KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MARCH 7, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. AT BANKERS FIELDHOUSE
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Mauro Ranallo, David Otunga, and Rene Young.
-A video package focused on last week’s big angle with Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt aired, focusing on Orton striking a match and setting afire the resting place of Sister Abigail followed by Bray Wyatt melting down inside the ring in St. Paul, Minn. as he watched.
-Tom Phillips introduced the show.
-Shane McMahon danced to the ring to “Money, Money, Money.” He was joined by Daniel Bryan who “Yes! Yes!” chanted his way to the ring. Shane welcomed fans to Smackdown Live and asked, “What’s up, Indy?” The crowd didn’t really even pop for their own city. Shane talked about their dilemma of not agreeing on who should face Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 33. Bryan said it might come as a shock to them that he and Shane don’t always agree. He said the tradition is the winner of the Royal Rumble goes on to the main event of WrestleMania (with exceptions), and Orton “fought through 29 other Superstars” to earn that opportunity. Shane said that’s true, but in the past, there has never been a Superstar who has abdicated their chance. He pointed to the big screen that played Orton giving up his shot.
After the video, Shane said he wishes they knew Randy’s motives. He said the had a battle royal that had a controversial finish, and last week A.J. Styles beat Luke Harper to earn a WrestleMania title match. Shane said Styles earned that title shot. Bryan said they thought they had it settled until Orton executed one of the most methodical plots in WWE history. He threw to more footage of what Orton did last week and declaring that he is now coming for Bray’s title at WrestleMania. Bryan said he doesn’t agree with Orton’s actions, but he believes he deserves the spot at WrestleMania. He asked the crowd if it should go to Orton. Some cheers. Shane asked if it should go to Styles. More cheers and a lot of boos. Shane said they can’t settle this via debate. Bryan said that’s why they announced on social media that Styles would face Orton tonight on Smackdown Live.
(Keller’s Analysis: I feel like they were explaining how to use a new iPhone to someone’s hard-of-hearing tech-novice grandma when they went over this so slowly and methodically for the first 12 minutes of the show. They could have accomplished all of that in 90 seconds. Geesh.)
-The announcers reacted as Bryan tried to keep a “Yes!” chant going without much success. The announcers hyped the mixed tag match which JBL called an interspecies match. [c]
-Backstage Shane and Bryan were walking in the hallway. Shane said it’ll be a heck of a main event. Styles approached them all worked up. Bryan told him to calm down. Styles refused. He said it’s an anti-Styles conspiracy. He said he’s going to make the best of a bad situation by taking out Orton. He said he’s not afraid of a little fire.
-Ellsworth stood in the ring and said they’re about to see a match they’ll never see again. He bragged about beating Styles the first three times he faced him. He asked how many times it took Cena to finally beat Styles. “You do the math, people!” he said. “So that makes me the Mac Daddy of Smackdown Live!” He said he’s going to the wipe the mat with Mr. Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect. He then introduced The Princess of Staten Island. JBL said he’s going to be sick. Otunga said Ellsworth is delusional. Ellsworth was wearing what appeared to be leopard print women’s panties.
-As Cena came out, Otunga touted his “Muscle & Fitness” photo spread and interview. JBL said it’s amazing with the schedule he keeps. Nikki came out last to her own music. Before the bell, Miz’s music played. Miz and Maryse walked out. Nikki was distracted by that, so Carmella kicked her in the face.
(Keller’s Analysis: It was strange seeing Cena and Nikki together in a wrestling ring. It’s just a different side of Cena than his wrestling character, which is largely asexual in presentation all these years.) [c]
(1) JOHN CENA & NIKKI BELLA vs. JAMES ELLSWORTH & CARMELLA
Miz and Maryse joined in on commentary. Miz said Cena steals opportunities from others. “He’s a liar, he’s a manipulator, he takes opportunities from everyone,” he said. Nikki tagged Cena in at 1:00. Ellsworth refused to enter at first. Cena was excited to his hands on Ellsworth. Carmella shoved Ellsworth into Cena and yelled at him to be a man and fight. Cena caught his leg and then slammed him. Carmella shoved Cena in the chest. Nikki entered and gave her a forearm to the face. Cena and Nikki did a stereo Five Knuckle Shuffle. Then they each did an Attitude Adjustment. Ellsworth tapped out.
