2/5 Barnett’s WWE Smackdown Live TV Review: Daniel Bryan vs. Jeff Hardy in a non-title match, Mustafa Ali vs. Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, Elimination Chamber build continues

By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)

WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Aired live from Everett, Washington at Angel of the Winds Arena

Charlotte Flair made her way to the ring to start the show. The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton said Charlotte saw Becky’s knee injury last week, and so did Stephanie McMahon last week. They showed video of Becky’s attack on Stephanie last night. Charlotte said that the only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance, and Becky showed her arrogance last night and got herself suspended. She said she knows someone that is 100% healthy, and would love to face Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania. She then mocked Becky’s injury and pointed at the WrestleMania sign.

Becky Lynch walked through the crowd to the ring, and was stopped by security as she got in the ring. Triple H’s music hit and he walked to the ring. Charlotte continued to mock Becky while Triple H told her to go home. He then told Charlotte that this didn’t concern her, and to get out of the ring. He then told Becky that she’s suspended, and all she has to do to make it go away was to see the doctor and get medically cleared, and she can go to WrestleMania. Until then, she can go home.

Becky asked Hunter how Steph was, and if he checked if she was medically cleared, since she punched her in the face. Hunter then said he’s surprised he didn’t see it until now, but “The Man” isn’t real, and it’s a self destructive act of fear. He called Becky a fraud, and questioned whether or not she was actually injured. He said this was all an act, just like when Survivor Series came around. She went to Raw on a suicide mission, knowing what would happen, and she found herself an excuse. He said she had to destroy her own opportunities, because she was afraid of being exposed. And now she has another excuse in her knee. Hunter said that she would try to say that she doesn’t want the doctor to tell her she can’t go to WrestleMania, but in reality she’s just afraid that the doctor would tell her she could go to WrestleMania.

Hunter stared Becky down and told her The Man is just an act, and she’s afraid that if she goes to WrestleMania, Ronda Rousey will just expose her for the fraud that she is. And this knee injury is just a cover story for the real issue, which is that Becky Lynch fears Ronda Rousey. He told her to prove him wrong, and she slapped him across the face. They had a stare down, and Becky walked away.

Gallows and Anderson take on Rusev and Nakamura next…[c]

My Take: A very well delivered promo from Triple H, but the fact that Becky had no verbal response was bizarre and unlike her character. Shattering the mystique of “The Man” as a character in order to get through a couple of months of TV before WrestleMania is a huge risk, and I’m not inspired with confidence by what they’ve come up with thus far.

Gallows and Anderson were already in the ring. Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance while footage of him losing the US Title, and the subsequent beat down on R-Truth was shown. Rusev then made his entrance with Lana.

1. Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. The Good Brothers: Gallows jumped Nakamura out of the gate. He rallied and made a tag to Rusev, but a disagreement between the heels led to a rollup from Anderson for a near fall. Anderson then sent them both to the outside, where they had to regroup…[c]

During the break, Rusev took over on Anderson. He choked him on the second rope and used some ground and pound to cut him off from Gallows. Nakamura tagged in and hit some heavy knee strikes. He then held him in a chinlock as the show returned from break. Anderson broke free of Nakamura with an uppercut, and then avoided a Kinshasa by reversing into a spinebuster. Gallows and Rusev both made tags, and Gallows hit a kick that dropped him. Nakamura re-entered, but Gallows caught him with a sit out chokeslam. Gallows and Rusev then collided with a double clothesline.

Anderson tagged in and the Good Brothers set up for a Magic Killer on Rusev. Nakamura broke it up, and hit a Kinshasa on Gallows. Anderson took out Nakamura with a running knee, but Rusev hit him with a machka kick and got the win.

Rusev and Nakamura defeated The Good Brothers at 9:31

Backstage, Mustafa Ali spoke about being an underdog in the Elimination Chamber. He said he when the viper strikes, and he makes him miss, he won’t hesitate to take advantage of his opportunities. Elsewhere backstage, Paige introduce a trailer for the upcoming movie based on her life…[c]

My Take: Add Nakamura and Rusev to the long line of tag teams that are able to beat established teams on their first night out, will eventually be champions in the division, and then quickly dissolve when creative comes up with an idea for one of them.

The Usos were backstage, and they spoke about The Miz and Shane McMahon. They said their goals sounded familiar, wanting to please their father and become Tag Champions, and it sounded a lot like them. But they were different. They knew how to be hot and cool at the same time, and they were their brother’s keeper. Jey said they would go on “McMizTV” next week, and welcome them to the Uso Penitentiary. In the arena, Randy Orton made his entrance. Mustafa Ali was already in the ring.

A picture in picture promo aired for Orton, where he said he wouldn’t even bother learning his opponent’s name for tonight. Nor would he do so at the Elimination Chamber. He wouldn’t even look at their faces. He would only hear their screams in pain as he marched towards becoming WWE Champion.

