By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Seattle, Washington at KeyArena
[Q1] A video package spotlighted Randy Orton and John Cena. It focussed on some of their past matches and the narrator said it was the first time they would meet on Smackdown Live… Mauro Ranallo, JBL, David Otunga, and Tom Phillips were on commentary…
Daniel Bryan made his entrance and received a big ovation from his home state fans. The fans chanted Bryan’s name. Bryan said it was good to be home. He recalled the last time he was in Seattle he had to make the most difficult announcement of his life. He said the last year has not been easy, but he is grateful.
Bryan said he is grateful for the opportunity to be the general manager of Smackdown Live. He said he’s grateful that he gets to go to Seattle and try to give those fans the best show possible. Bryan said he is grateful that “soon, very soon I’m going to be a dad.”
The Miz’s music interrupted Bryan. Miz and Maryse headed to the ring to boos. “Boo-hoo,” Miz started. “Daniel Bryan one year ago had to retire.” Miz told Bryan to do something his talents are suited for by becoming a stay at home dad. Miz asked Bryan why he was there.
“You can’t wrestle anymore,” Miz said. “I don’t even know why you are in a WWE ring.” Bryan responded that not being able to wrestle never stopped Miz from getting in the ring. The fans popped with a Yes! chant. Miz said Bryan doesn’t respect him. The fans chanted Bryan’s name again. Miz said Bryan can’t wrestle anymore, but he can. The fans continued to chant. Miz told the fans that he had a microphone and he can be louder. Bryan was laughing. Miz asked if he thought it was funny. The fans switched to chanting Yes.
Baron Corbin made his entrance and told Miz that he should learn when to shut up. Corbin said he talked too much on commentary last week and he was talking too much again. Miz said he and Corbin could help each other in the Elimination Chamber match. He said they could take out everyone else and then let the best man win.
Corbin said he could take out Miz and then he wouldn’t have to hear his mouth once he becomes WWE Champion. Miz asked Bryan if he was going to let him talk that way. “Oh, no, Baron, please don’t punch Miz in the face,” Bryan said in a mocking tone. “That would be terrible.” Funny.
Dean Ambrose made his entrance and said Miz and Corbin are cute together. Ambrose said he couldn’t take Miz seriously when he was dressed like he was. He said Corbin stole the motorcycle noises from his entrance theme. Ambrose shifted the focus to Elimination Chamber and said that if they weren’t careful, they might not walk out at all.
AJ Styles made his entrance and asked if they were done. “Are you guys done playing tickle butt?” he asked. Styles entered the ring and said that he had beaten each man in the past. The fans chanted for Styles, who told them to shut up.
[Q2] Styles said the only thing he cares about is being WWE Champion and he plans to get it back at Elimination Chamber. Miz said Styles wouldn’t get his title back. He said people come to Smackdown because of him, not the others. Bryan cut off Miz and said everyone needs to relax. He said he knows they all think they will win the Chamber match. He set up a “preview” by booking them in a Fatal 4-Way match and said it would start immediately… [C]
Powell’s POV: Bryan returning to his home state is always a good time. The fans adore him and it was logical booking to send Miz out there to interrupt him. By the way, I am filling in for Jake Barnett, who is a late scratch. However, Jake will return on Wednesday with the Smackdown Hit List, and he’ll be back covering the show next week.
1. AJ Styles vs. The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin in a four-way match. Miz tried to get Corbin to form an alliance with him, but Corbin shook his head no. Styles set up for an early springboard move, but Ambrose pushed him down and Styles took a bump on the rope. Corbin worked over Miz briefly. Styles went for a springboard again, but Corbin blasted him with a punch.
Miz caught Styles with a DDT and got a two count. Miz threw Bryan kicks at Ambrose and Styles. Fans booed and chanted no. The three wrestlers took turns rolling each other up for two counts. Corbin returned to the ring and he and Ambrose clotheslined one another going into the break. [C]
Powell’s POV: Man, those kicks that Miz threw at Bryan and Styles were light. I don’t know if he thinks that’s part of the heat of performing Bryan’s moves or if they’re just comically awful, but it makes the opponents look bad for selling them.
The wrestlers did a tower of doom spot with Ambrose on top and Corbin on bottom. A short time later, Styles caught Corbin with a Pele Kick and hit him with a forearm for a two count. Miz avoided the Styles Clash and hit Styles with a running knee for a two count.
[Q3] Ambrose performed his suicide dive onto Corbin. Styles also worked over Styles and Miz on the floor and then ran Corbin into the post before rolling him back inside the ring. Ambrose hit his awkward top rope elbow on Corbin and covered him, but Styles broke it up. Styles came back and performed the Phenomenal Forearm on Miz. Maryse pulled Miz to ringside. Corbin hit End of Days on Styles and pinned him…
Baron Corbin beat AJ Styles, The Miz, and Dean Ambrose in a four-way in roughly 13:30.
