By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to the first SmackDown Files of 2017. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from The Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. For the first time since the brand split last July, SD Live beat Raw in the ratings last week. The blue brand has something to crow about as they kick off the New Year.
Meanwhile, The Royal Rumble is on the horizon which means only one thing. Wrestlers are getting in prime position to stamp their golden ticket to WrestleMania. How did WWE get the SD Live ball rolling heading into the first major PPV of the year? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.
· The Miz’s New Year’s Resolution was to be more forgiving. With that in mind, he wanted Renee Young to come down to the ring and apologize for slapping him two weeks ago. He claimed that Young’s journalistic integrity has been tainted due to her relationship with Dean Ambrose.
· Ambrose came out to confront Miz, but Maryse did the heavy lifting for her husband as she blocked Ambrose’s path by slapping him in the face. Miz and Maryse headed up the ramp, but The Lunatic Fringe had a parting shot for the It Couple when he said that Maryse hits harder than Miz as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was a fine way to start the show. Miz does a great job being the arrogant heel that gets under people’s skin which makes him unlikeable for all the right reasons. Miz vs. Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship should be good. Something tells me that their significant others will play a role in the outcome. Just a hunch…
· Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler was good as the match featured solid action and heat throughout. After their so-so feud last spring, Corbin and Ziggler had their best match to date. Ziggler had a close near fall when he dropped Corbin with the Zig Zag, but his overzealousness got the best of him when he attacked Corbin in the corner. This allowed Corbin to nail Ziggler with End of Days for the win.
· After the match was over, Corbin grabbed a steel chair to finish off Ziggler. Kalisto made the save, but Ziggler wasn’t grateful as he nailed him with a Superkick. Ziggler snapped and repeatedly shouted that he didn’t need anybody’s help as the fans cheered him on.
· My dream scenario has finally come true. Ziggler is heading down a dark path towards broken heeldom and I love it. He needs to sell this new persona on the mic before I fully buy into it, though.
· Broken Dolph Ziggler continued to sulk as he trashed the men’s locker room. Apollo Crews got in his face for attacking Kalisto which led to Ziggler head butting Crews. A brief scuffle broke out, but Rhyno and Mojo Rawley broke things up as cooler heads prevailed.
· If Ziggler’s heel turn helps Crews get over as a babyface, it’s a win-win situation for everybody involved. Kill two birds with one turn. Yes, I totally made that up.
· Becky Lynch defeated La Luchadora with the Dis-Arm-Her, but she got hoodwinked when Alexa Bliss was revealed as the faux Luchadora. During the match, the masked woman went under the ring to pull off the switcheroo. Bliss tried to end the match with Twisted Bliss, but Lynch rolled out of the way and locked in her submission hold for the win.
· The real La Luchadora attacked Lynch from behind as Bliss joined in on the beat down. Bliss nailed Lynch with a DDT as she and the masked lady made their way up the ramp.
· The match itself was short and uneventful, but the mystery surrounding the true identity of La Luchadora is a nice wrinkle in the Bliss-Lynch feud.
· The WWE Championship contract signing between AJ Styles and John Cena was great. Both men cut stellar promos as Styles used Cena’s comments from Talking Smack against him as he offered a mea culpa to The Rock for saying that The People’s Champ left WWE high and dry several years ago. Styles noted that Cena is doing the same thing Rock did, but he won’t enjoy the same success The Great One has experienced in Hollywood. On top of that, Cena is not good enough to beat Styles. The Champ signed his name on the dotted line and dropped the mic.
· Cena lost all respect for Styles and called him a punk bitch who is like the rest of the chumps who tried to knock him down before. Cena has been through this song and dance before and reminded Styles that everyone who tried to bring him down has failed. He has made a career out of proving people wrong and making them eat their words.
· Cena encouraged Styles to bring his A-Game along with his family and friends to the Royal Rumble. Even if Styles is at his absolute best, Cena vowed to kick his ass because his name is John Cena. And with that, he signed the contract to make their match official at the Rumble.
· Baron Corbin interrupted both men and announced that he was entering the Royal Rumble match. Cena was ready for a fight because Styles was too much of a punk to throw down. Corbin didn’t flinch as he threatened to knock Cena’s teeth down his throat. They were about to get into it, but Styles nailed Cena with a Pele Kick from behind. Styles made his exit while Corbin stood over Cena and called him a has-been as the segment came to an end.
· Corbin felt a little out of place at the Big Boys Table because his promo was more bark than bite. Corbin will get better if he taps into his alternate personality on Talking Smack. This was very similar to what Braun Strowman did last night on Raw when he confronted Roman Reigns and Goldberg. The Lone Wolf hasn’t earned his degree in Badassery yet, but he is starting to figure things out from a wrestling standpoint. If he can pull it together, he will be a complete performer in no time.
· As for Styles and Cena, they clicked as sparring partners. We have seen many men talk shit about Cena and a select few have backed it up. Mr. Hustle, Loyalty, & Respect stood up for himself as he read Styles for filth about all things he is passionate about doing versus Styles having to do it because his livelihood depends on it. When Cena is in serious mode, he is one of the best talkers in professional wrestling.
