KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 3/21: Styles reacts to Shane challenging him to a WrestleMania match, more hype for WrestleMania 33

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


WWE Smackdown Live logo - new July 2016 (c) WWE.com

WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
MARCH 21, 2017
UNCASTLVILLE, CONN. AT MOHEGAN SUN CASINO
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK

Announcers: Tom Phillips, JBL, David Otunga, Renee Young

[HOUR ONE]

-A video package aired on the big angle last week with A.J. Styles and Shane McMahon. They did not show the view from inside the car of Shane’s head going through the window that was shown in the replay recap segment last week.

-Daniel Bryan told a producer he was concerned about getting some sort of timing issues on target. Then in walked A.J. Styles.

(Keller’s Analysis: It’s good thing Styles did walk in “unexpectedly,” or else that would have been a really lame way to open up a show, a midstream conversation between Bryan and a producer about some timing issues. Yes, that’s sarcastic, and yes I know that everything is scripted, but within the narrative structure of the show’s presentation, what was the reason the director decided to OPEN SMACKDOWN WITH DANIEL BRYAN TALKING TO A PRODUCER? Did he or she get tipped off that Style was headed toward that area to confront Bryan? If so, why not make things more realistic by having the camera operator following Styles to interrupt Bryan? It’s a small thing, but it’s amateur hour stuff because every other show of this budget and audience level gets that there should be a “reason” for showing a scene before someone walks in and interrupts it “unexpectedly.” In the end, it’s a “straight your tie” moment and hardly affects business or viewership enjoyment in any way, but like proper punctuation or spelling, it’s better if you strive to get it right for clarity’s sake than just disregard it because you either never learned the rules or don’t care enough to tighten up the presentation.)

Bryan told Styles that if it were up to him, he’d still be fired, but Shane is different than the rest of the McMahon family. He said Shane saw this situation as an opportunity to show people how to handle things like a man instead of ambush people from behind. “A.J., you have no idea what you’re in for at WrestleMania?” Bryan said.

(Keller’s Analysis: This is where the preposterousness of Shane vs. Styles gets worse. I could better accept this ridiculous notion that a late-40s wrestling executive with very limited experience in the ring and no legitimate athletic background otherwise is going to step into the ring against a wrestler widely seen as the best in the business who went toe-to-toe with John Cena in a series of matches and is regarded as legitimately tough and top-tier skilled if – IF – everyone else acknowledged Shane was delusional in thinking he could hang with Styles in the ring, but they just couldn’t talk him out of it. But now Bryan’s character is a coconspirator in the ridiculous notion that Shane is going to not only battle Styles in some sort of legitimately competitive way, but that Styles should be scared for what he’s in for? This is just too much. It’s preposterous and voids any sense within WWE’s narrative structure that being a trained wrestler in your prime counts for something ore than being a McMahon.)

Styles reacted by saying this feels like deja vu. He said he’s going to show the world how it feels to beat up Shane McMahon. Bryan snarled after Styles walked away.

-They went to the announcers at ringside. Phillips said Mauro Ranallo is out sick this week. JBL said Styles went from being fired to back on the WrestleMania card because of Shane McMahon.

-Styles entered the ring. He was booed, but then an “A.J. Styles!” chant broke out. Styles said it’s been seven long days since he did what he did to Shane. He pretended he was going to say he was sorry, but then laughed and said he’s not sorry at all. He said no one knows how good it felt to pound away at Shane’s face. He said it made his heart swell. Styles said he happily accepts Shane’s challenge. He said he wants to be part of the “Ultimate Thrill Ride, WrestleMania.” He turned and pointed at the sign. He said the question they should be asking is why would Shane McMahon want to be in the ring with him. He said the reason is, without Styles, Smackdown plummets. He said Smackdown’s social media crashes just like Shane going through a car window. He said he’s going to WrestleMania now. He said he liked that Shane had a welcoming committee last week, so he’s going to do it again this week. He said if what he did to Shane last week was bad, “it can go from bad to phenomenally worse.” His music played as he ran his fingers through his hair.


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-The announcers pitched that Miz and Maryse would show an unaired episode of Total Bellas that will expose Cena for what he is really is. They also plugged an American Alpha vs. Usos tag match. [c]

-A Snickers commercial aired with Miz and Maryse in a limousine after picking up an apparently dirty smelly homeless guy. Miz offered for Maryse to give him a foot massage. Miz began playing “this little piggy” with the guy’s feet. The caption read: “You’re confused when you’re hungry.”

