Tonight’s WWE Smackdown Live kicked off with a recap of the tensions that have been rising between Shane McMahon and AJ Syles. After a savage beating at the hands of the Phenomenal One, Shane McMahon decided to make AJ’s wish come true and grant him a match at Wrestlemania against none other than himself. We then went live to the arena where Daniel Bryan was discussing technical issues with someone backstage. The scene became much more phenomenal as AJ Styles burst into the room, all smiles and looking for Shane-O-Mac. Bryan tried to warn AJ about what he had gotten himself into. AJ would hear none of it, and left to tell the entire WWE Universe how great it felt to #BeatUpJohn…..*ahem*….#BeatUpShaneMcMahon. AJ Styles made his way to the ring and addressed the crowd. He said that after seven long days after his beating of Shane McMahon that he was not sorry at all. He said that beating up his boss like that made his heart swell, kind of like a redneck Grinch. He mocked Shane and laughed off his Wrestlemania challenge, saying that he must be crazier than everyone thinks he is. He addressed Daniel Bryan and told him that he was untouchable, that he can do whatever he wants because without him Smackdown Live plummets. He ended the segment with the threat of a second beat down, saying that if you thought that the last one was bad, things can go from bad to “phenomenally worse”. God I love AJ Styles as a heel.
Prior to the night’s first match we went backstage to once again see Daniel Bryan speaking to someone, however this time it was Shane McMahon on the telephone. Daniel warned him of AJ Styles threat, but it seemed from Daniel’s facial expression that Shane has a plan in mind. Daniel said he thought that Shane’s plan would work and hung up with a smile. Enter Baron Corbin. The Lone Wolf was looking for Dean Ambrose, wondering if he accepted his challenge for the IC belt at Wrestlemania. Daniel informed Corbin that because of his actions a few weeks prior he hadn’t seen Ambrose. Corbin chuckled and said that because he had the night off, he was going to take his good luck to the tables of the Mohegan Sun Casino. Bryan stopped him and told him that he walked into his office on the wrong night, and Corbin did not have the night off. He informed Corbin that he would have a match tonight against a man he had never faced before, The Viper Randy Orton. Corbin just shook his head in disgust and left. This match actually really intrigues me. Randy is one of the few superstars that raises the level of anyone he is in the ring with. This could really up Corbin’s stock with the fans.
Our first match of the night was for the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship. American Alpha would be looking to avenge their loss against the Usos last week. American Alpha took control early, utilizing their technical prowess to keep the Usos from any explosive or highflying moves. Prior to the commercial break American Alpha were able to knock both Usos outside of the ring. After the commercial break it was the Usos that were in control after Chad Gable did not see a tag by the Usos and paid the price. The Usos maintained the momentum by some great tag team synergy, with a little bit of underhanded tactics sprinkled on top. Chad Gable was able to avoid getting caught in a tree of woe, and was finally able to make a tag to his waiting freight train of a partner. Jason Jordan then did was trains do, run full steam ahead. There were Usos flying everywhere. Jordan finally pulled off a slam reminiscent of the great Kurt Angle, but was unable to get the three count. The Usos were then able to turn it around and in some confusion Jay Uso landed a vicious superkick, and Jimmy hit a splash from the top rope on Chad Gable. Chad was able to kick out at the last minute, but he was in major trouble. Some really great back and forth between the teams, each putting it all on the line. It was finally the Usos who were able to get the three count after Jay Uso hit a fantastic superkick on Jason Jordan. I’m extremely excited to have the Usos back. American Alpha was not being elevated to their highest potential with the current tag team division. This Uso team seems more authentic to me, and they definitely have the skill to hang with AA. Let’s see where it goes…..WWE creative, I’m looking at you with super skeptical face.
We were then finally able to see the rumored “never before aired Total Bellas footage” that Miz and Maryse said that they unearthed using their Hollywood connections. They said that the footage would finally show what Nikki Bella and John Cena were really like. OK, so there were multiple segments throughout the night of what was titled “Total Bellas Bulls**t”. I can’t do it justice by trying to describe it. It wouldn’t connect the way the visual and audio do. It is essentially Miz and Maryse playing John and Nikki(Maryse played Brie as well). They basically acted out everything that they have been accusing John and Nikki of over the past few weeks. It’s brilliant, and pretty spot on in some places. I loved them all. I’m sure you can find them online. Go now. Well, after you’re finished reading this article, but QUICKLY!
