Well, this is a turn up for the books! I haven’t done a SmackDown for a looong time, and now I get to do one with a concussion. Before the show starts, we get a reminder that we’re making history with the first ever SmackDown women’s cage match! As we arrive in Memphis, we’re greeted by commentary – oh, THAT’S where Tom Phillips went – and then Shane O’Mac. He tries to get us hyped for the Royal Rumble, and it’s interesting to note that boos are loudest for Braun Strowman, Brock Lesnar, Miz and Baron Corbin, but loudest for Dean.
Shane tells us about Elimination Chamber, with the WWE championship up for grabs. So, of course, out comes AJ, to – uh, well, if I was talking about Roman, I’d call it a ‘mixed reception’, so let’s go with that. He’s not happy to hear that his title’s going to be fucked around with after the Royal Rumble, where he’s going to beat up John Cena, apparently. Shane says that, well, he might not be champ then, because Cena might take the title before that – and Cena gets boos, as the crowd chants for AJ. Shane says he’s conferred with D-Bry, and that what he wants is the best of SmackDown to shine. Shane says that AJ is one of the best, and AJ looks only slightly mollified. Good grief, his hair’s starting to make him look like a king out of a pack of playing cards, with the curl at the end. AJ threatens to go back to Japan, because Shane doesn’t like his attitude, and he also says it’s unfair, because he’s never been in an eliminated chamber match before.
THE CHAMP IS HERE! The crowd might have a mixed reaction, but I’m happy to mark out for Cena, because I’ve missed him and his gift of the gab. There’s a sign saying ‘screw the internet’ and then something about Cena, and while the crowd may be mostly boos, we all know that we love him. The crowd can’t even get together duelling chants, they’re so into this. Cena starts to speak, but AJ shuts him up and says that Cena doesn’t get to talk after his brother-in-law gets him a match. Dude, hush up, Cena’s not married to Nikki, he’s got icy feet, it’s a personal problem. AJ snarls at Shane, and then at the crowd, and asks who’s next to try to steal his spotlight.
It’s the Miz, but then, to be fair, all spotlight belongs to the Miz, by default. He’s here with former Intercontinental Title holder, Maryse, and gallantly holds the ropes open for her. Miz says he’s going to take the WWE title, and head to the main event of WrestleMania, with his beautiful wife, as a dual champion. AJ asks if he’s delusional – maybe staring at Maryse does that to people – but he does at least say Miz’s suits are nice. Miz plays everything beautifully, mocking AJ’s accent and his hair – he was beating John Cena before beating John Cena was cool. He’s the one who made the IC title what it was, he says. No, darling, you’re confused, you’ve never held it, that’s your gorgeous wife, and it looks so damn good on her. He says no one’s talking about AJ Styles, because they’re all talking about The Miz. Cena surfaces by AJ’s shoulder, like a bad conscience.
AJ says last time he was in Memphis, he knocked Miz’s teeth out, and then makes a joke about performing with a limp. Once more, Cena circles around to ask Miz if he’s prepared to let Styles talk about him like that, and honestly, I could live with Cena as the pantomime-style aside character of SmackDown. Shane says we’re gonna make this red hot – it’s a match!
We’re told Jerry Lawler is going to be here, and my first response is to wish I hadn’t decided to watch this, and my second is to wonder if I can tune him out well enough anymore, as I’m out of practice. Honestly, I’d like to hear that Jerry Lawler was found dead in a bin, but as our CWC correspondent Jordan used to say, it’d be an insult to the bin.
Shane is backstage, and Dean’s there, he says he wants to talk about something. First, he wants to be in Elimination Chamber, and secondly, he wants a new title, because this one’s sticky and smells like moisturiser. Probably makes him miss Seth. Thirdly, he wants to bring up the Wyatts, and just for fun, he wants Orton. I’m not sure Randy will agree to being your bitch, Dean, but hey, why not?
MATCH: AJ Styles vs. The Miz
- We start off with a wristlock from AJ, Cena’s on commentary, and while Miz tries to reverse it, he’s struggles, and in the end, he has to head out of the ring towards Maryse, to get some support from a real champ.
- Commentary respects this match by letting Cena talk, and letting him talk to Otunga, who also needs to be in a bin.
- Miz does us all a favour and bends AJ back into a bridge, before AJ repays in and bends Miz, which is pretty obscene from both of them, Miz in those trunks, and AJ without compression underwear.
- Kick from Miz, finally Mauro gets to talk. Couple of leapfrogs from Miz, then a dropkick from AJ, sending Miz down hard. Blows from AJ in the corner. Backbreaker from AJ, and a cover for two.
