Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose Hosted Ambrose Asylum with The Miz
I largely haven't been a fan of Ambrose Asylum in the past because it allows Ambrose to get too cute with his comedy. He can be a tremendous talker if he stays serious, and I'm glad Miz was able to get that out of him here by abruptly attacking him. Maryse slapping Miz by accident was a nice twist and this was an excellent way to move their feud along. It was interesting they announced their involvement in the Royal Rumble match without saying if/when a title rematch might take place.
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya Went to a No Contest
I'm actually okay with this being the SmackDown women's match at the Royal Rumble instead of Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss because it will likely be overshadowed by everything else on the show, and the stakes aren't too high in this program, anyway. That said, this was a strong brawl from Nikki and Natalya and Natalya was successful for once in elicting the right type of heat. Her talking about cats never made sense to me, but this is the heel Natayla I want to see more of going forward.
Kalisto def. Dolph Ziggler
Although this match didn't last long, Kalisto and Ziggler produced a nice little matchup in the time they were allotted. Perhaps they will have better bouts down the line, but this was merely meant to further Ziggler's heel turn that started last week. Kalisto got a win out of it, and Ziggler came off as ruthless in battering him with a chair afterward. Only Apollo Crews looked like a chump in coming to Kalisto's aid and instead getting attacked by Ziggler.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions American Alpha def. The Wyatt Family
These two teams produced a pretty good match about a month or so ago and this was an equally entertaining effort from them. As cohesive of a unit as The Wyatt Family have been thus far, I was glad American Alpha were on the same level as them throughout this match. Their initial title win was much more decisive than their roll-up on Randy Orton here, but the bigger focus was on the tension teased between Orton and the rest of the Family. I assume it will lead to some sort of match involving the three of them (or maybe just Orton and Bray Wyatt) at WrestleMania 33.
Carmella def. CJ Lunde
James Ellsworth may not be my cup of tea, but I don't mind this ongoing angle with him and Carmella. While I'm not sure where it's headed, it keeps Carmella busy and it seems she's using him to help her win matches, as was the case here. They can't use enhancement talent from NXT every week, but Aliyah's match with Carmella last week was infintely better than this. JBL repeatedly mocked Lunde's old-school gimmick and the entire atrocity was poorly wrestled.
John Cena def. Baron Corbin
I was highly anticipating this first time ever encounter, and although it wasn't as awesome as I had hoped, Cena and Corbin still had a solid match and Corbin proved he could hang at the main event level. They were given a ton of time, and I wasn't huge on Corbin losing as decisively as he did, but they delivered a decent main event. Cena is challenging for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble, so it was imperative that he won here.
As always, SmackDown Live continues to deliver compelling programming each week that holds my attention and advertising matches in advance definitely helps. Next Tuesday, we will be treated to a Steel Cage SmackDown Women's Championship match with Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch, which I am very much looking forward to. As for this episode, there was barely any filler and the two hours flew by per usual. It was an enjoyable edition of SmackDown on the whole and the blue brand's build for the Rumble has been far superior to Raw's.
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