January 31, 2017
Corpus Christi, Texas
Commentary: Mauro Ranallo, JBL, David Otunga, Tom Phillips
Results by: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
“Then. Now. Forever.” The WWE video leads us into the show.
A video kicks off the show with highlight clips from this past Sunday’s Royal Rumble event. Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble match, guaranteeing himself a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania 33. John Cena also won his record setting 16th WWE Championship at the event.
AJ Styles is seen angrily watching that clip. Styles lost the championship to Cena. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are with him. McMahon says Smackdown Live had one hell of a night. Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble while AJ Styles and John Cena tore the house down, but Cena walked away as the champion. Bryan says it couldn’t have gone any better. Styles says they should be thinking about when he gets his WWE Championship rematch. He doesn’t want it to be in the Elimination Chamber. McMahon and Bryan say he’ll get his shot one-on-one eventually. Tonight, they have a show to run. The next WWE Championship match will be in the Elimination Chamber. Styles reiterates that he wants a one-on-one match. Styles then wants to know who is in the match. McMahon says Styles is as well as the WWE Champion, John Cena, Bray Wyatt, Baron Corbin, The Miz, and Dean Ambrose.
Dean Ambrose immediately walks in and says that’s all he wants to know. Styles tells him to get out. Ambrose tells him not to get snippy with him. Ambrose says now that James Ellsworth is in love and out of the picture, they have some unfinished business to settle tonight. Styles says that won’t happen, but McMahon likes the idea and books the match. Styles angrily storms out.
John Cena talks about being a 16-time World Champion
John Cena’s music hits, and the 16-time WWE Champion makes his way to the ring to a good reception. Cena tells the crowd to not be afraid to tell him how they feel. Cena says, “Corpus Christi, Texas… The Champ is here!” A “Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks” chant fires up. Throughout history, the championship is a symbol that tells everyone that you’re the man. That’s what it’s going to be. Part about being a man is the ability to say when you’re wrong and sorry. A few people were just chanting for AJ Styles. Cena says he’s sorry to AJ Styles that he was wrong about him; he’s not just a guy from Atlanta. Styles is an elite level WWE Superstar that brings out the best in him. They may disagree, but Styles’ performance at the Royal Rumble is what the title is all about. The Royal Rumble was a history-making occasion. A lot of people asked him how he’ll celebrate history. It’s not a time to drop confetti because in two-weeks, this title is on the line inside the Elimination Chamber live on the WWE Network. He’ll celebrate making history by doing what he loves the most – standing in the ring saying Smackdown Live is the place to be, John Cena is the man to beat, and if you want some, come get some!
The Wyatt Family’s music interrupts him. Bray Wyatt walks out with the winner of the Royal Rumble, John Cena’s longtime rival, Randy Orton. They stop at the stage. A loud “Cena” chant fires up. Wyatt says, “The Champ is here,” and laughs. Wyatt sarcastically tells the children that all is right with the world. The more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s like a vicious cycle. The hands of fate have dealt Cena back the championship he blindly covets. It’s no matter because in two week’s time, he’ll be trapped like a rat inside the Elimination Chamber… with him. There will be nowhere to run or hide. When everything is said and done, he’ll be leaving the Chamber the new WWE Champion. The world will finally enter the era of Wyatt. This is his destiny. He told him that things are changing around here. If you don’t believe him, ask his brother, this year’s Royal Rumble match winner, Randy Orton. Orton takes the microphone. Orton says if by some miracle Cena makes it out of the Chamber alive, he’ll be waiting for him at WrestleMania. One way or the other, he’ll end this vicious cycle and set the championship free. Wyatt says to Cena, “We’re here.”
Wyatt and Orton start making their way down to the ring. Cena removes his shirt and readies himself for a fight. They get on opposite sides of the ring and climb up to the apron. Cena waits in anticipation for them to get in the ring. All of a sudden, The Wyatt Family video flashes on the screen and the lights go out. When they come back on, Luke Harper is standing by Cena’s side. Cena looks confused before realizing that he’s on his side. Wyatt and Orton quickly retreat.
