The Final Say
With multiple angles going on, the Women’s Division continues to be strong on this show. We were promised a Nikki-Natalya match and while it didn’t technically take place, the angle was more than suitable.
First, we got a recap of what has gone down between Nikki and Natalya the last couple weeks. Again, I don’t mind this feud. Back live and Nattie jumps Nikki backstage. She says “see you out there” before the first commercial break.
Introductions came after the break. Nikki doesn’t do much selling of the earlier beatdown. But she makes up for it by just brawling right off the bat. JBL pretty much telegraphs a non-finish by constantly pointing out the bell never rang. Why didn’t it though? It’s not like this wasn’t a scheduled match. Sure enough, a bevy of refs come down to prevent a scheduled match from occurring. Then the bell rings. Well, that was kind of lame. The two keep brawling and actually get a “Let them fight” chant going. In the pull-apart, Nattie chop blocks Nikki, leading to a sharpshooter outside the ring. It seems like they do this a lot with the women’s division (a scheduled match turns into a no contest), but this was a decent enough angle to add heat to the feud.
— WWE (@WWE) January 11, 2017
Carmella vs. CJ Lunde: Many Mildred Burke references from JBL. Another squash for Carmella. I assume the local talent’s name was a rib on Arn Anderson, whose real name is “Marty Lunde.” This didn’t have a ton of heat, or really any heat at all, save for a very light “Let’s go jobber” chant. But that may have been three people. Ellsworth was out with Carmella again. It’s been a precipitous fall for his character from the main event scene to this, but whomever made that call was correct in doing so. Next week we will be “treated” to Carmella and Ellsworth going on a “shopping spree.” What must Big Cass be thinking right now?
Wasn’t until 20 minutes left in the show that we got an appearance from the WWE Champion, AJ Styles. You know what? I have no problem with that as it prevents overexposure. Like I said earlier, he did commentary for the main event.
Also getting limited TV time this week was our Women’s Title program, Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch. Like I said with Styles, that’s fine as it prevents overexposure. We also found out Bliss and Lynch will be front and center next week. After a breakdown of the La Luchadora angle took place backstage, Daniel Bryan made official a steel cage match between the two, for the title. That’s in Memphis, which obviously has a long and storied history of great cage matches. Again – props for announcing matches a week ahead of time!
I realize she’s still new, but Dasha is not a good interviewer. Contrast her segments with Dolph Ziggler and American Alpha to Renee Young and John Cena.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) January 11, 2017
Speaking of Dolph, one week after turning heel, he lost a match to Kalisto. Typically, I would not be in favor of such a move, but “Ziggs” came out of this looking strong anyway and Kalisto winning gives the feud reason to continue. Apollo Crews also got involved and was not put in a position to look strong (got beat down after coming out to help Kalisto). I was glad this match got time. There were the annoying dual chants of “Let’s Go Ziggler” – “Lucha Lucha.” I think it’s so ironic that a lousy babyface character turns heel and subsequently gets cheered by the audience. As he continues to progress as a heel, Ziggler should do more matwork in his matches. That said, I think it was an interesting contrast between Kalisto and Nikki Bella in how their characters started the respective matches, given the similarity of the circumstances. No one is ever going to say Nikki is a smarter worker and I’m sure both just did what they were told. But it’s no shock that Nikki gets over by coming out like a house of fire, looking for revenge, while Kalisto is relegated to rolling around on the mat. Remember, he was attacked last week as well. Anyway, Ziggler lost by getting rolled up after an arrogant cover. So the storyline is that he’s still too cocky. Afterwards, he beat Kalisto down with a chair and then did the same to Crews when he attempted to make the save.
Overall, this show was not a strong as any of the previous three weeks, but that’s a high bar. Still a more than sufficient offering from SmackDown this week. Much better than RAW, as per usual.
SmackDown LIVE Results
Nikki Bella NC Natalya
Kalisto pinned Dolph Ziggler (rollup)
American Alpha pinned Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt (rollup)
Carmella over CJ Lunde (Code of Silence)
John Cena pinned Baron Corbin (AA)