By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Aired live from Phoenix, Arizona at Talking Stick Resort Arena
A video package recounted Becky Lynch’s Royal Rumble win, and then her WrestleMania challenge of Ronda Rousey on Raw. Becky’s music then hit in the arena, and she made her way to the ring with a limp. Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton joined on commentary. The Man signs were everywhere and there were chants. Becky said “What a couple of days”, and set a lot had happened over the past couple of days. She said she couldn’t resist looking Ronnie in her angry little eyes again, and it took two seconds to learn just how different they really are.
She then said the first part of the night didn’t go her way, but unlike Ronda, she doesn’t crumble when she loses. She went out there and won the Royal Rumble on one good lag. Becky then addressed Ronda’s comments about her being on the pre-show, and said she was proud to have come from nothing. She said nobody handed her anything, and she was happy to have slapped a lot of heads on her way to Main Eventing Wrestlemania.
She then went on to say that she saw something in Ronda’s eyes that she doesn’t have anymore, and that’s doubt. Becky concluded by saying she would break Ronda’s arm at WrestleMania, and if she didn’t go into that night believing it, she would leave knowing it. Charlotte Flair’s music then hit. She walked to the ring and clapped for Becky patronizingly. She giggled and congratulated her on making it off the kickoff show. She sarcastically said she was happy and proud of her. Charlotte said she wasn’t even in the match on Sunday, but she willed her way in, and claimed Becky became The Man by learning lessons from the Queen.
She said that she brought Becky into the Main Event, and said she was happy she could do all of this for her. She continued to mock being happy for her. Becky then sucker punched her in the mouth and walked away. Charlotte recovered and ran up the ramp to attack her from behind. They brawled on the path to the ring as Charlotte screamed that she was nothing without her. WWE officials tried to keep them separated, but it failed several times. Eventually, order was restored while Charlotte talked trash at Becky and mocked her injured knee. Daniel Bryan was hyped for “Changing the WWE Climate” later. We’ll also see the new Tag Champs, and R-Truth will challenge Shinsuke Nakamura next…[c]
My Take: Well, no hints that Charlotte is trying to weasel her way into what should be the Main Event of WrestleMania, but she and Becky clearly aren’t done yet. They also just barely glossed over Asuka getting the better of Becky, so perhaps the door is open for another challenger to step in. You’d think Charlotte would be the natural choice, but they also have other options. Both Charlotte and Becky were effective on the microphone here. Charlotte is much better gloating as a heel, and Becky seems to be settling into a hero role, albeit one much closer to one from a Western Film than a traditional white meat wrestling babyface.
R-Truth made his entrance while photos were shown of Nia Jax taking him out on Sunday. He asked the crowd if they want to know what’s up. Truth said he got jacked up thanks to Nia Jax, and because of that he never got to enter in at #30. Carmella said they fought hard in the Mixed Match challenge to win his spot, and he deserved to be in it. Truth said he went from rappin to nappin, and he’s still not sure what happened. He said he knows he would have won the Rumble if he would have gotten in it, and thankfully the McMahon’s agreed, and gave him a US Championship match with Shinsuke Nakamura right now.
1. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. R-Truth for the US Championship: Nakamura hit a jumping sidekick, and then a reverse exploder suplex. He then lined up for a Kinshasa, but Truth countered with a Lie Detector. Nakamura bailed out to the floor…[c]
Nakamura controlled the action during the break with kicks and a front facelock. He then placed Truth on the top rope and hit several knee strikes to the abdomen. He covered, but only got a near fall. Nakamura picked up Truth for a fireman’s carry, but Truth rolled him up and apparently got a pinfall, but it looked like Nakamura kicked out.
R-Truth defeated Shinsuke Nakamura at 7:02
After the match, the replays showed that the shoulder was up, but they counted it anyway. Rusev made his way out and said that he took the title from Shinsuke Nakamura because the title deserved better than him. If it deserved better than Shinsuke, it certainly deserved better than R-Truth. Carmella and Lana got into an argument and Carmella shoved her down. Rusev got in Truth’s face and told him to put the Title on the line. Truth eventually agreed…[c]
My Take: What a cluster. Why move the title to Nakamura again if you’re just going to juggle the title around again on Tuesday? They’ve managed to make everyone involved look stupid thus far.
2. R-Truth vs. Rusev for the US Championship: The match was joined in progress. Rusev was shown getting a near fall after a kick. He controlled the match with his power offense. He hit a splashes in the corner. A moment later, Truth rolled up Rusev and got the victory in a surprise.