Shane McMahon’s music hits, and he comes out to the stage. You can always expect the unexpected on Smackdown Live. McMahon says Wyatt and Orton will team up against the unlikely team of Luke Harper and John Cena. That match will happen right now!
Mike’s Thoughts: Decent way to open the show. It was a typical post-championship win promo from John Cena. They’re not really playing up the 16-time championship win, which kind of signals that the rumors may be true that he won’t be holding it for long. As it stands, Cena vs. Orton at WrestleMania doesn’t exactly get me pumped up. However, a triple threat with Bray Wyatt involved could be interesting. Nice surprise at the end to have Luke Harper stand tall with Cena after Wyatt left him laying last week.
The 2018 Royal Rumble comes to Philadelphia. That will be the 30th anniversary of the event.
John Cena and Luke Harper vs. Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton
John Cena will start the match against Bray Wyatt. Cena applies a side headlock before being whipped off. Cena quickly shoulder blocks him down. Cena immediately goes for the Attitude Adjustment, but Wyatt slides off and tags in Randy Orton. This is a WrestleMania main event preview. Orton paces in the ring. Luke Harper blind tags in. Harper forearms Orton before hitting a slingshot senton on him. Harper takes him down and punches him. Harper forearms him in the corner and whips him across the ring. Orton elbows Harper and hits the ropes, but Harper takes him down with a dropkick. Harper catches him with a guillotine catapult. Orton rolls out of the ring to recover. Harper tries to follow him out, but Bray Wyatt stands in his way shaking his head. Harper is unsure of what to do. Harper gets back in the ring, but then leaves and gives Orton a back suplex onto the commentary table. Harper gets the crowd fired up and sends Orton into the ring. Wyatt blind tags in and stands face-to-face with Harper. Harper backs up and tags Cena in. Harper then goes outside. It appears Wyatt is still able to influence Harper. Cena reluctantly comes in the ring and starts punching away at Wyatt. Cena hits the ropes, but Wyatt elbows him down. Wyatt kicks away at him before punching him down. Wyatt taunts the crowd and Harper. Wyatt continues to punch away at Cena before getting him to his feet. Orton tags in, and he stomps his WrestleMania opponent down.
We come back from the break to see Wyatt flatten Cena with a senton splash for a near fall. During the commercial, Orton gave Cena a back suplex onto the commentary table. Cena rolls to the apron. Orton tags in and catches him with a draping DDT. Orton sets up for an RKO, and Harper looks furious. Orton goes for an RKO, but Cena pushes him off and clotheslines him down. Both men are down now. Wyatt is tagged in, and he charges toward Harper. Harper pulls his arm back. Wyatt punches Cena down and covers him for a two count. Wyatt goes for a senton splash, but Cena rolls out of the way. Orton tags back in, and he hits Cena with a powerslam for a two count. Orton stands over Cena before blindsiding Harper. Cena hits the ropes and hits a pair of shoulder tackles before hitting a back suplex powerbomb. Cena connects with the 5 Knuckle Shuffle on his WrestleMania opponent. Cena goes for the AA, but Orton slides off and hits his patented reverse headlock backbreaker.
Harper angrily gets in the ring, but Wyatt stands between him and Orton. Harper won’t attack Wyatt. Harper eventually pushes past him and punches Orton. Wyatt grabs Harper and goes for Sister Abigail, but Harper gets out. Harper goes for Sister Abigail on Wyatt, but he lets go and big boots Orton instead. Wyatt then drops Harper with Sister Abigail. Cena runs in and goes for an AA on Wyatt. Orton pulls Wyatt off and hits Cena with an RKO for the win!
