Tonight’s WWE Smackdown Live in Baton Rouge started off with newly crowned Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose and the first Ambrose Asylum of 2017. He took the opportunity to announce that he would be entering the Royal Rumble match. He also introduced us to an alligator head named Maryse, which he had substituted for a live alligator that he unfortunately couldn’t have in the ring due to permit problems. To be fair, “Gator Head Maryse” probably does have a similar look to the real Maryse sans makeup. His first guests of the new year graced us with their awesomeness shortly after, and Miz never to be upstaged, also announced that he too would be entering the Royal Rumble match. He also gave Dean the opportunity to hand over the IC Title, which he thought was the right thing since the match should have ended due to Maryse interfering. Dean politely declined but did give Miz something Ambrose thought he deserved, the Miz Participation Award that Miz himself had given Dean months prior. Miz obviously did not take this well and threw the award into Dean’s face and proceeded to pummel the Lunatic Fringe’s head with a barrage of punches. As Miz raised Dean to his face to allow his slap happy wife to do what she does best (get your minds out of the gutter), Ambrose ducked the slap at the last moment and Miz became the victim of in-ring domestic assault. To add insult to minor injury, Dean then hit Dirty Deeds on the Awesome One. Being the gentleman that he is, Dean handed the award to Maryse before leaving the ring. I’m truly enjoying the continuing storyline of Awe-sylum……not as much as Jeri-KO though.
The first Worldstar Hip Hop fight video….ahem….match of the evening was Nikki Bella vs Natalya. As Nikki was walking to the ramp entrance she was blindsided by the Queen of Black Hearts and left on the ground while Natalya entered the ring first. Nikki limped to the ring shortly after and immediately took Natalya down and the audience was provided with a few minutes of drunken catfighting before multiple refs had to break them up. Natalya was able to chop block the already injured leg of Nikki and put her in the Sharpshooter outside the ring. Nothing about this feud impresses me, so why would the match be any different?
We were next taken backstage for an interview with Dolph Ziggler. He was asked what happened last week when he snapped after his loss and attacked both Kalisto and Apollo Crews. Dolph remained silent with an intense look on his face, and left without saying a word for his match against Kalisto. Kalisto, looking to exact revenge for Ziggler’s unprovoked attack last week, started off aggressively. Ziggler was able to slow the match down with his amateur wrestling background, keeping Kalisto grounded with various holds. Dolph was able to control most of the match, but Kalisto caught Dolph off guard and was able to get the win with a rolling crucifix pin. It was Dolph that would have the last laugh though, hitting Kalisto with a vicious clothesline, but he wasn’t finished there. As his loss sunk more into his already fragile mindset, his frustration got the best of him and unleashed a few brutal chairshots on the Lucha Dragon. Dolph finally left the ring but was met by Apollo Crews who brought Dolph back to the ring, but he too would fall victim to Ziggler’s rage as well as a steel chair. As Ziggler left both men in broken heaps inside the ring, I couldn’t help but think how much better Ziggler would be with this new attitude if they stop this losing slump he is in and just do the full heel turn already.
The tag team titles were up for grabs in the next match as the Wyatt Family got their rematch against Smackdown Live tag champs American Alpha. As much as I hate to see both Randy and Bray being wasted as a tag team, instead of dominating the singles scene, this match was really great. The difference in styles of the two teams works well. The aggressive nature of The Wyatts against the both explosive and technical American Alpha reminded me of something old school like Strike Force vs. Demolition. The match was very back and forth, AA mounting explosive offense while Bray and Randy were able to isolate both Chad and Jason on multiple occasions. However, it would be the continuing story of trouble in the Wyatt ranks that would outshine some great in-ring work. It would start with Randy “accidentally” knocking Luke Harper off the ring apron while setting up a draping DDT. Mind you this was just after Luke has distracted the referee, allowing Orton to thumb the eye of Chad Gable who had been mounting a decent offensive against the Viper. Moments later, after all four men had been fighting in the ring, Randy was able to get the upper hand on Chad Gable. As he was getting ready to hit Chad with an RKO, Harper once again jumped up on the ring apron. This time it was both the ref and Orton who were distracted by Harper, Orton obviously confused as to why Harper was doing this while he had the upper hand. Gable capitalized on this lapse of concentration and rolled up Orton for the pin to retain the titles. As Randy stood seething in the ring, Luke Harper entered the ring berating Randy, which led to both disciples shoving each other in the middle of the ring. Bray tried his best to ease the already deep seeded tension in his family, but as he attempted to stop Orton from getting to Harper, he was met with a kick to the head from Luke that was meant for Randy. The shock of their leader getting hit stopped both men in their tracks. Bray recovered and gave both Orton and Harper the most intense staredowns I have ever seen from Bray Wyatt. After Bray said something to both men, he left the ring by himself. As much as I enjoyed this match, Randy splitting from the Wyatts needs to happen sooner than later. Both Bray and Orton are far too good as singles competitors to be wasted like this, plus Bray needs the WWE World Title like……a year ago.