WINNERS: Cena & Nikki in 3:00.
-Afterward, as Cena and Nikki were making out, Miz and Maryse yanked them to the floor by their legs and then beat them up. With Cena and Nikki down at ringside, Miz and Maryse entered the ring. Miz said he couldn’t take it anymore. He said Cena is a liar, and his relationship is the biggest lie of them all. He said he spends all his time with Maryse because he loves her. “Can you say the same, John?” he said. “When you have true love, you don’t have her sign a contract to be your girlfriend.” Miz said Cena’s relationship with Nikki wasn’t allowed to be talked about for the longest time. He said he went public to try to steal the thunder of him and Maryse becoming the “It Couple.” Miz said Cena is “emotionless” and does everything he does for the success of his brand. He said he is Robo-Cena. He said he got the winning lottery ticket because he found someone as attention-driven and power-hungry as he is. “But understand that Nikki and John’s plastic, fabricated lives spits on every real relationship and it stops now,” he said. Maryse took the mic and dropped it on Nikki at ringside. Miz and Maryse kissed and exchanged ‘I love you’s!”
-Phillips plugged a “Blissertation” later.
-Rene Young knocked on Orton’s locker room door. He came out and said if he burned Bray’s compound down to the ground, imagine what he is willing to do to Styles tonight. He said Styles is Phenomenal, but he is one RKO away from headlining WrestleMania, so Styles ought to be afraid. He said, “If I were A.J., I’d probably just run.” Rene looked disturbed. [c]
-Phillips congratulated Rick Rude as the latest person being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
-Curt Hawkins stood in the ring and said last week Dean Ambrose started something he can’t finish. He said when you face the facts, the facts fight back. Dean marched out with his IC Title belt. Hawkins charged at him at ringside. Dean ducked and then clotheslined him. Mauro called him “Chad Hawkins.” Otunga corrected him. JBL said, “No wonder there’s a Tom Phillips section here.” Ambrose said he was going to come out there and call out Baron Corbin. Ambrose said he’s the lone wolf not because he’s too cool for everybody, but because he’s a scumbag “and that’s coming from me, of all people.” He said he the neutered wolf because it’s obvious he doesn’t have testicles. Corbin showed up on the big screen and asked if he really thought that was going to work. He said he doesn’t come to the ring when someone calls his name. He said he doesn’t understand why he’s in such a rush to get this beating. He said he needs to enjoy what he has while he has it, because when he’s ready he’s going to take everything from him including his title. He said if Corbin won’t come to him, he’ll come get him. Hawkins tried to sneak attack Ambrose, but Ambrose gave him a Dirty Deeds.
-Phillips threw to the Lita and Trish Status video that aired on Raw last night. Then he hyped Styles vs. Orton.
-They showed Ambrose looking around for Corbin backstage. [c]
-Phillips hyped Cena hosting the “2017 Kids’ Choice Awards” this Saturday night at 8 p.m. on Nick.
-Back to Ambrose, he still hadn’t found Corbin.
-Dasha (Fuentes) interviewed Mojo Rawley. He said he is officially announcing himself as the first Smackdown entrant into the Andre the Giant Battle Royal because he is going to make his WrestleMania Moment like Zack Ryder did last year with his title win. Dolph Ziggler mock-clapped his way into the picture and said WrestleMania Moments don’t get handed out, you have to earn them. Mojo asked if that’s why he doesn’t have one. “Ohhhs” from the crowd. Ziggler told Mojo not to hurt himself reaching for the brass ring because someone will probably grab it for him. He patted him on the shoulder, then left. Mojo brushed Dolph Dust off his of his shoulder.
