WWE Smackdown is in Denver, CO this evening, and we will have live coverage of the show beginning at 8pm Eastern Time. Currently scheduled is a WWE World Championship match between AJ Styles and everyone’s favorite man with two hands and an opportunity – James Ellsworth.
Last week, Ellsworth pinned Styles thanks to a bit of help from special guest referee Dean Ambrose. Will Ambrose strike again and cause AJ to lose the title? Will Ellsworth actually pick up a shocking win?
Plus, Alexa Bliss is scheduled to face Naomi, Jack Swagger vs. Baron Corbin in a No Mercy rematch, and much more!
Be sure to join us here and follow us on Twitter @RingRap for live commentary!
Our show opens with a video recap of the happenings of last week’s main event, with Dean Ambrose the guest referee of James Ellsworth vs. AJ Styles in a non-title match. Ultimately, Ambrose nailed Styles with Dirty Deeds, and put Ellsworth on top, giving him the cover and the win. This earned him a title shot this week.
Backstage, Ellsworth is taping up his wrists. Mauro Ranallo calls his story “Chinderella.” Ellsworth starts to look up and mouths “Oh my god” and we see someone holding up a t-shirt with Ellsworth’s face on it. It’s Dean Ambrose. He says it’s a real thing. He tells Ellsworth he believes in him and to have confidence. Ellsworth looks at the shirt in awe as Ambrose walks away.
Randy Orton comes out to the ring to open the show. He says he has to give credit where it’s due – “The Evil inside Bray Wyatt runs deeper than I ever thought possible.” He says it’s like trying to escape quicksand. The harder you fight the more you get pulled down. He says he feels like he’s going crazy, and that’s a problem, but it’s an even bigger problem for Wyatt. Orton says he is wrath, he is vengeance, and he’s coming for him.
Wyatts music hits and we go backstage. A number of men in black sheep masks stand over Bray Wyatt, lying in a coffin. Wyatt says Orton doesn’t have to come after him, because he’s coming after Orton. “You think I’m suffocating? That’s exactly what I’m doing.” He says he’s going to take Orton on a journey, and he’ll be gasping for his last breath. “I’m having so much fun Randy. Aren’t you? And by the way, he’s here.”
Luke Harper’s music hits, and he comes out to the ring by himself.
Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton
Both men lock up. Early on, Orton bails out of the ring and Harper teases a dive through, but Orton hits a forearm. Back in the ring, Orton catches Harper on the top rope. The two go back and forth, but Orton seems to get the better of the exchange, hitting a superplex. A moment later, Wyatt’s music hits, and he’s wheeled out in the casket by the men in black. We go to break.
We return and the casket is at ringside, Wyatt no longer inside, and Orton out of the ring. He barely breaks the count and rolls into the ring, and Harper goes for a pin. Harper grinds in a headlock. Orton tries to send Harper into the casket, but Harper recovers. Orton hits a powerslam. Wyatt attacks from behind for the DQ.
Winner: Randy Orton via DQ
Harper and Wyatt attack Orton after the bell. Wyatt opens up the casket, to put Orton in, but when he opens it, Kane is inside. Kane lays out Wyatt and Harper. Orton hits the draping DDT on Wyatt. Kane takes out Harper with a clothesline. Orton sets up an RKO, and Kane a chokeslam, but Wyatt’s music plays, and when the lights come back on, both are gone.
Kane lights up his pyro and his music hits.
Charly Caruso interviews AJ Styles backstage. She wants to know his thoughts about tonight’s title match. Styles says this is a surreal moment for him. He’s the champ, and he’s scratched and clawed to earn the right to be called The Face that Runs the Place. He calls James Ellsworth a “fat skinny turd.” Styles says everyone knows Dean Ambrose is going to find a way to slither in and do something. He says this could be like when David Arquette won the WCW World Championship. He says if Dean Ambrose causes him to lose the title, he’ll find him and take him apart, piece by piece.