The broadcast team hyped the Elimination Chamber at ringside and once again hyped that it’s an all new structure. They also mentioned Fastlane and hyped WWE Network… A dual contract signing for Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi, and Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James for Elimination Chamber was hyped for later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: We’ll see how they frame this, but it should be treated like a major event when someone beats Styles. Yes, I remember James Elllsworth beat him a few times too. Still, it would be nice if they would turn the corner with AJ to the point that his losses are rare and meaningful. With Lynch vs. James, I guess that means we will officially have three women’s match at Elimination Chamber, which may be a record in WWE.
Luke Harper spoke on a set with hanging lightbulbs. He brought up the old saying about a man who has nothing left to lose is most dangerous. He asked what about a man who never had anything to begin with. Harper said Randy Orton stole his family and is a liar. He said he’s seen the snake in the grass for too long and he knows how to fix it. He said cutting the head off the viper is too easy. “No, I want to hurt you,” Harper said. “I want you to feel pain.” Harper said Orton will be eliminated at Elimination Chamber…
The broadcast team spoke at ringside. JBL said this is a sibling rivalry on a new level. Phillips welcomed Nikki Bella and Natalya, and noted that they were in separate locations due to how personal their feud has become. He asked if they could become friends again. Nikki said the Natttie she knows and loves is dead to her. Natalya said they were never friends, and Nikki only has followers.
Nikki said Natalya is making things up in her head and has become a crazy cat lady. Natalya said she would put Nikki on the shelf. Nikki said the truth that the only thing Natalya was ever good at was wrestling. She asked what Natalya will do once Nikki beats her on Sunday. Natalya said John Cena is champion and won’t have time to nurse her back to health this time. Natalya said John Cena will move on to another woman who is better than Nikki. Natalya said Cena would probably end up with her if she wasn’t married. Nikki walked off the interview set…
[Q4] Graphics hyped the main event and Dolph Ziggler vs. Apollo Crews for later in the show without anything being said by the broadcast team… [C]
Powell’s POV: The Nikki and Natalya bickering and brawling program just hasn’t connected with me. Natalya’s insults were more entertaining than usual this time around. Meanwhile, the Harper promo was intriguing.
2. Apollo Crews vs. Dolph Ziggler. Footage aired of Crews saving Kalisto from a post match attack by Ziggler. Crews blocked a superkick and then rolled up Ziggler and pinned him…
Apollo Crews beat Dolph Ziggler in 1:05.
Ziggler attacked Crews after the match. Ziggler took a chair from ringside and then slammed it over the back of Crews. Fans chanted “one more time.” Kalisto ran out and ducked a chair and roughed up Ziggler briefly. Ziggler blocked Kalisto’s finisher and then hit him with the chair. Ziggler looked at Crews. Fans chanted “one more time” again, and Ziggler obliged…
The broadcast team hyped the contract signings. Otunga set up a Black History Month video package on Rosa Parks, which was narrated by Mark Henry, Apollo Crews, Darren Young, Alica Fox, and Rich Swann… [C]
Powell’s POV: This is such a weird feud. Ziggler beats up Kalisto one week and Crews saves him. Ziggler beats up Crews the next week and Kalisto saves him. It would make for a strange three-way match if there are two babyfaces who and one heel.
Ziggler was shown walking backstage when Bryan approached and asked what the hell he’s doing. Bryan asked if he’s going to throw tantrums every time he loses. Ziggler said he can beat both men, but beating them with a chair is more fun. Bryan booked Ziggler vs. Crews and Kalisto in a handicap match…
Powell’s POV: The handicap match might actually be stranger than the three-way. At least it felt like Bryan was punishing the heel, not making it seem like the babyfaces needed the numbers advantage to compete with Ziggler.
[Q5] Renee Young hosted the dual contract signing for Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi, and Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch for Elimination Chamber. James boasted that she has more experience than everyone in the ring combined. James dismissed Young, then told Lynch that the division was built on her obsession to be the best. Mickie claimed Lynch is trying to erase her past and take all the credit.
James said she waited seven years to get back in a WWE ring and has seven years of rage built up in her. James said she will show on Sunday that she not only created the division, she created Lynch. James said that without her, there would be no Lynch. Becky shook her head in disbelief. James said the reinvention of James starts with the destruction of Lynch.
Lynch said no one is trying to erase her accomplishments. She said she respected her accomplishments, but she teamed up with “that little troll” to take her championship. Lynch said James walked away when it got tough and now she returned with a chip on her shoulder. Lynch said she will walk through James and slap her back into the past.
Bliss took her turn and told Lynch to show respect for the woman who beat Trish Stratus at WrestleMania. She said the only thing that runs through Lynch’s veins is toxic, cheap, orange hair dye. Bliss said the title being on her shoulder means it’s her division. She signed the contract, then picked up the mic and said she was sorry, she completely forgot about Naomi. “I’ll beat you on Sunday,” she said dismissively.
Naomi said Bliss didn’t forget her because she pinned her twice. She told Bliss to keep underestimating her and she will keep snatching her bald. Naomi said they were two months away from WrestleMania, which is in her hometown of Orlando. Naomi said there was no way she was going to let anyone take away her dream of going down the aisle as Smackdown Women’s Champion. Naomi signed the contract and then kicked Bliss over the table.
