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
Earlier this year, Matt Hardy turned heel, winning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship from Ethan Carter III in January. What started as a subtle, typical pro-wrestling story, evolved into an ever expanding universe of strange weirdness. After being injured (in kayfabe) by his brother Jeff in an I Quit Match soon after claiming the title, Matt was taken to the hospital. When Matt returned in May he at first was merely a Willow imposter, attacking Jeff from behind. This would crescendo into Matt Hardy becoming “broken” at the hands of his brother, and giving wrestling fans some of the most delightfully bizarre television we have ever seen.
As we reported back in July, the Broken Matt Hardy angle was one of the best things TNA has ever done. Period. Matt crept out of the gate with an odd accent and a white streak in his hair. It was weird and not well received by fans as they questioned just what in the hell Dixie Carter and Billy Corgan were thinking, or if they even were. But where WWE might have cut their losses and abandoned the gimmick, TNA battened down the hatches and ran with it, refusing to give up on Matt’s creation until it was completely exhausted. And things at TNA have been all the better because of it. Matt continued to groom and nurture the Broken gimmick, battling Jeff in every possible way until finally defeating him at his Cameron, North Carolina home in what was called The Final Deletion and awarded Broken Matt with the sole custodianship of “the Hardy Brand.”
The Final Deletion was glorious and that was even after the previous weeks featuring vignettes, Full Metal Mayhem, and Six Sides of Steel in the Impact Zone. It featured an outdoor match with a ring in the middle of the forest, Tiki-torches, fireworks (being shot at human beings) and things being set on fire. What we assumed was the apex of the entire Broken Matt Hardy saga, ended up being just the beginning! Soon after, Brother Nero became Obsolete Jeff. Then in an amazing twist, Matt caused Jeff to snap and now he too was broken!
Jeff began to come out to a new obsolete theme song, wearing solid white contact lenses and giving up his bread-and-butter “spotfest monkey” moves that were his claim to fame throughout his career. All the while, Broken Matt Hardy refined his gimmick coming up with new and clever accents, vignettes, and pre-taped video packages that helped strengthen and solidify TNA’s ratings. Every time it seems like the Broken Matt Hardy angle has worn out its welcome, he surprises everyone with something even more over the top and hilarious than he has ever done before.
Matt was recently on the Talk is Jericho podcast and said it was important for Impact Wrestling to find their own way and identity, claiming: “My broken universe is something different that has never been seen anywhere else before.” Even going so far as to say Vince McMahon would be scared of it and would never let Matt attempt it. He certainly has caught the attention of everyone across the pro-wrestling landscape, including Bray Wyatt. It’s now rumored that WWE is interested in signing Matt once his TNA contract is up in February. But why would he want to leave? TNA’s ratings are strong and he would never have this level of creative freedom on Monday Night Raw.
It just goes to show that if you commit to a concept and give everything you have towards it, people will embrace it. One could argue that Matt and Jeff are in the twilight of their careers and might be close to retirement. But then along comes this Broken Matt Hardy idea and they are now the most talked about segment, not just on Thursday nights but in all of pro-wrestling. Matt has to be commended for putting his entire being into this role, come hell or high water, and really helping to single-handedly put TNA back on the map. There’s even rumors of WWE buying them out now.
Featuring self-aware drones, mischievous gardeners, explosions, divine mystical beings in the lakes and woods, under water costume changes, pool fights, child abduction, a car-jacking, and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink, Matt Hardy’s Broken Saga has been truly groundbreaking. With even Billy Corgan teasing that perhaps this will all culminate with a Broken Matt Hardy movie. With Delete or Decay coming up at Bound For Glory, TNA has a real chance to continue building on the non-stop train that is Broken Matt and Jeff Hardy. If they can somehow defeat Decay and become Impact Wrestling’s Tag Team Champions, the story will once again evolve in another direction and give us yet another reason to tune into TNA’s product.
Tonight is the final show before Bound For Glory. Be sure to tune into #ImpactOnPOP and see what new antics Broken Matt has for us as we head into this weekend’s pay-per-view. And be sure to check out our friends over at the King of the Mountain podcast for complete TNA coverage.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
If you missed last week’s episode, check out our full review featuring Shinsuke Nakamura being carried out on a stretcher and a GLORIOUS match from Bobby Roode. This article is being posted a day late because the WWE Network in the Face to Heel household was not working at all last night.
The show starts with a recap of Samoa Joe taking out Shinsuke Nakamura. After the video, Joe comes down to the ring. Joe somehow has a copy of Shinsuke’s medical report. He has contusions in his lower lumbar, a clavicle separation, and shoulder and elbow injuries. His injuries will not require surgery, but he will need rest for 6-12 weeks. Crowd boos. I have already lost interest in this segment. Even if I bought into kayfabe, pretty sure reading someone’s medical report on live television is something close to a felony. So it just wouldn’t happen. But whatever, the Full Sail crowd is buying it hook, line and sinker. Joe calls out William Regal and demands the title be stripped and given back to Joe.