The less I say about the Wyatt/Orton feud, the better.
After the break…
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi
Bliss is rocking a Freddy Kruger outfit. Love it. The two lock up, and break up. They trade pushes. Bliss hides behind the referee, then taunts Naomi, and hides in the ropes. Naomi hits a Lou Thesz press, Bliss frees herself and cuts Naomi off with a knee to the gut. Naomi hits an impressive springboard body splash for two.
Bliss rips Naomi off of her. Naomi hits a drop toe hold, and Bliss rolls out of the ring to safety as we go to break.
Back from break, Bliss is in control. She has Naomi locked in a headlock, then runs her face across the ropes. Naomi counters finally with a back breaker. Naomi hits a leg lariat and a jawbreaker. Split legged moonsault for two. Bliss ties Naomi up in the corner, then yanks her off the top rope. She heads up top and connects with Twisted Bliss for the win.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
Bliss is still the #1 Contender, and definitely needed that win. Naomi was protected here though, and looked strong in defeat. Bliss is a great heel. I’m enjoying this run.
Renee Young interviews Bliss in the ring. She asks her about her match against Lynch in three weeks. “In three weeks, the fairy tale is over.” She says the glass slipper doesn’t fit and the wicked witch is dead. She says a new champion will be crowned, and she’ll be the fairest of them all – Alexa Bliss.
We see a recap of The Spirit Squad vs. Dolph Ziggler last week, and the save from Heath Slater and Rhyno.
Curt Hawkins is up next!
In the ring, Apollo Crews. Curt Hawkins’ music hits, featuring a full voiceover by Hawkins himself. The voiceover says we wanted to see him last week, but he didn’t want to see us. Hawkins takes the mic and tells Crews to prepare himself to Face the Facts. “Tonight, all you have to fear is fear itself, and… CURT HAWKINS!” He says after tonight, Crews will have to change his name to “Apollo Lose.”
And Crews nails him with a right hand.
Hawkins bails out of the ring and says Crews just ruined his big debut, and deprived all of these people from seeing him live in action tonight. “I’m leaving!” Hawkins heads back up the ramp rapidly.
Obnoxious is what they’re going for, and it’s working.
Carmella is heading out to the ring to “present the truth about Nikki Bella” up next!
Carmella makes her entrance after the break. We see a clip of last week’s attack on Nikki Bella backstage, and Bella’s revenge in the arena later on. She says two months ago she was basking in the glow of her first pay-per-view match at Summerslam, but who’s music does she hear? Nikki Bella. She’s pissed that everyone went nuts for Bella and not here. As she continues, Bella’s music hits, and she heads down to the ring with purpose.
Bella says she’s curious about what she has to say, and instead of attacking her from behind, she’s right there. She asks her to say what she has to say to her face. Carmella is pissed that Bella is stealing the spotlight from her, and says because she’s dating John Cena she can get away with anything. Carmella says she’s not walking on eggshells. The only reason she’s so fearless is because she goes home with Cena. Bella says Carmella is just another hater. Carmella accuses her of hiding her relationship. Bella asks her about two TV shows and hundreds of pictures online, and says she’s not hiding it. She refuses to talk about her relationship on Smackdown because when she’s in this ring, what matters is being an athlete and what athletes do. “Shame on you as a woman, to take away all of my accomplishments as a woman, because of a man?” The fans chant “Shame” at her. Bella says she reminds her of every internet bully.
Carmella says she’s exposing her as a needy clingy gold digger. Carmella cues up a video from Total Bellas, and it’s just clips of Bella being clingy and whiny. Bella accuses her of clever editing. Bella says she wears the pants in her relationship, and fought hard to be where she is. She talks about her neck injury and being told she would never wrestle again. She says the Fearless tag means it, and everyone backstage calls her fearless too. Carmella asks her if she’s going to put Fearless on a little towel. Carmella accuses Bella of using her looks to get her foot in the door, her sister to get in the ring, and John Cena to become a celebrity. She drops the mic and leaves.
