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
The Viper, Randy Orton, slithers to the ring at the start of the show. Starting off with a pun? Yeah, sure, why not. Orton gets on the mic and immediately calls out Bray Wyatt. He says the reason Bray is so obsessed with fear is because he’s afraid of Orton. The Viper says if Bray is man enough then he should get his ass to the ring right now. Wyatt Family sound and we cut to Bray cutting a promo backstage in the dark. He alludes to the story of Hansel and Gretel and says he left his own trail of breadcrumbs for Randy to follow. Then calls himself a god. He says if Randy wants to hurt him he better hurry up. Then he shows an hour glass and says the sands of time are running out. This promo is just all over the map. Desperate times for creatively buried Bray Wyatt. The big screen fades out and Orton rolls out of the ring and walks up the ramp. Flat segment and provided absolutely no new reason to get even remotely excited about their upcoming match.
Dean Ambrose interviewed backstage. He says AJ Styles keeps bragging about beating John Cena, but Ambrose beat Cena last week so he says that it’s old news. He plans on making Styles cry in their title match later tonight. First commercial break at 8:10. So far, Smackdown is not beating Raw. At least they started with a match.
When we return, there are way too many people in the ring. We’re about to have an 8-man tag team match. Goodie. Heath Slater and Rhyno with American Alpha to take on The Ascension and The Usos, who come out to new entrance music. They walk out dressed like Hispanic gangbangers. The Usos start the match isolating Chad Gable and working his taped knee into the commercial break. When we return Gable is still down. Everybody but Slater and Jey Uso go down and Gable finally gets Slater the hot tag. He drops Jey with a neckbreaker but Konnor breaks it up. Jimmy tags in and puts the Tequila Sunrise submission on Slater and he taps out. Short match with nothing new.
John Cena, excuse me….Ghetto Cena, is interviewed backstage. He says at No Mercy he will be a 16-time champion. The Miz and Maryse are shown. Miz covers a hallway photo of Lebron James with a poster of Miz holding the IC Belt. HaHa. Then we cut to Randy Orton looking at some weird pickaxe hanging on the wall in the shadows. He turns it, making an arrow point which he follows. As Orton leaves, Erick Rowan turns the axe the other way. What is the point of all this? I’m bored. That was too many cuts at once with multiple segments just hastily thrown together. Not a good broadcast for Smackdown thus far tonight. Commercial break.
After, Bray Wyatt is shown with the hour glass half run through. He says Orton is running out of time. In the ring, Carmella and Natalya are set to take on Naomi and Nikki Bella. Carmella and Naomi start the match. Sloppy match to start and it only runs for about a minute before yet another commercial break. When we return, Natalya is beating Naomi outside the ring. Near fall back in the ring. Crowd just not into this one, and I can’t really blame them. Carmella tags and continues beating down Naomi who can’t catch a break. She is limping on her right leg. Natalya tagged back in and continues working on Naomi. She is taking a whooping. Nikki finally tags in and for some reason the crowd cheers her. Nikki goes after Carmella but she rakes Nikki in the eyes. She kicks Naomi off the apron and rolls Nikki up for the pinfall.
Randy Orton backstage with creepy red messages painted all over the walls. He enters a door marked I AM A GOD, slowly creeping the door open. Inside is a cardboard cut out of Orton with its eyes missing. He opens another door marked PREDATOR OR PREY. Erick Rowan hides on the other side, but Orton doesn’t enter. He closes the door and walks away. Rowan shakes the handle on the other side and we go to commercial. What in the holy hell are we even watching? This might be the worst episode of Smackdown Live since the brand split. I know Donald Trump fried all our brains last night, but this is bad even for WWE Creative.
The Miz comes out, finally breathing some life into the broadcast. Can’t believe I’m saying that in 2016, but it’s the truth. Miz celebration ceremony. Red carpet in the ring, posters of him in the corners, fireworks shot off at the top of the ramp. Maryse introduces her husband. He gets a lackluster welcome from his home crowd. Then we get to see a Miz build promo package from his Real World days until now. Miz says, “Cleveland, I’m home.” and this time the crowd cheers for him. Then he gets a cheap pop mentioning the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. He says over a million people paraded for them when they won but all he got was a lousy ring setup. He calls Lebron James a traitor and the crowd has turned on him again. HaHa. He welcomes his parents sitting ringside. Dolph Ziggler’s parents are also ringside. He says they created “an elite level, world class loser.” Ziggler’s music hits and he comes to the ring. Maryse keeps Ziggler back. Ziggler calls Miz a cheater and goes to leave. Miz asks him when he’s going to just end his mediocre career. Miz says Ziggler’s career makes him sick and he would be embarrassed if it was his. Miz then utterly destroys Ziggler verbally and it is pretty brutal. Ziggler says give him one more title shot and if he loses he is gone from WWE. “I either walk out champion….or I’m done.” And Miz says at No Mercy in two weeks, career versus title match. Hell yes.
