SmackDown Live Review: SmackDown Issues Challenge To Raw, More Mind Games From Bray Wyatt, James Ellsworth Gets A Match With The Champ
Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanates from the SAP Center in San Jose, California.
The new Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler comes down to the ring and talks about putting his career on the line for a shot at the IC Title. He talks about thinking Sunday was going to be the last time he would walk down that aisle to the ring. Dolph says he doubted himself prior to No Mercy up until he walked down the ramp where he knew that this is where he belongs and the WWE is his home. He knew during that moment that he would overcome the odds and walk out with the Intercontinental Championship.
Former champion The Miz and Maryse come down to the ring, wearing all black. They take a moment of silence to mourn the death of the Intercontinental Title, as Miz states. Miz unleashes a passionate rant about being champ for 188 days, bringing prestige back to the title and calls Ziggler’s win a funeral for the legacy of the IC Title. He says this isn’t the end of the story, rather it’s just Act 2 where the hero overcomes hurdles to beat the odds and he’s the hero of this story. Miz says all great stories have the same ending – the hero gets the gold and the girl. He’s already got his girl, Maryse, and now he wants his gold back.
Ziggler says he’s glad Miz is out here now as he was just about to share something with the WWE Universe. Footage from the end of the match is shown where Miz appeared to be crying after losing the Intercontinental Championship. Dolph mocks Miz for crying which Miz takes offense to Ziggler ridiculing him. The fans start a “you were crying” chant and Miz says they wouldn’t know what passion, pain and sacrifice is and neither would Ziggler. Miz tells Dolph to imagine what he would do to reclaim the title. Miz says he’s not done with Ziggler and neither are they… which leads to Kenny & Mikey of The Spirit Squad coming down the ramp and they cheer that Dolph will face them in a handicap match.
Match 1: Dolph Ziggler vs. The Spirit Squad (2-On-1 Handicap Match)
Ziggler sends Mikey through the ropes and clotheslines Kenny over the top rope onto the floor. They regroup with Miz to talk strategy as Dolph shouts at Miz. Ziggler gets distracted by Miz getting in his face which allows Kenny to hit a baseball slide and bring Dolph into the ring. Kenny and Mikey work over Ziggler with frequent tags and double team moves. Dolph locks a sleeper hold on Mikey but gets rammed into the corner to break the hold. Ziggler slides out of the ring and trips up Kenny, sending him head-first into the ring apron. Mikey tags in Kenny right before Dolph rolls him up for a pin attempt. Ziggler counters a double team move and nails an incredible double DDT on Mikey & Kenny. Dolph hits Kenny with a stinger splash, a couple leaping clotheslines but Mikey sneaks in a cheap shot. Kenny nails a jumping clothesline for a two count. Ziggler lays out Kenny with a superkick for the three count.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Immediately after the match, The Miz runs in the ring and beats down Ziggler. He then nails the Skull Crushing Finale and orders The Spirit Squad to grab Dolph. SmackDown Tag Team Champions Rhyno & Heath Slater run down to the ring which causes The Miz and The Spirit Squad to quickly leave the ring. The Miz, Kenny & Mikey retreat up the entrance ramp while staring down Dolph Ziggler, Rhyno & Heath Slater.
Rating: 3.5/5 – This was a pretty good match between Ziggler and his former teammates. I wasn’t expecting to see more The Spirit Squad as I assumed they were a two-appearance situation. It hasn’t been announced if they’ve signed SmackDown Live contracts but I could see them sticking around for a bit longer to feud with the SmackDown Tag Team Champs Rhyno & Heath Slater. Without a doubt, there’s gonna be a 6-Man Tag Team Match next week between The Miz, Kenny & Mikey and the team of Dolph Ziggler, Rhyno & Heath Slater. Personally, I think it’s better to build up to a rematch than just book one ASAP.
The announce team discuss SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch being out of action due to a medical condition. They announce she will defend her title against Alexa Bliss in Glasgow, Scotland on the November 8th episode of SmackDown Live.
The main event advertised for tonight is scheduled to be Kane & Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper & Bray Wyatt.
In their office, SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan and SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon hype the upcoming 30th annual Survivor Series PPV event which will take place November 20th at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They want to make this year’s Survivor Series the biggest, most exciting and amazing event ever. They issue three Traditional 5-On-5 Elimination Tag Team Match challenges to RAW for the Survivor Series PPV event – 1) the top 5 superstars from each brand, 2) the top 5 tag teams from each brand and 3) the top 5 women from each brand. Daniel Bryan believes RAW should just say, “YES! YES! YES!”
