WWE Smackdown is in Newark, NJ this evening, and it is shaping up to be a buzzworthy show, as Daniel Bryan is scheduled to appear on Miz TV to announce the Smackdown teams for Survivor Series. Plus, Dean Ambrose lost his #1 Contendership thanks to interference from James Ellsworth last week. Will Ambrose respond to Ellsworth’s mistake?
All this plus lots more starting at 8pm Eastern! Be sure to join us here and on Twitter @RingRap!
After the pyro and rock music, James Ellsworth opens up the show, coming out to the ring to a full intro. He’s looking pretty depressed. A video highlights how Ellsworth cost Ambrose his #1 Contender Match against AJ Styles last week.
Ellsworth stands in the middle of the ring and pouts. “I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan for this opportunity to come out tonight to say goodbye.” He says after his actions last week, he’s been unable to sleep, can’t eat. He won’t be able to move on in his life until he can tell Dean Ambrose how truly sorry he is. He asks Ambrose to the ring, and Ambrose obliges.
He calls Ellsworth his buddy, pal, and special little boy. He says he’s had a lot of time to think about ripping his head off with his bare hands, but when he looks at him with puppy dog eyes and his “ET” face, he can’t be mad. He doesn’t want an apologize.
Ellsworth says the least he can do is apologize. Because of Ambrose, he has two victories over AJ Styles, and how did he repay him? By costing him an opportunity at the WWE World Championship. He says last week wasn’t his fight, and he knows that now. “And I also know any man with two hands can make a mistake.”
Ambrose says what’s done is done, but tells him “don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, seriously, never ever get in my way again.” Ellsworth says if he could go back in time and change it, he would. But he can’t. All he can do is say “I’m sorry.”
AJ Styles interrupts. “Are you kidding me?” He wants to know why he’d apologize. Styles quiets down the fans chanting for him. “Can’t you see what this man has been doing? He’s been using you these past couple of weeks.” He says Ambrose doesn’t respect Ellsworth – Styles respects him more. He says in their match for the World Title, he was going to take it easy, make it quick and painless. But Ambrose egged him on, caused him to hit harder so he would get disqualified. Styles says because of him, people are wearing Ellsworth shirts. He says Ellsworth owes him his career.
Ambrose says Ellsworth gets things the honest way, not the cheap easy way like Styles. The two get in each other’s face, and Ellsworth tries to break it up, but Styles pushes Ellsworth into Ambrose and hits an enzuigiri to Ambrose before tossing Ellsworth out of the ring. He sets Ambrose up and catches him with a phenomenal forearm. Styles leaves the ring, talking trash the entire time.
We go to the announcers, who talk about the Bray Wyatt/Randy Orton saga. A video package hypes up Orton’s turn, and later tonight, Randy Orton vs. Kane in a No Disqualification match.
After the break, Daniel Bryan approaches both Ellsworth and Ambrose backstage. The two are bickering, and Bryan says they need to bring it way down. Ambrose says there’s nothing else he can say. Ellsworth wants to repay him, he feels terrible. Ambrose doesn’t want him to, says there’s nothing he can do. Bryan says Ambrose gets one more shot at AJ Styles, and if he wins, he becomes #1 Contender, but this is his last chance, no matter what. Bryan turns to Ellsworth and says under no circumstances is he allowed to go to ringside. “Understood?” Ellsworth says he understands.
Randy Orton vs. Kane in a No Disqualification match
Orton comes out first, and doesn’t even bother posing in the corners. Interesting.
Orton immediately bails out of the ring, and Kane follows. He sends Kane into the ring post, grabs a chair, but Kane counters and uses the chair against Orton instead. Back in the ring, Kane hits a clothesline into a sidewalk slam. He sets Orton up for a chokeslam, but the Wyatt noise kicks in, and the lights go out. They come back on to Harper and Wyatt standing at ringside. Orton tries for an RKO but Kane counters with a boot. The Wyatts attack Kane outside the ring, but Kane keeps control. He heads back into the ring, sets up a chokeslam, but The Wyatts come into the ring. Orton hits an RKO to end it.