He comes out and confirms Shinsuke is seriously hurt. He says he will take care of the problems Joe cause. Crowd chants his name. Joe leaves the ring and goes for Regal. He gets in his face and says Regal either makes the situation right or the entire NXT roster will be hurt like Shinsuke. At least the segment ended exciting. I look forward to Samoa Joe hurting a bunch of people. That’s always fun.
Cedric Alexander interviewed backstage. He is set to have his NXT in-ring debut tonight against Cien. He asked Regal for the best and got what he asked for, he says. Liv Morgan is interviewed, says she came to NXT to leap hurtles. She says she wants to do whatever she needs to in order to prepare to take the NXT Women’s Championship. Asuka interrupts. She says lets find out if she has what it takes.
Oney Lorcan comes to the ring, set to take on Austin Aries. Grappling to start, which Aries takes control of. Oney recovers with a couple of headlocks. Aries escapes, but Oney locks it back on. He rides Aries down to the mat, not removing the headlock. Crowd at Full Sail is pretty quiet tonight. Aries slaps Oney in the face in the corner. Oney shoves him to the mat, locks in a headlock, but Aries dumps him outside the ring. Back in the ring, Aries drops an elbow and tries a cover. Oney kicks out at two. Oney takes control with some strikes and throwing himself into Aries in the corner. Aries again spills him out of the ring, hits the top rope and jumps off with an elbow. Aries rolls Oney back into the ring, who turns and hits Aries with two uppercuts. He covers, but Aries barely kicks out. Rolling elbow and running dropkick by Aries. On the mat Oney meets the Last Chancery up close and personal and has no choice but to tap. Austin Aries wins via submission. Not my favorite match. Pretty standard, run-of-the-mill, and I personally feel like Oney Lorcan needs a lot of work on the NXT stage.
After the match, Austin Aries gets on the mic and calls Hideo Itmai a “big coward.” Hideo’s music hits and he comes out. He gets in the ring and Austin Aries turns and rolls out of the ring. He jogs up the ramp with his arms raised and leaves. Crowd boos. Hideo stands in the ring angry. Man, that surgery scar on his arm is ugly as hell. Dan Matha promo package after. He is set to debut in two weeks.
Aliyah and Billie Kay wrestling next for some NXT women’s action. Aliyah is really impressive the first couple of minutes, utilizing the ropes and puling out some nice moves. Crowd is still flat for this one, too. I hate a quiet audience. Billie turns the tables and stomps Aliyah in the corner. Neckbreaker by Aliyah leads to a cover, but Billie kicks out. Billie hits a big boot to the face and covers for the pinfall. Just not enough time given to these ladies. They are good, but just when you get into a match they wrap it up. I really like Aliyah. She is a great worker.
Mandy Rose backstage interviewed about Ember Moon. She says she looks like The Hunger Games. When she gets in the ring with her, she will make sure she is, “totally eclipsed.” Okay. That was terrible.
Cruiserweight Cedric Alexander is coming down to take on Andrade “Cien” Almas. On a sidenote, can we just pick one name for the guy? The roster refers to him as Andrade, Cien, or Almas. Just call him Andrade and lose the rest, or call him Cien and lose the rest. He is billed as a name with a nickname. Grappling to start. The crowd finally wakes up, cheering for Cedric. A flurry of offense from Cien gets the crowd fired up. Cien dumps Cedric out of the ring and then corkscrew flips off the top rope to knock him down. Back in the ring, Cedric and Cien trade chops. Cedric off the ropes connects with a vicious kick and Cien rolls out of the ring. Cedric off the ropes again and this time he goes flying over the top rope to take down Cien. This one is evenly matched in the final moments. Both men score great offense but neither can keep the other down for a full three count. Huge backbreaker out of the corner by Cedric and he wins his NXT debut! Wow. That was great of Cien to put him over. Fun match to watch. Cedric will have a great future with WWE.
After the match the pair shake hands and hug. An alright episode. The Samoa Joe ultimatum at the start of the show seems anti-climatic now that he didn’t come back out again the rest of the show. The addition of some of the Cruiserweights from the CWC tournament is going to help the dwindling lack of talent in NXT. The problem with main roster call-ups is that it sometimes leaves giant holes.
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
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 week’s episode was a phenomenal hour of wrestling. As we edge closer to the semi-finals and the debut of the Cruiserweight Division on Monday Night Raw, this tournament is only getting sweeter and sweeter. It’s building momentum to help secure the sagging middle hour of Raw. Without further ado, let’s give you a rundown of tonight’s episode.
The first match on the card is England’s Zack Sabre Jr. going up against Noam Dar of Scotland, the youngest competitor in the entire tournament and the first ever Israeli-born wrestler ever in WWE. Dar tries for a takedown early, but Sabre’s no dummy. He blocks it and stands up. Sabre keeps the pressure on slow and steady, wearing down Dar. That is until Dar dropkicks Sabre’s left knee. He then wrenches him up with a wrist-lock down to the mat. Sabre reverses, making Dar scream out. He recovers and drops elbows on Sabre’s left leg. Dar does not let up on the leg. Kicking, hitting, locking in submissions.
