KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
JANUARY 31, 2017
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEX.
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Mauro Ranallo, David Otunga, JBL, Tom Phillips.
-A highlight package aired Randy Orton’s Rumble match win and John Cena beating A.J. Styles.
-They showed Styles watching on a monitor with a grimace on his face. The camera panned back and showed Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. Bryan and McMahon agreed it was a tremendous night for Smackdown. Styles didn’t agree. He said he wanted to know when he’d get his rematch. Shane said they’d get to that, but first comes the Chamber match. Styles asked who would be in the Elimination Chamber match. Shane announced: Styles, Cena, Bray Wyatt, Baron Corbin, The Miz, and Dean Ambrose. Dean wandered in. Styles told him to get out of there. Dean told him not to get snippy with him. He called him “Soccer Mom’s of America.” Dean said he hasn’t forgotten about how James Ellsworth cost him the WWE Championship by shoving him off a ladder. He said now that Ellsworth is out of the picture, maybe they have some unfinished business. Styles said it’s not going to happen, and told Shane to tell him. Shane said he liked the idea and he booked the match. Styles stormed off, saying “Terrible idea.”
(Keller’s Analysis: They shifted quickly to hype for Elimination Chamber and cut right to the chase regarding who’d be in it. I’m glad they resisted the temptation to put Dolph Ziggler in there. Corbin continues to get nudged up higher on the totem pole, including being a in three-way main event with Cena and Styles at a house show last night. The Dean-Styles main event feels a bit like a replay, but they gotta come up with a main event and certainly haven’t put juice behind the tag division or more than a handful of wrestlers, so their options are limited.)
-Mauro introduced the show and said the Road to WrestleMania goes through Corpus Christi, Tex.
-John Cena made his ring entrance. As he came to the ring, Mauro praised the Cena-Styles match as a classic. JBL concurred. Cena told the fans to get riled up and let him know how they feel. He proclaimed: “The champ is here!” He paused. The battle chant started. He said the championship is a symbol to tell everybody you are The Man. He said part of being a man is the ability to say you are wrong and you are sorry. He said he heard a few people chant for Styles a second ago. He said Styles is not “just a guy from Atlanta.” He said Styles is an elite-level WWE Superstar who “brings out the absolute best in me.” He said his performance at the Royal Rumble is what the championship is all about. He said the Rumble was a historical occasion. He said people keep asking him how he’ll celebrate. Cena said it’s not time to drop confetti because in two weeks, the belt is back on the line in the Elimination Chamber live on WWE Network. He said his celebration will be doing what he loves to do in the ring, telling people Smackdown is the place to be, Cena is the man to beat, and if you want some, come get some.
Cena was interrupted by the Wyatt Family music. Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton walked out. Bray said it seems like the more things change, the more everything stays exactly the same. He said he has the championship he blindly covets, but in two weeks, he’ll be trapped like a rat inside the Elimination Chamber with him. He said there will be nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. He said things are changing, and for proof, he offers up Orton.
Orton said if Cena makes it out of the Rumble by some miracle, he’ll be waiting for him at WrestleMania. He said one way or another they’ll end the cycle and the Wyatts are going to set the championship free. Orton and Bray walked to the ring. Cena readied himself for a fight. The lights flickered and then suddenly Luke Harper appeared inside the ring. Cena turned and looked confused for a second, but then happy. Mauro said, “It looks like he’s here to join John Cena.” Bray and Orton retreated.
Shane’s music played and he walked out. I mean, he danced out onto the stage. He booked Bray & Orton vs. Cena & Harper. “And that match starts right now!” he said.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure I agree with the notion that Styles needed Cena’s endorsement to be considered more than “a guy from Atlanta.” It fits the WWE Universe environment since it’s a place Cena has led, but Cena risks coming across as arrogant by acting like Styles had something to prove to him. It doesn’t really make up for belittling him last week after, you know, having lost to him over and over last year. It seems like Styles would have proven himself to Cena when he, you know, beat him prior. But anyway…) [c]
(1) JOHN CENA & LUKE HARPER vs. BRAY WYATT & RANDY ORTON
Cena opened with a headlock on Bray. Bray quickly tagged in Orton. JBL said this could be a preview of WrestleMania. Harper tagged himself in. Harper went on aggressive heavy-hitting offense against Orton. Harper even leveled Orton with a dropkick. When Harper went after Orton at ringside, Bray stepped up to stop him. They locked eyes. Bray shook his head no. Harper rolled into the ring and then out of the ring on the other side to go after Orton. He suplexed him onto the announce table. Harper played to the crowd and pounded the table, then threw Orton back into the ring. Bray tagged in and they had a bug-eyed staredown. Bray tried to talk “sense” into Harper. Harper backed up and tagged in Cena. Cena didn’t look happy about it. Harper dropped to the floor. Cena entered the ring as the announcers speculated that Bray still has some control over Harper. Bray took control. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, it was Cena vs. Orton. The announcers wondered if Cena could make it to his corner if he’d even have a partner to tag. Harper remained on the floor. Orton cut off a Cena rally and gave him a backbreaker. Cena rolled away. Harper entered the ring. Orton was going to go after him. but Bray stepped in between. Harper pushed through and knocked Orton down. Bray then grabbed Harper and set up Sister Abigail. Harper broke free and set up Bray for a Sister Abigail. Orton broke it up. That freed up Bray to suddenly give Harper the Sister Abigail. Cena set up Bray for an AA, but Orton broke that up and gave Cena an RKO for the pin. They wondered where Harper’s head is at regarding Bray after that sequence. JBL said Orton could be the next WWE Champion at WrestleMania.
