1/3 Barnett’s WWE Smackdown Live TV Review: AJ Styles and John Cena contract signing for the Royal Rumble, The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship

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By Jake Barnett

WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Jacksonville, Florida at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena

Miz’s music hit to open the show and he headed to the ring with Maryse. Footage was shown of Miz’s lewd comment towards Renee Young about Dean Ambrose, and the fallout from last week’s show where Ambrose assaulted The Miz backstage. He soaked in some boos, and then told the crowd they were looking at the it couple, the ratings spike, and the holder of the most prestigious title in all of WWE. He also said he was married to the most beautiful woman in the world.

He then said in the new year, he had decided to be more forgiving. He then said he was owed an apology, and demanded that Renee Young come out and give him one. When she didn’t show, he accused her of unethically slapping him in their interview, and setting him up for an attack by Dean Ambrose last week. Miz then complained about Dean Ambrose having an Intercontinental Championship shot tonight, and attributed that to Renee Young having a cozy relationship with Daniel Bryan. He then asked how Renee Young can sleep at night, knowing she sacrificed her integrity for dirty deeds with Dean Ambrose.

Dean meant to go right after Miz, but Maryse stood in his way. He made a rude gesture at Miz, and she slapped him in return. He paused to reflect for a moment, and Miz left instead of having a confrontation. Ambrose grabbed the mic and said the hard part of his night is over, as Maryse hits way harder than he does. They had a brief staredown as Miz finished walking to the back. The announce team said AJ and Cena would have a Royal Rumble contract signing, and Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler would have match next…[c]

My Take: This was a nice setup for the Intercontinental Championship match. I like they that continue to have Miz go after highly popular acts with various conspiracy theories. He makes them sound just plausible enough that it would realistically get under someone’s skin. I can’t say I’m excited about another Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin match, though. I wonder if they could just replay and old one and no one would really notice.

Baron Corbin made his entrance, followed by Dolph Ziggler.

1. Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin: They went back and forth with some strikes and reversals early, and Corbin took over after tossing aside a Ziggler dropkick attempt. He used a high knee and other strikes to keep Ziggler on the ground. Dolph got to his feet, but was quickly put down with a back elbow. Corbin covered for a two count. Ziggler rolled out to the apron, and was then knocked to the floor by Corbin. After getting back in the ring, Corbin hit some elbows, and then tried to do use his speed to slide out to the floor and hit a sneak attack on Ziggler, but was met with a dropkick instead…[c]

Corbin hit a huge lariat and then applied a half nelson rear chinlock. Ziggler fought to his feet and took a running jump at Corbin, but got caught. Corbin tossed him into the corner, but he landed on the second rope and held on. He then springboarded directly into a Corbin haymaker for a near fall. Ziggler recovered and looked for a Fameasser, but Corbin avoided it and hit another lariat for a near fall. Both men were slow to get to their feet, and Corbin shoved Ziggler into the corner.

He then charged in, but Ziggler moved and he ate the post instead. Ziggler followed up with a fameasser for a near fall. He then went for a DDT, but Corbin tossed him away. Ziggler then ducked a lariat and hit the ZigZag for another close near fall. Ziggler threw some punches in the corner, but was pulled away by the ref. Corbin them caught him coming back in and hit End of Days for the win.

Baron Corbin defeated Dolph Ziggler at 16:43.

After the match, Corbin grabbed a chair and headed back to the ring. He was going to blast Ziggler when Kalisto ran out for the save. He ran of Corbin, but after a moment Ziggler superkicked him. Ziggler screamed at him that he never needed anyone, and then left while the ref checked on Kalisto. The Intercontinental Championship match was plugged for later…[c]

My Take: Well, the match was a rerun as predicted. I liked the post match frustration shown by Ziggler, and I hope this is the start of a heel turn. His character work as a face has been awful for a long time, and it’s about time he got a chance to try something else.

Backstage, James Ellsworth walked up to Carmella. He fumbled over his words and then gave her his shirt for some reason. She pretended to be flattered, and then asked him to escort her to the ring for completely wholesome reasons I’m sure. Elsewhere, Ziggler tore up the locker room in frustration as Rhyno, Mojo Rawley, and Apollo Crews looked on. Crews told him that what he did to Kalisto was uncalled for, and Ziggler gave him a headbutt and threw some punches. They were then pulled apart. We then got some video footage of Alexa Bliss retaining her Championship last week with an assist from the new La Luchadora.

Becky Lynch made her entrance in the arena. She would face La Luchadora next…[c]

My Take: Ziggler working with the likes of Crews and Kalisto should get his heel run off to a good start in the ring at least.

2. Becky Lynch vs. La Luchadora: Lynch hit some forearms to the back and a judo toss. She then hit some mounted punches in the center of the ring, and then an Exploder Suplex. Becky hit some stomps in the corner and then the ref pulled her off. La Luchadora then dove under the ring, and a different La Luchadora emerged on the other side of the ring. The new La Luchadora missed an attempt at Twisted Bliss, and was submitted quickly afterward by a Disarmer.

