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Smackdown Live marches into 2017 on a wave of momentum. Beating Raw in the ratings has shone a light on just how strong the Blue Brand’s offerings are right now, and with so much star power being pushed across the board; it’s easy to get excited for the two hour show. Did things manage to hold the course and did 2017 get off to a boom or a bust?

BOOM: Ambrose confronts Miz & Maryse

While not a hugely long opening segment – it set the tone for the events leading up to the main event. Miz throwing out conspiracy theories is a hugely entertaining way to make his character seem out of touch with reality – and Ambrose brings enough crazy to the table to keep things interesting. So glad they didn’t throw Renee out there though. The less they use her, the better it is for the whole story I find.

 

BOOM: Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin

Entertaining if slightly similar match from these two. Corbin is really shining right now and Ziggler’s done an impressive job in helping get over his high impact offence. Problem with this outing is that it all felt a little “been there, done that”. Corbin needs to keep his momentum going – and not end up in a ring with Ziggler for a long while after this match.

 

BOOM: Dolph Ziggler’s Heel Turn

Let’s be honest, Ziggler needed this. Attacking Kalisto (Who came out to help him) and then headbutting Crews gives Dolph some new directions to run into. Ziggler always worked best as the cocky heel – it was the time when fans were happiest to see him. I’ve not been a fan of Ziggler for the longest time, so I’m thrilled to see that he finally gets to return to that part of his character. Now if only they’d stop flip-flop booking him, then we might be able to start cheering for the fella again….

 

BOOM: Becky Lynch vs. La Luchadora

I’m not a huge lover of the La Luchadora angle, but the double take here was enough to keep things interesting. This could all go south though if the eventual reveal for Luchadora turns out to be a damp squib for the audience.

 

BOOM: Contract Signing Between Cena and Styles

They didn’t half swing verbally at each other during this segment. I like that Cena is finally throwing out the whole “respect” rubbish, and the passion he put forward here should do enough to show fans that Cena’s heart is still very much in the wrestling ring. As for Styles, he showcased here how far he’s come in WWE. His insults to Cena were brutal but true, and he came across as a logical thinker rather than a coward. I’m excited to see how this match ends up at Royal Rumble, and this segment will have gone a long way in getting fans back on board. If you only see one thing from this entire thing – make sure you check this out.

 

BUST: Carmella vs. Aliyah

Not a good showing for Aliyah, who made her debut on Smackdown. She looked slow and sloppy in the ring with an admittedly poor Carmella. Sadly it’s hard to get invested in the ongoing Ellsworth/Carmella story line when both Superstars have all the chemistry of a wet paper bag. I do hope this isn’t going to lead to Carmella cheating her way into the Smackdown Live Women’s Championship picture.

 

BUST: American Alpha vs Breezango

Poor Breezango, squashed in a 30 second match that all but confirmed they’re the cannon fodder of the Smackdown Live tag-team division. American Alpha got nothing from this – the live crowd seemed awkwardly out of the entire thing. The Wyatt segment was the real center piece, but it’s hard to get excited for a promo we’ve seen a million times over the years.

 

BUST: Nikki/Nattie Segment

I’d love to say these ladies hit it out the park, but the reality is that neither party came out too well from this. Not helped by a crowd who were slow to get into proceedings, this segment felt like a poor mans attempt to ride the earlier John Cena/Styles segment. I know we’re supposed to care about these veterans, but Natties a pretty awful heel. They really need to put a mercy kill out on that train wreck.

 

BOOM: Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz

I think the time was right for Miz to lose the Intercontinental Championship. He’s done wonders building the belt up, but Ambrose needed this way more than Miz. The biggest thing here was the intensity from Dean, who really went for Miz throughout – hitting him with a barrage of stiff shots and made things look incredibly brutal throughout. Maryse being thrown out didn’t lead to Renee interfering – something I suspected would happen after Maryse slapped her earlier.

 

BOOM: Overall Smackdown Show

It was a really intense episode of Smackdown Live – and we didn’t even see some of the biggest performers in action. Styles and Cena are making magic in the main event scene, something WWE is cleverly capitalizing on. Meanwhile Miz and Ambrose are engaging, bringing out the best in each other at a time when the Blue Brand really needs its stars to start delivering.

The biggest bust was that Nattie/Nikki segment, which felt totally weird in the overall show (They didn’t even get proper entrances). I’m not sure why WWE insist on Nattie being a heel when fans are so clearly cold on the idea. Heck, this entire feud feels like it needs flipping around.

Overall though a solid episode of Smackdown Live, and one worth catching.

Grade: B+

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