There are two more episodes of Smackdown Live left going into the Royal Rumble. Advertised for this week’s show is a Smackdown Women’s Title Steel Cage match with Alexa Bliss defending her title against Becky Lynch. Also announced is a “King’s Court” segment with Jerry Lawler since the show is in Memphis, which is where he is from. Let’s get to it.
Live from Memphis, Tennessee this is Smackdown Live for episode #909.
There was a brief video to start the show letting us know about Bliss vs. Lynch in the Steel Cage later in the show.
The live shot of the arena showed the steel cage hanging above the ring.
Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon made his entrance. It was his birthday a few days ago. The announce team of Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga and Tom “no talking during matches” Phillips were shown on camera.
Shane was greeted with a loud “Shane O Mac” chant. He mentioned the Royal Rumble taking place in San Antonio in less than two weeks. He went over key names in the match: Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Baron Corbin and Dean Ambrose to name a few.
Shane announced that in four weeks time (on February 12) in Phoenix, the WWE Championship will be defended inside the Elimination Chamber.
Analysis: That was something that we knew, but it wasn’t mentioned on WWE television before.
The WWE Champion AJ Styles showed up to complain about having to defend the title in the Elimination Chamber. He went into the ring as Shane wondered if Styles would still be champion heading into the Elimination Chamber. Styles said “over my dead body” at the idea of John Cena beating him for the WWE Title at Royal Rumble. Styles told Shane to consult the champ before he makes a decision like that, but the fans interrupted them with a loud “AJ Styles” chant. Shane said the only person he consulted with was the Smackdown General Manager Daniel Bryan. Shane told Styles he is one of the best and he also criticized Styles’ attitude. Styles suggested that he go back to Japan and never come back. Styles complained about how he hasn’t been in an Elimination Chamber before…there’s the music of John Cena.
John Cena made his entrance and he was greeted by “John Cena sucks” chants to the tune of his song. He ran into the ring to join Styles and McMahon.
Styles told Cena that he should just shut up since his "brother-in-law" Bryan gifted him with a title match. Styles told Shane that it’s stupid to put Styles in an Elimination Chamber match just two weeks after the Royal Rumble. He wondered why Smackdown Live was against AJ Styles. The ranting continued as Styles asked who is next to steal his spotlight. Here comes The Miz with Maryse.
The Miz walked out with his lively wife Maryse and they made their way into the ring. Miz said that whenever he gets his rematch with Dean Ambrose, he’ll win back his Intercontinental Title. Miz talked about how whether he wins the Royal Rumble or the WWE Title at Elimination Chamber, he’ll be in the main event as a dual champion that does more than any champion has done before.
Styles told Miz the best thing he can do is stay away from him and the Elimination Chamber. Miz mocked Styles by saying that while Miz was growing his hair out to become America’s next top soccer mom (ouch), he was beating John Cena before it was cool. Miz claimed that when people talk about Smackdown Live people aren’t talking about Styles, they are talking about The Miz. Heels lie, but that’s okay. Cena said it sounds like Miz is saying that he’s better than AJ Styles. Styles reminded Miz that the last time they were in Memphis, Styles knocked his tooth out. Styles took a dig at Maryse and made a limp joke for The Miz. Cena furthered the matter by wondering if Miz would take that.
After Styles and Miz kept arguing, Shane announced a match for Smackdown: AJ Styles vs. The Miz right now…or at least after the break.
Analysis: It was a pretty standard opening segment to set up a match coming up right after a break. There were some decent lines in there and Cena was comical a bit trying to set up the match. I don’t think WWE knows how to do opening segments without setting up a match right away or later in the show. It’s the formula they love to use.
Still to come: King’s Court segment hosted by Jerry Lawler with Dolph Ziggler as the guest.
There was a shot of Dean Ambrose holding the Intercontinental Title. He said he needs a new title because it smells from The Miz and it’s sticky. Shane said he can’t help him since there’s only one title. Ambrose told Shane he wants Randy Orton in a match. Shane gave it to him. Ambrose was pleased with it.
Analysis: That’s the kind of match they should have announced before the show, but it’s fine to set it up during Smackdown.
AJ Styles vs. The Miz (w/Maryse)
The WWE Title is not on the line. John Cena is on commentary for this match.
It’s a heel vs. heel match although Styles gets cheered a lot. Cena was there promoting various products and appearances he’s involved with. Styles worked over Miz with some punches and hit a backbreaker for a two count. Miz went for a hiptoss, but Styles tripped him up with a Calf Crusher. Miz got to the ropes. Styles came back with a forearm to counter a rollup attempt. Styles with a boot to the face. He went for a move on the apron, but Maryse distracted him and Miz nailed Styles with a boot that knocked Styles to the floor a few minutes into this match.