-Backstage, Corbin attacked Ambrose with a crowbar. “You found me, Dean!” said Corbin, pacing around Ambrose’s body as Ambrose tried to recover from the shot. Ambrose sat up and and Corbin kicked him down again. Then he lowered a fork lift onto Ambrose’s chest. Ambrose pretended he couldn’t breath. Officials ran in and tried to save him from sure death. Corbin walked away as someone hit the button to lift the forklift off of Ambrose’s chest.
-Back to the announcers, JBL said what Corbin did was completely unacceptable.
-Alexa Bliss and Mickie James made their way to the ring.
-A commercial aired for “205 Live” hyping that Austin Aries has a message for the King of the Cruiserweights, Neville. [c]
-Bliss said tonight the world is going to hear from the greatest woman in the Smackdown Women’s Division. She pointed at the WrestleMania sign and said she’d talk about her opponent at WrestleMania, “but first let’s talk about who it’s not going to be.” She said it won’t be Naomi because she’s at home recovering. She said it won’t be Nikki Bella because she’s at the training room getting nursed back to heath “by her square-chinned Superman.” She added that Carmella is taking care of her “chinless troll under some creepy bridge.” And: “It won’t be Chucky. You all know her as Becky Lynch. No matter how many times I get rid of her, she keeps coming back.”
Becky Lynch came out to her music and said she is going to take back her Women’s Title at WrestleMania. She was interrupted by Natalya.
Natalya asked “Beaker” to step aside because it’s not always about her. She said they came to an understanding, and told Becky she isn’t in their league. Bliss interrupted Natalya and asked if she got into some catnip because they didn’t come to any understanding and she’s not getting a title shot at WrestleMania. That was news to Natalya. Bliss said: “Let me put this in a nice way. You are the worst there is, the worst there was, and the worst there ever will be.” Mickie James had enough and told Natalya and Becky to shut up because they’re ruining a very special announcement. Mickie said Bliss is giving her the title shot. (Since when do champions pick their challengers in WWE’s narrative?) Bliss acted like that wasn’t an agreement. Mickie said, “But we had a deal.” Becky took exception because she beat Mickie twice last week. Mickie, meanwhile, stared a hole in Bliss for backing down. Natalya said the look on Mickie’s face is classic. She said everyone should put her ugly face on Instagram right now.
Bryan came out to his music to address this controversy. JBL wished him luck. Bryan said Bliss sparked their interest by claiming to be the greatest female Superstar on the entire SD women’s roster. He said as a result, they thought maybe she is right, but there’s only one way to find out. He said to find out, she is going to defend her title against every available woman on the Smackdown roster. Bliss said, “You can’t do that.” Bryan said, “That’s literally my job.” Bryan said he has picked up some tips from former SD G.M. Teddy Long, so tonight they’re going to have a “Holla Holla Tag Team Match” right now.
(Keller’s Analysis: As usual, “right now” in G.M. speak actually means “right after this break.” I’d prefer a singles match on WrestleMania that is a culmination of a one-on-one feud that people care about. Smackdown gets a pass with the Naomi injury, though. I’m not usually in favor of handing out WrestleMania Participation Ribbons to everyone because WWE should serve the fans the best show, not serve the wrestlers by giving everyone a slot at WrestleMania. That said, the SD women’s crew is largely on equal ground and there is a sense of parity and this incorporates the Bliss-Mickie tension into the multi-woman match which is a selling p0int.)
