WWE Smackdown kicks off tonight at 8pm and is already shaping up to be a good show, with James Ellsworth challenging AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. Also announced, a Tag Team Battle Royal to determine the #1 Contender to The Wyatt Family’s Smackdown Tag Team Titles.
We will have live coverage of the show starting at 8pm Eastern both here and on Twitter @RingRap. Be sure to join us for LIVE coverage as it happens!
Smackdown opens up with Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon watching The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose, with James Ellsworth getting in the way of things, as always. Miz picked up the win here, but Ambrose could’ve had it. Ellsworth is in their office, sneezing. Shane is pissed at him for getting involved, and says he was supposed to compete for the WWE Championship tonight, but with his current condition, he’s in no condition to compete. Daniel Bryan tells him to go home. Ellsworth sneezes on him and leaves. Shane gives Bryan some antibacterial stuff.
Cue the music. We’re in Washington, DC. The Miz and Maryse are already in the ring. Looks like an episode of Miz TV. He says it’s day 28 of the Miz’s Intercontinental Championship Reunion Tour. He says tonight is special because Miz TV brings us two of the most powerful champions WWE has to offer. He introduces AJ Styles.
An AJ Styles chant breaks out, and the Miz asks the fans if he can start now. Miz acknowledges that James Ellsworth is unable to compete. Styles says he came down with “chinfluenza.” He says sooner or later he’ll destroy James Ellsworth in the middle of the ring. Miz asks him how he’s going to sleep at night, knowing he’ll have to defend the title anytime anywhere. Styles cracks up laughing. The two talk about his hair, and Styles cracks a joke about a shampoo/conditioner endorsement.
Styles reminds us that he beat John Cena, Dean Ambrose, and he’s going to destroy James Ellsworth. “Who else is there? I am the face that runs the place.” He says he’s the longest reigning champion on Smackdown Live. He asks Miz who else is on his level. Miz agrees that he’s the longest reigning champion, but there’s only one person in the ring that brought their title from obscurity and made it legendary – and that’s him. Miz says Styles has been battling Dean Ambrose for months, but he beat Ambrose last week. Miz says he’s not on Styles’ level – he’s above it.
Both men stand up and go eye to eye. Miz says it’s time he made the WWE Championship legendary. They star moving furniture, and then Dean Ambrose interrupts. The ring empties out as Ambrose tosses furniture, and then Dolph Ziggler comes out.
Ziggler calls both Styles and Miz paper champions for not winning matches without cheating. He says Miz could hide behind Maryse’s skirt, or AJ’s, and Miz runs in. The two brawl. Miz hits Skull Crushing Finale, Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds on Miz, and Styles simply walks away. Ambrose turns and hits Dirty Deeds on Ziggler too, and then… The Wyatt music plays.
The lights go out. When they come back on, Luke Harper clotheslines Dean Ambrose, and stares down at AJ Styles, who is retreating up the ramp.
Harper vs. Styles is DEFINITELY something I can get behind. Harper is the ONLY fresh body in that mix, mix, though the heel vs. heel dynamic is a little off, if they should go that direction.
The announcers hype the #1 Contender’s Tag Team Battle Royale later tonight, plus Natalya vs. Carmella. We go to break.
AJ busts in on Shane and Daniel Bryan. He needs protection. Shane confirms his match against Ellsworth is postponed. Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, and Luke Harper will be in a Fatal Four-Way Elimination match. If anyone interferes – Maryse, Bray Wyatt, anyone – that will cause an elimination. The winner will face AJ Styles on the December 27th Smackdown Live show. I like it!
Back to ringside, Nikki Bella is joining in on commentary.
Natalya vs. Carmella
Drew’s Thoughts: Natalya addresses Nikki Bella in the ring before the match, and accuses Carmella of spreading lies, but Carmella’s music interrupts her. Natalya immediately takes Carmella to the mat and even follows her out of the ring. It’s a sloppy brawl, and the momentum changes when Carmella slaps Natalya across the face.
