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WWE Smackdown LIVE!- January 24, 2017

by Scrooge McSuck

Smackdown Live

- Episode #910 of Smackdown Live is coming from the Huntington Center in Toledo, OH, with Mauro Ranallo, John "Tripp Bradshaw" Layfield, and David Otunga calling the action, and Tom Phillips chiming in every now and then to remind us he's not doing the mannequin challenge. Advertised ahead of time is the battle of "brothers" between Randy Orton and Luke Harper, and WHY, MICKIE, WHY?!

- Daniel Bryan is shining up an apple, but before he can take a bite, the Miz comes in to complain they he doesn't have a private locker room. He puts food on their family's tables, and his star power probably planted the apple tree in Daniel's yard! Bryan sarcastically offers to block off a stall in the restroom. Tonight, he's giving Miz a rematch against Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Title. Miz wants it No DQ, but Bryan says "nah" and makes it a Lumberjack Match. After all, Miz is responsible for all of their salaries.

- We (briefly) recap the saga of the Wyatt Family, which dates back to the Summer.

Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper:

Bray Wyatt will be at ringside as a neutral bystander, and all three men come out together. That's an interesting twist for entrances before a match. Crowd is pro-Orton, even after three months as a Wyatt member. Lockup, with aggression, and a clean break from Harper. They get into a slugfest until Orton sends Harper out of the ring with an elbow. Orton follows and is greeted with a kick to the midsection. Whip to the corner and Orton comes out with clotheslines. Harper hangs back on the snap Power-Slam, but falls victim to the draping DDT. Orton sets up for the RKO, but Harper bails. Orton follows him again, drops him across the security wall, then does it again, this time onto the announcers table. Harper recovers enough to hit a boot to the face, and both men are out on the floor. Wyatt emerges from his rocking chair to help both men up and back into the ring. So, we've got two Lumberjack matches tonight!

We return from commercial, with Harper in control of a chin-lock. Harper with a slam. He makes the long trip to the top rope, only for Orton to recover, climb up with him, and take him down with a super-plex for a two count. They trade big blows until Orton catches Harper with the snap Power-Slam for another near fall. Harper counters a whip with an elbow, and a Michinoku Driver gets two. Harper sets up for the Discus Clothesline, Orton teases an RKO, but Harper counters that with a school boy for two! That was a cool sequence. Harper with a Super-Kick for another two count. Harper goes in for the kill, but Orton counters the Powerbomb with a roll-up for two. Harper goes for the Discus Clothesline again, but this time he doesn't block the RKO, and Orton covers for three at 7:58 (shown). Post-match, Wyatt helps Harper to his feet, gives him a hug, and plants him with Sister Abigail. **1/2 Good TV match with an interesting dynamic. Where does the Wyatt Family go from here? Was it tough love for Luke Harper? Will Orton eventually break free after months of mind games and finally give Wyatt his comeuppance?

- Recap of last week's Women's Championship, Steel Cage Match (the first of its kind on Smackdown Live), and the "shocking" return of Mickie James as the mysterious accomplice that has masqueraded as La Luchadora for the last few weeks.

- Renee Young is in the ring for a special interview. Mickie James comes out to explain her actions last week. I'd wager she'd use the "you don't deserve to know" excuse, but I feel Dolph Ziggler has that covered. Mickie immediately gloats about beating Trish Stratus for her first Women's Title at WrestleMania, and is a former 5-time Women's Champion. That doesn't answer the question why... or does it? She brings up the Women's Revolution and how Becky and others act like they were the first "real" athletes of the division. She credits Alexa Bliss for not being as short-sighted as the others. Becky Lynch interrupts for a brawl. James lures Becky into the crowd (it's a TRAP!) and Alexa shows up to nail her with the big forearm. Mickie with the Mick Kick, and Alexa with the Twisted Bliss to put an exclamation point on it. Mickie tells Becky to always be one step ahead.

