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WWE Smackdown LIVE review
January 17, 2017
From Memphis, Tenn.
Live on USA Network
By Greg Parks, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @gregmparks)
– WWE Open.
– Tonight: Alexa Bliss puts her Smackdown Women’s Title on the line against Becky Lynch, inside a steel cage.
– The ominous steel cage hung over the ring as the show opened inside the arena in Memphis. Shane McMahon’s music was cued up next and the Smackdown Live Commissioner came to the ring. Mauro Ranallo, David Otunga, JBL, and Tom Phillips were shown at ringside. Shane talked about the upcoming Royal Rumble event, throwing out names of those who have entered. Shane announced that in four weeks, the WWE Title will be defended inside the Elimination Chamber. That news brought out WWE Champion A.J. Styles, with a skeptical look on his face.
Styles said after he does what he does best at the Rumble (beat up John Cena, duh), he’ll have to defend his title in the Chamber? McMahon noted that’s IF Styles is still champion at that time. Styles said Cena would become champion over his dead body. He called Shane’s announcement a “hothead decision.” McMahon said he and Daniel Bryan want the best of the best to compete inside the Chamber. He said Styles is one of the best in all facets, except his attitude.
Styles asked what would happen if he decided to take the title, go back to Japan, and never come back. He said he’s never been in a Chamber match before, calling it “barbaric” and “idiotic,” before Cena’s music interrupted and brought him to the ring. Styles interrupted Cena at first, accusing Cena’s brother-in-law of “gifting” him a title match. He said no one respects him. Styles rhetorically asked who would be out next to steal his spotlight. The Miz and Maryse answered the call.
Miz walked to the ring doing his mic work. He said whenever he gets his rematch with Dean Ambrose, he’ll regain his Intercontinental Championship. Either by winning the Rumble or the Chamber, Miz said he’ll take his rightful spot in the main event of Wrestlemania, and he’ll walk out as dual champion. Styles advised Miz to stay away from him and the Chamber match. Miz made fun of A.J.’s accent and hair, then said he was beating John Cena before beating John Cena was cool. He also talked up resurrecting the prestige of the I.C. Title. Cena tried to stir the pot and Styles reminded Miz that the last time they were in Memphis, Styles knocked Miz’s teeth out. With some more prodding from Cena, Miz and Styles were about to go at it. Shane got between the two of them, and made the one-on-one match for right now.
– Tonight: Hall-of-Famer Jerry Lawler, in his hometowm, hosts “King’s Court” with Dolph Ziggler.
– The exterior of the FedEx Forum was shown.
– Shane McMahon was walking backstage when he came upon Dean Ambrose. Ambrose said he needs a new I.C. Title, as his smells of cocoa butter and is all sticky. Shane said there’s nothing he can do. Ambrose also mentioned the row he’s gotten into with the Wyatt Family, and he wants Randy Orton tonight. Shane granted the match.
1 – A.J. STYLES vs. THE MIZ
Cena was at ringside on commentary. Miz and Styles worked slowly to start, incorporating a test of strength with bridges. Styles met Miz with a dropkick at 2:21, the first high-impact move of the match. Pendulum backbreaker for two. Miz met Styles with a knee to the mid-section. Styles countered Miz into a calf crusher attempt, but Miz skittered toward the ropes, finally reaching them. Styles went to the apron, but Maryse climbed up there as well to divert his attention. Miz booted Styles off the apron and to the arena floor. They cut to break at 4:11 of the match.
Back at 8:04 of what Ranallo referred to as a “mouth-watering match-up.” Miz taunted Daniel Bryan with some of Bryan’s signature offense. Styles wanted a Styles Clash, to no avail. Thumb to the eye by Miz, followed by a DDT for two. Pele kick sent Miz out of the ring. Styles drove a knee into the face fo Miz. Styles tried to throw Miz into Cena, but Cena caught him. Styles went after Cena, and the bell rang.
WINNER: No contest (no announcement), at 10:41. I wouldn’t say Styles wrestled as a babyface here, but he was in more of the face position than Miz. A testing of the waters, perhaps? Match was decent, as you’d expect.
Miz attacked Cena from behind after Cena had run Styles off. AA to Miz. Phenomenal Forearm by Styles missed, and he received an AA, too. Cena held the title over his head before walking off.
– Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Title in a steel cage, is still to come.
– Nikki Bella was walking backstage. She’ll apparently be calling out Natalya, next.
– YouTube star Sophia Grace debuts her full video of “Hollywood,” Thursday at noon on RyanSeacrest.com. I don’t like any of the words in that sentence. She’s a “friend” of WWE and the video stars Sasha Banks, Lana, Naomi, and the Bella Twins.
