(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE SmackDown Live

Go Home show! On the last edition of WWE SmackDown Live before Elimination Chamber, how would the show be handled? Would the rest of the card fill out? Read on to find out.

Opening Segment

In his hometown of Seattle, Washington, SDL General Manager Daniel Bryan opened the show by walking out to the ring. As he was getting going, The Miz interrupted. The Miz mocked his on-screen boss, and the injuries that forced Bryan into early retirement. The crowd were chanted for Bryan, which upset The Miz. Baron Corbin prowled his way to the ring. Miz proposed an alliance between the two at the Elimination Chamber, but Corbin was less than enthusiastic about the idea. As tension in the ring escalated, IC Champ Dean Ambrose entered. Ambrose mocked his fellow competitors, and warned them about the dangers of the Elimination Chamber match on Sunday. AJ Styles walked out, and pointed out that he held victories over all the other wrestlers currently in the ring. The competitors began yelling at one another, and Bryan silenced them all. He began a Fatal Four Way match to open the show.

Fun opening segment. The Miz, specifically, was stellar. He’s able to rile up and toy with the crowd like few others on the roster at the moment. And it was a nice touch to leave Bray Wyatt out of these proceedings, to. His character wouldn’t much fit into segments like this.

Fatal Four Way Match

The Miz immediately again tried to ally with Corbin, who was still unconvinced. Ambrose was able to isolate his opponents to control the early goings of the match. Corbin was able to overpower the other, smaller men for a moment. The Miz used his Daniel-Bryan-esque kicks on both Ambrose and Styles, which kicked off a long sequence of all three men trading roll-up attempts as the show headed to commercial. Back from the break, a Tower of Doom spot was in progress. Corbin was at the bottom of the double-suplex/double powerbomb. Corbin destroyed Miz with a Deep Six. Styles used his quick offense to clear Corbin from the ring. Ambrose was able to fight off all three men for a time. Styles hit a Phenemonal Forearm on Miz, but was unable to capitalize. Amid the confusion, Corbin nailed Styles with the End Of Days to pick up the win.

Great match. Not the result I expected, either. At the Rumble, it took one Super AA and three regular AA’s to put Styles away. However, here, one End of Days ended the match, which is either really cool or really awful, depending on how you feel about Corbin, Styles and John Cena. I hope the championship match on Sunday gets the entirety of an hour, because if this is what four of these guys in a match together looks like, all six of them is going to be nuts.

Some More Matches Are Made For Sunday

Luke Harper stood in a dark room with some flickering lightbulbs. He made clear his intentions of coming after Randy Orton at the Elimination Chamber PPV.

Natalya and Nikki Bella shared an argument over Skype, which went about as well as you’d expect between the two rivals.

Harper and Orton can put on a good, hard-hitting match, and there’s plenty of story to build on there. So, I’m cool with that. The Bella/Natalya segment was fine enough for what it was. Neither are really first-rate talkers, but Natalya especially came off particularly insufferable.

Apollo Crews vs Dolph Ziggler

Crews used his powerful and fast offense to take the early advantage. Ziggler bounced back with a DDT and signaled for a Superkick. Crews avoided the kick, and rolled up Ziggler for the win. After the match, Ziggler jumped Crews, attacking him with a chair. Kalisto ran out to make the save for Crews. However, Ziggler saw him coming, and attacked both men with the chair. Backstage, Bryan put Ziggler in a handicap match with Crews and Kalisto for Sunday.

So, what was the purpose of having Crews win the match? He didn’t gain any momentum from it, because of the post-match beating. Why not just have Ziggler continue his recent streak? I don’t get it.

Double Contract Signing

Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, and Mickie James all signed contracts for matches against one another for Sunday. James talked up her innovating contributions to WWE’s women’s division during her initial stint in the company seven plus years ago. Becky responded that whereas James quit when the going got tough, Becky would persevere. Bliss made sure we all knew that she was the champion. Naomi, in turn, reminded us all that she is the number one contender to Bliss. The faces and heels attacked their respective opponents, with Lynch and Naomi standing tall at the end.

As far as contract singings go, this was… fine? Naomi probably deserved to be a bigger focus of this segment, as the number one contender going into a title match after returning from a layoff. But it was fine. The dialog was written well enough for all involved, and this didn’t outstay it’s welcome.

12 Man Tag Match

Right before the match, it’s announced that a tag team turmoil match will take place for the championship belts on Sunday.

Aiden English began the match against Chad Gable. English was able to control the former Olympic wrestler in the early goings. Gable made the tag to Jason Jordan, and the two cleared house together. Breezango tagged themselves in as the show went to commercial break. Returning, The Usos were beating on Heath Slater. Viktor tagged himself in and continued to attack Slater. The heels kept tagging themselves in, and couldn’t decide who would do the fighting. During the confusion, Slater tagged in Rhyno. Rhyno hit a big spinebuster before the obligatory big brawl broke out. When all was said and done, Rhyno was left with The Ascension. It looked like Rhyno was well on his way to victory, but the numbers game won out in the end, and Viktor picked up the win with a knee strike from the top rope.

The match was just like any big 12 person tag match, it’s the result that made it special. I’m trying really hard, but I literally cannot remember the last time The Ascension won a televised match. Do you guys remember that they’re still the longest ever reigning NXT tag champs? I’m glad they picked up the win; it was surprising and they ought to win more than once or twice per year.

John Cena vs Randy Orton

In the newest incarnation of WWE’s favorite all-time feud, Randy and John faced each other one-on-one for the first time since 2014. I couldn’t believe that stat either. Wyatt sat at ringside.

The two got off to a slow start, both being tentative and cautious to open the match. Randy took control with his patented stomps and slowed the pace of the match even further. Orton sent Cena crashing into the steel steps as the show cut to commercial. Back in the match, Orton countered an attempt at the Five Knuckle Shuffle. In turn, Cena countered the draping DDT, sending the Viper crashing to the floor outside the ring. When Cena followed him outside, Orton back suplexed the champion onto the announce table. Back in the ring, they traded blows and Cena was able to land the five knuckle shuffle and an AA. Orton kicked out, which is less and less surprising with that move. Orton jumped right back up, in fact, and drilled Cena with a draping DDT from the top rope. Orton landed an RKO, and Cena was out at two. Ref bump. Cena locks in the STF and Orton tapped, but there was no referee to see it. Wyatt jumped in the ring and with Orton, beat down Cena viciously. Wyatt hit Cena with Sister Abigail, which sent the champ rolling out of the ring. Harper ran down from the back and cleared Wyatt from the ring with his Discus Clothesline. During the chaos, Cena landed another Attitude Adjustment on Orton just as the referee was climbing back into the ring for the three count and the victory.

Once in a while, this kind of thing is fun. Overbooked as all getout, certainly, but it made for an effective closer to the show before a PPV. It was a good match, even though we’ve all seen these two wrestle 700 times before. It really makes me wonder if this is going to be the WrestleMania main event if they’re willing to throw it on TV two months before that event. Anyhow, I’m thoroughly pumped for Elimination Chamber on Sunday.

And that wraps it up for SmackDown this week. Good episode? Bad episode? Which show did it for you more? Psyched for Elimination Chamber? As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

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