Welcome to SmackDown Live! Following TLC, we open on a video recapping the events that led to AJ Styles retaining his championship – James Ellsworth’s interference costing Dean his shot. AJ makes his way to the ring when we start things off for real, wearing a walking boot over his jeans. Is it bad taste to say that I hope this time he’s also wearing underwear? Probably.
AJ doesn’t waste time, though – he draws attention right away to the hole in the butt of his tights, bringing up a screencap of it on the Titantron and calling it a ‘travesty’. Oh, and he’s got a boot on because of the general fallout from the TLC match. This means he’s not medically cleared to face Ellsworth tonight, much to everyone’s disappointment.
Ellsworth makes his way out to confront AJ and starts jumping around with his fists up, accusing AJ of not actually really needing the boot in the first place, and reminding him that it’s Ellsworth’s fault that AJ even is champion right now, because Dean would have won otherwise. AJ counters that Ellsworth has beaten him before only because of Dean, and now Ellsworth’s burned that bridge.
The crowd pops hugely as Dean’s music hits, possibly expecting him to come out and make his feelings on this known. Instead, Dean just marches in, hits Dirty Deeds on Ellsworth, and then storms away without saying a single word.
Bray Wyatt has a brief moment, flanked by Randy Orton and Luke Harper, to simply say “We’re here”. For some reason he’s wearing a denim hoodie. Can we get the fashion police on this one?
MATCH: Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton (with Luke Harper) – SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match
I’m increasingly unsure how I feel about the new Wyatt Family opening, with the first line of Randy Orton’s music followed by the traditional Wyatt entrance. Slater and Rhyno are invoking their rematch clause immediately, so I can only assume they want to get this storyline over and done with as quickly as possible so the Wyatts can move on to a new feud. I don’t mind that, honestly.
- Slater and Orton start in the ring together, waistlock from Orton, standing switch from Slater, transition into a side headlock, then both men rebound off the ropes and Slater knocks Orton off his feet with a clothesline.
- Orton regains control and tags in Bray, sending Slater into the corner, but Slater getting his leg up for a boot.
- Tag made to Rhyno, and Rhyno takes Bray down with a belly-to-belly suplex.
- Bray sees the Gore coming, and rolls out of the ring to safety as we cut to commercial.
- When we’re back, Bray has Rhyno in a rear chinlock. Rhyno gets to his feet and tries to power out with strikes, so Bray whips him into the corner.
- Lariat, then a running senton from Bray, for a two-count.
- Tag made back to Randy, and Bray holds Rhyno in place on the ground so Randy can stomp him. Crowd starts chanting ‘RKO!’.
- Rhyno gets to his feet and the two men trade strikes before Randy knocks Rhyno back down with a standing dropkick for another two-count.
- Randy whips Rhyno into the corner, but Rhyno comes rushing back out with a clothesline.
- Tag back to Slater, who knocks Bray off the apron and gets in with several strikes on Randy followed by a high knee and a leg lariat, then a hangman’s neckbreaker. Randy kicks out at two.
- Slater knocks Bray back down as he climbs back up on the apron, but Randy hits a powerslam. Rhyno breaks up the pin, then Bray throws him to the ground.
- Bray tags back in, but Slater immediately on the offensive with a strike. Bray comes back with a clothesline.
- Bray sets up for Sister Abigail, then stares Randy down and tags him in. Bray kisses Slater on the forehead, then throws him at Randy for an RKO instead.
- Randy gets a cover on Slater – the Wyatt Family retains!
Luke Harper holds up the Wyatt’s titles, while Bray and Randy pose in the ring.
Backstage, Andrea D’Marco asks why Kalisto wants a rematch against Baron Corbin. I do not understand this either. Why is this feud not over yet?
MATCH: Carmella vs. Natalya
After Carmella accused Natalya of being the one to attack Nikki Bella from behind, they’re having a scrap tonight. Carmella takes the mic and we’re off to a brilliant start for the women’s writing – she’s been talking about ten seconds, and she’s accused Natalya of ‘waddling’ and used the word ‘sweetheart’. Carmella puts Natalya’s attack on Nikki down to the idea that Nattie is jealous of Total Bellas and the fact that Nikki is more curvaceous. Did someone just put a bunch of female stereotypes in a blender and scoop out the top layer? Natalya comes out to the ring and attacks Carmella before the match even begins, until Carmella flees backstage at speed.