Becky Lynch defeated La Luchadora 2 at 4:11

After the match, Becky pulled the mask off of Alexa Bliss, and the other woman re-entered the ring. They beat down Becky, and then Alexa hit her with a DDT. The Cena and Styles contract signing is next…[c]

My Take: Twin Magic is apparently alive and well, even if you’re quite a bit shorter and thinner than you were just a moment ago. It’s a silly gimmick that they will probably struggle to drag out, but it’s going to have to wait until after they start Becky on the path to her WrestleMania program. I have a feeling whoever ends up being under the mask will end up being her opponent.

Daniel Bryan made his entrance to a great reaction. He welcomed everyone to the contract signing, and brought out John Cena first, followed by AJ Styles. AJ grabbed a microphone and had a big smile on his face. He asked Daniel Bryan why they were doing this. He said he and Bryan were cut from the same cloth. They worked hard for years in high school gyms in front of nobody. Cena wasn’t made that way. He showed up after being gone for four months filming some TV show, and then he comes back and gets a title shot. It didn’t make any sense.

Bryan said that he understands how AJ feels, but Smackdown on a roll and they beat Raw for the first time ever. He said they have to keep the momentum going, and this is the match fans deserve and want to see. Bryan then said AJ shouldn’t have anything to worry about, since he’s already beaten Cena three times.

Bryan left and AJ told Cena that he’s lucky, because he just got a title shot fromm his Brother in Law. His said what a difference a year makes. Last year Cena said he needed a win otherwise he didn’t belong in the WWE and he was just an overrated indie guy. Now, a year later, AJ was the WWE champion, and Cena needed a win to prove he belonged.

Styles then said Smackdown won in the rating with him as Champion, and they didn’t need Cena anymore. Cena tried to speak about respecting Styles, but AJ shut him down. He said everyone heard him in Talking Smack apologizing to the Rock. He was right about the Rock. He lost his passion, and he left the WWE high and dry, and now that’s John Cena. Styles admitted Cena has been good for WWE, but pointed out that his sentence included has been for a reason. He told Cena that he’ll never be better than The Rock in Hollywood, and he’ll never be as good as AJ Styles in the ring.

Cena grabbed the mic for a rebuttal. He said it takes a man to admit he was wrong and apologize. He then told Styles that he just made the biggest mistake of his life. Cena said that he lost all respect he had for Styles, and called him a little bitch, along with all the other chumps who think he left. He said he does have to get a win to prove he still belong, and to shut up everyone who says he’s gone Hollywood. Cena then went into preacher mode and told Styles he didn’t have any passion. He said he got injured and people said he’d be out a year, and he was back in four months. Styles goes where they tell him to go, and Cena goes til they tell him to stop.

Cena went on about how Styles can bring his family, friends, and A-Game to the Royal Rumble, and he’ll still kick his ass and take his Championship. He said he’s John Cena, and to recognize. Cena signed the papers, and Baron Corbin’s music hit. He told Cena and Styles that he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on his first night in the company, so he was going to enter the Royal Rumble and win. He said he didn’t care who was going to win at the Royal Rumble, he would see them at WrestleMania.

Cena got in his face and told him he knew Styles wouldn’t fight him, but he would always pick a fight with the toughest guy in the room. Corbin told him if he talked to him like that again, he’d knock his teeth down his throat. Cena prepared to Brawl, but Styles hit him with an Enziguri from behind and he crumpled. Corbin stood over him and said that Styles was right about him.

Backstage, Maryse approached Renee Young, and slapped her across the face. She then told her not to touch her husband again.

My Take: A noteworthy and very good segment. Styles was excellent on the microphone, and Cena was much better than last week with his rebuttal. Corbin got a nice rub from his appearance as well. Cena vs. Styles is very much the best Smackdown has to offer, and this was a worthy kickoff to what should be a fun build towards the Rumble.

Carmella was already in the ring, along with Aliyah from NXT as her opponent. James Ellsworth was at ringside.

3. Carmella vs. Aliyah: Carmella controlled the action early with strikes, and hit a clothesline for a two count. She then hit a Bronco Buster in the corner, and got a two count. She then applied a rear chinlock, but Aliyah fought to her feet and hit a jawbreaker. She hit a lariat and then a bridging Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. She then hit a shoulder block in the corner, and climbed to the second rope. Ellsworth knocked her down, and then Carmella hit a superkick. Carmella applied the Code of Silence for the win.

Carmella defeated Aliyah at 2:55.

American Alpha are up next…[c]

My Take: Ellsworth getting placed with Carmella is a bit weird. I thought it would be for a bit to get back at Nikki Bella, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It’s hard to tell whether it will be good or bad yet, but it’s not what I expected.

Breezango handed out tickets at ringside, and then American Alpha made their entrance.

4. American Alpha vs. Breezango: Alpha hit Grand Amplitude pretty much immediately on Tyler Breeze and got the win.

American Alpha defeated Breezango at 0:20.

