“Then. Now. Forever.” The WWE video leads us into the show.
A video kicks off the show that highlights the upcoming Steel Cage Match with Becky Lynch challenging Alexa Bliss for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. That match happens on tonight’s show.
The Steel Cage is shown hanging over the ring.
Shane McMahon makes a big announcement
Shane McMahon’s music hits, and he makes his way to the ring to a nice reception from the Memphis crowd. McMahon greets the crowd and soaks in the “Shane O’Mac” cheers. In two weeks time, the Alamodome will host the Royal Rumble. 30 superstars will compete – The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Baron Corbin, and the “Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose just to name a few. They’ll all compete to be the last one left to main event WrestleMania. Here at Smackdown Live, the WWE Champion will have a detour on the road to WrestleMania. In four weeks at Phoenix, Arizona, the WWE Championship will be defended inside the Elimination Chamber. We’ll see who will walk out as the WWE Champion.
AJ Styles’ music hits, and the WWE Champion makes his way to the ring looking none too pleased by this announcement. Styles says after he does what he does best at the Royal Rumble (Beat up John Cena), he’ll now have to defend his title in the Elimination Chamber match. McMahon says he catches on quickly. That is if Styles is still the WWE Champion… or will it be around the waist of the person who would tie the record of being a 16-time WWE Champion? McMahon let’s out a “WOO!” Styles says, “Over my dead body!” That’s just a bad decision. Maybe McMahon should consult the champ before he does something so stupid. McMahon says he’s running Smackdown Live. A loud “AJ Styles” chant fires up. McMahon says he consulted with the Smackdown General Manager, Daniel Bryan. They want the best of the best to have the opportunity to walk into the Elimination Chamber and have a shot at the title. McMahon says Styles is one of the best. What he does in the ring and what he’s accomplished in one year, his hat is off to him. Styles is phenomenal. The only thing that isn’t is his attitude. Styles looks indignant. Styles says his attitude and the WWE Championship could go back to Japan and never come back. He’s never been in an Elimination Chamber match before and now the title is on the line.
John Cena’s music hits, and he makes his way to the ring to his traditional mixed reception. The crowd is buzzing. Cena goes to speak, but Styles cuts him off and tells him to shut up. Styles says his brother-in-law gifted him a title match. As for McMahon, it’s stupid that he has to be in an Elimination Chamber match. Styles tells the crowd they don’t respect him or the title. Why is Smackdown Live against AJ Styles? He’s the champ. Who’s next to come out and try to steal his spotlight?
The Miz’ music hits, and he makes his way to the ring with his wife, Maryse. Miz says Styles can consider his spotlight stolen. As for McMahon, an Elimination Chamber match is a perfect story bead for his 2017. Whenever he gets his rematch with Dean Ambrose, he’ll beat him for the Intercontinental Championship. Then whether he wins the Royal Rumble or walks out of the Elimination Chamber as the champion, he’ll be where he belongs – in the main event of WrestleMania. He’ll leave WrestleMania as a dual champion, doing more for both titles than anyone has before. Styles asks if he’s delusional. Miz does a good job looking good and hiding behind his wife, but the best thing he can do for his Hollywood career is stay away from him. Miz tells him to stop bragging about beating up John Cena. While he was in Japan growing out his hair to be America’s Next Soccer Mom, he was beating John Cena at WrestleMania. He beat John Cena before it was cool. He’s also the one that made the Intercontinental Championship what it is today. When people talk about Smackdown Live, they’re not talking about AJ Styles – they’re talking about him. Cena says it sounds like The Miz is saying he’s better than Styles. Styles takes the bait and reminds him the last time they were in Memphis, he knocked Miz’ teeth out. After the beating he gave him, he’s surprised he doesn’t perform with a limp. Does he Maryse? Cena asks Miz if he’s going to let Styles talk about him like that. McMahon steps between Miz and Styles. McMahon makes the match right here and now in Memphis. That’s happening right now.
The King’s Court with Jerry Lawler returns with special guest, Dolph Ziggler.
