- Smackdown Live Episode #907 (yes, I've been numbering them incorrectly lately) is live from Jacksonville, FL, with Mauro Ranallo, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and David Otunga calling the action, while Tom Phillips keeps a 4th chair warm. Advertised ahead of time is an Intercontinental Title Match between The Miz and Dean Ambrose.
- The Miz and Maryse come out to open the show. We recap what has happened over the last two weeks, including Miz outing Renee Young's relationship with Ambrose, and Ambrose posing as security to get a few cheap shots in on Miz. Miz puts himself over and says his new year resolution is to be more forgiving. Also, someone owes him an apology, and SHE knows who she is (Ambrose? *rim-shot*). Miz demands an apology, but no such luck. Miz threatens to hold up the show until he gets his apology. He accuses her of unprofessional conduct, and suggests Ambrose is getting an Intercontinental Title opportunity because they're on the good side of the GM and co-host of Talking Smack. "How can she sleep at night, sacrificing her journalistic integrity for Dirty Deeds with Dean Ambrose." SAVAGE. This brings out Ambrose, so Miz hides on the apron while Maryse stands in his path and gives Ambrose a pretty good slap. Miz takes off, but Ambrose says he's in for an easy night, because she hits way harder than he does.
We return from commercial, with Corbin standing on the back of Dolph's head. There's a simple, effective move. He transitions into a modified half-nelson chin-lock. Ziggler quickly escapes, but another dive is caught and Corbin rocks him with a hard forearm for two. Ziggler keeps throwing strikes. Stinger splash, swinging neck breaker, and jumping elbow drop gets two. Corbin blocks the Famouser and connects with a "Clothesline from Hades" for two. Corbin meets the post on a charge attempt and the Famouser connects for a near fall. Corbin blocks a Zig-Zag and DDT attempt. He whiffs on a forearm and the Zig-Zag connects for another near fall. Corbin shrugs off more Ziggler offense and the End of Days connects from out of nowhere, and that gets three at 9:54 (shown). **1/4 After doing little of note, they seem to be going forward with the big push for Corbin, and he's showing signs of improvement. Match was OK, but I don't expect much more than that out of Corbin, regardless of the opponent.
- Post-match, Corbin attempts to add injury-to-defeat, bringing a chair into the ring. Here comes Kalisto to make the save. Ziggler seems less impressed, laying Kalisto out with a Super-Kick and having a freak-out moment about not needing anyone to support him. About time they pulled the trigger on the heel turn. He's only been made a fool by the (at the time) WWE Champion, the Intercontinental Champion, the next-reigning WWE Champion, and now Baron Corbin.
- Carmella is backstage warming up, and here's James Ellsworth to stumble over his words because he has a crush on her and is too nervous to speak like an intelligent human being. She clearly seems uninterested, but begrudgingly accepts the shirt off his back... the OFFICIAL James Ellsworth t-shirt. In response, she asks him to escort her to the ring for her match tonight.
- Back in the men's locker room, Rhyno, Mojo Rawley, and Apollo Crews are having a pow-wow while Ziggler walks in, throwing chairs and some clothes around. Crews gets in his face for what he did to Kalisto, so Ziggler gives him a cheap headbutt and they roll around on the floor until Rhyno and Mojo separate them. I think I know what match we're getting on Smackdown next week...
- Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker will appear on Monday Night Raw. What happened to the Undertaker being all about Smackdown Live?! HYOPCRITES!
- It's the official contract signing between A.J. Styles and John Cena for their match at the Royal Rumble. Cena chills in one of the chairs. Anyone else notice that the graphic with tidbits says A.J. debuted at the Royal Rumble and is "The Face That Runs the Place"? Styles questions Daniel Bryan on why Cena gets this opportunity after taking several months off. Short answer: They want to one-up Raw and give the biggest match possible. Styles goes the Miz route, suggesting a personal relationship between Cena and Bryan is what earned Cena his title opportunity ("he's basically your brother-in-law."). Styles brags about beating Cena three-times and turning the tables on him. "No one can see you John, because you were a ghost." "Spoiler alert: We can do it without you, John." Styles cuts Cena off to continue with the verbal lashing, and calls Cena out for backing down on what he used to say about the Rock being a phony who lost his passion and left the WWE high-and-dry, because now that's the truth about himself. John Cena has been great for the WWE, but notice two words in that sentence, "has been." As far as Hollywood, he'll never be as a good as the Rock, and when it comes to the ring, he'll never be as good as A.J. Styles.
