It’s time for another edition of WWE Smackdown Live with the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view set to take place this Sunday night. The announced main event for the show is John Cena vs. Randy Orton in a non-title match that could be a WrestleMania match, but probably won’t be.
Live from Seattle, Washington this is Smackdown Live for episode #912. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. If you think the banner up top is serious you need a new sarcasm detector, my friends. Thanks Melo Man for it.
A video package aired about the rivalry between John Cena and Randy Orton. They meet “for the first time ever on Smackdown Live” in the main event of this week’s show. A lot of people groan about it, but I can see why WWE would promote it because it is the first time since this show has been called Smackdown Live.
The Smackdown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan made his entrance to a huge ovation with a lot of “YES” chants. He had a shirt that said “home” on it in representing his home state of Washington.
The announce team of Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga and Tom “no talking during matches” Phillips welcomed us to the show.
Bryan noted that last time he was there, he was forced to make the most difficult announcement of his life. He said that the last year hasn’t been easy, but once again he wants to talk about being grateful. He said he’s grateful to have had the opportunity to be grateful for being the GM of Smackdown and grateful to be in Seattle to give the fans the best show possible. They chanted “yes” for that. He’s also grateful that soon, very soon he’s going to be a dad.
Analysis: Bryan was referencing that one year ago on Feb. 8 he announced his retirement on Raw when the show was in Seattle.
The Miz made his entrance with his lovely wife Maryse. They entered the ring.
Miz immediately mocked Bryan: “Boo hoo. Daniel Bryan, one year ago had to retire.” Miz told him to do something his talents are suited for – become a stay at home dad. Miz wondered why Bryan was there and pointed out that he can’t wrestle anymore. Miz wondered by Bryan was even in a ring. Bryan joked that not being able to wrestle never stopped The Miz from getting into the ring. Loud “yes” chants for that. Miz said that Bryan doesn’t respect him, so that led to more “Daniel Bryan” chants. Miz yelled at the fans that Bryan can’t wrestle anymore. Miz tried to talk over the crowd, but they kept chanting. Bryan encouraged them to keep chanting. Miz asked the crowd if they think it’s funny.
Baron Corbin made his entrance to join the fun. Corbin told Miz he should learn to shut up. Corbin told him he talks too much on commentary and he’s talking too much now. Miz said when he talks people listen while Miz told Corbin they can work together at Elimination Chamber and at the end, let the best man win. Corbin said he could just take Miz out right now, so he doesn’t have to hear his mouth when Corbin wins the WWE Title. Miz wondered if Bryan would let Corbin talk like that and Bryan mockingly said “don’t punch Miz in the face, that would be terrible.”
Dean Ambrose walked out with the Intercontinental Title around his waist. Ambrose told Miz he looks like a shoe in his outfit. Ambrose told Corbin that he stole the motorcycle sound from his entrance music. Ambrose said he would be at home in the Elimination Chamber and they’re going to make some bad decisions in there. Ambrose claimed he would be the IC Champ as well as the WWE Champion.
AJ Styles joined in on the fun wondering if they were done. Styles said that at one point in time, he has beaten the three guys in the ring that are in the EC match. He tried to talk, but the people chanted “AJ Styles” and he told the crowd to shut up. Styles said the only thing he cares about is being the WWE Champion and he’s going to get his title back at the Elimination Chamber. Miz said he’s the most must see WWE superstar of all time.
Bryan stopped them from talking and told them to relax. Bryan said we should give the WWE Universe a preview and have a fatal fourway match. Bryan said they can have a fatal fourway match up next.
Analysis: I thought it would be a tag match with Styles teaming with Ambrose, but I guess they want to keep Styles a heel for now. It was a typical opening segment where they set up a match for after the break. On Raw, they set up a match for the main event. Those are the two reasons why WWE loves the show opening promos so much. The Seattle crowd is really loud, so hopefully they stay that way the whole show.
The match began after the break. Just a reminder that all four of these men are in the Elimination Chamber match on Sunday, which we already know. That’s why they are doing the match.
AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin vs. The Miz (w/Maryse)
This is not for Ambrose’s IC Title. First pinfall or submission wins. There’s no DQ or countout in a fourway.
