As we predicted earlier, the 2016 TLC is set to be a spectacle. This is one of the premiere events of the year and the fact that it is a Smackdown Live exclusive has us excited that perhaps it will be a really powerful pay-per-view for WWE. Without further ado, let’s get into the show with our live play-by-play, match results and instant feedback.
The pre-show gave us some tag team action to get things going. American Alpha, Hype Bros and Apollo Crews took on The Vaudevillians, The Ascension and Curt Hawkins. Whole lot of silliness and antics throughout this one. Too many goofy personalities crammed into one match. As a general rule, I’m not a fan of massive tag team matches. Ten competitors outside of a Royal Rumble or a battle royale is far too many. The Alphas did pretty solid and the match wasn’t flat by any stretch of the term. All ten guys put on a great show for the crowd, who were lively and behind the match. In the end Gable and Jordan pick up the pinfall for their team. Okay match with the correct ending.
The first match as the show begins is for the Smackdown Live tag team titles. The Wyatt Family (featuring Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt) challenging Heath Slater and Rhyno. This match was a little short in my opinion. Solid action. The finish was Wyatt distracting Rhyno and Orton hit him with an RKO out of nowhere. After the match, Orton and Bray put the titles on Harper’s shoulders and then posed for the crowd. Very interesting booking here. This is the first time heels have held these titles. It will be fun to see what they do with it. Give it up for Smackdown always pushing the unexpected into our laps. With the pre-show victory, one has to assume American Alpha will be coming down the line to challenge The Wyatt Family for their new shiny belts.
Next up is a No Disqualification match between Nikki Bella and Carmella. As feuds go, this one is ice cold. It doesn’t really do anything in the grander scheme for either woman or the viewing audience. But, a No DQ match is usually a good way to keep me interested. There’s always the possibility of serious injury or death, two things I have often wished on Nikki Bella (and her boyfriend). Carmella dominates to start and eventually ties Nikki upside down in the corner. She gets a kendo stick out and hits Nikki in the stomach. Nikki turns the table when she sprays Carmella in the face with a fire extinguisher. Rack Attack 2.0 lays Carmella out and Nikki picks up the pinfall win. After the match, Carmella gets on the mic and says she didn’t attack Nikki at Survivor Series. She tells her it was Natalya. Duh, we all knew that the moment it happened.
It’s not even 9:00PM yet and the third match is about to start. That seems odd. Half their matches in the first hour? Maybe WWE is starting to end PPV’s earlier. The next bout is Dolph Ziggler challenging The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship in none other than a ladder match. Ziggler the aggressor to start the match. The fight spills out of the ring and Miz plants Ziggler on the ramp with a super kick. They stay outside the ring for quite awhile using ladders as weapons against one another. Ziggler hits an outstanding satellite DDT on a ladder and both men are down. Ziggler finally gets a large ladder into the ring. He attempts to set it up but Miz dropkicks him from behind.
The Miz mocks Daniel Bryan at one point with a YES! gesture right before dropkicking a ladder into Ziggler. Both men climb a ladder and trade blows right below the title. Ziggler knocks Miz off but before he can recover, Miz yanks him down. Miz goes to work on Ziggler’s leg, slamming it into a ladder over and over. Miz wraps Ziggler’s leg through a ladder wrung and then locks in a Figure Four leglock. Ouch. Miz then hits a Skull Crushing Finale into a ladder. Miz sets up a ladder and tries to grab the belt. Ziggler knocks the ladder away and Miz is hanging from the belt! Ziggler slams the ladder into his knee and Miz falls to the mat and rolls out of the ring. Ziggler climbs up the ladder on one leg, but before he gets to the top, Miz runs in and powerbombs him into a ladder. The pair are at the top of a ladder again and then Ziggler starts hitting Miz with headbutts. Miz falls down. Miz pops up and kicks Ziggler in the junk. Twice. Ziggler crumples to the mat as Miz climbs up and retains his IC title.
As ladder matches go, nothing groundbreaking happens. It’s hard to top some of the epic matches we’ve seen in the past. But it is entertaining throughout. Both men bring their a-game. The crowd was really behind Ziggler so the finish was booed, but it was actually really great. I enjoyed that bout. Best match so far tonight. After the match, The Miz gets on the mic and dedicates his victory to Daniel Bryan.
