WWE Smackdown is live from St. Paul, MN, and starting at 8pm Eastern we will have live coverage of the show, as it happens. Currently scheduled – AJ Styles will take on Luke Harper to settle the controversy that wasn’t a controversy – who should be the #1 Contender for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania?
All this plus lots more starts at 8pm Eastern. Join us here for live coverage, and on Twitter, @RingRap, for commentary throughout the show!
Our show opens with Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan, and a stage hand watching a replay of Luke Harper and AJ Styles at the end of the Battle Royal last week. It’s a wide-angle shot and doesn’t show that AJ clearly hit the floor first, but it still looks like AJ hit the floor first. Shane says Bryan did the right thing and stuck with the referee’s decision. AJ Styles walks in and says you can see that Harper hit the floor first. He says he’s good with headlining Wrestlemania if they want to cancel the match. Shane and Bryan says the match is still on. Styles calls Harper a hillbilly, and says he looks like the hair that clogs the showers. “And speaking of showers…” as Harper walks in behind Styles. Bryan and Shane let him run his mouth, and he realizes Harper is standing behind him. Styles looks at him, then Shane and Bryan, and walks away. Harper approaches both Shane and Bryan and says “Thank you.” And he too, leaves.
Looks like The Miz is starting things off with a MizTV segment. He and Maryse head out to the ring. The announcers cue up a replay of his elimination in the Battle Royal last week, and how he tossed John Cena out as well. Miz says he doesn’t want to beat around the bush, and introduces John Cena, his guest.
Cena’s music hits, to a mixed reaction. He gets ready to speak, and Miz interrupts, cutting his mic. “You don’t get to talk until I say you talk.” Miz says he’s got 10 years of frustration to get off his chest, accusing him of costing him opportunities. Miz says Cena’s word to the higher ups is gospel here, and it’s not because he’s good – it’s because he manipulates everyone that comes his way. Miz asks the audience if they’ve ever seen someone at work and ask “How does this guy get to be here?” Miz says he’s worked twice as hard and all he’s become is the other guy. The fans chant for Cena, and Miz continues. “I’m not the other guy. I am the Miz.” He continues, accusing Cena of not letting him be anything but the other guy. Miz says there was a time when he beat Cena at Wrestlemania in the main event. His legacy was to be cemented as iconic, but Cena found a way to manipulate the most important part of any person’s career, and turned it into nothing.
Miz accuses him of being jealous. He calls Cena a hypocrite, and talks about how he read The Rock the riot act for doing movies, until he himself got that phonecall – a weekend turned into a month, into six months. “And now? We can’t see you, John.” The fans chant “You sold out.” Miz calls Cena a parody of his former self. He says he’s not Super Cena anymore. The dual chants begin, and Miz acknowledges them, saying it’s half and half. Miz says the reason he has him out there is because Cena wants his cake and wants to eat it too. Miz says he’s the one that’s there, not anyone else. Miz is doing media, making Smackdown must-see. What bothered him the most was when he came back and was gifted a championship match at the Royal Rumble, manipulating his way into the history books. He says there’s only one greatest of all time – and he Woos like Ric Flair. Miz says Cena took Flair’s moment away from him like he took millions away from Miz. He says he took away Miz’s opportunity to challenge for the title at Wrestlemania. He came back in and threw Cena out because he wanted Cena to feel what he felt. “I’d do it a hundred times and that’d still be a thousand times less than what you did to me.”
Cena gets a chance to speak, and says Miz blew his chance by saying the same thing people have been saying for a decade. “Look, I get it – I can’t wrestle, I’m leaving for Hollywood even though I can’t act, I really don’t love doing this, and I manipulate everything in the WWE like I run the show.” He says people thinks he takes away chances because he has a key to the city. He says if he was really this “black arts manipulator,” does Miz think he’d be standing in the ring with him? No, he’d be standing face to face with The Undertaker! Cena lets the fan soak it up, and Yes chants break out. Cena says the fans know it, but guys like The Miz find it easy to blame him. Cena says he doesn’t have people fooled – those that run with him believe, because you cannot fake heart. The fans break out in a dueling chant, and Cena says it’s something you feel.