After the break, Bray Wyatt in the back doing another bout of rambling. Becky Lynch comes down the ramp. Alexa Bliss runs down and attacks her from behind. She takes her belt off and tells Becky she doesn’t deserve it. Curt Hawkins vignette that is super lame. And commercial. Then more Bray Wyatt BS. This is hard to watch. The crowd is hitting him with WHAT!? chants after every sentence. Orton stands up behind Bray wearing the sheep mask. Bray turns and gets punched and the two start fighting. Bray runs off as Randy laughs. Randy puts the sheep mask on and starts singing He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands with audio masked with Bray talking. Not sure what that is about. Crowd is so bored they start a New Day Rocks chant.
John Cena joins commentary which only solidifies how much I hate this episode of Smackdown. Dean Ambrose comes down, followed by his opponent, AJ Styles. This match is for the WWE World Championship. The fight spills out to the announce table. Commercial. After we come back, Styles is running the table in the ring. Having a hard time concentrating on the match because Cena talks through the entire thing. The crowd injecting a lot of life into an otherwise generic match. Cloverleaf by Ambrose, then a Calf Crusher by Styles. Neither man submits. Finally some action as Ambrose violently clotheslines Styles off the top rope. Styles misses badly with a 450 splash springboard. Ambrose climbs to the top of the turnbuckle and drops an elbow on Styles. Cover, but kick out at two. Ambrose attacks John Cena on commentary. Cena tries to get in the ring but the ref stops him and misses a pin. Ambrose attacks Cena and then Styles rolls him up for the pinfall. After, Cena gets in Ambrose’s face as Styles walks out. Ambrose tries a Dirty Deeds, but Cena counters into an Attitude Adjustment. Styles attacks Cena from behind but he hits another Attitude Adjustment and then lifts the championship up. Dreadful.
If it wasn’t for the title and didn’t have Cena on commentary, that was the Smackdown of old main event. People are going to call it awesome though. Very bad episode of Smackdown tonight. Strike two for WWE this week. If not for The Miz and Dolph Ziggler, there was nothing worth mentioning. Not sure why Creative has fell off this week, but hard to get interested in the product at the moment. What did you all think of the broadcast? Let us know in the comments below.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
— We kicked off the week shooting around some scenarios with John Cena’s future as a part-timer, retiring The Undertaker, and moving the WWE into a younger generation. We learned that Shelton Benjamin was injured and his WWE future is questionable at this particular point in time. He will most likely need surgery and may be on the injured list for several months.
— Monday Night Raw gave us the go home show leading up to tonight’s pay-per-view. We saw a women’s tag match, Rusev taking on Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns versus Kevin Owens in a steel cage! Plus, the introduction of the Cruiserweights. All this and more in our full review of RAW.
— Smackdown Live came at us on Tuesday and featured The Usos can full dark side, American Alpha’s return, The Miz forced to defend his Intercontinental Championship, and The Viper, Randy Orton, in action. The main event was John Cena against Dean Ambrose in singles competition. Read all about it HERE.
— Taped from Full Sail, NXT arrived on the WWE Network on Wednesday. Samoa Joe gave William Regal a very stern ultimatum about Shinsuke Nakamura and the rest of the locker room. Cruiserweight Classic Tournament competitor, Cedric Alexander, made his NXT in-ring debut. And Austin Aries called out Hideo Itami. Read all about the latest taping right HERE.
— Dixie Carter won the week with yet another fantastic episode of TNA’s Impact Wrestling. The stage is slowly being set for Bound For Glory. We saw the Grand Championship tournament finals lock in their last two, Maria Kanellis-Bennett public training, an X-Division Championship match, and a four-man tag team match for the main event featuring Lashley, EC3, Moose, and The Miracle. Read about the entire stellar broadcast HERE.
— The last NJPW before Wrestle Kingdom came to us from AXSTV on Friday, featuring a CMLL World Welterweight Championship title defense, and a tag match between four warring competitors. The main event was Hiroshi Tanahashi and Katsuyori Shibata taking on Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii, and boy did they go to war. Read the full play-by-play HERE.