-They went to Bryan on the phone tattling on Styles, telling Shane that Styles plans to meet him upon arrival. Bryan smiled when he apparently heard Shane’s counter-offensive plan. He said it sounds like it’ll work. In walked Baron Corbin, who wanted to know if Dean Ambrose accepts his challenge for an Intercontinental Title match. Bryan said he hasn’t heard from Dean in weeks. Corbin said he was going to go play blackjack. Bryan said he’s going to face someone he’s never faced before – Randy Orton. Corbin shook his head and walked away, not really giving away how he felt.

-They showed Ron Gronkowski of the New England Patriots in the front row.

(1) AMERICAN ALPHA (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) vs. THE USOS – WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship match

JBL said their thoughts and prayers went out to Jim Ross and his family. He didn’t say why, which likely drove a ton of worried people to Google. (Jim Ross’s wife, Jan, was riding a Vespa scooter to the gym without a helmet and was struck by a car; she had multiple skull fractures and, according to Ross on Twitter, “we need a miracle.” He told TMZ it’s “tough and go” and “could be a tough day.”) Classy of JBL to send well-wishes to Ross. Alpha controlled the match for the opening three minutes. The Usos bailed out to ringside and they cut to a break. [c]

The Usos took control after the break after a blind tag. When Gable dove for a tag, Jimmy yanked Jordan off the ring apron. Otunga said that’s what separates the Usos from everybody else. He said he came up with them and doesn’t always agree with how they go about things. JBL compared them to the Rock & Roll Express. They picked up the pace 10:00 in and went into a series of near falls and reversals. Jimmy splashed Gable for a believable near fall. When he went for another splash, Jordan knocked him off the top rope. Gable got up and suplexed Jey off the top rope. Jordan then lifted Jey onto his shoulders and Gable gave him a flying bulldog off the top rope. Jordan made the cover. Jimmy yanked him off of Gable. Jordan then gave him a belly-t0-belly at ringside.

After more action at ringside, the crowd began a “This is awesome!” chant. Jey clotheslined Gable “into the WWE Universe,” obnoxiously said Phillips. Ugh. Jimmy yanked Jordan crotch-first over the middle rope as he entered the ring. Jey then superkicked him for the win. Otunga decried that the ref didn’t see the leg yank that led to Jordan being vulnerable to the super kick. JBL called it a great match.

WINNERS: The Usos in 14:00 to capture the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championships.

(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. I wish that this had been a more hyped match and they positioned it as a headline match on Smackdown. It was good enough to deserve that spot, and just the mere placement of the match at the end and 90 minutes – and, ideally, two or three weeks – of hype building it up would have made the title change feel more monumental.)

-They showed Styles hanging out in the parking garage waiting for Shane’s arrival.

(Keller’s Analysis: Is Shane always this late to his own show? He doesn’t watch Raw and now he can’t even be bothered to arrive at Smackdown on a timely basis?) [c]

-A “Superstars Facts” graphic listed Baron Corbin’s pre-WWE accomplishments. He’s no Shane McMahon, but he was an All-American football player who played with the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals in the NFL and won three Golden Gloves Championships.

-Luke Harper spoke to a lightbulb. He said he has seen what Sister Abigail is capable of. He said he saw her turn a good man into a mad man. He told Orton that he opened Pandora’s Box and eviscerated it, but now a new evil roams the Earth. He said next week he will destroy him.

(Keller’s Analysis: Has Kane’s writer shifted to writing Harper’s promos? “Eviscerated?”)

-They aired a Miz and Maryse produced spoof of “Total Bellas” with Maryse pretending that she was Nikki and Brie. Then Miz came out pretending to be Cena. Miz mocked Brie for singing because one of his house rules is no singing. He said he loves her and appeared to be on the verge of proposing, but instead told her she was breaking a rule of putting her feet on furniture. He pet her head awkwardly like a dog. He said he would now pop the question. He then popped a red balloon that had “Question?” written on it. Nikki then cried.

(Keller’s Analysis: I laughed. This was spot on. If you didn’t watch “Total Bellas,” maybe you don’t realize how close to not being a spoof that was, but rather just a reenactment. The way Miz impersonated Cena was hilarious.)

-Corbin made his ring entrance to face Orton.

(Keller’s Analysis: Again, this is a match that would mean more if they would have hyped it ahead of time and not just had Bryan make it up on the spot like he hadn’t even though of what would be on the show for two hours until Corbin made an unexpected appearance near him backstage to talk about Dean. Anticipation is such a big part of being a wrestling fan, and having ten minutes instead of 90 minute or a week or two to anticipate a first-time match-up like this means WWE gets a lot less out of this than they should have and could have.) [c]

-A clip aired of Bray Wyatt’s promo last week on Smackdown.