Next match is a chairs match between Baron Corbin and Kalisto. As you might expect, Corbin dominates to start this match, spilling the action out around the ring. He manhandles Kalisto like a paper doll. Kalisto rallies with some nice offense and the two manage to get some oh’s and ah’s from the crowd with some pretty devastating moves, ie: violence. Kalisto dives out of the ring towards Corbin, but he catches the tiny Lucha and hits a Deep Six on the floor. In the ring, Corbin covers but Kalisto kicks out. Corbin hits End of Days on a pile of chairs and that’s the ballgame. A breakout out match for both guys, really. Very nice to watch. The arena crowd was flat, but make no mistake that this was a really great match to watch.
Natalya is interviewed and asked about attacking Nikki. Instead she wishes Becky Lynch luck in her title defense. Then she calls the comments Carmella made absurd and calls her a liar. Natalya versus Nikki or Carmella is not a very promising feud. Let’s hope they skip that and move on to something else. This interview did segue nicely into the next match. Alexa Bliss challenging Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a tables match. Both ladies aggressive to start. Becky is the first to set a table up outside the ring, but Alexa stops her from utilizing it. The crowd is shit throughout this one, chanting for other things unrelated to the match. Charlotte and Sasha spoiled us on Raw this past week, but Becky and Alexa are putting on a good show. Outside the ring, Alexa powerbombs Becky through a table for the win! What!? That’s exciting! Alexa Bliss is my favorite female on both rosters so this is really great. Yes!
The main event of the night is Dean Ambrose challenging AJ Styles in a traditional TLC match for the WWE World Championship. The championship hangs high above the ring. Ambrose going right after the champ as soon as the bell rings. Ambrose clotheslines Styles outside the ring. He follows the champ out and they fight up the ramp. This spills out into the crowd. Ambrose is all over the map. He puts a trash can on Styles and hits him near the announce table with a chair. He gets in the ring and sets up a ladder, but Styles recovers enough to stop him, planting him on the mat. Styles takes control as the crowd rallies behind him, chanting his name.
Ambrose pounds Styles into a group of chairs, garnering a “Holy Shit!” chant from the crowd. Ambrose throws Styles through the metal legs of a table. Styles bounces back and suplexes Ambrose through a table. Wow, a really terrific few minutes of action. Goodness. Dirty Deeds and Phenomenal Forearm both countered, respectively, and then Ambrose throws Styles out of the ring. Ambrose puts Styles on one announce table and sets a ladder up on a second table. Ambrose off the ladder, dropping an elbow into Styles, crashing through the announce table. Mauro Ranallo screams, “Oh my god!” and then the announce team falls silent as the crowd chants, “This is awesome!”
Ambrose leaves Styles in the wreckage and gets a ladder into the ring. He climbs towards the belt. Styles gets on the apron and leaps off the top rope to hit a Phenomenal Forearm, knocking Ambrose off the ladder. They both recover and crawl up either side of the ladder. They knock each other off the ladder and then Ambrose spins Styles into the ladder. Styles sets Ambrose on a table outside the ring and does a 450 splash off the top rope, driving Ambrose through the table. Styles sets a ladder up in the ring as James Ellsworth comes down. Styles foregoes the ladder and goes after Ellsworth. Ambrose hops up and hits Dirty Deeds on the steel steps.
Ambrose scrambles into the ring and sets up a ladder under the title. Ambrose gets up two rungs before Styles joins him on the ladder. Ambrose knocks him off the ladder and out of the ring. Just as Ambrose is reaching for the title Ellsworth tips the ladder over and Ambrose goes through two tables! Ellsworth cheers on Styles has he sets up a ladder and slowly works his way to the top. Styles grabs his title and retains. What a fantastic match. Easily the best match of the night. Bravo. Once again, Smackdown Live has outdone themselves, continuing to stand out within the WWE brand split.
What did you think of tonight’s pay-per-view? Let us know in the comments below! See you all tomorrow for Monday Night Raw!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Disclaimer: I was in a bad mood when I wrote this so reader discretion advised. Read at your own risk.
Our constant readers may have noticed that the F2H family failed to post their usual live review articles about Smackdown Live’s No Mercy and last night’s Monday Night Raw. Have we lost faith in Vince McMahon’s promotion? Are we bored with the product? I’ll answer your question with a question: does a bear shit in the woods? In this instance, the bear is Sean Waltman and the woods is Rena Lesnar’s luggage; and the answer is an emphatic yes.
