Welcome to SmackDown Live! We start with the customary recap of the important events of Elimination Chamber – American Alpha retained the tag-team championship, but Naomi is our new women’s champion and Bray Wyatt is our new world champion.
To follow on from that, the arena opens in the dark and filled with fireflies. John Cena is invoking his rematch clause tonight, and although I agree, it’s a little bit of mood whiplash to see Bray Wyatt getting a “you deserve it” chant. It’s weird to me to see spooky cult dad being so appreciated by the crowd, you know? Bray gives his fireflies a sermon in a dark arena about Sister Abigail and, as he hoists his title, how he truly has the whole world in his hands.
As Bray welcomes us to the era of Wyatt, Cena’s music hits and he makes his way down to the ring. The crowd sounds a bit muddy, like they don’t quite know what they are shouting. Cena calls the crowd ‘brainwashed’ for being so behind Bray, and I mean, from an in-character perspective I can’t really blame him. He wants to get straight down to business and get that rematch out of the way but AJ Styles makes his way down to the ring to interrupt.
Before John Cena gets his rematch, AJ Styles wants one. To resolve this, Daniel Bryan saunters out. First of all he congratulates Bray, and Bray just looks more and more unimpressed the long he has to listen to all of this. Daniel makes the title match tonight a triple threat instead, and Cena jumps up and down excitedly. Bray wants to know who turned the lights back on and when he’s allowed to go stand in his little dark closet again.
Dean Ambrose is meandering about backstage looking for Baron Corbin, but before we do that, it’s time for some tag-team action.
MATCH: American Alpha vs. The Ascension
At Elimination Chamber, American Alpha defeated every other team in the division, but for some reason tonight are having a match against The Ascension. If this was explained while I wasn’t paying attention, I apologize, but I really don’t get this.
- Viktor and Gable start things off in the ring with a collar and elbow tie-up. Viktor with a rear chinlock, but then Gable with a leg takedown, until Viktor creates separation.
- Waistlock from Gable, into a wristlock from Viktor. Gable rolls out and reverses into a pin attempt, but Viktor kicks out almost immediately.
- Viktor and Konnor confer in the corner, then Gable and Viktor meet again in the middle. Waistlock takedown by Gable, then a pumphandle suplex for a two-count.
- Viktor goes after Jordan, then all four men in the ring brawling it out. The Ascension throw Alpha over the ropes to the outside, but then get taken down by leaping clotheslines from the turnbuckle.
- When we’re back from commercial, Viktor has Gable in a rear chinlock. Gable powers to his feet but Viktor kicks him away, then throws him into the corner instead and gets two count.
- Konnor tags in and goes for a cover off some tag-team offense. Rear chinlock, and Gable struggles to his feet but is knocked back down with a forearm.
- Hanging armbar buys Gable a moment, but Viktor tags in and drags Gable away from the corner.
- Gable rolls away and tags Jordan; knocks Konnor off the apron, then throws Viktor hard onto the mat.
- Konnor interferes, but Jordan hits an overhead belly-to-belly on both men in succession.
- Tag made to Gable, but Konnor tags back in and they hit a sky lift slam together, but Gable able to kick out.
- Grand Amplitude – and American Alpha win!
What exactly is going on in the SmackDown tag team division? Are we setting up for weeks more of American Alpha defeating teams they’ve already proven themselves stronger than?
Very plausible, as the Usos appear on the Titantron to talk some trash at Alpha, pointing out that they put Alpha out of commission once recently and can do it again.
Backstage, as it’s Valentine’s Day, James Ellsworth wants to take Carmella out for a nice dinner. Dean storms in looking for Corbin, before telling Ellsworth to try online dating because Carmella is clearly just using him. Daniel appears as if from nowhere and agrees to give Dean a match against Ellsworth, even though Dean is really looking for Baron Corbin.
MATCH: James Ellsworth (with Carmella) vs. Dean Ambrose
Oh gosh, in the ring, Ellsworth is telling the crowd not to boo Carmella because her only “boo” is him. That’s adorable and also ridiculous. Dean’s music hits, but Dean is nowhere to be seen. Eventually, Corbin comes out, dragging Dean by the collar, and sends him off to the side of the ramp with a big knee. Dean fights back with elbows, but Corbin picks him up and a Deep Six sends him into some electrical equipment. And a plate of cookies. Who was snacking back there?
Three referees send Corbin away, and we cut away with Dean unfit to wrestle.
Backstage, Daniel and Nikki are reviewing the tapes from Elimination Chamber, where Nikki and Natalya brawled until being grabbed by the referees. Natalya interferes and the two start to brawl again, and once more security goes for a big cuddle to tear the women apart like they do with the men… literally never. Daniel screams at the two of them that he’s sick of this and he’s giving them a Falls Count Anywhere match for next week.
Dasha Fuentes wants an explanation for Corbin’s actions; Corbin just says he’s not WWE Champion because of Dean, so now Dean is in hospital because of Corbin.
Up next, Renee is talking to Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler rants a little bit about the younger generation of wrestlers because he hates millennials, and reminds us that no one can steal the show like he can.
MATCH: Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
We kick off with a bit of a recap of Mickie James on Talking Smack, still with the same fundamental point to her story; she doesn’t believe she’s being shown the respect she deserves while Becky is being called part of the leadership of the new era of women’s wrestling.
- The two women circle, attempted waistlock from Becky into a hammerlock from Mickie, then a suplex for a one-count.
- Mickie blows Becky a kiss from across the wing before they lock up again; waistlock takedown from Becky, then a second, then a bridging hammerlock.
- Back into a hammerlock, but Mickie breaks out with a back elbow, leg takedown into a bridging cover from Becky for a two count.
- Attempted armbar from Becky, but Mickie grabs the ropes. Becky catches a boot from Mickie and goes for a rollup for a two count.
- Backslide pin for a two-count, then Becky knocks Mickie to the outside.
- Knee to Becky’s midsection, then a forearm to her back. Becky reverses with an uppercut, then a pair of arm drags into an armbar.
- Becky works the arm for a while longer, then a springboard side kick sends Mickie crashing back to the outside.
- On the outside, the women collide with dueling clotheslines, and we cut to commercial before we can really see who came out on top there.
- We come back to Becky and Mickie in the ring, with Mickie working Becky’s neck. Into a rear chinlock, working Becky’s spine with knees to keep her down, but Becky still manages to get to her feet.
- Two lariats and a leg lariat levels Mickie, then a back kick into a Bex-ploder for a two-count.
- Becky tries to grab into Mickie, but Mickie fights off with forearms and tries to lock in an armbar; Becky turns it into a rollup for a two-count.
- Flapjack from Mickie, and she kips up then climbs up on the turnbuckle. Becky dodges but Mickie lands on her feet. Becky hits a snap Bex-ploder, but Mickie kicks out at two.
- Mickie collapsed in the corner, and Becky comes running at her. Mickie on the turnbuckle tries to set up for the hurricanrana, but Becky throws her over the ropes to the outside.
- Becky rolls Mickie back into the ring, but Mickie is grabbing onto the ropes and telling the referee he’s hurt her shoulder.
- The referee calls for a medic, but Mickie hits a Mick Kick out of the corner – Mickie James wins!
Mickie looks terribly pleased with herself, as Becky leans against the ropes looking like ‘well, you got me I guess’, like she fell for it but can’t even be mad.
Renee is interviewing Naomi in the ring; they’re cut off by a ‘you deserve it!’ chant, until Renee says that Naomi is here to talk about an injury she sustained during the match, and she is wearing a knee brace to support that. Naomi explains that she didn’t notice it at the time but it dawned on her afterwards, but she’ll still be holding her title into WrestleMania.
Alexa Bliss makes her way out, and Renee has already gone by the time she does so, having apparently learned from past confrontations with Alexa. Alexa tells us that she thinks Naomi has probably invented this knee injury, having realized that she’s not as good a champion as Bliss was. To cap it all off, she says she’s giving Naomi a week to give her a rematch, or she’s just taking the title back.
MATCH: John Cena vs. AJ Styles vs. Bray Wyatt
It feels like this SmackDown has gone unusually quickly, and I’m not quite sure why. In any case, Cena and Styles make their way out before the arena fills with fireflies again. When the lights come back, Luke Harper is waiting at ringside. Bray raises a hand to stop him, but Harper runs at him and knocks him into barricade with forearms before throwing him into the opposite barricade. Harper walks back up the ramp, leaving Bray crumpled on the floor.
- I’m really confused as we start because the match is underway as we come back! Cena on the mat when we come back, but he knocks AJ down with a shoulder block.
- ‘You can’t see me’ taunt, then for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Bray catches him by the leg and throws him into the barricade.
- Leaping forearm from AJ to Bray on the outside, before bouncing his head off the apron and kicking him in the midsection.
- Both men back in the ring, and AJ with strikes on Bray in the corner before hitting his shoulder into his stomach a few times.
- Bray stumbles out of the corner, and AJ grabs him by the head – Bray goes to reverse, but AJ counters again with a kick, then a forearm for a two-count.
- Elbows to Bray’s head, then a kick to the knee, but Bray catches him rebounding with a shoulder.
- Strikes to AJ in the corner now, then AJ is thrown out of the ring just in time for Cena to make his recovery.
- Five Knuckle Shuffle, then Bray is up in the fireman’s carry, but Bray slips out and gets him in Sister Abigail position.
- AJ interrupts with a forearm to Bray, but Cena picks him up for the AA. AJ kicks out at two.
- AJ set up on the turnbuckle, but slips off and to the outside as Cena strikes him ,and Bray is up in spider walk position.
- Sister Abigail on Cena, but AJ disrupts the pin.
- Another odd commercial, for we come back here to Bray sprawled on the announce table, and AJ hitting a splash from the barricade.
- AJ rolls to the floor along with JBL’s hat, and the crowd chants ‘one more time’. AJ obliges, and this time the table breaks, though AJ is clutching his lower back as he gets to his feet.
- AJ tries to springboard for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Cena catches him for the AA. He hits one AA, but he’s learned from facing AJ before and goes for a second. AJ reverses into the Calf Crusher.
- Cena struggles, then reverses into the STF. AJ’s long hair is covering his face so he’s completely unable to see where the ropes are.
- Luckily for him, Bray comes in with a running senton to break up the submission. The crowd starts chanting ‘this is awesome’.
- AJ thrown over the ropes by Bray, then he hangs backwards over the ropes staring down Cena. Unfortunately, Cena is not put off this time – AA, but Bray kicks out at two.
- Styles Clash on Cena, but Cena able to kick out just barely in time.
- All three men down, but AJ crawls to the ropes to springboard for the Phenomenal Forearm; Cena knocks him down, but Bray Wyatt grabs him for Sister Abigail – Bray Wyatt retains!
Bray is stumbling, not quite composed, but he knees in the ring with his title and goes to implore us to follow the buzzards. Before he can, though, Randy Orton’s music hits and the Viper walks slowly towards Bray. Randy has a microphone in hand, and it takes him like seriously three minutes to walk to the ring and think about saying something. That’s a long time to stare at Randy Orton, I’m just saying.
Orton reminds us that he won the Royal Rumble and all the privileges that come with that, and Bray is WWE Champion… however, he refuses to face him at WrestleMania. He pledges his allegiance, then drops to his knee real slow. Bray tells him he has the ‘keys to the kingdom’, and then implores us all to follow the buzzards.