— And of course, tonight is WWE’s Clash of Champions PPV live from Indianapolis, IN. Face To Heel will be live from the arena! We will try to Tweet, get lots of photos, and soak in every wonderful moment. Read all about our full match predictions HERE and be sure to follow our site and our writers on twitter: @FaceToHeel, @OhhhTweener, @MrNotWell. Enjoy the show everybody and we’ll see you tomorrow for Monday Night Raw!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Shelton Benjamin was scheduled to return back to the WWE ring in August. Unfortunately for him, and wrestling fans, he is now on the injured list after the discovery of a tear in his rotator cuff.
He recently spoke on the Jim Ross Report podcast and stated he has been wrestling actively with the tear for more than two months. After taking an awkward Suplex in a New Japan Pro match, Benjamin landed squarely on his shoulder, taking his and his opponents weight full on it. He continued to wrestle and felt soreness but did not realize the full extent of his injury.
Benjamin was signed in July, and was teased with a vignette on Smackdown Live. However, once the injury was fully explored it was determined he was not medically cleared to wrestle after his full physical examination. He is slated for surgery sometime in the near future and the date to his return to action is currently unknown. Shelton Benjamin is a former WWE United States, Intercontinental, and Tag Team Champion. It’s a shame he was put on the back burner, but WWE has wonderful doctors and there will no doubt be a triumphant return for The Gold Standard.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Editor’s Note: Last Friday, I had a very interesting day-long conversation with @THEmtg3drinks on Twitter which spurred some fascinating off the cuff ideas. Using that convo led me to write this article. Many thanks, friend.
Dean Ambrose was a poor WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy. He’s entertaining. He’s good for a laugh. But his workrate is lousy and if his opponent isn’t really good and pushing him, he just doesn’t come through like a champion should. His mic work is questionable and there are several other guys on the Smackdown Live roster who are more deserving and better suited for carrying the title. Enter A.J. Styles.
No one can argue that Styles has had a memorable year. He made his debut at the Royal Rumble, foregoing NXT and jumping straight to the main roster. He got a title shot, he beat John Cena, and now he has won the championship faster than any person before him. It’s been an incredible journey. Unfortunately, John Cena is still breathing air. And now that Ambrose has dropped the belt to Styles, it’s inevitable that he collides with Cena.
Despite Cena’s polarizing effect on the WWE Universe, for better or worse, he is destined to be a 16-time champion. In fact, he will be at least a 17-time champion before his career is over. Not because he’s better than Ric Flair, but most likely because Vince McMahon will always consider Flair to be a WCW guy, and Vince is too petty to let the record holder be any one other than a tried-and-true WWE Superstar. All that has been said to say this: AJ Styles is probably going to drop the title to John Cena at some point in the near future.
Whether this happens sooner or later remains to be seen. But the safe bet is that, at the very least, John Cena walks into the Smackdown side of WrestleMania 33 as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Wait, put your cackles down and don’t throw that rotten tomato at me. Hear me out. I have a plan.
The Undertaker is running on fumes. He’s past his expiration date and seriously needs to retire. But he’s been The Man in Black for so many years, that he can’t just up and quit. As the premiere (and most eclectic) storyteller in the business of professional wrestling, he needs a grand exit. Fast forward to Royal Rumble next year. They do one for Raw, they do one for Smackdown. (Hold your grumbles until the end, please.) Undertaker comes out of nowhere as the #30 entrant to the Smackdown side. And wins. Cena vs The Undertaker at WrestleMania. The caveat: if Cena wins, Undertaker has to retire; if Taker wins, he gets the championship. At this point everyone thinks this is Undertaker’s retirement match. But in a surprise twist, Undertaker wins the title!
The next Tuesday on Smackdown, Undertaker comes out and says he beat the man, won the belt, and has nothing else to prove. He says he is retiring. Shane McMahon interrupts and demands he give the belt back. Instead, Undertaker Tombstones Shane and then walks out with the belt, retiring this current version of it. Smackdown gets a new shiny title, Undertaker goes out as a champion, and Cena actually gets a boost in fan love because he did the job for Undertaker on his final go home match.
This current version of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was introduced by an old school, Attitude Era guy. So it makes sense to retire it with an old, old, old school and Attitude Era guy. Think about it. The Rock brought in and held this title, Triple H held this title (and was the “gateway” for the new up and comers to go through to get it: Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose) and, finally, The Undertaker walks into the twilight with this title. It’s a fantastic story and will make a killer DVD. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship is reintroduced in a new format with a new Smackdown themed look, and everybody wins. Cena looks like a hero, Undertaker leaves after firing all the bullets in his gun, and people are talking about Smackdown Live and their title for months to come.
