By Jake Barnett
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WWE Smackdown Live on the USA Network
Live from Birmingham, Alabama at Legacy Arena
Video opened the show plugging Dean Ambrose going one on one with John Cena. Dolph Ziggler will also be taking on The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. In the arena, the crowd was doing Yes Chants at Daniel Bryan led them from the ring. He said the Smackdown Women’s Championship would be defended for the very first time in three weeks at No Mercy. He said tonight they would have the very first Women’s Championship contract signing. He said he knows how these things get, but they were going to keep things civil. The crowd booed, and Bryan scolded them for it. Bryan said this was a new era and they were going to do things differently.
Bryan first introduced the Champion Becky Lynch, who came down to a nice reaction. Bryan reminded her to keep things civil, to which she said she had her thick skin on. Bryan then introduced Alexa Bliss, who entered while footage was shown of her winning the Fatal Five Way to earn a title shot last week. Alexa chided her about her thick skin comment, and told her to use some moisturizer. Becky said that was a major difference between them, because Bliss prepares for pageants while she prepares for a fight. Bliss said she’s not a good fit as a champion, because she is destined to be a failure.
Bliss claimed that Becky was a born loser, and that after she took her title she could go back to being the plucky underdog that never quite gets it done. Lynch said that she wasn’t born to be a champion, she was born into a small house on the side of the road in Dublin working a job she didn’t like and barely making ends meet. But she watched too much TV and listened to people who told her she could be anything she wanted to be, and she fought hard to become a champion. She said she wanted it more than Bliss and if she thought she was going to take it from her she would rip her head off.
Bliss fired back and said she was destined to be a champion, and at No Mercy she would expose her as the one hit wonder she is. Bliss grabbed the contract and hit Becky with it. She then signed the contract and turned the table over on the downed Becky Lynch. Bliss then left up the ramp, but Becky gave chase and clubbed Bliss from behind. She quickly got up and ran off, at which point Becky returned to the ring and signed the contract. American Alpha vs. The Usos was plugged for next…[c]
My Take: A decent opener, but this promo could have used some more rehearsal. I like giving the women a high profile spot and there were some nice moments here that the crowd was into, but Alexa Bliss seemed like she may have cracked under pressure a bit and didn’t have the confidence she needed to carry the mean spirited end of this promo. I thought Becky was much more effective in comparison giving her blue collar babyface promo.
Backstage, The Miz ran into Daniel Bryan. He complained to Bryan about his title match tonight. Bryan said he could cancel it, but then he’d have to cancel his newly renegotiated contract. Miz looked confused, and Bryan asked him if he actually read his new contract. Miz clearly didn’t, and Bryan said it had exactly what Miz asked for last week. He got a new contract, and in exchange he had to defend the Intercontinental Championship.
In the arena, The Usos made their entrance, and footage of their attack on American Alpha was shown from two weeks ago. Alpha then made their entrance. A promo was shown backstage where they said the Usos got what they wanted and they made this personal. He said they would take the Usos down and then go on to capture the Smackdown Tag Team Championships.
1. The Usos vs. American Alpha: Gable started out on fire and tackled both Usos and hit a nice suplex on Jimmy. Alpha controlled the offense until Jey managed to tangle Gable up in the ropes on his bad leg. Jimmy then hit a dropkick to the bad knee and Gable spilled out to the floor…[c]
The Usos continued to target the leg of Chad Gable with a suplex onto the second rope, as well as kicks and holds that isolated his knee. Gable was able to hit a back body drop over the top rope on Jimmy Uso, and made a tag despite some interference from Jey. Jordan entered and hit two alphaplexes, and dropped his straps. He hit two corner spears and an overhead belly to belly on Jey for a near fall.
He then placed Jey on the top rope and climbed up for a top rope suplex, but was shoved off. He quickly jumped back up and tried again, but was sent down by headbutts. Jimmy made a blind tag, and Jey hit a superkick. Jimmy then followed up with a big splash and covered. Gable barely made it in time to break up the pin. Jey entered and sent Gable out to the floor, where he landed hard on his knee. Jimmy hit Jordan with another superkick, and he fired back with a clothesline.
Things broke down and Gable got knocked to the floor after a chop block. The Usos then hit a double superkick on Jordan and got the pinfall.
The Usos defeated American Alpha for a Tag Team Championship opportunity.
