Date: February 21, 2017
Location: Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, California
Commentators: John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga. Tom Phillips, Mauro Ranallo
It’s a double shot tonight as we have a pair of big gimmick matches to get us further along the Road to Wrestlemania. First up it’s Natalya vs. Nikki Bella in a falls count anywhere match which should be the blowoff to their feud. Other than that it’s a ten man battle royal with the winner getting the World Title shot against Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania XXXIII. Let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of last week’s triple threat match for the Smackdown World Title and Randy Orton’s decision to turn down his title shot against Bray Wyatt.
Here’s Daniel Bryan to get things going. We’re forty days from Wrestlemania and the road to get there is full of twists and turns. He brings out Women’s Champion Naomi, who has been given a week to either give the title back to Alexa Bliss or face her in a rematch. We actually get the YOU DESERVE IT chants and come on now. Wyatt was a stretch for that but NAOMI? She gets a chant about how hard she’s worked to get here? Give me a break.
It turns out that she’s injured and isn’t going to be able to defend her title. Naomi talks about how life can change in such a hurry because she was on top of the mountain a week ago and now she’s looking up from the bottom. She hands over the title and says she’s probably out of Wrestlemania as well.
However, she’s going to be back to take the title from whomever is borrowing it in her absence. Naomi leaves and here’s Alexa Bliss to laugh about the performance. With Naomi gone, Bliss says that she should be the champion since she never got her rematch. Bryan doesn’t think so and the title is going to be on the line RIGHT NOW.
Women’s Title: Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss
The title is vacant coming in. Becky starts fast with some rollups but gets kneed in the ribs and we hit the choking on the ropes. Bliss’ basic offense continues until a quick Bexploder sends her outside as we take a break. Back with Becky getting two off a missile dropkick, which of course warrants a crowd reaction shot. Bliss gets in a quick shot to the throat for the pin (while holding trunks) and the title at 9:03 in an ending that is as sudden as it sounds.
Rating: D+. The ending really hurt things here as it just came and went without any real build to it. Bliss winning the title makes sense as this felt like a quick match for the pure sake of giving the title back to Alexa. To be fair, it’s not like she should have lost the thing in the first place. At least it’s back where it should be now.
Mickie James comes down to celebrate and gets in a fight with Becky.
Dean Ambrose wants his chance to main event Wrestlemania back and if he gets to break Baron Corbin’s legs in the process, so be it.
Kalisto wants to be in the main event so tens of thousands of people can chant LUCHA LUCHA LUCHA.
Miz runs down his resume and thinks being in the main event of Wrestlemania should be added.
Natalya is ready to expose Nikki Bella as a fraud.
Breezango vs. American Alpha
Non-title with Breezango jumping them at the bell. A double kick to Jordan’s head puts him in trouble. That lasts all of thirty seconds as Jordan gets over for the tag, setting up the Steiner Bulldog for the pin on Fandango at 1:45.
The Usos show up in the crowd to say they’re coming for the titles. Just not tonight you see. A lot of trash is talked with threats of jumping Alpha from behind.
Black History Month video on Jackie Robinson.
AJ Styles says he’s going to Wrestlemania.
Dolph Ziggler superkicks the wall of the interview set.
Mojo Rawley is ready to win another battle royal.
Luke Harper is done obeying Bray Wyatt and after tonight, there’s nowhere left for Bray to run. These promos for the battle royal are a great touch and it’s even better that most of them have had a different backdrop (Harper was in the Wyatt area, Mojo was in the locker room, AJ was just backstage etc.). You don’t get these enough and they can do a lot of good in the span of thirty seconds.
Nikki Bella says after tonight, Natalya will be the broken Hart.
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya
Falls count anywhere. An early spear puts Natalya down and Nikki grabs her facebuster for an early two. It’s already table time (falls count anywhere means No DQ by definition) but Natalya baseball slides it into Nikki’s face. They quickly head over the barricade with Natalya doing You Can’t See Me for a nice touch.
Nikki comes back with a shot off the barricade and the Disaster Kick (looked great for a change) to put Natalya down for two. Back to ringside they go with Natalya getting in a few kendo stick shots before loading up the announcers’ table. Nikki fights out of a powerbomb attempt and gets in an Alabama Slam onto the table for a close two.
We come back from a break with Nikki getting to the ropes to break the Sharpshooter (which Natalya breaks, causing the announcers to accurately point out that she didn’t have to). Nikki no sells a suplex on the ramp and they head backstage with Nikki being sent into a conveniently placed Maryse.
