- Smackdown Live Episode #916 is live from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. Mauro Ranallo, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, David Otunga, and Tom Phillips are at ringside to call the action and narrate the stories being told, in the event we can't possibly follow or decipher them ourselves. Advertised ahead of time is a (we really mean it this time) #1 Contender's Match to determine who will challenge Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania, pitting A.J. Styles against Randy Orton for the first time ever. Also on the show, John Cena and Nikki Bella face James Ellsworth and Carmella in Mixed Tag Team Action.
- Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan come out to kick things off (after a lengthy recap of last week's drama between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt). Bryan says Orton should get the opportunity since he did win the Royal Rumble Match, and that's a tradition that has remained for over 20 years (despite him forfeiting his right). McMahon points out he denied his opportunity, and thus isn't owed anything. Everything will be settled in one, final match, to determine the challenger for WrestleMania Sun Burst. A.J. Styles is backstage, disappointed in the unfair treatment that he's experiencing. Tonight, he's going to make the best of a bad situation and take out Randy Orton.
- Post-match, Miz and Maryse pull Cena and Nikki to the floor and ram them into various pieces of ringside furniture. Miz says Cena and Nikki disgust him, and is a disgrace to "true love". He suggests John Cena doesn't truly care for Nikki Bella, and for the longest time, they weren't allowed to be linked together on television until Miz and Maryse became the WWE Power Couple.
- Renee Young is backstage with Randy Orton. Orton cuts her off quickly, and poses the question what can A.J. Styles expect from him, when last week he set fire to the Wyatt Compound.
- "Ravishing" Rick Rude joins the 2017 Hall of Fame Class, joining Kurt Angles, Diamond Dallas Page, The Rock N' Roll Express, Theodore Long, and Beth Phoenix.
- Curt Hawkins is in the ring to call out Dean Ambrose for delivering a cheap shot to him last week before their match. Ambrose quickly comes down and lays Hawkins out on the ramp. He decides to take the time to call out Baron Corbin, but Corbin refuses to answer any challenges, and only does things on his time. Ambrose says he'll come looking for him, and on the way back to the locker room, lays Hawkins out with Dirty Deeds.
- Dasha Fuentes is backstage with Mojo Rawley, who is here to announce he will be the 1st man from Smackdown Live to declare for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Dolph Ziggler shows up to give him a smart-ass remark about not being handed WrestleMania Moments™, and Mojo responds about how Dolph hasn't had a WrestleMania Moment™, either.
- Baron Corbin surprises Dean Ambrose by throwing an official at him and lays into him with a lead pipe. The coup de grace of the attack, is attempted splattering with a fork lift until more officials show up to come to Ambrose's rescue.
- Alexa Bliss, along with Mickie James, comes out for the first ever Smackdown Live "Blissertation." The hot topic is who will Bliss defend the Women's Championship against at WrestleMania Sun Burst. She runs down the people who won't challenge her. Naomi is home "feeling the ow." Nikki Bella is in the training room being nursed to health by her square-chinned Superman. Carmella's busy taking care of her creepy troll under a bridge. Becky "Chucky" Lynch has been beaten and beaten again, but keeps coming back. This brings out Becky to declare she's going to WrestleMania to win back her title. Natalya interrupts, too, insisting that her and Alexa have come to an understanding. Alexa accuses her of hitting the catnip a little too hard. Daniel Bryan interrupts everyone, and to make a long story short, says Alexa Bliss will defend the Women's Title at WrestleMania... against all the available Women of the Smackdown Live roster, then makes a tag team match in honor of Teddy Long (his words!).
We return from commercial, with Styles in control, working on the leg. Orton fights out with rights and sprawls out of leg-pick attempts. Styles picks the leg again and hooks a chin-lock. Orton escapes and connects with a pair of clotheslines, followed by a snap power-slam. Orton with a Full Nelson Slam for a one count. Orton stomps away at the right leg of Styles. He sets Styles up across the top turnbuckle. Styles slips between the legs and drops Orton face-first across the turnbuckle. Styles with the Ushigoroshi for a near fall. He goes for the Styles Clash, but Orton counters with a back drop, sending Styles over the top rope. He hangs on to the ropes and avoids the draping DDT. He rolls Orton out of the corner into the Calf-Crusher, but Orton manages to make it to the ropes to force the break. Orton avoids a dive into the corner, then runs into a boot. Styles goes for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Orton hangs him up on the top rope and connects with the draping DDT. He sets up for the RKO, but Styles counters with the Pele Kick. Styles goes for the Phenomenal Forearm and fakes Orton out to avoid the RKO OUT OF NOWHERE. Orton rolls out of the way of the springboard 450 splash and the RKO finishes at 14:41 (shown). ***1/2 Very good TV Main Event, although the outcome didn't really seem in doubt based on the rumors circulating. Another 5 minutes or so and this could've been a PPV caliber match.
Final Thoughts: The pieces to the Smackdown WrestleMania Puzzle seem to be coming to shape, and not counting the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, it looks like there will be five Smackdown exclusive matches on the card. Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton is top billing for the WWE Title, we're obviously getting A.J. Styles vs. Shane McMahon, Dean Ambrose defending the IC Title vs. Baron Corbin is expected, we just now had the announcement of the Women's Title Free-For-All, and of course, the Mixed Tag with Cena/Nikki and Miz/Maryse. Tonight was one of those "building momentum" weeks, light on in-ring content, and heavy on advancing/creating storylines.