WWE Smackdown is in Pittsburgh, PA this evening, and we will have live coverage of the show, provided I have power, starting at 8pm Eastern.
With AJ Styles flipping out on Shane McMahon last week after losing to Randy Orton, Shane is set to respond. But how will he? Will he predictably challenge AJ Styles to a match at Wrestlemania? Or, does he have something else in mind?
Plus, Bray Wyatt was absent from Smackdown last week. Will he appear to acknowledge Randy Orton’s challenge and destruction of his compound?
All this plus more with John Cena & Nikki Bella and The Miz & Maryse, as the Road to Wrestlemania continues.
Follow along here starting at 8:00pm Eastern for live coverage, and on Twitter @RingRap!
Our show opens up with the backstage altercation between Shane McMahon and AJ Styles, after Styles lost his match against Randy Orton for the #1 Contendership. We see clips of their match and the incredible finish, with Styles dodging an RKO only to lose to it moments later.
Daniel Bryan is backstage on the phone discussing tonight’s events. AJ Styles barges in and demands to speak with Shane McMahon. AJ is pissed, and he wants Shane now. Bryan says McMahon isn’t there yet, but he will be later. Styles decides he’s going to go to the ring to explain it all. Bryan warns him not to risk his career, but Styles says his career is what’s on his mind.
We go ringside, and it’s Tom Phillips and JBL (no Mauro Ranallo or David Otunga, strangely). Styles comes out to the ring, out of breath. He’s not in a good mood. The fans chant his name repeatedly. Styles says he’s sick and tired of being messed with by Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon. He calls himself the greatest superstar in WWE history, and says he should have a red carpet rolled out to him to go to Wrestlemania, but he had to go through hoops like a circus monkey. Styles complains about John Cena getting a title shot just by asking, and says he lost and has learned to live with it, but he expected a rematch, and he got a Triple Threat match that he didn’t get beat in or lose. Then, he got an Elimination Chamber match with 5 other superstars, and then a controversial Battle Royale, and then a match against Luke Harper, where he beat Harper clean. And then, Randy Orton burns down Bray Wyatt’s home – he doesn’t get arrested or go to jail – he goes to the main event of Wrestlemania.
Styles says he had the best year in 2016, and put Smackdown on the map. He says he’s the reason butts are in seats and why we subscribe to the WWE Network, and what does he get? He doesn’t even have a match at Wrestlemania. “On what planet does the greatest ever not have a match at Wrestlemania?” He says he could’ve walked in and slapped the “kale chips” out of Daniel Bryan’s mouth, but Bryan is just a puppet. He says tonight he and Shane McMahon are going to have a conversation about his career – “that is if I even have one.”
One of AJ’s strongest promos in WWE to date. He made a compelling case but still managed to keep it heelish by being cocky and assertive.
JBL and Tom address the absences at the table – David Otunga is off filming a movie, and Mauro Ranallo was unable to make it to Pittsburgh due to the storm (there’s a blizzard going on right now in the Northeast). They plug the rest of the show – Randy Orton addressing Bray Wyatt, plus Becky Lynch takes on Natalya… up next!
Becky Lynch vs. Natalya
The Winner: Becky Lynch
The Action: Early on, Lynch hits a dropkick, and takes Nattie to the mat with some wild punches. Nattie backs into a corner and offers a handshake as truce. Lynch literally slaps her across the face. Nattie backs into the ropes to recoup. Lynch goes for an STF, Nattie breaks it on the ropes. We go to break.
Out of the break, the action is fast and fierce. Nattie hits a Michinoku Driver on the floor. Back in the ring, a dropkick leads to a 2-count. Natalya misses a charge in the corner, and the two trade elbows. Natalya counters Lynch’s running elbow, but Lynch transitions into a Disarmer for the win.
After the match, Carmella attacks both ladies out of nowhere, leaving both laid out. She and James Ellsworth bail out before either can get to their feet.
AJ Styles paces back and forth in the parking garage, awaiting Shane McMahon.
The announcers kick it to a package about John Cena at the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. Naturally, he got slimed.
After the break, Ellsworth and Carmella are approached by Dasha Fuentes. She wants Carmella to explain herself – and Carmella essentially throws her hat into the match at Wrestlemania, saying she’s the next Smackdown Women’s Champ.
The Miz and Maryse stand in the middle of the ring for Miz TV. Miz introduces the guests for tonight – themselves. Miz says they are going to expose John Cena and Nikki Bella as the frauds they really are, but first, a recap of last week, when Miz and Maryse attacked Cena and Bella. Miz then shows footage of them on Talking Smack last week. Maryse shows off her wedding ring, claiming Nikki Bella is jealous of her because she has one. Miz asks Maryse to talk about a segment that Bella supposedly begged E Network not to show. Maryse says she and Bella were best friends, but Bella stabbed her in the back. Maryse was supposed to be in the first season of Total Divas, but Bella talked her into waiting to sign. Bella told her she’d take care of everything, and didn’t.
