By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Live from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania at Mohegan Sun Arena
We got a video retrospective of the history of the Smackdown Show, with clips of various superstars throughout the shows various eras, along with promotion for tonight’s Championship match between Dolph Ziggler and The Miz and the special appearances from Edge and The Undertaker.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan led off the show, making their entrances straight away. They did awkward yes chanting and remained on the stage. Shane welcomed everyone to the 900th episode of Smackdown Live, and Bryan played hype man for the the show. He spoke about Edge hosting the Smackdown Survivor Series team on the Cutting Edge, and the return of the Undertaker. Shane then said he couldn’t think of a better way to begin the show than the Intercontinental Championship Match. The Miz made his entrance with Maryse, followed by Dolph Ziggler. Dolph got a fairly tepid reaction, or the crowd mics were turned off for some reason. Tom Phillips joined the normal announce team, making it a preposterous four man booth.
1. Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz: Ziggler got a much better reaction during ring introductions. The match began quickly with both guys going through some reversal chains attempting to hit their signature offense…[c]
Miz dominated the action coming out of the break, scoring a near fall after a neckbreaker. He grounded Ziggler, who eventually fought to his feet and avoided a charging Miz in the corner. Both men struggled to their feet and Ziggler fired up with a running clothesline. He then applied a sleeper to The Miz, who was able to get a break by getting his foot under the ropes. Miz caught a charging Ziggler with a big boot, and nearly scored a shady pin, but the referee discovered him using the ropes and warned him. Miz turned around into a Rocker Dropper and Ziggler got a near fall of his own…[c]
My Take: This match must be going through to the bottom of the hour at the current pace.
Ziggler rolled up Miz for another two count. He then went for a Zig Zag on the ropes, but Miz held on. Miz mocked Daniel Bryan by hitting Yes Kicks, and avoided a Dolph comeback to hit a Skull Crushing Finale for a near fall. Miz went for a figure four, but Ziggler broke free and scrambled to hit a Zig Zag. He covered, but Miz put his foot on the ropes to break up the pin. Miz dialed up for a Superkick, but the Spirit Squad interfered, offering enough of a distraction to allow Miz to kick his leg out from under him and apply a Figure Four.
Miz crawled to the ropes, and appeared on the verge of tapping out, but he grabbed the ropes and broke the hold. Maryse stood right next to the action as Ziggler avoided another Figure Four attempt with a rollup. Maryse then intervened and helped Miz reverse the position to get the pinfall.
Miz defeated Dolph Ziggler to win the Intercontinental Championship
After the match, footage was introduced of the show concluding brawl on Raw yesterday. The Cutting Edge was hyped for later tonight, as well as The Undertaker…[c]
My Take: I like the move back to The Miz, as silly as the finish was. They went back to the well way too many times in this feud to keep it interesting, but Ziggler was going nowhere as a babyface Champion. This change also allows them to take shortcuts with the finish on Sunday, and avoids a lukewarm match between two babyfaces that didn’t have a ton of momentum as characters.
Backstage, Alexa Bliss complained to Daniel Bryan about her loss last week to Becky Lynch. Bryan told her she would get her rematch, but didn’t commit to when. Nattie walked up and quoted the Chumbawamba song and told her nothing would ever keep her down. She continued pretending not to know she’s quoting song lyrics.
In the ring, Kalisto made his entrance, and Oney Lorcan was already in the ring.
2. Kalisto vs. Oney Lorcan: Oney started out on fire and took it to Kalisto with rapid fire strikes. A moment into the match, Kalisto hit Salida Del Sel off an Irish Whip Reversal and got a pinfall.
Kalisto defeated Oney Lorcan
Nikki Bella vs. Carmella was advertised for later tonight. Backstage, The Undertaker’s theme played as the camera focused in on his hat. He picked it up from out of frame and the crowd cheered…[c]
My Take: Kalisto managed an obvious botch in a match that lasted a minute. I’m not sure whether you can call it bad luck, but it’s certainly an unfortunate pattern.
The Tag Division was arguing backstage. Heath Slater told them he had brought them a special speaker, and King Booker walked up. He began to regale them with the importance of the Survivor Series match, when Breezango walked and called him King Booger. Booker told them if they wanted to be Champions, they had to dress like them, and not like rejects from Pirates of the Caribbean. He managed to work in his catchphrase and finished with “Can you dig that, suckaaa!”
Nikki Bella made her entrance in the arena…[c]
My Take: King Booker was an entertaining run on Smackdown. I actually wouldn’t have minded had he stayed in that character throughout the segment, but I get why they wanted to work in all of his most memorable lines.
A clip was shown of John Cena’s debut on Smackdown from 2002. Carmella made her entrance for the next match.
3. Carmella vs. Nikki Bella: All of this acrimony in this feud, and the match starts with a long collar and elbow tie up. Carmella taunted NIkki with John Cena’s can’t see me gesture, and then pie faces her. Nikki chased her around the ring and got the advantage briefly, until she escaped out to the floor. Nikki went for a baseball slide, but Carmella caught her and hit a high angle neckbreaker out onto the floor.
Carmella then smashed Nikki into the floor and then wrenched on her neck using the ropes. Back in the ring, Carmella applied a rear chin lock. Nikki stood up and backed Carmella into the turnbuckles to break the grip. Carmella ran after her and hit some ground and pound offense, and used the ropes again to wrench her neck. She again applied a rear chin lock, and Nikki had to stand up to reach the ropes for a break at 3.
Carmella set up Nikki for a bronco buster in the corner, but Nikki got out of the way. Charlotte then appeared in the crowd with a ticket, and came and sat down near the ring…[c]
Nikki hit an Alabama Slam as Charlotte watched from ringside. She followed up with a corner clothesline and a kick from the second rope. Carmella rolled outside, and then Nikki tossed her into the barricade. Nikki then decided to attack Charlotte, and the action spilled into the ring.
The match ended in an apparent no contest
The Raw team then ran into the ring and put a beating on Nikki, and the Smackdown team made a rescue. Everyone brawled as Nia Jax began rag dolling everyone around the ring. She then charged at Becky Lynch, who moved and Nia when through the barricade. Naomi hit an acrobatic springboard splash to the outside and that took out the Raw Team. Smackdown stood tall in the ring as the Raw team reeled up the ramp.
My Take: A much longer match than I expected, especially considering the outcome. I liked Carmella focusing on the injured neck, and the neckbreaker spot out on the floor looked very convincing. Nia Jax ragdolling people was done to nice effect, and the Smackdown Team looking strong here probably means they lose on Sunday. They’ll have a moral victory either way, as they get to go back to a division that’s actually booked well.
Renee Young checked in by herself from the Talking Smack set. She introduced a video package for Goldberg and Lesnar. She then introduced a video for the USA show “Shooter”, which premieres after Smackdown. I guess the 11 commericals for the show and the video package earlier in the show weren’t enough. The Spirit Squad, Vaudevillains, Headbangers, and Ascension were in the ring. The Smackdown Tag Team Survivor Series Team then made their entrance…[c]
4. American Alpha, The Usos, Hype Bros, and Breezango vs. The Ascension, Spirit Squad, Vaudevillains, and Headbangers: Quick tags in the early going saw people quickly shuffle in and out of the match without doing much. The Usos isolated Simon Gotch in their corner, and then tagged in Mojo Rawley. Mojo hit a body slam and a seated senton, and tagged in Zack Ryder. He hit a neckbreaker and covered for a near fall. Mojo tagged back in and took some punches, but then hyped up. He hit a big right hand and tagged Ryder back in.
Ryder took a kick to the gut, and that allowed Viktor from the Ascension to tag in and work him over with strikes. Ryder got knees up in the corner on a charging Victor, and then clotheslined him out of the ring. The match broke down as Ryder slid out and hit a baseball slide. All the teams got into a shouting scrum near the ring…[c]
Ryder fought out of the heel corner and made a hot tag to Chad Gable. He was quickly shut down by the Headbangers. He managed to break free and hit a top rope alphaplex, but the cover was broken up by thrasher. Things broke down and everyone ended up on the floor for the Usos to hit tandem splashes. Alpha then hit grand amplitude and put away Thrasher for the win.
Team Smackdown defeated Team Smackdown Too
Tom Phillips went over WWE’s weekend of events with NXT and Survivor Series. After the plugs, Edge made his entrance to a mega reaction from the live crowd. He looked like a woodsman with a full beard and hair growing out….[c]
My Take: Great to see Edge again. He always looks like he really enjoys these moments. The Tag Match was a cluster with all those guys out there. They’ll need to get through a few eliminations on Sunday before things become less absurd.
Edge said he loves this feeling. He said anyone who knows him knows that he bleeds blue, and with Smackdown facing Raw at Survivor Series, fantasy warfare has become real. He then invited Team Smackdown to the ring. Edge said he had been watching Smackdown since the draft, and it was a beacon of hope and opportunity. He said he wanted to shake the man’s hand who represents this the best. He walked towards AJ Styles, and instead shook the hand of James Ellsworth.
Ellsworth said he was a fan of Edge his entire life, and said it would be an honor for him to do a five second pose with him. Styles interrupted and said it was stupid then and it’s stupid now. He said he should ask a question to somebody on Team Smackdown that’s important. He turned to Randy Orton and asked if he needed Bray Wyatt to pull the string on his back to talk. Bray stepped up and told Edge not to worry, at Survivor Series people would see a more dangerous viper than ever before.
Edge turned to Shane, who took over the segment and gave a speech about how they don’t need to like each other, but they needed to be on the same page for one night. He told Styles that as the Champion, he owes it to the team to lead them to victory, or he’ll be working Shane O’Mackdown when it’s over. Styles said that sounded stupid, and said they were all lucky that he’d agreed to coexist with hothead Dean Ambrose. He then blamed Ambrose for not sticking to the plan and attacking Team Raw the night before. Ambrose said after their team wins, he was coming straight after Styles. AJ responded and said that maybe he won’t play nice on Sunday, and got in Ambrose’s face.
Suddenly, the Undertaker’s gong hit and he made his way to the ring. Everybody reacted big for his entrance and cleared to one side of the ring. Taker made his way slowly into the ring and surveyed the crowd. He got in Shane McMahon’s face, and then backed away. He told the group that there could be no man to be Commissioner of Smackdown than the man who has no fear. Taker then tipped his had to him. Taker said he was there for two reasons. One, WrestleMania would no longer define who he is, and he’s back taking souls and digging holes.
He said Survivor Series is where he was born, and Smackdown has always been his home. He paused for an Undertaker chant before getting to his second point. He said at this year’s Survivor Series, there’s no reason to fear failure, but if you fail, you will have reason to fear The Deadman. He said Team Raw better Rest in Peace…
My Take: That was a bit of lackluster finish, even with Taker’s involvement. The most interesting element of it is that he says he’s back and that the Smackdown team has reason to fear him if they lose, but that could easily be misdirection. If he is going to be back in a limited role on Smackdown, John Cena seems like the highest profile feud they can pull off. Overall, though, this was a show that had some fun moments, but nothing that really pushed it into the category of being great. The Intercontinental Championship match felt a little like a rerun, and the rest of the action wasn’t much to talk about. The two hour format helps immensely, but in the end they didn’t really make me feel any more excited about Survivor Series.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Will Pruett on the Roman Reigns whodunnit angle, WWE heading into SummerSlam, AEW's October 2 premiere on TNT, the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax Tournament through Day 11, and more (77:45)...