KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
FEBRUARY 21, 2017
ONTARIO, CANADA AT CITIZEN’S BANK
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL, Mauro Ranallo, David Otunga
-A video package opened the show with highlights of last week’s triple threat with John Cena and A.J. Styles challenging Bray Wyatt, and Luke Harper interfering beforehand. The narrator then recapped Randy Orton declaring he refused to face Wyatt as long as Bray Wyatt is his servant and pledging his undying allegiance to him. Then a snippet of Daniel Bryan announcing the battle royal to replace Orton.
-They went live in the arena. Phillips once again introduced the show. A graphic showed the ten-man battle royal participants: Baron Corbin, Kalisto, A.J. Styles, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Mojo Rawley, Luke Harper, Apollo Crews, The Miz, and Dolph Ziggler.
-As Bryan made his ring entrance, they showed the announcers at ringside. Phillips led the conversation and asked JBL for his thoughts. He was interrupted by Bryan who welcomed everyone to Smackdown Live! Bryan said the Road to WrestleMania includes tons of twists and turns. He introduced Naomi, who made her entrance with a gingerly stroll to the ring in a knee brace. JBL called her perhaps the best athlete in the women’s division. She held up her Women’s Championship. The fans chanted “You deserve it!” She told the fans they deserve it and thanked them. Bryan said she has worked so hard for so many years, and now she is Smackdown Women’s Champion. He said they are so proud of her, but that’s why what he’s about to do is probably the hardest thing he’s had to do as general manager. He said he relates to this. He said for years he fought and scratched and went against The Authority and got to the very top, only to get injured. He said he didn’t want to do it, but he knew he needed to do it. He said that he and Shane McMahon have gone over her medical records with the WWE staff and they know conclusively that she will be unable to defend her title within the required 30 days. He apologized as he asked her to hand over the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Naomi got emotional and looked toward the sky. She said before she does anything, she had a few things to say. She said her tears of joy last week have turned to tears of sadness and frustration. She said at Elimination Chamber the view from the mountain was so sweet. She said she has no control over anything on this free fall. She said she felt bad for her fans and like she let them down. She handed the belt to Bryan and some tears flowed. Bryan hugged her. She told the women in the locker room and the woman who borrows that belt while she recovers that they are going to feel the glow when she returns.
(Keller’s Analysis: That segment dragged. I mean, I get the emotions were running high and it involved a title being relinquished, but it really went on and on. Naomi, though, came across well as being very invested in being champion and crushed having to give it up, which just build the perceived value of the belt within the WWE world.)
As she began to walk up the ramp to the stage, out walked Alexa Bliss to her music. She strutted right past Naomi with a smirk. JBL said things are looking up now. Bliss said, “Wow, that was amazing!” She went from fake sad to laugher. She said she could have done without the sob stories, but Naomi handing over the title made it all worth it. She said she wanted her rematch the last few weeks, but Naomi couldn’t defend the title. She told Bryan they’re in a bit of a jam. She said they can’t have no champ on the Road to WrestleMania. She pondered the situation. She said because she didn’t get the rematch she deserves, at which point the “What?!” chants got to her. She then suggested Bryan return the title to her. She said they could consider it teamwork. “Give it back, great idea,” she said. Bryan said as difficult as it was to take the title from Naomi, this could be more difficult. Bliss said, “It’s really not. I promise. It’s not hard,” she said. Hilarious. He said he supposes it makes sense for him to give her back the belt. He paused. Fans chanted “No!” He added, “But I’m not going to do that.” Big pop. He said he’s going to give her an opportunity.
(Keller’s Analysis: Bliss continues to be one of the highlights of Smackdown each week.)