With him or against him, everyone knows exactly who he is. But who the hell is The Miz? He says he’s a dude named Mike that shortened his last name on The Real World, and bootlegged The Rock’s electricity to get in WWE. He says Miz stole Chris Jericho’s personality, Ric Flair’s Figure Four Leglock, Daniel Bryan’s offense and his personality, and now he’s stealing what AJ Styles has been saying for six months. “You have no idea who you are – you’re a dude dressed up as a dude playing another dude.” Cena compares himself to Flair, HBK, Austin, and says they were all themselves in the ring. But Miz is nothing more than a trend hopping, joke stealing, unoriginal shell of a WWE superstar. Cena says the two of them have been knocked down the same number of times, but Miz blames everyone else, Cena stands up and keeps fighting. He ends it with a piece of advice – don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, “because you’re not The Undertaker, but if you press me again, you’re a dead man.”
Maryse stops Cena, and says he can’t leave the ring until they say he can. She says he wishes he was half the man The Miz is. She accuses him of being a control egomaniac freak. She accuses him of having a “small package.” She asks if he’s about respect, and says “Respect this” before slapping him.
Cena laughs and says she just make the biggest mistake of her life, and on that note, Nikki Bella runs out. Maryse and Miz bail out through the audience. Bella says “You mess with my man? I’m gonna break ya bitch, ya hear me?” Cena and Bella pose in the ring and Cena lays in a kiss.
That was a tremendous opening to the show – a bit long, but well done. Miz cut a really strong promo, and Cena masterfully turned a 50/50 crowd in his favor before he was done. Maryse and Bella were good in their short roles too, but they’ll get their chance to expand on that soon enough.
A quote from Oprah Winfrey appears on the screen for Black History Month, and then we go ringside.
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
The Winner: Becky Lynch wins 2-1
The Action: Lynch locks in a wrist lock, James cartwheels out of it and reverses the hold. James scouts a springboard side kick, but eats a baseball slide to the floor. We go to an early break. We return, and James is in control, grinding Lynch’s face on the mat. JBL clarifies that Mickie James has been wrestling in her absence, and has no ring rust. Lynch fires up with lariats and a dropkick. James counters a forearm in the corner, sending Lynch into the middle turnbuckle. She hits a high DDT for the first fall. We go to break.
Mickie James scores the first fall.
Back from break, James launches Lynch into the corner. James hits a flapjack, and heads up top. She misses, and Lynch rolls her up for the second fall.
Becky Lynch scores the second fall.
James is pissed, but Lynch counters with an exploder suplex. Alexa Bliss heads to the ring, title in hand. Lynch ducks a Mick Kick, and Lynch gets a pin, but Bliss has the referee distracted. James runs in and hits Bliss by accident. James rolls it into a Disarmer, and James taps.
Becky Lynch scores the third fall.
A good match but the commercials took away from it. I guess they’re going Bliss vs. James heading into Wrestlemania? I didn’t see that one coming.
Luke Harper speaks in a vignette, saying he’s been fighting a constant battle with the demons in his mind. But he’s made peace with them now, and they help him. He has new eyes – he can see what true evil is. “Bray Wyatt, I’m not afraid of you.” He says when he wins tonight, Wyatt will be very afraid of him.
Wyatt’s turn for a vignette. “May the best man win.” He says the whole world will want to hear what he has to say to that person tonight. It will be him and his brother, Randy Orton. “Glory be to me, the holder of the Holy Grail, the God you know as Bray Wyatt.”
We return from break, and Dasha Fuentes interviews Alexa Bliss about her plans backfiring. Bliss says she won the Smackdown Women’s Championship and her first question is about Becky Lynch. She makes an Oscar comparison, and says she should ask what it’s like to be the first 2-time Smackdown Women’s Championship. She fakes being caught off guard, and thanks herself. She also thanks Naomi for having terrible knees. Natalya claps off-camera and walks into frame, and asks Dasha for a moment with her. She congratulates her, saying the two both had big victories last week – they’re both winners and both championship-caliber superstars. Alexa gets upset at that, and Nattie says she’s kidding – it’s all about Alexa… until she takes the title from her.