Winners by Pinfall: Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton
Naomi and Becky Lynch will face Alexa Bliss and Mickie James later tonight. Our main event will see AJ Styles take on Dean Ambrose.
Mike’s Thoughts: That was a fun tag team match that adds more wrinkles to The Wyatt Family saga. I really enjoyed the dynamic of Luke Harper being on the opposing team, but still being greatly influenced by Bray Wyatt. The end of the match was well done. Harper almost stood up for himself and hit Wyatt with Sister Abigail before going back to Orton. It wound up with a rare pinfall loss for John Cena. Good stuff. As it looks right now, there’s no way to get to WrestleMania with just a simple one-on-one match with Cena and Orton. Cena’s probably going to be removed from the match entirely or he’ll be part of a triple threat with Wyatt and Orton. I’m interested to see how they get there. I’m still in shock they made this random Orton vs. Wyatt program into something compelling.
James Ellsworth comes out dressed in the gold outfit Carmella set him up with. Ellsworth tries a few times to quiet the crowd down before introducing Carmella to the ring.
Delilah Dawson vs. Carmella w/ James Ellsworth
Carmella makes fun of Dawson’s outfit. JBL says she looks like a cross between Rey Mysterio and a smurf. Dawson applies a headlock, but Carmella powers her down. Carmella talks some trash before picking her up by the hair and throwing her across the ring. Ellsworth gets in Dawson’s face from ringside and laughs at her. Dawson surprises Carmella with an inside cradle for a two count. Dawson kicks Carmella in the face, but Ellsworth quickly sweeps the face. Carmella takes her down and applies the Code of Silence for the win.
Winner by Submission: Carmella
Carmella wildly celebrates in the ring with James Ellsworth. They hug in the ring.
The commentators plug the new app “WWE Champions.”
Kalisto makes his way to the ring. He’ll face Dolph Ziggler, next.
Mike’s Thoughts: I have no clue how James Ellsworth is even standing after that nasty bump he took at the Royal Rumble. That’s pretty much all I’ve got to say about that segment…
Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler
The bell rings, and Ziggler immediately forearms Kalisto down. Ziggler punches away at him and drops an elbow. Kalisto comes back with some kicks from his back and rolls to the apron. Kalisto kicks Ziggler in the head and connects with a springboard cross-body block. Apollo Crews is seen watching backstage. Ziggler gives him a back elbow to take him back down. Ziggler stomps him and hits a neckbreaker for a one count. Ziggler screams in his ear before Kalisto lays him out with a spin kick. Ziggler puts himself through the ropes to keep Kalisto back. Ziggler cheap shots him over the referee and connects with a Superkick for the win.
Winner by Pinfall: Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler stands over him and tries to rip the mask off. Apollo Crews’ music immediately hits, and he runs down to the ring to protect Kalisto. Ziggler quickly escapes through the crowd.
Dasha Fuentes is backstage with Becky Lynch and Naomi. Dasha mentions she has an opportunity for revenge. Lynch says Mickie James cost her the Smackdown Women’s Championship and blames her for her forgotten legacy. Lynch says she hasn’t forgotten about Mickie or what she’s done to her. She used to being attacked from all angles, but tonight she has a mutual understanding with Naomi. Naomi says Alexa Bliss blatantly disrespected her last week and said she was a “nobody.” On Sunday, this nobody became somebody when she snatched that termite bald. She felt the glow and will vanquish these two. They get pumped up and walk off. This match is next.
Mike’s Thoughts: Dolph Ziggler’s heel turn continues to chug along. It’d be nice to see him face some guys that actually have heat. Kalisto and Apollo Crews aren’t going to do him any favors. Both are devoid of any heat whatsoever. I’m only saying this because they mentioned him during this match: I’m really disappointed they didn’t bring Jerry Lawler back to the commentary table. This four man commentary team continues to be overcrowded and poor quality.
WrestleMania 33 is 61 days away.
