(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE SmackDown Live

Welcome to 2008, everybody! John Cena is champ and Randy Orton is the Royal Rumble winner. That probably wasn’t actually the situation in 2008, but that sure feels like a 2008 sentence, right? How would WWE’s secondary show handle their first night after the Royal Rumble? Read on to find out.

Opening Segment

AJ Styles demanded his rematch, having lost his championship to John Cena on Sunday. Shane McMahon was mostly compliant. Styles asked who would be in the Elimination Chamber match in a couple weeks, where the WWE Championship would be on the line. Shane ran through the entrants: Cena, Styles, Bray Wyatt (eek!), Baron Corbin, The Miz, and Dean Ambrose. A match was made for later in the night between Styles and Ambrose.

Cena made his way to the ring to open the show to let us all know that he had now tied Ric Flair’s record as a 16-time World Champion. He apologized to Styles, and said that The Phenomenal One had brought out the best in Cena. As Cena continued on, Wyatt and Randy Orton entered. Wyatt mocked Cena, and reaffirmed that he would be in the Elimination Chamber with Cena in a few weeks time. Orton claimed that if Cena made it out of the chamber with championship intact, Orton would be waiting to take it at WrestleMania. The Wyatt family stalked their way to the ring to do battle with Cena. However, Luke Harper entered and sided with Cena against Wyatt and Orton. McMahon entered, and made a match for right now with Wyatt and Orton against Harper and Cena.

That… was lots of goings on in fifteen minutes. The Elimination chamber match was set, and two matches for tonight were made. SmackDown really knows how to make every minute count, something RAW could take some notes on.

Wyatt Family vs Harper and Cena

Wyatt and Cena started the action, but both men quickly tagged out. Orton and Harper traded hard hitting offense, including Harper hitting a back suplex onto the announce table. Orton tagged in Wyatt. Harper seemed conflicted about attacking his former leader, and tagged in Cena rather than come to blows with Wyatt. Wyatt took control of the match with some very stiff punches. Back from the break, Orton tagged in and drilled Cena with the draping DDT. The future WrestleMania headliner signaled for an RKO, but couldn’t land it as Cena exploded into him with a shoulder tackle. Orton managed to tag out, but Cena couldn’t. Wyatt missed at an attempt at a running senton and Orton was back in, who took control with a powerslam. Orton ate a five knuckle shuffle, but countered an AA attempt into a backbreaker. Harper entered the ring and brawled with Orton and Wyatt. Cena went to attack Wyatt, and Randall Orton hit the RKO off of the distraction.

Good tag match here. Orton pinning Cena (the two men who will headline WrestleMania) was a cool ending, and Harper’s refusal to fight Wyatt was a good bit of continuity and storytelling.

Carmella vs Delilah Dawson

Local talent Dawson was beginning to get the upper hand against Carmella until her new manager Ellsworth interfered and Carmella locked in the Code of Silence for the victory.

Carmella was feuding with Nikki Bella (the longest ever reigning Diva’s champion) like, not that long ago. Now she needs the help of a Ellsworth to beat up a jobber? A storyline is supposed to elevate the people involved, not make them look worse. I’d love to see this go somewhere in a hurry.

Dolph Ziggler vs Kalisto

He’s here to show the world, he’s here to show the world, his new pants say “HEEL” across his ass. Dolph Ziggler went on the offensive right away. Kalisto fought back with a springboard cross-body for a two count. Ziggler took control back with a hangman’s neckbreaker. Ziggler picked up the victory with a Superkick shortly thereafter. After the match, Ziggler went to continue the assault, but Apollo Crews ran to make the save.

Did you guys know that Ziggler can beat up Kalisto? If you didn’t get that message last week, maybe you did this week. Now, I don’t think Kalisto is the greatest worker in the world, but he deserves better than to be repeatedly squashed in matches that don’t even last five minutes. He was U.S Champion at WrestleMania earlier this year, remember that? It seems clear that the real feud here is Crews and Ziggler, so let’s move into that now, and give Kalisto something better to do that get dominated over and over, yeah?