While on the surface the No Mercy pay-per-view seemed like a solid venture, when you scrutinize it even a little bit, the entire show folds like a wet house of cards. Here is a short list of some of the more cringe-worthy moments of the show. The pre-show featured Jerry Lawler awkwardly flirting and eye-fucking Nikki Bella, a 4-team tag match (overkill in any scenario) that included The Acesnsion, and Curt Hawkins big debut that was only a declaration by him that he would have a match on Tuesday.
Prior to the show, WWE announced the “main event” triple-threat would go on first to start the show, essentially confirming WWE’s lack of confidence in their own product, being fearful that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would pull viewers and bomb their PPV. Although the triple-threat was a decent match, it still featured yet another John Cena title attempt, grasping for the coveted Ric Flair record; and Dean Ambrose in the main event picture, a man with no charism, character evolution, or ability to carry a promotion as either a heel or babyface. And while AJ Styles put on a great outing, I am still watching him on NJPW every week on AXS-TV and his crimped style with WWE is nowhere near his best work in a ring.
No Mercy also featured Nikki Bella utilizing the antiquated 50/50 booking style of WWE in order to beat Carmella. Speaking of the women, Becky Lynch was suddenly injured and not competing. So we saw Naomi not only wrestle but defeat Alexa Bliss. Both finishes were weak and did nothing at all for the losers while barely giving a boost to the winners. The third women’s match of the night was between Jack Swagger and Baron Corbin. Yeah, I said it. Why is this on a pay-per-view? Nobody cares!
The highlight of the night was Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. This was an excellent match and the best on the entire card. Nothing to complain about here. The main event was Randy Orton taking on Bray Wyatt. Oh great, two of the weakest in-between heel/face chimeras in the entire company. Wyatt has strewn together infinitely more losses than wins. And Orton has been a watered down version of himself ever since returning from injury. The build to this match was terribly dis-interesting. And the big “twist” finish was a Luke Harper run in. This ended a pay-per-view in 2016.
Skip ahead to Monday Night Raw and now we’re really swimming out to the deep end with no life preservers. We’re talking about a show that surprisingly opened with Sasha Banks and Charlotte declaring they were having a rematch INSIDE Hell in a Cell. This was a groundbreaking moment…that was immediately cut short by Rusev interrupting. He insults both of them, along with all women’s wrestling (as does Lana) and hijacks what should have been an epic segment. Then Roman Reigns comes out and further buries the angle. Then, in all of Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley’s jaded wisdom, they put Charlotte on a team with Rusev against the team of Banks and Reigns. Despite Rusev belittling Charlotte, she now gets the “honor” of being his tag team partner.
Do you know why this segment happened? Because Kevin Dunn (a guy that probably has twenty Donald Trump signs in his yard) objectifies women and probably doesn’t think they can carry a moment on their own. They needed big, strong men to come out and bolster their credibility. “Nobody is going to buy women in the Cell! We need men to put it over!” Nevermind the fact that when you have a match with Roman Reigns, Rusev, Charlotte, Lana, and Sasha Banks, the only goddamn babyface in the entire thing is Banks. Reigns is not a face! But WWE continues to try and pair him with any one in order to try and persuade the crowd to oh and ah over him.
Then we have a match between Kofi Kingston and Cesaro. The big angle here is Sheamus sits ringside and tweets during the match. Oh, just brilliant fucking television. Really helps sell Cesaro and Sheamus as a team and absolutely helps make New Day look strong. *vomits in mouth, down onto Ultimate Warrior t-shirt*
Bayley comes out and wrestles Cami Fields. Who? Exactly. She beats a jobber and then gets attacked from behind by Dana Brooke (wearing a way-too-tight outfit) and then Brooke just stands there awkwardly like Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights when he doesn’t know what to do with his hands. Brilliant. There were four horsewomen in NXT. Becky has the Smackdown Women’s Title. Sasha and Charlotte are breaking new ground fighting for the Raw Women’s Title. Meanwhile, Bayley is given about two minutes against someone named Cami Fields. Just a real career booster for her. Good job, Vince!
The newly formed Cruiserweight Division continues to get its legs cut out from underneath it as WWE, despite having three hours of television, just keeps hitting us with Cruiserweight tag-team matches. We get Tony Nese and Drew Gulak against Sin Cara and Lince Dorado. Without fanfare, Sin Cara is now suddenly in the division. Dorado spends the whole match carrying Sin Cara before picking up the win. According to Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon, there are only two Cruiserweights named T.J. Perkins and Brian Kendrick. Anybody who isn’t them will just be the bathroom break match on Raw.