After the match, Bray Wyatt told Alpha that they might think they have torn apart the bonds of their family, but next week they would come to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. Randy Orton said “Run”, and Harper gave him a dirty look like he stole his gimmick. Nikki Bella will respond to Natalya next…[c]

My Take: Well, that was dominant. The most notable thing in the Wyatt promo was at the end when Orton stole Harper’s thunder. They seem to be heading for an implosion just in time for WrestleMania.

Nikki and Natalya stood in the ring. Nikki said she knows Natalya despises her, but she just can’t summon the same for her. She thinks this is about her looks, or some spin off show, or the man she’s with, but it’s not. It’s about Natalya being the worst of the Hart Family. When people hear her music, and see her put on the Sharpshooter, they think of the members of the Hart Family that made them famous. She claimed Natalya was a nothing Hart, and that’s why she was jealous. Natalya put up a tweet that Bret Hart had sent to Natalya, and then questioned what Nikki had to do in order to make her Uncle say that.

She then said that she was the best of the Hart family, and better than Bret ever was. She claimed that Nikki has lived on her sex appeal her entire career, but in the end that would all fade. Once her beauty was gone, John Cena would leave and her career would be gone, leaving her to die alone. It finally got to Nikki, and she decked Natalya with a big forearm. She then left up the ramp.

Backstage, Dasha asked Dean Ambrose if he was ready for his match given what happened with Renee Young. He said he would take away the thing that’s most dear to Miz. It wasn’t his wife, it was his Intercontinental Championship. He then made his entrance in the arena…[c]

My Take: A better verbal performance from Natalya and Nikki than we saw previously. They are retreading a lot of the same ground over and over, so they need to get a match on the books to further this feud. Natalya will eventually run out of people to accuse Nikki of sleeping with to get ahead in life.

After the break, Nikki will get a one on one shot at Natalya. Well, I guess I got my wish. The Wyatt’s would also face American Alpha, as well as Baron Corbin taking on John Cena. The Miz then made his ring entrance. We got full introductions for the main event.

5. Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz: Ambrose bum rushed The Miz, who quickly escaped to the outside and ran away. Ambrose caught up with Miz back in the ring and chopped away at him. Miz rolled to the outside again to regroup, and played a game of keep away from Ambrose. Ambrose finally caught up with him on the outside and tossed him into the ring steps and then into the timekeepers area.

Ambrose crotched Miz on the barricade, and then Ambrose tossed him into the ring for a two count. Miz quickly escaped to the outside, where Ambrose followed and tossed him over the announce table. Maryse got in Ambrose’s face, and that gave Miz enough time to hit a kick on Ambrose. He then tossed him into the ring steps…[c]

Ambrose sent Miz out to the floor into the ring steps. He then hit a splash from the top to the floor. Ambrose tossed Miz back into the ring and hit a series of lariats. He then went for a bulldog, but shoved off. Miz then followed up with a seated kick, but Ambrose dodged and rolled away. Miz caught Ambrose’s leg running into the corner, and attempted to hyperextend his knee. He continued to attack the knee while Ambrose was grounded, but it didn’t last long.

Ambrose climbed back up top, but Miz met him with a left hand and climbed up there with him. He went for a superplex, but Ambrose fought him off and got back in position. Maryse got on the apron for another distraction, and Ambrose jumped directly into a Skull Crushing Finale for a very close near fall. Miz got to his feet and hit some yes kicks to mock Daniel Bryan. Miz missed his measured kick, and Ambrose hit a lunatic lariat to put both men down. Ambrose got to his feet first, and clotheslines Miz to the floor. He then hit a suicide dive, and Maryse slapped him in the face.

The ref went to DQ Miz, but Ambrose begged him to send away Maryse instead, and he complied. Miz blasted him from behind with the Intercontinental Championship, and covered for another close near fall. Miz attempted another Skull Crushing Finale, but Ambrose reversed into Dirty Deeds for the win.

Dean Ambrose defeated The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship at 15:33.

After the match, Ambrose celebrated as replays of the finish aired.

My Take: I have a feeling we’re going to see some skullduggery regarding the finish next week. The ref being convinced to send away Maryse rather than DQ Miz could be a way to force Ambrose to hand the title back over. It was an entertaining match, though, with multiple times they could have pulled the rug out from Ambrose with heel tactics, but he persevered. This was a nicely paced episode of Smackdown overall, without any segments that really overstayed their welcome. WWE put out two very watchable episodes of television this week. Let’s hope the trend continues.

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Readers Comments (2)

  1. Yes, Corbin vs. Ziggler is a tired rematch, but they both went off and did other things recently before coming back to this, not to mention they both had a great performance in last week’s triple threat. At least it’s not a combination of Owens/Jericho/Rollins/Reigns every freaking week like one Raw.

  2. After Maryse got the boot trying for (and failing to get) the DQ, it made no sense for Miz to paste Ambrose with the belt behind the ref’s back. Why didn’t he do it in full view of the ref? That would have sealed the DQ. So there’s your defense against the skullduggery angle.

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