(3) BARON CORBIN vs. RANDY ORTON

They locked up mid-ring and Orton quickly applied a side headlock. Corbin shoved him off into the ropes, then shoulder checked him to the mat. Orton leapfrogged and then went for a sudden RKO. Corbin bailed out to the floor for a breather. Orton got cheers when he played to the crowd. Orton got in some sustained offense against Corbin in the ring. Corbin bailed out again. When Orton leaned through the ropes to grab Corbin, Corbin shoved Orton’s head into the ringpost. They cut to a break at 4:00. [c]

Corbin kneed Orton in the gut and then clotheslined Orton to the mat for a two count at 8:00. Orton came back with a power slam. JBL said, “The great ones make it look easy.” Orton showed some fire and played to the crowd. He got some cheers. They brawled at ringside.

[HOUR TWO]

Orton landed the second rope DDT. Corbin was down on his back. He pounded the mat to signal for the RKO. Corbin finally stood up. He shoved Orton off of an RKO attempt and then gave him a deep six slam for a two count. Corbin pounded the mat in frustration. When Corbin charged at Orton at ringside, Orton moved and Corbin hit the ringside steps shoulder-first. Back in the ring, both were slow to get up. Dean Ambrose showed up on a forklift near the stage and called out for Corbin, asking if he was busy. Orton gave Corbin an RKO for the win.

WINNER: Orton in 14:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. Orton seemed energized and engaged more than usual, and Corbin looked like he belonged in there. He was “protected” with that finish, as made sense given that he’s in line for an IC Title match at WrestleMania. Still, Orton is the no. 1 contender and in a main event at WM33, so it wouldn’t have been a total shock if Orton won clean.)

-As Orton’s music played, Ambrose walked to the ring with the Intercontinental Title belt around his waist. He entered the ring and said he’d give him the match he wants for the IC Title at WrestleMania. He gave a vulnerable Corbin a Dirty Deeds.

-They hyped Becky Lynch vs. Carmella.

-They cut to the parking garage where Styles continued to patiently wait for Styles.

(Keller’s Analysis: It would have been more believable of Styles was reading his phone or something. Who just stands around doing nothing anymore?) [c]

-The announcers hyped the WrestleMania line-up. JBL plugged John Cena wrestling against Fandango later.

-Renee interviewed Orton backstage regarding the message Bray gave him last week. Orton said he doesn’t know how to get rid of Bray once and for all. He said when he bathed himself in Sister Abigail’s ashes, that was the last thing he expected from him. The lights began to flicker and Renee dashed away like a cat when the doorbell rings and dogs start barking, but enough about my dwelling. Orton called out, “Bray, where are you at?” Suddenly Orton was surrounded by people in sheep masks. Orton tried to fight them, but they beat him down and then picked him up. Bray walked in as haunted house music played. He waved what looked like a Jim Cornette tennis racket with a red X on it over Orton’s shoulders. He kneeled and said Orton exposed his one flaw. He said Sister Abigail was his flaw, but Orton purging it made him stronger than he could have ever imagined. “Thank you, Randy,” he said. He began to sing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” Orton snarled at him.

(Keller’s Analysis: Still zero talk of the WWE Championship being at stake. Nobody involved seems to care.) [c]

-A Raw commercial hyped that Goldberg and Brock Lesnar will be under the same roof, plus will Seth Rollins show up to sign a contract to face Triple H?

(4) FANDANGO (w/Tyler Breeze) vs. JOHN CENA

Breeze came out dressed like Nikki Bella, including black very tight and small women’s shorts and very big inflated boobs. Phillips plugged that Cena will be on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” tomorrow night. Phillips said the mixed tag match at WrestleMania will prove who is the true It Couple on Smackdown Live. Fandango gave Cena tickets for being a lousy boyfriend, wearing jorts in 2017, and for being a lousy wrestler. Cena smiled through it all. Fandango introduced his “Breezy Bella.” Cena pointed to the stage and out came Nikki Bella. JBL said, “Oh, that’s Nikki Bella!” Cena took Fandango down early and landed a Five Knuckle Shuffle. When Breezella entered, Nikki speared her (sort of). Cena and Nikki then did stereo Attitude Adjustments (sort of). Then they applied stereo STFs for tapouts. Cena kissed Nikki’s head. Cena threw Breezella’s fake breasts at him at ringside.

WINNERS: Cena in 1:00.

-They showed Styles again in the parking garage.

-JBL hyped Becky vs. Carmella. [c]

-The announcers hyped that The Usos and Ambrose would join Renee and Bryan on “Talking Smack.”

(5) BECKY LYNCH vs. CARMELLA (w/James Ellsworth)

Natalya joined the announcers on commentary. Natalya interfered a minute into the match with a clothesline on Carmella. The ref called for the bell.

