Notes In Observance – WWE SmackDown Live 1/31/17: Chamber Music
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.
– Given that the Royal Rumble was won by a SmackDown guy (that’s Randy Orton, The Wyatt Family-Friendly version in case you didn’t know), the opening video gladly reminded us of all that jazz. WWE took it upon themselves to quote various media outlets with the most generic sentences on planet Earth. We’ll give an example. “That was a Rumble!” – Forbes. No kidding. You’d also be crazy if they didn’t sprinkle in footage of the epic rematch between WWE World Heavyweight Champion John Cena and AJ Styles where history was made and such. However, the Rumble madness is over and thanks to WWE’s killer Pay-Per-View schedule, we’ve got Elimination Chamber in a mere two weeks.
– The Styles/Commissioner Shane McMahon/General Manager Daniel Bryan/WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose backstage segment was short, but effective. Styles was irate off the bat that he didn’t have his Title and immediately sought a one-on-one rematch, because who needs that Chamber garbage? This is where Bryan/Shane use Styles’ confidence as a way to trick him into not having a problem with being a Chamber contender. They politely shrug off his one-on-one request, but promise it’ll come. Ambrose was there because he was also a Chamber contender and they used the opportunity to refresh that old late-2016 magic as he challenged Styles to “unfinished business.” Is that a main event we smell? Styles played the “party pooper” vibe to a tee and Ambrose’s “Soccer Moms of America” line was killer. Now that we’ve got the last 20 minutes settled, what’s the rest of this show look like?
– The Luke Harper/John Cena-Bray Wyatt/Orton match should be an eye-opener to any wrestling fan here. We got a toned down “rah rah” Cena promo meant to put over “That Guy From Atlanta” as a credible contender and a chance to eat his own words like a juicy delicate steak. The problem was that the crowd didn’t react much to Cena’s entrance beyond the initial “Yay, it’s Cena/Oh god, it’s Cena” pop that we all know. Cena tried to get them more livened up with mentions of how excellent Styles was and their classic Rumble encounter as a driving point. Smart idea, still. Naturally, the Champ gets interrupted by the Wicked Ones. Typical Wyatt “They’ve got you fooled as a Champion, man!” stuff and we were just interested to see how this “new” Orton would react to Cena. Its 2017 and the two haven’t interacted much. Besides the “Save the Title” mention, it was tame. Seeing it as good a time as any to hit the ring, Wyatt/Orton went down there like a two-man Nexus rebirth. This was the best part of it all, because Harper transported out of nowhere and “saved” Cena without actually doing anything except step towards his “brothers.” Here comes the money and here comes the match. Awfully convenient to catch everybody out in their ring gear. Teddy Long’s smiling somewhere. As far as the match, we saw a Harper/Cena win as a productive result if they wanted to go that route, more for Harper’s sake because he could use some validation. Instead, they opted to tell the better story where Harper disliked Orton, but when Wyatt was involved, he wasn’t as enthusiastic about going against his old leader. Commentator Mauro Ranallo played it perfectly as if Wyatt still had a “mind control” over Harper and it accentuated the bout further. It kept the attention on Harper while the other three carried the bulk of the action. Things bettered towards the finish as Harper appeared to have finally had enough and teased delivering a Sister Abigail before he eventually took one for the team, literally and figuratively. That set up an RKO on Cena and everybody erupts because RKO FTW. What’s that? The Rumble winner just pinned the World Champion? What a story to tell. They hyped up Cena-Orton for next week, but our interest is in Wyatt-Harper. Where do they go from here?
