WWE Smackdown is in Indianapolis, IN this evening for WWE Smackdown, and we will have live coverage of the show, as it happens, starting at 8pm Eastern.
After Randy Orton burned Bray Wyatt’s compound to the ground, Orton has decided to use his Royal Rumble win to challenge for the title after all. AJ Styles is not amused, having repeatedly fought for the honor of facing Wyatt for the WWE Championship. Tonight they will square off for the very first time, and face each other for the right to face Wyatt at Wrestlemania.
All this plus lots more starting at 8pm! Join us here for live coverage, and on Twitter @RingRap!
A video recaps Bray Wyatt winning the WWE Championship, and Randy Orton refusing to face him at Wrestlemania. Wyatt telling Orton he’s earned the keys to the Kingdom, and AJ Styles earning his match against Wyatt at Wrestlemania. We see Orton, dead center in the Kingdom. He says it’s Bray’s world, but not his own – and never was. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and when it’s the right time, screw ’em. We see Orton pour gasoline everywhere – and then drop the match, burning Bray’s Kingdom – and Sister Abigail – to the ground.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan head out to the ring to open the show. They welcome us to the show, and Shane says they’ve been dealing with the controversy all week. They have yet to find out who is facing Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania. Daniel Bryan feels the opportunity should go to Randy Orton, and Shane feels it should go to AJ Styles. Bryan feels it’s been a 20-year tradition that the winner of the Royal Rumble goes on to the main event of Wrestlemania, and that Randy Orton earned the opportunity. Shane says there’s never been a superstar that’s declined the match, and he cued up a video of Orton declining the option.
Shane lays out that they had a battle royal with a controversial finish, and AJ Styles won the following week, defeating Luke Harper and earning his shot. Bryan says they thought they had it squared away, until Randy Orton literally set their plans ablaze – and he cues up a video of the fire. Bryan believes that he deserves the spot at Wrestlemania, but since he and Shane disagree, what should they do? They ask the fans, and it’s a mixed reaction for both, frankly. They decided to settle it the only way they could – with a match. AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton, one on one. The winner will face Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. He hypes up the fans for one of the most “must-see Smackdown main events in history.”
Up next, mixed tag action – Nikki Bella and John Cena will take on Carmella and James Ellsworth!
After the break, Shane and Bryan are backstage when AJ Styles approaches them. He’s pissed, says he’s been calling them all weekend and they’ve ignored him. He’s trying to keep them from making a huge mistake. He says he’s tired of the anti-AJ conspiracy. He tells Shane to be quiet, and says he’ll make the best out of a bad situation – he’ll take out Randy Orton. He says he’s not afraid of a little fire, a viper, or Shane and Bryan either.
James Ellsworth stands in the ring and says they’re about to witness a match they’ll never see again. He talks about beating AJ Styles the first 3 times he beat them, but it took Cena multiple times. He says that makes him the mac-daddy of Smackdown, and the man that puts the “mac in Smackdown” is going to wipe the floor with Cena. He introduces his “friend that is a girl” Carmella. John Cena and Nikki Bella come out next.
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. James Ellsworth & Carmella
The Winner: John Cena & Nikki Bella
The Action: The bell rings, but The Miz and Maryse interrupt, heading to the ring immediately. Nikki is distracted, and Carmella, hits a superkick, flooring Bella as we cut to a break. WE return, and Carmella has a headlock cinched on. Miz and Maryse are on commentary. Bella breaks free and sends Carmella to the floor, and she makes the hot tag to Cena.
James Ellsworth is supposed to come in, but he doesn’t want any part of it, and flat out refuses. He inches into the ring, very slowly. Cena stares him down. Ellsworth begs Carmella to tag back in, but Carmella shoves Ellsworth, and he bumps right into Cena. He tries to kick Cena, and Cena drops him, readying a 5-Knuckle Shuffle. Carmella slaps Cena, Bella slaps Carmella, and they hit the shuffle in stereo. AA from Cena, Rack Attack 2.0 from Bella, and both go into an STF for the tapout.
As the two celebrate, Miz and Maryse attack, dragging both out of the ring and laying them out on the floor. Miz and Maryse enter the ring, mic in hand. He says he couldn’t take it anymore, that the two of them disgust him. He runs down their relationship – says that if they have true love there’s no need to sign a contract. He says their relationship wasn’t allowed to be spoken of on WWE television for the longest time, until it was time for his brand to be successful. He calls Cena “Robo-Cena” and says Cena found the winning lottery ticket because he found someone at attention and power-hungry as Cena is. Miz says their fabricated lives spits on every real relationship. “It stops now.” Maryse grabs the mic, says “Hey Nikki – break that, bitch!” and she drops the mic to the floor.