· Styles had the last word from a physicality standpoint, but I expect Cena to pay him back in kind before their WWE Title match at the Rumble. Their verbal conformation was excellent, but it’s not surprising because they delivered the goods on the mic last year as well.
· Maryse confronted Renee Young backstage and slapped her on behalf of her husband. I think it’s time to sound the catfight alarm.
· NXT upstart Aliyah made her SD Live debut as she faced Carmella in a decent match. James Ellsworth played a role in the finish when he grabbed Aliyah’s foot while she was standing on the second rope. The distraction allowed Carmella to nail her with a Superkick. Afterward, she made Aliyah tap out to the Code of Silence for the win.
· It appears that Ellsworth is Carmella’s good luck charm. Either that or The Princess of Staten Island is using the Chinless one as a mindless sap in order to score cheap wins. I think the latter explanation seems more realistic. In any event, the unlikely couple is entertaining as Carmella is hitting her stride character-wise.
· American Alpha made quick work of Breezango when they dropped Tyler Breeze with Grand Amplitude for the win. Sadly, the crowd was absolutely dead for Chad Gable and Jason Jordan which is disheartening to see. Both men have to work twice as hard to win the fans because their start and stop pushes have derailed their momentum in recent months.
· After the match was over, The Wyatt Family appeared on the Titantron and warned American Alpha that nothing lasts forever. Gable and Jordan should enjoy their moment in the sun because the Wyatts are reclaiming the SmackDown Tag Team Titles next week.
· It should be noted that Randy Orton stole Luke Harper’s thunder when he got in front of him and told American Alpha to run a la Bray Wyatt. Harper didn’t look happy which plays into their spat from last week. Wyatt seems oblivious to the cracks within his own family, but it should be interesting to see how everything plays out next week during their rematch against American Alpha.
· Unfortunately, Orton might be the most over wrestler in the match which negates Gable and Jordan’s heat even more. Let’s hope Orton shows his true colors sooner rather than later because Alpha should not be supporting players in a feud that is doing them more harm than good when it comes to getting over with the masses.
· Nikki Bella called out Natalya for using Bret Hart’s music and his famous submission hold in order to live off her family’s legacy.
· Natalya clapped back by saying that she was better than Bret Hart and warned Nikki that beauty fades. When she loses her sex appeal and good looks, John Cena will leave her. Natalya offered a cruel parting shot when she said that Nikki will die alone. Nikki laid her out with a punch to the face. A couple of referees checked on Natalya as Nikki headed backstage.
· This was a solid segment. Nikki had some nice one-liners, but Natalya landed more blows until she got knocked out for real. Their match next week should be good if they are given enough time to shine.
· Baron Corbin vs. John Cena was also announced for next week’s show. This a big time match for Corbin. Let’s hope he can hang with the 15-Time World Champ. It’s an interesting clash of styles. Will they click in the ring? We shall see.
· Dean Ambrose defeated The Miz to become a two-time Intercontinental Champion. The match was good as Ambrose was wrestling like a man possessed after Maryse slapped him and his girlfriend earlier tonight. Maryse interfered several times and got caught when she slapped Ambrose in front of the referee. The ref was about to disqualify Miz, but Ambrose convinced him to eject Maryse instead. The ref agreed and told Maryse to leave the ring.
· Miz nailed Ambrose with the IC Title Belt from behind to pick up the cheap win, but The Lunatic Fringe kicked out at two. Miz attempted to hit the Skull Crushing Finale, but Ambrose countered with Dirty Deeds for the win. The show ended with Ambrose celebrating on the announce desk.
· I didn’t expect a title change, but it was a pleasant surprise. Ambrose overcame the odds as Maryse and Miz reaped what they sowed after their heel tactics backfired.
· The booking of this match was somewhat similar to the United States Championship bout between Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho last night on Raw. Reigns had to convince the referee not disqualify him when Jericho feigned being hit with the US Title Belt. Ambrose made a similar plea to the ref not to throw out the match by getting rid of Maryse instead. Both strategies worked as the babyface won in the end.
· I ‘m sure Miz is going to file a complaint about losing the title under false pretenses which should lead to an epic meltdown on Talking Smack. Get your popcorn ready, ladies and gentleman!
· The Miz and Ambrose will probably continue their feud at the Royal Rumble. I still expect Renee and Maryse to trade slaps along the way as they defend their men to the hilt. How romantic. *Sniff*
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was solid. I was a little iffy on the show at first because it lacked the spark from last week. However, things turned around during the second hour with the outstanding Cena-Styles segment followed by the main event between Ambrose and Miz for the Intercontinental Title. The crowd was hot for the key segments and dead for others. Their coldness was justifiable because some of the mid card matches were short and uneventful which prevented the fans from caring on an emotional level.
· SD Live can’t be a PPV worthy show every week, but I thought the creative team did a nice job putting over the top two feuds heading into the Rumble. Plus, WWE announced three matches for next week’s show which should give fans a reason to tune in.
· Most importantly, Ziggler turned heel! The follow-up is key, but I expect big things for Ziggler if he is willing to unleash his fury on the mic and in the ring. This might be his last chance to get over as a legit main eventer. Let’s hope The Showoff will make the most of this opportunity.
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!