– Take a moment to think about James Ellsworth. The punk-ish, blonde jobber with the endearing “hopeless underdog” spirit with two hands and a fighting chance was over as could be when he reemerged as a “sidekick” of Ambrose inserted into the feud with Styles. Hell, he even held two pinfalls over the then-World Champ. After Ellsworth cost Ambrose the Title at TLC with a heel turn, the shock value wore off like novocaine at the dentist and all we’re left with is lingering pain and confusion at what they’ve done since then to this guy. They’ve got him as a valet for Carmella of all people. It’s not even one of those “Let’s feel sorry for the guy because she’s using him and clearly has no romantic interest in him” things, because he’s still a heel. After she “took him shopping” last week, Ellsworth’s now decked out in gold like a glamorous Vanilla Ice. With an apparent new duty as Carmella’s ring announcer, he introduced her in horrid fashion. She was fighting a tattooed, blue-haired woman by the name of Delilah Dawson. That sounds so emo. Here come Commentator JBL’s constant rips. Ranallo gets out there that Dawson’s a “product of the Funaki Dojo” but that’s quickly forgotten once JBL gets back on as he smothers her with an association of “Rey Mysterio and a Smurf.” Personally, we pointed more to TNA’s Jade while in the Dollhouse faction. This was a typical squash match again with the recurrent occurrence that Ellsworth got physically involved to help his self-perceived “boo” win with the Code Of Silence. We just don’t get this at all and what they’re trying to accomplish. Hell, they probably wrote this up on the fly.
– Speaking of recent heel turns, Dolph Ziggler’s welcomed into that category, but appears to be stuck in a Groundhog Day-esque world where only Kalisto and Apollo Crews exist. Fine for what it is, but this is getting tiresome. Ziggler fights Kalisto, Ziggler defeats Kalisto, Crews runs out to save his friend, Ziggler escapes. Literally happened last week, except Ziggler defeated Kalisto in 46 seconds. Will this be a deservedly more competitive contest where Kalisto will hopefully get revenge and “even things up” and actually tell a story? Yes and no. They showed Crews as he intently watched on a backstage monitor, so you know things are real. The match was again criminally short and focused on Ziggler shoving Kalisto away to set up another superkick. Just waiting for Crews to come out now. Sure enough, Ziggler’s attempts to unmask Kalisto are what sets him off. Crews gets close and Ziggler gets away again. Are we getting a Triple-Threat match at EC? Sure hope so.
– We’re backstage now with the colorfully exuberant team of Naomi and Becky Lynch, entangled in their own quarrels with SmackDown’s “Bad Girls Club” in WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. Last we remember, Naomi was berated by the Champ last week as a “nobody” and pinned her on the Rumble pre-show, so maybe she had her number? Lynch was enraged by ideological differences with James. She at least made light on the realization that she’s very prone to surprise heel attacks. Naomi brought up the points we just said, which makes sense. They then wrap it up as they christen themselves “Glow Fire.” Bound to happen, but it sounds like one of those “As Seen On TV” products.
– The Naomi/Lynch-Bliss/James match already had the prior story, so why not give Naomi another potential pinfall over Bliss to set up a definite EC Title bout? The opportunity was there. As far as James’ gimmick, it screams too close to her former babyface act with the wide-legged attire and happy-go-lucky nature to go with the music suited to it. She puts on this “I’m the reason everybody paid to come out tonight” face, but it comes off as a rough facade. The match is chockfull of action with some story advancement. This was particularly in the beginning where James avoided Lynch at all costs. Naomi came off well with her offensive spurts and even took a bump into the ropes. What a trooper. James took Lynch’s wrath after a hot tag, all to build up to Naomi getting back in. This is when the crowd wakes up, at the right time. The Champ had little time to react as Naomi laid her out and executed another split-legged moonsault once James/Lynch were cleared from the ring to get another pin. Have to love continuity. If that doesn’t set up an EC match, what will?
– Oh look, it’s WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions American Alpha, as they reminded us that they still exist. Seemed like they were trying to play to the smart crowd with the “Oh, why aren’t they using us?” questions implicated in, but Chad Gable wasn’t having any of that and wanted an “Open Challenge.” Still had that aura of slight AA comedy flavor. If it were us and our bosses forgot to utilize us and still got paid, we’d stay quiet. Alas, we’re not AA.