Maryse says Nikki Bella took money away from her, and time away from her. “You hurt me, embarrassed me, cheated me, so I’m going to make you suffer as much as I suffered.” She says she’ll expose her for who she really is – a lying, backstabbing bitch.
John Cena’s music hits, and both he and Nikki Bella come out. The two come up with a plan and run out to the ring immediately. Both Miz and Maryse bail out. Bella takes the mic out of Cena’s hands and calls Maryse crazy. She says if she had any power to block a job, Maryse wouldn’t be standing there. Bella accuses Maryse of stabbing them in the back. She says Maryse steals the fans money every night. Bella offers Maryse a chance to prove herself in the ring, right now. Miz says Bella doesn’t get to make up matches. “Who do you think you are, John Cena?” He says Maryse has nothing to prove in the WWE ring. He says time is up for Miz TV and he closes the segment, but Daniel Bryan interrupts.
Bryan asks Miz who he thinks he is – the General Manager? Bryan is upset that it wasn’t really a special edition too, because he went in, ran his mouth, and ran away. Bryan says he promised him something special and didn’t deliver, and that makes him want to punch Miz in the face. And then, Miz showed the clip from Talking Smack, and it reminded him of all the times he cut Bryan off and reminded him that he can’t wrestle anymore, and that really makes him want to punch him in the face. And then, Miz goes into the ring and imitates his moves poorly, and that really, really makes Bryan want to punch him in the face. “And the fact that I can’t punch you in the face and you know it, and you take advantage of that makes me want to punch you in the face even more.” He can’t, but he knows two people that can. Bryan makes a match for Wrestlemania – “The ultimate Thrill Ride, and the ultimate Face-Punching Extravaganza.” Miz and Maryse vs. Nikki Bella and John Cena is official!
Another good segment, if not more of the same. Miz and Maryse are tremendous heat magnets, and one of the only heel pairings on the roster that gets actual, heel heat. I used to groan at the prospect of this match, but I think we could end up surprised and it will end up being a lot of fun in the end.
AJ Styles continues waiting for Shane McMahon backstage. We go to break.
Returning from break, it’s time for another women’s match!
Mickie James vs. Alexa Bliss
The Winner: Mickie James
The Action: The two jockey for position early on, getting a little nasty with the collar and elbow tieup. Bliss gains control and keeps James grounded. Bliss maintains control, tossing James out of the ring as we go to break.
Out of the break, Bliss has a rest hold. James breaks free and goes for a half-crab, but Bliss gets to the ropes. Bliss lays into James with a series of rights. Bliss hits a sunset flip rollup out of the corner for two. James goes for a DDT, but it’s reversed. The two trade roll-ups, until Bliss knocks the face off of James with a slap. Bliss misses her flip combo and James hits a Mick Kick for the win.
Nothing crazy going on here. James needed a win, but I feel like it was at the cost of the champ, who is looking vunerable.
AJ Styles is still pacing back and forth backstage. Renee Young approaches him and asks about his intentions. He says Wrestlemania is the ultimate thrill ride, but he has no match, so he’ll get his thrills where he can.
Shane McMahon’s car pulls up, and he gets out. AJ Styles immediately attacks him, throwing him into a garage door, a car, and anything else he can find. He tosses Shane head-first into a car window, which shatters. Fit Finlay tries to break AJ off of Shane, and shouts for paramedics, as Shane is bleeding from the top of his head. A very well done, vicious attack from Styles.
Out of the break, the announcers kick to a replay of the previous attack. After the recap, we see medical staff attending to Shane, who is still bleeding. Shane struggles to walk under his own power, and is helped to the trainers’ room.
We see Curt Hawkins and The Usos talking to AJ Styles, who is putting on his jacket and preparing to leave the arena. The Usos, of all people, are telling him he can’t do things like that. Seems a little out of place coming from serial leg breakers, but whatever. Anyhow, Styles walks out of the dressing room, and Daniel Bryan approaches him with some security guards in tow. He calls Styles a coward and says he’s lost all respect for him. Styles asks him if he’s gonna fire him, and Bryan says “Damn right I’m gonna fire you. Now get out.” He orders the security guards to walk him out, and Styles leaves.
After another commercial break, the announcers talk about the incident, and call it “premeditated.” JBL says Styles is fired 19 days ahead of Wrestlemania.
