By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington. The Elimination Chamber PPV is this Sunday which will serve as the final standalone show before WrestleMania. John Cena’s WWE Championship will be on the line inside the Elimination Chamber as Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, The Miz, Baron Corbin, and AJ Styles vie for the title. But first, Cena would have to deal with Randy Orton in a one-on-one nontitle match. An old rivalry has been re-ignited. Which man penned the next chapter with a win? 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.
· Daniel Bryan received a hero’s welcome in his hometown of Seattle. Bryan talked about his retirement speech from last year and how he is still grateful for so many things in his life. He is grateful for his job as SD Live GM and for becoming a father in a few months.
· The Miz came out to remind Bryan that he could no longer wrestle and should focus on being a full-time stay-at-home dad. Miz told Bryan that he didn’t belong in a WWE ring while the GM had a nice comeback by saying that Miz’s inability to wrestle didn’t stop him from stepping inside the squared circle.
· Miz continued to antagonize the crowd until Baron Corbin made his way to the ring. He told the Miz to shut his mouth to the crowd’s delight. Dean Ambrose joined the festivities as he put everyone on notice that he was winning the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber.
· AJ Styles followed suit with a valid case on why he was winning the title. Bryan decided to book Miz, Corbin, Ambrose, and Styles in a Fatal Four Way match as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was a fun way to start the show. Daniel Bryan got a huge babyface pop while Miz was the most hated man in Seattle for interrupting Bryan’s promo. Corbin, Ambrose, and Styles played their parts well which set up the Fatal Four Way Match that took place after the commercial break.
· The Fatal Four Way Match featuring Miz, Corbin, Ambrose, and Styles was chaotic and fast-paced throughout. Everyone had a chance to shine with Ambrose going on a tear down the stretch.
· Corbin nailed Miz and Styles with a couple of stiff punches that played into his Golden Glove background as a boxer. There was even a Tower of Doom spot that popped the crowd something fierce.
· The ending came when Styles nailed Miz with the Phenomenal Forearm, but he was unable to make the pin because Maryse pulled Miz out of the way. This allowed Corbin to hit Styles with the End of Days for the win.
· Styles eating the pin makes sense because Corbin singled him out as SD Live went off the air last week. Styles maintains his heat while Corbin gains some much-needed momentum heading into Elimination Chamber. The odds of both men winning the WWE Championship are slim, but it shouldn’t stop them from having a good performance inside the Chamber. By doing so, it will keep Styles and Corbin at the tippy top of the main event scene heading into WrestleMania.
· Natalya and Nikki Bella had their final verbal confrontation via split screen as they traded insults leading up to their match at Elimination Chamber. Natalya hit Nikki below the belt when she stated that Nikki would be sitting at home with her pregnant sister after she defeats her on Sunday. Natalya took things one step further by saying that John Cena would be with her if she wasn’t married. Nikki stormed off the set as Natalya smiled like a Cheshire Cat.
· Nikki was given weak material to defend herself while Natalya threw shade from all sides to get the desired oohs and ahhs from the crowd. Minor criticism aside, their match should be very good if they are given enough time to shine.
· The Emancipation of Dolph Ziggler continued as he attacked Apollo Crews and Kalisto with several steel chair shots to the back. Ziggler’s meltdown started when Crews pinned him with a roll-up. This drove Ziggler crazy as he attacked Crews post-match.
· Kalisto made the save, but he was also laid out by Ziggler. It should be noted that the crowd chanted “One More Time” every time Ziggler hit somebody with a steel chair. His heel turn is going swimmingly. *Insert Sarcasm Here*
· Ziggler ran his mouth a bit too much when he told Daniel Bryan that he could fight Crews and Kalisto at the same time. Bryan put that theory to the test by booking Ziggler in a two-on-one handicap match against Crews and Kalisto at Elimination Chamber. I am sure Ziggler will be resoundingly cheered despite being the dastardly heel in this situation.