WINNERS: Orton & Wyatt in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like seeing them put some grit into the dynamic among Bray, Randy, and Harper coming out of the Rumble and other issues they’ve had in recent weeks. It’s an ongoing story. Could Orton end up winning the WWE Title at WrestleMania, and then hold it for a while, with a title defense against Lesnar being the next big Lesnar match after Mania – with the plot line being that while Goldberg once had Lesnar’s number and overcame it, can Orton overcome Lesnar having his number? That’d be a pretty long-term story arc, but in retrospect it’d explain what they did at Summerslam and create a long-term plan to develop a compelling match for Lesnar where there didn’t appear to be one. Just totally completely speculating, based on JBL’s comment that Orton could be the next champion at WrestleMania, and trying to make sense of promoting Orton to that level after deciding last summer to have him get destroyed by Brock.)
-The announcers hyped Ambrose vs. Styles and Becky Lynch & Naomi vs. Mickie James & Alexa Bliss. [c]
-Freeze-frame highlights aired from Royal Rumble in a montage.
-James Ellsworth came out looking like early-era John Cena, all glammed up, hat on backwards. He introduced Carmella, saying: “It’s time for the moonwalking, trash-talking, chic who is already ready to go, so get your popcorn ready because she’s about to put on a show.” He called her “my pooh.” Mauro said that intro lasted longer than Ellsworth did in the Rumble. They skipped to the ring hand-in-hand.
(2) CARMELLA (w/James Ellsworth) vs. DELILAH DAWSON
Otunga asked what Carmella sees in Ellsworth. JBL asked what does Otunga’s wife Jennifer Hudson see in him. JBL: “A lot of people under marry, bottom feed.” Otunga chuckled and said, “Well, you would know John.” Mauro said Dawson was a product of the Funaki Academy. He said this was her opportunity of a lifetime. JBL said she looks like a hybrid of a Smurf and Rey Mysterio. He said Ellsworth should be dating “the blue thing.” JBL continued to verbally pummel Ellsworth. Ellsworth tripped Dawson as she came off the ropes rallying against Carmella. That opened up Carmella to finish her with a Code of Silence figure-four head scissors. JBL couldn’t believe Mauro knew Dawson’s name when he said it at the end of the match. He was talking nonstop he didn’t hear him say it over and over during the match, apparently.
WINNER: Carmella in 3:00.
-JBL gave Mauro a hard time about being glued to his phone screen. Mauro said they call him the Mayor of Retweeting. Phillips then pushed the new WWE mobile app.
-Kalisto’s ring entrance began. [c]
(3) DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. KALISTO
They showed Apollo Crews watching on a monitor backstage. Kalisto got in a little offense, but Ziggler came back and won quickly with a super kick.
WINNER: Ziggler in 2:00.
-Afterward Ziggler tried yank off Kalisto’s mask. Crews ran out and made the save as Kalisto covered his face. Ziggler retreated through the crowd. Otunga called Ziggler a track star. JBL said Kalisto has horrible acne, is missing an eye, and has no nose. He said Ziggler was just trying to confirm rumors.
-The woman with no name interviewed Becky Lynch and Naomi. Lynch said Micke James cost her the chance to regain his championship and she won’t forget what she did to her. She said tonight she and Naomi get a chance at revenge. Naomi then cut a nice promo hyping up their match. She got Lynch all hyped up. [c]
(4) BECKY LYNCH & NAOMI vs. MICKIE JAMES & ALEXA BLISS
Mauro said Mickie made her WWE debut back in 2005 in this very arena. There was a gasp in the crowd when Naomi flew at Bliss with a body block, but Bliss moved and Naomi hit the ropes sideways and rebounded to the mat. It was a cool, but definitely planned spot. Mickie tagged in and went after Naomi. Thanks to a distraction by Bliss, Mickie took control. Mickie’s kick at Lynch’s face showed some light. Naomi broke up the pin attempt and they cut to a break at 5:00. [c]
Bliss and Mickie were in control after the break. At 11:00 Lynch hot-tagged in Naomi. She springboarded onto Bliss and then dropkicked Mickie off the ring apron. Becky tackled Mickie and they tumbled out of the ring, giving Naomi the space to finish Bliss with a springboard split-legged moonsault for the pin.