Renee Young interviews AJ Styles and asks him what his thoughts are about the match tonight – he says it was bogus, and Harper’s feet clearly hit first. “I was there, I know.” He says he’ll win tonight and end up where he belongs – the main event of Wrestlemania.
Luke Harper vs. AJ Styles for the #1 Contendership for the WWE Championship
The Winner: AJ Styles to become #1 Contender
The Action: Styles paces back and forth, Harper stands still, until they lock up, with Harper shoving Styles to the mat. He sets Styles up on the top turnbuckle, then taunts him, backing up. Styles hits a leapfrog and goes for his dropkick, but Harper hits him with a dropkick instead. Action spills outside the ring, and Harper tosses Styles into the barricade. Harper smashes Styles into the announcer’s table, and rolls him into the ring, following him in. Styles rolls to the other side, takes Harper’s leg out on the apron, and follows it up with a Pele kick.
Back in the ring, Styles lays in kicks to Harper’s back. JBL compares Styles to HBK, saying Styles doesn’t have a “bad day at the office.” Harper takes down Styles with a series of forearms. He rolls over to the apron and hits a senton on Styles, and follows it with a big boot for two. Harper slingshots Styles into the middle rope, and follows it up with a dive through the ropes to the floor. The fans go crazy.
Harper rolls Styles back in and goes for a powerbomb. Styles counters with a flurry of offense, Harper hits a suplex on Styles for a near fall as we go to break.
After the break, Harper hits a sitout powerbomb for a near fall. Harper gets Styles in a fireman’s carry, Styles recovers on the ropes. He hits an enzuigiri and a phenomenal forearm. Styles makes the cover, and the referee counts to three, but Luke Harper’s foot was on the rope.
Shane McMahon runs out to clear things up. He says Harper’s foot was clearly on the rope, and restarts the match. Styles looks pissed. He sets Harper up for a Styles Clash, but Harper rolls into a bridged cover. He tosses Styles out of the ring, and Styles gets in McMahon’s face, yelling at him. Harper comes around for a kick to Styles, but Styles moves, and Harper connects with McMahon instead. AJ shoves him into the ring post, rolls him into the ring, and hits a springboard 450 splash, successfully getting the pin.
After the match Styles walks by Shane, who’s selling the effects of the kick.
I’m floored AJ won, especially after Harper had his foot on the rope. But I can’t help but feel this isn’t over yet, as Styles and Shane are clearly starting to cross paths. I’m not sure we’re done seeing this play out yet.
We go backstage to Cena and Bella. Renee Young asks them about what happened earlier, when Carmella and James Ellsworth approach. Carmella takes offense to the way Nikki speaks to her, and makes Ellsworth speak on her behalf. He calls Bella a phony. Cena challenges the two of them to a mixed tag match, next week.
Dean Ambrose saunters to the ring for a match, next.
After the break, the announcers congratulate Beth Phoenix for her Hall of Fame induction. We go backstage to AJ Styles. Daniel Bryan approaches him and congratulates him for being in the main event of Wrestlemania. He extends a hand, Styles declines, and says he’s going to attend Bray Wyatt’s speech tonight in person.
Dean Ambrose vs. Curt Hawkins
The Winner: No contest
The Action: Ambrose immediately enters the ring and hits Dirty Deeds on Hawkins, who was already in the ring. The bell never rang, so this match is a throwaway. He says he’s learned a lot of life lessons – like rollerblading after happy hour is a bad idea. He says one lesson he learned is when you’re pushed, you have to push back. If Baron Corbin thinks he’s just going to roll over, he’s going to learn a lesson – messing with Dean Ambrose is a bad idea. Ambrose says he wants a fight with Corbin right now, and he demands Corbin come out.
Corbin appears on the screen and says he doesn’t just come to the ring when you call his name. Ambrose makes fun of his tattoos. Corbin says he’s glad Ambrose finds humor in this, because he’s going to need it. Corbin says he’s going to run him over like a deer in the middle of the road. He says Ambrose loves pain, Corbin loves handing it out. He says Ambrose cost him something, and now he’s going to take everything from him. Ambrose tells him not to start what he can’t finish and says they are far from finished.