2. Mustafa Ali vs. Randy Orton: Ali slapped Orton hard in the chest, but Orton was largely unphased. He tossed him outside the ring, and then hit a back suplex on the announce table. Back in the ring, Orton continued the abuse. He hit a clothesline, followed by some stomps. He then held a chinlock, and then tossed Ali into the corner. He placed him on the top rope, and quickly hit a superplex for a near fall…[c]

Orton continued to hold onto a chinlock. Ali broke free and hit a kick, and Orton retreated out to the floor. Ali followed, and Orton attempted to suplex him into the table again. Ali avoided it, and kicked Orton over the announce table. He then jumped over the table and splashed him. Ali then hit several kicks on Orton as he got back in the ring to rattle him. Ali charged at Orton in the corner, but then got sent out to the apron. He kicked Orton to regain the advantage, and then hit a rolling facebuster for a near fall. Ali got to his feet first, and his left eye is swelling.

Ali hit a tornado DDT out of the corner, avoiding an Orton RKO in the process. He then climbed up to the top for a 054, but Orton pulled him off the ropes into an RKO and got the win.

Randy Orton defeated Mustafa Ali at 10:32

After the match, Samoa Joe surprised Orton with a Coquina Clutch. He then kicked Mustafa Ali out of the ring. As Joe walked up to the stage, Daniel Bryan made his entrance. Joe approached him until Rowan walked out, and then Joe thought better of it…[c]

My Take: Hopefully Ali’s eye isn’t serious. That was a good TV match, and I enjoyed how Ali looked smart in avoiding the RKO, until he didn’t. The psychology was well done, and entertaining. Ali continues to look good against veteran talents, even if he comes up a little short.

Backstage, Samoa Joe said he showed Randy Orton and Mustafa Ali how serious he is about Elimination Chamber. He said in the chamber it would be an evisceration and a brutalization, and it would be a justification for his means. He said afterward his hand would be raised WWE Champion.

In the arena, Daniel Bryan was announced as the favorite son of Washington. He got a big chant, and he said the smart people of Washington understand that we are in need of change. He said it was unfortunate that he had to speak to a global audience, who have to escape the real world by stuffing their faces with deep fried animal caracasses. He said they all need their pathetic dopamine rush to get to the next hump. He said the people in Washington understood that, and they also understand why he needs this (pointing to his new WWE Championship).

He called his new WWE Championship is a symbol of change. Rowan grabbed the mic and said just like Galileo, great thinkers like Daniel Bryan and himself are feared for their ideas. He said as long as Daniel Bryan is WWE Champion, they will try to silence him. Bryan said they will try to silence them because they do not represent corporate greed, or just money, because he’s the planet’s champion.

Bryan said the suits in the back have never wanted him to succeed or become champion, and so they put him in a match he should not be in. He called it a dangerous match that few Champions escape from, and then introduced a video package for the Chamber Match. Bryan named off the chamber competitors, and said he would be facing Jeff Hardy tonight. He said all of them want to win the chamber and take the WWE Championship back into the past. He the ignorant masses need him as WWE Champion, and the planet needs him as the WWE Champion…

Backstage, Jeff Hardy watched a TV. He was asked about the WWE Champion. He said no one has disrespected the title like Daniel Bryan. Hardy said he can’t tell Daniel Bryan to shut up, because a mad man isn’t interested in a debate, but he would go out there later and shut him up personally. AJ Styles walked up and asked if he was really the guy for the job given his recent history, and Hardy replied that AJ already proved that the real AJ Styles couldn’t get it done against the New Daniel Bryan. AJ brought up Rowan, but Hardy said if he got the job done, they wouldn’t need to have this conversation.

In the arena, Carmella and Naomi made their entrance. A video promo was shown, and Naomi accused Mandy of concocting a bunch of lie filled nonsense about Tough Enough last week. Carmella said Naomi found another former Champion, and they are the most fabulous team going after the Women’s Tag Team Championships…[c]

My Take: Bryan’s promos have been more style than substance since Rowan joined him as a sidekick, so I hope they have something more interesting for him to talk about coming out of the chamber match. The Smackdown women not having to compete to get into the Chamber match is a bit odd, but I guess they just don’t have enough women on the roster to do it any other way.

The Iconics made their entrance, and a promo video aired where they spoke about their experience working together as a duo since they first arrived in NXT. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville were interviewed backstage, and they spoke about being the only two aside from Sasha and Bayley that have been in an elimination chamber. Mandy was asked about Naomi, and she said that Naomi hasn’t pinned her yet, so she’s doing something right. Sonya and Mandy termed themselves Fire and Desire.

3. The Iconic Duo vs. Fire and Desire vs Naomi and Carmella: Naomi and Carmella hit a clumsy DDT on Billie Kay. Peyton tagged in and hit a spin kick on Carmella, and then applied a chinlock. Mandy tagged herself in, and took a cheap shot at Carmella, who didn’t see the tag…[c]

Mandy and Sonya controlled the action, until Peyton tagged herself in. The heel teams took turns keeping Carmella away from a tag, but eventually she broke free after ducking under a clothesline and made a hot tag to Naomi. She cleaned house and eventually forced Peyton into the corner where she inadvertently made a tag to Mandy. Naomi teed off on her, but Peyton got involved again, so Naomi had to put her down with a rear view. The distraction allowed Mandy to hit a double underhook facebuster slam thing for the win.

