Date: January 17, 2017
Location: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga, Tom Phillips
I know I say this every week but it’s a stacked show again with Alexa Bliss defending the Women’s Title against Becky Lynch in a cage match to prevent interference from La Luchadora. Other than that we have the King’s Court with Jerry Lawler and Shane McMahon opening the show with a major announcement. Let’s get to it.
Quick preview of tonight’s show.
Here’s Shane to get us going with his major announcement. He gets straight to the point: in four weeks, the Smackdown World Title will be defended inside the Elimination Chamber with the winner going on to “Wrestlemania XXXIII” for the big title defense. This brings out champion AJ Styles to say that Shane is ruining Smackdown. Styles threatens to take the title back to Japan instead of fighting inside the Chamber but Shane brings up the idea that Cena will tie Ric Flair’s record at the Rumble.
Cue Cena but Styles cuts him off because Cena doesn’t get to say anything when his brother in law hands him title shots. This brings out the Miz and Maryse with Miz saying this is his time to kick 2017 off as only he can. Miz makes fun of the normal things people make fun of AJ for (Cena: “Sounds like he’s trying to get to you AJ.”) so Styles says Miz probably wrestles with a limp. AJ: “We can ask Maryse about that.” Cena: “OOOOOOH!!!!” Cena gets them riled up enough to make the match happen next.
Back from a break with Shane running into Dean Ambrose, who wants in the Chamber. They’ll talk about that later though because Dean wants a new belt which doesn’t smell like cocoa butter. Shane can’t do that but he’ll give Dean the opponent he wants tonight: Randy Orton.
AJ Styles vs. The Miz
Non-title with Cena on commentary. They actually fight over a test of strength to start until AJ does the drop down into the dropkick so he can pose at Cena. A knee to the ribs cuts AJ off but he gets in a low Phenomenal Forearm. Maryse offers a distraction though and AJ gets kicked to the floor as we take a break. Back with Miz escaping the Styles Clash and hitting a snap DDT for two. Styles heads to the floor and gets into it with Cena, drawing the DQ at 10:45.
Rating: B-. This was good while it lasted and the ending was just about the only way they could go. You can almost guarantee that all three will be inside the Chamber and that’s a good thing. I’m not sure who comes out of the next three pay per views with the title but it could make for some interesting stories.
Cena lays both of them out and holds up the title.
Here’s Nikki Bella to call out Natalya, who is in the crowd for some reason. Natalya has something for us to see and goes back through the curtain to a conveniently placed merchandise stand. Natalya rants about how Nikki and Cena’s merchandise is next to each other. Why isn’t there a Natalya shirt there when there’s a Bret Hart shirt? It’s appropriate though because Nikki and Bret are going to die old and alone. Nikki FINALLY gets back there for the pull apart brawl.
Alexa Bliss is ready for the cage match.
Kurt Angle Hall of Fame video.
Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton
Non-title. Dean starts fast and slugs Orton down to the floor, giving us the big staredown from the middle rope. Back in and Ambrose headlocks him down, only to get draped ribs first across the top rope. The Wyatts suggest keeping it at Orton’s pace as he grabs a chinlock to keep things slow. Orton gets bored of the slow pace and sends Dean outside for a trip over the announcers’ table.
Back from a break with Ambrose fighting out of another chinlock and hitting a running forearm. Neither finisher can hit and the rebound lariat gets two for Dean. The elevated DDT is broken up so Dean can dive onto Harper but the distraction lets Orton get in the DDT. For reasons of storyline convenience, Harper gets on the apron and the distraction sets up the rollup pin on Orton at 13:42.
Rating: B. I’m looking forward to where this is going though I’m not sure who winds up turning out of all this. I can’t imagine Harper as a face no matter what but I’m not sure where that leaves Wyatt and Orton, as you would expect to see them fight at Wrestlemania. You can almost guarantee they’re both in the Chamber though and that’s a fine way to go.
Post match Orton and Harper go at it with Bray trying to break it up. Luke lunges at Orton again and Bray hits Harper in the face. Bray tells Orton to bring it on and the fans want the RKO. That goes nowhere though as Harper walks away while pointing at Orton.
Becky Lynch knows she’s never run from a fight and she knows who she is.
Here’s Jerry Lawler for the King’s Court. After saying he’s glad to be back, here’s Dolph Ziggler as his guest. Dolph doesn’t say anything as Lawler asks about the recent change in personality. Ziggler is one of Lawler’s favorites but the star is fading as much as the bleach in his hair. We see a clip of last week’s loss to Kalisto and Dolph’s subsequent attack with a chair. Ziggler still has nothing to say and starts to leave but Lawler wants to know what’s going on.
Dolph wants to know why Lawler agreed to do this and has his own footage. This clip is the series of elbow drops that might have caused Lawler’s heart attack back in September 2012. Ziggler says that was on purpose and if Lawler doesn’t stop with the questions, he’ll finish what he started. Lawler asks his last question: how does it feel to always be a loser? That earns him a superkick to the chest and JBL actually gets in the ring to check on Jerry. Ziggler turns down an offer to come back and fight Lawler.
Bray Wyatt says the entire Family is in the Royal Rumble. Next week though it’s Orton vs. Harper and no matter who wins, the Family will be stronger.
Women’s Title: Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch
Lynch is challenging and this is inside a steel cage. They go at it to start with both of them climbing the cage at the same time. That goes nowhere so Bliss sends her into the steel a few times, only to have Becky drop her face first onto the top turnbuckle. We take a break and come back with Lynch in trouble as Alexa stomps her against the cage.
Bliss’ charge hits the steel though and Becky gets to the top, only to have a quick charge make the save. That goes badly for the champ as well though as Becky gets in a super Bexploder for a very close two. Becky goes for the door but here’s La Luchadora to block the way. A kick to the head sets up Bliss’ DDT for the pin to retain at 9:43.
Rating: B-. Not great here but at least we had a good match in the process. The ending was pretty easy to guess but it’s still really cool to see the women main event a show like it’s no big deal anymore. In years past, this would be near the biggest moment ever in women’s wrestling but instead it’s just something that happened.
Post match the beatdown continues until Becky fights back and unmasks La Luchadora as…..Mickie James. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Overall Rating: B-. I had a good time with this show even if it felt a little emptier than usual. Three matches isn’t exactly a high amount but the key thing here is how important everything seems. No matter what is going on at the time, that is all that matters right then and there. It could be Nikki and Natalya arguing or something over the World Title but it’s important and treated as such. That’s SUCH a big difference over Raw and it helps to no end.
AJ Styles b. The Miz via DQ when
Dean Ambrose b. Randy Orton – Rollup
Alexa Bliss b. Becky Lynch – DDT
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