Naomi and Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James and Alexa Bliss
A replay is shown of Mickie James and Alexa Bliss beating Becky Lynch down last week on Smackdown Live.
This is Mickie James’ first Smackdown match since April 2010. Becky Lynch will start the match against Mickie James. James thinks about it before tagging Alexa Bliss in. Lynch applies a side headlock before taking her down. Lynch slams her down a few times before applying a front facelock. Naomi tags in, and she catches her with a sunset flip for a two count. Naomi kicks her in the ribs and drops a leg for a two count. Naomi goes for a running cross-body, but crashes and burns into the ropes when Bliss moves. Bliss punches away at her before tagging James back in. James kicks Naomi in the face before hitting a snapmare and a running dropkick for a two count. Bliss tags back in, and she kicks Naomi in the ribs and steps on her face. Naomi kicks her in the face and goes to tag Lynch, but Bliss stops her and picks up a two count. Bliss absolutely botches two back-to-back moves and it gets awkward for a few moments. I think Naomi was supposed to get her knees up on the standing moonsault. Either way, that was awful.
Lynch and James are tagged in. Lynch clotheslines her down twice before hitting a leg lariat. James scurries to the corner, and Lynch hits her with a Flying Fire-arm. Lynch kicks her down and hits a Becks-ploder Suplex for a two count. Lynch goes to the top rope. Bliss grabs her ankle, but Lynch kicks her off. James rips Lynch off the top rope and knocks Naomi down on the apron. James kicks Lynch in the face and covers, but Naomi breaks up the pin.
We come back from the break to see Lynch fighting up from a chin lock, but Bliss quickly takes her down. Bliss stands on the hair and pulls her up. James tags in and chokes her in the corner with her boot. Bliss chokes Lynch while the referee is admonishing James. Lynch comes back with some punches, but James quickly takes her back down. Lynch reverses a whip to the corner, but James elbows her back. James gives her a hurricanrana out of the corner for a two count. James applies a chin lock, but Lynch fights up. James quickly takes her down by the hair and tags Bliss in. Bliss clubs Lynch before sending her into the ropes, but she lowers her head and eats a kick. Bliss quickly stops Lynch from tagging Naomi. Lynch rolls her up, but Bliss kicks out at two. Lynch tags in Naomi.
Naomi takes Bliss out with a springboard cross-body block before absolutely sending James flying with a dropkick off the apron! Naomi kicks Bliss back before hitting a flipping lariat. Naomi hits a jawbreaker and kips up. Naomi wildly kicks away at her and hits a head-scissor DDT for a two count. Bliss quickly pulls Naomi into the corner and tries to blindside Lynch, but she misses. The referee holds Lynch back while Bliss and James double-team Naomi. Lynch spears James out of the ring. Naomi quickly hits Bliss with a step-up enzuigiri. Naomi then hits a split-legged moonsault for the win.
Winners by Pinfall: Naomi and Becky Lynch
Tonight’s main event will see AJ Styles take on Dean Ambrose.
Dasha Fuentes is backstage with American Alpha. The crowd doesn’t really respond to their appearance. Dasha asks them what’s next. Chad Gable says they’ve been here for a month and not one has stepped up. Jason Jordan says they are hot. Gable says they’re going to issue an open challenge for the Tag Team Titles. Someone will show up because everyone is invited. Gable tells Dasha to wish them luck. Jordan won’t walk away until Dasha does so.
Mike’s Thoughts: The first half of that match wasn’t all that great complete with a few mistimed spots with Naomi and Bliss, but it picked up in the second half. The Smackdown women’s division continues to impress. They have the same amount of talent RAW does, but it somehow feels like a deeper roster. Everyone has a storyline and looks good. I really like Naomi being the next challenger for Alexa Bliss. Naomi has a great moveset and has been around for years. It’s time to do something with her.