Mike’s Thoughts: Decent opener, albeit a little long. Shane McMahon’s announcement came off a little flat if you were one of the people that already knew the Elimination Chamber was not only returning, but it was a Smackdown PPV. There also wasn’t enough interaction with AJ Styles and John Cena. The Miz coming out was kind of random as well, but he was a lot of fun on the mic. This should be a pretty good match.
Shane McMahon is walking backstage when he bumps into Intercontinental Champion, Dean Ambrose. Ambrose says he should be in the Elimination Chamber, but he also needs a new title since it still smells like The Miz. McMahon says there is only one title. Ambrose mentions The Wyatt Family, so McMahon immediately books him to face Bray Wyatt. Ambrose says he wants to dismember The Viper himself. McMahon says that’s dark and gives him the match. Ambrose pats him on the face and leaves.
John Cena will be on commentary for the next match.
AJ Styles vs. The Miz w/ Maryse
Charles Robinson, the greatest referee ever, is the official for this match. They lock up, and Miz wrenches the arm. Styles twists out and takes him down. Miz rolls out, but Styles keeps him grounded. Miz fights up, so Styles applies a hammerlock. Miz quickly gets to the ropes and gets out of the ring. Miz gets back in the ring, and they lock up again. Miz bends him back, but Styles fights up and bends him back. Styles stomps the midsection. Miz fights up and kicks him back before applying a side headlock. Styles whips him off, leapfrogs him, drops down, and dropkicks him in the face. Styles then poses for the crowd and taunts Cena. Styles puts him in the corner and punches away at him. Styles connects with a backbreaker for a two count. Styles has a whip reversed, and Miz turns him inside out with a knee to the midsection. Miz punches away at him before going for a hip toss, but Styles counters into a Calf Crusher. Miz immediately gets to the ropes. Miz rolls him up, but Styles rolls through and viciously forearms him in the face for a near fall. Styles punches him back before having a whip reversed to the corner. Styles boots him in the face and sets up for a Phenomenal Forearm. Maryse gets on the apron to distract him. Miz then big boots him in the face and knocks him to the floor.
We come back from the break to see Miz applying a surfboard stretch. Styles fights up and knocks him to the corner. Miz reverses a whip to the corner and starts giving him corner dropkicks a la Daniel Bryan. Miz does the “YES” chant and connects with his patented corner clothesline. Miz goes to the top rope, but Styles counters into a Styles Clash attempt. Miz fights out, but Styles tries again for the Styles Clash. Miz thumbs him in the eye and hits a DDT for a two count. Styles counters the Skull Crushing Finale into a roll-up for a two count. Styles kicks him away and gives him a pelé kick that knocks him out of the ring. Styles knees him in the face and grabs him at ringside. Styles then throws Miz into John Cena and attacks him. The referee throws out the match.
Cena chases Styles into the ring, but he quickly escapes. The Miz attacks Cena from behind, but Cena soon gives him the Attitude Adjustment. Styles tries to blindside him with a Phenomenal Forearm, but Cena sidesteps him and hits another AA. Cena then holds up the WWE Championship.
Later tonight, Alexa Bliss will defend her Smackdown Women’s Championship against Becky Lynch inside a Steel Cage. Coming up next, we’ll hear from Nikki Bella.
Mike’s Thoughts: Decent match between Styles and The Miz that was just starting to build into something before it ended abruptly in a no contest. The post-match stuff was good and built up the title match at the Royal Rumble nicely with Cena getting the best of Styles.
Nikki Bella address the brawl with Natalya last week
Nikki Bella makes her way to the ring to a nice reception. Footage is shown of her brawling with Natalya last week. Natalya got the better of the exchange. Nikki says they were just getting started last week, but tonight they’ll finish it. Nikki calls her out, but Natalya doesn’t respond. Nikki says she’s not woman enough to come out and face her. Nattie is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be… at stabbing people in the back!