We cut backstage to follow the action, as Natalya is breathlessly storming around trying to figure out where Carmella disappeared to, and comes face to face with Nikki instead. Nikki is staring Natalya down, even as she tries to explain that Carmella is lying and Nikki turns and stomps away.
Andrea wants to know Corbin’s opinion on Kalisto’s challenge. He compares Kalisto to a mosquito and says something about splatting. I don’t know.
MATCH: The Ascension vs. The Hype Bros
Apparently earlier today the Ascension acknowledged the new stronghold of the Wyatt Family, and they’re going to crush the Hype Bros like a comet crushed the dinosaurs because the Hype Bros represent the old ways, not the new era.
- Viktor and Zack Ryder start in the ring together – Viktor immediately knocks Mojo Rawley off the apron and Ryder gets in with shoulders to Viktor’s midsection.
- Reversal on the Irish whip by Viktor, but Ryder tries to knock Konnor off the apron with a forearm. Unsuccessfully, as it turns out, as Konnor tags in right away.
- Quick cover by Konnor for a one-count, then Viktor tags back in for some tandem offense.
- Viktor gets a two-count, then transitions to a rear chinlock.
- Viktor misses with a leg drop, but then drapes Ryder over the ropes before tagging in Konnor again. I didn’t mention this before, but I think I like Konnor’s new make-up.
- Viktor tags back in, and hangman’s neckbreaker from Ryder, then a hot tag to Mojo Rawley, knocking Viktor down with shoulder blocks and a clothesline.
- Stinger splash from Rawley, then another, then a full nelson slam. Konnor breaks up the tag.
- Hype Ryder! The Hype Bros win!
The Hype Bros celebrate in a generally hyped up fashion and we’re informed that it’s excellent that they got a victory over their arch-nemeses, the Ascension. Is that a thing? Is that what they were?
It’s time for Miz TV! Actually, first of all it’s time for Miz to criticize the crowd for not greeting him with a ‘You deserve it’ chant. Somehow this does not cause one to suddenly appear. Oh, well. Miz brags a little about retaining over Dolph Ziggler at TLC, then invites his guest tonight – someone who lost his match at TLC. It’s Dean Ambrose!
Miz opens by asking Dean how angry he is, or was, at James Ellsworth. He’s really getting into it, asking if Dean wants to tear Ellsworth limb from limb. Dean denies being angry, so Miz asks if Dean thinks he kind of deserved it given how much he was manipulating Ellsworth. This does manage to provoke Dean a little, so he gets to his feet, and Miz heroically stands behind Maryse as he tries to calm him down a little and offers him a Miz participation award.
This does cause the crowd to take up in a ‘you deserve it’ chant, and Miz smarmily tells him with a big grin that he may not have won but at least he tried. Good for you, Dean. The Miz is such a nice guy. Dean wants to shove the participation award down the Miz’s throat, but Daniel comes out to tell everyone that he can’t have people just randomly attacking his Intercontinental Champion. So he’s making an Intercontinental Title match between the two of them. Dean throws his participation award on the ground. The Miz put a lot of effort into that, Dean. Show some respect.
MATCH: Baron Corbin vs. Kalisto
I didn’t care about this feud before TLC and I don’t understand why it’s still continuing after TLC. Kalisto gets in some high-flying offense, until Corbin puts him down with End of Days. I wrote that before watching the match. And look, I was right!
Nikki Bella is talking to someone backstage. I don’t know who they are, but Nikki says she’s looking forward to her new single so I guess I should know them? I don’t know, I’m too old for this I think.
MATCH: Chad Gable (with Jason Jordan) vs. Tyler Breeze (with Fandango)
So, earlier tonight Breezango gave American Alpha a fashion ticket. Tyler has a little flashing police light, and sort of strokes Fandango’s bicep until Chad Gable tells him that he can’t give out fashion tickets with that terrible dye job and Tyler basically loses his mind.
- Monkey flip from Chad Gable, then tries to go after Tyler in the corner, but Tyler gets out of the way.
- Hanging arm bar over the ropes, then both men out of the ring. Fandango gets in Gable’s way, then Tyler in with a big right.