The aftermath is The Undertaker is put into the Hall of Fame at WrestleMania 34, John Cena will get his 17th title reign with an authentic, new title, and everyone will be tuning in to see Cena take on The Undertaker to make WrestleMania 33 one of the most watched pay-per-views in history. It makes sense for John Cena to retire The Undertaker as on Cena’s debut night, he shockingly was encouraged by and even shook hands with The Undertaker on live television. This will be the last hurrah of Taker, and the last final mega push for Cena. He will get one more title reign, but nothing as extravagant as this. He can slide over into a part-time role; heck, maybe even turn heel. Or possibly become a Raw or Smackdown GM after the next roster draft lottery.
I hate John Cena and even I like this idea. It’s a win-win for everybody, especially Vince who will just laugh maniacally as he collects huge fat checks. The Raw side of WrestleMania next year is going to be just fine with all the best stars climbing over each other for that Universal Championship. This is a fun and unique way to give Smackdown a giant moment and keep both brands at the top of their game. And since Cena has never taken on Undertaker at WrestleMania, it seems fair for him to get That Moment. I mean, c’mon, Triple H has done it three times. What do you think? Wishful thinking, great idea, or obnoxious pipedream? Please let us know in the comments below!
Article by Jamie Curtis 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
Greetings, pro-wrestling fans! This has been a very interesting week in the world of sports entertainment! We shit the bed on Monday and Tuesday and missed our weekly Raw and Smackdown Live episodes. Our sincere apologies. Our laptop bit the bullet and left us stranded. We had to improvise most of the week but we are finally back and better than ever! So here’s what you may have missed this week in wrestling.
— The late, great Mr. Fuji got his own Collection added to the WWE Network featuring his work as a solo competitor, tag partner, and manager. Alberto Del Rio officially got released by the WWE. Fans around the world were left wondering if his girlfriend, WWE Superstar Paige, was transitioning out of the company as well. The beloved fan favorites American Alpha took their tag team antics to Sportscenter’s Off The Top Rope Wednesday night to discuss their start as partners, amateur careers, and future as a team. The Coach kept it light and it was just a likable interview for the pair of future Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
— Wednesday night gave us some serious wrestling action as NXT saw four matches during the hour long broadcast including: Shinsuke Nakamura, Austin Aries, Ember Moon, and TM61. It was a fun show and the Full Sail Crowd was lively. Read all about it HERE. Following NXT, the WWE Network gave us the final round of quarter-final matches for the Cruiserweight Classic. Zack Sabre Jr. took on Noam Dar and T.J. Perkins wrestled Rich Swann. It was two more classic matches for the CWC and set the stage for next week’s live two hour finale. See who made the Final Four in our full review.
— Thursday Night! I knew you’d come! Yes, TNA brought us a brand new episode of Impact Wrestling. And yes, Broken Matt Hardy treated the entire world to another fantastically epic moment in pro-wrestling history. Decay (Rosemary, Abyss, Crazzy Steve) invaded Cameron, North Carolina and tried to steal King Maxell. It was one for the history books as Decay or Delete gave us more fireworks, more green mist, and more insane Hardy moments than ever before. And if that wasn’t enough, Gail Kim tagged with Jade, the King of the Mountain Championship was retired, and The Miracle got an opponent for Bound For Glory. Don’t hesitate to read all about #ImpactOnPOP!
— AXSTV brought us some killer tag team action on Friday’s new episode of New Japan Pro Wrestling. It was worth watching and featured some of Japan’s biggest names. Read all about the phenomenal hour long broadcast HERE. We don’t typically cover UFC on here, but we did this past Saturday as UFC 203 saw the debut of former WWE World Champion CM Punk in the octagon. Unfortunately it was a brutal first fight. Mickey Gall tapped Punk out in the first round. We covered the event briefly HERE.
