By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Detroit, Michigan at Joe Louis Arena
The show opened with AJ Styles making his ring entrance. He was followed by James Ellsworth. The ring announcer gave full in ring announcements, and the ref held up the Championship before the bell.
1. AJ Styles vs. James Ellsworth for the WWE Championship: The crowd chanted for Styles while they generally ignored Ellsworth. Styles threw Ellsworth into the corner and taunted the crowd. Ellsworth went for a surprise Superkick when AJ had his back turned, but he caught it and got leveled by a spinning backfist. Styles then covered Ellsworth for the win.
AJ Styles defeated James Ellsworth in 1:11.
On the outside, Styles went to slam Ellsworth on the announce table, but he hit the corner awkwardly and then fell to the floor in an awkward looking spot. He then dropped him on the announce table and threw him into the steel ring supports after exposing them from underneath the apron. Styles wasn’t done, as he hit a slingshot into the supports. He started to walk to the back, but came back to hit a snap suplex into the barricade outside the ring.
He grabbed a microphone and said that he was sorry not sorry that the crowd had to see that. He said he was ready to move onto 2017. He doesn’t even need to ask for anything from Santa, because he has it all including the WWE Championship. Dolph Ziggler interrupted and reminded everyone that he’s next in line. Styles told him the only thing he’s good at is losing. He then said he had forgot about him, because next week would be a cakewalk. Ziggler said he put his career on the line for one last shot at the Intercontinental Championship, and came out on top, so what does he think he’ll do for the WWE Championship.
Baron Corbin then entered and told Ziggler it should be him and not Ziggler wrestling for the Championship next week. Ziggler said he earned his opportunity by doing what he does best in the ring, while Corbin took the week off to walk black carpets in New York. Corbin said he didn’t earn anything, because all he ever does is lose. He steals opportunities and wastes them. He then sucker punched Ziggler and hit End of Days to close the segment. The crowd chanted “one more time”. Miz vs. Apollo Crews for the Intercontinental Championship was hyped for next…[c]
My Take: I guess WWE got tired of Ellsworth just as fast as they fell in love with him. I can’t say I even have much to argue with, since he had overstayed his welcome in a big way. Corbin’s got a long way to go on the mic, but he wasn’t terrible here. He just isn’t ready to carry a main event program. The crowd is really ready for something new from Ziggler, as they were cheering him getting beat up.
Backstage, The Miz demanded a match with Corbin from Daniel Bryan. If exchange for the match, Bryan forced Ziggler to put up his title shot. He accepted, because he’s a moron. The Miz made his entrance while footage was shown of Apollo Crews and Gabriel Iglesias embarrassing him last week at Tribute to the Troops.
2. The Miz vs. Apollo Crews: Crews started out with quick pins for two counts. He then hit an Asai Moonsault from the apron to the floor that had Miz reeling. He then hit a dropkick in the ring, which caused Miz to roll to the outside and regroup with Maryse….[c]
Crews hit a couple of kicks and a jumping clothesline to take Miz down. He then hit an Angle Slam and covered for a near fall. Crews then attempted to hit a corner clothesline, but Miz got out of the way. Maryse got involved, but the ref saw it and sent her to the back. Crews rolled up Miz and got another near fall. He then caught The Miz mid air and turned it into a German Suplex for a near fall of his own. Miz poked Crews in the eye and hit a Skull Crushing Finale for the win.
The Miz defeated Apollo Crews at 9:32.
Renee Young was in the ring and asked the Miz about his obsession with Dean Ambrose last week during their main event match. Miz turned it around and asked her about her obsession, since she’s the one sleeping with him. Renee collected herself briefly before slapping the Miz across the face. The announce team said Miz was over the line, and moved on quickly to talking about Zack Ryder’s injury. They announced a four corners match between The Usos, American Alpha, Slater & Rhyno, and Orton & Wyatt. Natalya made her entrance in the ring…[c]
My Take: Please don’t let this be the start of Renee Young being a part of regular storylines. It will just make her position as a credible broadcaster eventually intolerable.
A video promo for John Cena’s return was shown. Natalya asked Nikki Bella to come out, and said she was tired of the rumors. Nikki made her entrance, followed by Carmella.