He said he knows she’s ready to fight, and he knows somebody else who is too, and that match is going to happen “right now.” Out came Becky Lynch. The crowd cheered. Becky made her ring entrance. [c]
(1) ALEXA BLISS vs. BECKY LYNCH – WWE Smackdown Women’s Title match
Some good back and forth action for a few minutes including a nice series of near falls. [c]
Bliss rallied after the break including a flying forearm and reverse sidekick and suplex leading to a two count. Bliss landed a second rope flying dropkick for another two count. Bliss tried to leave the ring, but Becky dragged her back. Bliss held onto the ring apron as Becky pulled her back. The ref pushed the ring apron down, and Bliss gave Lynch a double chop to the throat that the ref didn’t see. She then rolled up Lynch and yanked on the tights for the win. Mickie James came out and gloated with Becky. JBL said he learned from Bayley on Monday night that it’s not how you win, just that you win.
WINNER: Bliss in 8:00 to capture the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship.
(Keller’s Analysis: JBL’s comment about Bayley just further accentuates how bad that angle was last night for her character. The match was too short, although I’m thankful that Mickie didn’t come out and distract Lynch. We had a new finish in a women’s match.)
-Backstage Dean Ambrose talked about how he would normally be in one of his moods after what Baron Corbin did to him last week, but he has to focus on the opportunity presenting itself to him tonight to main event WrestleMania, which got taken away from him at Elimination Chamber. He said he’ll take it back no matter who is in his way. He said if he gets a chance to break Corbin’s leg, that’s good too.
-They aired a Kalisto promo. Some fans booed when they saw him on the big screen. He said he wasn’t meant to headline WrestleMania, but now he can imagine it happening and thousand of fans are chanting “Lucha! Lucha!”
-Elsewhere backstage The Miz, with Maryse, talked up his resume as he was tended to with a make-up brush. He listed all of his movies and reality shows and then the most must-see star and future WWE Champion at WrestleMania.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like hearing from the wrestlers in the battle royal main event. It’s not something they do consistently, but I like each wrestler making his case for winning and creating an image in viewers’ heads of their victory.) [c]
-Phillips bragged about WWE’s social media reach. Then he hyped Nikki Bella vs. Natalya in a Falls Count Anywhere match later on the show.
-An unnamed women (Renee Young) interviewed Natalya backstage. Natalya said Nikki only has support because she’s been manufactured in a lab for Instagram likes. She said she has the fans and “precious boyfriend” Cena fooled with her phony smile, fake laugh, and silicone personality. She said she’s a fraud and she’ll expose her, although she does a good job exposing herself with lousy wrestling skills. She told Renee to run along and beat it.
(2) AMERICAN ALPHA (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) vs. BREEZANGO (Tyler Breeze & Fandango)
Mauro pronounced Fandango’s name correctly. The heel duo attacked Gable, knocking him off the ring apron, and then double-teamed Jordan with stomps. The ref checked on him. Otunga said he doesn’t respect what they did, but he gets it because they’re looking for any advantage. JBL said why be in a fair fight if you don’t have to be. Otunga said, “There’s a thing called honor and respect.” JBL said, “There’s a thing called winning.” The ref let the match start despite Jordan’s unfair disadvantage from the pre-bell attack. Jordan got the hot-tag after a few minutes. They quickly managed to give Fandango the Electric Chair for the win.
WINNERS; Alpha in 3:00.
-Afterward, the Usos were strolling through the crowd with a hot mic. They mocking congratulated them. Then they tried to torment them about how they won’t be able to sleep because they’ll sense someone creeping up behind them, but it’s not paranoia, it’s the Usos.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like seeing the Usos get some actual mic time, and I like the creative setting of doing it from the safety of the crowd.)
-Otunga threw to a video package on Jackie Robinson as part of Black History Month. [c]
-They hyped that Bryan and Renee would interview Lynch, Styles, and the Usos on Talking Smack.
-Styles got in the face of someone backstage and asked if he knows where he is going. He said, “To the main event of WrestleMania!” He danced around.
-Backstage Ziggler said the new era of WWE has been cancelled by him. He said, “Anyone who thinks they can replace me,” then he kicked down the backdrop with his logo on it.
-Mojo was shown warming up backstage. He said he’s won two battle royals in the past two months, and this time it’s for WrestleMania. He got amped up and stared into the camera and said, “WrestleMania!”
