WWE Smackdown LIVE review
February 28, 2017
From St. Paul, Minn.
Live on USA Network
By Greg Parks, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @gregmparks)
– WWE Open.
– Backstage, Shane-O-Mac, Daniel Bryan, and a producer were re-watching the end of the battle royal from last week. Nope, still not looking any better. A.J. Styles walked in and said with another camera angle, it would show that he clearly won the match, so they can just put him in the main event of Wrestlemania and cancel tonight’s match. The brain-trust of Smackdown Live did not agree. Styles went off on Luke Harper, his opponent for tonight, just as Harper crept up behind Styles. “You want me to wrestle this guy who looks like the hair that clogs the shower drain” and “He smells like a toe nail.” Bryan and Shane encouraged him, knowing Harper was getting bug-eyed angry behind him. After Styles realized this and scooted away, Harper simply said “thank you” to McMahon and Bryan.
– Smackdown Open.
– The Miz and Maryse came out for Miz TV. As they did, they showed John Cena eliminating The Miz last week in the battle royal, and Miz returning the favor. JBL talked about there being precedent for someone being eliminated by someone else who had already been officially eliminated. Miz quickly introduced his guest, John Cena. If you had “six minutes” in the amount of time it took for Mauro Ranallo to reference the Oscars flub, step up and accept your prize. Ranallo, JBL, David Otunga, and Tom Phillips were shown at ringside. Before Cena could speak, Miz asked for Cena’s mic to be cut. Miz needed to rant about the history between the two. He accused Cena of manipulating everyone who gets in his way. Miz said he works harder and is more talented, yet he’s just seen as “the other guy.” Miz said there was a time he was main eventing Wrestlemania, against Cena, and he beat him. But two weeks later, Cena turned Miz’s most important career win into nothing. He charged Cena with being jealous of him and said Cena’s a hypocrite.
He reminded Cena of how he went off on The Rock for going Hollywood. Yet, that’s exactly what Cena has become. Light “you sold out” chants that began to pick up. Miz said Cena is a parody of his former self, and that former self was a joke. He said John is no longer Super-Cena; he’s Barely Decent Cena. A “Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks” chant, but it didn’t have a lot of steam. Miz basically called himself the new Cena, doing all the work to make Smackdown must-see. Miz said there’s only one greatest of all-time, and he did a “Woo!” to signify Ric Flair. Miz said he wanted to be the one to take away Cena’s big Wrestlemania opportunity this year, that’s why he threw Cena out of the battle royal last week.
Miz opened things up for Cena’s retort. Cena said Miz is simply parroting what everyone has said to him for over a decade: He can’t wrestle, he’s leaving for Hollywood (even though he can’t act), and he manipulates everything as if he runs the show. Cena said this is the part of the show where he “turns his theory to crap.” Cena said if he gets whatever he wants, would he really be standing face-to-face with The Miz? No…he’d be standing face-to-face with The Undertaker. A lot is going to be made of that comment. Cena extended his arms and looked at the crowd, but it didn’t seem the fans necessarily knew what that meant. Cena said he never asked people to buy into what he says. Cena said you can’t fake heart. Another “Let’s Go Cena / Cena sucks” chant. He said everyone by now knows who he is, but who is Miz. He brought up Miz’s Real World ties that got him into WWE. Then, when he got into WWE, he stole Chris Jericho’s personality. He stole Ric Flair’s figure-four. He stole Daniel Bryan’s offense. And he’s stealing what A.J. Styles has been saying for the past six months.
“You’re a dude, dressed up as a dude, playing another dude.” Tropic Thunder reference there. Cena called Miz, “a trend-hopping, joke-stealing, unoriginal shell of a WWE Superstar.” I had to rewind to make sure I got that full quote. Cena said he and Miz have been knocked down the same number of times. But he gets up while Miz just blames others. “Next time we talk, don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. You’re not the Undertaker, but if you press me again, you’re a dead man.”
Maryse chased Cena down as he was going to leave. She said Cena doesn’t leave the ring until they say he can leave. She said Cena wishes he was half the man Miz is. She said Cena’s ego is the problem. “You know what they say, bigger the ego, smaller the package,” she said. Maryse slapped Cena across the face. Nikki Bella ran out to her music, which caused Maryse and Miz to make a run for it. Nikki told Maryse if she messes with her man, she’ll break her, calling her a “bitch” in the process. Miz brought a lot of the same complaints others have made of Cena recently on TV, but he did it well, and Cena just dropped Miz verbally. It was long, but entertaining overall.
– Harper vs. Styles is still to come.
– Micke James vs. Becky Lynch, two-out-of-three falls, is next.
– Also tonight: Bray Wyatt’s invocation. First commercial break: 25 minutes past the top of the hour.
– A quote from Oprah Winfrey was shown on-screen as WWE continues to celebrate Black History Month.
1 – BECKY LYNCH vs. MICKIE JAMES – TWO-OUT-OF-THREE FALLS MATCH
A feeling-out process started the match. With James on the outside, Lynch hit a baseball slide. That put James on the floor as they went to break at 1:25 of the match.
