By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The fallout from Elimination Chamber continues as Bray Wyatt begins his run as WWE Champion. His victory might be short-lived because John invoked his automatic rematch clause and is set to face Wyatt for the title tonight. Who would punch their ticket to WrestleMania to join Randy Orton in the SD Live main event? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.
· John Cena and AJ Styles had an equal claim at Bray Wyatt’s WWE Championship. Daniel Bryan remedied the situation by booking a Triple Threat Match between Cena, Styles, and Wyatt for the WWE Title later tonight.
· The opening segment was pretty good as Wyatt talked about having the whole damn world in his hands. He listened to Sister Abigail’s sage words from years ago and renounced the naysayers. Anyone who supported Wyatt will follow him into paradise while those who stood in his way would burn in the fire.
· John Cena came out and congratulated Wyatt on his win, but chided fans who showered the new champ with “You Deserve It” chants. A man never deserves anything in life because everything must be earned in order to garner respect.
· Styles interrupted Cena and accused him of line jumping which caused Bryan to book the aforementioned main event.
· American Alpha defeated Viktor of The Ascension with Grand Amplitude in a surprisingly competitive match. The Ascension looked impressive, but it wasn’t enough to take down the SmackDown Tag Team Champions.
· The Usos sent Chad Gable and Jason Jordan a message that they were gunning for their Tag Titles. The Usos vs. American Alpha has always been the money feud in the Tag Team Division, but they’ve already faced off in a series of matches which has watered things down in terms of freshness. However, both teams have held back a bit when it comes to showing off what they can do when the lights are on bright. Will their breakout moment take place at WrestleMania? We shall see.
· Before Dean Ambrose could destroy James Ellsworth, Baron Corbin attacked Ambrose backstage and dragged him out to the main stage. Ambrose got back on offense, but Corbin cut him off by delivering the Deep Six through a table. The crash caused some sparks to fly from the lighting equipment near the stage. It appears that Corbin is on a mission to take the Intercontinental Championship from Ambrose sooner rather than later.
· The nonstop bickering and backstage fighting between Natalya and Nikki Bella will come to a head in a Falls Count Anywhere match next week. Their match at Elimination Chamber was so-so, but I expect both ladies to up their game when the rules are thrown out the window.
· Dolph Ziggler vows to destroy the new generation of WWE Superstars because they are out to replace him. Oh, joy! *Insert Sarcasm Here*
· Mickie James used her wily veteran instincts to lure Becky Lynch in a trap by faking a shoulder injury. The referee was about to call for the doctor when James miraculously recovered and nailed Lynch with the Mick Kick for the win.
· Lynch and James had a good match, but it suffered from a lack of crowd heat. The same thing hampered their bout at Elimination Chamber this past Sunday. Hopefully, this is a case of both ladies holding back and saving their best stuff for last.
· Naomi has a minor knee injury, but it appears that it’s not too serious because she plans to defend the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss next week. Bliss did a great job running down Naomi as she called her a flop who didn’t have what it takes remain Women’s Champion. The “What?” chants were a little annoying, but Bliss maintained her composure and delivered her promo without any hiccups.
· Well, that escalated quickly. Luke Harper got the jump on Bray Wyatt with a sneak attack at ringside. Harper nailed Wyatt with a big boot as John Cena looked on in shock.
· The Triple Threat Match featuring Cena, Styles, and Wyatt for the WWE Championship was great. The bout was filled with near falls and hard hitting action throughout. Styles put Wyatt through a table with a splash followed by a leg drop for good measure. Cena dropped Styles and Wyatt with a trio of AA’s, but both men kicked out.
· Cena tried to recreate his Royal Rumble win by rolling Styles up for another AA, but Styles countered with the Calf Crusher. Cena returned the favor by reversing the hold into the STF before Wyatt broke things up with a Senton.
· The ending came when Cena knocked Styles off the top rope thanks to a push from Wyatt. The diversion allowed the Eater of Worlds to nail Cena with Sister Abigail for the win.
· After the match was over, Randy Orton made his way to the ring to make a shocking announcement.
· Orton stated it wouldn’t be right for him to cash in his Royal Rumble win against Wyatt. He got down on both knees and pledged his undying allegiance to Wyatt. The show went off the air with both men posing in the ring as JBL pondered what the hell just happened.
· This was a twist that no one saw coming. Unless Orton is blindly loyal to Wyatt, he is playing him like a fiddle. Perhaps my far-fetched idea of Orton challenging Kevin Owens and Goldberg for the Universal Championship is not so crazy after all.
· In all seriousness, I expect Orton to turn on Wyatt by luring him into a false sense of security when he least expects it. With six weeks to go until WrestleMania, the blue brand can afford to slow burn key storylines leading up to the big show. The creative team deserves credit for showing restraint and not giving away everything at once. The classic cliffhanger storytelling device never gets old if it’s executed properly. The Wyatt Family Saga is a prime example of that.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was decent. The show lacked sizzle, but the main event saved the broadcast from sliding into the meh category. Cena, Styles, and Wyatt put on a show as fans were jumping out of their seats down the stretch.
· The biggest news was Orton forfeiting his WWE Championship opportunity at WrestleMania due to his loyalty to Wyatt. It was a mind-boggling move, but a savvy one if Orton is playing his cards close to the chest. There is a lot of time between now and Mania and I expect The Viper to show his true colors soon enough. It will be a glorious moment, to say the least.
· Next week’s show is already set with two women’s matches. Natalya will face Nikki Bella in a Falls Count Anywhere match while Naomi will defend the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss if she is medically cleared to compete. Let’s hope the booking team doesn’t get too cute by switching the title six weeks before WM. Raw is already experiencing a bad case of hot potato with their Women’s Championship. The SD Women’s Title shouldn’t follow the same trajectory.
· SD Live has a lot of time to kill between now and Mania. I was fearful that the Winter Blues would set in during the long break between TLC and the Royal Rumble. However, WWE managed to string together a series of entertaining shows that kept the pre-Rumble doldrums at bay. The Road to WrestleMania can be treacherous at times. Can the creative team avoid the wrong turns and dead ends along the way? We shall find out soon enough.
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!