Carmella said not to mind her, she was just there to see how Nattie weaseled her way out of this one. Carmella said that Nattie told her that the only reason that the Bella’s were in WWE was that nobody cared about them when they tried to make it on their own. She said she also told her that she was tired of Nikki getting all the spotlight after coming back from her injury. Carmella called Nattie a liar, and told Nikki that if she couldn’t see that then maybe some of the silicone was going to her head. Nikki asked her if it was true, and Nattie said it was something she said in private, and called Carmella a Staten Island Snitch. Nattie chased Carmella up the ramp and tossed her into a pile of gift boxes near the tron. Carmella then ran away.
She then had a microphone and called Nikki a bitch. She said that she never liked her, and that she and her sisters only got their opportunities because they were beautiful. She claimed to be wrestling royalty, and said Nikki was not. Nattie claimed Nikki had no charisma, and that her cat had more charisma than her. She called her a bitch a second time for some reason, and then screwed up a line and said Nikki was beautiful on the inside, but she was a nothing and that John would never marry her.
My Take: Whomever put Nattie in a position to remember those lines and deliver that promo should have seen that trainwreck coming. Nattie was brutal. Carmella did a much better job earlier in the segment, and the reveal that Nattie was a liar and the attacker garnered exactly zero heat. This was the worst possible scenario for this feud.
Backstage, Alexa Bliss walked up to Daniel Bryan limping, and said that she hopes the punishment is severe. Bryan said that the punishment he came up with is that she will face Becky Lynch for the Smackdown women’s championship next week. He then said he booked her in a match later tonight, and if she didn’t compete in that match, next week wouldn’t be a problem, because she wouldn’t be the WWE Women’s Champion anymore.
Dean Ambrose made his entrance in the ring, followed by The Wyatt Family. Luke Harper would be competing.
3. Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose: Ambrose hit a dropkick, but it had little effect. They struggled for an advantage until Harper used a catapult to choke Ambrose on the second rope. Ambrose bailed to the outside to recover…[c]
Both men fought on the turnbuckle, until Ambrose knocked Harper back to the ring. Ambrose jumped after him, but Harper got out of the way and hit a spinning side slam. He followed up with a pendulum backbreaker, and then an Argentine rack. Ambrose ducked a clothesline and hit one of his own. Harper recovered and grabbed Ambrose and sent him snake eyes styles into the second turnbuckle like a dart. He then hit a kick that sent Ambrose to the outside. Ambrose climbed the apron and jumped at Harper, but collided with Orton and Wyatt instead.
In the ring, Harper hit a sitout powerbomb for a near fall. After Ambrose got to his feet, we saw a series of reversals that led to a La Magistral Cradle form Ambrose, who got the clean pin.
Dean Ambrose defeated Luke Harper at 11:33.
After the match, the Wyatt Family beat down Ambrose and hit a Sister Abigail into RKO combo. They the posed over him and told us all to follow the buzzards. The lights went dim and when they came back up, Ambrose was getting his bearings in the ring. The Miz then walked down to pick apart the bones. He hit a Skull Crushing Finale mid ring and then posed over the fallen Ambrose as well.
The main event was plugged for later, and Alexa Bliss was shown to be up next…[c]
My Take: So I guess Harper is back to being a jobber to the stars. Too bad. The program between Ambrose and The Miz has the potential to be really good or really obnoxious, depending on the road they go down. If we see a clumsy Maryse and Renee Young brawl, I will tune right out.
Alexa Bliss made her entrance. She was wrestling a masked wrestler who wore a ridiculous red and blue outfit, so it’s 100% Becky Lynch.
4. Alexa Bliss vs. La Luchadora: The masked wrestler worked an exaggerated lucha style and was animated similar to Los Conquistadores of yore. We saw her apply a body scissors and then hit a front kick. Bliss hit some strikes and took over, and hit double knees while the Luchadora was propped on the second rope. Bliss tossed her into the corner, where she climbed the ropes and rolled into a cross armbreaker. She turned it over into the Disarmer, and got the tapout victory.
