Before SmackDown LIVE officially gets underway, The Miz & Maryse confront SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan in the GM’s office as The Miz says that he wanted a “private dressing room” for himself and Maryse so he told those “supporting characters” to leave the dressing room but they refused. The Miz then asks Daniel what he’s going to do to make it right and Daniel jokes that he could block off a stall in the public restroom. The GM then laughs at his joke with The Miz & Maryse mock-laughing before Daniel tells The Miz that he can get his rematch for the Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose tonight. The Miz then suggests that the match should have no disqualifications and Daniel is quick to realize that The Miz wants this stipulation so that Maryse can interfere in the match without consequence. Instead, Daniel Bryan decides that the title match will be a Lumberjack Match where various SmackDown LIVE Superstars will surround the ring to keep Ambrose and Miz in the ring!
SmackDown LIVE then gets underway with a battle between family members as, in a match orchestrated by Bray Wyatt, Wyatt Family members Randy Orton and Luke Harper would go one-on-one in an attempt to get the animosity between Orton and Harper out of their systems to keep The Wyatt Family in one piece. During the match, Randy Orton and Luke Harper would battle on the outside with Orton getting the better of Harper, slamming Harper back-first on the barricade before dropping Harper on the announce table as well. Harper then fires back with a big boot to Orton that leaves both Orton and Harper down on the floor.
This brings Bray Wyatt over to his Wyatt Family followers as “The Eater of Worlds” is apparently not satisfied with the potential double count-out as Bray first rolls Orton back into the ring before picking Harper up and sending him back into the ring as well. In the end, it was Luke Harper going for the Discus Clothesline, but Randy Orton is able to counter with the RKO, pinning Harper to pick up the win. After the match, Bray Wyatt would get into the ring, shaking the hand of Randy Orton before helping Luke Harper to his feet. Bray then hugs Harper only to grab Harper and plant Luke Harper with Sister Abigail! Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton then leave the ring together as Luke Harper is left lying in the ring and the future of The Wyatt Family still left uncertain.
After the shocking reveal last week that she was the one under the La Luchadora mask the entire time, former Women’s Champion Mickie James would make her return to SmackDown LIVE for an in-ring interview with Renee Young. Renee first asks Mickie why she was disguised as La Luchadora and why she has been assisting Alexa Bliss. However, Mickie instead reminds Renee and everyone that she won her first Women’s Championship by defeating WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus at WrestleMania 21. Mickie then says that she is a five-time former Women’s Champion as well as a former Divas Champion. Renee then points out that Mickie didn’t answer her question but Mickie argues that she just did. Mickie continues, saying that she may have been away from WWE for seven years but she never stopped watching WWE before saying that the women of the women’s revolution in WWE act like they were the first “real female athletes” in WWE. The increasingly unhinged Mickie James then says that these women made it seem as though everything that she accomplished meant “nothing” and they would have “gotten away with it” had it not been for Alexa Bliss.
Mickie then says that Alexa Bliss has been fighting the “self-righteousness” of the women’s revolution since “day one”, saying that Alexa is the only one who remembered all of Mickie’s accomplishments. Mickie continues, saying that she has a lot of “respect” for Alexa Bliss, which leads Renee Young to ask if this is why Mickie helped Alexa “cheat” to defeat Becky Lynch last week. Mickie then says to “forget about the revolution”, saying this is about the “reinvention of Mickie James. This brings out Becky Lynch, who makes a beeline for the ring as Becky takes Mickie down, hammering Mickie with right hands before Mickie escapes the ring. Mickie then heads into the crowd with Becky right behind her and this is when Alexa Bliss emerges from the crowd, catching Becky with a right hand. Alexa & Mickie then bring Becky back into the ring where Mickie blasts Becky with the Mick Kick before Alexa follows this up with Twisted Bliss. Alexa & Mickie then stand over Becky as Mickie tells Becky to take a lesson from the SmackDown Women’s Champion and always stay “one step ahead”.
With Baron Corbin a guest on commentary, SmackDown LIVE would be host to a special battle royal as Curt Hawkins, Breezango, The Ascension, Heath Slater & Rhyno, The Vaudevillains, and Mojo Rawley would compete with the winner earning a spot in the Royal Rumble Match this Sunday. As soon as the match begins, Rhyno tries to surprise his tag team partner Heath Slater by eliminating Heath, but Slater manages to stay in before the former tag team champions work together to eliminate both of The Vaudevillains. Mojo Rawley then sends Curt Hawkins over-the-top rope to the outside, eliminating Hawkins from Rumble Match contention. Heath Slater then manages to eliminate Viktor before Konnor knocks Slater off of the ring apron, eliminating Heath from the battle royal. Mojo Rawley then uses his power to eliminate both Konnor and Rhyno from the match, leaving it down to Mojo Rawley and both members of Breezango. With Fandango and Mojo Rawley both on the ring apron, Tyler Breeze inadvertently hits Fandango with a super kick, accidentally eliminating his tag team partner before Mojo lifts Breeze up and over the top rope as Mojo Rawley wins the battle royal, earning himself a spot in the Royal Rumble Match.
Before he defends the WWE Championship against John Cena this Sunday at the Royal Rumble, WWE Champion AJ Styles would make an appearance on SmackDown LIVE as the champion would reportedly look to call out the #1 Contender for the WWE Championship. Before calling out John Cena, AJ Styles says that there is something that he has to get off of his chest before showing the poster for the Royal Rumble event where John Cena, The Undertaker, Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, and Charlotte Flair are all established as the main focus of the poster, getting top billing over AJ Styles, who is barely visible on the poster at all as Styles is positioned next to Sasha Banks, Rich Swann, and Dolph Ziggler. The champion then has his face highlighted on the poster as well as Cena’s position on the poster for comparison.