— And of course, last night Smackdown Live presented the 2016 Backlash pay-per-view. It was a premiere event and was arguably one of the best live WWE Network shows put on so far this year. We crowned a first time ever Smackdown Women’s Champion, first time ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions, and both the Intercontinental and World titles were defended. Who won? Who retained? Well, you don’t think we’re gonna give that information away here do ya?! You have to go read our article with full match results and feedback. That’s all for now. See you tonight for Monday Night Raw!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
For ill or for gain, history is being made tonight. Smackdown Live is debuting it’s first stand-alone PPV on the WWE Network, Backlash. The match card is not very stacked. It would appear they have a low number of matches for a three hour event. It was announced moments ago that Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews would square off in the pre-show. But first, #SignHeathSlater was trending as he and Rhyno join Tom Phillips in the social media lounge. First question is what if Heath loses. Slater says he can’t lose because he has everything riding on the line. Heath says when they win he is buying tiki-torches to put all around his above-ground pool. Rhyno and Slater are hilarious in tandem, playing off each other to the viewer’s delight. Rhyno is excited to win so that they don’t have to swim at the community pool anymore. And he wants Slater to take his family to Golden Corral. When asked about a possible tag team name they joke: “Beauty and the Man-Beast.” We will be live posting and updating this article throughout the broadcast.
Alexa Bliss joins the pre-show panel wearing her hair, make-up and ring gear like a cool Harley Quinn costume. She cuts a promo saying she has plans for tonight and that everyone is looking at the new Smackdown Live Women’s Champion. Renee Young says she is tiny but terrible. She seems ready for the Women’s Six Pack Challenge later this evening.
JBL, Mauro Ranallo and David Otunga are shown ringside and we are ready for some in-ring action. Apollo Crews comes out to a decent pop from the crowd. The stadium is mostly filled at this point which is good. Many times the pre-show matches have a lot of empty seats. When Baron Corbin’s music hits, crowd is vocally polarized. If it was ten years ago, it would seem that Corbin’s path would most definitely have to cross Kane at some point. Grappling to start, Corbin tosses Crews off. They pace each other and then lock up again. There is bad blood between these two due to run-in’s down in NXT. Huge shoulder tackle off the ropes from Corbin to put Crews down. Crews pops up and dropkicks the big man. Crews tries a springboard off the top rope but Corbin clobbers him with a massive punch and he tumbles off the apron to the floor below. Commercial break.
When we return both men are in the ring and it’s more of Corbin dominating Crews. A kick on the apron gives Crews some breathing room. He hits a leaping lariat and finally puts Corbin down. Corbin recovers and whips Crews into the corner, and then punches him in the back of the head. Crowd boos as Corbin unleashes a flurry of punches. He knees Crews in the face. Devastating clothesline by Corbin and he covers Crews. Mere two count and the crowd can’t believe it. Running knee by Crews and both men are down. Referee starts a 10 count. Both men up at 8. A kick and a standing moonsault by Crews and he covers Corbin but no dice as he kicks out at two. Olympic slam by Crews but again Corbin kicks out. Corbin hits a Deep Six and covers Crews, but he kicks out. Crowd fired up now. Outside of the ring Corbin tries to run at Crews, but he moves and Corbin collides with the steel steps. Crews gets him back in the ring, climbs the top rope but Corbin rolls away. Crews jumps down and punches Corbin in the corner. Corbin explodes out with an End of Days and covers for the pinfall victory. That was a well-done match for these two. Might have been the best we have seen Baron Corbin on the main roster. And Apollo Crews was as good as ever. High marks for just a pre-show match.
Pretty epic, long promo package for AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose at 7:57. They are really hyping this match up. I hope the actual match delivers. The pre-show panel is split on which one will walk out as the champion. Hopefully the match will be a straight up, clean bout. If John Cena runs in to do something, that will really take away the title’s credibility. On the first ever Smackdown Live pay-per-view, we don’t need any gimmicks or shenanigans in the main event.
Here Comes The Money! The Smackdown Live commissioner, Shane McMahon comes down to the ring. General Manager, Daniel Bryan, then comes down to his typical, huge crowd reaction. A YES! chant starts. And if anybody wondered how they would fill three hours with only six matches, well here we are. Shane thanks the production crew, staff, roster, and audience for Smackdown Live’s success. Shane goes over the title matches for the night and ends with talking about the Sixpack Challenge for the Women’s Title which is kicking off the show! Becky Lynch comes down, fired up. Natalya walks out looking confused as to whether she is a face or heel. Her character has been in limbo for a long while. Naomi comes out to her bright lite dance show which is terrific to watch. She may be the dark horse to steal the belt tonight. With this gimmick having her run with the title is fine by me. Alexa Bliss comes out, followed by Carmella. Those are the two I hope win the new title. Nikki Bella comes out last. My son groans, as did my wife, as did I. We all hate the Bella’s in this household! All six women in at once and single elimination for this one.
