WWE Smackdown is live in Cleveland, OH tonight starting at 8pm Eastern, and we will have coverage of the show as it airs. Last week it was announced that Dean Ambrose would get his one-on-one rematch for the WWE Championship, and tonight, that rematch happens as he takes on The Champ that Runs the Camp, AJ Styles. Heading into No Mercy two weeks out, can Ambrose win back his title?
Plus, last week The Miz retained his Intercontinental Championship when he successfully defended against Dolph Ziggler, but the win wasn’t without controversy. What repercussions will there be for his tainted win? And what will Dolph Ziggler do?
All this, plus Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Heath Slater & Rhyno, The Usos, and lots more! Join us here and on Twitter @RingRap!
An opening video hypes up AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose in a title rematch in the main event. The intro theme plays and we are in Cleveland, OH. Looks like Randy Orton is going to start things off. He walks to the ring to a full intro, not dressed to compete, as the announcers talk about how he’s got voices in his head. I’m sure he does.
A “Randy” chant breaks out as he takes the mic. He soaks it in. He addresses Bray Wyatt, and says he knows why he likes to talk about fear. Bray thinks mind games will cause Orton to lose focus, but the reason he does them is because he’s afraid. Orton says people are scared of many things – heights, spiders, snakes. He says Wyatt is afraid of him. He calls Wyatt out to the ring “if you’re man enough.”
Wyatt’s noise clip plays, and we see him in a backstage vignette. He asks Randy if he’s heard Hanzel and Gretel – and then he tells the tale of children lost in the woods leaving a trail of breadcrumbs. He says he left his own trail, but it won’t lead him home. Wyatt says he is a god and oversees everything Orton does. “You wanna hurt me Randy? Come on, but hurry.” He says the sands of time wait for no mortal man, and starts seeing “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”
The arena lights come back on and Orton heads up the ramp with a purpose.
We go ringside to the announcers, Mauro Ranallo, JBL, and David Otunga. They plus the title match later tonight, and Ambrose is approached backstage by Charly Caruso. He says he’s got a lot of things going through his mind, but this is a PG show. He says last week, he beat John Cena, and says AJ stole the title from him at Backlash. He’s going to turn Styles into “The guy that’s gonna cry” when he drops him.
We’ve got an 8-man tag match up next!
Heath Slater & Rhyno & American Alpha vs. The Ascension & The Usos
The Usos come out last, and they have a completely new entrance now – new music, new tron, new everything. It’s much more fitting with their new persona. We see highlights of their isolation of Chad Gable’s knee last week.
Jason Jordan and Jimmy Uso start it out. Tag to Gable early on, and Gable works the arm. David Otunga finally finished his Uso story he started last week. It was a let-down. Anyhow, both Usos are in as are American Alpha. They hit stereo monkey flips, and Gable goes for an arm bar on the ropes. They start fighting outside the ring, and Gable gets double-teamed, as they take out the bad leg once more. We go to break.
Back from break, The Ascension continues to beat down Gable. Viktor misses a shoulder in the corner, and Jimmy holds onto Gable’s leg, while The Ascension take out anyone available for a tag. Rhyno helps even the odds, and Gable breaks free, with Heath Slater the only one left on the apron. He begs for the tag, and Gable makes it. Slater unloads on Jey Uso, hitting a running knee, and a leg lariat to Viktor. Neck breaker to Jey for two. Rhyno runs in and hits a belly to belly on Konnor, but Viktor takes him out, and Jason Jordan dumps Viktor out of the ring. Slater goes for a roll-up, but Jimmy blind tags in, and the two double-team Heath Slater’s left leg. Jimmy wraps Slater in a single-leg Boston Crab, with his arm locked in, and Slater taps.
Winner: The Usos & The Ascension
Too much going on here to call this good, and the commercial break didn’t help. It’s good to see The Ascension rubbing shoulders with top teams, as it keeps them in the mix. Meanwhile, Rhyno and Slater look vulnerable in defeat.
Charly approaches John Cena backstage, and asks if it matters who’s champ going into the triple threat at No Mercy. He says Styles likes to run his mouth, and Ambrose has guts, but he’s using tonight’s match to prepare for No Mercy. He wants to say the 16-time champ is here.
The Miz and Maryse look at a poster of Lebron James backstage, and he beckons a stage hand to help him hang up a picture of himself over James’ portrait. Funny. Huge heat.
Randy Orton is backstage in a boiler room or something. An arrow points him down a dark corridor, implying that Wyatt is there waiting for him. He takes the arrow and turns it to face the opposite direction, and then walks in that direction instead. The camera pans back and the arrow is pointing the original way again, Erick Rowan looking at it. Meh.
Back from break, more Wyatt. He criticizes Orton for not following direction. He makes a threat and laughs, and we go ringside.
Carmella & Natalya vs. Naomi & Nikki Bella
Carmella and Natalya talk about their opponents, and run down both Naomi and Nikki Bella. Not bad. Nikki and Naomi counter their promo. Bella says she feels the glow and Carmella is just fuel to help her legacy burn forever.