Best mic work from Carmella to date, but Bella was no slouch here either. Both ladies fed off of each other well, with Carmella giving logical reasons why she would be jealous and Bella giving logical reasons why we should cheer for her.
James Ellsworth is backstage still. Renee Young asks him how he’s feeling. Ellsworth says his hands are trembling, but last week he was in a match against AJ Styles, and somehow he survived. And then he was sitting next to Daniel Bryan on Talking Smack, and he was actually talking to him! And then he made the match tonight for the World Championship. “Never in my life I would’ve believed this was gonna happen, but it is.” He says he doesn’t deserve it, he’s not in AJ Styles’ league. Ellsworth gets choked up and says his life is gonna change forever, because one day he’s going to be able to tell his grandchildren than their grandpa competed for the WWE World Championship on Smackdown Live.
Nice promo, and the emotions certainly felt real, which took it to the next level.
The Miz & The Spirit Squad (Kenny & Mikey) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Heath Slater & Rhyno
An inset video shows Slater and Rhyno explaining why they came to Ziggler’s aid. Slater says he’s got kids and all kids need male role models. Rhyno says he just doesn’t like male cheerleaders. Funny.
Mikey and Rhyno start it off. Rhyno lays into Mikey with some elbows to the ribs and a shoulder block. Mikey sneaks in a kick to the gut and tags in Kenny. Rhyno with a Belly to belly suplex, tag to Slater, who gets a cover for two. Ziggler in, Kenny connects with a leaping elbow. Miz begs to be tagged in, and as soon as he is, Ziggler dropkicks him in the face. Ziggler fights out of the corner, nearly hits a superkick, and begs on the rest as we go to break.
We return and Ziggler is on fire, keeping The Miz under control – until a distraction from Maryse. A “We want Slater” chant breaks out. Kenny tags in, hitting a diving punch to the gut. Mikey tags in, and goes for a suplex, but Ziggler counters. Miz tags in and takes out Rhyno before ZIggler could make the tag. Ziggler hits a super kick, and the place is going nuts for Heath Slater’s hot tag. Slater unleashes a series of fists. Rhyno hits a gore onto Mikey. Slater rolls up Kenny, but Miz nails Slater in the face, giving Kenny a chance to get the cheap roll-up for the win.
Winners: The Miz & The Spirit Squad
Heath Slater and Rhyno might be one of the most over teams in WWE, period. The arena became unglued for the hot tag for Slater, and he had great fire. Good overall match – seems to be pointing towards Spirit Squad vs. Slater and Rhyno for the titles at some point.
Daniel Bryan is on the phone with Shane McMahon backstage. He says Raw accepted the Survivor Series challenge, and they need to start putting together teams. “The Smackdown roster isn’t exactly singing kumbaya, but they’ll come together when it counts.” Natalya walks into frame and says she couldn’t agree more. She puts her name in the hat for one of the five spots for Survivor Series. Bryan asks why her? She says she can teach the women to find their inner beauty and be strong and blah blah. Bryan asks her if she just quoted Whitney Houston. She says she didn’t, and then immediately quotes another song. Nattie says he won’t regret it, and then shows him her cat’s Instagram page.
Jack Swagger vs. Baron Corbin
An inset promo with Corbin shows him calling Swagger a joke – he says the fans are having fun at his expense. “I like having fun too, and it’ll be at your expense.” He says when he beats him, he’s not just beating Swagger but everyone around the world that says “We the People.”
Swagger immediately hits a shoulder block. He clotheslines Corbin over the top rope, then throws him back in. Corbin shoulders Swagger off the apron into the barricade. Corbin keeps control, slamming Swagger with a series of strikes to the head. He hits a knee to the head and follows it up with End of Days.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Natalya is still showing Daniel Bryan cat pictures backstage. Dean Ambrose walks in wearing a referee shirt. He says he’s ready for round two tonight, and offers his services for the World Title match. He says he’ll call it right down the middle, he’ll be a sherrif, a cowboy. Bryan says Dean can not be the referee tonight. Ambrose tries to talk him into it. Bryan says he can be a time keeper, ring announcer, whatever, but not referee. Ambrose says “Great. I’ll do that,” and walks away. Bryan wonders which one he chose.