Corbin refused to team with Miz to start the match. Ambrose took down Ambrose with a clothesline followed by a clothesline that sent Miz over the top to the floor. Styles went after Ambrose with a springboard attack, but Ambrose tripped him up and Styles went crashing to the floor. Corbin whipped Ambrose face first into the steel steps. Corbin nailed Miz with a punch to the face. Styles went for an attack on Corbin, but Corbin punched him. Ambrose back in and he sent Corbin into the ring post. Miz kicked Ambrose in the head and a Miz hit a snap DDT on Styles for a two count. There were a bunch of rollups into nearfalls between Styles, Ambrose and Miz. Styles and Miz did a collision spot to knock them down. Ambrose and Corbin did a double clothesline to knock them down as well as the show went to break about four minutes into the match.
As the show returned from break, they did the Tower of Doom spot out of the corner with Ambrose taking a double superplex and Corbin doing a double powerbomb on Styles and Ambrose. Miz got a running dropkick in the corner on Styles and then Corbin caught Miz with a Deep Six slam for two. Styles nailed a Pele Kick on Corbin followed by a forearm smash for a two count on Corbin. Miz hit the running knee to the face on Styles for a two count similar to what Daniel Bryan used to do. Ambrose crushed Miz with a running clothesline and an Ambrose neckbreaker on Styles. Ambrose with a bulldog on Miz into a clothesline on Ambrose. With Corbin outside the ring, Ambrose took him out with a suicide dive. Styles went for a dive, so Ambrose sent him into the barricade. Ambrose with an atomic drop on Miz on the barricade. Ambrose sent Corbin into the ring post as he was destroying everybody on the floor. Back in the ring, Ambrose with a top rope elbow smash on Corbin for a two count as Styles made the save. Styles avoided the Lunatic Lariat and hit a moonsault into a reverse DDT on Ambrose for two. Styles connected with a Phenomenal Forearm on Miz. When Styles went for a pin, Maryse pulled Miz out of the ring. Corbin capitalized with the End of Days slam on Styles for the pinfall win at the 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Baron Corbin
Analysis: ***1/2 That was an exciting match with a lot of believable nearfalls and a well booked finish. It looked like Styles was going to win after he connected with the Phenomenal Forearm, but Maryse was there to save her husband. Corbin capitalizing with the End of Days makes sense because they want to make people think he might win on Sunday. I don’t think he will (Wyatt is my pick), but it’s important to make the fans believe anybody has a shot to win. The other guys in this match have all been major champions before, so elevating the “new” guy in Corbin in this match was the right finish. I don’t think it hurts Styles too much to take a pin in a match like that.
The announcers shilled shows coming up on WWE Network.
There’s a Dual Contract Signing to come for Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi and Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch because WWE loves contract signings.
Luke Harper did a promo in a darkened room. He said that Randy Orton stole his family and he called him a liar. Harper said he knows how to fix it, but cutting the head off the Viper is too easy. Harper told Orton he wants him to feel pain. Harper said that at Elimination Chamber, Randy Orton will be eliminated.
Analysis: It makes sense to do Orton vs. Harper at Elimination Chamber since Orton had no match going into the show. Orton should go over in that match.
They had Nikki Bella appearing on the video wall being interviewed by Tom Phillips. Natalya also joined them. Phillips said they were separated so they can do the interview. Nikki said they were friends in the past and Natalya talked about how Nikki had no friends. Natalya talked about how Nikki had followers as well as people that work for her on her reality shows. Natalya said she planned on exposing Nikki for the awful human being that she is. Natalya ranted about how Nikki turned Natalya’s “ex-uncle” Bret against her leading to Nikki saying she did nothing like that. Nikki talked about how Natalya used to have so much respect, but ever since Natalya started craving the spotlight all Natalya does is talk about her family. Natalya ripped her saying that Nikki can go home with her pregnant sister and realize that Nikki won’t have any babies. Nikki said the only thing that Natalya has ever been good at is wrestling, so she wondered what she might do after that. Natalya told Nikki she’s going to be home having her sister’s snot nosed kid on her lap after Natalya ends her career. Natalya said that when Nikki’s done, John (Cena) is going to leave her and find somebody better. Natalya added that if she wasn’t married, John would probably end up with her. Nikki said she’s done with her and took her microphone off to end it.