AJ Styles then makes good on his promise to call out John Cena and the #1 Contender for the WWE Championship wastes no time in coming to the ring. Styles then shows a clip from John Cena’s appearance on the Today show where the co-host doesn’t even know AJ Styles’ name, referring to AJ as “this guy from Atlanta” and as “this man we don’t know”. Cena is then asked if he thinks he’s going to win with Cena responding that he is going to win. The co-host then asks if there is a “move” that Cena is going to use on “the guy from Atlanta” as Cena, the co-host, and Al Roker continue to joke about “the guy from Atlanta” with the co-host concluding by saying that Cena is going to beat “the guy from Atlanta” this Sunday. The champion then tells Cena that Cena seems to have forgotten who he is, saying that he’s the one that’s been holding things down on SmackDown LIVE during John Cena’s absence, saying that “no one” missed Cena while he was gone.
AJ Styles then says that he is the “face that replaced you”, saying that it bothers John Cena that he is the “man” on SmackDown LIVE now. AJ continues, saying that he is the “better man” before asking if Cena has any “excuses” left. The champion then says that Cena is a “sorry excuse” for a wrestler before asking what he has to do to “earn some respect”. Styles then says that he has fought for “every inch” in WWE and, at the Royal Rumble, he’s not settling for an inch, he’s taking a “foot” and he’s going to put it in John Cena’s ass! The #1 Contender then finally speaks up, saying that AJ Styles is going to try as hard as he can to make it in WWE, but if he fails, it’s not going to be his fault, saying it will be Cena’s fault because he “buried” him. Cena then says that Styles has been “hot for six months” while he has held WWE down for “over a decade”. Cena continues, saying that he wasn’t “built for the indie scene”, he was built for WWE.
Cena then says that AJ is not even on his level or the level below him before saying that he does more in one day than Styles does in his entire career and he “never” talks about what he deserves, he just “earns every day and shuts every mouth”. The #1 Contender then says that he’s not worried about a poster, he’s worried about this Sunday, telling AJ that he is “just a guy” and Styles is just a guy who is holding the WWE Championship because he “lets” him. Cena then says that AJ Styles is just like every person that has come before him, saying that AJ hates Cena but tries everything in his power to become like John Cena. The #1 Contender then says that, on Sunday, Styles is going to find out what everybody already know and that is that there’s only one John Cena and his “time is now”, telling AJ to “recognize” before leaving the ring.
After his heinous treatment of WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler last week, Dolph Ziggler was in action on SmackDown LIVE against the man he attacked with a steel chair two weeks ago in Kalisto. Dolph Ziggler is able to make quick work of the high-flyer, catching Kalisto with a super kick, pinning Kalisto for the win. After the match, Dolph was seemingly not through with Kalisto as Ziggler would exit the ring, grabbing a steel chair. However, one man had apparently seen enough of Dolph Ziggler’s actions over the last few weeks as John “Bradshaw” Layfield gets up from his announce position at ringside before another recent victim of Dolph Ziggler, Apollo Crews, attacks Ziggler from behind, sending Dolph face-first into the ring post. Apollo then swings the steel chair at Dolph Ziggler, but Dolph is able to get out of the way, making a quick retreat up to the stage.
Following an attack on Nikki Bella in the parking lot earlier in the day, Natalya was set for action on SmackDown LIVE against the returning Naomi. However, Natalya would no-show the match and the reason for this was soon revealed as a brawl is shown backstage between Nikki Bella and Natalya with referees stepping in to break it up. This leaves Naomi without an opponent before saying that SmackDown LIVE is the “land of opportunity” before laying out an open challenge to any woman in the back to come out and face her in a match right now! This brings out SmackDown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss, who says she’s not out there to accept Naomi’s challenge before pointing out that Naomi hasn’t even been on SmackDown LIVE in about three months, asking Naomi who she thinks she is. Naomi dares Alexa to get in the ring and let her show the champion exactly who she is before declaring that she is the next SmackDown Women’s Champion. Alexa then gets on the ring apron, but gets back on the ring apron, saying that Naomi isn’t worth her time before telling Naomi to “say hello to obscurity”.
Then it was time for the main event as The Miz would get his rematch for the Intercontinental Championship as the self-proclaimed “A-Lister”, with Maryse in his corner, would challenge Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Title in a Lumberjack Match, where a host of SmackDown LIVE Superstars would surround the ring with the job of ensuring that both competitors stay in the ring. Throughout the match, Dean Ambrose would find himself brawling with the lumberjacks and, at one point in the match, Maryse would grab the ankle of Ambrose, allowing her husband to gain the advantage in the match. Shortly after this, Ambrose lifts The Miz up and over the top rope before the champion dives off of the top rope to the outside, taking down The Miz and several lumberjacks!
Back in the ring, Dean Ambrose would score with his signature clothesline before going for the pin, but this is when one of the lumberjacks that Ambrose fought with, Baron Corbin, would enter the ring and attack the Intercontinental Champion. This would open the flood gates as all the lumberjacks would rush into the ring, sparking a huge brawl with Baron Corbin symbolically tossing several Superstars over the top rope in what could be a sign of things to come in the Royal Rumble Match this Sunday. However, once “The Lone Wolf” tries to send Dean Ambrose over the top rope, the champion ducks and sends Corbin over the top rope instead. With the title match still in progress, The Miz would nearly put Ambrose away with a roll-up, but Ambrose would kick out before the champion hits The Miz with Dirty Deeds, pinning The Miz to successfully retain the Intercontinental Championship. Dean Ambrose then celebrates his successful title defense as all eyes are now on the Royal Rumble this Sunday.
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