Back at 5:17 with James holding Lynch on the mat in a rear chin-lock. She rubbed Lynch’s face into the mat to add insult to injury. Lynch fought from behind and eventually avoided a basement dropkick. A few clotheslines and a heel kick kept James down for a spell. James elbowed out of a Bex-ploder, and sent Lynch face-first into the middle buckle. Jumping DDT for three at 7:30.
FIRST FALL: James, at 7:30. They went to break at 7:42 with James up, 1-0.
Back at 11:22 with James still on offense, whipping Lynch into the corner. James cut off another Lynch comeback attempt. Lynch avoided James coming off the top, and rolled her up for the pinfall.
SECOND FALL: Lynch, at 12:49.
They were basically back even health-wise at this point, too. As both women were down, Alexa Bliss walked out. She got on the apron after James missed with a Mick Kick and Lynch tackled James. Somehow, that was enough to get a visual pin, but the ref was distracted. Lynch confronted Bliss, and James charged her. Lynch moved and James knocked Bliss off the apron. James rolled up Lynch for two, with Lynch turning it into a Disarm-Her for the submission win.
THIRD AND DECIDING FALL: Lynch, via submission, at 14:12. So much of this occurred during the break it was difficult to get a read on it with it being so broken up. James certainly was booked to look good and have a lot of offense in the loss.
After replays of the finish, Lynch celebrated with the fans at ringside.
– In a dark area backstage, Luke Harper said he has new eyes and can see what true evil is. He said he’s not afraid of Bray Wyatt. He said when they face off at Mania, Wyatt will be very afraid of him.
– Now for Wyatt’s counter, somewhere smoky backstage. He called Randy Orton his “blood,” someone who “supplicated” himself to Wyatt. Wyatt talked about the WWE Title being the Holy Grail.
– Neville addresses the WWE Universe on 205 Live coming up after Smackdown. That’s supposed to get me to watch?
– Dasha Fuentes welcomed Alexa Bliss backstage. I was too distracted by two gentlemen pretending to have a conversation a few feet behind them. No interview area as usual. Alexa Bliss made another Oscars reference, as she was immediately put off by Dasha’s initial line of questioning. Bliss faked like she was giving an acceptance speech when talking about what it was like being a two-time Smackdown Women’s Champion. Natalya walked off and shooed Fuentes away. Nattie said they both had big victories last week and they’re both winners. Nattie hinted that she was coming after Alexa’s title, then poked Bliss on the nose and walked away.
– Renee Young got the A interview area as she talked to A.J. Styles. Styles said his match with Harper tonight is bogus because Harper’s feet clearly hit first. He said after tonight, he’ll take his rightful place in the main event of Wrestlemania.
– Luke Harper and A.J. Styles made separate entrances for their big match-up. It’s after the break.
– Still on tap for tonight: Apollo Crews vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Chairs Match. But TLC was in December!
2 – LUKE HARPER vs. A.J. STYLES – WWE CHAMPIONSHIP #1 CONTENDER MATCH
Styles grabbed a side headlock and Harper lifted him off the ground without even using his arms. Harper dropkicked Styles in an impressive feat. Harper pulled Styles out of the ring and whipped him into the barricade. Back in, Styles rolled out of the ring when more punishment seemed on his doorstep. He tripped up Harper and delivered a Pele kick on an unsuspecting Harper. Dueling “Let’s go Harper/A.J. Styles” chants with Styles in control. Harper delivered right hands to Styles, then hit him with a forearm. Senton Atomico by Harper on Styles. Next was a suicide dive onto Styles, who was at ringside. Styles tried to take a bump over the announce table, but Styles wasn’t exactly in position. Ranallo sold it big. Back in, Styles turned a powerbomb attempt into a hurricanrana. Dragon suplex by Harper for two. They went to break at that point, at 6:05 of the match.
Back at 9:29 with Harper again going for a powerbomb, hitting a sit-out version, and garnering a very near fall. Styles again found his best offense from the apron. Phenomenal Forearm for three, with Harper’s foot on the rope. The ref didn’t see it.
WINNER: Styles, at 10:49. Another explosive five minutes and this could’ve been one that put Harper over the top.
But wait! Shane McMahon came out. He said Harper’s foot was clearly on the rope, so the match would be restarted. How can he overrule the ref on an obvious missed call this week when they didn’t do it last week?
3 – LUKE HARPER vs. A.J. STYLES – WWE CHAMPIONSHIP #1 CONTENDER MATCH
After a roll-up by Harper, Styles went outside and argued with McMahon. Harper went for a kick, Styles moved, and McMahon took the brunt of it. Styles put Harper in the ring and hit a springboard 450 splash to get the victory.
WINNER: Styles, at 1:07. I know they had to build Shane vs. Styles here, given neither Harper nor Styles would actually go on to challenge Wyatt at Wrestlemania, but Harper looked like a bit player by the end when he’s on the cusp of something bigger.
– The announcers plugged WWE Fastlane on Sunday. Did JBL have to look at his notes to see who Kevin Owens would be facing on the show? Phillips also talked up the WWE Network.
