By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Anaheim, California at Honda Center
Video recapping Elimination Chamber was shown, ending with Bray Wyatt’s WWE Championship win. Wyatt then made his entrance in the arena by himself, without Orton. The announce team of Tom Phillips, Mauro Ranallo, JBL, and David Otunga mentioned that Cena had invoked his rematch clause and will face Bray Wyatt in the main event of tonight’s show. Wyatt opened up and said she never said it would be easy. She said people would denounce him, and say it couldn’t be done. Wyatt said she never lied, and neither did he, and he can now say that he has the whole damn world in his hands, holding up the WWE Championship.
He told the crowd to listen to his sing, and he would lead them to paradise, but if they got in his way, they would burn in the fire. He then welcomed everyone to the era of Wyatt. At that point, he was interrupted by John Cena, who walked straight to the ring. The crowd booed overwhelmingly. Cena said the crowd was very energetic, and then introduced Bray Wyatt as the WWE Champion in order to pay respects. Cena noted that he has some supporters in the crowd, and said they were brainwashed. He said they were brainwashed because they chanted “You Deserve It”.
Cena said nobody deserves anything around here, he then pointed to his shirt and said that people around here earn every inch. Cena then made mention of their match later in the show, and wanted to have the match right then and there. AJ Styles then walked out and told Cena that if he thinks he’s getting his rematch before him, he’s wrong. Styles said that Cena might jump lines at the airport or in the grocery store, but not here. He told Cena he beat him several times, and Bray Wyatt that he knows he can beat him. He demanded a title shot right then and there as well. Daniel Bryan’s music then hit.
Bryan stroked his beard and congratulated Bray Wyatt on winning the WWE Championship. Bryan said they had a conundrum over the WWE Championship, because two people are owed Championship matches. He then said they would solve that problem with a Triple Threat Match between Styles, Cena, and Wyatt tonight in the Main Event. A rematch was announced between Mickie James and Becky Lynch, as well as a Naomi interview. Up next, American Alpha was headed to the ring…[c]
My Take: Getting the rematches out of the way early makes sense. The promos were decent, but not fantastic. There is a lot of interesting stuff planned for this show, so I’m optimistic that the rest of the show will improve. The segment was effective in setting the stage for the main event.
American Alpha made their entrance, followed by The Ascension.
1. American Alpha vs. The Ascension: Gable and Viktor started the match. Gable used his quickness to initiate some chain wrestling, which frustrated Viktor. Gable hit a waist lock takedown, and then picked him up and did it again. Viktor took a shot at Jason Jordan, which caused all four men to enter the ring. The Ascension cleared Alpha to the outside, but they quickly climbed the turnbuckle and hit diving clotheslines in response. They they then clotheslined the Ascension out of the ring once they stumbled to their feet…[c]
The Ascension isolated Gable with double team offense and quick tags. Gable eventually escaped and applied a hanging arm bar on Konnor over the ropes. He then made a hot tag to Jordan after being initially stopped by Viktor. Jordan came in and cleaned house with over the head suplexes. Jordan missed a spear in the corner and spilled out to the floor, and then hit a double team slam on Gable for a near fall. Jordan recovered and they cleared Konnor from the ring and hit Grand Amplitude on Viktor for the win.
American Alpha defeated The Ascension at 11:22.
After the match, the Usos cut a promo from the Tron. They said that there was a lot of celebrating going on in the ring, but they weren’t celebrating when The Usos injured Gable’s knee a few months ago, or at Elimination Chamber then they laid them out. Jey said then they feel the hair rising on the back of their neck, it’s not a ghost, it’s the Usos. Backstage, Dean Ambrose was looking for Baron Corbin when he ran into James Ellsworth and Carmella. Ambrose tried to give Ellsworth some advice about Carmella using him, but Carmella called him a gas station attendant and asked Ellsworth if he was going to let Ambrose talk to them that way.