R-Truth defeated Rusev at approximately 3:15
After the match, Nakamura beat down Truth as he left the ring. He and Rusev then gave each other a look and beat down Truth in the ring. Nakamura held Truth for a Machka Kick, and Rusev landed it. Rusev then held up Truth for a Kinshasa. Nakamura and Rusev stood over him to end the segment. The announce team threw back to the opening segment, and they said they were waiting for a medical update on Becky Lynch’s knee.
Backstage, Becky was shown with her bag leaving the arena. She was asked by Dasha Fuentes why she didn’t consent to Medical attention, and she said that she’s fine and didn’t need to spend any more time on the shelf. She then drove off. Rey Mysterio made his entrance in the arena.
My Take: That was a mess. Rusev and Nakamura look like dopes, and anything Truth gained was immediately wiped out. Becky refusing medical attention and selling the knee makes me think they are going to plow forward with the stupid decision of adding Charlotte to this WrestleMania feud, which shows an utter lack of awareness of what makes it work in the first place. More is not always more.
Zelina Vega walked out on the ramp and accused Rey of getting her banned from ringside last week because he was distracted by her beauty. She was accosting him for being a coward when Andrade attacked him from behind. He hit a three amigos suplex and a hammerlock DDT to put Mysterio down. I guess the match with Samoa Joe isn’t happening after all. Graves said Andrade was obsessed with replacing Mysterio in the Lucha Pantheon.
Backstage, Gallows and Anderson approached Rusev and said R-Truth didn’t deserve that. Anderson said he and Nakamura deserved each other, and R-Truth had dog walked the both of them. They might be able to beat him down two on one, but they wouldn’t fare so well against these Good Brothers. Nakamura walked up and said challenge accepted. Rusev told him he’d team with him once, but he better now screw him over…[c]
My Take: So I guess Samoa Joe was cook with Andrade bogarting him like that? Seems odd. This Rusev and Nakamura feud went from being ignored and shoved onto the pre-show to being shoved into multiple segments. I guess we’ll see where it goes.
There was an extended video package for Paige and The Rock’s upcoming movie about her life. The Miz and Shane McMahon then made their way to the ring. There were Miz and Shane chants, much to Miz’s chagrin. He said they were in Phoenix, and they were ready to party with the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Shane said they could do a traditional celebration, but he had something even bigger planned. He said he had wracked his brain about what to do, and said he eventually came up with something that Miz won’t forget for the rest of his life. Shane said it was a little weird at times, but it had been an enjoyable journey together. He then introduced a video package that recapped their relationship and title win.
Shane thanked Miz and the crowd, and said there was one thing that he build the night around. He then said there was one thing that motivated The Miz, and that was his Dad George Mizanin. Shane then brought out George, who looks like he’s in a lot better shape than he was just a few years ago. Good for him! George said he was proud and Shane seemed more emotional in the moment than Miz was. Shane said they would find out who their next opponents were in a fatal four way match right now. The Usos made their entrance for the match…[c]
My Take: Well, the Daddy issues are clearly going to be the breaking point for this feud eventually, but for now it’s all unicorns and rainbows. Miz’s Dad was a good sport here and played along, and Miz seemed to be having fun with his Dad making an entrance to his music. The Mr. Miz chants got a laugh too.
Backstage, Mandy and Sonya declared themselves for the Women’s Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber match. Mandy then got a bit of promo time for herself. She said it’s not easy being her, and looking like her. It’s also not easy being part of the hottest and fiercest Women’s Tag Team on the planet.
She said people like Naomi take exception to her, and threw to some footage from Tough Enough where Team BAD from 2015 picked on her on the show. Sonya said she was never the same that day, especially with what Naomi said after the cameras were off. Mandy said she developed a complex and her boyfriend dumped her. She claimed she went after Naomi’s relationship because Naomi ruined hers. Kayla asked her how she feels about failing to break them up, and she said it would never be over.
Heavy Machinery made their entrance.
3. The Bar vs. Heavy Machinery vs. New Day vs. The Usos in an Elimination Match: Heavy Machinery dominated the early going by using their power offense on Kofi and Big E…[c]
Jimmy Uso and Cesaro tagged in, and Cesaro took control with a karelin lift and tagged in Sheamus. Miz and Shane looked on a monitor backstage. Sheamus sent Jimmy Uso out to the floor, but not before Big E tagged himself in. New Day hit a double team Electric Chair Drop, and Cesaro had to break up the cover on Sheamus. Dozovic tagged in and caught Kofi coming off the top rope, and Heavy Machinery hit the compactor to eliminate New Day.
New Day was Eliminated at 6:54
Jey Uso stepped into the ring against Tucker Knight. Jey knocked Dozovic off the apron, and the Tucker was low bridged to the outside. The Usos went for a splash on Heavy Machinery, but Sheamus tagged Jimmy as he hit the ropes and pulled him out of the ring. The Bar then picked up and threw Jimmy into the timekeeper’s area…[c]
My Take: Why didn’t the Raw Women just declare themselves for the Elimination Chamber? The Mandy promo was outright hilarious in how much they had to reach to make her motivation plausible. The Tag Match is fun chaos so far, but not so much a technical exhibition.
