Change in the House that AJ Styles Built – Smackdown & 205 Live – January, 9, 2018

Smackdown was live in the “Pittsburgh of the South” Birmingham, Alabama, last night and so was I.  Let’s see what went down in the Heart of Dixie.

Welcome to the Most Must See WWE Talk Show in History, Welcome to…..Renee TV?

Smackdown in Birmingham opened with a preshow taping of first round action for the Mixed Match Challenge (What’s Facebook Live?), featuring Jimmy Uso and Naomi taking on the randomly paired duo of Baron Corbin and Tamina.  I won’t spoil it, but Uso keeps it pretty entertaining.

When the broadcast started with two chairs and the black carpet in the ring, I got confused.  I knew I was at Smackdown, because I am significantly more prone to travel for the Blue Brand, but the setup was that of Miz TV.  Renee Young would emerge and take one chair, inviting her guest to the ring, The Phenomenal AJ Styles.

She wants to talk about the handicapped championship match that AJ got himself in to.  She was also pretty pushy trying to get him to say something negative about Shane or Daniel Bryan, but he deflected.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn came out (and Renee sort of just disappeared through the crowd) to address the champ, as they intend to become the Co-Champions of the WWE and finally fix the problems with Smackdown Live.  Shane McMahon would join the fray next, explaining to the pair that he does like the idea of handicapped matches, so he will make one of his own for our main event.

Shane pairs the champion with his two seemingly favorite roster members, The Viper and Shinsuke Nakamura.  I think Shane just likes saying both of those things.

When Randy Orton is feeling it, he is the most amazing entertainer on the roster, and he was on fire in this one.  Randy Orton was born to do this, and when he gets bored with storylines he phones it in, but man, when he’s invested he is really invested.

The trio had the upper hand the majority of the match.  Owens and Zayn, in frustration, attempted to just get counted out to end it.  Shane intervened.  When Zayn was under attack later in the match, Owens used a chair to get disqualified.  Shane, again, intervened.  Now, with no DQ and no count out, AJ Styles and Kevin Owens fought into the backstage area (which they may or may not have shown on TV, they weren’t showing us in the crowd what was going on), while Shinsuke and Randy Orton beat the living hell out of Sami Zayn.  In the end, a Kinshasa followed by an RKO would seal the victory as AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton def. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.

More from Smaller Steel City:

  • Becky Lynch def. Ruby Riott via the DisArmHer.  Charlotte and Naomi were in Lynch’s corner, while the rest of the squad backed Riott.  None of the four really had much of an effect in the match.  Still hoping Becky can pull off the Royal Rumble win, unless Trish Stratus is ring ready and wants to make a Goldberg-esque run.
  • Mojo Rawley def. Zack Ryder via that running punch thing, moving on to the second round of the US Championship Tournament to face Bobby Roode.  It was almost a perfect replica of the preshow match from last week’s Smackdown in Orlando.  Poor Zack Ryder.  I still Woo, Woo, Woo, but I’m not buying that new t-shirt.
  • The Bludgeon Brothers slaughtered The Ascension.  I actually had high hopes when The Ascension started getting TV time again.  Clearly it wasn’t for much other than BB fodder.
  • Breezango def. Rusev Day.  Yeah, you read that right.  It came on a roll up, but I guess we’re on the road to breaking up Rusev Day already.
  • Gable and Benjamin cut a promo that felt like it went on for three days because they’re terrible at promos.  Also, I realize talking crap about the city you’re in is the easiest way to get heat on a heel, but you’re in the wrong place to talk trash about the National Champs.  The “Roll Tide” chant drown out a substantial portion of the promo, thankfully.  Daniel Bryan would join them in the ring and decide that he’s going to grant a rematch with The Usos at Royal Rumble following last week’s dusty ending, but that they’ll be taking on the champions in a two-out-of-three falls match.

Overall Grade: B-.  The grade is probably a little generous, but the Becky Lynch-Ruby Riott match was pretty damn good and getting to see a fired up Randy Orton is always worth some bonus points.  What did you think?

  • Gran Metalik def. TJP.  So, TJP came back with this whole cocky “CruiserGreat” thing and got the win over former #1 contender Tozawa last week, only to turn around and take a loss to a returning Metalik tonight.  I’m a little confused by the booking.  Post match TJP threw a temper tantrum.
  • Gentleman Jack Gallagher came out to talk more about Hideo Itami breaking Brian Kendrick’s face, letting the Birmingham crowd know that if Itami were there, which he wasn’t, that he’d return the favor.  Turns out Itami is in the building, and he comes out to get some revenge for last week’s beating.  Gallagher doesn’t let him get too much offense in before bailing out through the WWE Universe.
  • Cedric Alexander def. Tony Freakin’ Abs (Nese).  Tony Nese pledged his reaffirmed allegiance to the Zo Train, but tells Enzo before the match that he wants to be his second in command when he defeats Alexander.  Alexander fakes a leg injury but lands the Lumbar Check for the win.  Post match, Enzo sends Nese away, but only to receive his own Lumbar Check.  Alexander will take that belt at the Royal Rumble.

Overall Grade:  C.  I’m seriously confused about the TJP booking.  To the point where it made focusing on anything else during this episode difficult.  Also, make better use of Tony Nese.  He’s awesome.  One positive was that the Alabama audience chanted that they wanted tables instead of demanding the return of Neville while other superstars were trying to perform, and more than half didn’t bail on 205 Live this time.

Tonight is our first new NXT of the new year, and the first of our TV tapings from Center Stage in Atlanta (which I missed because I was in Orlando last week).  Who’s watching?  And if anyone can explain what the hell they are doing with TJP, I’d greatly appreciate it.  Until next time.