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WWE SmackDown live results: The build to Elimination Chamber

Date: January 31, 2017
Location: American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, TX

The Big Takeaway --

John Cena will defend the WWE Championship in an Elimination Chamber match against AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, The Miz, Baron Corbin and Bray Wyatt. They hinted at Styles still getting a one-on-one rematch, although that could end up getting ignored/nixed by Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan.

AJ Styles pinned Dean Ambrose in a non-title match, and Naomi once again pinned Alexa Bliss in a tag match. Randy Orton also pinned John Cena in a tag match, and the two will have a singles match next week.

They also announced Natalya vs. Nikki Bella at Elimination Chamber. They might be setting up a multi-team match for the tag titles, possibly in the Chamber, although that wasn’t announced.

Show Recap -- 

A Royal Rumble video recap aired focusing on Randy Orton winning the Rumble match and John Cena becoming 16-time champion. The camera zoomed out and watching the monitor was AJ Styles, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan.

Styles wanted to know when he’s getting his rematch but didn’t want to hear that it was going to be in the Elimination Chamber. Bryan said the next WWE Title match would be in the Chamber, but Styles still wanted a one-on-one match. Styles wanted to know who was in the Chamber. Shane said Styles was in it, which he was happy about, as well as Bray Wyatt, Baron Corbin, The Miz and Dean Ambrose.

Ambrose showed up as his named was announced, thanked Shane and was about to leave until Styles told him to get out. Ambrose called him “real soccer moms of Atlanta” and recalled when a weasel-looking guy pushed him off a ladder and cost him the WWE title against Styles. Now that James Ellsworth is in love and out of the picture, Ambrose wanted a match with Styles. Styles didn’t like this idea, but Shane made the match.

John Cena in-ring promo

Cena got a mixed reaction, although it didn’t seem that loud. He tried to get the crowd riled up and he got some dueling chants. Cena apologized to Styles for saying he wasn’t in his league and said Styles brought out the best in him. Cena said now wasn’t the time for confetti or a celebration, because in less than two weeks, he’ll be defending the title at Elimination Chamber. Cena said he would still be champ after the Chamber.

This brought out Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. Bray said it seemed like the more things change, the more they stay the same, but at the Chamber, Cena will be trapped in a cage with him and he would become WWE champion. Orton said that if Cena somehow escapes the Chamber alive with the title, Orton would take it from him at WrestleMania and end their rivalry once and for all.

Bray and Orton sauntered down to the ring and surrounded Cena. The lights went out and Luke Harper appeared behind Cena. However, Harper turned his gaze to Bray and Orton, and Cena looked quite thrilled upon realizing he wasn’t about to get killed. Orton and Bray backed off, but Shane came out and made a tag match for right now.

Randy Orton & Bray Wyatt defeated WWE Champion John Cena & Luke Harper

Cena and Bray started but Bray quickly tagged in Orton. As Cena and Orton faced off, Cena teased this was a Mania preview and there were loud dueling chants for Cena. Before they could start, Harper tagged himself in. Harper ran wild on Orton and backdropped him onto the announce table, which is a common spot Orton does. Even though the crowd likes Orton, they cheered for Harper here.

Bray tagged in and faced off with Harper, but Harper backed down and tagged in Cena. Bray and Orton took control. Orton backdropped Cena onto the announce table during a break. The crowd chanted “We want Harper” as Orton gave Cena draping DDT. Orton knocked Harper off the apron but the distraction allowed Cena to do his usual comeback until Orton cut him off with a backbreaker.

Harper jumped in the ring and knocked down Orton. He was about to give Bray a Sister Abigail but Orton got in the way. Bray gave Harper the Sister Abigail instead and Orton gave Cena an RKO for the pinfall win.

Naomi and Becky Lynch will face Alexa Bliss and Mickie James tonight. Styles vs. Ambrose is the main event.

Carmella (w/James Ellsworth) defeated Delilah Dawson

James Ellsworth came out wearing the outfit Carmella got him last week. He wanted the crowd to be quiet but they booed. He was trying to be polite and asked them again but they booed. He then introduced Carmella. Tom Phillips wondered how Ellsworth was still walking after he almost died at the Rumble.

JBL berated Mauro Ranallo for calling this match seriously and took shots at Delilah Dawson’s (Delilah Doom's) appearance for some reason (she had blue hair). Ellsworth tripped Dawson and Carmella won with the Code of Silence.

Dolph Ziggler defeated Kalisto

Ziggler won in just under 2 minutes with a superkick. Before the match, they said Kalisto was going for revenge against his former friend. Like last week... and two weeks before that. After the match, Ziggler tried to rip off Kalisto’s mask but Apollo Crews ran down to make the save. Ziggler ran away.