Then we come back from commercial to find Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in the ring. Oh boy! That’ll really boost the ratings! Luckily we are saved by Enzo Amore and Big Cass. But before we can even see them wrestle, they are attacked by The Club. So let me get this straight. Cesaro and Sheamus, a team thrown together two weeks ago get to face New Day, but two of the top three tag teams on Raw have a segment with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel? Then WWE hits us with a bullshit 4-team tag at a PPV the night before? Why not save the multi-team matches for actual talent? I’d definitely watch New Day vs Enzo and Cass vs The Club any day.
Oh, but that segment isn’t even over. After The Club and Enzo and Cass leave, Axel and Dallas are still competing! They demand a team! So we have to suffer through not only them in a match, but a hastily thrown together Sami Zayn and Neville tag-team. Is Teddy Long running creative all of a sudden? We’ve had five matches so far and four of them have featured tag teams! Brilliant! I’m just as baffled as Vince as to why the ratings continue to tank. Fuck you, McMahon.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, we then are “treated” to a match between R-Truth and Titus O’Neal thrown together, on the premise, and I shit you not, of Truth trying to give O’Neal’s favorite candy bar to another wrestler. Now, while I can appreciate both men as they have skill and could be great if pushed properly (yeah right, as if that would ever happen), they certainly should not be in a match facing each other. Why, you might ask? Because they have a combined age of fucking 83. R-Truth is in his mid-forties and Titus is 39. This is not a live-TV match. This is not something you expose people to and then try to laugh off the sliding ratings to the board of directors. In simple terms, this is not a match you put on TV if you want people to take what you do seriously.
Backstage segment with Perkins and Kendrick showcasing the 50/50 booking again. I won’t even elaborate on any of that. Braun Strowman then squashes the “Splash Brothers” (who look like a Sheamus and Xavier Woods cosplay couple) and then asks Foley for stronger competition. If only Braun could be what he’s asking for: better talent. He has become a spectacle much like Big Show, Kane, and The Great Kahli before him. Vince will take a giant, twist and contort them, and turn them into a traveling freakshow.
And then the inter-gender match. Holy shit what a waste of time. Rusev and Charlotte against Reigns and Banks. The big creative ending here was Sasha making Charlotte tap to the Bank Statement timed perfectly with Reigns hitting Rusev with a spear. Been there, done that, played all the way out. Then Reigns and Banks stand with their arms in the air, smiling. As if Reigns was suddenly a good guy. Then T.J. Perkins defeated Jinder Mahal. Oh wait, that was Ariya Daivari. Another useless squash match doing nothing for anybody, including the viewers.
The main event was Seth Rollins versus Chris Jericho. Alright, I really can’t complain about this if I’m being fair and unbiased. It was a great match, highlight of the night for me. My only real gripe is that Jericho has main-evented a shit ton of Raw’s this year and did so again last night. Yes, Jericho is awesome. And his work these past few weeks with Kevin Owens has really been the crutch that has saved Raw from swirling into a black hole from wince there is no return. That being said, Jericho is older than both R-Truth and Titus O’Neal. Is the best WWE can do is to have a 45-year-old in the main event? Does that sound bonkers to anyone else? It says a lot about how incredibly talented and what great shape Y2J is in; but it also speaks volumes about how weak WWE thinks their own product is.
They don’t trust their youngers guys to do the job. They don’t have faith or confidence in their roster. And this is true across the board. Both Raw and Smackdown suffer from this inability to pull the trigger on younger talent. The result is getting a 39-year-old John Cena in a main event trying to get another world title. When is WWE going to move on? They speak of a new era and yet continue hitting us with out-to-pasture talent. Now the big hyped up sell is a potential match between Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg, a match about fifteen years too late between two men with a combined age of 88. Granted, both men are genetic anomalies (Lesnar more so on the chemically enhanced side) and will probably look great. But the point being is that WWE continues to live in the past. And the WWE Universe seems nostalgic to days gone by.
That’s why Sasha Banks gets a pop for mentioning Eddie Guerrero. That’s why Charlotte gets a “Woooooooooo!” every single time she mentions her dad. WWE doesn’t do anything to make their current talent relevant. They are censored and limited and forced to get over by mentioning long since retired or dead Superstars. It’s a vicious cycle all the way around. Fear, uncertainty, doubt; it all mixes together to make WWE unsure of their talent, the talent unsure of their place, and the fans unsure of why they should even give two shits about any of it. There are so many problems to list but I’m just one man and this article is already absurdly long. I have a love/hate relationship with WWE. It’s a frustrating partnership because I see the potential of what this company could be. As a kid I watched wrestling. Then I grew up. But wrestling never did. It plateaued and in some instances took a step back.
