Smackdown – January 31, 2017

Date: January 31, 2017
Location: American Bank Center, Corpus Christi, Texas
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, Tom Phillips, David Otunga

We’re less than nine weeks away from Wrestlemania and most of the interesting things at the Royal Rumble were from the blue brand. John Cena is the new Smackdown World Champion and Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble but there’s a good chance things will change inside the Elimination Chamber in twelve days. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of the Royal Rumble with a variety of media quotes about the show.

AJ Styles is glaring at the video of Cena posing with the title when the bosses appear on either side of him. He wants his rematch and doesn’t want it inside the Elimination Chamber. As for tonight though, it’s time to start getting ready for the Chamber, which will feature Cena, Styles, the Miz, Baron Corbin, Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose. Speaking of Ambrose, he comes in and a main event of Styles vs. Ambrose is set for later tonight.

Here’s John Cena for his first comments as champion. After telling the fans to let him know what they think of him, he praises AJ Styles as an elite athlete and more than just a guy from Atlanta. That brings him to the Elimination Chamber when it’s not time to celebrate because it’s time to fight. That makes Smackdown the place to be and John Cena the man to beat so if you want some, come get some.

Cue Wyatt and Randy Orton with Bray talking about how destiny has brought them here and the title is coming to the Family no matter what. Orton promises to end the vicious cycle at Wrestlemania when the championship will be set free. The Wyatts slowly come to the ring but Luke Harper shows up for the save, which fires Cena up WAY more than you would expect. The Wyatts bail and here’s Shane to make the tag match.

John Cena/Luke Harper vs. Bray Wyatt/Randy Orton

Cena shoves Wyatt around to start and it’s quickly off to Harper vs. Orton with Luke going rather violent. Harper takes Orton to the floor for a belly to back suplex onto the announcers’ table and the fans are WAY into Luke here. Wyatt comes in and Harper immediately backs off for the tag off to Cena. JBL: “This doesn’t bode well for John Cena!” Uh, it’s not that big a deal John. Just pair off appropriately and everything is fine.

Cena gets double teamed in the corner and we take a break. Back with Cena hitting the elevated DDT but getting in a clothesline to put both guys down. Bray comes in and stares Harper down to break up another hot tag attempt. Harper doesn’t mind and comes in anyway to go after Wyatt but Orton saves his buddy from Sister Abigail. That earns Randy a big boot but Harper eats Sister Abigail. The RKO ends Cena at 13:29.

Rating: C+. That’s an interesting ending as the trolling continues with the WWE actually wanting us to believe that Orton vs. Cena will take place at Wrestlemania. Wyatt vs. Harper could be interesting and I’m VERY glad they didn’t have Harper take the pin. In a way, Cena taking the pin made the most sense here as he’s easily able to bounce back no matter what. That’s not always the case with champions but Cena isn’t your normal name.

Carmella vs. Delilah Dawson

James Ellsworth introduces Carmella and JBL describes Dawson as a cross between Rey Mysterio and a Smurf (she has blue hair). Dawson actually gets in a rollup for two until Ellsworth trips her up. The Code of Silence makes Dawson tap at 1:30. Ellsworth is kind of perfect in this role and with the amount of t-shirts he sold, there’s nothing wrong with keeping him around.

Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler

Ziggler takes him straight down and drops the big elbow with Kalisto holding his heart. Apollo Crews is watching in the back and Kalisto gets caught in a neckbreaker for two. The superkick ends Kalisto at 2:02.

Ziggler goes for the mask but Crews chases him off.

Naomi and Becky Lynch are ready for Alexa Bliss and Mickie James.

Naomi/Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss/Mickie James

Becky chases Bliss off to start and it’s off to Naomi, who misses a charge into the ropes. Alexa hits the knees into the moonsault knees but hurts herself (doesn’t seem serious), allowing the hot tag off to Mickie. The Bexploder gets two on Mickie and everything breaks down as we take a break.

Back with Alexa holding Becky in a chinlock until it’s off to Mickie for one of her own. Becky kicks Alexa away and the hot tag brings in Naomi for a springboard clothesline. The dancing kicks and a faceplant get two on Alexa as Becky and Mickie fight to the floor. An enziguri and the split legged moonsault put Alexa away at 11:03.

Rating: C. I’m not wild on the two champions taking falls here but at least this one helps set up a title match. Coming into this feud I never would have thought Naomi would have a real shot at winning the title but they’ve got me thinking it could happen, which says quite a bit. This serves its purpose well and that’s all that matters.

American Alpha wants some competition so they’re going to issue an open challenge for the titles.