-They cut to Luke Harper backstage in a dark room with a few lanterns dangling. He said he is free now and after he’s victorious, there will be no where left for Bray Wyatt to run.
-They showed Nikki warming up. Renee walked up and asked her for some last second thoughts. Nikki said she used to feel bad for Nattie, but that’s over now. She said people call her fearless for a reason. She said she’s more than a pretty face. She said she was the longest-running Divas Champion for a reason. She said after tonight, Nattie will forever be known as “the broken heart.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Boy did that feel scripted and memorized.)
(3) NIKKI BELLA vs. NATALYA – Falls Count Anywhere
Nikki took early control with a spear and scored a very early two count. She went for a table under the ring. Natalya recovered and kicked Nikki and then shoved the table under the ring. Nikki schoolgirled Natalya at ringside for a two count. Mauro unfortunately referred to the table as a “toy.” Nikki bashed Natalya with a kendo stick a few times at ringside. Mauro said she was “tenderizing the body of Natalya.” She threw Natalya into the ringside barrier and then scored another two count. They fought into the crowd. JBL said, “I was hoping they’d use you as a weapon and hit the other person with one of your ridiculous puns.” Natalya dominated and then yelled out in obnoxious celebration. Natalya went for a suplex off the ringside barrier, but Nikki blocked it and knocked Natalya to the floor. Then she leaped at Natalya with a round kick and scored another two count.
Natalya made a comeback and then yelled, “You’re pathetic. Nobody likes you!” Natalya pulled out a kendo stick, but then threw it to the ground and decided to clear the announce table instead. Natalya tired to powerbomb Nikki off the ring apron onto the table, but Nikki resisted it and tumbled to the side. She almost landed on a monitor on the floor. Nikki then gave Natalya an Alabama Slam onto the table. They cut to a break after a two count. [c]
Back from the break, Natalya had Nikki in a sharpshooter. Nikki pulled herself free. Natalya dragged Nikki onto the ramp and suplexed her onto it. She scored a two count. They brawled backstage. Natalya threw Nikki to the side and Nikki knocked Maryse over hard. Mauro said, “Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Nikki threw Natalya through a mirror on a table. Mauro declared, “Seven years bad luck!” Nikki scored a two count. Back on the stage, Nikki speared Natalya for a two count. Natalya then tried to put the Sharpshooter on Nikki on the ramp, but Nikki reversed it and applied the Fearless Lock. Natalya teased tapping, but Maryse came out and attacked Nikki with a hollow metal rod. Natalya scored the pin as Miz dragged Nikki away.
WINNER: Natalya in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: There’s another angle that suggests Miz & Maryse vs. Nikki & John Cena is on the horizon.)
-Phillips plugged the battle royal was coming up next. [c]
-The announced said that DDP would be in this year’s Hall of Fame. They showed the rest of the Class of 2017. Phillips announced that Bliss would be on ESPN with Coach tomorrow morning.
-They went backstage to Baron Corbin who said he likes destruction and inflicting pain, but most of all, he likes the spotlight. He said tonight after he throws nine others out of the ring, the spotlight will be on him as he takes his rightful place in the main event of WrestleMania.
-Apollo Crews said a lot of people mistake his smile for weakness, but tonight he’ll show that his kindness is being extended to no man. Who talks like that? He said anyone who gets in his way will be rolled over, run over, and tossed over real quick.
(Keller’s Analysis: Seriously, nobody talks like that. Just let them talk like human beings and everyone will connect with them better than if they have these “clever” smooth lines pre-written and memorized. Ugh.)
-Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton talked backstage. Bray said with sacrifice for the greater good comes great reward. He said Orton has earned the keys to the kingdom. He said whomever wins tonight will be nothing more than his sacrificial lamb at WrestleMania for the world to see. “Welcome to the era of Wyatt,” he said. He laughed. Orton leaned in. “Run!”
-John Cena made his ring entrance. [c]
(A local ad for next week’s Smackdown in St. Paul, Minn. advertised Cena vs. Styles and Dean vs. Miz.)