- Last week, Carmella took James Ellsworth on a shopping spree to give him a makeover. Why is he shopping in his wrestling gear? I'm sure most places have a "no pants, get the hell out" policy. If you've ever seen one "goofy dressing room" montage video, you've seen them all, and this one doesn't do much for me. Why would a nice fashion store have an awful Elvis costume?! Logic! After failed look after failed look, Ellsworth shows up dressed as a low-rent version of Carmella, with a gold shirt they probably borrowed from Jerry Lawler's wardrobe.

10 Man Battle Royal:

(Participants: Heath Slater, Rhyno, Mojo Rawley, Tyler Breeze, Fandango, Curt Hawkins, Aiden English, Simon Gotch, Viktor, Konnor)
Winner earns a spot in the Royal Rumble Match. If this isn't the most JTTS Battle Royal I've seen in the last decade, I don't know what would be even close to it, not including midgets. Baron Corbin comes out to join commentary for the match. Nobody gets an entrance, so that helps not give the result away immediately. Rhyno immediately tries to toss out Slater, because its every man (or man beast) for himself, and their breakup has been delayed. Gotch and English charge, and both go flying out at 0:11. Poor Vaudevillains. Mojo presses Hawkins onto the top rope and knocks him out at 1:02. Slater pulls Viktor out from the apron at 1:42, and Konnor shoulder tackles Slater off the apron to complete his elimination at 1:49. Breezango go after Konnor and Rhyno, and here's Mojo to help the load out to eliminate the two big men at 2:16, leaving Mojo and Breezango. They double team Mojo briefly. Mojo pulls Fandango in front of a Super-Kick to eliminate him at 3:08, and Breeze gets back dropped out at 3:12 to earn Mojo Rawley a spot in the Royal Rumble. It was all jobbers, but it was quick, so I can't complain. I sense a light solo push for Mojo while Ryder is on the shelf. Did you know Jack Swagger was still on the Smackdown Live roster?

- Earlier tonight, Natalya attacked Nikki Bella as she was being interviewed before she could enter the arena. We all know what this feud needs... a STREET FIGHT! In an actual street, that is.

- A.J. Styles calls out John Cena. If he's not out there to #BeatUpJohnCena, he's out there to #CallOutJohnCena. Styles shows us the Royal Rumble poster, and guess what, Cena is up front, while he's lost in the background next to Rich Swann. Cena comes out sporting new gear (orange and blue, Knicks colors, but don't buy anything Knicks related, because they suck), so you know he's winning the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble. We get the standard 50/50 chant for Cena. Styles doesn't want to hear another of his rah-rah speeches. We see clips of Cena on the Today Show, and they're not exactly respectful towards A.J. Styles ("that guy from Atlanta"). Styles is the guy who's been running Smackdown since Cena's been gone, and nobody missed him. Styles didn't just take his place, he's the Face That Replaced Cena. Every time they've met, Styles has come out on top, and every time, Cena has an excuse. If he's ran out of excuses, Styles has one for him: He's the only excuse left, because he's a sorry excuse for a wrestler.

John Cena finally gets to retort. Cena doesn't complain about coming to the arena and getting booed, but Styles gets upset over something he sees on the Today Show. Cena calls out Styles for complaining about how he didn't flounder on the Independent scene. If Styles doesn't get his way, then his excuse is Cena buried him. If he's upset about the poster, then photoshop it to his desires. Styles isn't a guy from Atlanta, he's just a guy who he let hold onto the Championship. Cena says at the Royal Rumble, he'll see that he's a bad man, and his time is now. I was expecting "loud passion" promo, but we got a bit of old school heel Cena there, without crossing the line entirely.

Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler:

It was only a couple of weeks ago, where Kalisto got an upset victory over Ziggler, but ended up paying for it with a steel chair beating. New Attitude Ziggler took his frustrations out on Jerry Lawler last week after being called a loser (and Bradshaw tripped on his way into the ring). Kalisto with a pair of rights. Ziggler comes back with forearms and a swinging neck breaker for only a one count. Kalisto does a back flip to avoid a clothesline. He springs off the ropes, but is met with a Super-Kick, and Ziggler covers for three at 0:48. That was brisk. He looks to do more damage with a steel chair, but JBL gets in his face, and Apollo Crews runs out before anything can happen to his good buddy. Crews grabs the chair, but Ziggler runs off before his face can be rearranged.

- Naomi is back from a minor ankle injury, but her match with Natalya doesn't take place because... and you'll never guess this, because Nikki Bella attacked Natalya before she can get to the ring. You'd think they would add security or protection of some sort to prevent this from happening every week. Naomi isn't happy with that, and she wants a fight with anyone who wants to feel the glow. Alexa Bliss comes out to inform her... nah. She doesn't accept challenges from a nobody who hasn't been on TV in three months.

- A Six-Women Tag Team Match has been added to the Royal Rumble: Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch, and Naomi meet Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and Natalya.

WWE Intercontinental Championship; Lumberjack Match:
Dean Ambrose © vs. The Miz (w/ Maryse):

Main Event of the evening. The Lumberjacks are all the undercard guys we've seen in the Battle Royal, Crews, Kalisto, The Usos, American Alpha (remember them? Tag Champs!), and Baron Corbin. Ambrose tosses Miz over the top rope, but avoids the Lumberjacks. Miz tosses Ambrose, and he does the same. Whip is reversed and Ambrose misses a body press. He ends up on the floor and fights out of a sticky situation, only to roll into a mud-hole stomping from the challenger. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds, but Miz bails, only to realize what he's done. He gets clotheslined out, and the Lumberjacks ATTACK THE MIZ? That seems against protocol. You're only supposed to beat up on the babyface.

We return from commercial, with both men jockeying for position on the top rope. Ambrose slugs Miz down, hops off, and goes for the Lariat, but the Lumberjacks pull him out mid-move and put the boots to him. Back inside, Ambrose ducks a boot and rolls Miz up for two. Ambrose gets tossed again, but in friendly territory. Hawkins rushes in to take a cheap shot, though. Miz with a short DDT for two. Miz with the Yes-Kicks. Ambrose counters the roundhouse with another roll-up for two. Ambrose with a flurry of strikes. He ends up on the floor and fights free, heads to the top, and hits the big elbow for two. Ambrose with forearms and a clothesline to send Miz to the floor. Ambrose with tope suicida and its bedlam on the floor. Miz with the Busaiku Knee for a near fall. Miz with running corner dropkicks. Ambrose sends him to the floor with a back drop, and its more chaos as Ambrose comes off the top onto the big pile. They trade roll ups. Miz with a boot, and Bryan with the Lunatic Lariat, but Baron Corbin interrupts the count, and with all the Lumberjacks brawling, the referee doesn't call for a DQ?! Miz with a roll up for two. Dirty Deeds and Ambrose retains at 9:07 (shown). This referee, the same one who was working the match where Ambrose won the title, needs to be fired. **1/4 I hate Lumberjack matches, but they tried to make something out of this, I guess. I don't agree with babyface lumberjacks beating up on the heel. It compromises the formula of the gimmick where the heel has the unfair advantage.

Final Thoughts: It's the go-home show for the Royal Rumble, so there's not much more you can do to add to a loaded lineup. The Royal Rumble sells itself, and the most highly anticipated undercard match is the WWE Title Match between Styles and Cena. They delivered a great segment, but the match doesn't need much hype to sell with their track record of delivering the goods. They're pushing forward with some undercard stuff, with the return of Mickie James and wanting it out for Becky Lynch, a solo push for Mojo Rawley, and the ongoing saga between Ziggler and Apollo Crews and Kalisto. It wasn't the best episode, but there's very little filler, and has me looking forward to next week when the build to the Elimination Chamber begins.

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