(Almost) Live Reactions to WWE SmackDown Live

On the go home episode of SmackDown Live on 1/24/17, just days before the Royal Rumble, how would the (typically stronger) show fare? Read on to find out.

Opening Segment

The Show kicked off with The Miz in Daniel Bryan‘s office. The heel complained about not having a private dressing room, and asked the most likeable general manager in sports entertainment what he would do to make up for that. Bryan allowed Miz his rematch with Ambrose for the IC Title in a lumberjack match.

Cool, I guess. We’ll see how that ends up later; lumberjack matches can be hit or miss sometimes.

Randy Orton vs Luke Harper

Bray Wyatt made his way to the ring with both his family members in tow, and as soon as the lights came back up, the announcements were going. Wyatt sat in his rocking chair at ringside.

Orton and Harper locked up and Harper overpowered the somewhat smaller man. Harper went to ringside to seek advice from Wyatt, but he stoically refused to acknowledge Harper. Orton hit the draping DDT (or spike DDT, if you prefer), and Harper rolled to the floor. However, he found no respite, as Orton followed and back suplexed Harper onto both the barricade and the announce table. A big boot from Harper had both men on the ground. Bray got up from his chair and tossed both back into the ring to prevent a double count-out. After the break, Harper was in control with a chin lock. As Orton tried to escape, Harper hit a scoop slam and headed to the top rope. Orton superplexed the big man for a two count. They traded blows before Orton hit a powerslam. A michinoku driver by Harper had Orton down for a two count. Both men went for their finishers at the same time, and both missed. Harper landed a superkick for the closest near fall so far. Orton countered an attempt at a discus clothesline with an RKO, picking up the win.

Wyatt shook Orton’s hand and helped Harper up to his feet. They embraced, but Wyatt flattened Harper with a Sister Abigail. Harper was left in the ring as Orton and Wyatt made their way backstage.

Decent match here. Strong storytelling was the highlight, as both competitors (especially Harper) repeatedly looked to Wyatt to seek approval. This angle has been done pretty close to perfection since Orton joined the family, and this was a continuation of that trend.

Mickie James

Mickie James made her way to the ring in order to do an interview with Renee Young, having been exposed as La Luchadora last week. Renee asked James why she’s returned. Rather than answer, James instead elected to list her accolades. She claimed that the real Women’s revolution started in her day… then put Alexa Bliss over, and claimed that Bliss was a big fan of hers. Lynch ran to the ring, and she and James brawled. As James ran for the audience, Bliss joined the brawl and the heels beat on Lynch. A Twisted Bliss brought the segment to a close.

The performance was fine, but the dialog was confusing. James switched multiple times between talking about herself, her era, the women’s revolution, Bliss, then back to herself… The promo felt like it lacked focus and a point, so I’m not sure if I can really call this segment a success.

Battle Royal for a Royal Rumble Spot

No, I don’t really have anything to say about the Carmella/Ellsworth segment. It happened, I have no other words for it. Is that storyline going anywhere… ever?

Baron Corbin sat in on commentary as a bunch of dudes battled it out for a spot in the Royal Rumble. Rhyno attempted to eliminate Heath Slater in the opening moments of the match. Both Vaudevillians went out right away. Konnor, Viktor, and Kurt Hawkins were also there, and then they weren’t. Breezango and Mojo Rawley were left as the last three. Mojo eliminated Tyler Breeze as some miscommunication led to the former NXT champion eliminating his tag team partner Fandango, leaving Rawley the last man standing.

Corbin didn’t really add anything to the commentary, so I’m not certain why he was out there at all. The match itself only lasted a few minutes, but did manage to get one or two interesting moments in there, especially with Slater and Rhyno right at the beginning. Yes, this is the entire thing.

AJ Styles and John Cena Square Off… With a Promo

Styles made his way to the ring with the intention of calling out John Cena. Styles pulled up the poster for the upcoming Royal Rumble PPV, and pointed out that he was hardly on the poster, being relegated waaaay to the back, despite currently holding the most prestigious title in the company. He then requested Cena enter. The Unseen One was happy to oblige. The crowd chanted for a while. Cena opened his mouth, but Styles cut him of immediately. Styles complained that Cena was on the Today Show recently, and referred to him on the show as “A guy from Atlanta”. Styles called him a “sorry excuse for a wrestler”. Cena responded “Dude, you’ve been hot for like, six months. But I’ve held this place down for over a decade”. Cena claimed that he would emerge victorious on Sunday.

