By Jason Powell
WWE Smackdown Live Hits
AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, and James Ellsworth: Finally, a Styles Clash taken properly that actually looked painful. The segment started off lighthearted and didn’t fit the tone for TLC even after Styles arrived. The mood changed quickly when Styles attacked both men. It was odd that Ambrose was laid out by little more than being run into the ring steps. After all, that happens to his Shield buddy Roman Reigns in damn near every match he works and it doesn’t seem to faze him for long. Putting that aside, this was a strong segment that put good heat on Styles going into TLC. By the way, JBL did a really nice job during this segment. He was all over Ellsworth with the usual insults, but then even he was openly hoping that Styles wouldn’t perform the Styles Clash off the ring steps. The big brawl at the end felt unnecessary, as I was perfectly content with Styles having all the heat heading into Sunday. The brawl was decent and Ambrose showed good fire, but perhaps they would have been better served having Ambrose deliver a passionate promo about all the things he planned to do to Styles using tables, ladders, and chairs and Sunday.
Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt vs. American Alpha: It was cool to see Alpha work with some major players rather than sitting on the sidelines or being wasted in multi-team matches. They lost the match, but they made a strong first impression. If Orton and Wyatt have a long run as the top heels, where does that leave the Usos? Will we ever get the Usos vs. Alpha feud over the tag titles?
Kalisto and Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin and The Miz: A good match to whet the appetite of viewers for two TLC matches. They kept the match fast paced by having Miz work mostly with the two babyfaces, while wisely limiting how much Corbin and Kalisto were in the ring together. Corbin drew good heat by ending the match with a chair shot.
Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss contract signing: The verbal exchange was well delivered. Just about the time I was worried they were going to kill the heel’s heat by having the babyface put her through a table, Bliss rebounded and put the champion through the table instead. Simple and effective hype for their title match at TLC.
Carmella and Nikki Bella: A good promo with Carmella addressing John Cena while speaking about what she intends to do to his girlfriend. Nikki running out to attack Carmella and getting the better of her was a rare case of a heel getting the better of the babyface on this go-home show, but the beatdown wasn’t too decisive and left me looking forward to their No DQ match at TLC.
WWE Smackdown Live Misses
Kane vs. Luke Harper: The live crowd was beyond flat when Harper made his entrance. As talented as the guy is, he is presented as an underling and the fans have no reason to see him as more than a henchman. The big men worked really hard and filled more time than expected, but this was still the least exciting segment of the night. Hopefully Harper losing actually has a purpose for once in that it could fit into the story they appear to be telling with Randy Orton’s presence in the Wyatt Family driving a wedge between Harper and Bray Wyatt.