Fire and Desire defeated Naomi and Carmella and The Iconic Duo at 8:41

Backstage, Zelina Vega and Andrade cut a promo, where Zelina said the legend of Andrade begins where Rey Mysterio ends. Footage was shown of their attack on Rey last week. The announcers then cut to a Black History Month video…[c]

My Take: That wasn’t much of a match, but I appreciate the Mandy and Naomi feud working being maintained through this Tag Match. Though, the female teams on Smackdown essentially being awarded the match at Elimination Chamber does take away the stakes that have been created for the Raw teams.

Video was shown of the Becky Lynch/Charlotte/Triple H segment from earlier. After that, Corey Graves said Charlotte has a claim to her match if her suspension isn’t cleared up. We then got an Asuka video package, followed by Jeff Hardy making his entrance…[c]

Video was shown of the Becky Lynch/Charlotte/Triple H segment from earlier. After that, Corey Graves said Charlotte has a claim to her match if her suspension isn’t cleared up. We then got an Asuka video package, followed by Jeff Hardy making his entrance…[c]

Daniel Bryan was on the tail end of his entrance as the show returned.

4. Daniel Bryan vs. Jeff Hardy: Bryan took control early on with a knee lift and kicks in the corner. He then attempted to charge in, but Hardy cut him off with a running lariat. Hardy then hit a back body drop, but Bryan quickly cut him off with a boot coming into the corner. Bryan then applied a modified surfboard submission, but Hardy escaped quickly. He then hit a baseball slide that sent Bryan to the floor. Hardy attempted to run around the ring and hit an aerial move, but Rowan stopped him in his tracks. Bryan ran around Rowan and tripped up Hardy on the ring steps…[c]

Bryan and Hardy traded blows mid ring until Hardy sent Bryan over the top rope to the outside. He then jumped and hit a clothesline from the apron to the floor. Hardy tossed Bryan back into the ring and scaled the turnbuckles, but Bryan rolled out of the way. Hardy approached Bryan, but Bryan sent him into the middle turnbuckle with a drop toe hold. He then kicked the rope into Hardy’s jaw. Bryan then hit a series of kicks, but missed the last one, allowing Hardy to hit a twist of fate. Hardy scaled the turnbuckles again and hit the Swanton, but Rowan pulled him out of the ring before the pin could be counted.

Jeff Hardy defeated Daniel Bryan by DQ at 12:11

After the match, Bryan locked in the Lebell Lock, but it was broken up by Samoa Joe. Joe locked in the Coquina Clutch, but Orton broke it up before Bryan was out. Joe and Orton brawled before being taken out by Mustafa Ali. Rowan grabbed Ali and pulled him to the outside, where he palmed his head and slammed him onto the announce desk. AJ Styles then made his entrance and cleared Orton and Joe from the ring. He then hit a phenomenal forearm on Hardy and stood tall to close the show. Replays then aired and AJ stared down Bryan, who had ran up to the stage.

Backstage, Bryan was asked about escaping Smackdown with the help of Rowan. Bryan denied Rowan had helped him at all, and called him an Intellectual Peer. He claimed that nobody understands that he needs to be WWE Champion forever aside from Rowan and himself. He then stormed off angrily.

My Take: I enjoyed that match, but turning Bryan into a weak heel champion that escapes because of his bodyguard isn’t my favorite version of his act. Particularly since being the “Planet’s Champion” has thus far been a pretty flimsy gimmick aside from the very svelte organic WWE Championship belt. I keep hoping for additional layers to this act, and a better understanding of his relationship with Rowan, but thus far they’ve eschewed that in favor of a much more frantic build towards the Chamber. I guess time isn’t on their side, but the lack of character work is disappointing nonetheless.


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)...


Readers Comments (4)

  1. ” a better understanding of his relationship with Rowan”

    it is strange the only link between them was they used to be in the Wyatt Family together.

    as for being a weak heel champion because he ran away. that’s no different then other heel champions……all heel champions run away.

  2. Mr. Barnett hit the nail on the head with the women’s division on Smackdown… Should they add Charlotte to Becky /Rousey match no one is built up to seriously threaten Asuka… Asuka’s title defenses should be as compelling as Rouseys, but Raw being top heavy now with Lynch on both shows now. Charlotte needling her way into the main event. Bayley/ Sasha apparently to win tag belts. Raw has Alexa Bliss… Leaves Smackdown with a very capable champion with no serious contender… That being said foreshadowing as well no Smackdown team winning the tag belts on womens side of things. 2 ppvs to rectify this glaring problem.

    • Eh, put the belts on Io Shari and Kairi Sane and have the other teams have to go down to NXT to try and win them.

      • I’d rather see Mandy and Sonya get the belts, out of the options available. They’re an interesting team, and Sonya is very underrated.

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