Backstage, Dasha Fuentes interviewed Becky Lynch and Naomi. Lynch said she won’t forget what Mickie James did to her and is used to getting attacked from all sides--from behind, from the side and now from the past. Naomi said Alexa Bliss felt the glow on Sunday and will again tonight. Naomi referred to their team as Glow Fire and they were very excited.

Naomi & Becky Lynch defeated Alexa Bliss & Mickie James

Ranallo said Mickie made her WWE debut in this building in 2006 and won her final Women’s championship on this date at the 2010 Royal Rumble. The heels briefly had control on Naomi until she made the hot tag to Lynch, who ran wild on James. The heels took over on Lynch after Bliss distracted her.

After a break, the crowd chanted for Lynch who eventually made the hot tag to Naomi. Naomi did a flashy series resulting in a nearfall on Bliss. The heels tried to double-team her, but Lynch tackled James out of the ring and Naomi nailed Bliss with a split-legged moonsault for the win. This was a good showcase for Naomi.

Backstage, Fuentes asked American Alpha what’s next for the tag champs. They were wondering the same thing. They’ve been champions for a month but nobody has stepped up to challenge them after they beat the Wyatt Family. Gable covered his eyes, waved his title belt around and begged someone to step up and take it. Jordan had to duck as Gable waved the belt around, which was pretty goofy. Gable said they would go to the ring and issue an open challenge and told Fuentes to wish them luck. She just stood there, so Jordan reminded her to wish them luck, and she did.

Daniel Bryan is back on Talking Smack tonight with Renee Young. Guests are American Alpha, Naomi and Randy Orton.

Tag Team Championship Open Challenge 

The Usos came out to challenge American Alpha, but they were followed by The Ascension, Vaudevillains, Breezango and Heath Slater & Rhyno. As Fandango fanned himself with his fake citation papers, David Otunga mentioned the level of competition in this division. The teams brawled which led to a commercial break.

Back from break, the brawl is still going as referees try to break it up. The ring was eventually cleared with just American Alpha and Slater & Rhyno left standing. AA’s music randomly started playing, I guess because the production guys figured the brawl was over. The crowd watched silently. This was not good, unless the purpose of this segment was to show how weak the division is.

They replayed the brawl by Natalya and Nikki Bella last week. They cut to Bryan who happened to be on the phone with Brie talking about that very thing. Natalya entered with two security guards and figured Bryan asked her to come talk about her new merchandise. Nikki showed up and she argued with Natalya. Bryan freaked and yelled “enough!” He then calmly informed them they would be having a match at Elimination Chamber. Natalya stormed off.

John Cena will face Randy Orton next week on SmackDown. Neville plugged 205 Live.

Non-title: AJ Styles defeated Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose 

The Miz is on commentary with Maryse. They’ve gone back to announcing Styles as the Phenomenal AJ Styles, instead of the face that runs the place. There were dueling chants of “AJ Styles” and “Let’s go Ambrose.” Ranallo called Ambrose a workhorse and the only man in WWE who worked over 200 matches last year.

Styles hit one kick to the chest and Miz thought he was about to do his Yes kicks, which led to a rant about Daniel Bryan. Miz said the kicks and dropkicks were his moves because Bryan doesn’t wrestle anymore. About 6 minutes into the match, Ambrose clotheslined Styles to the outside and Baron Corbin came out to his music and joined commentary. 

They’re not all talking, but there are seven people sitting at commentary. Corbin called Miz a joke, so Miz put over his own accomplishments. Corbin said he can do whatever Miz has done, but Miz could never do what he has. Miz asked Corbin what he’s even done and Corbin said he played in the NFL, which only 1-percent of people can say they’ve done. Miz reminded him they weren’t in the NFL and Maryse was very amused. Miz completely schooled Corbin.

Ambrose went for a suicide dive but Styles nailed him with a forearm. They traded counters leading to Ambrose hitting a release inside out suplex for a nearfall. Styles caught Ambrose with a fireman’s carry into a neckbreaker for two. Styles hit a Pele kick but Ambrose came back with a rebound clothesline.

Ambrose tossed Styles outside and followed with a diving elbow drop. Corbin got tired of Miz’s talking and got up to confront him. Miz tried to run away into the ring after throwing the first punch, but Corbin grabbed him by the leg. Ambrose had the match won but the referee was distracted. Ambrose was pissed and nailed Corbin with a dive. However, Styles caught Ambrose with a Styles Clash for the win. Good match.

Afterwards, Miz gave Ambrose a Skull Crushing Finale. Corbin then jumped in and gave End of Days to both Miz and Ambrose. Styles watched in amusement from the ramp.

Final Thoughts --

This show was alright. SmackDown felt very top-heavy following the draft, and while a few acts are better off than they were back then, all these months later it doesn’t feel much different.