By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Live from Houston, Texas at Toyota Center
[Q1] A video package opened the show that focused on James Ellsworth’s interference that led to AJ Styles retaining the WWE Championship. It also went over Ellsworth’s appearance on Talking Smack and the reaction from Daniel Bryan and Renee Young to the interference. AJ walked out to the ring, and his foot and ankle were in an air cast boot.
Styles said he wanted to address the elephant in the room, and showed a picture of the whole in his pants from TLC. He mocked the crowd for thinking it was about his cast, and said that he did everything he said he was going to do, including wrapping chairs around Dean Ambrose and putting him through tables. He said if the boot on his leg was the worst that happens, then TLC was everything he wanted. The only downside is that he’s not medically cleared tonight to face James Ellsworth.
Ellsworth interrupted and entered the ring putting up his dukes. Styles said he looked like he was moving in slow motion. Ellsworth accused him of ducking him, and said he had his number and would beat him a fourth time. Styles said Ellsworth was delusional, and the difference between him and Ambrose is that he knows when to quit. Ambrose is going to cave the rest of his face in just like his chin. Ambrose’s music hit and he headed to the ring, hit Dirty Deeds on Ellsworth, and then left.
Alexa Bliss’ Championship celebration was plugged for later, as well as a Tag Team Championship rematch between Slater & Rhyno and Orton & Styles. We heard the Wyatt sounder, Bray said “we’re here”….[c]
My Take: Ellsworth is dead as a character. Crowd didn’t react to him at all. If they are going to pull the trigger on him turning heel and joining Styles, they better get on with it, because they’ve reached the land of apathy with him.
[Q2] Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt made their entrance, followed by Slater and Rhyno.
1. Randy Orton & Bray Wyatt vs. Slater & Rhyno: Slater grabbed and held on to a side headlock to start the match. Things sped up with Slater hitting the ropes and hitting a shoulder block. Orton fired back with a clothesline and tagged in Wyatt. Slater hit him with a flying crossbody, and then tagged in Rhyno. Wyatt remained down, so Rhyno set up for a gore. Wyatt realized what was happening and bailed out of the ring…[c]
Wyatt hit a lariat and a running senton on Rhyno for a near fall. He covered again and got the same result. Orton tagged in and hit some stomps, and then played to the crowd a bit. Rhyno got to his feet and hit some strikes, but Orton hit a standing dropkick and covered for a two count. Rhyno hit a shoulder block on Orton, and made a hot tag to Slater. He entered and knocked Wyatt off the apron. He then hit a leg lariat on Orton and a hangman’s neckbreaker for a near fall.
Wyatt distracted Slater, who turned around into an Orton powerslam. Wyatt then pulled Rhyno out to the floor, and made a tag into the match. Slater hit a big right hand on Wyatt, who then fired back with a big lariat. He put Slater into position for Sister Abigail, but instead made a tag to Orton. He then threw Slater into an RKO for the win.
Randy Orton & Bray Wyatt defeated Health Slater & Rhyno at 9:28.
The champions celebrated after the match. Backstage, Kalisto was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes. She asked him why he asked for a rematch with Baron Corbin. Kalisto said he felt like he’s been in a car wreck, but he has one advantage on Corbin, and that’s speed. He said speed kills, and walked away. Carmella vs. Natalya was advertised for next…[c]
My Take: A decent match, but not a great one. Wyatt and Orton feel like they are on another level, and the matches haven’t done anything to elevate Slater and Rhyno to feel like they belong there.
[Q3] Carmella made her entrance and grabbed a microphone. She said before Natalya waddles her way out, she had something to say. She said Natalya had bragged to her about pulling a Tonya Harding on Nikki, because she was jealous of Nikki stealing her spotlight. She didn’t like being second best, and had spent her career being runner up to the homecoming queen. She said she was a deceiving con artist. Nattie then made her entrance and they brawled for a bit. Carmella ran to the back and Nattie followed.
The camera followed them backstage, where Carmella was gone and Nattie ran into Nikki Bella. She told Nikki she was a liar and she shouldn’t believe any of it, but Nikki just stormed off without responding. The announce team plugged MizTV with Dean Ambrose later in the show, and Alexa’s victory celebration. [c]
My Take: I really hope this is misdirection until they can get Mickie James on the show. She’d be a much better candidate for this attacker feud, because she can hang both on the ring and in the mic, and Nattie really struggles with mic work.