– Young tried to interview Cena and Nikki when Carmella and James Ellsworth walked up, laughing. Nikki asked what was so funny and Carmella asked Ellsworth if he was going to let her talk to her like that. Ellsworth didn’t want to say anything in front of Cena, but Carmella insisted. She also insisted he call her his friend instead of girlfriend. Ellsworth called Nikki a phony. Cena proposed a match for next week – Cena and Nikki vs. Ellsowrth and Carmella.
– Dean Ambrose was walking backstage. He’s in action, next.
– USAToday broke the news yesterday that Beth Phoenix will be going into the WWE Hall-of-Fame this year.
– The exterior of the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul was shown.
– Styles was walking backstage. Daniel Bryan walked up and congratulated Styles for getting to the Mania main event, just as he said he would. Styles scoffed at Bryan’s offer of a handshake, instead saying he may need to attend Bray Wyatt’s invocation tonight in person.
– Dean Ambrose walked out to face Curt Hawkins. Ambrose entered the ring, gave Hawkins Dirty Deeds, then got a mic. Ambrose said he has learned many life lessons over the years. He gave some comedic examples and then said when you are pushed, you have to push back. And he’s been pushed by Baron Corbin the last few weeks. Ambrose said Corbin messing with him is a bad idea. He wanted to show him why, and asked Corbin to come out. Corbin showed up on the Titan-Tron. Corbin said he doesn’t just come to the ring when Ambrose calls him. Ambrose said Corbin’s tattoos are even uglier on the screen. Corbin called Ambrose a speed-bump that has slowed him down. But now, he’s a deer in the middle of the road that Corbin will run over. He talked about their similarities. But he’s going to take everything from Ambrose. Ambrose advised Corbin not to start anything he can’t finish, and he said they’re far from finished.
– The Ziggler vs. Crews Chairs Match is next.
Back at 5:14 of the match with Ziggler still in control. Ziggler went after Crews with a chair, but Crews kicked him in the leg to stop that. Enzugiri by Crews, then a standing moonsault onto Ziggler, who was holding the chair. Crews came up lame from that move. Ziggler tried to pin Crews with his feet on the ropes, but Crews kicked out. Belly-to-back suplex by Crews onto a steel chair, but Ziggler kicked out. Crews set up a chair, but Ziggler raked his eyes and dropped Crews throat-first across the back of the chair. Next, Ziggler crotched Crews on the back of the chair, leading to the win. That may have been the least brutal chairs match I’ve ever seen.
WINNER: Ziggler, at 8:54.
Replays of the finishing sequence were shown. Ziggler wanted to go after Crews again post-match. Instead, he just trash-talked the fallen babyface. “I go through clowns like you every day!” he shouted. Next week: Ziggler vs. Doink.
– Phillips and JBL again plugged the WWE Network.
– Bray Wyatt’s Invocation is next.
– Tonight on Talking Smack on the WWE Network: Natalya, A.J. Styles, and American Alpha.
– Bray Wyatt came out for his Championship Invocation. Wyatt immediately turned his attention to A.J. Styles, his alleged Wrestlemania opponent. He said it really didn’t matter if it was Styles or Harper, because at Mania, they’ll be in the ring with a deity. He said Styles would feel the unnatural force. Wyatt seems to be a little more motivated on the mic tonight. He said he comes from a place that Randy Orton is right now. Orton took him by surprise by appearing on the Titan-Tron. Orton was backstage, perhaps in an old shed, next to a mysteriously rocking chair. He said he’s dead-center of Wyatt’s world. He said you can smell the stench of evil in the air. He said it’s Bray’s world…but it’s not his. It never was. Randy did say “if you can’t beat’em, join’em,” but at the right time, he said “screw’em.” Underneath the rocking chair, he said, likes the sister of Satan himself…Abigail. He said she was put to rest directly beneath his feet.
Orton had a pick-axe in his hands. He asked Wyatt how long it’s been since the maggots and worms have been eating at Abigail’s flesh and bones. All that’s left is her spirit. Orton said he has finally one-upped Wyatt. He vowed to burn the spirit of Abigail and watch Wyatt die with it. In a moment, Orton said he’d be the master and Wyatt the servant. Orton threw the axe aside (why did he have it in the first place?) and took a gasoline can. He poured it all over the walls of the shed. “I’m coming for your title at Wrestlemania!” shouted Orton. Orton poured gas all over the torn-up floorboards where Abigail was supposedly buried. Wyatt was on his hands and knees, almost in tears in the ring. Orton shut the door of the shed, and the camera magically appeared outside as Orton doused the shed some more. A match was lit and Orton said he’d burn the soul of Sister Abigail to eternal damnation. He ignited the gasoline trail and the shed became ablaze. Orton did his pose, which seemed really out-of-place in that setting, as Wyatt went crazy at ringside, as if he were feeling the pain. “Randy” chants from the crowd, so he’s still a babyface to them, I guess. Wyatt rocked with his head in his hands against the announce table as the show went off the air.
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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.