SmackDown Live will be giving its women’s division the proper spotlight tonight, because there will be a historic dual-contract signing. Champion Alexa Bliss will be making her match with Naomi official, as will new rivals Becky Lynch and Mickie James.
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Emerging victorious in a tag match against his former brethren last week, what is in store for Luke Harper? As one of the most athletic men for his size on the roster, his future certainly seems bright.
While Cena and Orton are set to do battle tonight, the other four participants in the Elimination Chamber match are currently without matches for SmackDown Live. Expect that issue to be resolved, and these men will probably end up in action.
Once the dust had settled from their open challenge last week, American Alpha found out they had plenty of teams interested in their Tag Team Championships. Tonight we’ll likely find out what is in store for the duo this Sunday.
As tensions continue to escalate, how much more intense could the rivalry between Natalya and Nikki Bella become? This feud has been beyond personal, with both women looking to settle the score sooner rather than later.
At the top of the hour, SmackDown Live GM Daniel Bryan made his way out to the ring to a pretty decent crowd reaction. Taking a moment to talk about his appreciation for being the general manager, he then brings up how he’ll soon become a father. Then he was rudely interrupted by The Miz, who would, in turn, insult his former protégé for being unable to compete anymore. Baron Corbin would enter the fray and he would go on to exchange words with both Bryan and Miz. Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles would end up getting involved as well, and things were getting to a boiling point.
Choosing to take advantage of all the superstars in the ring, Daniel Bryan once again made his presence felt. He announces that a fatal 4-way match was to begin between the men right then and there.
A strong opening segment which tied into the ending we received on the previous episode, this was a great way to give all five men ample screen time. Bryan as always comes off as the likable and charismatic GM, and Miz especially excelled in drawing heat as he usual. Come Elimination Chamber, expect the four competitors (plus John Cena and Randy Orton) to produce one heck of an encounter inside the demonic structure.
Dean Ambrose vs Baron Corbin vs The Miz vs AJ Styles
Result: Baron Corbin wins via pinfall
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Once we returned from the commercial break, the four superstars in the ring put on quite a competitive contest. Control of the match shifted numerous times throughout the contest, with moments such as a tower of doom in the corner providing awesome action. The closing moments consisted of everyone exchanging finishers on one another, and the final man left standing through it all was Baron Corbin. He would finish the frenzy by delivering the End of Days on AJ Styles to earn a huge win heading into Sunday.
When you see matches like these, you come to the realization that the future of the WWE is in very capable hands. Each superstar in the contest had their moment to shine, and kudos goes out to Miz, whose adoption of Daniel Bryan’s move set was a great heel move for his character. The end result of this contest was one I definitely didn’t see coming. Even as protected as Corbin has been over the last year, it was still surprising to see him score a win against three former world champions. That kind of momentum puts him in prime position to win the chamber match, and after tonight few would argue that notion.
After the contest, Luke Harper was seen conducting a promo in the backstage area. Directing his attention to Randy Orton, he talked about how he feels the Viper robbed him of his family. It’s obvious that their business isn’t over yet, and it’s nice to see Harper get this kind of spotlight on his own.
Tom Phillips came out before the next match, conducting an interview between Natalya and Nikki Bella via satellite. Hyping their match at Elimination Chamber, the interview was cut short when Nikki stormed off after Natalya insulted her over and over again.
For several weeks now, we’ve been witness to the developing rivalry between Apollo Crews and Dolph Ziggler. Tonight they were given the opportunity to settle things inside the ring, but things didn’t turn out as planned. The contest started with Crews taking control of the action, with the rookie showing off his impressive skill set. It wasn’t long before Ziggler fought his way back into the match, and he looked to finish things off early with the superkick. In a rather display, Crews managed to catch the leg of Ziggler when the Showoff attempted the kick, and then he turned it into a roll-up to score the pinfall.