These two have had a bunch of promo segments together, and they’ve all been awesome. These two have really good chemistry together, both on the mic and in the ring. Cena went a little overboard when he shouted “Recognize!” right as he dropped the mic, but this was a strong segment regardless. This newest incarnation of their feud has lacked much actually going on with it until tonight, so it was good to see some progression here.

Dolph Ziggler vs Kalisto

Kalisto kicked at the legs of Ziggler, before The Showoff reclaimed the momentum with a neckbreaker. Kalisto jumped off the ropes straight into a mid-air superkick by Ziggler, bringing the match to a close. Ziggler picked up a chair to continue the assault, but was interrupted by Apollo Crews. Ziggler ran off.

An unexpected sudden ending didn’t do any good for Kalisto, but it’s important to make Ziggler come off dangerous in these early days of his new heel persona. But now that we’ve done that, it would be beneficial for all involved to move Ziggler into an actual feud.

Natalya vs Naomi… Naomi vs… Nobody.

Naomi is back, everybody! I’m sure we all noticed… and were eagerly awaiting.

However, when Nataly didn’t enter as her music hit, a cut to backstage revealed that she was engaged in a brawl with Nikki Bella. Naomi called for an opponent, any opponent, and Alexa Bliss entered. Naomi again requested a match, but Bliss refused.

What was this, exactly? Why did Bliss enter to the request of a challenge she had no intention of fulfilling?

Dean Ambrose vs The Miz for the IC Title

The various lumberjacks filed out to the ringside area, them being most of the SDL men’s roster.

Both men tried to launch each other to the lumberjacks at ringside, but not much happened as a result. Ambrose voluntarily rolled outside and struck at some of the lumberjacks. Miz took control for a moment. When Ambrose threw The Miz outside, the entire roster dog piled on him and threw punches, before tossing the heel challenger back inside the ropes. Back from the break, Ambrose looked for a lunatic lariat, but the lumberjacks pulled him out of the ring as he was tied up in the ropes. The heel portion of the roster piled on Ambrose. That and a DDT lead to a two count for The Miz. The Miz mocked GM Daniel Bryan. Ambrose knocked out a bunch of heels at ringside and got a two count with an elbow drop. Ambrose attempted to brawl on the announce table, but the lumberjacks didn’t allow that to happen for very long. The Miz picked up a near fall with a running knee to the head. Sent to the outside, The Miz attempted to escape into the crowd. The lumberjacks pulled him back in, to the arena floor where Ambrose killed the entire roster with an elbow drop. Ambrose nailed a second attempt at the lunatic lariat. As he went for the cover, Baron Corbin broke it up. The rest of the roster entered and brawled, but Corbin tossed everybody out. When the action returned to challenger and champion, Ambrose drilled The Miz with Dirty Deeds to win and retain his title.

This wasn’t the hottest that SmackDown has been lately. With only a single real, non-stipulation match, a few pointless segments left SmackDown feeling rushed and unsatisfying this week. The Wyatt family segment leaves that storyline in a weird transition point heading into the Rumble, the Mickie James promo confused, Ziggler/Kalisto lasted mere seconds, the battle royal didn’t have enough time to be really compelling, and the result was sorta predictable, and I don’t even know what to say about the Naomi segment. The main event… could have been worse? I’m trying to stay positive, but this week hasn’t made that easy on me. The Cena/Styles promo-off was quite good, but on a wrestling show, you ideally want your highlight segment to be… you know, wrestling? Just a thought.

But hey, this weekend has an NXT Takeover show, and The Royal Rumble itself, so let’s all be excited about that, yeah?

Good SmackDown? Bad SmackDown? Did RAW beat SDL this week? Who’s going to win the Rumble? Don’t forget to leave a comment below to let me hear your thoughts, and thanks for reading!

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