Jimmy Uso got launched into the barricade again during the break. The Bar cut off Tucker Knight, and worked him over on their portion of the ring. Tucker managed to make a tag to Dozovic after hitting a lariat, and Otis entered to hit multiple lariats of his own on The Bar. He cleared Sheamus from ringside, and then hit The Caterpillar Elbow on Cesaro for a near fall. Heavy Machinery then hit a catapult into a powerslam on Cesaro for a another close fall. Jimmy Uso surprised Tucker from the top with a splash after tagging Cesaro. Sheamus tagged himself in to get Jimmy out of the ring. He then hit a Brogue Kick in Tucker to eliminate them.
Heavy Machinery was eliminated at 14:33
Things broke down quickly as Jimmy hit a superkick on both Cesaro and Sheamus. He then jumped on Cesaro out on the floor. Jey hit a splash on Sheamus from the top and got the pin.
The Usos defeated The Bar for the final elimination at 15:54
After the match, Miz and Shane were shown backstage observing the outcome. Daniel Bryan is next…[c]
My Take: A very entertaining elimination match that allowed the newcomers Heavy Machinery to look good while moving onto the feud they want for Elimination Chamber against the Usos. Hopefully this is the opportunity the Usos need to show off a little of their verbal expertise in shredding the Daddy issues of Miz and Shane. If they let them go on the microphone this could be a lot of fun.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance while photos were shown of his match with AJ Styles. Bryan asked the crowd if they know who won at the Rumble. A Becky chant started. He said no, the fans won, and their children won, because he won, and he’s the planets champion. Bryan set upon explaining what it means to win, because no one in the crowd understands what that feels like. Bryan then said he found someone on Sunday, someone who came out not for him, but for the greater good. He then introduced Rowan, who made his way to the ring.
Rowan wore a bag over his shoulder. Bryan asked for applause for him, but they booed. Bryan said that’s what he expected. Bryan said that people see the dirt under his nails and think of him as an oaf, but the truth is he is his intellectual peer and an avid reader. Bryan said last week AJ Styles called him a hypocrite, and he was right. He is a hypocrite because he carries around this, pointing to the WWE Title. He called the title gaudy, and a symbol of excess. He claimed it was made with cheap labor and was made from the skin of an animal whose life was stolen from her.
He said that cow’s name might have been Daisy. He said she had the capacity to experience great joy, but never got the opportunity. He said she also had the capacity to feel pain, which she did in excess for her shortened lifespan. Bryan called the WWE Championship a symbol of pain and excess, and he threw it into the trash he had brought into the ring. He said people need new symbols, and had Rowan pull his new symbol from the bag over his shoulder. It was wooden championship belt that was on a fabric strap. Bryan said it was milled from a fallen oak, and placed on a strap of organic sustainable hemp. There were also some earth stones.
AJ Styles came out at that point, and said that he couldn’t stand aside while Bryan threw the WWE Championship in the trash. He then asked if Bryan has smoked the prototype belt, and said for a guy that hates corporations, he went out and got the biggest insurance policy he’d ever seen. Randy Orton then interrupted Styles…[c]
Mustafa Ali was on the mic as the show returned, and wanted to remind people of his accomplishments. Jeff Hardy was also out there. Orton reminded Mustafa that he got eliminated by a woman at the Royal Rumble. Samoa Joe then made his entrance. He talked trash about everyone. He told Jeff Hardy to shut up like it was an AA meeting. He told Mustafa that his eyes didn’t lie when he put his simple ass to sleep, and he asked AJ about Wendy.
That sparked a brawl where all of the men ended up laid out. Bryan got on the announce table and declared none of them worthy of a Championship match, and that he would be Champion forever. Bryan was then interrupted by Triple H on the Tron, who told him he was correct. He wouldn’t defend his Championship against any one of them, he would defend it against all of them in the Elimination Chamber.
So, at the Elimination Chamber PPV, Bryan will defend his title against AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Mustafa Ali, Samoa Joe, and Jeff Hardy. The brawl and chaos continued to close the show, Bryan and Rowan escaped to the stage.
My Take: I enjoyed that promo from Bryan, but I’d be lying if I said it was his best. Samoa Joe continues to be electric whenever he has a microphone, and it’s a tool in the Smackdown arsenal that isn’t use nearly enough. Given that Lesnar likely won’t defend the Universal Championship until WrestleMania, this is a great main event for that show. It has plenty of star power and some intrigue about what it will set up for FastLane and WrestleMania.