-Jack Gallagher promoted his match against Tony Nese on 205 live next on WWE Network.
-Ring entrance continued. Crews, Mojo, Kalisto, and Ziggler were already in the ring. Corbin made his ring entrance. Then Harper, Miz, Styles, and Dean.
(4) BATTLE ROYAL for WrestleMania Title Shot
The bell rang 34 minutes into the second hour. Ziggler superkicked Cena early and it showed a lot of light. That was ugly. Fortunately the camera was on a wide shot for the battle royal action. Styles dumped Ziggler over the top rope, but Ziggler, held on and came back in. Miz survived being tossed onto the ring apron by Mojo and Crews. Mauro said both feet have to touch the floor. A group worked on Styles, but he held on. They cut to a break. [c]
Mauro said Corbin was a one man wrecking crew during the break. Corbin stood in the ring with everyone else down. Mojo went after Corbin, but Corbin dumped him for the first elimination. Harper gave Corbin a boot. Kalisto then went on a flurry against Ziggler, Harper, and Ambrose. He tossed Ziggler over the top, but Ziggler held on. Ziggler superkicked Kalisto off the ring apron to eliminate him second. Corbin and Crews went at it. Crews kipped up. Crews knocked Ziggler off the ring apron with a kick after Ziggler gave him a shot from behind. Ziggler was the third elimination. Ziggler grabbed a chair from ringside. Crews saw it. Ziggler bashed Kalisto with it. Corbin tossed a distracted Crews over the top. Crews went after Ziggler with the chair, but Ziggler fled the scene quickly.
Cena and Styles exchanged blows mid-ring. Cena gave styles a AA attempt, but Styles landed on his feet. Harper superkicked Cena. Styles gave Harper a Pelé kick. Corbin nailed Styles with a clothesline. Ambrose gave a clothesline to Corbin. The crowd chanted, “This is awesome!” Miz got a “Yes!” chant going and attacked various winded wrestlers with dropkicks in each of the four corners. He did more ‘Yes!” chants and went after Cena with a barrage of round kicks to his chest. Cena no-sold them and tossed Miz over the top. Then Cena sold the kicks by draping himself over the top rope, looking exhausted and out of it. They cut to another break. [c]
Back from the break, after some big spots by Cena, Corbin gave him an End of Days. Corbin charged at Dean, but Dean ducked and Corbin was eliminated. Corbin yanked Dean out of the ring under the ropes and gave him an End of Days on the floor. Miz then entered and tossed Cena out from behind. Mauro said that counted. Otunga said Miz had already been eliminated. Miz taunted him from the crowd. Three referees ordered Cena out. JBL said those are the rules. Those are incredibly ridiculous rules. I mean, it just takes you out of the moment when something that stupid is an actual rule.
It came down to Harper and Styles in the ring and Ambrose at ringside. Styles and Harper battled for a minute in the ring and then on the ring apron. Ambrose recovered and entered the scene. He picked up Styles, but Harper kicked him in the chest and Ambrose dropped Styles and fell to the floor to be eliminated. Styles and Harper battled on the second rope. Styles leaped onto Harper’s back with a sleeper. They went back to the corner again. It’s almost as if earlier they were told they had more time to fill so they did some filler content. Then Harper suplexed Styles off the ring apron. Both hit the floor “nearly at the same time.” No camera showed the landing. The referees discussed the situation. Styles asked what the call was. The referees said they hit at the same time.
WINNER: Styles and Harper in a draw in 22:00.
-Harper raised his arms and he got cheers. Four referees tried to talk them apart. There was no replay, so it must’ve been clear one of them hit first. Bryan came out and said it’s officially a draw. He said there is no winner now, but they will determine it next week.
(Keller’s Analysis: I get the desire to have a cliffhanger for next week, but given how things are done on the fly so much, it makes Bryan seem pretty lane for not just restarting the match there.)
-Harper heard enough of Styles complaining and he clotheslined him. He climbed to the second rope and played to the crowd and got cheered. Then Bray and Randy appeared on the big screen and just laughed as the show ended.