Natalya calls to her from the top of the steps in the crowd. Natalya tells her to shut her mouth and open her eyes. She has something to show her and runs off. Natalya goes to the merchandise stand and asks for the Nikki Bella merchandise. Nikki starts coming up through the crowd. Natalya says it’s right next to the John Cena merchandise. She then starts ripping it off the board. Even her Uncle Bret has a shirt. Natalya cannot believe she doesn’t have a shirt and says Bret is her ex-uncle before saying he’ll die alone like Nikki. Natalya takes a bunch of shirts. If she doesn’t have merchandise, Nikki can’t have it. She then starts throwing it away. Nikki attacks her from behind and drives her through a table. Security tries to break them up, but Nikki slaps one away and continues to attack. They finally separate them. Natalya gets away, but she’s quickly held back.
Dean Ambrose will face Randy Orton later tonight.
Mike’s Thoughts: Yeah… I think the less the both of them talk, the better. Natalya had that really good promo a few week back when she made the turn, but since then, it’s very hit or miss. This was a miss. I really didn’t like the line about Bret Hart being an ex-uncle and mentioning how he’ll die alone. It’s just a tacky line that makes you cringe while watching wrestling. The brawl itself was good, but not as great as last week’s.
The Steel Cage is shown hanging above the ring.
Alexa Bliss is being interviewed backstage. She is asked if she’s afraid, but she isn’t. She’ll prove to the human Chucky Doll that she’s no match for her. When she walks out of the cage still the champion, the look on Becky’s face will be one no one will forget.
They show the video of Kurt Angle’s Hall of Fame announcement. Angle will headline the Class of 2017.
Dean Ambrose makes his way to the ring. Footage is shown from last month when Dean Ambrose beat Luke Harper. The Wyatt Family then attacked him, and Randy Orton dropped him with an RKO. Ambrose faces Randy Orton, next.
Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton w/ The Wyatt Family
Footage is shown of Randy Orton and Luke Harper arguing following a loss last week. It ended with Bray Wyatt inadvertently being knocked down.
Ambrose chases Luke Harper back, so Orton rolls him up for a two count. Bray Wyatt gets on the apron, but Ambrose is ready for it. Ambrose chops Orton before ducking a clothesline and taking him down with a cross-body. Ambrose punches away at him before Orton gets away and leaves the ring to recover. Orton angrily paces the ring. Orton soon gets in the ring, but Ambrose wrenches the arm. Ambrose takes him down and applies a side headlock before hitting a takeover. Orton transitions into his own headlock, but Ambrose whips him off. Orton takes him down with a shoulder block and poses for the crowd. Orton hits the ropes, but Ambrose takes him down and applies a submission. Orton fights up and reverses a whip. There is some miscommunication, but Ambrose is taken down. Orton then gives him a front suplex onto the top rope. Orton stomps the midsection and begins doing the Garvin Stomps for a two count. Orton applies a chin lock, but Ambrose fights up and punches out. Orton quickly knees him in the midsection and whips him to the corner. Ambrose elbows him back and boots him in the face. Ambrose goes to the top rope and takes him down with a diving elbow drop for a two count. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds, but Orton immediately escapes and leaves the ring. Ambrose follows him out, so Orton kicks him. Orton sends him into the ring, but Ambrose rebounds and clotheslines him down. Ambrose shouts at Wyatt and Harper before Orton sends him into the ring post. Orton slams his head off the commentary table before giving him a back suplex onto it.
We come back from the break to see Ambrose trapped in a chin lock. Ambrose fights out, but Orton punches him. Ambrose soon clotheslines him down. Both men are down. Ambrose gets up, ducks a clothesline, and forearms him down twice. Ambrose has a whip reversed, but he clotheslines Orton down before hitting a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Orton elbows him back. They start trading punches before Orton kicks him in the midsection. Orton then counters the rebound lariat into a powerslam for a near fall. Orton puts him on the top rope and goes for a superplex, but Ambrose elbows him down. Ambrose jumps over him and nearly gets the Dirty Deeds, but Orton gets out. Orton kicks him back, but Ambrose wipes him out with the Lunatic Lariat for a near fall. Ambrose hits a running forearm in the corner, but Orton soon comes back with a draping DDT attempt. Ambrose gets out and gives him a back body drop over the top rope. Luke Harper checks on Orton. Ambrose then wipes Harper out with a suicide dive. Ambrose gets on the apron, and Orton gives him a draping DDT. Bray Wyatt shouts at Orton to finish this now. Orton sets up for an RKO, but Luke Harper gets in the ring. Orton asks what he’s doing, and Wyatt orders Harper out of the ring. Ambrose then rolls Orton up for the win.
