Smackdown Live kicks off it’s post-Survivor Series storylines with Smackdown Live commissioner Shane McMahon coming down to the ramp to his entrance music. A couple marks on his face, but he looked better than expected after a couple nasty bumps from Sunday.
OPENING SEGMENT: Shane McMahon, Dean Ambrose, James Ellsworth & AJ Styles
He’s soon joined by Dean Ambrose and the two discuss the back and forth of Sunday’s 5-on-5 men’s match. As Shane brings up Ambrose teaming with Raw‘s Rollins and Reigns – his former Shield brethren – and hurting Smackdown‘s chances, Ambrose changes the subject and brings out James Ellsworth. Ambrose nudges Shane to tell Ellsworth that he’s being offered a Smackdown Live contract. Shane, seemingly upset at Ambrose for a momentary act of betrayal on Sunday, tells Ambrose he has the night off and kicks him out of the arena.
As Ambrose leaves at the top, he’s passed by WWE World Champion AJ Styles, with mic in hand, who begins to berate Shane for signing Ellsworth. He is disgusted by Ellsworth being given a contract and states people like Styles earn contracts. He tells Ellsworth he should fight him for his contract and earn it. In preparation for Smackdown‘s next PPV, TLC, Styles asks for a Ladder Match. Ellsworth agrees to put his contract on the line, but if Ellsworth wins, he not only gets a full contract but a future WWE Championship match. Also, somehow Ambrose has snuck back into the building. I’ll bet right now there are indie purists pulling there hair out and throwing things at the TV.
Smackback: I know a lot of purists are hating the involvement of Ellsworth in the main event storyline featuring AJ Styles, not to mention the “burial” after two losses to The Chin That Gets The Pin, but it’s a small fun feud that will be a blip in the grand scheme of things. Styles has just pulled off huge physical feuds with Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, John Cena and Dean Ambrose. This is a small way to keep him rested for when he moves on from this. Just have some fun. It’s also great to see the normally reserved and well-tempered Styles get rattled by Ambrose’s annoyances.
Daniel Bryan interrupts Miz and Maryse getting all kissy face backstage. Miz tells Bryan he better be there to kiss his butt for keeping the Intercontinental title on Smackdown Live. Bryan says no, that’s he going to be making a match where Miz defends his title against Kalisto, who was cheated by Baron Corbin on Sunday in winning the Cruiserweight title. And that match is next.
Smackback: I like both individually. But for some reason, the idea of them together? Meh.
Shane McMahon escorts Ambrose from the arena again and tells him he has to stay out. We come back and Kalisto and Miz hit the ring for an Intercontinental Championship match-up, as Miz gets set for his second defence in three days.
INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP: The Miz (C) w/ Maryse vs. Kalisto
Slower start to the match and just as it starts to pick up momentum VOILA! A commercial. I’ll never understand that. The matches are timed. I know it’s supposed to be more realistic, but all pro sports wait for breaks in the action before heading to break. Why wouldn’t the producers of the kayfabe WWE shows (you know, the show being made in the fictional WWE Universe – after all, like Max Landis has pointed out, Raw is like watching the Muppets…that fight) just play the commercials after vignette breaks or immediately post match? Why would you not fire a guy who kept yelling “GO TO COMMERCIAL” every time one of your MATCHES just got under way? Anyway. I digress. Kalisto goes top rope to finish Miz off but is distracted. It’s Baron Corbin! That villain! The distraction is enough and The Miz recovers to hit the Skull Crushing Finale and pin Kalisto. Miz and Maryse high tail it out as Corbin beats down Kalisto some more. As they clap at Corbin’s attacks, Miz turns into a Superkick from Dolph Ziggler.
Smackback: Ugh. I really hoped this was just a segway match to move Miz and Ziggler apart. And then they brought them back together. Ziggler peaked when he won after the career saving match. He should be moving on to a different opponent.
Bryan and Shane are backstage watching the Miz and Ziggler. Bryan heads out to sort those two out. Alexa Bliss interrupts Shane, who is then joined by Becky Lynch and finally, Natalya. Nattie says that Becky lost because she’s jealous of Alexa. Shane settles them down and brings up the Whodunnit of who took out the Survivor Series captain Nikki Bella. He makes Becky vs Natalya later in the night. Dean Ambrose walks in carrying a pizza. Shane pleads for him to leave the arena.
