By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Live from Columbia, South Carolina at Colonial Life Arena
There was a black carpet and table setup in the ring as the announcers plugged American Alpha vs. Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt in the main event. Renee Young opened the show in the ring and spoke about TLC being on Sunday. She said Alexa Bliss would take on Becky Lynch on Sunday, and they were there to make it official. She then introduced Alexa Bliss, and footage was shown during her entrance of her attack on Becky Lynch after her match last week. Becky Lynch was then introduced.
Renee began to speak, but Alexa interrupted and told her that they would let her know if they needed bad fashion advice. Becky said that’s saying something coming from Harley Quinn. Alexa said Becky only has the championship because of dumb Irish luck. Becky said Alexa reminds her of her cousin Neve. They both are blonde, are obsessed with glitter, and cry when they don’t get their way. Except Neve is 4, so what’s her excuse.
Alexa reminded her that she had her foot on the ropes in Glasgow, and she would be women’s champion if it weren’t for the ref being blind. Becky replied that she had the option of using her foot or losing her arm, and at TLC she wouldn’t give her the option at TLC. Becky then signed the contract. Alexa talked trash about life not being a Disney Movie, and the nice princess doesn’t always win.
Becky said she didn’t get to Wrestlemania by being nice, she wasn’t the first women’s pick on Smackdown by being nice, and she didn’t become the Women’s championship be being nice. She said “Lexi” has been on the roster for 4 months, but all she’s got is a bad attitude and an entitlement complex. Alexa replied that she knows they didn’t teach her to speak properly on her potato farm, but her name is Alexa. Before she could say more, Becky stopped her, and then sucker punched her in the mouth.
They brawled and Becky hit an Exploder Suplex. She set up the table and set Alexa on the top rope. She went for a top rope exploder suplex, but instead Alexa blocked and shoved Becky back onto the table. Alexa stood tall as the segment ended, with Lynch laying on the table.
My Take: I liked the verbal exchange, but nobody really came out of it looking like a babyface. There’s still something a bit unnatural about Alexa’s delivery, but she’s getting better. I’m looking forward to a good match between these two on Sunday.
We saw some footage of the previous segment, and then Dolph Ziggler made his entrance. He was followed by Kalisto. Baron Corbin then made his entrance, and finally The Miz.
1. Baron Corbin and The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler and Kalisto: Ziggler and Corbin started the match. Corbin went to knock Kalisto off the apron, but he avoided it. Ziggler knocked Miz off the apron, and walked right into a Corbin clothesline…[c]
Corbin drove a knee into Ziggler, and then knocked Kalisto off the ring apron. Corbin threw Miz out to the floor and tagged the Miz. He went outside and set up a ladder against the ring post. He attempted to throw Ziggler into it, but he stopped short and hit a jumping DDT. Corbin tried to intervene, but Ziggler hit him with a superkick. Zigger entered the ring and made a tag to Kalisto, who hit a twisting forearm and a springboard elbow on Miz. Corbin assaulted Ziggler on the outside, and regrouped with Miz. Kalisto hit a suicide dive on both of them.
Ziggler hit a superkick on Miz as he got back in the ring. Kalisto capitalized with Salida Del Sol, but Corbin broke up the pin with a chair shot to the back for a DQ.
The Miz and Kalisto defeated Baron Corbin and The Miz
The announce team plugged the main event…[c]
My Take: This didn’t feel hot enough to send both of these matches home for TLC. The Miz and Ziggler is set to be their final match, and it isn’t getting a blow off type of build. I think they peaked a bit early with the retirement stip and haven’t been able to recapture the magic from a story standpoint.
Backstage, American Alpha were interviewed backstage. They were asked if they were prepared for the Wyatt’s, and they said that was a ridiculous question. They wondered if they had to worry about their mysterious powers, but then mocked them by saying that they could levitate by getting thrown up for a suplex and never coming down. They said that after tonight, the Wyatt’s would see them and run.
The Wyatt sounder hit, and they were shown backstage on the monitor. Bray called Alpha delusional. Randy spoke up and said Alpha was just like he used to be. They were closed minded and unable to see the truth, but he’s seen the light and the truth has made him stronger. He said they had proven they were the best at Survivor Series, and would do whatever it takes to Alpha later. He then turned to Luke Harper, and said the real question is if Harper would do what needed to be done to Kane. Wyatt told Harper to go send Kane back to hell…[c]
My Take: Orton seems to be instigating between Harper and Wyatt, and it seems to be foreshadowing some drama later on in the show. I’m curious if they do the right thing eventually and double turn them, as Orton is much better as a heel and Wyatt could use a change of pace.
Carmella made her entrance, and grabbed a microphone. She said she had a message for Nikki Bella’s boyfriend. She said she wanted to apologize for what she’s going to do to Nikki at TLC. She said she’s going to slap Nikki’s implants through her back, and rearrange her face so the last thing she’s going to be thinking about is a wedding. She started to talk about the second season of Total Bella’s, but Nikki Bella interrupted and ran down for an attack. They brawled a bit, with Nikki getting the better of it. Carmella retreated up the ramp…[c]
The announce team threw to footage of the ladder match main event from last week’s show. Ambrose was shown walking towards the ring for the Ambrose Asylum coming up next…[c]
My Take: Carmella has had the same insults for Nikki Bella for every promo. It’s been a good feud from a physicality standpoint, but I wish the verbal interactions were stronger. I don’t know how many women are part of the WWE creative teams, but all these promos come across like female characters speaking from a male perspective.
Dean Ambrose made his entrance and welcomed everyone to The Ambrose Asylum with a crappy piece of shag carpet. He immediately brought out James Ellsworth, and said he had a newly minted Smackdown contract. Ambrose asked him how old his boots were. He didn’t answer, but Ambrose said they looked like he made them in 4th grade. He asked him how it felt to be a WWE Superstar, and he said that he never thought he would appear on Smackdown. But he kept showing up, and he kept fighting, and ended up in the right place at the right time.
Ellsworth said if Dean ever needed anything, he had his back. Ambrose said he could wash his car, or do his laundry, or buy him some candy. Ambrose then asked him about his title shot. Ellsworth said it would be an honor to face him for the WWE Championship, but he also has 3 wins over AJ Styles, so maybe he could do that again. AJ Styles then interrupted, and stood on top of the announce table.
He asked Ellsworth if he knows who he is. He’s a prop Ambrose is using to insult him. Ambrose would be better off with a ventriloquist dummy, at least they have chins. Ambrose asked if he was beaten by a dummy three times. Styles said that if it wasn’t for him, Ellsworth wouldn’t have had a snowball’s chance, and he’s tired of Ambrose disrespecting him. If he didn’t give it to him on Sunday, he would beat it out of him.
He said he would bounce him off rungs on a ladder, put him through all the tables he could find, and wrap chairs across his back. And if Ellsworth dares to show up, he had a special gift just for him. Ambrose replied and said that AJ has physical gifts, but Championships are won upstairs, and the last month has shown Styles that AJ is too easy. He’s never been more frustrated in his life, and if he can’t get his head in the game, he’ll be watching Ambrose climb the ladder and head and retrieve his WWE Championship.
Styles assaulted Ambrose and threw him into the stairs. He then picked up the top portion of the stairs and dropped them on Ambrose’s back and side. He then entered the ring and tossed Ellsworth around, and dropped a ladder on him. He he then hit him with a chair, and set him up on the outside on the bottom portion of the ring steps. Styles the proceeded to hit a Styles Clash from the stairs to the floor, and Ellsworth played dead. Styles celebrated his greatness as the announce team worried about Ellsworth. He was being placed on a stretcher as the show faded out…[c]
My Take: This wasn’t their best verbal outing, but taken as a package this was a satisfying final chapter of this build. Ambrose had been joking around for so long, that he needed a reminder of how dangerous Styles really is, and Styles was desperate for credibility. After getting punked out for several weeks waiting to get through Survivor Series and now heading into TLC, he needed a strong showing. The Styles Clash looked safe and Ellsworth sold very well, if anyone was worried.
Backstage, Ambrose apologized to Ellsworth as he was being loaded into an ambulance. He told him they would fix it as he got into the ambulance and they pulled away. In the arena, Otunga questioned whether his career was over, and Kane made his entrance. Luke Harper followed.
2. Luke Harper vs. Kane: Kane shoved Harper down, and both men stared at one another briefly. Kane hit a shoulder block, but Harper fired back with uppercuts and a side kick to the gut. They both taunted one another, and Kane went for a Tombstone, but Harper blocked. Kane clothesline Harper out to the floor…[c]
Harper used strikes and holds to wear down Kane, but telegraphed a back body drop and ate a DDT as a result. Kane followed up with a side slam for a two count. He then hit two running forearms, but Harper fired right back with a running dropkick. Harper hit mounted punches in the corner, but Kane picked him up for a powerbomb for a near fall. Harper recovered and hit a spinning side slam for a near fall of his own.
Harper applied a rear chinlock, but Kane battled to his feet for a back suplex. Kane went to the top for a clothesline, but Harper avoided it and hit a Superkick for another near fall. Harper tried to climb to the top himself, but Kane hit an uppercut to slow him down, and then hit a superplex that grounded both men. Harper was first to his feet, but Kane sat up and they began to brawl. Kane hit a chokeslam a moment later for the win .
Kane defeated Luke Harper
Kane walked to the back, and the announce team put over all the upcoming WWE Network specials. The main event was set up for next…[c]
My Take: Luke Harper man….what a waste. WWE really doesn’t seem to understand what they have on their hands with him.
Backstage, Becky Lynch was interviewed and asked if she’ll be able to defend her championship on Sunday. She said the doctors say she has a spine bruise, but she doesn’t care if she had to ice her back until Sunday, she’ll be ready at TLC. Becky is then told that Alexa has challenged her to a tables match, and Becky smiled. She said she’s looking forward to getting her revenge on that bitch.
In the arena, the Wyatt Family made their entrance, followed by American Alpha…[c]
My Take: Chances of a title change just went up by 200%. Tables matches are made for getting Championships off of people without them taking a pin.
3. American Alpha vs. The Wyatt Family: Jordan and Orton started the match, and Jordan got off to a fast start with some deep arm drags. Orton tagged out to Wyatt, who ate a suplex right away and then ate a double dropkick after Chad Gable entered for a double team maneuver. Wyatt rolled out to the announce table and tossed off the equipment cover to show frustration.
Jordan went for a flying body press, but Wyatt ducked and Jordan collided with the ropes. Orton and Wyatt took over at this point, making quick tags and using holds to keep him on the ground. Jordan fought to his feet and Gable made a blind tag. Orton didn’t notice, and Gable was able to surprise him with a flying crossbody from the top. He then applied an over the top rope armbar until the ref counted 4. He then climbed up top again, but Wyatt ran over and knocked him down to the floor while the ref attended to Orton…[c]
Wyatt tossed Gable out to the apron and pursued him. They traded blows, but Wyatt got the better of it and planted Gable with a DDT. Orton tagged in and held onto a rear chinlock as only he can. Gabe fought to his feet, but Orton quickly caught him with a powerslam and a near fall. Wyatt and Orton traded turns isolating Gable, and Orton hit a very nice Superplex that appeared to ring both he and Chad Gable’s bells. They both tagged, and Jordan went after Wyatt. He hit a Saito Suplex and covered for a near fall.
Gable hit a cannonball out onto Orton on the floor, taking them both out for the time being. Wyatt hit a running cross body. Jordan recovered and hit a German Suplex, and Alpha looked primed to hit Grand Amplitude when the lights went out and Luke Harper appeared. Orton snuck in and hit an RKO on Gable, and Bray hit Sister Abigail on Jordan for the win.
The Wyatt Family defeated American Alpha
The announce team plugged the Tag Team Championship match on Sunday. Rhyno and Slater were asked about it in the back, and they said The Wyatt Family needs to prepare for them. Styles walked up and said nobody cares about the Tag Team Championships. He asked if they saw what he did to Ellsworth, and they said the Tag Team Championships are serious business. Rhyno got in AJ’s face, and AJ asked if he was serious.
Dean Ambrose yelled “Hey, you bastard!” from off screen, and ran and speared Styles. He tossed him over a couch and they began to brawl. Rhyno and Slater yelled while Ambrose put a beating on Styles as the show faded to black.
My Take: I really don’t see what extending this Wyatt and Orton program into the tag division accomplishes, but WWE must be convinced they really have something. I’m less than convinced this far, because the chemistry hasn’t been there. If anything, it has just illustrated how similar Orton and Wyatt are once you peel back the layers of hocus pocus. The show closing brawl was expected, and Sunday’s title match should be very entertaining.