Tonight’s Smackdown Live recap comes from tonight’s live edition from the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Huge ramifications coming out of this main event between AJ Styles and Luke Harper for #1 contenders spot at WrestleMania to face WWE Champion Bray Wyatt. If Harper wins, where does that leave AJ for WrestleMania? Which rumoured match will happen (if either) – the lambasted idea of AJ vs Shane McMahon or the recent rumour of a debuting former foe from the Far East. Or is it something altogether? Does Randy Orton re-insert himself somehow? Let’s get to it as the Smackdown rosters gets ready to stabilize its storylines heading into WrestleMania 33.
Show opens with Shane and Daniel Bryan rewatching the video of last week’s controversial ending, agreeing no view gave them a definitive angle so referee’s call stands. AJ starts ripping apart Luke Harper with typical hillbilly jokes, unaware that Luke was behind him. AJ leaves. Harper says “thank you”.
MizTV with Miz, Maryse and Special Guest: John Cena
SmackBack: The Miz lays a scathing promo on John Cena, comparing his recent disappearance acts to the Rock, the same guy who ripped on the Rock for doing the same thing. Crowd chants “You sold out!”. Miz continues to berate Cena. Wow. Cena has been on hot fire the past year with his shoot style promos, on Daniel Bryan, on Dolph Ziggler, on Renee Young, and now John Cena. They’ve all touched on nerves that both casual fans and diehards cringe alike. He’s hands down the best heel on Smackdown Live.
Cena takes the mic and says that Miz is just mad at himself and he needs to blame me for his failures. Cena then goes on to roast The Miz, for all the things he’s stolen over his career. And wow, as piercing as what the Miz said about Cena, John hit back with some zingers. I really want to see a Cena vs Miz II now. Didn’t see THAT feeling coming.
Maryse cuts in and cuts off Cena, berates him and slaps him. Cena laughs and Nikki Bella’s music hits and she runs down and chases her away. “You mess with my man, I’ll break ya, bitch!”
Wow. I have to admit that the rumours of a Cena/Nikki vs Miz/Maryse match popped up, I was a bit underwhelmed. But after that promo alone, from both Miz and Cena’s retorts to the way the women interacted at the end, I’m totally down with this. It’s just a classic wrestling story told in the ring, no titles. I just hope maybe we get a Cena vs. Miz II out of it. I think Miz has learned a lot since the first one, and this could be a main event feud.
1st Match: Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James – 2 out of 3 Falls Match
SmackBack: Gotta say, this feud has been underwhelming. I had high expectations for this, especially after James’ match against Asuka at NXT Takeover: Toronto, but so far it’s been a dud. It needs to get some spark of life soon or it’s going to be a failure.
Afterwards, Alexa Bliss is being interviewed, when Natalya interrupts. Natalya congratulates her and says its all about you tonight. It’s all about her right now. But only until she takes the belt from Alexa. Wonder if Alexa’s viral story from the WWE show where she was with her family is making the WWE consider turning Bliss face to a heel Natalya. It would make sense, especially if Naomi isn’t going to be healthy enough for WrestleMania. Nattie showed real guts in her heel run versus Nikki, the strongest heel work of her career.
2nd Match: AJ Styles vs. Luke Harper – #1 Contender’s Match
SmackBack: What a solid match. They started off with a slow build, with little hints of offence here and there, but once they picked up steam, it turned into a ROH showdown between AJ Styles and Brodie Lee. Harper worked stiff and Styles sold it like a champ. Harper looked devastating. Great “Let’s go Harper!/Let’s go Styles” chant that was pretty even. Harper tossed AJ like a brutal rag doll, very menacing. He’s never looked stronger in the WWE Universe.
AJ gets the pin, when the ref failed to see Harper’s foot on the ropes. While raising Styles hand, Shane McMahon’s music hits and he restarts the match due to the foot on the rope.
AJ confronts Shane about restarting the match and dodges a kick from Harper that knocks Shane out. AJ turns things around and takes down Harper. Wow. Didn’t see that coming. So much for the Wyatt Family Triple Threat.
Although when leaving up the ramp, Styles had some words with McMahon on the way by. This is starting to smell like the beginnings of the AJ vs Shane rumours.
Backstage, John Cena and Nikki Bella are being interviewed by Renee Young, when they’re interrupted by James Ellsworth and Carmella. Carmella gets Ellsworth to insult Nikki and Cena, which leads to Cena and Nikki challenging them to a match next week. That was gold. I can’t wait for that match. OH MY GOD, WHAT WAS IN THAT LAST DRINK?
In Ring Segment: Dean Ambrose
SmackBack: Dean Ambrose comes out and talks about life lessons and how Baron Corbin was one of them. So he wants a fight now. Baron Corbin comes on the big screen and tells him that he’s not coming out just because he asks. And he is going to ruin Ambrose.
Corbin is becoming a great vicious heel and his psychopathic meanness meshes well with Ambrose’s fun lovin’ lunacy. They looked great together in Elimination Chamber, and this could be a chance for Corbin to show what he’s got, and Ambrose to show where he came from. He get stiff if he has to. An Intercontinental title match at WrestleMania between these two could have the makings of a classic.
3rd Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Apollo Crews – Chairs Match
SmackBack: Crews attacks Ziggler from behind while Dolph is entering the ring, taking it to Ziggler early. The match was decent enough and had some cool spots, but it felt more like a character match. Ziggler finally won, but Apollo finally showed some personality and a bit of a mean streak that people were afraid he couldn’t tap in to. These two are building slowly, but it’s actually strengthening both characters immensely. By the time a WrestleMania match happens (most likely on the Pre-Show), they’ll have a story to tell and both men are going to go full tilt and try to steal the show. So the payoff could be worth it.
Final Segment: Bray Wyatt Invocation
Bray Wyatt comes to the ring and announces his takeover of the WWE. He talks about AJ Styles and how he will face the Era of Wyatt. Randy Orton cuts him off on the Titantron. He is at the Wyatt Compound and tells Wyatt it was all a ruse. He used him to infiltrate the Family and destroy it. Standing over the grave of Sister Abigail, Orton grabs a pick axe. He tells Bray tonight he burns the spirit of Abigail and he becomes the Master. He pours gasoline over the walls and on the floor where Sister Abigail is buried. He exits Bray’s wooden house, lights a match on a tree and tosses it, burning Wyatt’s house to the ground.
In the ring, Bray is in panicked hysterics, shaking in the middle of the ring.
Powerful ending – the cinematography of Orton’s feed from the compound cottage was engrossing. Orton was absolutely vile. Wyatt’s mythology is now being threatened, so it will be interesting to see what happens next.