Female brawl to start, clearing out the ring and leaving Naomi and Lynch to square off. Naomi strikes Lynch with a bunch of kicks, but then Lynch throws her over the top rope. Carmella attacks her from behind and tries a cover. Kick out at two. Nikki gets in the ring and faces off against her nemesis Carmella. Natalya and Bliss attack both from behind. Natalya throws Carmella into the barricade as Bliss puts Nikki down and tries a cover. Nikki jumps off the second rope and kicks Bliss. Near fall, but Bliss kicks out at two. Basement dropkick from Natalya on Bliss as Niki rolls out of the ring. Lynch comes in and takes Natalya and Bliss down. Suplex by Natalya on Lynch. I am struggling to keep up with all the action, which is a rare statement for a women’s match. Proud of all these ladies putting on a fantastic match. The ring clears out and Nikki goes ballistic on Carmella. Carmella gets Nikki in the Code of Silence, but Nikki gets out. She slams Carmella and covers, but a kickout from Ms. Fabulous. No one eliminated yet. Superplex/powerbomb from Natalya, Carmella and Nikki in the corner. Took too long to setup. But they nailed it and it looked nice. Crowd starts a “This Is Awesome!” chant. Carmella and Bliss square off. Carmella dumps her out, Nikki dumps Carmella out. Five women down outside, Naomi off the top rope, spring-boarding down and taking out all of them. She nearly slips on the rope, but thankfully she pulled it off.
Bliss punches Natalya in the corner. Naomi and Natalya absolutely destroy Bliss with a suplex powerbomb. Naomi covers her and she is gone. Natalya then locks in the Sharp Shooter on Naomi. She taps out in a matter of seconds. Natalya takes out Carmella and then Nikki clothesline Natalya. Backbreaker on Nattie and Nikki covers. Three count and Natalya is gone. Carmella small package on Nikki and she eliminates her! Yes! Crowd starts a chant for Becky. Becky puts the Dissarmer submission on Carmella and makes her tap! Becky Lynch is the first ever Smackdown Women’s Champion! After the match, Becky is interviewed in near tears. She thanks the crowd, who cheer her on. Nice start to the show, proper booking, this pay-per-view has been great so far.
Bray Wyatt is shown backstage attacking Randy Orton. He slams his leg in a door before a ref intervenes. Orton is rumored to not be competing and Kane will take his place. Very disappointing. The Usos come out in new ring gear, no face paint. Heel turn complete. The Hype Bros come out next. The winner of this match faces Heath Slater and Rhyno later tonight. Mojo and Ryder look strong to start, really taking it to the Usos. Huge missile dropkick off the apron by Ryder and then Mojo shoulder tackles both Usos nearly out of their shoes. Loving this match so far! Things slow down as Jey goes to work on Ryder. The Usos isolate Ryder, not letting him get a tag. Ryder hits a hangman’s neckbreaker out of nowhere and plants Jey. Mojo reaches out for a tag. Jimmy gets a tag instead and he runs across the ring to knock Mojo off the apron. Jimmy and Jey double team Ryder. He clears the ring and manages to get Mojo in. Stinger splash by Mojo and he hits a military press slam on Jey. He tags Ryder who hits a Frankensteiner on Jey, but Jimmy breaks up the pin. As Ryder is distracted by Jimmy, Jey takes him out at the knee. Half crab submission and Ryder has no choice but to tap out. The bad guy Usos are here to stay. And I think I like them. They advance to fight Slater and Rhyno for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships later tonight.
Dolph Ziggler comes down next, challenging The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. Before Miz comes out, he is shown backstage talking to Daniel Bryan. He demands a contract negotiation to be “paid like the A-lister I am.” Bryan is silent. The Miz says, “What? Nothing to say? And you call me a coward.” He sends Bryan back to his “cubby-hole” and enters the arena with wife, Maryse. This match should be good. Feels like the Ziggler/Miz feud is what the Ziggler/Ambrose feud could have and should have been. Spine buster by Ziggler right out of the gate. Miz rolls out of the ring to regroup. Mat grappling by Ziggler once Miz rolls back in. He shows his amateur skills. Miz fights back with a punch and a slam. Crowd boos. Ziggler off the ropes and he lands two dropkicks on Miz. Miz catapults Ziggler against the bottom rope. Cover but Ziggler kicks out at two. Bow and arrow stretch by Miz and Ziggler screams in pain. Miz catapults Ziggler out of the ring. Miz takes control for a few minutes. He hits three dropkicks in a row in the corner.