A great promo from Miz (and a short one from Maryse). They’re doing a great job of making this feud feel real. The Smackdown writing team does a fantastic job of delicately weaving fiction and reality to make a compelling feud.
Backstage, Renee Young approaches Randy Orton – Orton says he burned Wyatt’s compound to the ground, so what does AJ Styles have in store tonight? He says noone is going to stop him from facing Bray at Wrestlemania. He’s one RKO away from headlining Wrestlemania, and says AJ should be afraid. In fact, AJ should just… run.
After the break, the announcers hype Ravishing Rick Rude’s induction to the WWE Hall of Fame.
In the ring, Curt Hawkins calls out Dean Ambrose, and says he started something he can’t finish. “When you face the facts, the facts fight back.”
Ambrose comes out to the ring, and Hawkins runs out to attack. Ambrose lays Hawkins out with a clothesline, and hits the ring, grabbing a mic. Ambrose says he wants to call out Baron Corbin, but Corbin is probably backstage doing his lone wolf thing. Ambrose says Corbin is more like a neutered wolf, because he has no testicles. Corbin appears on the screen and says he doesn’t come to the ring when someone calls his name. He doesn’t understand why Ambrose is in such a rush to get his beating. Corbin says when he’s ready he’s going to take everything from him, including his title. Ambrose says it was worth a try, and he’ll come to Corbin instead. Hawkins tries to attack, and Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds before heading backstage.
Tom Phillips cues up a video about Trish Stratus and Lita for Women’ Month.
We go backstage, and Ambrose is looking for Corbin. We go to break.
We return, and Dean Ambrose is still looking for Corbin. Dasha Fuentes then conducts an interview with Mojo Rawley, who says at last year’s Wrestlemania he watched one of his best friends climb a ladder and become the Intercontinental Champion (Zack Ryder). He says as his tag partner, that was a big moment for him too, but it wasn’t his moment. He announces his name as the first entrant into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Dolph Ziggler approaches him and says they don’t hand out Wrestlemania moments – you have to earn them. Mojo asks if that’s why Ziggler doesn’t have one. Ziggler tells him not to hurt himself reaching for the brass ring – someone will grab it for him.
More of Ambrose wandering, until Corbin throws a crew member at Ambrose. He attacks Ambrose with a pipe, leaving him choking for breath. Ambrose squeaks out the words “Alright, good talk.” Corbin hits him a few more times, then kicks him under a forklift. He lowers the forklift on top of Ambrose, who screams as referees come to his rescue.
We go ringside, and Alexa Bliss heads to the ring with Mickie James at her side. We go to break. When we return, Bliss welcomes us to the first ever “Blissertation.” She says she’s the greatest superstar on the Smackdown roster, and she’ll announce her opponent for Wrestlemania. She then announces who it won’t be – Naomi is at home feeling the “Ow.” It won’t be Nikki Bella, who is being nursed back to health by Cena. It won’t be Carmella, who is being nursed by her troll Ellsworth. She says it definitely won’t be “Chucky,” who we know as Becky Lynch. She says no matter how many times she gets rid of her, she keeps coming back. She says she’s been talking about Becky for 20 seconds and she’s already bored, and then Becky Lynch herself interrupts.
Lynch tells Bliss to shut her face, and she came out to make an announcement of her own – a declaration! She says “I am Becky Lynch, I am the woman that is going to defeat you and take back my championship at Wrestlemania.” Then Natalya’s music hits. Nattie tells Lynch to step aside, as it’s not always about her. She says they had a really good talk last week and came to an understanding that they are championship caliber material, but Lynch is not in their league. Bliss cuts her off and asks if she got into some catnip. They never had an understanding, and she’s not getting a title shot. “Let me explain this in a way that’s really nice – you are the worst there is, the worst there ever was, and the worst there ever will be.”
All of them start to bicker, and James tells them to shut up, telling them they’re ruining a special moment, when she announces who she’ll face – of course it’s Mickie James, right? Bliss is confused, and James says they had a deal. Lynch says she beat James twice last week. Nattie says James must be embarrassed right now, and she called Mickie ugly. The four bicker some more until Daniel Bryan comes out to straighten things up. He says he and Shane were listening to the Blissertation, and they give it an F. He says her claim of being the greatest superstar on the women’s roster perked up their ears, and he says there’s only one way to find out – by having her defend against every available woman on the Smackdown roster. Bliss is pissed, says he can’t do that. Bryan says he can do it, and it’s literally his job. He also picked up some sweet tips from Hall of Famer Teddy Long, and he makes a tag match… right now!