La Luchadora defeated Alexa Bliss at 3:56
She then ran around at ringside and celebrated with fans, and then finally took off the mask to reveal it was Becky Lynch the entire time. Who could have seen this coming? Bliss recoiled angrily up the ramp with her championship. Backstage, Ryan Phillippe was shown backstage and asked about Randy Orton. Mojo Rawley walked up and said that Orton’s a bit of a different dude these days, so that not be a good idea. Curt Hawkins appeared out of nowhere and got in Rawley’s face, and mocked him regarding Ryder’s injury and told him he’d never be a Smackdown Tag Team Champion. Mojo challenged him to a match, which Hawkins said he would enter with “Cruel Intentions” whilst staring directly at Phillippe. Ryan told him that it was a “good one” and rolled his eyes and Hawkins walked away.
My Take: I got a kick out of Becky Lynch’s Luchadora gag, but Bliss looks a bit silly for not figuring it out sooner, given that you could hear on TV that it sounded exactly like Lynch. She was also wearing blue jumper with red underwear, and a purple mask that looked like someone cut holes out of an old pair of Randy Savages trunks. Either way, it was fun while it lasted.
5. Curt Hawkins vs. Mojo Rawley: Hawkins bailed to the floor and Rawley gave chase, falling into a trap. Mojo shrugged off his offense and hit a pounce, but Hawkins recovered and hit a knee lift. During the match, Ryan Phillippe was in the announce booth plugging his show Shooter. Mojo hit a series of clotheslines and a splash in the corner, followed by another pounce and a running haymaker punch for the win.
Mojo Rawley defeated Curt Hawkins at 3:40.
Phillippe was called in the ring after the match to celebrate. He was a good sport, but the crowd didn’t really react in a big way. The main event is next…[c]
My Take: Ryan Phillippe seems like a pretty nice guy, but he’s way too level headed to be on a WWE show. He seemed out of place in comparison to the insane high octane personalities that permeate the show.
Backstage, James Ellsworth was asked for comment about his match with AJ Styles. He just grunted in pain in an over the top way. Carmella walked up and offered to take care of him, and shooed away Dasha Fuentes. She was being excessively kind to him for some reason. Natalya, Becky Lynch, and Baron Corbin were plugged for Talking Smack. Did they just give away the main event?
Dolph Ziggler made his entrance, followed by Baron Corbin. AJ Styles entered to join on commentary.
6. Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin: Ziggler hit a dropkick early and Corbin rolled to the outside to buy himself some time. He took control when he got back into the ring with knee lifts, and then bounces Ziggler face first off the tope rope. Corbin took Ziggler to the outside and then kneed him in the ribs right in front of AJ Styles. He then tossed him back into the ring and covered for a two count. Corbin tossed Ziggler sternum first into the turnbuckle, and covered for another two count.
Corbin hit a nasty clothesline, but Ziggler ducked a second one and fired back with one of his own. Ziggler went for a corner splash, but Corbin caught him and dropped him throat first on the tope rope. Corbin tossed Ziggler into the corner shoulder first, and then followed up with a running forearm on the floor that smashed Ziggler’s head into the post…[c]
Ziggler avoided a charging Corbin and hit a fameasser for a near fall. They then brawled back and forth a bit, with Corbin hitting a wicked clothesline for a near fall of his own. After some more back and forth, Ziggler surprised Corbin with a Zig Zag for another near fall of his own. They traded blows on the top turnbuckle, until Corbin knocked him down and followed up with a deep six for a near fall. They spilled to the outside once again, and sent Ziggler into the barricade near the timekeeper’s table, and again across the ring. He then followed up with a toss into AJ Styles. They were both counted out soon after.
The match ended in a double count out.
AJ had a enough of that shit and worked them both over with a chair until Daniel Bryan came out. He added Baron Corbin to the match for next week to make it a Triple Threat Match. Styles sold frustration as the show went off the air.
My Take: A decent match to close the show, but one we’ve seen a lot before so it felt a lot like a rerun. I like the idea of a Triple Threat next week. I would assume Styles puts on another show and they find a way to segue back into Styles vs. Cena, which is the best program the show has to offer heading into the Royal Rumble.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ODB discussing the fire that destroyed her food truck, the fundraising drive to help her buy a new truck, her appearance on the latest Impact Wrestling television show, Triple H telling her to go to TNA, and much more...