Out of the break, Natalya talks lots of trash and has control. The fans aren’t really sure who to cheer for, as neither lady has been positioned in a positive light, but it’s more pro-Carmella than Natalya. Eventually, Natalya tries to apologize to Nikki at ringside. Carmella goes to attack from behind, and Nattie pushes Nikki out of the way, catching Carmella with a forearm. Back in the ring, Carmella gets a roll-up win.
Mauro Ranallo plugs the WWE Network’s 7000 Hours of original content, and then turn to hyping up John Cena’s hosting appearance on Saturday Night Live this past Saturday. They announce his return to Smackdown in two weeks.
Gabriel Iglesias walks around backstage, and approaches Apollo Crews, and jokes with him about working out. He plugs being on tomorrow’s Tribute to the Troops, but The Miz and Maryse interrupt. The two make fun of each other’s outfits, and nothing comes of it.
#1 Contender’s Tag Team Battle Royal: American Alpha vs. The Hype Bros vs. The Ascension vs. The Vaudevillains vs. Breezango vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno
Winners: The Hype Bros
Drew’s Thoughts: Both members of a team have to be eliminated to be completely out, so watching Simon Gotch get punched in the face by Mojo Rawley and knocked out of the ring really didn’t have as much effect as it could have.
This is your normal Battle Royal, just with tag teams. Which means, we’re treated to a bunch of guys trying to push each other over the top rope as others do the same, simply stalling for time.
Viktor and Chad Gable get tossed out. Heath Slater accidentally knocks out Rhyno. We go to break, and come back to find the herd thinned. Jordan and English brawl on the apron, and Jordan sends English into the air, eliminating the Vaudevillains. Slater eliminates Fandango. We have Breeze, Slater, Jordan, Konnor, and Ryder left. Jordan hits spears on everyone in the ring and starts suplexing bitches. A double-team from Konnor and Tyler Breeze eliminates Jason Jordan, and thus, American Alpha.
Breeze, Slater, Slater, Konnor left. Slater fights on the apron. fending off Konnor and Breeze, but Konnor launches him out of the ring like a spear, eliminating the team. Breeze and Konnor work together, but it doesn’t last long, and Konnor eliminates Breeze. Ryder sends Konnor packing with a hurricarana over the top rope for the win.
Mojo comes blazing down the ramp at full speed, super happy with the win. I’m fine with The Hype Bros as the #1 Contenders too, though I don’t expect to see them get the win over The Wyatts. Otherwise, not much to say here. I don’t like Battle Royals. There. I said it.
A vignette airs for Baron Corbin – he takes what he wants, and takes what he needs. Nothing else matters. Well edited.
Alexa Bliss vs. Deonna Purrazzo
The Winner: No contest
Drew’s Thoughts: Bliss takes the mic before her opponent is announced, and says she’s heard enough of the ring announcer. She looks at the timekeeper and tells him not to ring the bell. Bliss says Smackdown Live is the land of opportunity, but unlike Becky Lynch, she doesn’t do charity cases. She turns to her opponent – NXT and Indy vet Deonna Purrazzo – and calls her “Jane Ellsworth.” She says it’s nothing personal, and then punches Purrazzo, knocking her out of the ring. The bell never goes off.
Becky Lynch walks out onto the ramp, and says she was terribly rude last week. She caught her off guard when she asked for her rematch, since she wasn’t in her ring gear. But now she is, and so is Lynch. Lynch wants the rematch now. Bliss shuts the fans up and agrees to the match – just not tonight. She bails out of the ring.
Shane McMahon interrupts and makes their rematch for tonight, and tells the timekeeper to ring the bell, because the match is next. We go to break.
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
Winner: Becky Lynch via countout, Alexa Bliss retains the title.