Dean Ambrose heads to the ring to be… something.
AJ Styles heads out first. He doesn’t even do his usual entrance, just walks to the ring, adjusts his gloves, looks concerned. He immediately points at Ambrose and talks trash.
James Ellsworth comes out with his own entrance music, wearing his t-shirt and everything. The crowd is pretty responsive, chanting “Ellsworth” over and over again.
Dean Ambrose stands in the middle of the ring to introduce the match, which he does. “Seriously, seriously this is for the World Title.” He introduces Ellsworth as “What is he, a buck 60? Buck 70? He has two hands and a fighting chance!” He says he’s got the eye of the tiger, he’s James Ellsworth! He says Styles weighs “Two-hundred and 18 weak-willed pounds.” Ambrose then goes to ring the bell, which he does. Over and over again.
AJ Styles (c) vs. James Ellsworth for the WWE World Championship
Ellsworth uses the distraction to his advantage. AJ locks in an abdominal stretch. Ambrose orders the match stopped while they take a commercial time out.
Back from the match, Ambrose tells fans to pick up their Authentic James Ellsworth t-shirt. AJ keeps on the offense, beating him down in the corner. Styles hits a dropkick and keeps control. He trash talks Ambrose at ringside. David Otunga calls Ellsworth “The Chin that got the Win” referring to his victory last week. Styles sets up a superplex as Ambrose announces to the arena that there’s a car in the parking lot with it’s lights on, and then hypes up the WWE arena program. Ellsworth misses a splash off the top rope, and Styles connects with kicks to the sternum. He tosses Ellsworth out of the ring. Ambrose tosses him back in. Styles tosses him out again, Ambrose in, back and forth, back and forth.
Ellsworth recoups in the ring, while AJ and Dean talk trash. He yanks Styles’ leg off the top rope, and catches him with a superkick for a believable near fall. Otunga calls it “No Chin Music.” The fans are chanting “Holy shit!” Ellsworth amps up, and charges in to Styles, but Styles takes him out with a spinebuster. He lays in a series of forearms, then kicks. Ambrose says he knew Styles looked like a soccer mom, but didn’t know he kicked like one too. Styles gets even more aggressive, laying into Ellsworth with punches to the face in the ropes. The referee counts to five and rings the bell.
Winner: James Ellsworth via Disqualification, AJ Styles is still champion.
Ambrose announces “The Loser” as AJ Styles, factually true. Styles goes to attack Ambrose, and Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds, then announces Ellsworth as “The man that has more victories over AJ Styles than John Cena.” He holds Ellsworth up, and he can barely stand. Ellsworth leans on the ropes, dazed and confused as the show comes to an end.
Well, that was a fun main event! Ellsworth is great in his role – not too over the top, just the right tone. AJ and Ambrose are dialed in with their characters too, and while I enjoy goofy Ambrose, as I said last week, it’s a fine line between goofy and serious. I hope he can show the right level of intensity when they actually have their rematch for the title.
Overall, a solid episode with some good development. I like that they gave Carmella and Nikki Bella more than just the bare essentials, and while their story isn’t unique, it works. Carmella was great in her role and Bella came across fine too. On the other side, Alexa Bliss and Naomi had a good match, with Bliss picking up a needed win.
Everything else seemed like a holding pattern, but nothing offensive. It’s still a while before we get another Smackdown pay-per-view presence, so it’s fine.
Bill and I have Ring Rap Audio next week. Send in your Favorite Thing in Wrestling on Twitter @RingRap or on Facebook, and let us know what’s on your mind! Thanks for reading folks!