Winner: Randy Orton
Very, very short. Nearly pointless.
After the match, Harper and Orton lock eyes. Harper nails Kane with a clothesline as he starts to stand up, makes a gesture to Wyatt, who gets to his feet. Orton pushes Kane into Wyatt, and Wyatt hits Sister Abigail to Kane. Wyatt drops to his knees, with Harper next to him. Orton stands in the corner, and both do their signature poses in unison.
Later tonight, Daniel Bryan is on MizTV, and Carmella teams up with Alexa Bliss against Nikki Bella and Becky Lynch.
A video package airs for Baron Corbin. It’s well produced but I’m having a hard time hearing the voice over work. Essentially, he’s doing his own thing and doesn’t care about anyone else.
Nikki Bella & Becky Lynch vs. Carmella & Alexa Bliss
It’s a little chaotic and I have no idea who is legal. The faces clear the heels from the ring as we go to break. When we come back, Becky Lynch is controlling Carmella. She hits a springboard sidekick and a fisherman’s suplex for two. Bliss cuts the pin off, and sends Lynch into Bella. Bliss tags in, and Lynch counters with a DDT, but Carmella distracts the ref for a pin. Lynch nails Carmella, and Bliss hits a DDT from behind for the pin.
Winners: Alexa Bliss & Carmella
Too short and hurt by the commercial break. This would have been a perfect match to play during the commercial break, like they have in the past.
The new colleague, Dasha Fuentes enters the ring to interview Bliss and Carmella. Bliss cuts her off, asks her who she is, and says “No” until she leaves the ring. Bliss interviews Carmella instead. “Now that we’ve beat Becky and Nikki for the millionth time, who are you looking forward to humiliating the most at Survivor Series?” Carmella makes a crack about Bayley and Charlotte. She says none of the chicks on Raw can hang with Smackdown Live. She says Nikki Bella should let her run the team because they will dominate Raw.
Carmella then asks Bliss about her strategy next week against Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Bliss says the pathetic fairy tale is coming to an end. She calls herself the Wicked Witch of WWE. “Next week in Glasgow, I’ll get you, my pretty… and your Smackdown Women’s Title too!”
Solid mic work from both ladies here. Bliss is really great in her role, but Carmella has improved tremendously as well.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are backstage chatting. Bryan congratulates Naomi for being the fifth woman on the Smackdown team, and she joins Nikki Bella, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, and Becky Lynch. Naomi says she’s super pumped, and Smackdown live is gonna shine. She says it’s Glow time and leaves. Shane says that the women here are not getting along and are out of control. Bryan says it’s not much better on Raw, with everyone’s huge egos. Natalya overhears this and steps in to give her two cents. She says they need someone they respect. Shane agrees, saying Bliss and Carmella look up to her, and she gets along great with Naomi and Bella on Total Divas. “What about Becky Lynch?” asks Daniel Bryan. Nattie starts to recite song lyrics, asking for respect. Bryan says she can be the official coach of the team, and Natalya agrees.
Back from break, The Spirit Squad is in the ring. Kenny fires up for a cheer, but they’re thankfully interrupted by American Alpha!
The Spirit Squad (Kenny & Mikey) vs. American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable)
Apparently, this is a qualifier for the Survivor Series Tag Match. Gable takes down Kenny early on, but quickly, a distraction gives the Squad the advantage. A tandem move flips Mikey onto Gable. Kenny legal, he misses a legdrop and Gable makes the hot tag to Jordan. Jordan unleashes on both men. Spirit Squad uses sneaky tactics to get the advantage, but Gable makes a blind tag and they hit Grand Amplitude for the win.
Winners: American Alpha
Another really, really short match. Nothing of any consequence here.
A video recaps Goldberg’s appearance on Raw last night.