Smackback: The wrestling show is sure using a lot of segments tonight. Forty minutes into a 2-hour show and there’s only been one match. And it was cut by 1/3 with a commercial break.
Daniel Bryan is backstage, berating Baron Corbin for his actions at Survivor Series and tonight during the first match. He says he cost them the entire Cruiserweight division, so tonight he faces the consequences. He’s facing Kane.
Smackback: Corbin could benefit from working with another Big Man for a change.
Smackdown Live! Recap & Review (11/22/2016)
TAG TEAM TURMOIL FOR THE #1 CONTENDERSHIP FOR THE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLES: The Ascension vs. Breezango vs. The Usos vs. The Hype Bros. vs. American Alpha
The Tag Team Turmoil is underway and no one seemingly gets an entrance. Hype Bros and The Ascension start off. While Smackdown clearly has some skill in it’s tag ranks, it really shows the division’s lack of true charisma. If this was on Raw, New Day, Enzo & Cass and Anderson & Gallows alone would get 15 minutes in entrance promos. Mauro Ranallo announcing that Viktor from the Ascension is a graduate from the Hart dungeon is the most character development the Ascension has had ever. And in the time it took me to type that, Viktor showed how he was trained to sell getting pinned, as Zack Ryder holds him down for the 1-2-3. The Fashion Police of Tyler Breeze and Fandango enter the ring and…..commercial.
A few moves upon return and Fandango gets the pin after a slingshot elbow to Ryder. American Alpha immediately rushes the ring and Fandango almost gets a quick pin on an anxious Chad Gable. A little back and forth and Gable finally turns the table, pinning Fandango. The Vaudevillains are up next and in seconds, Jason Jordan pins Simon Gotch. I don’t know what the Vaudevillains did to deserve the past few months, but it must have been shit in Triple H‘s shoes bad. They could at least recoup in NXT right now.
The Usos are up next. I have to admit, since they got rid of the Fruity Pebbles Warrior make-up and got some grit, the Usos aren’t nearly as nauseating to watch. They begin to square up with American Alpha, with the tension of past matches and the vengeance of injuries incurred and…commercial.
We’re back and it’s the final two combatants going hold for hold, the Usos vs. American Alpha. They cut to Smackdown Tag Team Champions Heath Slater and Rhyno watching backstage. Rhyno looks like Wolverine…if he ate Nightcrawler. Usos work over Jason Jordan, slowing down the match. Jordan causes a misstep with the Usos and gets the moderately lukewarm tag to Chad Gable. I’ll say one thing, Ottawa’s audience is about a 4 compared to Toronto’s 11.
Usos soon dominate Gable, who manages to work back to his corner and get Jordan in for an Electric Chair bulldog. Back and forth high moves and roll-ups, lead to some near falls. Gable cuts off an Uso interference and the pair land their finisher for the win, but the celebration is immediately cut off by an interrupting promo on the Titan Tron from Bray Wyatt telling them that they haven’t faced all the tag teams yet. Randy Orton walks up and says “We’re more than a team, we’re a family.”
Daniel Bryan is backstage talking to James Ellsworth, who’s still wearing a neck brace. Bryan gives him the chance to pull out, but Ellsworth insists on having the match. Dean Ambrose walks in dressed like a Mountie. Bryan tries to talk him into leaving before Shane comes in and freaks out that Dean keeps coming back in. Daniel convinces Shane to take the rest of the night off to cool off. Dean leaves, but not before doing his best Jacques Rougeau impression to a warm applause from crowd.
Smackback: The Wyatts facing off against American Alpha for the #1 Contendership – seemingly the duo of Bray and Randy – seems strange but at least it’s something different for all involved. The turmoil wasn’t anything special until the final two teams and the Usos and AA are developing a solid rhythm with each other for further down the road. Ambrose’s aloofness amidst McMahon’s shortening fuse has actually been more entertaining as the show goes on.
BECKY LYNCH (C) vs. NATALYA – Non-title match
We’re back and Becky Lynch is facing off against Natalya. Alexa Bliss is on commentary, once again complaining about her foot being under the rope when she lost her chance at the Women’s title. It’s announced Alexa will get her rematch for the title at TLC in two weeks. Before the announcers even pay attention to the match, three minutes in…commercial.