After the match, The Usos talked trash backstage with Slater and Rhyno. My feed of the show got garbled here so I couldn’t make out much of what was said. Rhyno was eating cheese and crackers throughout. Randy Orton vs. Erick Rowan was plugged for later…[c]
My Take: I like this look for American Alpha. They don’t need the Championship right away, and setting up a blood feud and title chase with The Usos is just smart booking. Gable and Jordan showed a lot of heart and camaraderie in defeat.
Jack Swagger joined on commentary in the arena. Apollo Crews made his entrance while footage was shown of Crews getting beat down by Baron Corbin last week. Corbin then made his entrance. Swagger talked about being the toughest guy on Smackdown, but he’s off to a shaky start and sounding pretty wooden.
2. Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin: Crews hit an impressive Samoan Drop out of the gate and covered for a two count. Corbin bailed to ringside, and Crews followed. He told Corbin he owed him, and then tossed him hard into the barricade. He then followed up with an Enziguri. Crews made a cover in the ring and got a near fall. Corbin hit some kicks in the ring and sent Crews back to the floor. Corbin hit some forearm shots, and then laid Crews perpendicular to the ring post.
He then drove both feet into Crews’ ribs and sandwiched him into the ring post. He quickly hit End of Days and covered for the quick win.
Baron Corbin defeated Apollo Crews
Corbin walked out to Jack Swagger and stared him down. He said a few words that weren’t audible on camera and walked up the ramp to the back. Dean Ambrose was shown preparing backstage for the main event. Miz and Dolph Ziggler was hyped for later…[c]
My Take: Crews has become something of a punching bag on Smackdown. They need to get him away from Corbin and develop a character for him. He didn’t have a lot of development before the draft and that trend hasn’t changed. Swagger and Corbin should have good matches together, but Swagger’s character needs some work. He’s just not convincing at this point.
Curt Hawkins did some back impressions and comedy bits, and told Smackdown it was time to face the facts. Naomi and Nikki were shown backstage, and were asked how they were going to keep the momentum going in the Women’s Division. Naomi said she’s excited every Tuesday to help Smackdown feel the glow. She said Natalya used to be a respected veteran, but her glow burned out long ago and she’s become corrupted. She complimented Nikki Bella, who called her Trin in a Total Divas flub. Nikki said she wasn’t sure what Carmella’s deal was, but she’s been attacking her since she got to Smackdown. She said she feels rebooted and she would make Carmell feel her boots later tonight.
Backstage, Dolph Ziggler was interviewed by Renee Young. He said he was tired of some Hollywood disgrace calling himself a champion. He said Miz was desperate to hold onto his championship, and that it was his entire identity. Ziggler said he’s desperate too. He wasn’t supposed to be a World Champion or a Kent State Hall of Famer, but tonight he would prove to himself that he still belongs. He then told someone offscreen to hit his music, and he made his entrance. The Miz then made his entrance…[c]
My Take: We’ve seen a lot of promo work tonight, and for the most part it’s been a mixed bag. Naomi explained what “the glow” is without connecting why she turned to it after Team BAD, and Dolph Ziggler talks about being desperate in his best halftime speech voice, but they haven’t really earned that amount of emotional output with this story thus far. Curt Hawkins character seems like it’s going to be pretty divisive. I could see some people really liking it, but I can already tell it’s not for me.
3. Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz: Ziggler showed off some mat wrestling early and looked to ground and pound Miz to wear him down. Miz managed to escape out to the floor, Ziggler caught him with a lariat. Ziggler got distracted by Maryse as they transitioned back into the ring, which allowed Miz to take over. Miz hit some strikes and dropkicked Ziggler out to the floor, where he tossed him into the barricade. Back in the ring, Miz hit some buzzsaw kicks and taunted the crowd. Ziggler got in a hope spot with some punches, but Miz quickly shut him back down.
Miz hit kick to the face of a seated Ziggler, and then began doing more of Daniel Bryan’s moves. He did a corner dropkick, followed by an Awesome Clothesline. He then attempted to hit a double axehandle smash from the top, but Ziggler hit a counter dropkick. Both men went through some signature reverals, and Ziggler finished the chain with a leaping DDT. He then went for a Superkick, but Miz ducked. Ziggler then clotheslined both of them over the top rope…[c]
Miz went for a sunset flip powerbomb out of the corner, wasn’t successful at first, and then switched gears to a slingshot sitout powerbomb for a near fall. Ziggler scrambled and pulled Miz into a rear naked choke, but Miz quickly reached the ropes to break the hold. Ziggler hit a fameasser and covered for another close near fall. Maryse attempted to use her spray can again to blind Ziggler, but the ref saw it and sent her packing. Miz protested, but Ziggler rolled him up to catch him by surprise. Miz was able to reverse, but Ziggler kicked out.