Mojo Rawley vs. Dolph Ziggler
The Winner: Mojo Rawley via countout
The Action: Ziggler corners Mojo early on, and taunts him. Mojo takes him into the opposite corner with a shoulderblock. He tosses Ziggler up into the air, and chucks him over the top rope to the floor. Ziggler charges and Mojo sends him over the top again. Ziggler hits a dropkick for two. Mojo once again tosses Ziggler over the top rope, which would have been the third time he was eliminated from the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Ziggler decides to take the loss and walks out on the match.
One more replay of AJ Styles’ attack on Shane. Apparently there was a camera inside the car, and it captured Shane’s head going through the glass (because, you know, we didn’t get the idea).
After the break, Neville cuts a promo about 205 Live’s Fatal Five-Way Elimination match to be the #1 Contender. He says it doesn’t matter who he faces at the “Ultimate Thrill Ride” Wrestlemania. Bleh.
Randy Orton heads to the ring. He says you can learn a lot from a viper – they’re cunning, fearless, ruthless, and strike when the time is perfect. He says he waited for months to strike, and devised a plan to get close to Bray Wyatt, became a member of the family, and the longer he stood by Wyatt’s side, the more the venom in his veins ran deeper. He said he had to figure out how to be as vile as possible, and that was by destroying the one thing he loves the most – Sister Abigail. He could feel Wyatt’s power being stripped away. For the first time, the “New face of fear had fear written over his face.”
Orton says he still needs to finish what he started, and at Wrestlemania he will take everything from Bray Wyatt. Wyatt’s music hits and he appears on the Titantron. Wyatt says Orton was absolutely right about him – he was helpless, naked, stripped of all power, until he found his way back home (or what’s left of it). Wyatt says Orton thought he burned the soul of Sister Abigail, and so did he, but Abigail is the spawn of Satan, forged in Hell itself. He says she has bestowed her power on him. Now Wyatt is the all powerful, all knowing. It’s his duty to purge all of the infidels in this life, and he’ll start with Orton. Abigail lives through Wyatt now, eternally. “I’m born again, Randy. In her ashes, I baptize myself.” Wyatt tears open the wooden floor of his shed, and covers himself in the mud and dirt. “Follow the buzzards!” Wyatt screams out, and the screen turns off.
Tag team action up next, after the break.
The announcers hype up the Dean Ambrose/Baron Corbin feud. We see a replay of last week’s attack, with Ambrose ending up pinned under a forklift. Corbin cuts an interview with Dasha, who asks if he crossed the line. Corbin says in his world there are no lines – just actions and consequences. Dean Ambrose came looking for him, so he put Ambrose in the hospital. Corbin says if Ambrose can climb out of the hospital bed, he’ll meet him at Wrestlemania and take his Intercontinental Championship.
Tom Phillips says we’ll have a medical update on Shane McMahon before the end of the show, and plugs Talking Smack.
American Alpha vs. The Usos
The Winner: The Usos
The Action: Chad Gable is cornered early on, but he manages to escape double-teaming. Jason Jordan tags in and keeps Jey Uso grounded. During the match, we see a clip of Shane McMahon walking backstage with the help of Finlay and Jamie Noble. It sounded like Finlay was trying to get him to go to the hospital. Anyhow, a The Usos go for a double-team off the top rope, and American Alpha hit stereo dropkicks as we go to break.
Out of the break, and The Usos have control. They double-team Jordan at ringside. Jey Uso tags in and hits a leaping fist to the prone Jordan. 2-count. Jimmy tags in and they continue with the double-team.
More clips of Shane McMahon backstage. He seems like he’s about to leave but he turns around and heads back into the arena. The match is literally a restless backdrop for Shane McMahon’s angle. Tom Phillips says McMahon is on his way out to the arena now as both Gable and Jey tag in. Gable hits a series of suplexes. He’s amped up, hitting a German into a bridge for two.
Gable gets hung up as Jordan readies for a tandem finisher. The Usos hit a superkick and put Jordan away.
It didn’t help matters that the entire tag division has been an afterthought for months, but then this match was used as background noise for the Shane McMahon/AJ Styles angle. Not acceptable, in my mind.
Shane enters gorilla and walks out onto the stage with a mic in hand at the start of the 10:00 hour. Shane says “AJ Styles doesn’t have an opponent at Wrestlemania? He does now.”
Well, there you have it. At least the angle was good, but I’m still skeptical about their inevitable match. Not a terrible episode of Smackdown, but the main event underwhelmed in a number of ways. The rest of the show was just fine. Not great, not bad. Just fine. And heading into Wrestlemania, we need something more than “just fine.”
I’m heading over to 205 Live coverage. Won’t you join me? Thanks for reading folks!