– As Nikki Bella came to the ring, they showed Nattie attacking her backstage last Tuesday night. The two ended up brawling around the ring in lieu of having an actual match. Nikki said she and Natalya just got it started last week. She asked for Natalya to come out so they can finish it, now. Nattie did not come out. Nikki said Nattie is “The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be…at stabbing people in the back.” Sick burn, that. Natalya showed up high in the crowd and directed Nikki’s attention to the Titan-Tron.
On the Tron, Natalya was in the concourse at the merchandise stand. Nikki went through the crowd after her. Nattie found the Nikki merchandise, right next to the Cena merch. Nattie started tearing stuff down. Nikki continued to go through the crowd. Natalya was mad her “ex-uncle” Bret Hart had a shirt for sale, but she didn’t. She said Bret and Nikki have a lot in common in that they’ll both die alone. That doesn’t even really make sense, but it’s a shot at Bret, so I guess anything goes. Nattie started throwing Nikki’s stuff in the trash. Nikki finally reached Nattie, diving at her, with both of them breaking a table in the process. They brawled on the floor as security attempted to intervene. Fans were in the concourse taking pictures and rooting on the fight. Eventually, security was able to separate the two. Another effective angle for this feud.
– Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton is tonight.
– Phillips thanked Ohana Bam for “Blow Your Mind,” the official theme to the Royal Rumble.
– After another shot of the steel cage, Dasha Fuentes was backstage with Alexa Bliss. Bliss said if beating Lynch in a steel cage will prove she’s no match for Lynch then yeah, lock the door and throw away the key. And the look on Lynch’s face when Bliss wins? No one will ever be able to forget it.
– The announcers were shown on-camera as Phillips sent it to the Hall-of-Fame video package for the first announced 2017 inductee, Kurt Angle.
– Dean Ambrose came to the ring of his match. They showed how, last month, the Wyatt Family attacked Ambrose after his match with Luke Harper. Ambrose vs. Randy Orton is next.
– When The Wyatt Family came to the ring, shown on the Tron was the disagreement between Harper and Orton last week after the loss to American Alpha.
2 – DEAN AMBROSE vs. RANDY ORTON
Ambrose got the better of Orton to start, leading Orton to take an early break at ringside and Ambrose imploring him to return. Drop toe-hold by Ambrose once Orton re-entered the ring. Ambrose had the offensive advantage until Orton dropped Ambrose gut-first across the top rope. Orton stomp followed. Not a lot going on here. Ambrose got his boots up on a charge, and came off the top with a flying elbow for two. Ambrose clotheslined Orton hard outside the ring while Wyatt had to hold back Harper from attacking. Orton used that distraction go on offense. Back suplex by Orton to Ambrose, on the announce table. They went to break at 6:07 of the match.
Back at 9:16 with Ambrose flailing away at Orton with rights. He downed Orton with a lariat and both men found themselves on the mat. Forearms and a swinging neck-breaker garnered Ambrose a two-count. Powerslam by Orton for two at 10:55. Lunatic Lariat from Ambrose, another near-fall followed. Orton went for a draping DDT, but Ambrose back-dropped him out of the ring. Suicide dive onto Harper by Ambrose. Ambrose tried to get back into the ring, but the draping DDT caught him. An angry Harper went into the ring just as Orton readied for an RKO. Orton ordered Harper out, and of course, Ambrose rolled Orton up for the win.
WINNER: Ambrose, at 13:43. That was rough. Not sure what was going on in the first half, if neither were on the same page or what. But these two should’ve had a better output than this. Too methodical at times, as well.
– Harper and Orton seemed again ready to go at it again. They exchanged a few punches before Wyatt again separated them. This time, Wyatt swung and hit Harper with a right. That surprised Harper. Wyatt challenged Orton to step up to him and Orton backed away. Harper left the ring and walked to the back alone, leaving Orton and Wyatt still unsure of each other in the ring.
– After another shot of the cage, Dasha Fuentes was backstage with Becky Lynch. Fuentes mentioned Alexa’s comments earlier, and Lynch said she’s never run from a fight. She said we’ll find out what kind of person Bliss is later tonight, and it’s not a champion.
– King’s Court with Dolph Ziggler is next.
– Jerry “The King” Lawler was introduced, wearing his old trademark cape, tights, and crown. No shirt, either. Lawler went for the cheap pop, then brought out Ziggler. Lawler welcomed Ziggler to the King’s Court, but Ziggler didn’t respond. Lawler said he’s known Ziggler for a long time, knows he’s a good person. But that good person has faded quicker than the bleach in Dolph’s hair. Ziggler refused to respond to King’s inquiries. Lawler said Ziggler is frustrated by his lack of winning, and he thinks the change in attitude will win him some matches. Ziggler didn’t comment on that, either. Lawler warned Ziggler about heading down the wrong path. He said the change of attitude didn’t get him anywhere, in a losing effort to Kalisto last week. They cued up footage of Ziggler taking out both Kalisto and Apollo Crews with a chair last week.