- AJ off the ropes, into a knee from Miz, leaving AJ winded on the canvas. Blows from Miz, big lefts, then he rebounds AJ off the ropes, and AJ bends, turning it into the Calf Crusher, but Miz reaches the ropes.
- Two roll throughs of roll ups, and then a bin from AJ, for two. Maryse on the apron, with a distraction, Miz sending him plummeting to the outside with a kick.
- Back from commercials, and my cats are having a scrap in the corridor which I’m tempted to go and do commentary for, frankly, seeing as four people plus Cena on commentary here surely means I’m unnecessary. But not as unnecessary as Otunga.
- AJ is powering out of a Miz submission, and getting Miz into the corner, leaning on him, but Miz reverses a whip and gets AJ into the corner hard, coming back with a corner dropkick, followed by a second as he mocks the ‘yes’ chant and comes back with a corner forearm.
- AJ lies crumpled in the ring, and Miz goes high, beckoning to AJ, who comes close, but catch Miz’s attempts at a double axe-handle. Styles goes for the Clash, Miz rolling through, and Miz gets a thumb in AJ’s eye as the ref is occupied.
- Miz bows to the crowd, AJ gets a roll-up for two, Miz on the outside, and as he tries to climb back in, AJ hits a Pele kick through the ropes. Miz is crumpled on the outside, and AJ throws him towards Cena, who pushes Miz away and eats a cheap shot from AJ.
- The bell rings, and Cena chases Styles, but he heads out early, Miz coming back from behind, eating an AA, and then Styles going for the Phenomenal Forearm – but he eats and AA, too! Cena celebrates to the crowd as AJ lies on the canvas, Miz lies with Maryse, and Cena holds the WWE Championship up high – a promise. A threat.
Nikki is backstage, and we recap her getting jumped by Natalya last week. For once I’m glad that wrestling does a lot of usually unnecessary recaps, because I haven’t watched SmackDown in a long, long time. Now I know what’s happening!
Nikki heads into the ring, and we see the previous events last week, where the match didn’t start, because they were too busy pulling each other around. Sort of gratified to see the refs not being too grabby straight away, though. Nikki syas that last week, they just got started, and that Nattie should get out to the ring. She waits, but then says, of course, Nattie isn’t woman enough to face her. Nattie’s voice comes through, and Nattie is at the top of the steps, in the crowd. She says she has something to show Nikki.
It’s Nattie, talking to the merch stand guys, while still on mic. She gets pointed to the Nikki merch, next to the Cena merch, which she comments on, and she’s fuming that she doesn’t have a shirt, and apparently, that’s Nikki’s fault. Nattie says ‘you and my uncle have a lot in common, because you’re both gonna die alone’. Um. Um. She throws a load of merch in the bin, and Nikki appears, jumping her and landing on a table on her. The two brawl behind the merch tables, Nikki slugging a security guard who tries to stop her, and the two are eventually pulled apart. Nattie breaks free on the men holding her, and lunges for Nikki, and we cut away with the two still struggling to get to each other. Fuck me, the women’s division is bloody violent on SmackDown.
Alexa Bliss is backstage talking to Dasha Fuentes, being asked if she’s afraid of Becky Lynch and the cage match tonight. She says she’s not afraid, and that she can be locked in the cage, and they can throw away the key for all she cares. God, I love her, she’s amazing.
We get told about Kurt Angle in the Hall of Fame, but we got this news yesterday, too, so… nope, all care is pretty much gone by now. Not that he doesn’t deserve it. But, y’know. Old news. The way the crowd all chant ‘YOU SUCK’ is pretty awesome, though. Probably some baffled kids in the audience staring at their parents.
MATCH: Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton
Dean’s out first, to uproarious cheers, and it might just be my penchant for dichotomies, but he looks so damn good with a white leather belt. So, so damn good. We get a recap of last week, with the Wyatts taking Dean apart, with Randy laying the final blow. I miss the grey tanktops, Dean, they used to shred really beautifully. I’ve missed Dean entirely, actually, I’d almost forgotten what a gloriously scruffy puppy he is.
Randy Orton appears with his new weird theme music where it’s a bit of his and then it slides into the Wyatt theme. Ah, that’s because Randy’s bringing the rest of his weird adopted family with him. I’m still upset that Orton’s not grown a massive bushy beard, to really make himself part of the family. Frankly, it smacks of not trying hard enough, and that just won’t do. Put some effort in, Viper-boy.
Bray gets more dreads the more often I see him, and I like them even less every time.
- Randy climbs into the ring, Dean being kept back, and as the bell rings, he lunges for Harper, but Orton goes for a quick roll-up, Dean getting out of the way.
