WWE SmackDown Live Results: Highlights, Analysis, and Grades for January 17

As the Royal Rumble looms off in the distance, the men and women of SmackDown Live look to gain as much momentum as possible heading into the event.

Shane McMahon is set to make a major announcement on tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live. At the moment no one knows what the topic will be, but with the Royal Rumble looming the possibilities are endless.

Following his humiliation at the hands of Dean Ambrose last week, what does the future hold for former Intercontinental Champion The Miz? He excelled throughout 2016, but so far 2017 has failed to go as he’s wanted it to. Perhaps tonight will mark the beginning of a more positive chapter in the career of the “Awesome One”.

According to various sources, tonight could mark the potential return of former Women’s Champion Mickie James. This will mark the veterans first appearance since NXT Takeover: Toronto, where she unsuccessfully challenged Asuka for the NXT Women’s Championship.

As tensions between Randy Orton and Luke Harper continue to escalate, how will Bray Wyatt manage to keep his family intact? Will we see the Wyatt Family resolve their issues here tonight, or have their best days truly passed them by?

Despite failing to acquire a kiss from his crush Carmella last week, James Ellsworth might be set to debut a new appearance. Thanks to a shopping spree courtesy of Carmella, could we see a new and improved Ellsworth?

For the first time in history, the SmackDown Live Women’s Championship will be defended inside a steel cage. The ongoing feud between the champion Alexa Bliss and challenger Becky Lynch has delivered thus far, and tonight we could see its conclusion.

So without further ado, here is the coverage for the January 17th episode of SmackDown Live.

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Shane McMahon’s Major Announcement

SmackDown Live starts off with a pretty cool promo for the title match between Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch later in the night. Shane McMahon then makes his entrance to make his huge announcement. It doesn’t take long for “Shane O’Mac” chants to fill the arena, and Shane is clearly grateful for the love the crowd is showing. He takes a moment to hype up the stars which have currently been announced for the Royal Rumble match. Then comes his major announcement, that in four weeks time the WWE Champion will defend the title inside the elimination chamber.

This brings out the current champion AJ Styles, who is angered by this announcement. Shane is quick to remind Styles that he might not even be the champion after the Royal Rumble, and that perhaps it’ll be John Cena holding the title. Styles takes exception to the comment and things get personal between the two men until Cena makes his entrance.

Before John Cena can even utter a word, the crowd gets solidly behind Styles and is quick to applaud his angry tirade. It isn’t long before Styles begins to insult the fans for never truly caring about him, and then moments later The Miz comes out as well. Alongside his wife Maryse, Miz dishes out some decent insults at Styles before talking about his past victories over Cena. Claiming that he brought prestige back to the Intercontinental Championship, he goes on to say that fans talk about him and not the WWE Championship. Miz and Styles go back and forth for a bit longer (while being goaded by Cena), so Shane announces Miz versus Styles will happen after the break.

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AJ Styles vs. The Miz

Result: The Miz wins via DQ
Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars

Backstage, Dean Ambrose approaches Shane McMahon about acquiring a new Intercontinental Championship. Shane rejects the offer which leads to Ambrose asking for a match with Randy Orton. The request is accepted, setting up another match for later in the evening.

Starting off with some impressive technical wrestling, it didn’t take long for this match to fall under Styles’ control. Early on he seemed to have Miz beaten as he set-up for the Phenomenal Forearm, but a distraction by Maryse allowed Miz to knock him off the apron. When we returned from the commercial break Miz was still in control, slowly wearing down his competition.  The action then spilled to the outside of the ring, with Styles attempting to throw his opponent into Cena.

Rather surprisingly, Cena stopped Miz and threw him into the apron, and then went after the WWE Champion. Miz would recover and attempt to attack Cena from behind, but the former fifteen-time world champion bounced back and hit the AA. Styles returned to the ring and tried to take advantage of the distraction, however, he too would suffer an AA. Standing tall with the WWE Championship, Cena foreshadowed a possible victory at the Royal Rumble before exiting the ring.

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Nikki Bella Calls Out Natalya

After the commercial break, Nikki Bella comes out to the ring to address Natalya attacking her backstage last week. Challenging her adversary to come out and face her, she insults Natalya before she emerges out in the crowd. The cameras follow her out to one of the merchandise stands in the arena, complaining that none of her merchandise is present. Insulting both Nikki and her uncle Bret Hart, she states that both Nikki and Bret will go on to “die alone”. Natalya then takes Nikki’s apparel out of frustration, but before she can take off with the goods Nikki emerges and attacks her rival. The two brawl for a bit, eventually being broken up by security as the fans surrounding the action cheer them on.