American Alpha issues an open challenge
American Alpha makes their way to the ring for an open challenge with the Smackdown Tag Team Championships on the line. The Usos answer the challenge. Once they get in the ring, The Ascension’s music hits. They’re followed by The Vaudevillains and then Breezango. Finally, Heath Slater and Rhyno come out to the ring. A huge brawl breaks out between all the teams. Referees run down to break it up. They’re going to try to restore order during the break.
The referees are still trying to contain the fight that’s broken out between the five teams. It doesn’t appear that the open challenge is going to happen. American Alpha clears the ring until the last team standing in there is Heath Slater and Rhyno. They stare at American Alpha, as this segment ends.
A replay is shown of Natalya attacking Nikki Bella in the parking lot last week. Later that night, Nikki attacked her before a match.
Daniel Bryan is seen talking to Brie Bella on the phone. Security walks in and says it’s all clear. Natalya then walks in. Bryan asks what’s going on. Natalya says Nikki is out of control. She doesn’t feel safe coming to work anymore. She assumes Bryan called her here to talk about her new merchandise. Nikki Bella walks in, and security stands in front of Natalya. They argue over how each got their success. Bryan screams, “Enough!” He called them in here to tell them that he’s making a match between the two of them at the Elimination Chamber. Natalya angrily pushes past her security and leaves. Nikki looks pleased with the decision.
WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose makes his way to the ring. AJ Styles then makes his entrance. The main event of the evening is next.
Mike’s Thoughts: While I think the heavyweight and women’s divisions on Smackdown Live are in great shape, the tag team division is not. That weakness was highlighted in that really lame brawl. American Alpha, the champions that haven’t been seen in quite a while, issued an open challenge. The Usos answered first, which I was fine with, but then it then began to read like a who’s who of the extreme undercard. Could this be done to set up a Tag Team Elimination Chamber? I shudder to think of that. Breezango, The Ascension, and The Vaudevillains being in an Elimination Chamber match hurts the match itself. They’d need a sixth team for that, so hopefully I’m reading that wrong.
Neville talks about how his dominance will continue on WWE 205 Live.
Next week on Smackdown Live, they’re giving away the supposed main event of WrestleMania 33 because John Cena will face Randy Orton.
The Miz will be on commentary for the next match. His wife, Maryse, is with him.
The bell rings, and they circle the ring before locking up. Styles goes for a takedown, but Ambrose gets the advantage. Styles applies a hammerlock, but Ambrose twists out and clotheslines him down. Styles quickly goes to the apron to recover. Styles comes back in, but Ambrose wrenches the arm. Styles twists out and wrenches the arm. Ambrose quickly takes him down with a headlock. Styles fights up and applies a side headlock. Ambrose soon whips him off, but Styles shoulder blocks him down. Styles hits the ropes, but Ambrose takes him down with a pair of arm drags and a scoop slam. Ambrose then grounds him with a headlock takeover. Ambrose grabs the ankle and takes him down before applying a Texas cloverleaf. Ambrose then transitions into a double arm submission. Styles quickly gets his foot on the bottom rope. Styles rolls out of the ring to recover. Styles kicks Ambrose in the midsection when he follows him out of the ring. Styles gets him in the ring and punches away at him before hitting a flying forearm for a two count. Styles punches him in the corner before shouldering him. Ambrose quickly turns him in the corner and stomps him down. Ambrose sends him to the corner, but he soon charges into the ring post shoulder-first because Styles sidestepped him. Styles picks up a two count. Styles applies a chin lock. Ambrose punches out, but he has a whip reversed on him. Ambrose quickly takes him down with a running cross-body before punching away at him. Styles gets out and charges, but Ambrose takes him down with a back body drop. Ambrose then clotheslines him out of the ring.
Ambrose prepares to go to the top rope, but Baron Corbin’s music hits. Corbin makes his way to the ring to watch this closer.