He taunts Daniel Bryan and then hits a running clothesline on Ziggler. Miz hops up to the top rope and drops off with a double ax handle on Ziggler. Skull Crushing Finale attempt by Miz but Ziggler blocks it and dropkicks him. Both men down. Ziggler recovers, hits a swinging neckbreaker, spinebuster and then drops an elbow. He covers but Miz kicks out at two. Miz crashes shoulder first into the corner. Ziggler tries a Zig Zag, but Miz powerbombs him off the ropes then down to the mat. He covers, but Ziggler kicks out. That was a lovely series of moves. The crowd has been fired up throughout this entire broadcast and have stayed lit for this match as well. Zig Zag by Ziggler, but Miz kicks out. Crowd in a frenzy. Headlock by Ziggler as he leaps on Miz’s back. He drops to one knee, face turning red. Miz runs Ziggler into the turnbuckle and he collapses. DDT by Ziggler and he covers but a long two count is all he gets. Super kick by Ziggler but Miz blocks it and hits a DDT into a Figure Four Leglock. Ziggler screams. Ziggler takes a long time to crawl to the rope, but he manages and the ref breaks the hold. Miz kicks him in the face. Miz tries another leglock but Ziggler kicks him in the butt. When he turns around, superkick by Ziggler. He covers, but Miz reaches his leg out and touches the bottom rope with his toe. Ref stops the count. That was a really nice false finish. Both men out of the ring and ref starts a 10 count. Ziggler gets him in. When the ref is distracted, Maryse sprays Ziggler in the face. Skull Crushing Finale and Miz retains.
Bray Wyatt comes to the ring amidst his fireflies. Due to injury Randy Orton is not cleared to compete tonight. Bray Wyatt wants the 10 count to signify his victory via forfeit. Bell rings and the ref starts a 10 count. He rings the bell and Wyatt gets up on the corner and holds his arms out. The announcer informs us all of his victory. However, he says, Bray Wyatt will have a no holds barred match against Kane! What!? Thank you Shane and Daniel! Bell rings and they just go after each other. The history between these two has already been established. We don’t need a gimmick or a story. Just let them go at it. They quickly spill out of the ring and Kane clears the announce table. Bray hits him with the ring bell then slams his head against the apron. Wyatt picks up a chair. But Kane socks him in the mouth. In the ring Bray clobbers Kane with a steel chair. This one is just brutal. What a great idea to throw this in the middle of the pay-per-view. Smart booking.
Outside the ring, Wyatt takes apart one of the other announce tables. He lays Kane on one and stands on the next one over. He poses like Randy Orton and then leaps back first into Kane, breaking the table. Crowd starts a “Holy Shit!” chant. Back in the ring, Bray attempts a Sister Abigail but Kane blocks it and chokeslams him. Cover, but Bray kicks out at two. Kane puts a chair on the mat and runs a thumb across his throat. He picks Bray up but instead Wyatt counters and slams Kane into the chair. He covers but a kickout at two. Bray can’t believe it. Randy Orton limps out, crowd goes wild. Bray stares him down. Kane sits up. Orton comes in the ring and RKO’s Bray Wyatt. Crowd erupts. Kane chokeslams Bray against the chair and covers him. Three seconds later and Bray Wyatt’s pay-per-view losing streak continues. I’m not sold on the outcome, but you can’t hate on that match. It was damn good. Nice palette cleanser for the rest of the broadcast.
Time to determine who is going to be the inaugural Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions. Heel Usos come down first followed by Slater and Rhyno who get a huge pop. Rhyno and Jey start and the crowd starts an “E-C-DUB!” chant. Slater tags in but the Usos double team him and suplex him into the steel post outside the ring. They isolate Slater, not allowing him to tag. The Usos do a great job as heels. Everytime Slater is close to a tag they either pull him to the mat or they kick Rhyno away. It’s fun to watch. This is how you tell a good story. Slater and Jey collide and both men are down. Heath crawls around trying to find his corner. He does and tags in Rhyno who quickly takes the Usos apart. Belly to belly suplex on Jimmy. Slater tags himself in and hits a pair of neckbreakers on the Usos. He kicks Jimmy in the gut and hits a DDT. He covers, but Jey pulls him out of the ring. Superkick by Jimmy, but Rhyno hits him with Gore! Slater rolls in, covers, and that’s all she wrote! Crowd goes wild! Your first Tag Team Champions for the Smackdown brand are Heath Slater and Rhyno! Slater has a contract! Yes! Crowd starts a “You deserve it!” chant. Heath says, “This is probably the biggest night of my life. You know, besides, like a couple of my kids being bored.” He yells to his wife they’re getting a double-wide. This is a great moment.