Up next, Apollo Crews vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Chairs Match!
Back from break, Neville cuts a promo hyping up 205 Live.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Apollo Crews in a Chairs Match
The Winner: Dolph Ziggler
The Action: Crews attacks Ziggler from behind, during Ziggler’s entrance. He rolls Ziggler into the ring and goes on the offense right away. He hits an overhead belly to belly suplex on Ziggler. Crews grabs a chair, but Ziggler kicks his leg out before he can enter the ring. Nice dropkick from Crews. Ziggler rolls out of the ring, and Crews hits an asai moonsault to the floor as we go to break.
We return, and Ziggler has control of Crews. Crews connects an elbow, and kicks Ziggler so hard he throws a chair. Leaping clothesline into a kippup for Crews. He tosses a chair at Ziggler, hits an enzuigiri, and then a standing moonsault onto the chair for two. Crews thankfully sells the impact of the chair.
Crews misses a shoulder in the corner, and Ziggler goes for a roll-up, feet on the ropes, but Crews kicks out. He hits an Angle Slam onto a chair for a near fall. Crews sets up a chair, but Ziggler hits a thumb to the eye and a drop-toe hold, sending Crews throat-first into the lip of the chair. Ziggler crotches Crews on the chair, and covers Crews for the win.
A dirty win for Ziggler, between the shot to the throat and the shot to the nuts. Crews looked great up to that point, but things went crashing in a hurry towards the end.
Bray Wyatt heads out to the ring, title around his waist. Wyatt says “So, AJ Styles it is. To be honest, it really didn’t matter to me either way.” He calls both Styles and Harper “mortals” and says something happens to a man when they step in the ring and realize they are in the presence of a deity. He says Styles will end up like all the rest. “When the bell rings, you will feel the spirit of Beelzebub himself.” Wyatt says he comes from hallowed ground. He comes from a place where Randy Orton is right now.
And then, Randy Orton appears on the screen. “No Bray, here I am.” Wyatt’s rocking chair is in the barn he’s in. Orton says Wyatt gave him the keys to the kingdom, and he’s there, in his world. “This is your world, Bray – but it’s not mine. It never was.” Orton says there was a time when he said if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. He has another expression – once you join ’em, if it’s the right time, screw ’em. He asks if this is Wyatt’s temple, his sacred ground. He says underneath the rocking chair lies Sister Abigail. “Sister Abigail was put to rest beneath my feet.” Orton has a pick axe in his hands. He asks how long it’s been that the maggots and worms have eaten her flesh and bones. “I see you Bray, for the first time in your life as helpless, naked, stripped of your powers.” He says in a moment he will be the master, and Wyatt will be the servant. He stops the rocking chair, throws away the pick axe, and grabs a can of gasoline instead, splashing it on the walls, before pouring the rest on the chair. “I’m coming for you Bray, I’m coming for your title at Wrestlemania.” Orton pours gasoline directly into the open floor, previously dug. “You’re about to hear Sister Abigail scream, Bray.”
Wyatt begs in the middle of the ring for Orton to stop. Orton pours gasoline on his way out the door of the barn, and covers it all over the structure, drawing a line with the gas. He lights a match, playing with the flames. “And now I’m going to burn the soul of Sister Abigail to eternal damnation.” Orton drops the match, setting the barn on fire, and poses in front of the flames as Wyatt throws a fit at ringside. Wyatt is practically in tears as the show comes to an end.
Well, there’s the payoff. After months of build, after months of tease, and when we finally thought that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t happening, Orton turns on Wyatt, and literally burns the whole thing to the ground. And I’m fine with that, but it leaves me wondering what happens with AJ Styles now. Does Shane simply take his #1 Contendership away from him? Or do they keep Styles in the match and make it a triple threat?
Overall, a good show. I liked the matches we had, I liked the promos we got, everything seemed to build to a logical place. Thumbs up as Smackdown is on a straight shot to Wrestlemania.
Bill and I will have lots to discuss, including thoughts on this show tomorrow in Ring Rap Audio. Be sure to send in your Favorite Thing in Wrestling and let us know if you have any questions on your mind as well! Time for 205 Live… see you next time!