Baron Corbin has joined the commentary table. Styles takes Ambrose down from the top rope and gives him a pump-handle rib breaker for a near fall. Styles slams him down and drops a knee before kicking him in the back for a two count. The Miz and Baron Corbin are having a great exchange on commentary. Styles clothesline Ambrose in the corner twice. Styles goes for a third, but Ambrose moves. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds, but Styles gets out. Styles hits the Phenomenal Blitz, but Ambrose cuts him off with a swinging neckbreaker. Both men are down, but they’re soon up. Ambrose runs him over with a pair of forearms. Styles reverses a whip, but Ambrose comes back with a clothesline. Ambrose hits a running forearm in the corner and goes for a superplex, but Styles slides out and sweeps the feet. Styles gets him up in an Argentine Rack, but Ambrose slides off. Ambrose rolls him up for a near fall. Styles kicks him in the leg and charges, but Ambrose drops him on the apron. Styles forearms him back and goes for a springboard, but Ambrose punches him to the floor. Ambrose then hits the ropes and goes for a suicide dive, but Styles forearms him in the face before he flies through the ropes. Styles gets on the apron and goes for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Ambrose kicks him. Styles counters out of Dirty Deeds and punches him. Styles ducks the Lunatic Lariat and goes for a springboard moonsault reverse DDT, but Ambrose twists out of the DDT. Ambrose then gives him a vertical suplex slam for a near fall!
The crowd is getting into this now. The Miz and Baron Corbin are still going back and forth on commentary. Ambrose charges Styles in the corner, but he eats a boot. Ambrose catches Styles trying a cross-body, but Styles counters into a crucifix pin for a two count. Styles then lays him out with a Ushigoroshi for a near fall! Both men are down once again. Styles goes for the Styles Clash, but Ambrose counters into a roll-up for a two count. Styles connects with a Pelé Kick, but Ambrose turns him inside out with a Lunatic Lariat! Ambrose quickly goes for Dirty Deeds, but Styles gets out and leaves the ring. Ambrose then goes to the top rope and flies to the outside with a diving elbow! Ambrose gets him back in the ring.
At the commentary table, Maryse gets in Baron Corbin’s face. The Miz attacks him, and they nearly brawl into the ring. In the ring, Ambrose hits Styles with a second diving elbow, but the referee is distracted by Miz and Corbin. Ambrose wipes Corbin out with a suicide dive before sending Miz into the commentary table! Ambrose gets in the ring, and Styles kicks him before hitting the Styles Clash for the win!
Winner by Pinfall: AJ Styles
The Miz gets in the ring and picks Ambrose up for a Skull Crushing Finale. Baron Corbin then comes in and wipes out Miz with End of Days. Corbin then gives Ambrose End of Days. Styles is smiling at the destruction. Corbin points at him as the show ends.
Mike’s Overall Thoughts: Another great match with AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose. These two really carried the brand through the fall and winter months and had another great one tonight. Before the match began, I was wondering how they could do this show without Miz and Baron Corbin, two prominent guys in the Elimination Chamber, not being involved on the show with a week to go until the event. Glad to see them get involved after it started. Miz was tremendous on commentary going back and forth with Corbin. Other than the start of the show and the main event, the rest of this show was pretty average, but we have clear storylines heading into Elimination Chamber. There’s a lot of questions still left to be answered before WrestleMania. The fact that they’re giving away at the supposed main event of WrestleMania next week with John Cena vs. Randy Orton makes me think again that this version of the match won’t happen at WrestleMania. At two hours, this show continues to fly by and be quite enjoyable. I’m returning to the RAW recaps full time next week, but Smackdown Live will continue to be priority viewing for me.
Quick Match Results
* Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton def. John Cena and Luke Harper
* Carmella def. Delilah Dawson via Submission
* Dolph Ziggler def. Kalisto
* Naomi and Becky Lynch def. Mickie James and Alexa Bliss
* AJ Styles def. Dean Ambrose (non-title)
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Twitter – @MikeTedescoWV