Naomi and Carmella start it off. Carmella moonwalks and dances her way out of the corner, but Naomi takes out her legs and slaps her on the back. Naomi taunts her and twerks her butt in Carmella’s face, then moonwalks to taunt her. Tag to Bella, and Carmella bails out almost instantly. We go to break.
We return, and Natalya is in the ring gloating. Naomi is outside the ring, and Nattie hits her with a Michinoku Driver to the floor. Back in the ring, Naomi reaches for a tag, but Nattie keeps her under control. Naomi hits an arm drag, but Natalya slams her into the corner and tags in Carmella. They hit a snap mare and a leg split for two. Carmella keep Naomi cornered, and hits a Bronco Buster of sorts. Nattie tags in and the pair double-team Naomi. Naomi fights out of the corner, but Nattie hits a slingshot move and a basement dropkick for two.
Naomi finally makes the hot tag, and Bella is on fire. She hits a springboard enzuigiri for two. Carmella attacks Bella illegally, and Bella drags her in after she tags. She sets Carmella up for her finisher, but Carmella gets free and kicks Naomi off the apron. Bella catches Nattie as she goes for a blind-side attack, and Carmella sneaks in a roll-up for the win.
Winner: Carmella & Natalya
Solid match. Carmella is coming along as a solid heel. All four ladies worked well together here.
Randy Orton continues his quest to find Bray in the boiler room. He sees a door painted with the words “I am God” and another with “One way out, choose wisely.” He opens the door that says “I am God” and it’s just an Orton cutout behind it, missing the eyes and with the word “Prey” written in red. Funny. Orton goes for the other door, which says “Predator or prey,” and when he opens it slowly, he peeks in. Erick Rowan is waiting for him. He closes the door without seeing Rowan. Apparently he also has super powers, because not Rowan can’t open the door.
Up next, The Miz gets a homecoming celebration!
And after the break, it’s The Miz and Maryse. He gets fireworks as he poses, and there’s a handful of posters set up in the ring. Maryse says hello in French, and then welcomes Cleveland’s own The Miz. Miz points at the video screen, and cues up some highlights of his career, starting with The Real World, his stint as host of Smackdown, and more. It’s an awesome package, actually, covering his entire career, including his Money in the Bank victory and successful cash-in. We see clips of the past few weeks on Smackdown, including his character-defining promo on Talking Smack. Good stuff.
“Cleveland, I’m home.” He says the Cavaliers won the NBA finals. 1.3 million people lined the streets to celebrate the championship, and this is all he gets? He says the city was so desperate for a title they opened their arms to a traitor like Lebron James, meanwhile he’s been winning titles the entire time. He touts the length of his title reign, and says he’s proud to stand before the only two decent people in the arena – his parents. He asks them to stand. Some of the locals chant for his dad’s restaurant.
Miz then turns to Dolph Ziggler’s parents, also in the arena. He says it must be hard for them since they created an elite level loser. Ziggler’s music hits and he comes out to the ring. Miz keeps Maryse in-between. Ziggler gets a mic and says he can’t talk like that to his parents. “You got something to say to me, you say it to my face.” Miz says he’s already said it to his face when he beat him over and over, but Ziggler says he’s cheated over and over. “Congrats champ on your tainted title, enjoy your parade.” Miz says the record books don’t track cheating. “But what’s it gonna say about you?” He says Ziggler was good, maybe even great, but he loses and loses and loses. “When are you gonna end this mediocre career?” He calls Ziggler a warm-up guy that gets everyone happy but then loses. “Your career makes me absolutely sick, and I would be embarrassed if it was mine.”
Miz says everyone here should be embarrassed of his career. He says he feels sorry for him, but he’s done. He says Ziggler probably came out looking for one more match, but he’s done with Miz. He says Miz has nothing. “So unless you’re gonna give up your career, I have nothing to say.” He says he’s going to go celebrate in Hollywood and walks out, telling his parents they must be proud before he heads up the ramp.
Ziggler says he’s right – this is all he has. He says he lives for being in the ring, but sometimes things you love don’t always love you back. Ziggler says sometimes you give and give and give, and you get nothing. He says fans ask him why he subjects himself to this every night, but he can’t stop. It’s a sickness. He thought he earned something, he thought he would be a bigger star, but he can’t stop himself. He asks Miz to put the title up one more time, and he’ll put up his entire career.
Miz gets back in the ring and makes sure he clarifies that he’s not going to Raw or anything. “You’re done because of me.” Ziggler says he either walks out champion, or he’s done. Miz makes it official for No Mercy – Career vs. Title. “If you’re not willing to hang up your career, I’ll hang it up for you.”
Miz was, once again, great here. Ziggler’s promos really are all the same. There’s been no character growth in my opinion. Putting his career on the line doesn’t change that.
Dean Ambrose warms up for his match with AJ Styles as we go to break.