You can blame the break of kayfabe. You can blame the dirt sheets. You can blame the internet. You can even blame Vince for bringing too many promotions together and “killing the biz.” It doesn’t matter what the cause was. The effect is what truly matters, and in this case the effect is mediocre, unfulfilling, lazy, and often boring professional wrestling. CM Punk said it best: “Vince McMahon is a millionaire who should be a billionaire.” The reason why he isn’t is that the wrestling experience he presents is no longer thrilling to a certain extent. We demand more but WWE keeps coming up short. Smackdown Live is on tonight and we won’t be doing a live review for that either. If they want us to write something, they need to give us something worthwhile to write about. Until then, let the onslaught begin.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
After WWE tweeted that not only would Becky Lynch not be able to compete at the No Mercy PPV due to medical reasons, but that the main event would start the show, my husband decided that we would skip writing a results article and just try to enjoy the show. The first Smackdown exclusive PPV, Backlash, had a terrible card but turned out to be a great three hours, so I went into No Mercy with a healthy amount of optimism. My mistake.
Curt Hawkins was initially going to have his debut match at No Mercy, but instead popped out randomly during the preshow at around 7:15pm EST before the majority of fans were even in their seats. He walked to the ring to a list of Chuck Norris-type facts while waving around a walking stick. Hawkins announced that his first match would actually be on October 11th on Smackdown, and the crowd couldn’t care less. This was such a poor choice for what was meant to be a strong debut.
The preshow kickoff match featured The Hype Bros and American Alpha versus The Ascension and The Vaudevillains. It was a solid fight, with the Hype Bros and American Alpha picking up the win after a nine minute match. I don’t think this was the best use of the preshow though. We have an entire hour to eat up, and the match only gets 15% of that time? We don’t need to hear Jerry Lawler sexually harass female talent for 45 minutes. Give us longer and better preshow matches.
Our first match was the “main event” where AJ Styles successfully defended his title against John Cena and Dean Ambrose in a Triple Threat match. Styles actually tapped out, but because both Cena and Ambrose simultaneously had a submission hold on him, the match was restarted. First off, I cannot for the life of me figure out why this main event opened the PPV. I thought that maybe they were saving something else for the end of the night, but that wasn’t the case at all. Perhaps they moved it so it wasn’t airing during the debate, but that doesn’t make sense either since everything is On Demand on the Network. It was a confusing move, and I still have yet to figure out why they did it.
Nikki Bella defeated Carmella in a decent match, but Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss in a match that would have been better left off the card. The women had a little over 5 minutes to compete, and it ended with Bliss throwing a fit after her loss. It makes her look weak and childish, which is a poor move considering she is the number one contender for Lynch’s title. Time and time again, we hear about the Women’s Revolution. I’m still waiting for it to begin.
The highlight of the night for me was watching Tag Team Champions Heath Slater and Rhyno successfully retain against The Usos. It was a solid match and it’s so amazing to hear Slater being cheered for, getting hot tags, and being able to actually perform in the ring instead of job out. The second high point for me was Dolph Ziggler defeating The Miz and becoming Intercontinental Champion. This was a twenty minute match of nonstop action. Online rumors had Ziggler leaving WWE to pursue a career in comedy, and I’m glad it wasn’t true.
Baron Corbin defeated the new and improved Jack Swagger in a singles match that was forgettable. Our actual main event was Bray Wyatt versus Randy Orton. I was terrified that WWE was going to try and turn this into their version of Impact Wrestling’s The Great War, but they spared us. Unfortunately, they couldn’t even bother making this match a No Disqualification fight. It was good to see Bray Wyatt finally get a win, but he still didn’t get it clean thanks to a surprise return by Luke Harper. Harper didn’t interfere, simply showed up as a distraction to allow Wyatt to steal a win.