Once Alexa Bliss conducted an interview where hyped her title match, later on, tonight, Kurt Angle’s HOF induction was promoted, with the production team once again displaying its brilliance. The video shown highlighted some of the coolest and funniest moments from Angle’s legendary career, which clearly showed why he deserves this prestigious honor. As someone who grew up idolizing the Olympic Gold Medalist, it’s incredible to see him make his way back home to the WWE.

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Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton

Result: Ambrose wins via pinfall
Rating: 3.0 out of 5 stars

For the first time in over two years, Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton battled one on one, this time in front of the SmackDown Live audience. Working a solid back and forth encounter, both men produced a match where each of them looked worthy of being in the squared circle. A back suplex on the announce table put Orton in control before the commercial break, a few minutes later Ambrose had battled his way back into it. The two would go on to reverse their opponent’s big moves, and eventually, the action carried it’s way to the outside. Ambrose attempted to hit Orton with a suicide dive but collided with Harper instead. Once Harper recovered he made his way into the ring intent on gaining retribution, however, all he managed to do was distract Orton. This bought Ambrose enough time to roll up Orton and pull off a surprise victory.

Things quickly became physical between Harper and Orton, and even Bray would get involved. Hitting Harper after he moved in to attack Orton again, Bray punched him square in the jaw. Complaining that Orton caused all of this, Harper angrily made his way to the back.

The cameras once again went to the backstage area, and this time it was Becky Lynch being interviewed about her title match tonight. She proclaimed that Alexa Bliss is certainly a lot of things, but by the end of the night, she will no longer be the champion. After her interview, a video aired which highlighted Batista’s Royal Rumble win from 2005. Honestly, I was kind of upset they didn’t touch upon Mr. McMahon tearing his quad entering the ring that night but that’s just me.

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King’s Court with Special Guest Dolph Ziggler

In front of his hometown crowd of Memphis Tennessee, Jerry “The King” Lawler presented the first SmackDown Live edition of King’s Court. Bringing out his guest Dolph Ziggler, he took a moment to state that he once considered Ziggler to be a good person. As of late, though, he believes that Ziggler is frustrated due to his lack of winning matches. Asking if that opinion is valid, Lawler is disappointed when all he receives from the Showoff is silence. He eventually managed to get Ziggler to speak, but only after showing him the footage of his assault on Apollo Crews and Kalisto last week.

Ziggler decided to show some footage of his own, which turned out to be him elbow dropping Lawler the night he had his heart attack. He threatened that if Lawler didn’t stop while he was behind, he would go ahead and “finish what he did four years ago”. An incensed Lawler responded by calling Ziggler a loser, and he was met with a super kick to the chest. JBL came out from the commentary table to aid his former partner, who shouted in anger as a smiling Ziggler walked u the ramp. While some people may feel as though this was a tasteless segment because the heart attack was woven into the segment, it actually helped to establish this new heel run Ziggler is in the middle of. Hopefully, WWE will follow this up with a few big wins for the former world champion.

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SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Becky Lynch

Result: Alexa Bliss wins via pinfall
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars

Before our main event of the evening, Bray Wyatt appeared on the titantron to announce Luke Harper and Randy Orton will go to war next week. With the ways things seem to be heading, this could be the last time that Harper is aligned with his Wyatt brethren. Seeing as how Erick Rowan has been out for quite a bit due to injury, perhaps he will return and replace his former partner.

Making history here tonight, Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch competed in the first ever steel cage match for the SmackDown Live Women’s Championship. Both women managed to impress during the match, managing to use both their arsenals and the cage to create a compelling encounter. Bliss especially showcased her determination and tenacity, particularly when she kicked out of an avalanche exploder suplex. Despite this Lynch had the match won, but when she attempted to escape the cage La Luchadora blocked the exit. Bliss would try to take advantage, but Lynch locked in the Dis-Arm-Her before getting kicked in the head by La Luchadora. This time Bliss managed to hit her finisher for the win, and then it was revealed that Mickie James was the masked wrestler. The two would celebrate next to a downed Lynch to close out the show.

Although SmackDown Live only boasted three matches this episode, it still managed to outdo its competition on Monday Nights. Here’s hoping that the Blue Brand continues to excel as the new year progresses.

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