WINNER: Lynch via DQ in under 1:00.

-Mickie James and Alexa Bliss ran out and joined in a brawl. JBL called it “the greatest night of my life” after Lynch dropkicked Ellsworth after Carmella shoved Ellsworth into her path. Mickie overshot Becky with a spin hook kick, but Becky sold it like she was shot. Bliss then grabbed the Smackdown Women’s Title belt and held it up mid-ring with the other four women down and out.

-They went to the announcers on commentary. [c]

-A soundbite aired with Neville hyping his match against Mustafa Ali on “205 Live” later.

-JBL hyped Harper vs. Wyatt for next week’s Smackdown.

(Keller’s Analysis: Glad to see they’re hyping that a week ahead of time.)

-Another Miz & Maryse version of “Total Bellas” aired called “Total Bulls–.” “Cena” (Miz) told “Nikki” (Maryse) he loves her. There was a cue card guy in the background holding up a card with those words. Miz then stiffly introduced a tour of his home. “Nikki” said they only watch the first Marine because Miz is a better actor than Cena and that makes Cena sad. “Cena” then presented “Nikki” with a “diamond.” It made Nikki very excited. It was a “Diamond… Dallas Page Yoga” DVD set. “Cena” said they have servants who are not shown on camera “because it wouldn’t be relatable.” Then “Cena” presented “Nikki” with a ring. “Nikki” got excited, but it was a toy wrestling ring. Then “Cena” presented their “TV bedroom” where the magic happens, but he admitted that they sleep in different rooms on different floors, but the fake TV bedroom makes their relationship look legitimate to the TV audience. “Cena” scolded “Nikki” for asking him to advance her career while the cameras are rolling. “Cena” then got frustrated when he couldn’t tie his shoes. He said he wishes he had velcro shoes.

-The announcers added that Cena and Nikki will react on Talking Smack.

-Renee approached Styles in the garage. She asked what his intentions are. Before he could answer, he got excited as a limo finally arrived. Out walked Rhyno and Heath Slater. Styles looked puzzled.

-Shane McMahon’s music played and he danced onto the stage. He said he was ready and waiting for Styles.

-They cut to Renee who told Styles that Shane is waiting of him in the ring. [c]

-Shane told Styles he is giving him the opportunity to come to the ring and prove just how tough he is. Shane said Styles could have talked to him man-to-man about whatever issue he had with him. He said if the talk escalated, they could have “thrown down,” but he didn’t do that, either. He said he blind-sided him. He said whatever his issue is with him, it just got worse. The fans chanted “A.J. Styles.” Shane said they were calling for him, so come out. Styles made his way through the back and to the ring.

Styles said he’s going to be a man about this and look him in the eyes and sincerely tell him he’s sorry and shake his hand. Shane jumped Styles when he entered the ring, throwing his barrage of short jabs at Shane. They brawled and it spilled to ringside. As Styles removed stuff from the announce table, Shane recovered and overhead suplexed Styles at ringside. Shane leaped off the top rope onto Styles through the table. JBL talked up Shane’s guts and said he’ll do whatever the can. He asked who else would do that to their own body just to take out their opponent. He said Styles might be in for more than he expects at WrestleMania. Otunga said Styles just realized what he got himself into. Shane looked up at the WrestleMania sign at ringside as the show ended.


JOIN WADE KELLER LIVE RIGHT AFTER SMACKDOWN ENDS FOR THE PWTORCH LIVECAST POST-SMACKDOWN LIVE CALL-IN SHOW!

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UP NEXT – PWTorch Livecast Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET (03-21-17): Smackdown Post-Show w/Wade Keller


NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 3/14: Styles-Shane hype, Miz TV addresses Cena & Nikki, Orton addresses Bray Wyatt

3 Comments on KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 3/21: Styles reacts to Shane challenging him to a WrestleMania match, more hype for WrestleMania 33

  1. That might be the worst wrestling show I have ever seen. How did Cena agree to this? And Shane missed AJ by miles. And those fake punches.

  2. re ” it’s better if you strive to get it right for clarity’s sake” — I quite agree, but I find it ironic that this recommendation appears in a story beneath a headline reading “Shane reacts to Shane challenging him to a WrestleMania match.” Pot; kettle; etc.

  3. The Styles/Shane angle is one that has an unintentional twofold purpose.
    Not only do they get a Wrestlemania match out of it, but down the road when Daniel Bryan leaves WWE to go back to wrestling and WWE is through with Styles, Bryan and Styles can do great business with one another on the indy circuit. Properly promoted (on YouTube perhaps) and with a good undercard, they could draw some serious money.

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