Overall, this PPV was better suited for a Tuesday night episode of Smackdown than it was for a Sunday evening. Whatever magic went into Backlash was completely lost for No Mercy. We apologize for the lack of coverage on Sunday, but have no regrets, as any article we posted was going to tear that PPV into pieces. Hopefully they can get it together by Tuesday and give their talent the better booking they deserve.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Our second Smackdown exclusive PPV will be No Mercy on October 9, 2016 in Sacramento, California. The go home episode of Smackdown was absolutely terrible; my husband didn’t hold back in his review of the show, and I struggled to keep my eyes open. Heath Slater and Rhyno’s run in was the best part of the entire two hours, and they didn’t even get to have a match. Even with all this, I feel strangely positive about this PPV. The card for Backlash was pitiful, but the PPV somehow ended up being one of the best WWE has had in months. Let’s take a look at the No Mercy match card and make some predictions.
Curt Hawkins vs TBA – Singles Match
The build towards Hawkins’ television debut has been a play on the Chuck Norris jokes, and has not gone over well with me. He made his in ring return already at a WWE Live event at the beginning of the month, beating Apollo Crews in a singles match in Las Vegas. The last time I saw Hawkins, he was getting squashed by Ryback while teaming with Tyler Reks. He then asked to be released from WWE, went to NXT after a surgery to lose most of his matches, and spent the next couple of years bouncing from company to company. Not surprisingly, I don’t see him as a Chuck Norris level kind of guy after all of that. His opponent is still undetermined at the time of this posting, but I imagine it will be some local jobber. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear “let’s go jobber” chants from the crowd.
F2H Prediction – Curt Hawkins
Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt – Singles Match
After getting destroyed by Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton found himself targeted by the Eater of Worlds. Bray Wyatt has been on the world’s worst losing streak, but still insists that he is a God. On this past Smackdown, Orton locked Wyatt in a storage locker, and Wyatt escaped after talking to some mystery figure just off of camera. Prior to that, they have been involved in equally senseless altercations backstage and in the ring. At one point, Orton looked like he was trying to escape one of Jigsaw’s traps. The whole set up has been ridiculous, and not the positive kind. But who knows; maybe these two will surprise us.
F2H Prediction – Randy Orton
The Miz (c) vs Dolph Ziggler – Intercontinental Championship “Title vs Career” Match
Right now, The Miz is at the top of his game. Since Daniel Bryan can’t compete and fight for his honor after Miz shamed him on Talking Smack, Dolph Ziggler was thrown into the mix. The video package that Miz put together for Ziggler was one of very few highlights on the go home Smackdown. Both men have been underappreciated over the past couple of years, so I’m glad that they have an opportunity now to prove a lot of people wrong. I would like to see Maryse banned from ringside before the match even begins; she tried the hairspray in the face trick one time too many and I don’t care to see her try anything else. That isn’t to say I want to see a fair fight, I simply want to see Miz be tricky all on his own,
F2H Prediction – Dolph Ziggler, via Disqualification; Miz retains the title
Nikki Bella vs Carmella – Singles Match
When Nikki Bella returned to the ring, I fully expected her to get a ridiculous push. Instead, she got her ass handed to her courtesy of the Princess of Staten Island. Carmella was once a hype girl for Enzo Amore and Big Cass when the trio was on NXT together. When her boys were drafted to Raw, she stayed behind and was able to establish herself as a singles competitor before being Smackdown’s final draft pick. She started out as her usual self, but quickly showed us her darker side once she felt that she was being upstaged by Bella. I have been enjoying this new side of Carmella, and I give WWE a lot of credit for not going the predictable route with a big Bella push. Provided they get a decent time slot to compete, this could turn into a really good bout.
F2H Prediction – Carmella
Heath Slater & Rhyno (c) vs The Usos – Tag Team Championship Match
The Usos turned heel and finally ditched their ridiculous wardrobe. Of course, now they look like gangbangers from a 90s after school special, but I’ll take what I can get. The real stars here are our Tag Team champions; Rhyno, Heath Slater, and all of Heath’s kids. Who could have guessed that Slater would be the top guy after he was completely left out of the draft? His journey to get a contract was a bumpy one and began with a lot of his typical jobbing. Thanks to Rhyno, he scored the tag titles, a contract, and has been creating comedy gold every week. Their success is a likely reason American Alpha was pulled from the title picture; no one is cheering for Alpha when Slater and Rhyno are so strong. I’m a bit worried about this match because you know how much WWE loves The Rock’s relatives, but at least Slater has his contract, his doublewide, and his above ground pool.