Analysis: That was interesting and different from a typical interview segment. Natalya has really turned it up in terms of the personal attacks to make this feel like more than a typical women’s wrestling feud. I like that they kept them apart so they can finally have their blowoff match at Elimination Chamber on Sunday. They should have done a better job of giving Nikki more material to say because all she really did was repeatedly call Natalya a liar, but didn’t really take personal shots at her. I get wanting to keep Nikki as the face there, but it would have helped if she fired back a bit more. It was a pretty good promo from both ladies. I’m looking forward to their match at Elimination Chamber after three months of build to it.
Still to come: John Cena vs. Randy Orton. Up next is Apollo Crews vs. Dolph Ziggler.
Apollo Crews was already in the ring and Dolph Ziggler’s entrance was shown.
Apollo Crews vs. Dolph Ziggler
Crews was aggressive early on as he tossed Ziggler into the ring post. Ziggler avoided a corner attack that sent Crews into the ring post and Ziggler nailed a leaping DDT. Ziggler went for a superkick, Crews blocked it and got a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the win in less than two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Apollo Crews
Analysis: 1/2* A quick match to put over Crews and have Ziggler get mad after it was over. Of course they went with the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the win since it’s so deadly after all.
Post match, Ziggler nailed Crews with a cheap shot kick from behind. Ziggler grabbed a steel chair and he hit Crews in the back with it. Ziggler hit Crews in the back with the chair again. Kalisto ran out for the save, kicked the chair out of Ziggler’s hand and nailed a kick to the head. Ziggler crotched Kalisto on the top rope. Ziggler picked up the chair and hit Kalisto in the back with the chair. Fans chanted “one more time” for another chair shot. Ziggler hit Crews in the back again and he tossed the chair down to end it. Ziggler made angry faces. He left the ring.
Analysis: It put over the new Ziggler persona as a sore loser that uses the chair as a weapon after he loses. I would have preferred to see him win the match, but this is a way to have him look strong even after a defeat. Ziggler’s rivalry with Crews and Kalisto isn’t over.
Up next is the dual contract signing for Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi and Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch at the top of hour two.
Ziggler was shown walking backstage. Daniel Bryan walked up to him backstage wondering what he was doing. Ziggler said he can beat both guys any time he wants, but it’s more fun to beat them up with chairs. Bryan told Ziggler he will face Kalisto and Crews in a 2 on 1 handicap match.
Dual Contract Signing (Bliss vs. Naomi and James vs. Lynch)
Renee Young was in the ring to moderate the contract signing. Mickie James made her entrance first. She was joined by her ally Alexa Bliss. Becky Lynch entered as well. Naomi did her “Feel The Glow” entrance.
There was a table in the ring with contracts on them. Renee tried to talk, but Mickie cut her off saying that there are only two elite athletes in the ring, the current SD Live Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss and the six time Women’s Champion…herself. James told Renee to leave the ring saying that she can take it from here.
James told Lynch that this entire women’s division was built on her obsession to be the absolute best and she claimed that Lynch was trying to erase Mickie’s past. She claimed that Becky was trying to take credit for the women’s revolution. Mickie said she has waited for seven long years noting it has been seven years of rage to get back in a WWE ring to get the credit she deserves. James said she will prove that not only did she create this women’s revolution, she created Lynch. James said without her, there would be no Becky Lynch. James claimed that the re-invention of Mickie James starts with the destruction of Becky Lynch. James signed the contract.
Lynch said that she respected James until she showed up to help the little troll (Bliss) take the Women’s Title. Lynch said that when James left in the past, she walked away and now she has a big chip on her shoulder. Lynch said she’s going to bring “straight fire” to Elimination Chamber and she’s going to slap James into the past. Lynch signed the contract.
Bliss talked about how Mickie beat Hall of Famer Trish Stratus at WrestleMania 22. Bliss said the only thing that runs through Lynch’s veins is orange hair dye. Bliss said that as long as that title is on her shoulders, it means that it is her division. She mocked Naomi saying she completely forgot about her and noted that she’ll beat Naomi on Sunday. Bliss signed the contract.
Naomi said that Bliss hasn’t forgotten about her and mentioned that she pinned Bliss two times. Naomi pointed out that this Sunday is Elimination Chamber and they are less than two months away from WrestleMania, which is in Naomi’s hometown of Orlando. Naomi said that there is no way anybody is going to stop her from sliding down that WrestleMania aisle as the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Naomi told her to get ready to feel the glow and Naomi signed the contract.
Naomi kicked Bliss in the head. James and Lynch did a spot where they tackled eachother. Naomi knocked Bliss to the floor. James was on the floor as well. Naomi jumped over the top rope and took out James and Lynch on the floor. The heels retreated to end the segment while the faces were happy in the ring.