- The two circle, Dean lunging to Bray on the apron, sending chop to Randy, and getting a kick back. Quick clothesline from Dean, a few fists thrown, and then Orton heads out to join the rest of his weirdy beardy family.
- Dean plays it up on the top turnbuckle, and Randy climbs back in, the two circling again before going to a test of strength, Dean turning it into a wristlock and sending Orton to the mat. JBL respects one of the greatest technical wrestlers of a generation by comparing Dean to a turkey.
- Headlock from Orton, keeping Dean down on the ground. The two rise, and it’s a shoulder tackle from Orton, followed by a drop toehold from Dean, before a blow to the face for Orton. Chops from Dean, whipping Orton into the ropes, but Dean takes a blow to the head in return.
- Randy gets Dean hung up on the top rope, spinning him around and stomping Dean’s ankles and knees, before a cover for one. More stomps, this time to the hands, and a headlock back on from Orton. Dean slowly starts to power out with the cheers from the crowd behind him.
- Knee to the midsection from Orton, Dean in the corner, Randy running into knees. Dean goes up to the top, comes off the turnbuckle with an elbow, pinning Orton for two. He goes for Dirty Deeds, but Orton heads back out to his buddies.
- Dean follows Orton out, spinning as he’s thrown towards the apron, coming back and smashing into Randy. His attention is captured by Bray and Harper, letting Randy come up behind him and smack him into the ring post, then onto the announce table, crumpling Dean over it.
- Back from commercials, we’re back in the ring with another Orton headlock on Dean, he battles out and whips Randy into the corner, hits a lariat, and ends up flat on the apron next to the Viper, trying to catch his breath.
- Dean ducks a clothesline, comes in with two forearms, then a lariat, followed by a swinging neckbreaker and a pin for two, Orton rising eventually. Back elbow to Dean’s face in the corner, then it’s jabs and punches from Dean, answered by a kick and an uppercut from Orton. Powerslam from Orton, and a pin for two on Dean.
- Bray at ringside calling for the RKO, Orton lifting Dean and putting him on the top turnbuckle for a moment, going for the superplex. Dean hits elbows, sending Randy down, leaping clear and rolling through.
- Dirty Deeds attempt turned into an RKO attempt, but it’s Dean with a Lunatic Lariat and a back cover – ooh, slightly bridged, yes please – and a pin for two.
- Randy gets Dean between the ropes, looking for the draping DDT, Dean manages to get through the ropes and send Randy over the ropes. Suicide dive into Harper against the announce table. When Dean heads back to the ring, Randy hits the draping DDT, and there’s a crumpled Dean in the ring.
- Randy showboats, and Harper heads into the ring to tell him to hurry it up, maybe get his own back, and Randy’s distraction means Dean get the pin!
The second he’s got the win, Dean slides out of the ring to crumple on the ramp, ready to escape at a moment’s notice, and Orton turns to his little family, the crowd chanting for the RKO as Orton stalks the ring. Harper strips off his jacket and heads in, Bray trying to mediate, but his two recaltricant children want a battle. He pushes Harper away, holding him steady, and in the end, has to give him a blow to the face to keep him still. Harper points at Orton and says ‘he did this’. Randy is the picture of innocence as Bray approaches him, and the crowd chant for the RKO. Harper heads out of the ring, clearly livid with Bray and Orton, who stare each other down across the ruins of their tattered family. Well, Bray, if you’d looked at Randy Orton’s history, he’s not exactly known for playing well with others.
Dasha is talking to Becky Lynch, who says that she’s not going to run from a fight, and she knows who she is – but we’ll find out who Alexa is, and she’s not a champion.
Jerry Lawler isn’t wearing a shirt, and I might love Dolph, but I’m really not sure it’s worth putting up with this for him, even if I haven’t seen him for ages. Dolph is in a suit, and t-shirt, with a ponytail, and – how is this fair, we get shirtless Jerry Lawler, but Dolph is wearing more clothes than usual? He also appears to be blonder than I remember, which is a better look for him than the brunette he was sporting last time I saw him.
Dolph isn’t talking, just swallowing visibly, and clenching his jaw as Lawler speaks, and the two of them are so over-tanned it looks like a pair of satsumas sharing a square fruit bowl. And I’m not listening to Lawler, so this segment is just so much white noise to me. Dolph looks like he’s going to talk, and then turns to leave the ring, but Lawler implores him to come back.