F2H Prediction – Heath Slater & Rhyno
Becky Lynch (c) vs Alexa Bliss –Women’s Championship Match
You can tell that Becky Lynch is a proud champion; she is incredibly excited to have won the title and is always eager to defend it. Alexa Bliss is as evil as she is small and earned the right to fight for Lynch’s title after beating out the other women on Smackdown’s roster (excluding Eva Marie, whose suspension is over, but she is still out of action). Bliss is quickly becoming one of my favorite female wrestlers, and is definitely my favorite on Smackdown. Nothing against Lynch, but I believe Bliss is much better in promos and has a better handle on her character. Coming off a female title match as the main event of Monday Night Raw, I hope these two really bring it tonight and try to upstage Charlotte and Sasha Banks.
F2H Prediction – Alexa Bliss
AJ Styles (c) vs Dean Ambrose vs John Cena – Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Hey, guys! John Cena is in the title picture again! At least it took him a little while to get there this time around. I keep forgetting that Styles is our Smackdown World champion, and that’s through no fault of his own. For some reason, this title fight has failed to hold my interest since the brand split. Styles has gotten one hell of a push to the top ever since his debut at the Royal Rumble. In less than a year, he dethroned Cena as “the face that runs the place,” plus won the top title in his brand. Dean Ambrose was an odd choice for champion; I was happy he won, but I’m also secretly happy he doesn’t hold the gold anymore. We all know that Cena is going to get at least one more title run. The question is, does it happen at just any PPV or is it saved for WrestleMania?
F2H Prediction – AJ Styles
The preshow will begin at 7pm EST on the WWE Network, with the main event beginning at 8pm EST. There are no preshow matches set at the time of this posting, but we suspect that Jack Swagger vs Baron Corbin will be a last minute addition. Follow us on Twitter (FaceToHeel, OhhhTweener, MrNotWell) as we live tweet the event and provide feedback after the show concludes.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
If you didn’t bother to tune in to the WWE Network Sunday night to see Smackdown Live presenting WWE Backlash, you should be forced to do the shame walk from Game of Thrones and then made to watch Santino promos for five hours. It was a spectacular event, maybe one of the best pay-per-views of the year thus far. I am more than excited to see what this episode brings us tonight. So let’s get into it.
The champ is here! (Those are A.J. Styles’ words, not mine.) The show kicks off with the Phenomenal new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He is cut short by John Cena. Womp-Womp. This was predictable as soon as Styles won. Cena says Styles has something that belongs to him and he wants the championship. Literally without question the safest, most boring option WWE could go with. Ghetto Cena does his played out gimmick; says he wants to be a 16-time world champion. Enter Dean Ambrose, angry and cutting a path right to the ring. Ambrose gets in the face of Styles and starts shooting off on the mic. Cena interrupts him and questions whether he even has balls. If that sounds familiar, it’s because John Cena uses the same promo against every opponent he has ever faced. Some form of testicles, balls, scrotum, sack, etc. Take your pick, he has one line. And for some reason the crowd always eats it up like it was the first time they saw a boob in middle school.
Shane McMahon comes out. He praises Ambrose and Styles in their performances at Backlash, until, he says, Styles took the easy way out. Shane sets up the umpteenth triple threat title match for No Mercy next month. Yawn. He sets up a tag match later. Cena and Ambrose vs Styles and an opponent of his choosing. All the progress Backlash made and now here we are retracing our steps back to Shitville and Mayor John Cena is once again shoved down our throats. I am so disappointed with this segment and everything that just took place. Commercial break.
The Hype Bros and The Usos are in the ring ready for a match when we return. Zack Ryder and Jey Uso start the match. Jey goes after Ryder’s injured and wrapped left leg. He isolates Ryder in their corner and tags in Jimmy. He works on the leg with multiple shots and then tags Jey back in. He puts an ankle lock on using his body as leverage. Mojo and Jimmy get tagged in and Mojo clobbers Jimmy in the corner. Jey distracts the ref and Jimmy rakes Mojo’s eyes. Super kick and mojo is down. Jey is tagged in and he splashes off the tap rope into the cover for the pinfall. Solid match. Only complaint is it was really short. I am enjoying this Uso heel turn and would have gladly watched them in action some more. Well told story, even in the brief few minutes all four men were in action.