Winner by Pinfall: Dean Ambrose
Randy Orton looks absolutely livid over losing this match before of Luke Harper’s ill-timed entrance into the ring. Bray Wyatt is even admonishing Harper. Harper gets in the ring, and he starts brawling with Orton. Wyatt separates them and tries to talk some sense into them. Harper tries to approach Orton again, so Wyatt punches him back. Orton smirks at Harper. Wyatt tells Orton to end it with Harper. The crowd is loudly chanting “RKO.” Harper then walks off on the two of them.
Becky Lynch is being interviewed backstage. Lynch says she’ll never forget the look on Bliss’ face when she made her tap out two weeks ago. Tonight, we’ll find out who Alexa Bliss is… and it won’t be champion.
Coming up next, we’ll see The King’s Court with Jerry Lawler.
Mike’s Thoughts: More great follow-up with The Wyatt Family angle. I still cannot believe how well they developed this seemingly throwaway storyline with Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. I just hope they don’t make the big turn too late. This is built very nicely so far. The match with Ambrose was pretty darn good as well. I certainly wasn’t bored at any point.
The King’s Court with special guest Dolph Ziggler
Jerry “The King” Lawler is already in the ring. They have the old “King’s Court” props in the ring. Memphis gives Lawler a standing ovation. Lawler says it’s usually good to be The King, but it’s really good to be back. Lawler says this is the first-ever “King’s Court” on Smackdown Live in his hometown of Memphis. He’s so excited about this. His first guest has an ego — Dolph Ziggler.
Dolph Ziggler makes his way to the ring looking very serious. Lawler welcomes him to the show, but Ziggler says nothing. Lawler says he wanted him to be his first guest because he’s known him for a long time and has always thought of him as a good person, but that goodness has faded almost as much as the bleach in his hair. Lawler asks what’s up with him. Ziggler still says nothing. Lawler says he understands that he’s been “mum” on the situation, but he knows why he’s out here. Ziggler is frustrated and losing a lot, so he’ll change his attitude thinking it’ll win him some matches. Ziggler is silent. Lawler sighs and says he has some footage to show him how badly going down the wrong path can be. Ziggler still lost to Kalisto and went even further down the wrong path. Footage is shown of Ziggler viciously attacking Kalisto and Apollo Crews with a steel chair. Lawler asks why he did that. Ziggler lifts up his microphone and lets out a sigh. Ziggler then puts it down and says nothing before going to leave. Lawler says he could’ve interviewed an oil painting, and it would have been better than this. Lawler begs him to talk.
Ziggler says he’ll talk. He wasn’t going to play Lawler’s game. He knew Lawler would try to dirty his name in front of his friends and family. Ziggler asks if Lawler knows how he knew that. He brought some footage and wants Lawler to take a long, hard look at this. Footage is shown from September 2012 when Ziggler dropped a bunch of elbows on Lawler. Ziggler says that was him repeatedly dropping elbows on Lawler’s chest minutes before he suffered a heart attack. Ziggler knows Lawler blamed him, and he should have. Ziggler says it’s been a long, hard road. It took him years before he could face him man to man, but if he doesn’t stop with these questions, he’ll finish what he started four years ago. The crowd starts to buzz and chant, “Jerry.” Lawler says it’s too bad because he’s got one more question for him. How does it feel to know that no matter how many times he changes his attitude, he’ll always be a loser? Ziggler puts his head down and then superkicks Lawler in the chest! Ziggler walks off. JBL runs in to check on Lawler. Lawler screams for Ziggler to come back and calls him gutless. Ziggler just keeps walking.
Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch are shown on split-screen warming up.
A theatrical trailer is shown of XXX: The Return of Xander Cage.