Match 2: Carmella vs. Naomi
Prior to the match, we see a clip from earlier today where Carmella attacked Nikki Bella backstage after an interview with Renee Young. Carmella says one of these days her entire career is gonna fall just like she did right now.
Before the bell rings, Carmella attacks Naomi from behind. Carmella applies the headlock on Naomi and nails a sitout rear mat slam for a two count. Carmella goes back to the headlock but Naomi rams her into the corner. Carmella sends Naomi halfway across the ring with a hard kick. Naomi nails a split-legged jawbreaker and follows up with her multiple kicks to Carmella. Naomi with a crossbody off the top rope for a two count. Due to a middle rope hair pull from Carmella, Naomi falls down hard landing on the mat. Nikki Bella walks down the ramp and distracts Carmella which allows Naomi to get a unique pin for the win.
After the match, Nikki chases Carmella who manages to escape through the crowd. Nikki hugs Naomi in the ring and raises her arm in celebration.
Rating: 3/5 – A good match from both women, Carmella continued to show her mean streak while Naomi has a unique moveset and isn’t afraid to take risks like her high-flying husband. The feud between Carmella and Nikki Bella continues to heat up while Naomi strings a few wins together, invoking the ire of Alexa Bliss.
Andrea D’Marco points out the roll that Naomi’s been on since her win over Alexa Bliss at No Mercy. Bliss says she can beat Naomi any day of the week. SmackDown GM Daniel Bryan approaches and makes a match between Alexa Bliss and Naomi for next week’s SmackDown Live.
An Eva Longoria video package is shown for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Match 3: Chad Gable w/ Jason Jordan vs. Jimmy Uso w/ Jey Uso
Gable with a takedown on Jimmy, then targets the left arm with submission holds and knee strikes. Jimmy hits a kick to the gut followed by a Samoan Drop for a two count. Gable fights back with a back body drop, multiple forearm strikes, a clothesline from the top rope and an exploder suplex. In the corner, Jimmy rolls up Gable for a pin with extra leverage from Jey for a three count.
Winner: Jimmy Uso
Rating: 2/5 – A quick match with some great effort by Gable. Although the assist from Jey was unique, I didn’t really like the finish as it’s another quick roll up for the win. Obviously the rivalry between these two tag teams is far from over and this is just another minor setback for American Alpha.
In the locker room, the Hype Bros are shown talking about the SmackDown Tag Team division being stacked. Mojo talks about partying last night and says Ryder was probably in his room playing with his toys. Zack says they should stay focused on winning the SmackDown Tag Team Titles. The Ascension appear and just stare down the Hype Bros before making their exit.
WWE World Champion AJ Styles comes down to the ring for his No Mercy victory speech. He brags about his victories over John Cena and Dean Ambrose including the Triple Threat Match this past Sunday at No Mercy. AJ knocks both Cena and Ambrose, then calls himself a winner and says winners find a way to win. Styles says he’ll give someone of main event status an opportunity tonight. Dean Ambrose comes down and says he knows AJ wasn’t talking about him as he likes to take the easy way out. He says, “Let’s face the facts, son. You don’t want none… of Dean Ambrose.” Dean says he’s not done with AJ and that the champ belongs to him and no one on the roster is jumping him in line for a title shot. Styles says this person isn’t even on the roster and calls for his opponent to come on down.
James Ellsworth comes down to the ring and Styles reminds the WWE Universe that over a month ago Ellsworth was supposed to be his tag team partner but The Miz beat the ever-loving crap out of him. AJ says he’ll face him in a non-title match and then tells Dean to leave. Ambrose says he wants to watch this match at ringside. Styles says this is Ellsworth’s opportunity of a lifetime and he doesn’t want Dean to distract him. AJ tells Ambrose to scram until Daniel Bryan comes out and says while Styles is “The Champ That Runs The Camp,” he’s “The Guy Who Runs SmackDown Live”. The GM says Ambrose won’t be at ringside because he’ll be the special guest referee! Ambrose removes the shirt off the official in the ring. Bryan warns Styles that if he puts his hands on Ambrose, he’ll be either fined and/or suspended. Dean tucks in the referee shirt and empties his pockets, handing various items to AJ who then tosses them onto the floor.