Ellsworth tried to grow a spine, and they were interrupted by Daniel Bryan. Ambrose asked him for a match with Ambrose, and Bryan granted him one, saying he needed to get out his aggression towards Baron Corbin on someone. Ellsworth looked terrified and Carmella told him he could teach Ambrose a lesson…[c]
My Take: A fairly uninteresting match between Alpha and The Ascension. They did a lot of the spots at Sunday, and they didn’t have the suspense of the Usos beat down to add anything to the match. The Usos calling out Alpha after the match was the best part about it. Ambrose and Ellsworth is clearly a setup, but it will be fun to see Ellsworth get beat up.
Ellsworth was in the ring with Carmella, and told the crowd not to boo Carmella, because he was her only boo. He gave her a terrible introduction, and then Ambrose’s music mercifully interrupted. He eventually showed up when Corbin dragged through the entrance. He tossed him off to the side of the stage, where Ambrose fought back briefly before he got deep sixed onto some production crates, complete with silly sparks and other effects that made no sense.
They shifted gears and threw to some footage of the backstage attack on Nikki Bella by Natalya after their match at Elimination Chamber. Bryan was backstage with Nikki, and he told her that this had to stop. He told her he had a solution for her problem, and thought she would like it. Natalya then walked, and accused Bryan of favoritism. The devolved into a brawl, and Bryan had security break it up. He then made a falls count anywhere match for next week between them to settle it once and for all.
My Take: The silly pyro effects when Ambrose when through a table with a cloth and some snacks on it was ridiculous. I like the Falls Count anywhere stip, in fact I tweeted about that exact thing after their match on Sunday. They have a long way to go until Mania, and them brawling all over the arena next week will give them a chance to set up their next feuds with some unexpected encounters.
Backstage, Dasha Fuentes tried to interview Baron Corbin, but he told her he doesn’t owe anyone an explanation because he’s Baron Corbin.
Elsewhere, Renee Young interviewed ZIggler. He said he had a problem with the younger generation and the idea that they are there to replace him. He said he’s just getting started, and said nobody steals the show like him or takes his place, but some people are about to be put in theirs. Becky Lynch made her entrance in the arena, and could be overheard saying she was going to beat Mickie James. I’ll take that as confirmation that she won’t.
My Take: Ziggler’s heel character is still talking about stealing the show, except now he’s angry that people think he’s washed up. It’s like they completely missed the point of why is babyface character wasn’t over.
Mickie James made her entrance while footage of her comments on Talking Smack post Elimination Chamber were shown.
2. Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James: They tied up to start, and Mickie went back after the left arm she focused on at the Chamber. Becky tackled Mickie and landed some punches, and then tried and failed to go for the Disarmer. There was a series of miscommunications that led to an awkward series, but they transitioned into a backslide and Becky got a two count, and then hit a forearm that caused Mickie to regroup out on the floor. They brawled back in the ring, and Becky sent Mickie out on the apron. She then hit a springboard kick that sent her back to the floor. Becky pursued but they ended up in a double clothesline…[c]
Becky hit a bexploder suplex and covered for a near fall. Becky then avoided a clothesline and rolled her up for another fall. Mickie James hit a flapjack and went to the top rope, but Becky avoided it. She then hit a snap suplex and covered again, but Mickie kicked out. Becky knocked Mickie out to the floor, where she feigned an injury. She sold a separated shoulder, and convinced the ref to call for a doctor. As Becky backed off, Mickie kicked her in the face and covered for the win.
Mickie James defeated Becky Lynch at 13:11.
Mickie celebrated as Becky was left looking irritated in the ring. Naomi is next…[c]
My Take: I liked that match better than what we saw on Sunday. It wasn’t without it’s hiccups, but they delivered a competitive match that told a good story. Becky was getting the better of Mickie using her superior agility and speed, and Mickie ended up taking the match with veteran guile and trickery. It would have made more sense for the finish on Sunday as well.
The announce team mentioned Bill Simmon’s making an Andre the Giant documentary, before tossing to Naomi and Renee Young in the ring. Naomi announced that she suffered an injury at Elimination Chamber, but said that nothing would take this away from her. She said at WrestleMania, she would bring the title home one way or another. Alexa Bliss asked if the Glow Worm got a boo boo. Naomi was wearing a knee brace. Bliss said she realized the pressure of being a champion, and dreamt up an injury so she didn’t have to measure up to Alexa Bliss.