More Bray Wyatt stuff. He says one door closes and another one opens. He says Orton looks like a rat in a maze. He tells him to be careful.
Becky Lynch comes out to her normal entrance, but Alexa Bliss attacks her from behind before she can make it down the ramp. She slams her head into the ramp and takes her belt off, saying Lynch doesn’t deserve it. Bliss walks back up the ramp and to the back, leaving Lynch in a heap. I liked this.
Curt Hawkins does more stupid Curt Hawkins facts. Next week he’s making an announcement. How about a debut?
More Wyatt after the break. He says he’s disappointed in Randy, thought he was more worthy. The fans are fed up and start What-ing him. I’m fed up too. He says Orton is taking the fun out of his game. Orton appears behind him wearing the sheep mask. Wyatt calls him a coward, not aware he’s there. Orton attacks him and takes him out, and Wyatt retreats. Orton laughs, picks up the mask, and sits in the rocking chair, putting the mask back on. He starts singing and laughing. The program glitches out and we see Wyatt in the chair again, from something recorded earlier.
AJ Styles walks backstage, title in hand. Charly asks him about Dean Ambrose’s and John Cena’s comments earlier. He says it’s AJ Styles defending the WWE World Championship, and he reminds her how he got to that point – by beating up John Cena, and then beating John Cena. He did the same to Ambrose. Tonight all eyes and ears are on AJ Styles. He’s going to beat Dean Ambrose again, and we’ll hear the announcer say his name as still being the WWE Champ.
John Cena comes out to a full entrance, and he heads straight to the commentary table. We go to break.
Back in from break, Cena is on commentary and says he’s just there to watch the match. Dean Ambrose then makes his entrance, looking pretty pissed. AJ Styles makes his full entrance second.
AJ Styles (c) vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Championship
Ambrose gains control early on. He clotheslines AJ over the top rope to the floor, and follows him out, tossing him onto the announcer’s table and laying into him with punches. Ambrose breaks the count as we go to break.
Styles has Ambrose in a headlock after the break. Ambrose gets momentum and hits Styles with a running clothesline. He catches Styles and hits a swinging back breaker for a near fall. John Cena talks about how he’s not leaving WWE to do anything else, he’s staying and will do everything at once. Meanwhile, Ambrose counters a Calf-Killer with a Texas Cloverleaf of his own. AJ breaks it on the ropes.
Ambrose lays Styles out with a forearm, sending him out of the ring. He runs the ropes and dives out of the ring onto him. Styles is slow to get up. Ambrose connects with a dive off the top rope to the floor as we go to break.
Back in from break, AJ wrenches Ambrose’s leg with a Calf Crusher. Ambrose bashes Style’s head into the mat to break the hold. Styles unleashes a fury of attacks, but Ambrose attacks. They trade blows back and forth. Ambrose goes for a rebound clothesline, AJ counters it, but Ambrose counters that with a facebuster for two. AJ sets Ambrose up in a torture rack, then spins him into a slam for two.
Styles misses an elbow in the corner, and Ambrose crotches him on the ropes, then hits a diving clothesline off the second rope. Two-count on the cover. Styles hits a Pele Kick near the ropes, drags Ambrose in, but wipes out on a springboard 450. Ambrose goes up top and hits a flying elbow for two.
Ambrose dives out of the ring after AJ, but tweaks his knee. AJ hits a running knee and roles Ambrose back in the ring before turning around and nailing John Cena with a right. He misses a springboard to Ambrose. Cena gets pissed and tries to get in the ring, and the referee stops him. Ambrose goes for the roll-up, but the ref doesn’t see the pin immediately and Styles kicks out at two. Ambrose attacks Cena outside the ring, then goes back in. Styles rolls Ambrose up, grabs a handful of pants and gets the win.
Winner: AJ Styles to retain the WWE Championship
Dean Ambrose and John Cena immediately exchange words and push each other. Cena gets the best of the exchange with an AA. Styles comes in to make a statement and Cena AA’s him as well. He picks up the WWE Championship and holds it high, yelling “The Champ is Here.”
A very good main event and far and away the best match of the show. I’m glad there was no title change here, as it wouldn’t really benefit anyone to move the title back to Ambrose. Let AJ hold it until the pay-per-view, and we can have a conversation about changing it then.
Overall, the show kind of dragged for me. It was a two-topic show, and that’s fine, but the stuff with Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton was just downright stupid. They’ve done a nice job of effectively building up the Triple Threat for the title at No Mercy, at least.
The rest of the show? Not much to it. Alexa Bliss looked pretty vicious in her attack on Becky Lynch. The women’s tag was fine for what it was. The 8-man tag was a big mess and didn’t have enough time to really do much good. Honestly, if they just cut two of the Wyatt segments out, the matches would have more time to breath and it would’ve been a better show.
We’ll talk about this and lots more on Ring Rap Audio tomorrow night. Be sure to send in your Favorite Thing in Wrestling on Twitter using #FTIW! Thanks for reading folks, see you next time!