristlocks.
Ambrose locks in a Texas Cloverleaf, and transitions it into a Rings of Saturn. The action spills outside, with Styles hitting a sidekick and slamming Ambrose into the announcer’s table. Back in the ring, AJ hits a roundhouse, and Miz acts like Styles is taking his moves. He gets pissed that they’re “Daniel Bryan’s moves,” and goes off. AJ continues wearing Ambrose down. Ambrose starts to gain control and climbs up to attack AJ outside the ring, but Baron Corbin’s music hits. He walks to ringside as we go to commercial.
Corbin is on commentary when we return, and clearly, this match isn’t going to end cleanly. Styles takes out Ambrose’s feet in the corner. He hits a pumphandle back breaker for two. Miz and Corbin bicker back and forth. Styles keeps control of the match, until he misses a forearm in the corner. Ambrose fires up, hitting a clothesline in the corner, and settings AJ up for a superplex. Styles breaks free, goes for a back breaker but Ambrose rolls him up. Styles goes for a springboard move, but Ambrose knocks him off the top rope to the floor. Ambrose runs the ropes, Styles catches him in the face with a forearm.
Styles ducks a Lunatic Lariat and goes for a springboard DDT, but Ambrose counters him and tosses him in the air after a suplex-like toss. It’s worth two. Ambrose catches Styles out of mid-air, but Styles turns it into a crucifix. Ushigoroshi from Styles gets two.
Styles goes for a Styles Clash. Ambrose breaks out, and they trade reversals. Pele Kick leads to a Lunatic Lariat. Styles bails out of the ring and Ambrose leaps off the top rope after him. Meanwhile, Miz and Corbin start going at it. Their fight spills into the ring. Ambrose leaps off the top rope and goes for a pin but the referee never sees it. All hell breaks loose and Ambrose sends Corbin and Miz packing, and back in the ring, AJ hits a Styles Clash on Ambrose to win it.
Afterwards, Miz attacks Ambrose, hitting Skull Crushing Finale on him. Baron Corbin hits End of Days on Miz. He hands one out to Ambrose too, for good measure. Corbin’s music plays as we go off the air.
A good match surrounded by complete chaos. They only have two weeks to hype Elimination Chamber and that doesn’t give them a lot of time to properly build the match, or any matches, really.
A good episode of Smackdown, which had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time. As the Elimination Chamber card takes shape I think we’ll find it’ll be a good show, but right now it’s being built around, basically, one match.
I’m off to cover 205 Live… join me there won’t you?