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WWE SmackDown Live Recap & Reactions (Mar. 21, 2017): Exposed

The world gets a true glimpse into the personal lives of John Cena and Nikki Bella.

John Cena, Fandango, and Breezy Bella

Less than two weeks from WrestleMania, SmackDown Live last night (March 21, 2017) looked to clear up its tag team picture when it had American Alpha defend their championships against The Usos in Uncasville, Connecticut. Also, amazing other things happened. For full results and the live blog from the exceptional Reverend Kain, click here.

The truth comes out

Thanks to the benevolence of The Miz and Maryse, the sham relationship between Nikki Bell and John Cena was exposed to the world last night in several segments of Total Bellas Bull****.

Just go watch the clips. There’s nothing more to add. This is the greatest feud. This is pro wrestling at its absolute best. This is everything at its absolute best.

This match really should main event WrestleMania, shouldn’t it? They’re gonna have John propose to Nikki in the middle of the show?

Nah. Main event this match and this ‘Mania will be remembered for all time.

Do it.

Also, John Cena beat Fandango in a squash, but the real highlight here was that the match came after the first Total Bellas Bull**** segment, so Tyler Breeze decided to dress up as “Breezy Bella.” The Hot Cops then gave Cena several tickets, and the whole thing was just a ball.

This ensured Nikki would come out to the ring, and eventually the Real It Couple hit dual finishers on Fandango and Breeze, and then forced both to tap to their respective Fearless Locks. Also, Nikki speared Breezy Bella’s boobs off.

Job well done.

Furthermore, JBL said that they needed Lance and Chet to call the action, so that was great.




Crossing paths

So Randy Orton and Baron Corbin had a really fun TV match. Really liked how Corbin was smart to Orton’s offense (holding the ropes when the powerslam was coming) despite never facing him before. Little things like that make Corbin look good for being smart, Orton look good for eventually hitting the move, and the entire contest look more authentic.

The finish came when—surprise!—the Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose showed up to distract Corbin. He did so, of course, on a forklift, which bemused Corbin long enough to allow Orton to set up for an RKO and pin the Lone Wolf. Orton gave a sly little salute to Ambrose in appreciation, which was just a wonderful thing.

God, this show.

Ambrose accepted Corbin’s challenge for an Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania, which is a huge step up for Corbin. Going from a surprise entrant—and yes, winner—in the Andre to a singles title match in one year is a big leap. He deserves it, too, as the work he has put in has been consistently really, really good. (He’s also the biggest beneficiary of “plans change,” because without the mixed tag switching from Miz-Maryse vs. Ambrose-Young, who knows what he’d be doing in Orlando.)

Orton was interviewed after the victory shortly thereafter, but before he could say much, the lights began to flicker. Renee Young, smart as always, noped on out of there, but Orton was assaulted by many men in sheep masks, who held him down while Bray Wyatt approached and told him:

You changed me, Randy. You exposed my one flaw, Abigail. But what you didn’t know, is that that one flaw would become my greatest strength. She is one with me now, Randy. And her power lives inside of me. By purging this one fatal flaw you have made me stronger than I could have ever imagined. Thank you, Randy! (Laughs) He’s got the whole world, in his hands. He’s got the whole wide world in his hands. He’s got the whole world in his hands, he’s got the whole world in his hands.

The whole scene was legitimately kind of creepy.

Earlier in the night, Luke Harper cut a promo warning that Orton had done a terrible thing by (allegedly!) burning Sister Abigail’s body, and that it had made Bray Wyatt stronger than ever before. However, Harper himself will take on Wyatt next week—a contest that is certain to have some sort of twist. Only one more SmackDown Live to go until we see what happens at WrestleMania with this story!

Shane gets the upper hand

This didn’t exactly build on last week’s dramatic “Shane McMahon goes through the car window.”

AJ Styles opened the show and said he wasn’t sorry for anything he did last week, and that he would spend the entire show waiting for Shane to show up so that he could beat him down again.

He then barged into General Manager Daniel Bryan’s office, who told him that Shane wasn’t there yet, so AJ went to the garage to wait. Bryan, on the phone with Shane, said something about “Yeah that will work” with a smile on his face.

Several times throughout the show the camera cut to AJ backstage waiting for Shane, but in the end the only people who showed up were former SmackDown Tag Team Champions Heath Slater and Rhyno. Instead, Shane simply walked to the ring and told AJ to come face him.

So AJ did so, but on his way to the ring appeared to be slightly worried about Shane, despite earlier in the night saying that he was easily going to handle him again. He then offered an apology and a handshake, but before he could step into the ring Shane attacked, and though AJ briefly got the upper hand with a snap suplex to the barricade, ended up eating an elbow drop from the top rope through the audience table.

This was all very bizarre and didn’t really make a whole lot of sense. It would have made more sense had AJ faked the apology and tried to attack but Shane dodged and then went on the assault, but they didn’t do that. But there didn’t seem to be any reason for AJ’s attitude to change from the beginning of the show—wanting to murder Shane again—to the end of the show—acting apologetic. Sure, AJ’s tact certainly seemed disingenuous, but it doesn’t do any harm to just confirm the audience’s suspicion.

It’ll probably be a much better match than most expect, because AJ Styles is a God-tier worker and Shane is an insane man. But this was a bit of a setback from last week’s hype.

Also, Styles is absolutely going to get cheered in Orlando.

Day one ish

We have new SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions, as The Usos defeated American Alpha in an exceptional match. It was hinted at on Talking Smack that there aren’t set plans for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships to be defended in Orlando. It will be interesting to see where that story goes, because there’s certainly a lot of things they could do when The Usos realize that winning the titles weren’t, in fact, their “Hall Pass” to WrestleMania, as they claimed on Talking Smack.

Meanwhile, Alpha will be fine. They’re both young guys, got a nice early title run to establish their bonafides, and now the Tuesday night creative time can figure out how to work out a good story for them. What this match did do was once again prove their incredible skill in the ring, as this was one of the better tag matches on regular WWE television in recent memory.

All the rest

The woman all fought.

A match between Becky Lynch and Carmella, with Natalya on commentary, was quickly tossed out when Nattie got involved. Then Mickie James came to the ring to fight. Then SmackDown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss came to the ring to fight. The champion eventually stood tall.

(Seems like they should have had Lexi come out with a mic and just berate the four others, at least initially, before immediately jumping into the fray. Any SmackDown Live without Alexa Bliss talking is a missed opportunity.)

Sure, plans were thrown out when Naomi went down injured, and there is certainly legitimate storyline justification for why Alexa should have to face everyone that she has relentlessly belittled since her first day on the roster. It’s a small gripe, but remains a gripe—throwing all the women onto the WrestleMania card just because feels painfully lazy.

The Big Hog, James Ellsworth, did catch it right in the face, though.

A missile dropkick from Becky Lynch, that is. Get your minds out the gutter!

Boy, that was a jam-packed episode. It was headed to a perfect grade, in all honesty, but the ending fell flat. After watching Shane throw punches, it remains forever understandable why some don’t want that match. The good thing is that he’s a much better bumper and stuntman than he is offensive worker, but still. Use a forearm or something, mate.


Wait. John Cena just decided to cut the promo of his life on Talking Smack and now everything is amazing again. Who cares about punches?

Grade: Grades are relative. SmackDown Live is life.

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