Back from break, Miz was in control with his Daniel Bryan taunting with a corner dropkick. Miz nailed a corner clothesline to knock Styles down. Miz off the top countered by Miz with a boot. Miz kicked him in the head to avoid a Styles Clash. The ref held Styles back, so Miz did a thumb to the eye and a DDT for a two count. Styles got a rollup for a two count. Styles kicked Miz away and hit a Pele Kick while Miz was on the apron. Hard knee to the face by Styles knocked Miz to the floor. Styles threw Miz into Cena, but Cena blocked it. Styles punched Cena and the ref called for the bell. The match went about ten minutes.
Match Result: Disqualification
Analysis: **3/4 It was a good match for the time given. It felt like they were on their way to something great, but it needed another five minutes. It didn’t get into a spot where they were doing believable nearfalls and submissions that could have ended the match. I thought Miz was going to take a pin or submit, so at least they surprised me a bit with that finish. Miz was more of the heel in the match with Styles working like a face with the comeback. The finish probably could have been set up a bit better, but it got the job done in terms of ending in a disqualification.
Styles left the ring. Miz attacked Cena from behind, but Cena dropped Miz with the Attitude Adjustment. Styles went for a springboard attack, Cena avoided it and hit the Attitude Adjustment. Cena posed with the WWE Title as a preview of what could happen at Royal Rumble.
Analysis: Good showing from Cena to look strong. He easily fended off both Miz and Styles without even taking a bump. I want Styles to retain at Royal Rumble, but not sure if it’s happening. I think a title change is more likely in the Universal Title match between Reigns and Owens.
Up next is Nikki Bella to call out Natalya.
Nikki Bella entered for a promo. A clip aired of her match against Natalya that didn’t happen last week because they had a brawl all around the ringside area ending with Natalya putting her in a Sharpshooter.
Nikki said that last week they were just getting started, so tonight they are going to finish what they started. Nikki called out Natalya. She told her to come out there right now. When there was no sign of Natalya, Nikki said that Natalya is the best there is, best there was and best there ever will be at stabbing people in the back.
Natalya was with a microphone up in the aisle. She went over to a merchandise stand. She asked somebody about the Nikki Bella merchandise. A guy pointed it out, so Natalya noted it was right next to the John Cena merchandise. While this was going on, Nikki went up the steps to the same section Natalya was in. Natalya did a promo where she was ranting about Bret Hart was her former uncle because he supported Nikki. Natalya grabbed the Nikki shirts and threw them in the trash.
Nikki showed up backstage and tackled Natalya. They went crashing through a table. They brawled on the floor as security guys showed up to try to break them up. Natalya ran at her and got her hands on her again as security guys pulled both women back to keep them apart. The scene ended there.
Analysis: Good brawl from the ladies again. They’ve really worked hard to make it feel like a personal feud instead of typical rivalry where two people battle to see who the better person is. I also like that there has been a long build up to their eventual match. It could happen at the Royal Rumble although the lineup for that show is getting full, so we’ll see if it becomes official. I’m just happy Natalya has gotten a chance to talk more and be in a meaningful feud because she deserves it.
Later on Smackdown: Ambrose vs. Orton.
The announcers hyped up the Steel Cage match again.
Alexa Bliss was interviewed backstage by Dasha Fuentes. Bliss called Lynch a human Chucky doll. Bliss said that when she walks out of the cage as champion, the look on Becky Lynch’s face will be something that no one will ever forget.
Analysis: Ominous words from Bliss that could have a lot of meaning after their match.
A video aired about Kurt Angle being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It featured several comedy clips from his career, which showed how diverse of a performer he was because he was great as a serious wrestler as well.
Tickets for WWE Hall of Fame go on sale this Friday at 10amET. The Hall of Fame ceremony is at the Amway Center in Orlando on Friday, March 31.
Dean Ambrose made his entrance. A clip aired from a few weeks ago when the Wyatt Family attacked Ambrose with Orton hitting a RKO on Ambrose. The show went to break.
Analysis: It’s the top of hour two, so that means Bliss vs. Lynch is the main event. I like that decision.
The Wyatt Family trio of Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton and Luke Harper made their entrance. A clip aired of Orton and Harper arguing last week.
Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton (w/Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper)
This match is not for Ambrose’s Intercontinental Title.
Ambrose with a running cross body block to take down Orton. Ambrose took control with a side headlock. Orton came back with a headlock of his own. Shoulder tackle by Orton. Ambrose tripped him up with a drop toe hold. Orton came back with a suplex that drove Ambrose’s stomach onto the top rope. Chinlock by Orton again. Ambrose got back to his feet, went to the top and hit a flying elbow to knock Orton down. Orton escaped to the floor, but Ambrose was there to nail him with a clothesline on the floor. Wyatt and Harper stared at Ambrose, so Orton shoved Ambrose into the ring post. Orton with a back suplex onto the announce table, but it wasn’t done with a lot of force. The table didn’t break. The show went to break about six minutes into the match.
