WWE’s TLC aired on Sunday, and when the dust settled, it was a very newsworthy event. We have a new Smackdown Women’s Champion in Alexa Bliss, new Tag Team Champions in The Wyatt Family, and AJ Styles, who is still the WWE Champion thanks to an assist from James Ellsworth.
Tonight, Ellsworth cashes in his promised title match against AJ Styles. Ellsworth has already beaten Styles a number of times. Could the underdog win the big one here too? And, what will Dean Ambrose’s reaction to Ellsworth be?
All this plus lots more starting at 8pm Eastern. Follow along with us here for live coverage, and on Twitter @RingRap for quips and quabbles along the way!
We immediately go to a clip from Sunday at the start of Talking Smack, and then highlights of James Ellsworth costing Dean Ambrose the WWE World Championship. We get clips of Ellsworth brushing off Dean Ambrose, and talking about having AJ Styles’ number. Daniel Bryan says AJ is going to hurt him, and Dean Ambrose is going to “really hurt him.”
AJ Styles heads out to the ring with an ankle cast on, no crutches necessary. Styles enters the ring and holds the title up high. Styles grabs a mic wants to get right to it. He says some call it a travesty, some call it a blessing – “You be the judge.” He looks at his ankle, and then cues up a video that shows the hole in his pants from Sunday. “Don’t it look good?” He laughs it off, says he wasn’t talking about the boot. He says he did everything he said he would at TLC, including depriving him of getting to the WWE World Championship. The only negative is he’s not medically cleared to face James Ellsworth for the WWE Championship.
James Ellsworth comes out to the ring, looking pretty upset. He bounces around in the ring, shadow boxing. Styles says he looks like he’s in slow motion. Ellsworth makes fun of AJ for hobbling around in a boot, and asks him if he really needs it, or if he’s just trying to get out of the title defense. He accuses Daniel Bryan of protecting him since he had AJ’s number. He’s beaten AJ 3 times. “You’re ducking me Styles!” He says he’d beat him a fourth time and become champ, and says if it wasn’t for him AJ wouldn’t have won anyhow.
AJ accuses him of drinking his own ‘chin and tonic,” and says everything he has and has done is because of Dean Ambrose. AJ says Ellsworth burned that bridge and he burned himself. Styles says Dean Ambrose doesn’t know when to quit. Styles knows when to stop beating him – Ambrose won’t.
And then Dean Ambrose’s music hits. Ambrose walks out looking calm but with a purpose. He immediately kicks Ellsworth in the gut and hits Dirty Deeds, and then turns and walks back out of the ring, straight to the back. AJ Styles laughs at it.
Later tonight, Alexa Bliss’ Championship Celebration, and Heath Slater & Rhyno want their tag title rematch against The Wyatt Family!
Backstage, The Wyatt’s say “We’re here.” We go to break.
The Wyatt Family (c) (Randy Orton & Bray Wyatt, w/ Luke Harper) vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
Slater and Orton start it out. He hits a clothesline on Orton, but Orton quickly regains control and tags in Wyatt. Wyatt runs into a boot, gets hit with a cross-body, and a quick tag to Rhyno, who unleashes on Wyatt. Rhyno sets up a Gore, but Wyatt rolls out of the ring before it can connect. We go to break.
Back from break, Wyatt has control of Rhyno. Orton tags in and hits a nice dropkick to Rhyno. Hot tag to Heath Slater, who unloads punches and hits a running knee followed by a leg lariat and a neck breaker for two. Slater keeps Wyatt off the apron, but Orton counters with a power slam. Rhyno breaks up the pin, and charges at Wyatt, who knees him in the head. Tag to Wyatt, Slater nails him, but Wyatt fires back with his own clothesline. Wyatt sets up Sister Abigail, but stares at Orton, and makes the tag. He tosses Slater towards Orton for an RKO and the win.
Winners: The Wyatt Family to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
A good match for TV, with a predictable finish. They continue to tell the story of Orton pairing with the Wyatts. Not sure what the plans are for Rhyno and Slater going forward, but I get the impression it doesn’t matter anymore.
Backstage, Kalisto stretches before he’s approached by Dasha Fuentes. She asks him about his upcoming rematch against Baron Corbin. Kalisto says he has a speed advantage against Corbin, and speed kills.