Presented with that footage, Ziggler again put the mic up to his mouth, but didn’t say anything. He was prepared to head out of the ring. Lawler said he could’ve interviewed an oil painting and it would’ve been better than this. Ziggler finally agreed to talk, saying he wasn’t going to come out and play Lawler’s game. He said Lawler would try to sully his good name in front of King’s friends and family. In fact, he brought some footage himself, and wanted Lawler to take a long, hard look at it. It was from September 2012, the elbowdrops Ziggler delivered in a match that may have led to the heart attack Lawler suffered later in the night. Well, that was bound to be alluded to here.
Ziggler accused Lawler of blaming him for the heart attack. And Ziggler said Lawler should have. Ziggler said if Lawler didn’t stop with the questions, he’d finish what he started five years ago. “Jerry” chant. Lawler said it was too bad because he’s got one more question: “How does it feel to know that no matter how many times you change your attitude, you’ll always be a loser?” Ziggler responded by superkicking Lawler. JBL ran into the ring (not before tripping and falling doing so), to check on Lawler. As Ziggler headed to the back, Lawler shouted off-mic that if Ziggler had guts he’d get back in the ring. Ziggler went backstage. Ziggler wasn’t yelling and screaming through this, taking a quieter, more measured approach at an interview with his new attitude. It worked, in comparison.
– Bliss and Lynch were shown in a split-screen working out for their match.
– Phillips threw it to clips of the upcoming xXx: Return of Xander Cage movie.
– Back to the announcers, who noted Baron Corbin, The Wyatt Family, and Jerry Lawler would be on Talking Smack. JBL ripped Ziggler for what he did to Lawler, while Otunga apparently thought it was a good time to joke with JBL about tripping on his headset cord trying to get to Lawler. JBL took that about as well as you’d imagine in the middle of trying to get over a serious angle.
– Backstage, Wyatt noted that all three members of his Family will be in the Royal Rumble match. But next week, Orton takes on Harper, as a family divided is no family at all. He said in the end, they’ll be stronger than ever.
– The cage lowered for tonight’s main event. Becky Lynch came out first. Alexa was out next. She took in the size of the structure before entering through the cage door. The match is next.
– Next week, Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper.
3 – BECKY LYNCH vs. ALEXA BLISS – STEEL CAGE MATCH FOR THE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Surprisingly, no formal ring introductions. Bliss tried to escape early on, but while Lynch stopped her, Bliss hit an STO. Catapult by Bliss, but it landed Lynch on the top rope and she began her climb. Bliss was able to pull her down by the leg. Single-leg dropkick by Lynch that showed a lot of light. Lynch with a small package for two. She went for a powerbomb but Bliss grabbed the cage. Both ended up on the top rope. Bliss bounced Lynch’s head off the cage. In the end, both fell down with Alexa’s head bonking off the top turnbuckle. They went to break at 3:21 of the match.
Back at 6:33 with Bliss diving at a fallen Lynch, feet-first with dropkicks. After Bliss ran head-first into the cage (on accident), Lynch put her down with a dropkick off the top rope. Lynch climbed and reached the other side of the cage, but Bliss grabbed her hair and pulled her back in. Both found themselves back on the top rope. Lynch hit a Bex-ploder off the top after using the cage to give her momentum on a kick. Only a two count on the pin. Lynch tried to escape through the door, but couldn’t. Bliss held onto Lynch’s legs to keep her from moving toward the door. La Luchadora showed up and blocked the door as Lynch wanted to escape. Lynch ended up applying the Disarm-Her, but La Luchadora hit a spin kick on Lynch. Snap DDT by Bliss for the pinfall win.
WINNER: Bliss, at 10:47.
After the match, Bliss celebrated and yelled for the ref to get out. So he did. Bliss raised La Luchadora’s hand after the match. The heels teamed up on Lynch. Lynch fought away and unmasked La Luchadora to reveal Mickie James. That surprised Lynch and allowed Bliss to attack a stunned Lynch from behind. Kick to the head by James. James and Bliss then celebrated together to close the show.
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Greg Parks has been covering WWE Smackdown for PWTorch.com since January of 2007. He co-hosts the PWTorch Livecast PPV post-shows at least once a month. Follow him on Twitter @gregmparks for live Tweeting during Raw, Impact, and PPVs, as well as other bits of wisdom. Comments, questions and feedback are welcome, and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.