· The first-ever dual contract signing featuring Mickie James, Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, and Naomi was a nice segment that put both Women’s matches over at the PPV. James did a much better job on the mic this time around as she talked about her legacy being used as the springboard for the Women’s Revolution. Without James laying the groundwork, there would be no Becky Lynch. Lynch had a nice comeback as she noted that when things got tough, James walked away from the company. Lynch is a fighter that refuses to let the chip on her shoulder weigh her down. Lynch vowed to slap James back to the past at Elimination Chamber as she signed her name on the dotted line.
· Bliss dissed Lynch’s hair color and stated that as long as the Women’s Championship was on her shoulder, she’s was the face of the division.
· Bliss signed her name on the contract and completely ignored Naomi who was standing across from her in the ring. Naomi reminded Bliss that she pinned her twice last week and had no problem doing it again at Elimination Chamber with the Women’s Title on the line. Naomi wanted to dance down the aisle in front of her hometown crowd at WrestleMania and the only way to do that was to defeat Bliss. She signed her name on the contract and kicked Bliss in the head for good measure.
· The tradition of a contract signing breaking down into a brawl came to pass as Naomi and Lynch laid out James and Bliss. Everyone played their parts well and it’s cool to see WWE booking three women’s matches on PPV. That would have been unheard of two years ago. We have come a long way, ladies and gentleman.
· The Ascension picked up their biggest win since SD Live’s Tuesday night debut when Viktor pinned Rhyno with a dropkick from the top rope. The twelve-man tag team match featuring American Alpha, Breezango, and Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Ascension, The Vaudevillians, and The Usos was a serviceable way to hype the Gauntlet Match for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles at Elimination Chamber.
· Luke Harper will face Randy Orton at Elimination Chamber. This could be a nice showcase match for Harper who is underrated as an in-ring performer.
· John Cena defeated Randy Orton with the AA thanks to an assist from Luke Harper. Cena and Orton had a nice match that seemed fresh despite their numerous encounters over the years. The action was well-paced as both men hit their respective finishers for near falls. Cena was about to drop Orton with another AA when Cena accidently knocked Orton into the referee.
· Cena made Orton tap out to the STF, but the ref was still taking a nap at ringside. With the official MIA, Wyatt got in the ring and nailed Cena with Sister Abigail
· Luke Harper ran into the ring to make the save. He was momentarily hypnotized by Wyatt, but the “Yes” chants gave Harper the confidence to stand up to Wyatt as he nailed his former brother with a Discus Clothesline.
· Orton tried to take out Harper with an RKO, but Harper ducked out of the way and pushed Orton into Cena who dropped him with a second AA for the win. The show went off the air with Cena celebrating in the ring as the announcers hammered home the Elimination Chamber Match featuring Cena, Wyatt, Ambrose, Corbin, Miz, and Styles for the WWE Championship.
· The main event was a nice way to send the crowd home happy. Orton and Cena had a good television match that didn’t hurt either man heading into Elimination Chamber. Luke Harper got some much-needed shine as he came to Cena’s aid down the stretch. This was a great way to promote two matches at once while putting a spotlight on the fractured Wyatt Family as well. Depending on the outcome of their respective matches, the dysfunction is bound to continue with a certain Viper playing with house money if everything goes according to plan.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was solid. Once again, the show was bookended by two strong matches that effectively hyped the Elimination Chamber PPV. The Chamber match for the WWE Championship should be stellar while Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton could be a show stealer if they are given enough time to do so.
· The Tag Team Division got some ancillary love while Dolph Ziggler’s heel turn is still stuck in the pole position. Considering the fact that this is a seven match show, Ziggler’s two-on-one handicap match against Apollo Crews and Kalisto might be the opening match on the preshow. Just a hunch.
· The Elimination Chamber should be a very good PPV with the Chamber match in prime position to exceed expectations. Who will punch their ticket to WrestleMania and face Orton for the WWE Title? Will it be a familiar foe or someone new? 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!