Analysis: They covered a lot with those promos. Mickie spoke the most and maybe it was a bit long, but it’s still early in her return to TV. Letting her explain the motivation for her character is the right way to handle a promo like that. She sounds likes a delusional heel that believes in what she says, yet you can also say that there was some truth to it. There was a weird part of the promo where Lynch said that Mickie left when things got tough, but she was released and it wasn’t her choice. I get why Lynch might say that for a promo like this because it makes James look bad. Bliss did the routine where she didn’t think Naomi was a worthy contender while Naomi is the woman that wants to prove like she belongs. The faces getting the advantage at the end is how those things often end. I’m looking forward to both matches at Elimination Chamber.
Still to come: Cena vs. Orton.
A bunch of tag teams were in the ring. American Alpha made their entrance.
American Alpha (Gable & Jordan), Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango), Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey), The Vaudevillains (English & Gotch) & The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor)
It’s a six on six tag. Gable worked with English to start. There was a tag leading to a double dropkick spot. Breeze and Fandango got in there with some offense. The match went to break about two minutes into it. The fans were chanting for Rhyno.
Analysis: It’s so confusing to come back from a break with 12 guys in a ring, starting a match and going to break after two minutes.
Back from break, Slater was the face in peril as the heels made a bunch of quick tags. Viktor drove Slater into the corner, tagged in Konnor and they hit a nice double team move leading to a knee to the face by Viktor. English and Viktor kept tagging eachother in and out. That led to an argument as Rhyno got the hot tag to a huge pop. Rhyno with back elbows for Viktor and a running clothesline followed by a shoulder tackle into the corner. Rhyno with a Spinebuster on Viktor. The heels broke up the pin leading to brawling. The Usos cleaned house for a bit until AA dumped them both out. The AA boys hit belly to belly suplexes on English and Gotch at the same time. Jordan launched Gable over the top to take out everybody on the floor. Konnor hit Jordan with an elbow to knock him out of the ring. Rhyno hit a Gore on Konnor. Viktor jumped off the top with a flying knee attack on Rhyno leading to a pinfall win. It went about seven minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey), The Vaudevillains (English & Gotch) & The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor)
Analysis: *3/4 I’m not a huge fan of matches with that many people involved, but they did the best they could. Viktor getting the pin is not what I would have predicted. It doesn’t really mean anything, though, because the guys that win on the last show before a PPV typically aren’t going to win at the PPV. It was just a way to give The Ascension a win since it’s so rare. I’d be surprised if American Alpha lose the titles at Elimination Chamber, but it’s a Tag Team Turmoil match so anything is possible in that kind of scenario.
The announcers plugged that David Otunga is a guest star on Criminal Minds on CBS. I don’t watch it, sorry Dave.
Cena vs. Orton up next.
A video package aired about the Elimination Chamber showing some clips from the match with past performers talking about the pain that comes when you’re in the match. There were comments from Edge, Booker T, Randy Orton, Rob Van Dam and Shawn Michaels among others. The video focused on the six guys in the Chamber match as well: Miz, Corbin, Ambrose, Styles, Wyatt and Cena.
The WWE Champion John Cena made his entrance. As usual, there was a mixed reaction with mostly cheers for him. Cena will be on ESPN Sportscenter on Thursday at 9pmET.
Randy Orton made his entrance along with his buddy Bray Wyatt to the Wyatt theme song. The “fireflies” lit up the arena with their cell phone light. No Luke Harper with Orton and Wyatt.
The show went to break before the match began.
It was announced that Harper vs. Orton is official for Elimination Chamber as expected.
The bell rang as the match returned from break.
John Cena vs. Randy Orton (w/Bray Wyatt)
This is not for Cena’s WWE Title.
Loud “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” chants to start. The announcers talked about the rivalry between them with Ranallo noting they debuted within two months of eachother in 2002 and trained together in OVW. Orton took control with punches and stomps followed by a headlock. The “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” chants continued. Orton kicked Cena in the gut leading to Cena rolling to the floor in front of Wyatt. Orton punched Cena in the face and sent Cena shoulder first into the steel steps. The show went to break there.