Smackdown Tag Team Titles: American Alpha vs. Usos

American Alpha is defending and JBL says this is going to be great, despite Alpha pinning the Usos in 34 seconds at one point. Actually hang on a second as the Ascension, the Vaudevillains, Breezango and Heath Slater/Rhyno all come out and turn it into a huge brawl. Referees come out as well and we take a break with no bell. Back with the brawl still going on and no semblance of order whatsoever. Slater and Rhyno and Alpha are the only teams left in the ring and Alpha’s music plays with no match actually announced.

We look back at Nikki Bella and Natalya getting in a fight last week.

Daniel Bryan is on the phone with Brie when Natalya and her security come in. Natalya wants to talk about her new merchandise but Nikki comes in and interrupts. Daniel has enough and makes a match between the women at Elimination Chamber.

Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles

Non-title with Miz on commentary. Dean snaps off some armdrags to start and headlocks AJ to the mat. We hit a Texas cloverleaf of all things before Dean shifts it over to something like the Rings of Saturn. They head outside with Styles sending him into the announcers’ table but Dean stomps him down in the corner to take over again.

Dean loads up a dive to the floor but here’s Baron Corbin for a distraction as we take a break. Back with Corbin on commentary as well as Styles gets two off a pumphandle gutbuster. Dirty Deeds is broken up by AJ’s rush of strikes (which Mauro dubs the Phenomenal Blitz) to put both guys down. AJ’s rack neckbreaker is countered and Styles is knocked out to the floor.

The suicide dive is broken up by a forearm to the head and they trade some hot near falls, including one off the fireman’s carry into a backbreaker. The rebound lariat puts AJ down but Dean doesn’t cover. The top rope elbow on the floor has Styles in even more trouble as Corbin and Miz get in a brawl. That’s not cool with Dean who baseball slides Corbin down, setting up the Styles Clash to put Dean away at 18:39.

Rating: B-. DANG this is a bad night for champions. Ambrose was a bit hotter than usual here and that made for a good match. I could have gone for a DQ or countout finish here though as you don’t need yet another champion getting beat but this is about as good as you can get given the way the booking is going. I get the idea of AJ needing a win and since the Chamber has four heels, there was nothing else that could have been done.

Miz gives Ambrose the Skull Crushing Finale but Corbin gives Miz and Dean the End of Days to end the show.

Overall Rating: C. This wasn’t the best Smackdown but I think a lot of that is due to how fast everything goes on a major pay per view weekend. If you watched Takeover, this brought us up to over thirteen hours of wrestling in four days, which is a little more than most fans can take. On top of that they have two weeks to set up a pay per view card and that’s just hard to do in general. Not a bad show but the company could use a breather at the moment.


Bray Wyatt/Randy Orton b. John Cena/Luke Harper – RKO to Cena

Carmella b. Delilah Dawson – Code of Silence

Dolph Ziggler b. Kalisto – Superkick

Naomi/Becky Lynch b. Alexa Bliss/Mickie James – Split legged moonsault to Bliss

AJ Styles b. Dean Ambrose – Styles Clash


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  • MerelyAFan

    I actually laughed at the Cena’s respect bit towards Styles in his promo given how utterly scathing his stuff last week was. At best it was meaningless given this apology and props happened after the build towards the PPV match, and at worst it came across as condescending and disingenuous on his part for only showing respect after he himself finally won. Presumably AJ could have beaten him four dozen times and he’d still be saying Styles was just a guy.

    I look forward to the program with Samoa Joe where Cena mocks him for not being able to go from UPW to WWE like he did, and then defeating him for the Universal Title, offering a compliment for truly being the Samoan Submission Machine.

    • During the Cena/Joe buildup: “You’re fat!”
      The conclusion to the Cena/Joe feud: “You’re not fat, you’re big boned!”

    • BODConscience

      It was the vocal equivalent of the “you tried your best kid” head pat HHH gave to Sting.

  • BODConscience

    That tag division needs some help. Desperately. Even if they add The Revival it still looks awful.

    I really enjoy the Ellsworth/Carmella pairing and hes really made Carmella actually interesting and has helped her credibility out a lot. I don’t know what it is, but Ellsworth seems to knock it out the park with everything he is given.

    • The_Bo

      He’s got a goofy charisma and legitimately good mic skills

      • BODConscience

        They definately found a diamond in the rough with that guy.

    • Buster Abbott

      It occurs to me that there should’ve been one pair of tag belts across both brands…but every team is made of one Smackdown guy and one Raw guy. This is easy enough for established teams (put, say, Gable on Raw and Jordan on SD) to work around.