Naomi and Becky Lynch vs Alexa Bliss and Mickie James

This women’s tag match broke in the second hour of the show. James and Bliss started things off. Lynch used her significant size advantage to take early control. Naomi tagged in and hit a sunset flip and a leg drop. However, Bliss got out of the way and took control back. Bliss completely botched on her insult to injury spot, and both competitors tagged out. Lynch took control over the veteran James, obtaining a two count with a Bex-plex. Bliss made the distraction, and James regained some momentum as things went to commercial. Returning, Bliss was in charge of Lynch. Bliss and James took turns inflicting damage on Lynch, including a hurricanrana by James. Eventually, Lynchmade the tag and Naomi cleared house, taking out both the heels. Naomi picked up the win over Bliss with the Split-Legged Moonsault for the second time in three days.

A nice little way to combine both the feuds between these women. The match itself was fine but nothing spectacular. James is still a great worker all these years later, and moving into a feud with Lynch is the right move for her as she returns.

American Alpha’s Open Challenge for the Tag Team Titles

Chad Gable and Jason Jordan complained that it seemed that nobody wanted a tag title shot. They offered one to anybody who wanted one. The Usos were the two to step up. Then, so did The Ascension. Then The Vaudevillains entered. And so did Breezango. Heath Slater and Rhyno wanted some, too. The entire division now in the ring, they all brawled and the show moved to commercial. Back from the break, the brawl was still going on, which was nice. Some referees half-heartedly tried to break it up. Finally, American Alpha and Slater and Rhyno were the only teams left standing. The segment closed.

Nothing got accomplished here, but this was fun. I love the idea of them just being oblivious to the fact that the whole division wants a piece of them. However, they haven’t really been present as champs yet, so WWE should look to find them some challengers and move them into a story quickly.

AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose

The Miz joined the commentary team for this main event, meaning the table held five people. Wonderful. Let’s go all in on this, huh? How about 1,140 commentators next week? One for each minute of the day. Go big or go home, WWE.

Dean Ambrose used some smooth technical grappling to control the early goings of this match. Ambrose locked in a Texas Cloverleaf and a Beast Bite. However, AJ took control as the bout moved outside the ropes. Ambrose stole the momentum back with a clothesline, sending Styles to the outside. As Ambrose went to the top rope, Baron Corbin entered and marched to the ring, just as the show went to commercial. When we came back, Corbin was on the commentary team. Six commentators, guys, This is ridiculous. Styles took control with a backbreaker and a forearm drop. The two competitors traded blows, but Ambrose came out on top with a neckbreaker, and followed it up with a big clothesline. Ambrose went for a superplex, but was unsucesful. Styles was sent crashing to the arena floor and Amrbose went for a tope suicida. Fortunately for Styles, he blocked it. The two traded attempts at their various big moves, leaving both men exhausted. Styles hit a pele kick, and Ambrose countered with a rebound lariat. Ambrose sent Styles to the outside, and dropped an elbow from the top turnbuckle to Styles, who was stood beside the ring. Miz’s prodding got to Corbin at ringside and they brawled, distracting the referee. Ambrose knocked them both down. When he returned to the ring, Styles nailed the Styles Clash and won the match. The Miz took to the ring and hit the Skull Crushing Finale to a barely conscious Ambrose. Corbin delivered End of Days to both The Miz and Ambrose.

This match wasn’t doing much for me at first, but I was really into it by the end. Their chain of counters works so well that it never gets old, no matter how many matches they have. The Miz was hilarious on commentary, too. That’s a role he could easily fill more often. This was a good way to build hype to the Elimination Chamber match, featuring four of the six competitors in various capacities. All in all, this was a great way to close out the show.

And that just about wraps it up for me this week. Good SmackDown? Bad SmackDown? Hyped as I am for an Elimination Chamber match in two weeks? Sound off in the comments below, and thank you for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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