Back from break, Cena was back in control and looked for a Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Orton fought out of it. Orton did a full nelson into a slam for a two count. That’s not something he does very often. Cena avoided a draping DDT with a back body drop over the top to the floor. Cena sent Orton’s head into the steel steps. Orton gave Cena a back suplex onto the announce table, which didn’t break. They went back into the ring with Cena nailing his spinning suplex into a slam followed by the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment and Orton kicked out at two. Cena went to the top rope. Orton got up, grabbed him in a headlock and dropped him with a DDT off the ropes, so it was off the top rope instead of the middle rope like usual. Wyatt was laughing in his rocking chair. Cena back to his feet and Orton hit a RKO, but Cena kicked out at two. Orton went for it again, but Cena blocked it. Cena went for the AA, Orton held on and Orton’s foot hit the ref. It knocked the ref out of the ring. Cena applied the STF submission. Orton tapped out, but there was no ref. Wyatt went into the ring with an uppercut punch for Cena. Wyatt and Orton stomped on Cena. Cena came back with a clothesline on Orton, but Wyatt nailed Sister Abigail on Cena. Orton and Cena went to the floor. Luke Harper went into the ring to stare at Wyatt. Fans chanted “yes’ in support of Harper. Harper nailed a discus clothesline on Wyatt to a big ovation. The crowd loved that! Orton went for a RKO on Harper, but Harper shoved him off right into a AA for Cena. The ref went back in and counted the pin giving Cena the win after 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: John Cena
Analysis: ***1/4 A very good match from two guys that have a lot of chemistry due to wrestling so many times over the years. They went through all of their signature spots and kicked out finishing moves, which isn’t that common in a TV match. As soon as the match was announced I knew it wouldn’t end clean. A cheap finish was the way to go. It was just a matter of who got the help to win. The crowd loved seeing Harper nail Wyatt with that clothesline, which shows that he storyline is working. I know people are sick of Cena/Orton matches, but the last one was Hell in a Cell 2014, so I can forgive WWE for doing it since it’s been a while. Plus, it was a good match that was given enough time to tell a story.
Also, it’s good to see a champion win a non-title match since that is so rare in WWE these days.
Post match, Cena celebrated the win.
There was a graphic reminding us of the Elimination Chamber main event as the announcer shilled it coming up this Sunday.
Cena celebrated to end the night and the show went off the air right at 10pmET as usual.
Analysis: That is Cena’s last televised celebration with that title. I think Bray Wyatt is winning it on Sunday.
Three Stars of the Show
1. AJ Styles
2. Baron Corbin
3. (tie) Dean Ambrose
3. (tie) The Miz
I thought the four way was the match of the night, so I’m giving the nod to those guys.
7 out of 10
Last week: 7.5
2017 Average: 7.33
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.62 – Raw is at 5.81
Last 5 Weeks: 7.5, 8, 7.5, 6, 8
2017 High: 8 (Jan. 3 & Jan. 24)
2017 Low: 6 (Jan. 10)
It gets a 7 out of 10.
The first match and the last match were really good. It helps when they are given over ten minutes to tell a story the way they were. The tag match was a bit of a mess with so many different people involved.
The three women’s feuds were furthered by promos. I thought the Natalya/Nikki segment was a bit silly although as I noted it does feel more personal than an average feud. I like the Lynch/James story more than Naomi/Bliss, but I think all three matches will be good at Elimination Chamber if they get time.
Every match that is taking place at Elimination Chamber was given some time on Smackdown to add to their story. I think if you watched the show then you have no problem remembering the match, but in case you forgot I have them below.
The Seattle crowd was loud for much of the show. I remember them as being one of the louder crowds even though WWE doesn’t go there that often. They were into everything and had a lot of fun chants too. Nice job, Seattle. Wish you still had the Sonics too!
Here’s the Elimination Chamber lineup. It takes place this Sunday, February 12.
Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship: John Cena (c) vs. AJ Styles vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz vs. Baron Corbin
Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper
Smackdown Women’s Championship Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Naomi
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kalisto & Apollo Crews
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Turmoil Match: American Alpha (c) vs. The Usos vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Ascension vs. Breezango vs. The Vaudevillains
(Two teams start off the match, once one team defeats the other, a new team enters to go up against the winning team. This continues until one team is left the victor.)
I’ll be back on Friday with a preview of Elimination Chamber and then on Sunday with a live review at TJRWrestling.net while other sites will get it on Monday.
That’s all for now. Go Toronto Raptors. Go Toronto Maple Leafs.
John Canton – [email protected]