Wow, I’d forgotten exactly how douchey Dolph sounds. And they do a flashback to Lawler’s heart attack, which… I mean, sure, why not, let’s go with this. Dolph’s taking ownership of the heart attack, and there’s a second of gravel in his voice that makes him sound like he can hear the words coming out of his mouth but can’t stop them, even if he desperately wants to claw them back. He says if Lawler doesn’t stop asking questions, he’ll finish what he started.
Lawler says it’s too bad, and that Dolph will always be a loser, and then it’s a superkick to Lawler’s chest, with him crumpled in the ring as Dolph leaves, JBL going to help up his friend. Lawler staggers to his feet and screams at Dolph to come back, but he walks away.
Well. That got dark. Also proved that Ziggler couldn’t get heel heat if he set the ring on fire.
We get a video package from the Wyatts, who will be in the Royal Rumble, but he says that due to today’s antics, Harper and Orton will fight it out next week to see who will remain in the Family. Good grief, just send them both to bed without supper and tell them they have to share their toys, Bray, there’s no need to go to such extremes.
MATCH: Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch – SmackDown Women’s Championship Steel Cage Match
It’s our main event, the one we’ve all been waiting for, and we’ve been left a good twenty minutes for it, which is always nice to see. I’m actually… excited? About wrestling? What is this weird feeling? Sure, it’s women’s wrestling, which always makes me feel like this, but the whole show has felt weirdly exciting. Maybe I need to trade up which show I recap every so often.
Becky comes out first, and her gingerness reminds me that I need to redo my hair dye at some point. I freaking love Becky’s gear, she looks incredible, and I’ve missed her while I’ve been stuck watching Raw. Alexa’s out next, and I realise I’ve never watched her make a main roster entrance, and I fucking LOVE IT. Why are women wrestlers so amazing? I’m not too keen on the cornrows, though, got to say.
Okay, so by the time we get back from commercials, we’ve got more like fifteen minutes left, but that’s still a good amount of time, and I can’t really begrudge them that, I guess, seeing as sometimes the Raw women don’t even get that much time in a three hour show.
- The bell rings, and the two women pause, Becky lunging for Alexa, who dodges. Becky bounces Alexa off the ropes and cage, before a kick from Alexa. Alexa keeps trying to climb the cage and escape, or head for the door, Becky bashing Alexa’s head against the turnbuckles.
- Alexa climbs high, Becky grabbing Alexa’s leg to drag her down. STO from Alexa, catapulting Becky up to the second rope, where she climbs almost to the top of the cage before Alexa pulls her down. Arm drags and a dropkick from Becky to Alexa, who dodges a charge, and gets Becky by the hair, bouncing her off the turnbuckles.
- Alexa goes back up the ropes, Becky rolling her up for two as the crowd chants for Becky. Becky gets Alexa up on her shoulders, but Alexa grabs the cage, and so Becky follows her, the two fighting along the top rope, pressed against the mesh.
- Alexa slams Becky’s head off the cage over and over, and then Becky drops them both off the ropes, Alexa’s head catching the top rope on the way down.
- Back from even more commercials, and I’m pretty pissed off now, but Becky’s on the floor, pressed against the cage, Alexa slamming into her, and finally pinning her for two. Once more, she throws Becky through the ropes and into the mesh, big shoulder tackles to Becky, sending her into the mesh hard.
- Alexa runs into the cage, Becky dodging, and Becky slams into the door, nearly has it open. Alexa drags her back, Becky hits a huge dropkick, pinning her for two. She starts to climb the cage, getting herself over the top before Alexa grabs Becky by the hair to try and keep her in the cage. Becky climbs back in the other side to keep her hair, and Alexa slams her head into the cage.
- Becky uses the cage to get leverage for a side kick, sending Alexa’s back into the cage, before she hits an avalanche Bexploder off the top rope, and pins Alexa in the middle of the ring – for two!
- THIS IS AWESOME chants, and fuck yeah it is.
- Alexa pounding Becky, before she tries to get to the door, and Becky grabs Alexa, the two trading positions as they each try to get to the door, Becky kicking at Alexa’s head – and La Luchadora appears, Becky looking shocked.
- Alexa takes advantage, but Becky gets her into the Dis-Arm-Her, La Luchadora kicking Becky in the face and allowing Alexa to hit the snap DDT and retain the championship!
La Luchadora holds Becky’s hand up high as Alexa holds her title up to the audience, still our evil little champ. La Luchadora and Alexa put the boots to Becky, and then Luchadora hoists Becky up. Becky kicks Alexa in the stomach, then pulls the mask off Luchadora – and it’s Mickie James!
She kicks Becky in the face, and then holds Alexa’s hand high, two evil smiles over Becky’s prone form – and that’s the show!