By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits:
AJ Styles vs. James Ellsworth for the WWE Championship: The destruction of Ellsworth was awkward in that it was hard to tell what fans were supposed to feel. Ellsworth got too big for his britches and cost Dean Ambrose the championship, but it was Styles who obliterated the once lovable jobber. Granted, this feud needed to end with a decisive Styles victory, but it felt like it should have come while Ellsworth was still a babyface. All of that said, there’s something highly entertaining about watching Ellsworth take a beating.
The Miz vs. Apollo Crews for the IC Title: The gimmick of opening Smackdown with back-to-back title matches made for a strong start to the show. Unfortunately, it deprived viewers of a Crews promo. The guy has been on the Smackdown roster since the draft and yet I feel like we know nothing about him because he’s been inexplicably wasted on a roster that lacks depth. Still, it was a good match and the live crowd was hot for the challenger’s near falls. The post match angle with Miz and Renee Young didn’t bother me. I always hoped they would just play it straight with Young because she’s so good at her job, but I’m surprised it took the company this long to use her real life relationship with Dean Ambrose in a storyline.
Natlaya promo on Nikki Bella: A hard hitting promo that finally answered the question that no one really cared about – who attacked Nikki Bella at Survivor Series? Fortunately, Natalya’s promo was strong enough that it firmly established her as a heel. Okay, so she’ll be a babyface to some fans, but she clearly went for heat and was wise enough to work in some jabs at the live crowd to make sure they would react appropriately. The one flaw of this segment is that there should have been a little distance between this and Miz’s jab at Young so they both had a chance to stand out.
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper: Was I the only one hoping that the pre-match Ambrose graphic was going to list “Sleeps With Renee Young”? Anyway, they had Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton at ringside, and Ambrose the chance to portray Ambrose as being rattled because of what happened to his girlfriend. Ambrose had outs for losing, yet they still had him go over Harper clean. This normally wouldn’t surprise me, but Harper had a strong showing last week that provided some hope that the company intended to do more with him. Nevertheless, the crowd was into the action.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses:
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin: The match quality was a Hit, but the Ziggler character continues to be positioned as the biggest schmuck on the roster for putting his title shots on the line for no good reason. It’s not noble, it’s just plain stupid. How sad is it that Corbin’s only real feud since his last even-steven feud with with Ziggler was the one with Kalisto? How much doe sit eat at Dolph that Corbin was named Most Metal Wrestler when Dolph is a walking tribute to ’80s Hair Metal? All of that said, I like the addition of Corbin to the WWE Championship match. It may not lead to better match quality, but it’s more interesting with him in it.
Mojo Rawley vs. Curt Hawkins: Poor Ryan Phillippee had to act like he was friends with Mojo, and then listen to JBL and David Otunga work in campy references to the name of his “Shooter” television show.
La Lucha Dora vs. Alexa Bliss: A minor Miss simply because Becky Lynch wearing the mask seemed to be obvious to everyone other than the women’s champion. Oh, and Lynch looked absurd in her outfit. I’m sure that was the idea, but it was so awful that it actually rivaled the holiday outfit that Mick Foley wore on Raw.