This match slows down for a few moments until the pair trade a few covers reversed into covers. Offense is limited for a moment as both men catch their breath. Penalty kick by Dar then a suplex, cover, but Sabre kicks out on an early two. Dar goes after the left leg again. Sabre kicks him off with his good leg, but Dar goes right back in. This time Sabre punches out. A weak penalty kick by Sabre into a cover. Dar kicks out. A kick drops Sabre on the apron, he stands and takes another kick off the apron. Dar runs up, dives out, and takes Sabre down. He pops up and rolls Sabre into the ring. Sabre in the corner and Dar runs into him with a dropkick. Cover, but Sabre narrowly avoids losing.
Knee bar by Dar, but Sabre manages to roll it into a cover. Dar kicks out and puts the knee bar right back in. Sabre reverses it into an arm bar then a bridge cover. No dice. I begin to question the stamina as both men. They are visibly exhausted and a bit shaky in the ring. Their move set has slowed way down. I don’t want to call this match boring at times, but it’s not as exciting as some of the other matches we’ve seen. Sabre misses with a knee drop of the top rope. Dar sets Sabre up on the ropes, then kicks him in his left leg. He gets a knee bar locked in and Sabre screams as he tries to get the bottom rope. Sabre rolls them both out of the ring. Sabre lands badly on his elbow and the ref checks on him. Ref starts a ten count and both barely make it in. Dar goes right after the bad arm immediately, dropping Sabre to the mat. Sabre with a kick, Dar with a kick, Sabre spins him down and pins his arms way back between his legs. Dar can’t even tap, he just nods over and over to the ref who calls for the bell. Sabre advances.
Our last quarter-finals match is the Filipino Flyer, T.J. Perkins, battling Rich Swann out of the United States. Perkins holds back after the bell rings to let Swann get the crowd fired up with chants and dancing. Once the two go after each other, they are evenly matched, swapping various moves on the mat and both leaping back to their feet. Slow grind for a few moments. Perkins showboats for a few minutes. Crowd is in to it, I’m not so much. Just wrestle. If I’m judging fairly, his skill level is nowhere near the amount of hype he plugs for himself in the ring. Speaking off, he attempts a flip off the apron, misses and clutches his leg after landing badly. Perkins leaps off the second rope and dropkicks Swann from the apron. Both men down and the ref starts a 10 count.
Back in the ring, Perkins puts a reverse chin-lock on Swann. Perkins targets the left knee of Swann. The same gimmick we saw in the previous match. Don’t follow with the same spot, youngsters. That’s basic wrestling rules. Perkins does various submission holds on the leg. Crowd tries to rally Swann. He gets to his feet and clotheslines Perkins. Swinging neck-breaker to follow. He hits a DDT and covers, but Perkins kicks out at two. Perkins with his own neck-breaker. He puts Swann up on the top rope but Swann throws Perkins down to the floor outside the ring. Perkins pops up and punches Swann then springboards into a Frankensteiner. Perkins climbs to the top rope and Swann hits him with a Frankensteiner. A pair of two counts as Perkins just won’t stay down.
Knee bar by Perkins, but Swann gets to the ropes and breaks it up. The pair trade crazy kicks in the center of the ring until Perkins is dropped. Swann collapses on his left leg. Knee bar again by Perkins. Swann struggles to make the ropes and finally has no choose but to tap out. As soon as the ref calls for the bell, Perkins lets go and checks on Swann to make sure he is alright. T.J. Perkins advances. And then there were four. The semi-finals are set. T.J. Perkins, Zack Sabre Jr., Gran Metalik, Kota Ibushi are the final four left in the tournament.
Decent episode of the tournament. But both matches were slow paced and not the thrilling bouts we’ve come to expect. They weren’t bad by any stretch of the word. Just a little flat, especially with the semi-finals coming up next week. Maybe we’ve been spoiled too much with greatness. Next week we get treated to a two hour live finale. The winner will be crowned. I’m putting my money on Kota Ibushi winning the whole thing. If not him then Gran Metalik. I’d be very surprised if someone else wins. And two weeks from now, we get to find out who in the tournament makes it up to Raw’s main roster. What did you think of tonight’s episode? Who do you like the field of four? Let us know in the comments below! Thanks for reading. Have a good night, pro-wrestling fans!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
WWE reported on their website earlier today that WWE Network Collections released a package celebrating the career of the late Hall of Famer Mr. Fuji (real name Harry Fujiwara) featuring his various incarnations over the years.
The collection is slated to contain both singles and tag team matches featuring Bruno Sammartino, Professor Toru Tanaka and Mr. Saito; Mr. Fuji’s time as a manager for the behemoth world champion, Yokozuna; and many of his hilarious promos and skits with Don Muraco.
Mr. Fuji had several runs within WWE back when it was still WWWF and later WWF. He won numerous awards, accolades, and championships all over the world with various promotions. He was put into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. It was reported on August 28th, 2016 that he died in his home state of Tennessee. The Mr. Fuji Collection can be viewed on the WWE Network app under the SHOWS section. Check it out now!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker