Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The SmackDown Files: The AJ Styles Is The 48 Hour Man Edition (1-31-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Royal Rumble fallout continues as Randy Orton punched his ticket to WrestleMania by winning the Rumble while John Cena tied Ric Flair’s record by becoming WWE Champion for the 16th time. Conventional booking suggests that Cena and Orton are on a collision course towards Mania, but there is a little PPV called Elimination Chamber that might throw things off kilter. How did the blue brand set the stage for the final major show before WM? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of SD Live in no particular order. 

·        Shane McMahon announced that AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, The Miz, Bray Wyatt, and Dean Ambrose will face John Cena for the WWE Championship inside the Elimination Chamber.  It should be noted that Styles' rematch clause will be invoked at a later date if he doesn't regain the title next Sunday.

·        McMahon also booked Ambrose vs. Styles for later tonight as both men have unfinished business from last year.

·        John Cena praised Styles for being an elite WWE Superstar who brought out the best in his opponents. Cena was a testament to that as he apologized for his flippant “Guy From Atlanta” remark from last week.

·        Cena stated that there was no time to celebrate because he has to defend the WWE Title in two weeks inside the Elimination Chamber. He was confident about his chances and called out anyone who thought otherwise.

·        Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton came out to rain on The Champ’s parade. Wyatt noted that the vicious cycle of Cena holding the WWE Championship would come to an end inside the Chamber. If Cena found a way to survive the match, Orton would finish him off at WrestleMania.

·        Wyatt and Orton made their way to the ring to double team Cena, but Luke Harper came out to even the odds as The Wyatt Family retreated.

·        Shane McMahon came out and announced that Cena and Harper would team up against The Wyatt Family after the commercial break.

·        This was a good way to start the show. Cena was humble as he praised Styles for being on his level after last week’s blistering promo. The Wyatt Family made their presence known as they made no bones about taking the WWE Title from Cena by any means necessary.

·        Harper is a babyface, but for how long? He has what it takes to get over as a badass hero, but that might not be the endgame considering Wyatt still has a soft spot for his brother. It’s an intriguing storyline that is ripe for a Mania payoff if everything goes according to plan.

·        Also, the thought of Orton facing Wyatt for the WWE Championship at WM is not lost on anyone. Wyatt didn’t make a big fuss about it and Orton re-directed his attention to Cena. If the doomsday scenario of Wyatt winning the title becomes a reality, expect Orton to show his true colors by Wyatt’s world apart. It’s the Shakespearean thing to do.

·        Cena and Harper vs. Wyatt and Orton was good as it featured solid action with a hint of mind control. Harper had no problem attacking Orton, but he froze like a statue whenever he was within striking distance of Wyatt. This allowed Wyatt and Orton to gain the upper hand on Cena midway through the match.

·        Harper eventually stood up to Wyatt when he pushed him out of the way to punch Orton in the face. Wyatt grabbed Harper to set up Sister Abigail, but Harper reversed it and nailed Orton with a big boot in the corner. The distraction allowed Wyatt to drop Harper with his finisher moments later.

·        Cena got back in the ring and had Wyatt in position for the AA, but Orton saved his partner and nailed Cena with an RKO for the win.

·        Carmella defeated Delilah Dawson with the Code of Silence after James Ellsworth tripped Dawson’s foot behind the referee’s back. The match was serviceable and relatively painless.

·        Dolph Ziggler picked up another win against Kalisto when he nailed the high flyer with a Superkick. It was a short match that forwarded Ziggler’s heel turn, but his newfound mean streak is still sitting in the pole position.

·        Ziggler continued to attack Kalisto until Apollo Crews made the save. This was basically a replay from last week. Zzzzz….

·        Becky Lynch and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James was solid as Naomi showcased why she is one of the best performers in the company when her offense is firing on all cylinders.

·        Naomi had a great babyface comeback when she delivered a beautiful dropkick that knocked Mickie James onto the floor. Naomi continued as she nailed Bliss with a series of rapid-fire moves before James got back in the ring.

·        Lynch tackled James through the ropes which allowed Naomi to nail Bliss with an enziguri followed by the Split-Legged Moonsault for the win. Naomi has beaten the SmackDown Women’s Champion twice in a span of two days. I think that makes her the number one contender for the title. Just a wild guess.

·        American Alpha’s open challenge for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship turned into a melee when The Usos, The Ascension, The Vaudevillians, Breezango, and Heath Slater & Rhyno threw their names in the hat. WWE Officials broke things up as the announcers tossed to commercial break.

·        AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose was a great main event that managed to do two things successfully. First, it was a hard-hitting and physical match that featured high drama and crazy near falls that had the crowd hyped down the stretch. Second, Styles and Ambrose managed to cut through the noise of The Miz and Baron Corbin on guest commentary. The Miz was a great antagonist that managed to put over the wrestlers in the ring, but his personality can be overpowering at times. Corbin held his own by keeping his comments short and sweet while Miz threw shade at him nonstop.

·        Fortunately, Ambrose and Styles rose above the yammering and put on a show for the live crowd during the last 5-7 minutes.

·        The ending came when Corbin attacked Miz at the announce table. Miz tried to get in the ring, but Corbin held his legs like he was playing an unorthodox game of Tug of War.

·        Ambrose had Styles pinned for the win, but the referee was busy reprimanding Corbin and Ambrose. Ambrose attacked both men, but the distraction gave Styles enough time to nail The Lunatic Fringe with the Styles Clash for the win.

·        After the match was over, The Miz dropped Ambrose with the Skull Crushing Finale. Miz didn’t get a chance to celebrate his dirty work because Corbin nailed him with the End of Days. Ambrose suffered the same fate as Corbin stared down Styles as SD Live went off the air.

·        This was a nice way to sell the importance of the Elimination Chamber match. It is an ominous structure that will change lives and alter careers. It determines who will punch their ticket to WrestleMania while the losers try to find another way into the big dance. The main event did a wonderful job driving that point home and Styles and Ambrose worked their asses off. Styles stringing together two stellar matches in a span of 48 hours is truly remarkable. They don’t call him the Phenomenal One just because it’s a cute nickname. It’s a factual statement.

·        Ambrose was a fine partner as well and it appears that he will have his hands full with Corbin and Miz for the foreseeable future. Where does that leave everyone heading into Mania season? We shall find out soon enough.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was very good. The opening match and main event were a nice way to bookend the show. The Elimination Chamber card is coming along nicely with the main event set along with Nikki Bella vs. Natalya and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss for the Women’s Championship. Throw in American Alpha defending the Tag Team Titles against {Insert Team Here}, this is shaping up to be a fun show as the Road to WrestleMania continues.

·        Next week’s go-home show will feature John Cena vs. Randy Orton which is sure to be a barn burner. Let’s hope it’s not a preview of things to come at Mania. Doomsday Scenario #2 aside, Seattle should be rocking next week. After all, it’s Daniel Bryan’s hometown and the crowd will be extra excited to see Bryan because next Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of his emotional retirement speech on Raw. It’s going to be quite the night.

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls! 

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