We return and the match picks up momentum. Becky gets the upper hand before Natalya mounts a small comeback. Becky picks up the win, but before Lynch’s music can hit, Bliss attacks her and leaves her in the middle of the ring.
Smackback: The match itself was a throwaway. The live Canadian audience gets to see Nattie wrestle in Canada against the Women’s champion, but the entire narrative was on Alexa on commentary. Wouldn’t have been so bad if the entire episode so far hadn’t felt like one big segway to something else.
The Miz interrupts Daniel Bryan on his phone backstage, demanding punishment on Ziggler for kicking him earlier in the show. Instead, Bryan tells Miz that he’ll be giving Ziggler his IC title rematch in a Ladder Match at TLC. Regardless of the outcome, it will be Ziggler and Miz’ final match together.
Carmella is backstage on the phone, when Nikki Bella interrupts and accuses Carmella of taking her out before their Survivor Series match. Carmella denies it saying she’d tell her if she hurt her. Nikki informs Carmella that they are having a No-Disqualification match at TLC.
Smackback: With two weeks until Smackdown’s next PPV, TLC, they’re taking no time in filling the card. That’s three matches announced so far tonight, with AJ vs Ambrose for the World title in a TLC Match, Becky vs Alexa for the Women’s, Miz vs Dolph in a Ladder Match for the IC title, and now Nikki vs. Carmella in a No-DQ. Assumingly it’s either the Wyatts or American Alpha vs. Slater & Rhyno for the Tag Titles.
KANE vs. BARON CORBIN
Twenty minutes to go with AJ vs. Ellsworth main eventing, so don’t expect an Iron Match with Kane and Corbin. We’re just about ready to get underway and…commercial.
Match is barely underway when Kalisto interferes and costs Corbin the match, taking him out by the knees again.
GET A ROOM ALREADY.
Kalisto goes to the ground and grabs a chair coming in and throwing it – then kicking it – into Corbin’s face. Hmmm. Methinks they’ll be getting a Chairs Match at TLC. What thinks you? COMMERCIAL!
LADDER MATCH FOR A SMACKDOWN CONTRACT FOR ELLSWORTH: AJ Styles vs. James Ellsworth
Ellsworth is in the ring to start, milking the neckbrace still around his neck. Styles makes his entrance and after some brief showboating, the ladder match is under way. To no surprise, Ellsworth is thrown around by AJ who toys with climbing the ladder only to ignore easy victory to punish the tiny thorn in his side.
Styles goes so much as to to prop Ellsworth up on the ladder, who falls backwards, before kicking and slapping him more. Styles finally climbs the ladder and just as he’s about to rip down Ellsworth’s opportunity, Ambrose runs into the ring wearing an Ottawa Senators hockey jersey, talking out Styles. Ambrose runs to Ellsworth’s aid and tries to motivate the beaten little man to climb the ladder. Ambrose turns into a Superman forearm from Styles.
Styles attempts the ladder again, but as he reaches for the contract, he is pushed from the ladder by a rejuvenated Ellsworth. He repositions the ladder and even lands a No Chin Music on Styles trying to re-enter the ring, which causes Styles’ leg to get caught in the ropes.
Ellsworth grabs the contract, winning a full time Smackdown contract, plus a future Championship match against AJ Styles.
Smackback: Give all the credit to Ellsworth for making the most of his moment with Braun Strowman months ago on Raw and getting to where he is now. But I’m not sure how many stories a character like Ellsworth has once this one is done. While comedic characters like Santino Marella have done well, Ellsworth falls somewhere between Colin Delaney and Eugene.
The Final Smack: A red hot instant classic in NXT TakeOver: Toronto, a (mostly) solid Survivor Series with a controversial ending, a decent energetic Raw…it was bound to hit the wall. While Smackdown Live is normally heads above Raw for action, tonight felt more storyline based than usual – but perhaps with the pressure of their next PPV in only two weeks, they felt they had to introduce the direction they were heading quickly. Outside the potential tag team match-up for the Tag Titles, unfortunately it’s a card with familiar foes. Hopefully the gimmicks add to the performances and more than a couple finally come to a conclusion so their champions can move on to fresh faces.