[Q4] Backstage, Dasha Fuentes interviewed Baron Corbin. She asked him about Kalisto’s speed. He said Kalisto is just like everyone else that gets in the ring with him. He’s the big man, and they are the little men. He then said he’s like a mosquito that flies around until they land on him. Then splat. The Ascension were already in the ring as the Hype Bros made their entrances. They both cut picture in picture promos, but you already know what they said because they say the same shit every time they’re on the microphone.
2. The Ascension vs. The Hype Bros: Viktor knocked Mojo off the apron, and then sent Ryder into the heel corner for some abuse. Konnor pulled Ryder to the floor and roughed him up, and then tagged Ryder back into the match. We got some methodical tags from The Ascension, who took turns raining down strikes on Ryder. Konnor attempted a suplex, but it got reversed into a neckbreaker. Viktor and Mojo were tagged in, and Mojo cleaned house. He hit a full nelson slam and made a cover, but Konnor broke it up. Ryder cleared Konnor from the ring and tagged in. He and Mojo hit the Hype Ryder on Viktor for the win.
The Hype Bros defeated The Ascension at 2:52
MizTV was hyped for next…[c]
My Take: Meh. There’s just nothing there for either of these teams. WWE doesn’t really have a ladder for them to scale in the tag division, as they’d have to go from wrestling other low card acts to getting in the ring with American Alpha, The Usos, or Orton & Wyatt. I don’t dislike either act but WWE hasn’t given anyone a reason to take them seriously.
Miz welcomed everyone to MizTV, and said TLC was a night of high and low. He said he had put Dolph Ziggler in his rearview mirror permanently, and is continuing on his Intercontinental Championship reunion tour. He said his guest had gave everything he had on Sunday, but came up short. He then introduced Dean Ambrose.
[Q5] Miz asked him how angry he is, given what happened at TLC and what he did earlier tonight. He said he must want to rip people limb from limb, and could be the angriest man on earth. Ambrose said he wasn’t angry, but he was surprised after all he had done for Ellsworth. He said he pulled him out of a minimum wage job, and handed him a Smackdown contract.
Miz asked Ambrose if he thought he didn’t kind of deserve it. After weeks of using James Ellsworth and manipulating him for an agenda, and using him like a puppet, he finally cut the strings and fought back. Miz asked if he could really be surprised. Ambrose said he always found it surprising when people intentionally piss him off, and got to his feet and walked towards him. Miz hid behind Maryse and said he has a special prize for Ambrose.
Because he had tried so hard on Sunday, he had gotten him the first ever Miz Participation Award. Even though he didn’t win, he did try. Ambrose said it would be fun to try shoving the award down Miz’s throat, and Miz begged off. Daniel Bryan’s music hit, and said he can’t let Ambrose assault Miz. He could do one better, though, and proceeded to make a match for tonight’s Main Event. In response to yes chants, he decided to make the match for the Intercontinental Championship. Miz was upset and Ambrose laughed…[c]
My Take: An above average MizTV segment, but maybe a bit too on the nose if you care about exposing the flaws in Ambrose’s babyface character. That said, the crowd was excited for the Title Match and who can blame them.
Kalisto made his entrance, followed by Baron Corbin.
3. Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin: Kalisto started out with some quick strikes, but Corbin ducked to the outside and re-entered in time to hit a shoulder block on Kalisto as he came off the ropes. Corbin tossed Kalisto to the floor, and he returned to the ring at a nine count. Kalisto used a dropkick to send Corbin out to the floor, and hit a moonsault on him from the top. Kalisto went on an offensive run and hit some kicks, a spike rana, and a tornado DDT for a near fall. He tried for another aerial move, but Corbin caught him with End of Days for the win.
Baron Corbin defeated Kalisto at 4:11
[Q6] Backstage, Nikki Bella was approached by Sophia Grace, who is apparently a Youtube Star. They promoted a special they are having for the release of her single, with some WWE women’s talent appearing on her Youtube show…[c]
My Take: Kalisto and Corbin are in a tough spot. WWE doesn’t seem to have much interest in putting Kalisto over Corbin, but there isn’t a ready made feud for Corbin to move on to. I think Corbin would quickly be exposed as very mediocre any higher up the card, so perhaps Jason Powell was onto something when he brought up the idea of having him go back to squashing jobbers for a bit until they have something ready.
American Alpha made their ring entrance, with Chad Gable in singles action against Tyler Breeze. Footage was shown of the Fashion Police giving able a ticket for having ugly shirts and faces. Gable told them to shove their tickets and their chippendale outfits.
4. Tyler Breeze vs. Chad Gable: Gable grabbed an armbar over the top rope right away, and Breeze fought to escape. On the outside, Gable attacked Breeze, but got distracted by Fandango, which allowed Breeze to take a cheap shot forearm. He wasn’t able to capitalize for long, as Gable hit an Alpha Plex in the ring, followed by mounted punches. Back on the floor, Jason Jordan hit an overhead belly to belly on Fandango. Gable hit a rolling German in the ring for the win.
Chad Gable defeated Breezango at 3:23
Alexa Bliss’ Championship Celebration was hyped for next…[c]
My Take: That was a fun match, if only for Gable’s sharp looking offense. I think the rolling German is great, but it really depends on a smooth transition from roll to suplex, and this one wasn’t the best I’ve seen. Hoping that Alpha is getting setup for a major push, because they have been underutilized over the past few months.
[Q7] Alexa Bliss made her entrance and got a big pyro display for her Championship Win. She grabbed a microphone and said “Ding Dong, the Witch is champ”. She said at TLC she proved happy endings don’t exist. The crowd chanted “We want Becky”, and Alexa said she recalled her caling her a word that rhymed with Witch. She then said that this bitch is now running the Smackdown Live women’s division.
Becky made her entrance and said that she can’t stand the fact that a petulant, whiny little girl is the face of Smackdown Live. Alexa replied that she can call her whatever she wants, and the crowd can tweet whatever they want, but they will have to call her champ. Becky replied that her reign begins and ends when she gets her rematch, and she wants it right now. Alexa feigned like she was going to fight, but instead bailed and left up the ramp.
Footage from Dean Ambrose hitting Dirty Deeds on James Ellsworth was shown. He then made his ring entrance for the main event…[c]
My Take: Pretty basic follow up promo for Becky and Alexa, but we have a long way to go until the Royal Rumble. I’m wondering if they’ll try and extend the feud all the way to the Royal Rumble, or try and have a match on Smackdown in between now and then. I suppose an inconclusive match could set up a final encounter, but they already had to do that once.
The Miz made his ring entrance for the main event.
[Q8] 5. The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose: Ambrose made a cover after a hip toss and covered for a one count. Ambrose hit another hip toss and then clotheslined Miz out of the ring. He set up for a suicide dive, but Miz pulled Maryse in the way and Ambrose pulled back…[c]
Miz mocked Daniel Bryan with corner dropkicks, followed by his signature corner clothesline. He then climbed to the top and went for a double axe handle, but Ambrose kicked him in the gut. Ambrose hit a clothesline and a running bulldog, and rolled up Miz with a la magistral cradle for a near fall. Ambrose climbed to the top, but couldn’t execute a move as Miz got up too quickly. Ambrose bailed, and grabbed his knee after landing on the mat.
Miz went to work on the knee with a kick and tried for a figure four, but Ambrose shoved him off. Ambrose reversed another shinbreaker attempt, and climbed to the second rope. Miz pulled him down and applied the figure four, but Ambrose made the ropes. Miz charged at Ambrose, and got low bridged to the outside. Ambrose fired up and hit suicide dive, and made an 8 count back into the ring.
Ambrose went for Dirty Deeds, but Miz reversed out. He then kicked Ambrose’s knee and hit a DDT. Miz then hit some poor man’s Yes Kicks, but got rolled up on the roundhouse for a two count. Ambrose hit a lunatic lariat, and then climbed the turnbuckle. Miz followed, and they struggled in the corner. Ambrose hit a headbutt that sent Miz to the mat, but Maryse interfered and crotched him on the ropes. Miz followed up with a Daniel Byran/Kenta’s Busaiku Knee for a near fall.
James Ellsworth ran down to alert the ref that Maryse had interfered. Miz went for the figure four in the ring, but Ambrose rolled him up. The ref didn’t see it at first thanks to Ellsworth’s interference, and Miz kicked out just before three. Ambrose turned his attention to Ellsworth, which allowed Miz to hit a Skull Crushing Finale for the win.
The Miz defeated Dean Ambrose at 13:44
Post-match, Ellsworth high tailed it out of there as Ambrose looked angry. The Miz celebrated on the ramp.
My Take: An average match with a predictable finish. It’s easy to understand given the ladder matches just a few days ago, there wasn’t a lot of magic here. Ellsworth came across as a hapless idiot, but I don’t think that will last long. He’ll reveal his master plan with Styles soon enough, and then the program might get interesting again.