    • Phrederic

      Win the ARMBAR.

  • Buster Abbott

    So apparently the Alphas are defending against the other five teams at the PPV as part of a tag team turmoil match. If you have six teams facing each other anyway…why not just make it a tag Elimination Chamber match and really make it crazy?


      You want to watch 5 minutes of Breezango vs the Ascension… have the countdown start and get rewarded with the Vaudvillians and have them all fight for 5 more minutes?

    • Matthew Maynard Adams

      The last one sucked, and with those clowns I can’t imagine that one being any better.

      • Phrederic

        Alpha are pretty okay.

        Usos have had a resurgence as a heel team.

        Breezango are quite fun and should be more popular.

        Vaudevillains are been destroyed because Simon Gotch lost a shoot fight, but they’re still a damn fine mid-card team.

        Ascension really…should’ve been more. COuld’ve been more.

        Rhyno/Slater? Yeah, awful.

        • Funkmastabobo

          And yet Rhyno and Slater are the only team who have really been over. Weird.

          • Phrederic

            WERE over, they’re done now.

          • Funkmastabobo

            Where did I say they are still over?

          • Phrederic

            It’s more a damnation of the division. The one over act is doneski.

          • Funkmastabobo

            Ah, ok. Indeed. It shows the one thing Russo did right in the attitude era was to make sure everyone had a storyline. That’s all that got Slater over. None of the other teams have been offered that level of care, though Smackdown is generally in a good place right now.

          • Phrederic

            American Alpha really seem like a product of the nurturing environ of NXT than actual talent.

            Who’d have they’d fuck up those two guys?

          • Manjiimortal

            Every talent that comes from NXT benefits from that environment, and once they are on the main roster they are thrown to the proverbial wolves. Again, a wrestlers output in NXT is no actual account of their actual talent, because NXT is a lab-like environment where every factor can be controlled.

            That’s why NXT is yet to succeed as a development territory.

          • Phrederic

            Becky is better on the main-roster than she was in SD.

        • BODConscience

          Usos HAD a rusurgence. After an impressive SS match they’ve been completely forgotten about. And the rest are jobber teams who need at the very least 2 months work to be taken seriously. I know the Raw womens division is bad. But I thing the SD tag division has them beat.

          • Phrederic

            Raw at least has ONE over team.

      • taabr2

        The last one had wrestlers breaking up pin attempts on people who weren’t even partners, all this match needs to do to be better is not have that logic gap.

    • zahidf

      I assume Alpha will run through the rest of the announced teams and team number 7 will then come in to win the titles. I’m guessing either War Machine or Caesaro/Sheamus?

  • zahidf

    I assume for the elimination chamber, they will have Cena eliminated by whoever his Mania opponent is (Corbin?) and then Wyatt will win the whole thing.

  • Andrew Barbarash

    It’s funny that AJ and The Miz have been the standout guys from SD over the last 6 months, working their asses off and getting over yet at Mania I don’t even know if Miz gets on the card and AJ gets to likely face Shane in a classic case of Nepotism, when in reality deserves to be champion going into the event. This is why I have realized WM apart from ones ending in 0 are all about the part-timers and Vince’s handpicked guys.

    When I use to think of Wrestlemania it was the climax of someones hard work paying off, passing the torch or the culmination of a story arc that has brewing for a year.

    Now when I think of Wrestlemania, I think of Flo-Rida, part-timers, burnt out soulless stadium crowds and self congratulatory WWE propaganda.

    For me I find the period between Summerslam and Royal Rumble is the most interesting these days as the full timers tend to shine working their ass off whilst the part timers are off chilling out or taking up other projects.

    • itwastyped

      Third paragraph is so sad but true

  • taabr2

    The WWE title E

  • The Polish Hammer

    I’ve grown to like Corbin but having him argue with Miz was a bad idea. All they need Corbin to do in that situation is say “I’m not getting into a war of words. I’m not a debater, I’m a fighter”, then have Miz keep running his mouth until Corbin shuts it for him – which is essentially how the segment ended anyway.

  • Think you undersold the womens tag a little. The babyfaces showed good fire in their promo and their match, and the crowd were with them all the way.

    It looks like there will be Naomi/Alexa, Becky/Mickie, and Nattie/Nikki for the Elimination Chamber undercard, and looking forward to all of them.

    AJ/Ambrose was fantastic, smooth as hell and good moves. Commentary nearly derailed it. And that Orton/Cena match next week certainly telegraphs that Cena’s dropping that title pretty quickly.

  • Got Luger’d

    Any chance AJ reclaims the belt at Elimination Chamber?

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