Mike’s Thoughts: I’m kind of torn on how to feel about this King’s Court segment. On the one hand, it’s nice to see Jerry Lawler back and getting involved in some limited physicality while not being embarrassed in his hometown. It’s also nice to see Dolph Ziggler develop a really nice, dark edge to his character. However, I am not a fan at all of bringing up that heart attack. It’s tacky and tasteless, just like the Bret Hart line was earlier in the night. It probably would have been good for Apollo Crews or Kalisto to make the save, but they didn’t go that route. Still, it was good to see Lawler back. Four men on commentary is just so bad. They really need Lawler there. David Otunga is absolutely awful and Tom Philips adds absolutely nothing. Lawler had found his stride with Mauro Ranallo before they pulled the carpet out from under that. Oh well.
Bray Wyatt is shown on a video. Wyatt says his family will be in the Royal Rumble match. Next week, Randy Orton and Luke Harper will compete in a match. One will stand and the other will fall. In the end, the Wyatts will be stronger than ever.
The Steel Cage is lowering over the ring. This match is next.
Smackdown Women’s Championship – Steel Cage Match Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss (c)
The bell rings, and Bliss quickly runs for the door, but Lynch keeps her back. Bliss kicks her and tries to send her into the cage, but Lynch blocks it. Bliss reverses a whip, but she lowers her head and eats a kick. Lynch quickly grabs her before she goes through the door. Lynch bounces her head off the turnbuckles before whipping her had to the corner. Bliss elbows her and boots her back. Bliss tries to climb the cage, but Lynch grabs her. Bliss takes her down with an STO. They execute a sloppy catapult. Lynch quickly starts climbing the cage, but Bliss grabs the leg and pulls her down. Lynch comes back with two arm drags and a single leg lariat. Bliss soon pulls her into the turnbuckle and stomps her down in the corner. Bliss clubs her and goes for a suplex, but Lynch counters into a roll-up for a two count. Lynch goes for a powerbomb, but Lynch grabs the cage and tries to climb. Lynch follows her up and they fight on the top rope. Bliss slams Lynch’s head off the cage before they both crash and burn on the mat.
We come back from the break to see Bliss stomping Lynch into the corner of the cage and dropkicking her against it for a two count. Bliss throws her into the cage and shoulders her against it. Lynch finally sidesteps her and goes for the door, but Bliss stops her. Lynch slams her off the top turnbuckle and comes off the top rope with a missile dropkick for a two count. Lynch climbs up the cage and gets her legs over, but Bliss grabs her hair at the last second. Bliss pulls her back in and forearms her. Bliss uses the cage to kick her. Bliss then hits an exploder superplex for a near fall! Bliss tries to crawl to the door, but Lynch cuts her off and punches away at her. Bliss pulls her back from the door.
La Luchadora blocks Lynch’s exit from the cage. Lynch takes Bliss down and applies the Dis-Arm-Her. La Luchadora runs in and kicks Lynch in the head. Bliss follows up with a snap DDT for the win.
Winner by Pinfall and still Smackdown Women’s Champion: Alexa Bliss
Bliss and La Luchadora continue to double-team Lynch after the match is over. Lynch fights then off and rips the mask off to reveal Mickie James underneath! James smiles before Bliss attacks Lynch from behind. James finishes her off with a big kick to the face. Bliss then holds the title up while Mickie James proudly stands next to her.
Mike’s Overall Thoughts: The Steel Cage Match was kind of “blah.” They worked hard, but it just didn’t click for me. It never got going. It was really nice to see the return of Mickie James on the main roster. Even though there are basically the same amount of women’s wrestlers on both RAW and Smackdown, Smackdown’s roster just feels completely stacked. They haven’t abused the crap out of any of the competitors nor overdone the limited match-ups they can have. Even if the match didn’t click, the final angle still felt like a big deal. Overall, this was a pretty good show. A little talk heavy, but you’ll have that happen sometimes. Again, I can’t overstate it enough that two hours is so perfect for a wrestling show and just flies by. I also like that a lot of the times, Smackdown builds up a match to come back and see next week. Next week, we’ll have Randy Orton take on Luke Harper. Even if I’m not recapping it, I’d still tune in to watch. It just seems to be more organized and flows so much better. Until next time, thanks for reading.
Quick Match Results
* AJ Styles NC The Miz (non-title) * Dean Ambrose def. Randy Orton (non-title) * Alexa Bliss def. Becky Lynch to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship inside a Steel Cage