But next, Natalya vs. Carmella, after the break.
Carmella vs. Natalya
Before the match, Carmella addresses Natalya. She agrees she lost at TLC, but Nikki Bella always thought it was her that took her out at Survivor Series, and says it was Natalya that actually did it because Bella has been stealing Natalya’s spotlight. She says Natalya wishes as glamorous and curvaceous as Bella. She interrupts a fan chant, and says Natalya is always second best, and claims the real Natalya has reared her head. She calls her a con-artist.
Natalya heads to the ramp before running in. She immediately takes Carmella to the mat, and the brawl is on before the bell even rings. Carmella bails out of the ring and runs backstage. Natalya follows her. We get a camera backstage following Natalya, and she runs into Nikki Bella. Natalya calls Carmella a liar, and can’t finish her words. Bella stares her down and walks away.
Winner: No contest?
After the break, Baron Corbin is approached by Dasha about Kalisto’s comments. He says Kalisto is fast, but he’s like everyone else that’s gotten in the ring with him. He calls him a mosquito – they’re fast, they run around, until they land on him. Splat.
Back to the arena…
The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) vs. The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley)
The Ascension gives an inset promo, and so do The Hype Bros. Both teams state their intentions for the Tag Titles.
Viktor and Ryder start it out. Viktor takes Mojo off the apron, and after some offense from Ryder, Viktor hits Ryder with a knee and tags in Konnor. Konnor keeps control of Ryder outside the ring, and rolls him in for a two count. Tag to Viktor, two count. Viktor hits a leaping elbow. Konnor sneaks in an attack from the apron. Tag to Konnor. Ryder reverses a suplex with a neckbreaker, and he makes the hot tag to Mojo Rawley.
Mojo and Viktor legal, Mojo hits a series of shoulders and a clothesline. Splash in the corner, make it two, and a full nelson slam for two. Konnor breaks up the tag and tosses out Ryder, but is tossed out by Mojo. Tag to Ryder and a Hype Ryder puts The Ascension away.
Winners: The Hype Bros
Good to see both teams state their title Tag Title intent. I would like to see a little rebuilding for both teams, to be honest, and really, the entire tag division on Smackdown.
Up next, Miz TV, featuring Dean Ambrose as the special guest. And sure enough, after the commercial, it’s Miz TV time.
The Miz and Maryse walk out to the ring, and Miz mocks the fans for not chanting “You deserve it.” He talks about TLC being a night of highs and lows. One of the highs was when he retained the Intercontinental Championship. One of the lows? Dean Ambrose losing last night. He introduces Ambrose. Miz asks Ambrose how angry he is about being backstabbed by James Ellsworth. He says he must be infuriated. Miz lays it in pretty thick.
Ambrose says he’s not angry – Miz has never seen him angry. He was shocked though. Miz asks if he really is surprised, saying he kind of deserved it. He says thanks to Ambrose, we can’t see Ellsworth vs. Ambrose tonight. Ambrose says he’s always surprised when someone intentionally tries to piss him off. Miz backs up and Maryse stands between them.
Miz says he has something for Ambrose, and it’s a certificate – the first ever Miz Participation Award. “The fans start chanting “You deserve it” at Ambrose. Hilarious. Ambrose says it might be fun to try to shove the entire thing down his throat.
Daniel Bryan’s music hits, and the Smackdown GM walks onto the ramp. Bryan says he cannot let Ambrose attack The Miz right now, but he can do him one better – Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz in the Smackdown main event. Miz starts shaking his head no. Bryan asks the audience why they’re yessing – is it because they want an Intercontinental Title match? Bryan makes it happen and leads a Yes! chant. Ambrose smiles and shrugs, Miz looks livid.
Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin
Corbin tosses Kalisto early, but Kalisto uses speed to counter. Corbin hits him with a nasty shoulder to send him spinning, and a series of punches to keep him grounded. He tosses Kalisto out of the ring. Kalisto rolls in at 9, then rolls back to the apron. He connects with a roundhouse to the head, and sends Corbin to the floor. Kalisto hits a moonsault off the turnbuckle to the floor. On the apron, he catches Corbin with a kick to the face, then dodges a charge in the ring. Tornado DDT and short hurricarana for two. Kalisto heads up top, but rolls through a moonsault. Corbin catches him mid-air and lands End of Days for the win.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Same story as Sunday. Kalisto got in plenty of offense, but that one move was all it took.
Backstage, Nikki Bella gets a hug from Sofia Grace, some celebrity actress or singer or something. I’m not even going to cover this. It’s all a cheap plug for Total Divas or something. They hug. I throw up.
Chad Gable (w/ Jason Jordan) vs. Tyler Breeze (w/ Fandango)
We see a clip setting up this match. Apparently, the Fashion Police handed them tickets prior to the show. Gable didn’t like it, and Breeze got pissed off, so there’s a match.
Gable hits a monkey flip on Breeze, and locks in an armbar across the ropes. He hits a cross body that sends both of them to the floor. Fandango tries to interfere, but he gets caught up in some wires at ringside. Breeze has control back in the ring. He tosses Gable over the ropes, but Gable skins the cat and drags him to the floor. Outside the ring, Fandango tries to get involved. Jordan takes him out with a belly to belly. Back in the ring, Gable hits a deadlift German suplex for the win.
Winner: Chad Gable
After the break, and a “Mean Jean” moment by Wrangler Jeans, Alexa Bliss heads to the ring. She holds the title up high in the corner, and fireworks go off. “Ding dong the witch is champ!” She says she proved that happy endings don’t exist. She shakes her head, and then addresses Becky calling her a bitch, and says “This little bitch now runs the entire Smackdown women’s division.”
Becky Lynch walks out to the ring. Bliss cuts her music off and asks why she’s there. Lynch shuts her up, and says she may not have gotten the job done Sunday, but she can’t stand that a selfish whiny little girl could be considered the leader of Smackdown. She says it’s one thing to get to the top but it’s another to stay on there. Bliss says unlike Lynch she doesn’t care about the fans. Bliss tells her it’s her era, and she can call her whatever she wants, but she will call her champion. Lynch says her reign begins and ends with her rematch, and she wants it right now.
Bliss takes her jacket off, then rolls out of the ring, taking the title with her. No rematch tonight, folks.
Dean Ambrose heads to the ring for the Intercontinental Championship match, after the break!
The Miz (c) (w/ Maryse) vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Ambrose hits an arm drag and a headlock early on. Hip toss to Miz, and a flying cross-body into fists. A clothesline sends Miz out of the ring, and Ambrose runs the ropes, but Miz pulls Maryse in the way before Ambrose could dive.
Ambrose follows him outside and tosses Miz into the barricade as we go to break.
After the break, Miz hits a pair of Daniel Bryan dropkicks, and follows it with a clothesline in the corner. Ambrose catches Miz and teases a Dirty Deeds. Ambrose nails a clothesline.
Miz and Ambrose counter each other’s finishers back and forth. Miz hits Ambrose with a kick to the leg across the ropes. He starts working the knee and teases a Figure Four, but Ambrose pushes him off. Miz goes right back to the knee again. Miz locks in the Figure Four near the corner, and Ambrose grabs the ropes. Ambrose yanks the ropes low, and Miz crashes to the mat. He leaps through the ropes onto Miz.
Back in the ring, Miz and Ambrose trade reversal attempts. Miz hits a DDT for two. Miz hits a series of Yes Kicks. They show a shot of some little kid reacting instead of the action in the ring, and we nearly miss a rebound clothesline from Ambrose. He goes up top, Miz meets him there. Miz goes for a suplex, Ambrose fights free. Maryse yanks Ambrose’s let off the top turnbuckle however, and he gets crotched. Miz hits a Daniel Bryan knee. Ambrose kicks out.
James Ellsworth walks out to the ring and stands on the apron. Ambrose has Miz rolled up, but the ref is looking at Ellsworth. Ambrose turns to yell at Ambrose, Miz hits Skull Crushing Finale, and wins. Ellsworth literally runs away.
Winner: The Miz to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship
A strong main event, but the Ellsworth saga continues. In fact, it doesn’t seem like anything has changed with AJ, Ellsworth, or Ambrose. I was hoping that story would be wrapped up at TLC. It hasn’t.
Not a bad show, with a lot of pieces needing reset after TLC. I’ll have more to say about this (and TLC) during Ring Rap Audio tomorrow! For now, I’ll keep this closing short and head over to 205 Live.