(2) BECKY LYNCH & NATALYA vs. ALEXA BLISS & MICKIE JAMES
Mauro tried to cover for a basement dropkick by Natalya that showed a lot of light, saying Bliss partially blocked it. Mickie tagged in against Becky a minute into the match. Becky took it to Bliss at ringside a minute later. Back in the ring, Mickie yanked on Becky’s leg to trip her, leading to a Bliss two count. They cut to a break out of nowhere with Mauro awkwardly exclaiming: “Tag team action on Smackdown Live!” [c]
With Mickie on offense, JBL said Mickie has had WrestleMania Moments and now she can have one more. Becky finally fought back and took Mickie down with two clotheslines and a kick. Becky didn’t tag out to Natalya, though, upsetting Natalya. Natalya gave Becky a released German suplex, turning on her partner. Mickie smiled and Bliss looked oddly concerned. Bliss tagged herself in and stole the pin. Mickie wasn’t happy. As Bliss celebrated she ordered Mickie to stand by her and raise her arm. Mickie, instead, surprised Bliss with a spinning hook kick to the head. She picked up Bliss’s belt and held it in the air, then placed it on Bliss’s chest.
WINNERS: Bliss & Mickie.
-They went to the announcers who plugged Summerslam travel packages.
-They showed Corbin attacking Ambrose backstage. JBL called it “beyond the pale” and said “this is something you just don’t do.” Otunga said, “You can end somebody’s career doing this.” Phillips said Ambrose is coughing up blood and has been taken to a local medical facility. Updates at WWE.com, he said.
-They showed Styles and Orton on a split screen heading out for the main event. [c]
-They plugged Talking Smack would feature Alexa Bliss, Apollo Crews, and Miz & Maryse with Bryan and Young.
-They showed the exterior of the arena.
-Aries introduced himself to Smackdown viewers and said he finally shut the mouth of Neville last night Raw. He said on 205 Live, he’ll answer all the questions about the future of Aries.
-Styles made his ring entrance. Mauro called it the “greatest main event in Smackdown history.” That’s quite a bold proclamation. JBL called it “one of the all-time great main events” and said “this will be awesome.” Styles said this is the house that A.J. Styles built. He said when he was champion, that ratings couldn’t have been higher and he took a B-show and made it into “Thee Show.” He said Shane and Bryan show him nothing but disrespect. He said meanwhile, Orton burned down a man’s house and gets rewarded for it. An “A.J. Styles” chant broke out. Styles soaked it up and said, “Trust me, I know exactly who I am and what I am doing here, so let me explain it.” He said he was built for the main event of WrestleMania. He said Shane and Bryan and certainly not Orton will keep him from the “grandest stage of them all.” Point at the sign. “And making it phenomenal.” Then Orton made his ring entrance. No big pop came across on TV. JBL said “the greatest main event in Smackdown history is coming up.” [c]
(3) A.J. STYLES vs. RANDY ORTON
The match began 40 minutes into the hour. Mauro marveled at a match of this magnitude being presented on free TV. Tell my cable company that USA Network is free. But I get his point. They felt each other out early while the announcers debated the pros and cons of who deserved to be in the WrestleMania main event. At 5:00, Orton dropped Styles back-first over the ringside barricade. Mauro called it ruthless. Back in the ring Styles chop-blocked Orton. Orton rolled to the floor clutching his knee. [c]
Styles put Orton in a chinlock after the break. Orton came back with two clotheslines and a snap power slam. He stuck his tongue out and played to the crowd a bit. Then he full nelson slammed Styles and scored a two count. Orton fought out of a Calf Crusher late in the match. He knocked Styles off balance on a Phenomenal Forearm. Then he hit a DDT. Orton played to the crowd, then turned and pounded the mat. Styles countered with a Pelé kick. He then went for another Phenomenal Forearm. Orton tried to counter with an RKO, but Styles stopped short. Orton landed on his back. Styles went for a springboard 450, but Orton moved. Orton then hit an RKO for the win. Orton was bleeding from his mouth afterward, looking like he bit his tongue or lip.
WINNER: Orton in 18:00 to earn the WrestleMania Title Shot.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. It would have been hard to live up to the build-up on this show, and it didn’t. But it was solid. The finish was clean and really needed to be to validate Orton as deserving that spot at WM33. The crowd seemed more disappointed than thrilled, although they popped for the RKO.)