The show returned from break with Ambrose hitting a clothesline while JBL noted that Orton dominated the last few minutes. Ambrose hit a flying forearm followed by a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Orton hit an uppercut, Ambrose off the ropes and Orton nailed a powerslam for a two count of his own. Wyatt yelled at Orton to finish it now with a RKO. Orton wanted a superplex, but Ambrose fought out of it. They each countered finishers and Ambrose hit a clothesline for a two count. Orton went for the draping DDT, but Ambrose gave him a back body drop over the top to the floor. Ambrose with a suicide dive that took out Harper on the floor. Orton avoided it. Ambrose on the apron, so Orton hit a draping DDT. Harper went into the ring looking for revenge. Orton told him to leave the ring. He left. Ambrose got a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! and of course it was enough to win after 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dean Ambrose
Analysis: *** Good match with the finish that makes me groan because of how often WWE busts out the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! It would have been better to have Ambrose hit his finish there. It’s not like it would hurt Orton because the main story was about Harper causing the distraction that cost Orton the match. That’s the third time Orton has been pinned in the last month or so because he was pinned twice in tag title matches and also in this match. That's what usually happens when somebody is about to turn, so in this case Orton going face.
Post match, Orton and Harper argued. They threw punches. Wyatt got in the middle of them to break it up. When Harper stepped towards Orton, Wyatt nailed him with a punch to the mouth. Orton smiled about it. Harper stood in the middle of them again to prevent further incident. Harper left the ring first and went up the aisle by himself.
Analysis: The slow split of the Wyatt Family continues. It will probably lead to some big incident at the Royal Rumble. I think Orton will split off as a face soon leading to a match against Wyatt at WrestleMania.
Becky Lynch was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes backstage. Lynch said she never runs from a fight, so she knows who she is. Lynch said we’ll find out who Alexa Bliss is and it won’t be champion.
Up next: Lawler will host King’s Court with Dolph Ziggler.
King’s Court With Dolph Ziggler
The legendary Jerry Lawler was in the ring hosting King’s Court. He was in his king attire with his ring gear on and a robe as well as a crown. Lawler said that it’s good to be back there on a King’s Court on Smackdown Live. He got the cheap pop noting how they were in their hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Lawler introduced Dolph Ziggler.
Dolph Ziggler walked out in his street clothes. When Lawler welcomed to the King’s Court, Ziggler said nothing.
Lawler noted that Ziggler’s goodness has faded almost as much as the bleach in his hair. When Lawler asked him what’s up, Ziggler said nothing. Lawler said he thinks that Ziggler is frustrated because he hasn’t been winning a lot of matches and now he thinks this new attitude is going to win him some matches. Lawler asked if that’s what he is thinking. Ziggler said nothing again. Lawler cued up footage of Ziggler losing to Kalisto and then Ziggler attacked Kalisto and Apollo Crews with a steel chair.
Ziggler teased leaving. Lawler pleaded with him to talk. Ziggler said he knew Lawler would try to make him look bad and try to dirty his name in his hometown. He knew because Ziggler brought some footage himself. Ziggler showed footage from September 2012 when he hit Lawler with several elbow drops leading to Lawler suffering a heart attack on Raw shortly after. The crowd booed. Ziggler said that Lawler blamed him for his heart attack and he should have. Ziggler said if Lawler doesn’t finish with these questions then Ziggler will finish what he started over four years ago. Fans chanted “Jerry” as they had a staredown. Lawler told Ziggler no matter how many times he changes his attitude he will always be a loser. Crowd cheered. Ziggler took a step back and nailed Lawler with a superkick that knocked Lawler down. JBL went into the ring to check on Lawler. JBL actually slipped getting into the ring. Ziggler went up the ramp. Lawler yelled “Ziggler” repeatedly and told him to get back in the ring. Ziggler just left.
Analysis: That was an intense segment with a personal touch to it as Ziggler brought up the heart attack that Lawler suffered on Raw in 2012. I’m not that surprised that they would go that route because it was cheap heat on Ziggler, who needs to get heat on him as a new heel. A lot of fans were cheering him even after he turned a few weeks ago, so having him go that route with Lawler both verbally and with the cheap superkick is a way to get people to really hate the guy. Now they have to book Ziggler stronger so they can get him some wins. Good to see Lawler on WWE TV again. It would be cool to see him on Raw and Smackdown periodically hosting talk show segments.
Bliss and Lynch were shown preparing for their Steel Cage match.
A clip of the new XXX movie starring Vin Diesel was shown.
Coming up on Talking Smack later, Shane McMahon joins Renee Young as the co-host.
The announcers talked about what happened with Lawler and JBL was mad about it. Otunga made a comment about JBL slipping and JBL said he was concerned about his friend.