Match 4: WWE World Champion AJ Styles vs. James Ellsworth Special Guest Referee: Dean Ambrose
After the bell rings, Ambrose pats down AJ for foreign objects. Ambrose messes around with Styles & Ellsworth throughout the “match”. Ellsworth decks AJ with a right hand and gets a roll up for a quick two count. AJ nails a stiff clothesline, a suplex and a brutal backbreaker on Ellsworth. Styles locks in the Calf Crusher which Ellsworth taps out but Dean is busy on his cell phone. AJ tosses Ellsworth into the barricade and hits a body slam on the floor. Dean rolls Ellsworth back in the ring and interacts with a fan in the front row which AJ takes exception to Dean’s antics. Styles delivers the Styles Clash for a two count count as Ambrose just stares him down. AJ charges at Dean and receives the Dirty Deeds. Ambrose places Ellsworth on top of Styles for a two count. Dean takes a sip of a fan’s drink, nails Styles with another Dirty Deeds and puts Ellsworth on top of AJ for the three count.
Winner: James Ellsworth
Rating: 2/5 – Despite being not much of a match, this was very hilarious as Ambrose was in his element with plenty of shenanigans. Dean’s antics had me cracking up the whole time. I’d recommend watching this to anyone who likes slapstick humor as it had an almost Three Stooges feel.
In a storage room, Randy Orton finds Kane and says he’s tired of living in Bray Wyatt’s world. Orton asks if Bray can live in “his world” which is full of pain, misery, agony, chaos and voices begging him to stop but he doesn’t listen. Orton continues, “There’s no way out in my world. So what do you say, do you want to come along for the ride?” Kane says he’s in but Orton’s got issues.
A Royal Rumble video package is shown to hype this year’s 30th annual event in January live from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Tickets are on sale this Friday through Ticketmaster.
In their office, AJ Styles yells at Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon about what just happened in the ring. Shane tells AJ to be angry at himself for losing the match and not to be angry at Ambrose, Ellsworth or Bryan. Shane says it’s official “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles lost to James Ellsworth and asks if he understands. AJ says he understands that he’ll have to handle things himself and walks off. Bryan tells Shane he has an idea for Ellsworth for next week.
Match 5: Luke Harper & Bray Wyatt vs. Kane & Randy Orton
Before the match, Harper says this world has put him to sleep but now he’s wide awake as he has seen the light. Wyatt says that light is shining brighter than it ever has but it cannot pierce the darkness. He then goes on to cut a promo where he talks about Orton and a black hole that consumes everything that comes near it. Bray invites Orton to bring his monster (Kane) as he’s brought his monster (Harper) and they can can both be pummeled into the abyss of the black hole.
Kane and Harper trade blows, Wyatt tags in, Kane unloads on him in the corner and nails a big boot. Wyatt rolls out of the ring but Orton sends him back in, Kane sets up for the Chokeslam but Bray escapes Kane’s grip and leaves the ring. Orton pulls off a superplex on Harper and tags in Kane who unloads on Harper with a shoulder tackle, corner clotheslines and a sidewalk slam for a two count. Harper nails a dropkick on Kane, sending him outside the ring where Wyatt drives him into the barricade.
Harper and Wyatt make frequent tags and work over Kane in their corner. Kane nails Harper with a running DDT, makes the tag to Orton, Harper tags in Bray who eats a couple clotheslines from Orton followed by a powerslam and a Lou Thesz Press with multiple punches. The fight moves to the outside where Orton slams Bray’s head against the announce table, tosses Harper over it, clocks Wyatt with a clothesline and sends him into the barricade and then the ring steps. Orton nails his signature Elevated DDT on Wyatt, sets up for the RKO but eats a superkick from Harper. Wyatt misses a running senton, both men motion towards their partners, Orton is just mere inches away from tagging in Kane when the creepy Wyatt graphic flashes and the lights go out. When they come back on, Kane is no longer on the apron and Harper is standing there instead. Harper extends his hand for a tag and laughs at Orton, Bray delivers Sister Abigail for the pinfall victory.
Winners: Luke Harper & Bray Wyatt
SmackDown goes off the air with Orton shocked in the ring and Harper & Wyatt posing on the entrance ramp while Kane is still missing.
Rating: 4/5 – A very interesting main event featuring some of SmackDown’s top superstars. Harper & Wyatt worked well as a team, keeping Kane isolated for most of the match as well as making “The Big Red Machine” disappear. I’m curious how this feud between Orton and The Wyatt Family will unfold, moving forward, now that he’s lost his monster, Kane.