– AA came out to address their “Open Challenge” when it was answered by The Usos, who appeared to take a page out of the Cryme Tyme fashion book. Our hopes were lifted as we couldn’t imagine this as throwaway material in the least. These teams even had some history together. Then, The Ascension came out. And Breezango. And The Vaudevillains. And Heath Slater/Rhyno. Not much reaction here, as it became apparent this was just a lie to get all these teams onto the show and “fight it out” for those oh-so-important Titles. Typical brawl that failed to deliver. Expecting an EC multi-team match of some sort.
– Backstage, Bryan was on the phone with Brie Bella since he referred to Nikki Bella as “your sister,” which was a good time to bring in Natalya and her security friends. She established her newfound friends as a means of protection from the other Bella, who miraculously showed up in the room. Cue catty argument and subsequent raised-voice Bryan interruption and we had ourselves a match for the EC. Seen that coming.
– After he defeated Rich Swann at the Rumble to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, “The King Of The Cruiserweights” now had his proverbial crown in the form of gold and was so excited to share his dominance, he kept his angry face and demanded respect. And probably for you to watch him on 205 Live when this show ends. If that’s not enough work for you to do. God Save The Neville.
– Say what you will, but the SD main events deliver when needed. Given that it was Ambrose against Styles, that was likely to happen anyway, but they did their thing in the ring and had Miz on commentary to hype up the Chamber some. Headed into this, safe to assume we didn’t expect a clean finish per se since they want to establish a competitive feel, but anything’s possible. As the two got into a groove, it was the perfect time for Mr. Baron Corbin to join the vocal fray. The back and forth between him and Miz was fresh and added a new layer to the hype. At the same time, Ambrose and Styles killed it in the ring. Ambrose knocked Styles off the ropes with a forearm smash to avert a Phenomenal Forearm attempt. He went for his own tope suicida (a Mauro Ranallo special) when Styles delivered his own forearm. Ambrose did this crazy vertical suplex transitioned into a back slam for a buyable near-fall. Nice trade of those down the stretch with intensified exchanges, particularly where Styles’ pele kick was one-upped by the lunatic lariat. Miz’s voice was eventually too much for Corbin and “The Lone Wolf” got up and began to attack the A-Lister and they went back and forth. Sure enough, that bled its way into the action as Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds, but the Referee was preoccupied with the other two. Ambrose took care of them outside and walked back into a cold Styles Clash. Yup, Styles just pinned the IC Champion. Does that set up an easy Title match for next week? More solid hype towards the end as Miz gave Ambrose a Skull-Crushing Finale, which was followed by Corbin’s End Of Days on Miz. The last shot fired was Ambrose getting hit by EOD as well. With him taking a Styles Clash, SCF and EOD in about a three-minute span, Ambrose will probably wake up by next week. Rest well. We’ll call it a success because everybody had time to shine properly. Styles gets a bounce back win, Miz used the segment for mic time, Corbin did Corbin things and Ambrose took a loss, but is still IC Champion.
- Randy Orton/Bray Wyatt def. John Cena/Luke Harper via pinfall
- Carmella (w/James Ellsworth) def. Delilah Dawson via submission
- Dolph Ziggler def. Kalisto via pinfall
- Naomi/Becky Lynch def. Alexa Bliss/Mickie James via pinfall
- AJ Styles def. Dean Ambrose via pinfall
Posted on July 21, 2017, in WWE and tagged AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, American Alpha, Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Breezango, Brie Bella, Carmella, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, Dean Ambrose, Delilah Dawson, Dolph Ziggler, Elimination Chamber, Heath Slater, James Ellsworth, JBL, John Cena, Kalisto, Luke Harper, Maryse, Mauro Ranallo, Mickie James, Naomi, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Rhyno, Shane McMahon, The Ascension, The Miz, The Usos, Tom Phillips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.