Analysis: Otunga is the face announcer. He should have been the one to check on Lawler. I'm just kidding. There's more history with JBL and Lawler as older guys.
Bray Wyatt was shown backstage in a darkened room. He said the Wyatt Family members will be in the Royal Rumble. He also said Orton will face Harper next week on Smackdown Live and the group will be stronger than ever.
Analysis: It’s probably time for Orton to get a win after all of the losses in the last month. Just a guess.
The steel cage was lowered on top of the ring for the main event.
Becky Lynch made her entrance first for the main event. The Smackdown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss made her entrance as well. The show went to break.
The bell rang as they returned from break.
Smackdown Women’s Championship Steel Cage Match: Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch
In WWE cage matches, you can win by escaping the cage, going out the door, by pinfall or submission.
The match started at 10:46pmET so they should get a little over ten minutes. Lynch was aggressive early on. Bliss slowed her down with a back elbow and a boot to the face. Bliss tripped her up with a STO takedown. Lynch tried to climb out, but Bliss pulled her down. Lynch with a dropkick on Bliss, but Bliss came back by slamming her face first into turnbuckle. Both women were on the top rope against the cage. Bliss rammed Lynch’s head into the cage. Lynch came back by grabbing Bliss by the air and they went crashing to the mat as the match went to beak.
The match returned from break with Bliss kicking Lynch in the back while Lynch was against the cage. Bliss missed a charge by the cage, but Lynch moved and Bliss hit the cage. Lynch tried to leave only for Bliss to stop her. Lynch hit a missile dropkick off the top for a two count. Lynch climbed up to the top of the cage. Bliss stopped her from climbing out. Lynch hit a jumping side kick on the top rope while they were against the cage. Lynch hit a Bexploder Suplex off the top rope for a two count. Good nearfall there. Fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Bliss tried to crawl out the door, but Lynch stopped her with punches. La Luchadora went to ringside. She stood on the apron where the door was. Lynch was stunned by it. Lynch took down Bliss with the Disarmer. La Luchadora interfered with a spin kick to the face. Bliss hit the snap DDT on Lynch and got the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Alexa Bliss
Analysis: *** It was a cheap win to keep the title on the champion while also ending the feud because Lynch failed to win back her title. I liked the way they used the cage as a weapon and came up with some pretty cool spots. It’s impressive when you see smaller women like Bliss and it’s not like Lynch is that big, but they managed to do some cool moves. Bumping off the top rope isn’t always easy. They did a good job.
After the match was over, Bliss and Luchadora stomped away on Lynch. Luchadora held her up, but Lynch fought them off. Lynch ripped off the mask of Luchadora and revealed it to be Mickie James. Lynch was stunned by it. The crowd was shocked. The heels knocked down Lynch again. Replays aired of the reveal.
Smackdown ended with Bliss holding up the Smackdown Women’s Championship with Mickie holding up Bliss’ hand while Lynch was out on the mat.
Analysis: That was great. I loved it. It wasn’t a surprise to me, but it’s still one of those things that I was able to enjoy. Like I said, it was a cheap win for a heel champion as well as a big reveal. Mickie is one of the greatest women’s wrestlers in WWE history. She was released in 2010. Bringing her back is a great move because there’s a whole roster full of women that she doesn’t have much history with, so it’s going to be very fresh to see her back in a WWE ring. I’m glad they gave this match the main event slot so that they could go off the air with this big moment.
I know most people reading this are aware, but I’ve been close friends with Mickie for about seven years. I’ve spent those years working on her website and other social media channels (mainly Facebook). I knew she was coming back for this and didn't tell although I saw it get leaked online in the last day. I’m glad it’s happened and very happy for her being back in WWE. I didn’t think they’d bring her back as a heel, but I know she’ll do very well in a feud with Lynch. They’re going to have some incredible matches.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Mickie James – This is her first time on Raw or Smackdown in nearly seven years, so she gets this spot.
2. Alexa Bliss
3. Becky Lynch
All women this week. I liked Ambrose vs. Orton and Styles vs. Miz too, but it’s going to the girls this time.
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 6
2017 Average: 7.17
Average Post Brand Split (July 26, 2016): 6.52 - Raw is at 5.77
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 8, 9, 7.5, 7
2016 High: 8 (Jan. 3)
2016 Low: 6 (Jan. 10)
It gets a 7.5 out of 10.
Fun show again. There were three main matches that were given a decent amount of time and I think all of them were good. I loved the ending with the Mickie reveal.
As I say every week, the flow to this show is a lot better than Raw. They know how to take their time telling stories, nothing feels rushed and it leads to be a better product. I enjoyed it a lot.
That’s all for now. Go Toronto Raptors. Go Toronto Maple Leafs.
John Canton – email@example.com