Back from break, The Miz and Maryse are in the middle of the ring. Maryse introduces her husband. Miz introduces his show. He says he and Daniel Bryan and he have had a prickly past, but he’s going to put that aside and be a journalist. He introduces Daniel Bryan, who comes out to huge cheers.
Miz asks the fans if he can start his show, amidst Daniel Bryan cheers. Miz tries to be passive agressive with Bryan, and Bryan threatens to cancel Miz TV. Anyhow, Bryan leads with the Smackdown tag teams for Survivor Series. Already confirmed, American Alpha, The Hype Bros, and Heath Slater & Rhyno. There are two more qualifier matches to come. Miz wants to know about the men’s team, and Bryan announces Randy Orton, Baron Corbin, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, annnnd…. AJ Styles. And Miz looks pissed.
“So no Miz?” Nope. “I’m not on the team?” Nope. “Was I considered?” Nope. Miz asks if his goal was to humiliate him in front of his wife. He says Smackdown Live is full of opportunities to everyone not named Miz. Bryan says he lied and did consider him, but they need people that aren’t afraid to fight, and need people that aren’t afraid to fight at any time. Bryan says last week he proved he’s afraid to fight. He says last week Dolph Ziggler offered him a rematch for the Intercontinental Championship and he turned it down because it wasn’t on his terms. At Survivor Series, they need men that are willing to fight on THEIR terms. Miz says they’re Bryan’s terms, and he’ll lead Team Smackdown to get beat. Miz rips into him and says Bryan is scared to fight. He puts Maryse in front of him. Miz tells him he’s not good at his job and he’s not good at anything anymore. He tells him to go mope around the house at Total Bellas. Bryan throws a chair and Miz bails out. Bryan says Miz isn’t best at wrestling, and tells him to run his mouth with the commentators. Bryan says Miz turned down an opportunity at the IC Title, but there are dozens of hungry stars backstage. He tells Miz to sit on commentary while Ziggler defends his title in an open challenge, right now!
Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Curt Hawkins for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Curt Hawkins walks out after the break, saying that the open challenge is the perfect place for him to make his debut, and what better place than “Atlantic City”? He says there are going to be a lot of sore necks, since he’ll be turning some heads when he wins. He tells Ziggler that he’s the sad, sorry, sucker that has to “Face the facts!”
The bell rings, Ziggler hits a Superkick, and gets the pin.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler to retain the Intercontinental Championship
Renee Young enters the ring and congratulates him for a successful defense. Ziggler says last time they spoke he wasn’t champ. Last week, Miz told the world that he’s not a fighting champion, except Ziggler’s been fighting for it his entire life. He says he put his career on the line and he survived. He talks about Survivor Series being fantasy warfare becoming reality. He says he asked him to take the rematch and Miz says no. But now they’re going to do it on the champ’s terms – and he throws down an open challenge to any Raw roster member for the IC Title. Miz is pissed.
I have a sneaky suspicion the IC title will flip brands come Survivor Series.
Backstage, the new girl asks Dean Ambrose if he feels confident that he’ll beat AJ Styles knowing that “James Ellis” won’t be at ringside. Ambrose corrects her and says Ellsworth was at ringside and cost him, but no excuses. In the middle of the promo, Ellsworth approaches Ambrose and asks him if there’s any way he can come to ringside tonight. Ambrose emphatically says “No! That’s the whole point, you’re not allowed at ringside.” He just wants to make things right. Ambrose knocks on his head “Hello! McFly!” He says he can’t come to ringside, and sends him on his way.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ellsworth turn heel and join up with AJ Styles at this point. They’re a little heavy-handed with things right now.
The announcers recap the happenings of Orton vs. Kane earlier tonight. Backstage, Wyatt and Orton have a little dialog. Wyatt says his willingness to join them has been met with resistance. Wyatt says he’s a serpent, maybe even the devil himself, and someone with credentials like that, he’s welcome in the Wyatt family. Orton says he was born with the devil in his ear, and he’s done trying to fight it. The darkness has shown him the light. He says Bray is a god. And then his eyes flicker thanks to some parlor tricks. Groan.