Cena finally gets a chance to respond. Part of being a man is being humble and admitting when you're wrong, and standing up for yourself when someone pushes you. Cena says he made the biggest mistake of his life... pissing off John Cena. He needs to win at the Royal Rumble to shut chumps like him up. He lost all respect for Styles and says he's a "punk little bitch." He's made a career out of shutting people's mouths and makes them eat their words. He destroyed his shoulder and was told he'd be out for a year, but came back in four months because that's passion. Anyone else in his shoes would've gone for Hollywood, but he's still here. Cena says to bring his A-game at the Rumble, and he's still going to kick his ass and take the Championship, because he's John Cena.
Suddenly Baron Corbin's music plays, and here comes the "Lone Wolf", fresh off a victory over Dolph Ziggler. He brags about winning the 3rd Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania, and he's going to be the 1st Smackdown Live Superstar to enter his name for the Royal Rumble Match. He doesn't care who the WWE Champion is, because he's leaving WrestleMania as the Champion. Cena decides to pick a fight with Corbin, allowing Styles to lay Cena out from behind with an enzuigiri. Corbin stands over Cena and says his time is up. Heck of a segment before needlessly shoe-horning Corbin in. Notice they never mentioned the Ric Flair record.
- Maryse is walking backstage. She comes across Renee Young and delivers one hell of a slap on behalf of her husband.
- Nikki Bella and Natalya have another painful segment together, with each miserable at delivering their lines. Nikki suggests Natalya would be a nothing if not for her relationship with Bret Hart, pointing out the obvious with her entrance music and finishing move. Natalya responds that John Cena won't marry her, and when she gets older and loses her beauty, he's going to leave her, too. Catty women are catty. I'm almost begging for Nikki to retire.
- Announced for next week: John Cena vs. Baron Corbin, to go along with the Tag Team Title Rematch between American Alpha and the Wyatt Family.
We return from commercial with Miz being back dropped to the floor. Ambrose to the top and he follows Miz down with the big elbow. Back inside, Ambrose comes off the ropes with forearms and a clothesline. Ambrose charges into the corner with a forearm, but Miz counters the bulldog. Ambrose ducks under a roundhouse and rolls Miz up for two. Miz blocks Dirty Deeds and goes to work on the left knee. Ambrose goes for the Lunatic Lariat, but Miz blocks. Ambrose counters the Skull Crushing Finale and a hangman's neck breaker gets two. Miz interrupts Ambrose's climb to the top rope. Ambrose blocks a super-plex attempt and knocks Miz to the canvas. Maryse with another distraction, and Miz counters the big elbow with the Skull Crushing Finale, but it only gets two. Miz with the Yes-Kicks, and at least they look a bit better than they were a few months back. Miz with a big boot, and Ambrose comes off the ropes with the Lunatic Lariat. Ambrose sends Miz to the floor and follows with tope suicida. Maryse comes around to deliver a slap in clear view of the referee. He teases calling for the bell, but Ambrose convinces him to eject her from ringside instead. Miz from behind with a belt shot, but Ambrose kicks out at two. Miz goes for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Ambrose escapes and hits Dirty Deeds for three and the Intercontinental Title at 10:57 (shown). *** Good match fueled early on by Ambrose's intensity. I didn't see a title switch coming, and kudos for not going to easy, obvious route of having Renee Young involved in the finish, and letting Ambrose do the work himself.
- The Miz had another freak-out moment on Talking Smack, suggesting the referee screwed him over by not calling for the Disqualification and letting Dean Ambrose call his own shots by having Maryse ejected from ringside, and might've dropped an F-bomb when Daniel Bryan accused him of not being good enough to beat people like Dean Ambrose and that's why he takes the cheap losses like when Maryse tried to get him DQ'ed.
Final Thoughts: With the exception of the segment between Natalya and Nikki Bella, another strong show from beginning to end, with a surprise title change to end on a high note. Styles and Cena have some of the best chemistry in the company when it comes to cutting promos, and put over their upcoming match at the Royal Rumble as a match worthy for WrestleMania. Dolph Ziggler finally turned heel, the Wyatt Family has unfinished business with American Alpha, and we've got multiple storylines for the Women's Division. What was that about lacking roster depth?