- Smackdown Live Episode #909 is coming from Memphis, TN, with Mauro Ranallo, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and David Otunga calling the action, and Tom Phillips sitting around pretending like he's doing anything. Advertised ahead of time for this week is the Women's Championship being defended in a Steel Cage, and the return of the King's Court. After all, they're in Memphis, so it's an easy way to get some cheap heat on someone by having them interact with Jerry Lawler.
- Shane McMahon comes out to kick things off. It's refreshing to see that we don't need to see Shane or Daniel Bryan every week to make sure the show makes progress. He hypes up the Royal Rumble, but more importantly, two weeks later, Smackdown Live will bring back the Elimination Chamber! The WWE Championship will be on the line, so this brings out A.J. Styles, who doesn't seem too pleased with the decision. First John Cena is gifted a title opportunity by his brother-in-law, and when he gets by Cena, he's defending the title in an Elimination Chamber Match? Cena interrupts his whining, only for Styles to shoot him down and continue to question Shane's decision making. The Miz interrupts next and applauds the idea of an Elimination Chamber, gloating about the prospect of holding both the WWE and Intercontinental Championships. Miz says while he was in Japan growing his hair out to be America's Next Top Soccer-Mom, he was beating up John Cena before it was cool. Styles reminds Miz that the last time they were in Memphis, he knocked his teeth out, then makes a limp penis joke. All the while, Cena is playing them against each other. They want to fight, so Shane makes it happen. NEXT.
- Shane McMahon walks into Dean Ambrose backstage. Ambrose wants a match with Randy Orton later tonight, so Shane is going to make it happen.
- Nikki Bella wants to call out Natalya and finish what they started last week. Natalya interrupts from the crowd and walks us into the lobby to one of the merchandise stands, complaining about why Nikki's stuff is sold right next to John Cena's, and that her "former Uncle" has a shirt, but there's nothing being sold with her name on it, accusing Nikki of using her influence to shut her out of that sweet merchandise money. Nikki eventually saves the shirts from the garbage bin and they get into another pull apart brawl. Nikki's promo work is still terrible, but their brawling is some good stuff.
- Dasha Fuentes is backstage with Alexa Bliss. She promises that the look on Becky's face after she walks away as Women's Champion is a look that nobody is going to forget. FORESHADOWING!
- The 1st inductee for the Class of 2017 Hall of Fame... Kurt Angle. I didn't see that one coming. I was still holding out hope for him being a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble Match, but this means that he's at least on good enough terms that something might happen to allow him to work on TV, even if it's in a limited and/or non-wrestling role.
We return from commercial with Ambrose fighting his way out of another chin-lock. He reverses a whip to the corner and connects with a clothesline. Ambrose comes off the ropes with forearms and a clothesline. Swinging neck breaker gets two. Orton pops the jaw with an elbow and they trade rights. Orton counters the Lunatic Lariat with a snap Power-Slam for a two count. Ambrose fights Orton down from the top rope. Orton blocks Dirty Deeds, Ambrose blocks the RKO, and the Lunatic Lariat gets two. Ambrose counters the draping DDT, sending Orton to the floor. He goes for the suicide dive, but Harper takes it instead. Orton hits the draping DDT on attempt #2. He teases the RKO, but Harper gets in the ring for whatever reason. Ambrose uses the distraction to roll Orton up for three at 10:43 (shown). *** Good TV match. What's that, three weeks in a row with Orton doing jobs? I know most of them are through miscommunications, but still, that's got to be a record. Post-match, the turmoil between Orton and Harper leads to blows being exchanged, and even Wyatt in his frustration takes a shot at Harper and dares Orton to take a shot at him. All three leave, separately.
- Jerry "The King" Lawler, dressed in his old "King" attire rather than hipster t-shirt, is in the ring for a special edition of the King's Court. His guest is the man with a recent change in attitude, Dolph Ziggler. I know it's Memphis, but when Lawler's reaction is 5-times as strong as a current Superstar, there's a problem. Lawler questions what happened to change his mood, but Ziggler isn't talking. Lawler speculates Ziggler's change in attitude is an attempt to win more matches, and last week he still lost to Kalisto. We see a replay of last week, and Dolph still isn't talking. Lawler says an interview with an oil painting would be better than this. Ziggler gets snippy and shows us footage of when he wrestled Lawler on Raw (September 2012), and later that night, Lawler suffered a heart attack while doing commentary. Well, there's our cheap heat. Lawler asks him how does it feel to know that he'll always be a loser. SAVAGE. Ziggler responds with a Super-Kick to the chest. OK, THAT is the real cheap heat. JBL leaves commentary (tripping and falling in the process) and jumps in the ring to check on Lawler as Ziggler casually walks away. Lawler dares him to come back and face him like a man, but that's not happening.
- Bray Wyatt is standing by with comments about what had gone down in recent weeks, and next week, Randy Orton and Luke Harper are going to face each other, one-on-one, to settle their differences. Oh, and all three Wyatt Family members will be in the Royal Rumble Match. As far as Smackdown's roster is concerned, that means we've got Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose, The Miz, Baron Corbin, and Dolph Ziggler (and Undertaker, I guess?) representing the blue brand so far. There's genuine intrigue concerning the winner of the match. It's not nearly as predictable as it has been every year since 2013.
Final Thoughts: Not the regular format for Smackdown Live, with a handful of long segments that helped advance all the key storylines. None of the tag teams were featured, but with the Royal Rumble right around the corner, there's so much to focus on with the Rumble Match and the WWE Championship that having them sit on the back burner is better than just throwing them out there in meaningless segments. Mickie James making her return is going to give a nice jolt to the division, and the inevitable split between Orton and Wyatt is being handled well instead of the rush job I think everyone was expecting. Not the best episode, but another solid two hours.