WINNERS: Lynch & Naomi in 12:00.
-The woman with no name interviewed American Alpha, the tag team champs with no TV time. Gable said they’ve been tag team champs for a month and nobody’s stepped up. He asked if anyone wants to take the belts. He covered his eyes and began swinging the belt around. Jordan had to duck. Gable said they should head to the ring and issue an open challenge. Jordan seemed like he couldn’t even keep up with Gable. Gable left and said “wish us luck.” Jordan turned to “interview lady” and said, “Well…” She asked what. He said, “Wish us luck.” He smiled as he said it. She did.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s a sample of the quirky stuff that Alpha did in NXT that started off a bit clunky but grew to be a big part of their endearing act over time. Good to see them get some TV time post-Rumble.) [c]
-Back from the break, Alpha entered the ring. The Usos walked out. Then so did the Ascension, the Vaudevillians, Tyler Breeze & Fandango, and Heath Slater & Rhyno. A brawl broke out with everybody.
(Keller’s Analysis: Other than the Usos, this parade of jobbers and joke gimmicks does nothing for the tag team division.) [c]
-The brawl continued after the break. JBL said they can keep fighting and whomever is left can challenge Alpha. It came down to Rhino & Slater.
-They went to the announcers who plugged Talking Smack and then threw to a video package on the Nikki Bella and Natalya feud.
-They showed Bryan on the phone with Brie Bella, telling her he had a solution for the Nikki-Natalya stuff. In walked Natalya, but only after her two personal security guys cleared the room. She said she’ll never feel safe at work again. In walked Nikki who asked if she really hired personal security. Natalya said everything she has is because of Cena. They argued. Bryan lost it and yelled, “Enough!!!!” He then announced Nikki vs. Natalya has been booked for the Elimination Chamber. Natalya stormed off unhappy.
-Dean Ambrose made his ring entrance. Then A.J. [c]
-A promo aired with Neville hyping “205 Live.” He asked the fans to show some respect to their king.
-Phillips announced Cena would face Orton one-on-one next week “for the first time ever on Smackdown Live.”
(5) A.J. STYLES vs. DEAN AMBROSE
Miz and Maryse joined the announcers at ringside. The match began 40 minutes into the second hour. Miz talked about the Elimination Chamber. Dean rallied at 6:00 and clotheslined Styles over the top rope to the floor. Then he climbed to the top rope. Corbin’s music played and he walked out. JBL wondered what he was doing there. [c]
(Kellers Analysis: Having Corbin come out completes everyone who is in the Chamber being part of the show this week.)
When Mauro asked Corbin a question at ringside, Miz interrupted and said Corbin is trying to steal his spotlight, but nobody can succeed doing that. Corbin said he must be joking. Miz said he’s a 14 time champion in WWE and he’s watched guys like Corbin walk in and walk out. JBL said it’s true that a lot of guys come and go, but he said Corbin has accomplished a lot. Corbin said everything Miz has done, he can do. He bragged about being an ex-NFLer. Miz said NFLers come and go in WWE. Corbin said he’ll run him over. Miz asked how many Chamber matches he’s won. Corbin said he’ll win the first one he’s in. Miz said he can’t read the future. A minute later, Corbin asked Miz, “Are you still talking?” Styles avoided a superplex and slipped between Ambrose’s legs and then put Ambrose in a torture rack. Ambrose escaped. Styles kicked Ambrose. Ambrose ducked and backdropped Styles over the top rope. Styles springboarded. Ambrose gave him an elbow mid-air, sending him hard to the floor. He pounded his chest and dove through the ropes. Styles punched him mid-air.
Styles and Ambrose continued to counter each other with a nice sequence that got the crowd going. Ambrose scored a near fall at 15:00. The crowd chanted “This is awesome!” Styles then rallied and scored a near fall of his own. Miz said he was impressed, they are main event talent, and they will fall at the Elimination Chamber to him. Ambrose dove onto Styles at ringside. Ambrose threw Styles into the ring to break the count. Corbin heard enough and went after Miz at ringside. Dean landed a top rope elbow, but the ref was occupied by Corbin and Miz. Ambrose was upset and dove through the ropes at Corbin. He then angrily threw Miz into the ringside barrier. He returned to the ring where Styles had recovered. He gave Dean the Styles Clash for the win.
WINNER: Styles at 19:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match.)