It’s unclear what type of match it’ll be at Wrestlemania – a gauntlet match, a free for all, or what. Honestly, that makes a huge difference in the prestige of the match. I guess we’ll get those details in the weeks to come.
Alexa Bliss & Mickie James vs. Natalya & Becky Lynch
The Winner: Alexa Bliss & Mickie James
The Action: Nattie and Bliss are in the ring after the commercial. Nattie runs over Bliss and hits a dropkick for two. James and Lynch in, the two counter each other with some chain wrestling. James gains control and tags in Bliss. Bliss keeps Lynch grounded. We go to break.
After the break, Bliss still has control. She corners Lynch and tags in James, who lays in a right in the corner. Lynch fights out of the corner, but gets cut off. Bliss tags in and Lynch fights her way free once more, hitting an enzuigiri. Bliss tags out, and James catches Lynch, but Lynch manages to roll through and hit a series of clotheslines. Instead of tagging Natalya though, Lynch continues with the offense. Natalya doesn’t condone this, and runs in, hitting a belly to back suplex on Lynch, leaving her lying in the ring.
Bliss tags her self in and makes the cover, getting the pin instead of James, who looks shocked and upset with the blind tag. In fact, for her troubles, James hits Bliss with a Mick Kick. She takes the Women’s Title and holds it up high before leaving Bliss lying with the belt.
A predictable tag match. Fine for what it was.
The announcers go to a recap of Corbin’s attack on Dean Ambrose backstage. They say Ambrose has been taking to a local medical facility for observation. JBL then hypes up Orton vs. Styles, up next!
Austin Aries cuts a 205 Live hype promo, putting over how he “shut the mouth” of Neville. At the start of the show he’ll answer all of the questions about his future.
AJ Styles heads to the ring for his match against Orton, and cuts a promo, calling Smackdown “The House that AJ Styles Built.” He says he took a B-show and made it THE show. He’s gotten nothing but disrespect from Shane and Bryan. “Meanwhile, Orton burns down a man’s house and gets rewarded for it.” Amazing line, and the fans chant for AJ after that. He fluffs off the chants and says he was built for the main event of Wrestlemania. He says not Shane McMahon, not Daniel Bryan, and certainly not Randy Orton will keep him from the Grandest Stage of Them All, and making it phenomenal.
AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton for the #1 Contendership to the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania
The Winner: Randy Orton
The Action: Orton goes for an RKO almost immediately. Styles bails out of the ring to avoid it. Back in the ring, Styles locks in a headlock. Orton uses his size to keep Styles guessing, nailing him with a shoulderblock. Styles hits a series of shoulders in the corner. Orton whips Styles into the corner, and begins an Orton Stomp. He hangs Styles up over the ropes and goes for a cover. Styles breaks it on the ropes.
Styles gains control, working on the legs. Orton catches Styes and hits an exploder suplex, sending Styles out of the ring. He sends Styles onto the barricade back-first. Back in the ring, Styles hits a chop block on Orton’s leg. Orton bails out of the ring as we go to break.
AJ continues to work the leg after the break. Orton tries to create some distance between the two, but Styles takes out the leg again and locks in a sleeper. Orton catches Styles with a powerslam. Orton connects with a full nelson slam, two-count. He stomps Styles in the corner. Orton sets Styles up top, and goes for a superplex, but Styles slips between Orton’s legs, sending Orton into the top turnbuckle. Styles hits a shoulder breaker, and goes for a Styles Clash, but Orton reverses the Clash, and sends Styles to the apron. Orton sets up the draping DDT, which Styles escapes. Styles rolls through and locks in a calf-crusher. Orton makes it to the ropes.
Styles charges Orton in the corner, and Orton moves. He pushes Styles off the top rope on a springboard attempt, and hits a draping DDT. Orton readies up the RKO. Styles counters with a Pele Kick. Orton sends Styles to the apron again, and Styles sets up for a phenomenal forearm. Orton goes for an RKO, but Styles scouts it out and Orton misses. He tries for a 450 splash instead, Orton rolls away and pops AJ into the air for an RKO and the win.
A good – yet predictable – match. I wish they saved their first encounter for a pay-per-view, but they certainly made it count, with very big implications on the line. Orton and Wyatt needs to come to a conclusion and Wrestlemania is a good spot for it to happen, but I can’t help but be frustrated with the start/stop story for AJ. It’s like they’ve dangled a carrot in front of him time and time again.
Not a terrible show – it was primarily built around the main event, but the pieces are falling into place for Wrestlemania.
I’m heading over to cover 205 Live now. Won’t you join me there? Thanks for tuning in tonight!