She told her after their rematch, she wouldn’t be feeling the glow, she would feeling what it’s like to flop. Bliss said Naomi could have her own 30 for 30 and call it Lights Out: The Failure of Naomi. She then said that the next time they meet, she would take back what is hers. Naomi said she better watch her mouth, because she could still snatch her bald right then and there if she had to. Bliss said she could have a week, and either she could hand her the title or she would beat it out of her.
My take: Alexa Bliss is a much more fully realized character than Naomi, and it showed here as Naomi didn’t really have a lot to say in the face of an avalanche of insults. They should work on giving her something else to talk about besides the glow and snatching people bald. It’s all very one note.
We got a Black History Month video package and comments from David Otunga, and then TJP cut a bad promo for 205 Live about regaining his championship that got booed by the live crowd. John Cena made his entrance in the arena, followed by AJ Styles. Bray Wyatt made his entrance, and when the lights came on Luke Harper was standing next to him. Harper assaulted Wyatt, tossed him into the barricade, and hit a Superkick before being sent to the back…[c]
My Take: Cool to see Harper extract some revenge. We’ll see what that means for potential Orton interference later.
3. AJ Styles vs. John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship: Wyatt pulled Cena to the outside as the match was joined in progress. He then threw Cena into the steps. Styles hit a springboard splash onto Wyatt on the floor and they brawled on the outside before re-entering the ring. Styles hit a running forearm on a seated Wyatt for a two count. Wyatt then hit a big body block on Styles and threw him out to the floor, just in time for Cena to re-enter. He hit Wyatt with a flying body block and set up for a five knuckle shuffle, but Wyatt avoided it. He grabbed Cena for Sister Abigail, but ate a Phenomenal Forearm for his trouble.
Cena quickly grabbed Styles and hit an AA for a near fall. Styles and Cena brawled in the corner and Cena sent him out to the apron. Cena then turned around into Sister Abigail, and Styles broke up the pin with a springboard elbow…[c]
AJ Styles jumped from the barricade onto Bray Wyatt on the announce table, but failed to put him through. The crowd chanted for one more time, and he performed a leg drop that actually broke the table. AJ climbed on the apron as Cena stirred in the ring. He went for a phenomenal forearm, but Cena caught him with an AA. He tried to roll through for a second one, but Styles reversed into a Calf Crusher. After a moment, Cena reversed into an STF. Wyatt eventually entered the ring and hit a running senton to break up the submission.
Wyatt sent Styles to the floor and played to the crowd for Sister Abigail, but instead walked into an AA for another near fall. Styles then ran in and hit a Styles Clash, but got a near fall as well. Styles set up for another Phenomenal Forearm, but Cena knocked him off the ropes. Cena then turned around into a Sister Abigail, and Bray covered for the win.
Bray Wyatt defeated John Cena and AJ Styles at 17:21 (approx).
Bray Wyatt celebrated, and Randy Orton’s music hit. He walked out onto the ramp and the announce team said they were looking at the WrestleMania main event. Randy slowly made his way to the ring. He had a microphone and got in close to Wyatt. He eyed the WWE Championship and turned towards the crowd. He told Wyatt that he won the Rumble and all the privileges that come with it, but told Wyatt as long as he is the master and he is the servant he refused to face him at WrestleMania. He pledged his undying allegiance to Wyatt, and Bray laughed. Randy dropped to a knee as Wyatt held the microphone and laughed. Wyatt told him he had the keys to the kingdom, and they posed together to close the show.
My Take: Well, I guess they couldn’t blow off both of their big friendship storylines in one week. I like the idea of burning a little slower on this feud, as there is a long time to go until Mania and they run the risk of blowing it up too early and running out of momentum before they get to Orlando. I really enjoyed the main event. It managed to hold a fairly frenetic pace from start to end, and even though it relied a bit too much on finishers, it was easy to overlook just due to the star power and entertainment value. John Cena sure is taking a lot of pins lately. I wonder if there’s a heel that would be perfect to get under his skin for it? Seems like a natural fit for him to have a dust up with The Miz.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Will Pruett on the Roman Reigns whodunnit angle, WWE heading into SummerSlam, AEW's October 2 premiere on TNT, the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax Tournament through Day 11, and more (77:45)...