Up next was the match between Baron Corbin and Randy Orton. Before the match we saw the video footage of Bray Wyatt bathing in the ashes of Sister Abigail. Randy has certainly awakened something new in Bray Wyatt, and one can only imagine that Bray is capable of anything at this point. This was a pretty good match. Randy matched Baron’s aggressive nature. Both men not really gaining the upper hand early in the contest. Neither superstar has a really flashy style, and that didn’t change tonight. Baron was able to get the upper hand first, using his strength to overpower Orton. I really enjoy Corbin when he is in this position. He taunts his opponents and crowd perfectly. Randy was able to turn it around and show off some strength of his own, powerslamming the 6’7” 275 pounder with ease, then following up with a full nelson slam. Randy kept the pressure on, hitting Corbin with a draping DDT. Randy had Corbin right where he wanted him, but the Lone Wolf avoided an RKO and Deep Sixed the 12 time WWE champion. Randy was able to kick out though, and slid to the outside to get a breather. Corbin followed, but this turned out to be a mistake, paying for it with a face full of steel steps after missing a spear. As both men re-entered the ring, the crowd turned their gaze to the arena entrance. The chants of Dean began to ring out, and then finally we heard the Lunatic Fringe’s voice. He stood upon a raised forklift, and got Corbin’s attention. “Hey Corbin, you busy?” He in fact was busy….he had an appointment with an RKO. Randy spun Corbin around and confirmed the appointment with Corbin, and with a salute to Ambrose he covered Corbin for the win. As Corbin lay beaten in the ring, Ambrose had the forklift lowered and walked to the ring. He asked Baron “You want a match at Wrestlemania? You got it!” He then put the cherry on top of the match acceptance with Dirty Deeds on Corbin. Welcome to the asylum Baron!
After the match Renee Young was interviewing Randy Orton, asking him what his reaction was to Bray Wyatt’s actions last week. As Randy was answering the question the lights began to dim. Randy called out to Bray, saying he knew it was him. The lights went out completely, and when they came up again Randy was surrounded by Bray’s minions, all wearing lamb masks. Randy attempted to fight them off, but they were too much for the Viper. After beating Randy to the ground they raised him up, holding him for their master. Bray Wyatt pushed through the crowd and began a short ritual before kneeling in front of Orton. He told Randy that he changed him, and exposed his one flaw. But that one flaw would become Bray’s greatest strength, and he thanked Randy for it. Bray sang “He’s got the whole world in his hands” and the screen went black. If anyone is able to take on the mantle of the supernatural presence that the Undertaker held for so many years it’s Bray. He plays his part beautifully. I can’t wait to see what happens next week on the last Smackdown Live before Wrestlemania.
Our next match was between John Cena and Fandango. Fandango was joined at the ring by Tyler Breeze who was dressed up like Nikki Bella, man John is taking it from all angles in this show. Before the match began Fandango gave John a ticket for being a lousy boyfriend, wearing jorts in 2017 (I literally snorted at this one) and for being a lousy wrestler. He then introduced Tyler as Breezy Bella, to which John Cena just pointed to the entryway. Nikki Bella’s music hit and Nikki emerged from the back with purpose, and headed to the ring. The match started and John obviously handled Fandango with ease. Breezy Bella tried to get involved but Nikki dished out a spear to stop him in his tracks. Once again we watched John and Nikki perform tandem AAs and STFUs. Easy work for John. It is what it is. It was obviously just a match to show their synergy prior to Wrestlemania. Poor Breezango, guess they picked the jobber straw.
A women’s division match followed the love fest between Becky Lynch and Carmella. Natalya joined the announce team as she too had a gripe with Carmella, who super kicked both Natalya and Becky last week after their match. This wasn’t a match, this was a mechanism to get all the women in the championship match at Wrestlemania in the ring at the same time. They brawled a bit, hit a few high spots, but it was Alexa Bliss who would be the last one standing in the ring. If you want my opinion, that is how it should be at Wrestlemania.
All night AJ Styles was waiting in the parking garage for Shane McMahon. Renee Young finally walked out to interview AJ and ask his intentions. As AJ was chastising her for asking such an obvious question a vehicle pulled into the area. AJ hid behind an ambulance and prepared to strike. As he went to throw a punch Rhyno and Heath Slater got out of the van. A confused AJ Styles just stood there as the former tag champs greeted him. The cameras went back to the ring and that’s when Shane’s music began to play. The WWE Smackdown Live commissioner obviously succeeded with his plan and fooled the Phenomenal One. Shane said that he heard AJ was looking for him, and now Shane was looking for AJ. Renee Young then informed Styles that Shane was in the ring waiting for him, which caused a phenomenal frown. Back in the ring Shane called to question AJ’s manhood, telling him that he could have handled his issue like a man instead of the cowardly way he handled it. As Shane waited in the ring, video began to play on the big screen showing AJ walking to the ring without any of the jubilation that he had at the beginning of the night. As he walked to ringside we saw a completely different AJ Styles. He told Shane he needed to calm down, that maybe he did go over the deep end and made a mistake. He even said “I’m sorry”. As AJ walked into the ring to shake Shane’s hand, Shane started to light AJ up. As the two went to the outside, AJ suplexed Shane into the barricade. Shane got the better of AJ and laid him out on a cleared off announce table. The we see it. The Shane-O-Mac flying elbow off the top rope. As Shane connected the table completely collapsed, leaving both men laid out on the outside of the ring. As referees rushed to the ring Shane was able to get to his feet. As AJ Styles lay at his feet, Shane knelt down next to him and pointed to the Wrestlemania sign. AJ don’t want none, no he don’t want none.
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