A backstage segment with Becky Lynch, Daniel Bryan and Alexa Bliss lead to the announcement of the first ever Smackdown Women’s Title match to be held in a steel cage. Even though it didn’t beat RAW’s cage match between Charlotte and Sasha Banks to the punch, I think that this will bring out the best in both superstars, who will obviously want to outshine the previous RAW counterpart. I believe that both of these women have both the talent, and the fearlessness to test their limits in this pursuit. I am genuinely excited for next week.
The next ten minutes found me trying to hold back vomit, as I was subjected to an absolute garbage match between Carmella (with her rescue mut James Ellsworth in tow) and a jobber named CJ Lunde. I call her a jobber because there was a “let’s go jobber!” chant from the crowd during the match. It makes me wonder if Ellsworth is such a jobber, that he attracts other jobbers to his vicinity. As if the horrible match wasn’t enough, after Carmella secured a win, she informed James backstage that she would be taking him on a shopping spree next week as a thank you for his help the past few weeks. What am I watching? Was it bring your daugher to work day for WWE creative?
This brings us to our main event between Baron Corbin and John Cena. Our eight minute main event match. Eight minutes…..do I sound bitter? That’s probably because I am. Baron has been getting increasingly better in both his mic skills and his ring work. This match should have been 15-20 minutes minimum. But why have a great match when we can have horrible promos and matches that don’t fall anywhere near interesting or captivating. For the short time they were in the ring together, Corbin absolutely dominated Cena. Not only that, he took the time to verbally taunt both Cena and AJ Styles who was guest commentating. Cena did a great job selling for Corbin as well. Every time Cena tried to get the upper hand, Corbin would shut him down immediately. But how did the match end, with Cena hitting three moves at the end of the match and getting a clean pin on the Lone Wolf in the middle of the ring. The show ended with AJ Styles standing on the announcer’s table holding the title above his head, with Cena raising his hands in victory in the ring. Hey WWE, do you want to give this guy a push or not? Cena didn’t need that win weeks before his match against AJ at the Rumble. Corbin needed a win against a legit opponent like Cena to really cement himself in the title hunt. I still don’t feel like WWE creative has a solid plan for Baron Corbin, which is troubling. I don’t feel like they are focusing on what is really working for them. They seem like they are more concerned with making sure every kid gets time in the game in every show. Would it be so horrible to give Carmella, Nikki and Natalya the week off so that we could have the very chance to have a longer more compelling match in the main event? I would love to hear my readers thoughts on this. This week’s Smackdown Live has me a bit worried for the future of the show. I know that RAW being three hours long is pretty much a negative in most of the WWE Universe’s opinion. However, it seems like Smackdown is having a hard time filling two hours with decent storylines. Is Smackdown deficient in talent? If so, where are they lacking the most? Where does RAW or Smackdown Live outshine the other? Is it the WWE wrting staff as a whole that needs to be overhauled? Does Smackdown need to maybe put some of their struggling talent on the back burner and give some NXT talent a chance to shine? I’m not really sure. The one thing I am sure of though is that the WWE put a Smackdown on my patience as a fan tonight.