Furious over the loss, Ziggler attempted to continue his trend of post-match assaults. This time it would be Kalisto who would interfere, rushing down to the ring to return the favor for Crews’ assistance as of late. Unfortunately for Kalisto things quickly turned sour, as Ziggler put a stop to his attack and hit the former Lucha Dragon with the chair.
Going backstage, Ziggler was met by Daniel Bryan, who wanted an explanation for the Showoff’s actions in the ring. Overconfident as always, Ziggler would go on to state that he could defeat both Crews and Kalisto at the same time. Taking exception to the comment, Bryan decided to make the match official. At Elimination Chamber this Sunday, Dolph Ziggler will now compete in a handicap match against the team of Crews and Kalisto.
Present inside the ring for the contract signings, Renee Young started off the segment by bringing out all four women that will be competing in the two matches this Sunday. Once all the women were inside the ring, Mickie James was the first to being the interaction between them. Insulting the women inside of the squared circle, she went on to make Young leave the ring, leaving her to handle the proceedings. Claiming that she’s back to get the credit she deserves (rightfully so), James went ahead and signed her contract.
Becky Lynch was the next woman to talk, and she responded to James’ statement with some words of her own. Then she went and signed the contract as well, making the match between the two official. Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss and Naomi would exchange heated words as well, and after a few moments, they completed their contract. With the contracts out of the way things quickly got out of and, with all four women getting involved in a physical altercation. Bliss and James would end up retreating from the ring, but not before suffering an outside dive courtesy of Naomi.
As per usual, the SmackDown Live Women’s Division excelled here. These women have the potential to produce some quality matches this Sunday, and I for one am hoping they do so. Their competition on Monday Nights has often been heralded as having the superior women’s division. At Elimination Chamber, SmackDown Live could finally make a strong claim that the higher quality of female wrestling has switched over to the Blue Brand.
American Alpha, Heath Slater & Rhyno, & Breezango vs The Ascension, The Usos, & The Vaudevillains
Result: The Ascension earns the victory via pinfall
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Before the match took place, it was announced that the SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships will be defended this Sunday in tag team turmoil. All of the teams present tonight are set to be part of the contest, and so the twelve man tag match tonight reflected that announcement. While this wasn’t the most epic of encounters, each time was allowed an opportunity to showcase their arsenal. As is customary with tag matches nowadays, the heels took control and slowed the face team down during the early half of the match. Eventually, the hot tag was made to Rhyno and chaos ensued, but the Ascension of all teams would go on to pick up the win for the heels.
The Ascension haven’t had anything close to momentum over the past few months, so seeing them pull off the victory was certainly a surprise. With that being said, them scoring the win for their team has allowed them to appear as a viable threat to the titles, meaning that the match could go a number of different ways. Still, the result shouldn’t be in doubt, as American Alpha seems poised to continue their reign as tag team champions. They’ll likely carry the titles into WrestleMania, where they could end up having a match against the Usos. The Usos have done little since making their heel turn, and a title match at WrestleMania would be a great way to get them back in the fold.
For the first time in the history of SmackDown Live, John Cena and Randy Orton competed in a one on one match. These two have fought each other around the world and have put on some amazing contests in the past, so everyone expected a solid encounter. We got just that and some, and this match was certainly worthy of the main event slot. Throughout the match the two veterans showcased their familiarity with one another, providing back and forth exchanges and constant shifting of control. At one point in the match, Orton appeared to have it won with the RKO, but the resilient champion managed to kick out at two.
Rightfully frustrated, Orton decided to attempt another finisher. This time Cena would counter and the two would try and take control of the situation, which led to the referee getting hit by accident. Bray Wyatt would use this chance to aid his teammate Orton, and it seemed as though the double team was going to pay off. Then all of a sudden Luke Harper made his presence felt, and he went on to level Wyatt and threw him out of the ring. That left Orton alone with the two men, and after countering the RKO, Harper allowed Cena to hit the AA. A fully recovered referee made the count, and Cena managed to score a big win heading into this Sunday. The show closed with the Champ holding the title and standing tall.