Dean Ambrose defends his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against AJ Styles for tonight’s main event. Styles is introduced as The Face Who Runs The Place. Some light grappling to start. Ambrose does some good arm drags. Nothing much exciting happens at the beginning. The crowd starts a chant for JBL. Styles argues with the ref multiple times. Offense finally gets going with Ambrose hitting a backdrop. Styles trips him into the rope, throat first. Crowd split with dueling chants for both. The pacing is a little stagnant in this one. Not sure why these two chose to move this slow, but the crowd is still into it. The pair botch a move off the top rope. Not sure what it was supposed to be but both slam into the mat awkwardly and are down. Ref starts a 10 count. Styles rolls outside of the ring and Ambrose drops an elbow on him off the top rope. Back in the ring, Styles suplexes Ambrose into the turnbuckles. The match is slow and methodical, but not necessarily boring. Just seems like an odd flow considering all the highs we’ve had all night. Styles locks in the calf crusher submission. Ambrose struggles to the bottom rope and manages to break the hold. Styles goes for the Styles Clash but Ambrose grabs the ropes. On the apron, Ambrose catapults Styles into the steel apron. Back in the ring, Styles lifts Ambrose into a firemen’s carry and then flips Ambrose into a neckbreaker.
Springboard 450 Splash into a cover by Styles. Ambrose narrowly kicks out. Ambrose dropkicks Styles out of the ring and then leaps out after him. He throws Styles into and over the announce table. Then he throws him into the crowd. He climbs the announce tables and jumps over the barricade to drop an elbow on Styles. Back in the ring Ambrose clothesline Styles head over heels. Ambrose tries Dirty Deeds, but Ambrose runs into the ref. Low blow by Styles and he hits a really terrible Styles Clash that he almost botches. He covers and the ref counts to three. Styles wins and holds the belt above his head. Well, is something about to happen? It’s only 10:37. Feels like we still have another ten minutes to go. Styles walks up the ramp laughing, clutching the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to his chest. But no, the trademark box pops up and this one is over. Really weird early finish. But pretty decent match for the world title.
Overall, the pay-per-view itself was maybe one of the best WWE has done this year. The pre-show match was excellent, even being slated in a bad spot. Both men really did a fantastic job firing up the crowd and keeping them excited for the main show. The show kicked off in a shocking manner with the women’s Sixpack Challenge which was jam packed with terrific action. One of the best female matches we have seen in awhile and the right lady won. The Usos had a very successful heel turn and demonstrated they are new and improved against The Hype Bros. And that was just the first hour! The Miz and Dolph Ziggler made the Intercontinental Championship match matter, putting on a near-flawless match. The ending probably made some people mad, but Miz is a heel. And he does whatever it takes to hold on to his prestigious title. Besides, having a wonky finish protected Ziggler a little bit. Kane and Bray Wyatt had a hell of a match. The finish is questionable. Not sure why Wyatt became the permanent jobber at pay-per-views, but the match was fun to watch. And technically he beat Randy Orton in the record books. Slater and Rhyno are so over and their win solidifies their place at the table. Loved the match, loved the outcome. AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose put on a good match for the WWE Heavyweight Championship. But it was very slow and didn’t really wow me. If I had one complaint for the night it would be just utterly being done with Ambrose as champion. This match tonight shined a spotlight on the fact he can’t carry a match and is not main event material. Throughout the match you can clearly see him calling spots the whole time. And to me it looked like Styles was having to hinder himself in order to keep up with Ambrose’s slow, clunky style. But the crowd and commentary were amazing all night tonight. Even David Otunga wasn’t completely horrible. Overall just a really solid show from Smackdown tonight. No lulls in action, no boring segments. I was very impressed. What did you think of tonight’s show? Let us know in the comments below! See you tomorrow for Monday Night Raw!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Last night Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, known by their tag team name American Alpha, joined Jonathan “The Coach” Coachman for Sportscenter’s Off The Top Rope WWE segment. This was recorded prior to the events that unfolded on Smackdown Live with The Usos acting them and ruining their chances for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships.
The boys discuss their excitement with being called to the main roster and the difference between the WWE and NXT locker rooms, as well as the difference between amateur and professional wrestling crowds. The main difference they say is that in amateur wrestling you are trained to block out the crowd and concentrate. For WWE they have to embrace the crowd and feed off their energy to make the match better.
Jordan jokes about how Gable kept bothering him to be a tag partner and it took awhile for him to warm to the idea. But once they got together the chemistry was real and he knew they were meant to be a team. The duo discuss how their tag team name came to be, with both men considering themselves the alphas of NXT. It was a short interview, but continued to show just how well these two mesh together.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker