Tonight’s Smackdown Live! promises to be an eventful night, one which features the return of the 15-time World Champion, John Cena, and a triple threat match between WWE Champion AJ Styles, Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin. This is the much hyped Wild Card Finals night, where almost all of the titles will be defended. Here is tonight’s WWE Smackdown Live! review.
Smackdown Live! Review – Wild Card Finals
Mauro Ranallo welcomed us to Smackdown Live!, immediately followed by John Cena’s entrance music. The Chicago crowd greeted him with the “John Cena sucks” chants to his music. Cena said “let’s go to work” to the camera as he held up his Never Give Up towel. The crowd greeted him with more boos as he got in the ring even though the cameras showed a bunch of women and children cheering for him. Plus one male fan, who I believe was the famous Brock Lesnar fan from a couple of years ago.
Cena played to the crowd for a bit and got them riled up even more. One very vocal person kept booing him loudly over everyone else. Cena said that tonight, all of the championships would be on the line. Cena asked who the crowd thought would be the WWE Champion at the end of the night. The crowd booed for Ziggler and Corbin but cheered for Styles and then broke into a yes chant. Cena said he was also a fan of Styles and would see if he was the champion at the end of the night.
Cena said “that brings me to what I’m doing here” to which the crowd started chanting “Undertaker, Undertaker.” Cena said hearing that made him think a lot about his future. He said this year he was not “Super Cena” and many people thought he was a part timer. He said that tonight, he was setting the record straight. He said is not done, he is not leaving, and he is sick of the new era “BS” and it is the “my time is now” era. Cena said he was knocked down this year but he was ready to kick ass and that he was going to watch the main event very closely and challenge the winner for the main event at the Royal Rumble. Cena said “you might say ‘oh, you can’t do that’ but I just did because I’m John Cena, you better recognize.”
The announce team talked about what Cena said and hyped the Becky Lynch versus Alexa Bliss match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. The Wyatt Family made their entrance for the four corners elimination match for Smackdown Tag Team Championship match.
Back from commercial, one of the announcers tried to interview The Miz, who had security guards in front of the door. Maryse opened the door and the shut it. Miz opened the door and said he would only answer questions from the “unprofessional journalist” Renee Young.
Back in the arena, American Alpha made their entrance. The Usos and the former champions Heath Slater and Rhyno were already in the ring. The two members representing The Wyatts were Randy Orton and Luke Harper. Rhyno and Chad Gable started the match. Jey Uso, for some reason, made a blind tag instead of letting another team do the dirty work. Jimmy and Jey worked Rhyno over in their corner. Ranallo stated that the Usos were the most experienced team in this match, when JBL pointed out that “they’ve been twins for a long time.” Hilarious. The Wyatt family was standing on the floor just watching, which the announcers pointed out was actually smart because none of this matters in the end of the match.
Rhyno made a tag to Slater, who performed a couple of spots on Jimmy Uso. Slater slipped trying to jump off the top rope, which was supposed to feed into a super kick from Jimmy Uso. Slater recovered, ran the ropes and into the super kick to be eliminated. Heath Slater and Rhyno were eliminated. The show went to commercial.
Back from the break, American Alpha and the Usos were wrestling and the Wyatts had finally gotten back on the apron. American Alpha hit a double belly to belly suplex on the Usos. A short time later, Gable reversed a pin and pinned Jey Uso. The Usos were eliminated. The Usos pulled American Alpha down to the floor and put the boots to them. Randy Orton finally entered the match and went to work on Jason Jordan. Harper and Gable eventually ended up as the legal men. Gable hit a nice German suplex for a good near fall. Bray Wyatt got on the apron to distract Gable, which allowed Harper to take over as the show went to another commercial.
Harper had Gable in a chin lock when we returned, then performed a slingshot catapult on the middle rope. Orton and Harper tagged in and out, taking turns working over Gable. Gable was eventually able to make the hot tag to Jordan who performed a series of suplexes on Orton. Jordan went for a pin, but Harper broke it up at the last second. Gable performed a cannonball on the outside to take out Harper, then Jordan took out Wyatt. As he was entering the ring, Orton caught Jordan in the hanging DDT. The crowd erupted and chanted for an RKO. Orton set up for the move but saw Gable climbing the turnbuckle, and went to cut him off. Harper also tried to, which caused Orton to knock into Harper and knocking Orton in to the ring. American Alpha hit Grand Amplitude for the pinfall victory to become Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
Wyatt was showing laying on the floor with a face of disbelief while Orton and Harper bickered in the ring. Wyatt separated the two while American Alpha celebrated on the stage.
Rating – 6/10: A couple of different thoughts here. First, American Alpha is definitely a great tag team, so don’t take this the wrong way. But this seems to be way too soon to be ending the Wyatt Family’s run as champions. It would have made more sense to have Alpha be so close to winning, only to be cheated out of the titles tonight and setting up a long running program between the teams. I guess the point is to try and showcase the continued tension with Orton and Harper, but they still could have kept the straps on them until after a prolonged chase from Alpha.
The announce team recapped last weeks match between Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin. Ziggler was interviewed in the back by Renee Young. Ziggler put over both Styles and Corbin and talked about how he has missed out on opportunities throughout his career. Ziggler compared himself to a wild card that changes the whole game.
In a separate area in the back, James Ellsworth was interviewed. He was wearing a neck brace and a sling. He was asked if he ever felt bad about himself because people made fun of him. He said he does at times. Carmella entered and said that this was part of the problem and that she found Ellsworth uniquely attractive and walked off with him.
Alexa Bliss made her entrance for her title defense against Becky Lynch. Lynch made her entrance while the announce team recapped last weeks shenanigans when Lynch dressed as “la luchadora” and beat Bliss. The match began with quite a bit of old school chain wrestling. There was a series of about 13 pinfall attempts between the two that ended in Lynch trying to lock in an arm bar. Bliss fought it off and threw Lynch down by her hair. The two eventually fought to the outside where Bliss threw Lynch into the ring post as the show went to commercial.
Back from the break, Lynch had a hope spot where she hit a few lariats and uppercuts. Lynch missed a splash in the corner but quickly took over a with a springboard knee. Lynch did a brutal looking move that looked like it was going to rip off Bliss’ arm. Lynch went to the top rope and hit a drop kick. Suddenly, La Luchadora’s music played and someone ran down to the ring wearing the costume that Lynch wore the week before. Bliss and Lynch both went for a couple of pins but none could capitalize. Bliss went for Twisted Bliss, but Lynch got her knees up. Lynch locked in the disarmer, but Bliss got to the ropes. As the referee was checking on her, La Luchadora tried to interfere and threw Lynch into the ring post. Bliss hit a DDT and pinned Lynch.
Rating – 6/10: The announce team pointed out that it looked like Bliss had to pop her arm back into the socket, but it simply looked like someone who was double jointed bending their arm. They questioned who La Luchadora was. The crowd was unusually quiet for the match. Last Word’s Jamie Greer believes the masked woman may have been Mickie James.
In the back, Renee Young knocked on the Miz’s door. Maryse opened and started to tell Young that she better not slap her husband again. While Young was interviewing the Miz, Dean Ambrose snuck up behind and attacked him. Miz escaped while Ambrose beat up the security guards.
In the back, Nikki Bella was interviewed about last weeks nonsense with Natalya. Bella said she was a fighter and proud of her accomplishments. She said she would say what she needed to say to Natalya to her face.
In another area, Young asked Baron Corbin how he felt about the pressure of his first WWE Championship match. Corbin said he should have had this opportunity already and that Ziggler and Styles needed to be ready to meet the End of Days. Corbin made his entrance for the main event, followed by Dolph Ziggler. The broadcast team announced that The Miz would defend the Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose next week on Smackdown Live! AJ Styles made his entrance and the crowd roared. Styles ate it up as he made his way to the ring.
All three squared off to start the match and had some quick back and forth. Ziggler went for a Zig Zag early, but Corbin held on to the ropes. Corbin was the lone man standing in the ring when the show went to commercial.
Back from the break, Corbin was still in control. He went for End of Days on Styles, but Styles blocked it. Ziggler got involved and fought with Styles. Corbin laid both men out with a double clothesline. JBL said Corbin had a rare combination of “strength and power.” Ok.
Corbin worked over Ziggler while Styles was outside of the ring. Corbin went for End of Days, but Styles grabbed Ziggler’s leg before Corbin could hit the move. Corbin dispatched of both men and tried to charge at both in the corner. Ziggler caught him an elbow and Styles caught him with a kick. Corbin went for a pinfall on Styles, who kicked out as the show went to another commercial.
Corbin was still in complete control when they returned from break. Finally, Ziggler and Styles teamed up to take Corbin out and knocked him to the outside. Styles went out after Corbin, which resulted in Corbin throwing Styles into the barricade. Ziggler jumped on Corbin’s back and Corbin tossed him off. Corbin took apart the announce table and then charged at Styles, who moved. Styles launched himself off of the steps and hit Corbin with a Phenomenal Forearm and Ziggler followed up with a superkick on Corbin, which knocked him on to the table. Styles and Ziggler both climbed on the barricade and simultaneously performed a leg drop/elbow drop combo on Corbin. Styles and Ziggler fought in the ring with both men hitting a couple of near falls. Styles went for the Styles Clash, but Ziggler reversed it. Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Ziggler kicked his foot off the ropes and followed up with a super kick. Ziggler covered Styles for a great near fall. Corbin made his way back in just at the end of the pinfall and may have been late to breaking up the pin. There was a really cool spot where Corbin hit End of Days on Styles while Ziggler hit the Zig Zag on Corbin at the same time. Ziggler covered Corbin, who kicked out at the last second. Corbin hit the End of Days on Ziggler then was laid out by AJ Styles’ Phenomenal Forearm. Styles covered Ziggler and pinned him for the victory.
Styles stood in the ring with the WWE Championship when John Cena’s music played. Cena ran to the ring and took off his hat and shirt. Cena stuck his hand out to shake Styles’ hand. Styles pointed at the belt and was reluctant to shake his hand. Styles laid the title down and shook Cena’s hand. The two jawed at one another before the end of the show.
Rating – 8.5/10: A very, very good match. Corbin was put over huge and delivered in a big way. There were some memorable and innovative spots that really stood out. Styles winning is the obvious right choice. Some will roll their eyes at Cena automatically being put in the title picture, but it feels short term for the eventual Wrestlemania build that will come after the Royal Rumble.