Nikki sends her face first into a mirror for two of her own and it’s time to come back into the arena. Natalya can’t get the Sharpshooter as Natalya reverses into the Fearless Lock, only to have Maryse come out with a pipe to attack Nikki (really badly that is but at least she tried). Miz drags her off and Natalya gets the cheap pin at 14:02.
Rating: B-. The match had its good and bad moments but I liked it much more than I was expecting to. This was a better brawl than I was expecting and one of Nikki’s better matches, likely because it didn’t involve a ton of wrestling. Unfortunately it seems that we’re really getting that stupid mixed tag at Wrestlemania, even though I can’t imagine how they came to the conclusion that it’s the best possible idea.
Diamond Dallas Page Hall of Fame announcement.
Baron Corbin says he’s winning.
Apollo Crews says he’s winning.
Orton and Wyatt will be watching.
Baron Corbin, Apollo Crews, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Luke Harper, Kalisto, AJ Styles, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Mojo Rawley
The winner get the Wrestlemania title shot. After the long entrances, they waste no time in getting started with Ambrose and Corbin slugging it out in the corner. The fans are almost entirely split between Styles and Cena and you can tell they’re way into this instead of not really caring. Cena and Ziggler are both sent to the apron but quickly make it back in. A bunch of near eliminations go nowhere and Cena can’t get Corbin up for the AA.
We take a break and come back with Corbin as the only man standing. He tosses Rawley for the first elimination but eats a superkick from Ziggler. Kalisto gets up and starts kicking away until kind of botching what looked like a moonsault press to Dean. Ziggler and Kalisto both wind up on the apron and a pull of the mask sets up a superkick to eliminate Kalisto, getting us down to eight. Crews kicks Ziggler in the head though (DANG he healed from that knee injury in a hurry) and it’s down to seven. Ziggler chairs Kalisto though and Corbin tosses Crews, who chases Ziggler off with the chair.
We’re down to Corbin, Cena, Miz, Ambrose, Harper and Styles and it’s AJ having to flip out of the AA. Almost everyone hits a hard strike and it’s Miz in the middle of the ring, meaning it’s time for the running corner dropkicks all around. Cena pops up and backdrops Miz out, which is probably a way to keep setting up that stupid mixed tag.
Back from another break with Styles and Ambrose knocking each other down. Cena loads up the Five Knuckle Shuffle on Styles but walks into End of Days. Ambrose tosses Corbin from behind and is quickly pulled to the floor for another End of Days. With Cena staggering to his feet, Miz sneaks in and tosses him, with Cena leaving a bit too calmly.
So we’re down to Styles, Ambrose and Harper with Dean getting back inside. All three are quickly put on the apron for a three way slugout with Dean having to hang on very carefully. AJ gets on Dean’s shoulders and gets back in, allowing Harper to superkick Dean out to the floor, leaving us with two. Harper stays on the apron and pulls AJ over the top to the join him but they’re both back in a few seconds later. Luke suplexes him to the apron again but quickly follows him out there, only to have Harper pull him out at 22:22.
Rat…..Actually not so fast as the referees say Harper hit at the same time (it wasn’t even close and they’re not showing replays) so here’s Daniel Bryan for a ruling. The official decision is a draw so there’s no winner. However, we will determine a winner next week. Harper blasts AJ with the discus lariat and poses to a rather mixed reaction to end the show.
Rating: B. That ending really dragged things down as this was a heck of a battle royal leading up to the finish. Harper winning was the logical call here and I’m really not sure why they went with that double ending. From what I could tell, Harper’s feet were either on the apron or the steps when he landed but officially it was a tie. I don’t get that.
Wyatt and Orton pop up on screen to laugh at Harper to end the show. That also suggests that there’s no reason for AJ to have been involved in the ending like that.
Overall Rating: B-. I’m still trying to get over that ending as it really hurt what should have been a big moment. Unless they’re still trying to force AJ vs. Shane (who I don’t remember seeing recently) out of this, that should have been Harper winning clean. Still though, the rest of the show was good enough and it was certainly eventful but the Women’s Title change and the ending felt somewhere between forced and messy, neither of which are good.
Alexa Bliss b. Mickie James – Rollup with a handful of trunks
American Alpha b. Breezango – Steiner Bulldog to Fandango
Natalya b. Nikki Bella – Pin after a pipe shot from Maryse
A battle royal went to a draw
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