Ziggler was able to hit a Zig Zag, but only got a near fall. Miz then grabbed his title from ring side and tried to leave, but Ziggler interrupted him and tossed him into the steps. Miz recovered the spray can and used it on Ziggler as the ref was distracted by recovering the Intercontinental Championship, and then hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the win.
The Miz defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the Intercontinental Championship
Randy Orton was shown walking towards the ring for the next match…[c]
My Take: A solid match, perhaps the best in their series thus far, but going back to the spray can finish felt like a cop out. Hopefully this leads to some character changes for Ziggler, who has been stale as a babyface for far too long.
Randy Orton made his entrance. Erick Rowan was already in the ring and got no televised entrance.
4. Randy Orton vs. Erick Rowan: Orton went for an RKO early, but Rowan avoided it and hit a spinning powerslam. He followed up by dropping some elbows and pummeling Orton in the corner. The match spilled outside, where Rowan remained in control, but Orton hit a hanging DDT as they got back into the ring, and finished Rowan off with an RKO immediately after.
Randy Orton defeated Erick Rowan
The Wyatt Sounder Played and when the lights came back on the sheep mask was laying in the ring next to Orton. Wyatt then showed up on the big screen and said that they were bonded in the unholiest of matrimonies, til death do them part. The unfortunate thing for Randy is that he can die, while Bray is a God and is immortal. Run. Yawn.
My Take: This feud needs to be put out of it’s misery already. I’m at a point with Wyatt’s promos at this point that I can listen to every fifth word and know exactly what he said in between. His character once felt outside the box, but it’s been completely domesticated.
Carmella, Natalya, and Nikki Bella were already in the ring. Naomi then made her entrance and made us all feel the glow I guess.
5. Natalya and Carmella vs. Nikki Bella and Naomi: The match got started with Nikki and Natalya in the ring, and Nattie immediately knocked Naomi to the floor. She quickly put Nikki in the sharpshooter, but Carmella pulled her out of the ring assaulted her at ringside. The match was called off after about 30 seconds.
The match ended in an apparent no contest.
Backstage, AJ Styles was interviewed by Charlie. She asked how he felt about his two rivals competing tonight. He said he wasn’t rivals with either of them, because he beat them both already. AJ said he was the face that runs the place, and the champ that runs the camp, and the only reason he was in a Triple Threat at No Mercy is because the only way he could lost his championship is if he didn’t need to get pinned to lose it. He said he would watch Ambrose and Cena tear each other apart, while he sits back and soaks it all in. John Cena made his entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: I guess the women’s match got cut because of time? I guess it could have been planned this way, but it seems like they could have accomplished the same thing with a backstage attack or something.
Dean Ambrose made his ring entrance.
6. Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena: A split John Cena chant started the match. Ambrose tried to push the pace early running the ropes, but Cena took him down and applied a chinlock to slow things down. Cena attempted a corner spear after an irish whip, but Ambrose moved and Cena hit the post with his shoulder…[c]
Ambrose hit some punches and chops, and then followed up with a running clothesline. He tried to set up for Dirty Deeds, but Cena countered with a drop toe hold into an STF. Ambrose quickly made it to the ropes to break. Cena charged at Ambrose, but got dumped to the outside through the middle rope. Ambrose fired up and went for a suicide dive that connected. Back in the ring, Ambrose climbed to the top, but Cena rolled through the cross body and hit an AA. He was able to cover immediately, but only got a near fall. He went for another AA, but Ambrose countered into Dirty Deeds, which Cena kicked out of. Both men fought to their feet and traded right hands. Ambrose went for a lunatic lariat, but Cena countered into position for the AA. Ambrose returned the counter and got a surprise three count with a rollup for the win.
Dean Ambrose defeated John Cena
AJ Styles appeared out of nowhere and took out Cena with a Phenomenal Forearm. He then entered the ring and hit a Pele Kick on Dean Ambrose. Daniel Bryan made an entrance and told Styles that last week Shane McMahon promised Dean Ambrose a one on one title opportunity, and said it would take place on Smackdown next week. AJ got fired up, and turned around right into Dirty Deeds. We then got some replays to close the show.
My Take: This was a better show than Raw, just by virtue of being an hour shorter and not being so focused on the Authority Figures. Smackdown does a good job of maximizing their limited roster whereas Raw seems to weigh down their talent with poorly written angles and too much interaction with the General Manager and Commissioner. There was some unevenness to this show with the promo work, but the action was generally good and the matchups feel fresher than we see on Monday Nights.