- Back in the ring, Tyler with a series of strikes on Gable, then a belly to back suplex for a two-count.
- Rear chinlock from Breeze, but Gable powers to his feet. Tyler sends Gable over the ropes, but Gable hangs on and sends Tyler to the outside.
- Exploder suplex from Gable, but Tyler escapes from the corner mount. Gable wipes Breeze out from the top turnbuckle.
- As Gable goes to the outside again, Fandango tries to get in the way but Jason Jordan takes him out with an overhead belly-to-belly.
- Back in the ring, Gable hits a bridging German suplex on Tyler for a three-count. Chad Gable wins!
Tyler’s argument that his hair colour is completely natural falls on deaf ears. Tyler, babes, your hideous facial hair is brown. Dark brown. Your undercut is brown. You weren’t fooling anyone. Just accept it.
Bright pink pyro for our new women’s champion Alexa Bliss! Her opening speech is much what we expect at this point; dreams don’t come true, Becky’s fairy tale is over, and Becky makes her way out to confront her. She didn’t get the job done last night at TLC, but she wants a rematch immediately. This is not going to happen, however, because Alexa isn’t in ring gear, so she slides out of the ring and makes her exit.
SmackDown, don’t think I didn’t notice the complete lack of women’s wrestling just because you showed me Tyler Breeze being defensive about his hair. Do you think this is acceptable? I don’t.
MATCH: Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz (with Maryse) – Intercontinental Title Match
The Miz and Maryse look gorgeous together as they make their way to the ring to meet Dean Ambrose. I love the way they always stand together in the ring, by the way, Maryse leaning against the ropes with Miz behind her like she’s here to defend her title. She’s wearing impractical shoes for that, though, so the Miz will fight for her.
- Short sequence back and forth before Miz knocks Dean down with a shoulder block, then a hip toss from Dean into a side headlock.
- Another hip toss from Dean, then in for several strikes before clotheslining Miz over the top rope. Dean prepares to dive after him, but Miz stands behind Maryse so Dean can’t do anything without risking taking her out too.
- Dean climbs out of the ring nicely, instead, and throws Miz into the barricade.
- When we’re back, Miz is leading a ‘yes’ chant then hits Dean with a pair of corner dropkicks and a clothesline.
- Dean with a series of clotheslines, then Miz with a full nelson to set up for the Skull-Crushing Finale, then Dean tries to go for Dirty Deeds, both of which are blocked.
- Miz with a dropkick on Dean’s lower leg, then wraps him up in the ropes, softening him up for the Figure Four.
- More strikes on Dean’s leg, then tries to lock in the Figure Four but Dean kicks him away. Miz hits him with a shinbreaker.
- Miz looking for another shinbreaker, but Dean counters into a rollup for two.
- Missile dropkick from Dean, but Miz manages to lock in the Figure Four. Dean makes a rope break, but Miz refuses to release the hold until the last possible moment.
- Dean uses the ropes to help him back to his feet, then pulls them down so the Miz goes over them when he runs at him. Suicide dive from Dean sends Miz into the barricade.
- Dean throws Miz back into the ring, and Miz counters Dean’s offense and goes for the Skull-Crushing Finale; Dean slips out and tries for a roll-up, then Miz drops him with a DDT for a two-count.
- Yes kicks from Miz, with Maryse leading a yes chant from ringside. Dean ducks the final kick and goes for another rollup, then a pendulum lariat when Miz kicks him away for a two-count.
- Dean up on the top turnbuckle, but Miz gets to his feet and sets up for a superplex. Dean fights him off with strikes and headbutts, but Maryse knocks him off the top rope when he sets up for the elbow drop.
- James Ellsworth comes out to make his presence known, I guess because he thinks they both need a pretty blond at ringside. The referee is distracted by Ellsworth and doesn’t appear to realise that Dean has Miz in a small package.
- Dean gets up, appalled, and Miz hits the Skull-Crushing Finale for a three-count. Miz retains!
I don’t think I could be much more sick of James Ellsworth interfering in perfectly good matches at this point, but maybe I’m just being too grumpy and smarky for my own good. Maryse celebrates with her husband and her championship, while Dean cradles his leg in the ring.
We’ll see you Monday for RAW!