The women brawled and the babyfaces cleared the ring. Naomi performed a dive over the the top and poor Mickie went above and beyond in bracing her fall. The babyfaces stood tall to end the segment…
The broadcast team hyped Orton vs. Cena for later in the show… American Alpha were shown backstage. Phillips hyped a 12-man tag team match for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I thought the 12-man tag team matches were reserved for the needlessly long Kickoff shows. Anyway, I like the way they worked in Naomi worked in that she can go into WrestleMania as the hometown champion. I don’t know if that’s the direction they are going, but it left me feeling like there’s a better chance of her winning this match than I did before she mentioned it. Granted, she also spoke about that on Talking Smack last week, but I believe this is the first time they played it up on Smackdown.
[Q6] 3. American Alpha, Tyler Breeze and Fandango, and Rhyno and Heath Slater vs. The Usos, The Vaudevillains, and The Ascension. Alpha was the only team to receive a televised entrance. The heel team bickered as the broadcast team played up how each team will be opponents at the Chamber event.
The heels isolated Chad Gable for a bit. Aiden English got cocky and posed, which led to a nice head-scissors takedown by Gable, who tagged in Jason Jordan. Breeze tagged himself into the match, which led to some bickering with their teammates. The fans chanted for Rhyno heading into the break. [C]
The Usos worked over Slater coming out of the break. Rhyno played into the crowd chants as the heels isolated Slater. Rhyno eventually took the hot tag and worked over Viktor. Rhyno performed a spinebuster and went for the pin. Konnor broke it up, which led to everyone entering and fighting briefly. Alpha was the last team standing. Gable ran the ropes and Jordan launched him over the top rope and onto the pile at ringside. Moments later, Rhyno gored Konner. Viktor hit Rhyno with a flying knee from the second rope for the win…
American Alpha, Tyler Breeze and Fandango, and Rhyno and Heath Slater beat The Usos, The Vaudevillains, and The Ascension in 9:45.
The broadcast team spoke. Phillips congratulated Otunga, who has a guest star role on Criminal Minds this week. They showed footage of his appearance on the CBS show. They also hyped the main event as coming up next… [C]
Powell’s POV: The Ascension winning the match seemed to take the air out of the building. I can’t even remember the last time they won a match. I just wish WWE could settle into a real tag program between Alph and the Usos. Find other ways to get everyone else on the card.
[Q7] The broadcast team spoke briefly about the Rock-n-Roll Express entering the Hall of Fame… A video package aired on John Cena defeating AJ Styles to win the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble, and the Elimination Chamber match…
John Cena made his entrance to the usual “John Cena sucks” singalong. Ring announcer Greg Hamilton introduced Cena. The broadcast team noted that Cena will appear on ESPN(ews) on Thursday night in the Jonathan Coachman segment. Randy Orton made his entrance along with Bray Wyatt. Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton was officially announced for the pay-per-view… [C]
Nikki Bella, John Cena, and Baron Corbin were advertised as the guests for 205 Live…
[Q8] 4. WWE Champion John Cena vs. Randy Orton (w/Bray Wyatt) in a non-title match. Wyatt sat in his rocking chair at ringside. Orton sent Cena to ringside right in front of Wyatt, who remained seated. Orton followed Cena to ringside and punched Cena, then ran him into the ring steps. Wyatt stood up and celebrated heading into the break. [C]
Cena came back, but Orton cut him off and slammed him onto the broadcast table. Orton rolled Cena back inside the ring where they traded punches. The adult males cheered Orton and booed cena. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment for a two count. Cena went to the ropes. Orton caught him and performed a hanging DDT.
Orton tugged his ear and played to the crowd and then struck the Viper’s Pose before hitting the RKO for a two count. Wyatt got to his feet and barked at the referee. Cena blocked a second RKO attmept. Cena picked up Orton for his finisher, but they ended up bumping the referee. With the ref down, Cena put Orton in the STF. Orton tapped out, but the ref was still out. Wyatt ran in and then he and Orton put the boots to Cena.
Wyatt set up for Sister Abigail. Cena broke free and clotheslined Orton. Wyatt put Cena down with Sister Abigail. Luke Harper ran in and had a staredown with Wyatt, who laughed. Wyatt barked at Harper and told him to leave. Harper teased leaving, then turned and clotheslined Wyatt. Orton went for an RKO, but Haprer pushed him off. Cena performed the AA on Orton. The ref magically recovered at just he right time and counted the pin…
John Cena defeated Randy Orton in 13:30 in a non-title match.
Powell’s POV: The crowd was hot for the match and Harper’s appearance. The finish was pretty ridiculous in terms of how the ref missed so much, yet just happened to recover just in time. How excited are we supposed to be about Orton in a WrestleMania main event when he tapped and then was pinned by John Cena? Overall, consistent hype for Elimination Chamber.