Drew’s Thoughts: I’d be surprised if there’s a clean finish – or any finish at all. Lynch keeps control, going for an early submission victory. The two trade position in the corner, and Bliss catches Lynch with a kick to the gut.
The two brawl outside the ring. Lynch breaks the count with Bliss, but Bliss rolls right back out and sells a knee injury, limping. The referee counts Bliss out, and Lynch wins, but naturally, the title doesn’t change hands.
Lynch doesn’t like it, so she attacks Bliss outside the ring. Bliss fights back inside the ring, showing no effects of a knee injury. Bliss rolls away from the beating, and retreats up the ramp. The saga continues…
Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz (w/ Maryse) vs. Luke Harper in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination #1 Contender’s Match for the WWE Championship
The Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Drew’s Thoughts: AJ Styles is sitting in on commentary. The bell rings and Harper immediately goes on a rampage, taking out Ambrose and tossing Ziggler around. He dives through the ropes onto Ambrose at ringside, and stares down The Miz. Miz starts clapping for him. Miz offers a handshake. Harper looks confused, and then hits Miz with a right punch followed by a Michinoku Driver.
Ziggler and Ambrose make it back in and double-team Harper. Harper gets caught up on the ropes on his way outside – seems like the arm he had in a brace got stuck – and it didn’t seem planned. He tumbled to the floor holding his wrist and the referee briefly checked on him.
It gets a little frantic, and The Miz attacks Ziggler, getting a near fall. Ziggler goes for one of those huge DDT’s he hardly ever connects with. Miz hits a series of corner dropkicks, and is cut off by Ambrose. Ambrose heads outside to attack Harper, and Harper kicks him in the face. Ziggler gets a near fall off of a roll-up. Harper regains control and eyes up AJ Styles here and there while he keeps Ziggler grounded. Ambrose breaks up Harper’s backbreaker to Ziggler. Miz slides into the ring, trying to steal a pin on anyone he can. Ambrose rolls him up in a small package and eliminates Miz clean.
Back from break, Ziggler kicks out of Ambrose’s fisherman suplex. Ambrose heads up top, but Ziggler meets him there. Harper heads in and gets Ziggler in an electric chair, but Ziggler counters with a Zig Zag. Ambrose takes him out with a clothesline before he can go for a pin.
Harper hits a swinging sidewalk slam to Ambrose for a near fall. Sitout powerbomb on Ziggler for two. Harper shows frustration. Ziggler catches Harper with a superkick, and a Dirty Deeds from Ambrose eliminates Luke Harper.
It’s down to Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose. Ziggler hits a flurry on Ambrose, ending with a splash in the corner. On the apron, Ambrose catapults Ziggler into the ring post. Ambrose heads up top, and Ziggler meets him, hitting a top rope face buster. Ambrose rolls Ziggler up for two, and both men take each other out with a clothesline.
And then, The Miz comes back to ringside, distracting Ziggler, who rolls out of the ring to chase after him. Ambrose dives out of the ring onto Miz, and Ziggler hits a superkick on him. Ambrose sends Ziggler into the ringpost, and goes to roll him in, but The Miz holds on to Ambrose. Ambrose tosses Miz into the barricade, Ziggler hits a superkick, and shockingly, Dolph Ziggler wins.
This was a fun match, and I like Miz vs. Ambrose as a feud while Ziggler visits AJ Styles for the title. I was hoping for Luke Harper, but apparently WWE isn’t ready to go there yet, if at all. Still, by having him in the main event, it’s a nice rub for the talented Harper.
Rich Swann plugs his match against TJ Perkins during 205 Live, on the Network, up next… which is where I’m about to go in moments.
Overall? A good episode of Smackdown that felt a little restless but had some good action. Good matches, lame audience. Or tired audience. Or something. I don’t know. I like The Hype Bros as #1 Contenders, and I like Dolph Ziggler as #1 Contender too. The audience just seemed a little unenthusiastic about it overall.
Off to cover 205 Live… thanks for watching folks!