The Usos vs. The Headbangers to qualify for the Smackdown Survivor Series Tag Team Match
The Usos immediately go on the offense before the bell rings. The bell does ring, and the assault continues. Jey hits a Samoan Drop for two. Mosh gets some offense in, getting a near fall. Thrasher tosses Jey Uso out of the ring, but the referee is distracted long enough for Jimmy to interfere. A rollup and a handful of kilt gets The Usos the quick win.
Winner: The Usos
AJ Styles heads to the ring before new chick asks him how he feels about his match tonight. “Why can’t I just make it to the ring without someone asking me a dumb question?” Love it. He plays along, says he can’t wait to entertain the fans with a fantastic match! He rolls his eyes and says he’s going to beat Ambrose again, without Ellsworth getting in the way.
Ambrose and Ellsworth are walking around backstage, and tells him not to take it personally, they can exchange Christmas cards, etc. He asks Ellsworth if he’s got his cell phone, because “Any man with two hands can call an Uber.” He pushes him out an exit door and pulls it closed immediately.
AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose – If Ambrose wins, he becomes #1 Contender to the WWE World Title
The bell rings out of the break, and they immediately spill outside. Ambrose slams Styles into the announcer’s table, and tosses him over the top. Ambrose goes for a series of rollups in the ring, then sets Styles up for a Texas Cloverleaf. Ambrose hits a superplex off the top rope. Back and forth, Styles counters with a Calf Crusher. Ambrose breaks it on the ropes.
The action heads outside, and the two continue to brawl with Ambrose getting the better of the exchange. Ambrose catches Styles with an elbow, but Ambrose misses a top rope attack and sells the knee. We go to break.
We return to Ambrose hitting a dropkick, sending Styles to the floor. He hits a top rope elbow to the floor, then rolls Styles back in. Ambrose leaps off the top rope and rolls through, and picks up steam with a flurry of attacks, including a clothesline. The two tease suplexes, with Styles getting the upper hand, sending Ambrose into the corner. Styles misses a leaping forearm into the corner, and Ambrose counters, planting Styles face-first into the mat.
Both men connect with a clothesline, and are laid out. Out of nowhere, James Ellsworth runs in from the crowd, slamming his hands on the mat, cheering Ambrose on. Ambrose turns around to eat a Pele kick from Styles. Otunga tells him to “Take his chin and go home.” Security comes out to chase Ellsworth through the crowd, and he runs through the arena. Ambrose rolls Styles up for two. Styles ducks a rebound lariat, and the two counter each other non-stop. Styles locks in the Calf Crusher, and Ambrose breaks it on the ropes. As the match continues, Ellsworth runs back into the arena, and tries to run into the ring. Styles is on the apron and looks on. He dives off and slams Ellsworth into the Announcer’s table. He leaps off the top rope for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Ambrose counters with a kick to the gut and Dirty Deeds for the win.
Winner: Dean Ambrose to become #1 Contender
Security is literally dragging James Ellsworth up the ramp, and he’s got a half-smile on his face as Ambrose watches. Ambrose limps up the ramp and approaches Ellsworth, still held by security. Ambrose sort of laughs, shrugs, and then shakes his head, walking off. He turns around though and helps Ellsworth to his feet, patting him on the back before walking off.
Kind of a weird episode of Smackdown, as they get into Survivor Series mode. This was mostly maintenance as they get the pieces back in place, but unfortunately, the match quality suffered along the way. The matches were short and in many cases, completely inconsequential to just about anything.
That said, we had a good main event, and surprisingly, no heel turn from Ellsworth. You had to know he’d find a way to get involved, but I suspected it would be in Styles’ favor. It wasn’t.
Our reader poll is up on the site – be sure to take a look at that and let us know what you thought of Smackdown. Bill and I are recording Ring Rap Audio tomorrow night so get in your questions and comments! Thanks for reading folks!