Really lousy Curt Hawkins vignette after the break. They should have done something better with him. This crappy Chuck Norris Facts gimmick is just not getting me excited for his debut. The Miz and Maryse come down to the ring. He says he doesn’t care if everybody calls him a coward because he walked out of Backlash with his beautiful wife and the Intercontinental Championship. Miz calls himself a main-eventer and then The Showoff interrupts him. Ziggler says Miz is just trying to sell himself to himself because he doesn’t believe his own words. Ziggler wants a rematch with no wives, no gimmicks, just him and Miz. Maryse stutters through half a sentence and then Daniel Bryan comes out and says Dolph will get his rematch. Miz says he won’t defend his title until his contract is renegotiated. He storms out of the ring leaving Bryan and Ziggler (and wife, Maryse) confused. Backstage Styles runs into Baron Corbin in the hallway. He asks him to be his tag partner. Corbin says, “Your partner? I’d rather be your opponent. I want that title,” and then walks away into a commercial fade out.
He is coming down to the ring when we return, set to take on Apollo Crews, in a rematch from Sunday. Before the bell even rings, Corbin attacks Crews off the apron and then hits End of Days outside on the floor. Corbin gets back in the ring. Jack Swagger’s music hits. He walks out in a t-shirt and jeans with a backwards baseball cap. Corbin rolls out of the ring and leaves, which is disappointing. Swagger says he signed a contract with Smackdown Live. He cuts a weird promo about something. It was strange and I just laughed at him. Not sure about this frat boy gimmick.
Becky Lynch comes out, beaming from ear to ear with her new fancy title. She says Philadelphia (where Smackdown is tonight) is a fighting town and she’s a fighting champion so, and I quote, “Bring it brooooooooooos!” Naomi comes out in her blacklight entrance. This is about to be a Fatal-5-Way to determine Becky’s next challenger. Naomi’s opponents will be Nikki Bella, Natalya, Alexa Bliss, and Carmella. These ladies put on a fantastic match Sunday so I’m not dreading this one. When the bell rings, all five just go hard after each other. Lots of offense, lot of lovely bodies flying around. Nikki and Natalya are left in the ring. Nikki almost gets a pinfall but Carmella breaks it up. Good action throughout this one. I am eating a plate of ribs while I type this so apologies for the lack of details. Just enjoying watching these ladies work. Carmella kicks Nikki to the mat, but before she can cover, Alexa Bliss runs in and throws Carmella out of the ring. She covers Nikki for the win! New #1 Contender is Bliss’d! Yes! Styles backstage asks Kane to be his partner. He only laughs at AJ and walks away.
Shane in the ring after another commercial. He introduces Heath Slater bay-bay! He comes out with Rhyno. Crowd goes wild. This is so awesome. It has been a really great story the past few weeks. Shane says he is a man of his word and wants to make Heath’s job official. He hands him a contract. Slater signs it and crowd chants “You deserve it!” Slater says they will fight anybody, anytime, anywhere. The Ascension (UGHHHHH) interrupts and says how about them right now. Shane clears the ring and says get a ref out there. Commercial break. When we come back Ascension is viciously dominating. They run the ring for a few minutes, but they are no match for Rhyno’s GORE! Pinfall and they have their first successful title defense. Daniel Bryan found Styles a teammate. The weird-mouthed James Elsworth whose claim to fame is being squashed by Braun Strowman.
The Viper, Randy Orton comes down to the ring. Huge pop from the crowd for him and an RKO chant. Orton calls out Bray Wyatt. But instead of coming out, he has a foggy vignette. Wyatt cryptically tells Orton not to sleep. Cut to black and we come back to a dim arena. Bray leans against the announce table and stares at Orton. Randy beckons him into the ring. Bray takes his jacket and hat off, but Erick Rowan appears behind Orton and beats him down. Orton is down for a moment but then he just jumps up and hits a RKO. Lackluster segment for all.
AJ Styles comes down. Then his ridiculous partner, Elsworth comes walking out. The Miz pommels him from behind and hits a Skull Crushing Finale on the ramp. He looks in the camera and says, “He’s the main event, Daniel? This guy?! I’m the main event!” Miz gets in the ring and squares up to Styles. They shake hands! Miz is Styles’ tag team partner tonight! After the break, Miz is dominating Cena. Styles and Ambrose tag in and just go at each other. No love loss there. Miz sneaking attacks on Ambrose while the ref is distracted. Cena and Miz in and Cena does his patent pending Five Moves of Doom. Attitude Adjustment and Cena covers Miz for the win. Cena celebrates and Ambrose hits him with Dirty Deeds. Crowd boos? Ambrose yells at Cena he better never disrespect him again. Interesting. Dull match and a flat main event.
I enjoyed the broadcast for the most part, but the booking was strange. No Mercy is shaping up to be a pay-per-view that fans could afford to miss. What did you think of Smackdown Live tonight? Let us know in the comments below!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker