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The John Report: WWE Smackdown Live Review 09/27/16

The John Report: WWE Smackdown Live Review 09/27/16

Live from Cleveland, Ohio this is Smackdown for episode #893.

The opening video package sets up the huge main event for this week’s Smackdown: AJ Styles defends the WWE World Title against Dean Ambrose.

The Smackdown intro song aired. I like this song more than the Raw song, but both are pretty good.

Randy Orton made his entrance in his street clothes. The announce team of Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield and David Otunga were shown on camera welcoming us to the show.

Randy Orton Addresses Bray Wyatt

The crowd chanted “Randy” before he could even say a word. Orton said he knows that Bray Wyatt is afraid and it’s nothing to be ashamed of because people are afraid of different things like heights, spiders and snakes. He knows it’s true that Bray Wyatt is afraid of Orton. Orton said enough mind games and sneak attacks, “Bray, get your ass down to the ring.” He told him to come down to the ring to face his fears.

Bray Wyatt was shown on the video screen in his lair. Wyatt said much like Hansel and Gretel, he’s left some bread crumbs for Orton to find him. Wyatt said this is his world, he is a god, he’s the omniscient being that sees everything that Orton does and claimed that Orton is in no position to make demands. Wyatt suggested that Orton should come to try to hurt him. Wyatt had an hourglass with sand in it and sang “he’s got the whole world in his hands.”  Orton left the ring.

Analysis: This story has gone on for more than a month and I keep waiting for something interesting to happen. Maybe we find out this week. Orton did a good job with a quick promo that only lasted a few minutes. It didn’t drag out too long.

The announcers hyped up the WWE Title match on Smackdown noting it’s the first WWE Title match since Smackdown has gone live.

Dean Ambrose was interviewed backstage by Charly Caruso. Ambrose said that he beat John Cena on Smackdown just like AJ Styles beat Cena at SummerSlam. He said that Styles stole the WWE Title from him at Backlash with a low blow and he’s going to take back the WWE Title.

Eight man tag up next.

(Commercial)

The tag match is American Alpha, Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Ascension and The Usos. Six of the guys were in the ring. The Usos have a new entrance song. That’s good to see because the old song was more of a babyface song. This is pretty basic, but it works. It’s The Usos challenging Heath Slater & Rhyno for the Tag Titles at No Mercy on October 9.

Jason Jordan, Chad Gable, Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Konnor, Viktor, Jimmy & Jey Uso

Jordan and Gable made some quick tags to work over Jimmy early on. Jey tagged in, they worked on Jordan a bit, but Gable got the tag and AA did a double monkey flip on The Usos. Gable with an armbar on Jey over the top rope. Jimmy went after Gable, so Jey did a chop block to the back of the leg of Gable.

(Commercial)

The heels were in control on Gable as The Ascension double teamed him with kicks. Fans were chanting for Rhyno and also “ECW” for him. Jimmy missed a corner splash on Gable, which led to Gable avoiding attacks by Konnor and Viktor. The Ascension took out Jordan on the apron, so Rhyno dove to take out both of them. Double shoulder block by Gable and Jimmy.

Slater got the hot tag against Jey.  Crowd was going wild. Running knee by Slater on Jey, then a leg lariat for Viktor and a neckbreaker on Jey gets two. Rhyno with a belly to belly on Konnor, then Viktor took out Rhyno with an uppercut and Jordan took out Viktor with a clothesline out of the ring. Jimmy made the blind tag and kicked Slater in the face when he did a rollup. Jey nailed a jumping kick to the back of the left knee of Slater. Jimmy hooked the arm and leg of Slater leading to a single leg Boston Crab submission. Slater tapped out to Jimmy. The match went around 10 minutes.

Winners by submission: Konnor, Viktor, Jimmy & Jey Uso

Analysis: *** That was really well done. The crowd was really into it as they went wild for the hot tag for Slater. The heels were too crafty, though. I love the way The Usos have been booked since the turn. They’re aggressive heels that take advantage of opportunities and work so well together. Slater tapping out is fine because it sets up the idea that it might happen again with the tag titles on the line. I’d rather have him tap than one of the American Alpha guys because long term the main feud will be American Alpha vs. Usos over the titles. I think The Usos are winning the titles at No Mercy. They certainly deserve it based on their performance since the turn.

John Cena was interviewed by Charly Caruso backstage. Cena said that AJ Styles is at the top of his game and he gave Dean Ambrose for having guts. Cena said he’ll watch that match tonight, but at No Mercy there’s only one man that can say the 16-time Champ is here. He’s referring to himself.

Analysis: Good confidence shown by Cena.

The Miz and Maryse were backstage. They were looking at a picture of NBA great LeBron James and Miz had some guy put a picture of Miz over James. The crowd was booing.

Analysis: That was funny. Easy way to get a cheap laugh and heat.

Randy Orton was shown in a darkened part of the arena on the search for Bray Wyatt. He turned some piece of wood against the wall. Then the camera panned off him and it showed Erick Rowan was standing there in a sheep mask as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

Bray Wyatt was back in his lair saying that Orton was never good at taking directions as he looked at the hour glass with the sand.

Carmella and Natalya talked trash in a pre-tape promo before their tag match. Naomi and Nikki made their entrance. Naomi’s entrance is cool, but it may take longer than The Undertaker. Then they did a pre-tape promo as well. The Bellas are on the Muscle & Fitness cover.

Analysis: I guess that’s a big deal. Isn’t there a WWE person on their magazine covers all the time? I know Triple H is on the board of directors of that magazine, so it’s as if that is a WWE magazine now.

Nikki Bella & Naomi vs. Natalya & Carmella

Carmella locked up with Naomi as terrible announcer Otunga said Carmella has anger issues. I’m still waiting for Otunga to say something interesting. Naomi with a jumping kick on Carmella. Nikki sent Carmella head first into the knee, Carmella went to the floor and it’s time for a break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Natalya hit a Michinoku Driver on Naomi on the floor. The blonde heels worked over Natalya in their corner. Naomi with a small package for two, but Carmella came back with a bronco buster in the corner. Double suplex northern lights suplex by Natalya and Carmella gets two for Natalya. Naomi got a quick rollup for two and Natalya prevented a tag by pulling her down by the hair. Natalya with a slingshot off the ropes into a slam followed by the basement dropkick for two. Naomi broke free for the tag after Natalya missed a leg drop.

Nikki tagged in with a shoulder tackle on Natalya, then a dropkick, corner clothesline and a springboard enziguri kick for two. Carmella hit a knee to the back and tagged in. Nikki picked her up on her shoulders, but Carmella broke free. Natalya went in the ring and Nikki nailed a forearm to the face. Carmella did a double leg pickup on Nikki leading to a pinfall for the win after 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Carmella & Natalya

Analysis: **1/2 A solid tag match for the ladies. I’m glad they got time and that it wasn’t rushed too much. Natalya and Naomi did well in supporting roles because the match was about the other two women. Nikki was on fire when she got the hat tag and I was definitely surprised Carmella got the win. The good thing is it continues to put over Carmella as a crafty heel that is finding her way on Smackdown. It should lead to Carmella vs. Nikki in singles at No Mercy with Nikki likely getting her revenge. I was a bit surprised by the move Carmella did for the win. It just a take down and hooking the legs aggressively for the win. You don’t see that very often.

Orton was back in the darkened part of the arena with “I am a god” written on a door and then “one way out, choose wisely” on another wall. Then it said “predator or prey” on a door. Orton opened the “I am a god” door to reveal an Orton cutout standee looking at him with “PREY” on it in red writing. The eyes were cut out too. Orton opened the “predator or prey” door and when he did, we got a camera on the other side of the door showing Erick Rowan waiting for him in a sheep mask. Back to Orton’s side, he shut the door and left. The scene ended with a focus on the door handle shaking.

Analysis: These segments are different from anything we usually see on a WWE show. I don’t mind it, though. Different is good once in a while. It’s a bit cheesy with one camera following Orton while the other camera is on the other side with Rowan, but when WWE does stuff backstage they really don’t follow common sense rules.

The Miz gets a Homecoming Celebration up next.

(Commercial)

The Miz Homecoming Celebration

The Miz and Maryse made their entrance. There were Miz photos in the ring as well as a red carpet. Miz posed with the Intercontinental Title in the ring as fireworks went off by the entrance ramp.

Maryse did the introduction for the “prodigal son of Cleveland” that she claims is the most beautiful man on Earth, her husband The Miz.

The Miz pointed to the video screen. A video package aired showing his journey to where he is today. It was really well done with clips of him on MTV, WWE Tough Enough, as a host on Smackdown, then OVW, his main roster start, winning tag titles with Big Show, winning Money in the Bank 2010, cashing in to become WWE Champion on Randy Orton, main eventing WrestleMania 27, doing movies, talk show appearances and then a fast forward to winning the IC Title back in April. It also showed a clip of his great Talking Smack promo a few months ago and then his recent wins over Dolph Ziggler.

Analysis: Great video that covered a lot in a short time.

Miz held up the IC Title: “Cleveland, I’m home. And the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Finals with 1.3 million lining the streets to celebrate Cleveland’s championship. And this is all I get? This is my hero’s welcome? I am the only hero in Cleveland.” The crowd booed him as he went on a rant saying the people rooted for a traitor like LeBron James while he was winning the main event of WrestleMania as the WWE Champion. He bragged about his 176 day IC Title reign. Then he introduced his parents as the only two decent people in the entire arena. His parents were shown at ringside. His dad is always a unique looking man and has always received some interesting comments from wrestling fans. Some fans were chanting “Mr. Hero” as Miz told them that his dad owns Mr. Hero and they can get a burger later.

Miz pointed out that Dolph Ziggler’s parents were at ringside as well sitting in a different part of row one. Miz told them that they created a world class, elite level loser.

Dolph Ziggler made his entrance in street clothes with his mom clapping him. He got in the ring as Miz hid behind Maryse. Ziggler said Miz can say whatever he wants to him, but don’t talk to his parents, his friends and his city like that. Ziggler suggested that Miz say something to his face.

Miz said he’s already said a lot to him by beating him over and over while Ziggler said that Miz cheated. Miz said that in the record books it won’t say that he cheated – it’s going to say Miz WWE Champion, IC Champion, Tag Team Champion, movie star, hot wife, Hollywood Hills mansion, but what about Ziggler? He said Ziggler may have been great, but all he does is just lose and lose. Miz wondered when Ziggler was going to end his mediocre career. Miz claimed that Ziggler was almost main eventer, but now he’s a mid-level career and he would be embarrassed if he had Ziggler’s career. Miz told Ziggler he should be embarrassed, his parents should be embarrassed, his city should be embarrassed of his career because Ziggler has done nothing with it as of late because all he does is lose. Miz said he feels sorry for him. Miz said he won’t give him one more match, but Miz won’t give it up because Ziggler has nothing to offer him. The Miz delivered a key line saying “unless you want to give up your career” he’s going to celebrate in Hollywood. Miz went up to Ziggler’s parents and said “you must be so proud.” Miz walked away with Maryse.

Ziggler was still in the ring. He told Miz to wait and said “Mike” to make it seem more legit by using his first name. Ziggler said that Miz is right that this (the ring) is all that Ziggler has. Ziggler said that the few minutes every night for 300 days a year is what he loves, but sometimes the things you love don’t always love you back. Ziggler spoke about how you can give and give, but sometimes you get nothing in return. He said that people come up to him asking why he subjects himself to this every night. Ziggler said it’s because he can’t stop, claiming that it’s a sickness and he thought that maybe his career would be better, but he just can’t stop himself. Ziggler wants Miz to put that title up one more time.

Ziggler: “You put that title up one more time…(he paused with the fans chanting “one more time”)…put that title up one more time and I’ll put up my entire career.”

Miz went back in the ring making sure he heard Ziggler correctly. He said he’s not talking about that when Ziggler loses that he just doesn’t come back on Raw or NXT. He said if Ziggler loses then he is done from WWE because of him. Ziggler said: “Your title, my career. I either walk out champion or I’m done. Either way, either way I’ll be out of my misery.” Miz said two weeks at No Mercy, the career vs. the title. Miz told him that if Ziggler’s not willing to hang up his career then Miz will hang it up for him. Miz left while Ziggler was left in the ring with a serious look on his face. I would have had kept the camera on Ziggler more so that he could get a hug from his parents to end the scene, but that’s okay. It was fine ending where they did.

Analysis: That was awesome. Wow. One of the best promo segments in WWE this year. It really delivered in terms of Miz coming off as a cocky jerk that’s a true heel and Ziggler showing a lot of seriousness in everything he said about his career. They even involved their parents a bit to make this rivalry come off as more personal. it If you compare their careers, Miz has done more and you could say he’s better even though most people would say Ziggler is better in ring. Miz has done more in terms of the accomplishments that matter as it pertains to telling stories in the ring. I really like the idea of Title vs. Career because WWE doesn’t do that kind of match very often. Miz had no interest in doing the match again, but once Ziggler mentioned his career on the line (remember that Miz actually brought it up first) that was enough for them to make the stipulation. There’s going to be a lot of interest from the crowd when the match takes place because if Ziggler loses he’s done. I doubt Ziggler’s going to lose and that’s fine. The IC Title matters again thanks to the way Miz has been booked as well as the way they’ve done this feud. Both guys are the same age (36) and started in WWE at the same time a little over a decade ago. They’re both from Cleveland as well and are very good friends, so there’s a lot of history there. I’ve enjoyed their last two matches a lot. It will be interesting to see if they can top those matches at No Mercy. Fantastic segment. I really recommend it if you missed it.

Dean Ambrose was shown getting ready backstage.

(Commercial)

Bray Wyatt was on camera again saying when one door closes, another one opens. He said the door is wide open yet he sits there watching Orton like a mouse in a maze not knowing which way to go. Wyatt told Orton to be careful and laughed.

Becky Lynch made her entrance. Alexa Bliss attacked her on the ramp. Bliss sent her head first into the ramp a few times. Bliss held up the Women’s Title and told Lynch that she didn’t deserve the title while she (Bliss) does.

Analysis: It was just a quick segment to get heat on Bliss. This was similar to last week when Carmella attacked Nikki before their match could start. Lynch vs. Bliss is on for the Women's Title at No Mercy.

Curt Hawkins was shown on camera talking about how gravity has to obey the law of Curt Hawkins. The Earth is 70% water and 30% Curt Hawkins. He said that next week he’ll be making a big Curt Hawkins announcement.

Analysis: I think that means his debut/return is next week.

(Commercial)

Wyatt was on camera again saying he’s disappointed because he thought Orton was sadistic like him. He said he was wrong because The Viper has no fangs or poison. Fans were chanting “what” during this promo. Wyatt yelled out wondering where Orton is. Then there was a guy in a sheep mask behind him. Orton took off the mask, Wyatt turned around and Orton nailed him with punches. Wyatt hit him with a knee lift and ran away. Orton smiled. He sat down, put the sheep mask on his head and Orton sang the “whole world in his hands” song to end it.

Analysis: It was a show long story for them. Wyatt invited Orton to find him, taunted him all night long and Orton found his way there. It was different form what we normally get, but I thought it worked well. Doing stuff like this is better than having guys wrestle eachother before they have a PPV match or doing repetitive tag matches.

The announcers talked about Orton and Wyatt with JBL saying when they collide it’s going to be a collision straight out of hell.

The WWE World Champion AJ Styles was shown waking backstage as Charly Caruso showed up to interview him. Styles said this isn’t a debate, this is bigger. He bragged about beating John Cena and Dean Ambrose to become the WWE Champion and that all eyes and ears will be on Styles. What you’ll see is Styles beating Ambrose again and you’ll hear is the announcer saying that he’s the winner.

Analysis: Good confidence shown from the champ as usual.

John Cena made his entrance saying it’s time for him to do his best Harry Doyle. He ran down to ringside.

Analysis: That’s a reference to the great movie Major League and the announcer Harry Doyle played by Bob Uecker. Cena wins my respect for that reference.

(Commercial)

After Smackdown on Talking Smack, it’s Becky Lynch and John Cena as guests on the show.  I usually watch it because it’s a very entertaining show.

Cena was on commentary for the main event. Dean Ambrose made his entrance. The WWE World Champion AJ Styles entered last.

WWE World Championship: AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose

Ambrose was aggressive early as he hit a clothesline on Styles that sent him over the top to the floor. Ambrose pounded away on Ambrose on the announce table as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, they did a double clothesline spot. Cena said he never really set his sights on making history, but the match at No Mercy is important because he wants to make history. Ambrose nailed some running forearm smashes and a clothesline to get the advantage again. Ambrose nailed a backbreaker as Ranallo noted that Ambrose has been a workhorse this year in more matches than anybody in WWE this year so far. Cena said he’s not leaving WWE to do something else – he’s going to be the first to do everything at once. Ambrose slapped on a Cloverleaf submission hold, but Styles forced the break by getting to the ropes. Cena said that Styles is firing on all cylinders. Styles was on the apron, so Ambrose punched him down to the floor. Ambrose nailed a suicide dive to send Styles into the barricade. Ambrose went up top and hit a flying elbow smash on Styles outside the ring.

(Commercial)

Back from break, they were in the ring with Styles working on the left knee of Ambrose. Styles tripped up Ambrose with a Calf Crusher as Cena put over how good Styles is in the ring. Ambrose broke free by grabbing Styles’ head and slamming it into the mat repeatedly. The crowd was really into it as Ambrose blocked some Styles offense and hit a swinging neckbreaker. Both guys were on their feet exchanges punches and kicks. Styles nailed a forearm, Ambrose hooked his arms and slammed him face first for a two count. Styles came back by putting Ambrose on his shoulders and hit a spinning Powerbomb for two. Cena said winning a 16th World Title would put him in the conversation with the best ever. Ambrose crotched Styles on the top rope, Ambrose went to the middle ropes and hit a stiff clothesline for a two count. Good spot there. Styles came back with a Pele Kick. Springboard 450 by Styles, but Ambrose moved out of the way. Ambrose up top and he hit a flying elbow smash for two. The crowd bought that as a finish even though he never wins with that move. Styles avoided an attack on the floor and nailed a running knee strike on the apron. Styles tossed Ambrose in the ring and then he nailed Cena with a forearm to the head. Back in the ring, Ambrose avoided an attack.  Cena was on the apron as the ref looked at him. Ambrose with an O’Connor rollup, the ref isn’t there to count right away, then he gets there and it gets two for Ambrose. Cena was back on the floor, so Ambrose hit a forearm to knock Cena down. Ambrose went back in the ring, Styles did the O’Connor roll, he sat on top and held the pants of Ambrose for leverage. That was enough for the pinfall after 22 minutes as JBL said that Cena cost Ambrose the championship.

Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles

Analysis: **** It was a great match. Four stars out of five. Listen to the crowd reaction – they were into this match a lot. While it wasn’t at the level of their title change match at Backlash, I enjoyed it a lot. The finish was a bit cheap with Cena getting involved, but that’s fine because it was done to set up their triple threat match at No Mercy. There were so many believable nearfalls in the match with the crowd into everything they did. The story of the match was Ambrose in control for the first half of it, then Styles came back and got back into it. It’s a way to tell a story with the face dominating early on, then the heel coming back and coming so close to winning. Cena added a lot on commentary. He’s really good at putting over both guys in the match while also talking about his spot in the No Mercy main event. Styles winning the match was the right thing because there’s no way he’s going to drop the title so soon after winning it.

Post match, Cena got in the ring with Ambrose while Styles left the ring. Cena avoided Dirty Deeds and dropped Ambrose with an Attitude Adjustment. Styles went for a cheap attack, but Cena gave him an Attitude Adjustment as well. Cena picked up the WWE Title and held it up over his two fallen No Mercy opponents. Cena’s music played.

A graphic reminded us that at No Mercy on October 9 it will be AJ Styles defending the WWE Title against Dean Ambrose and John Cena in a triple threat match.

Analysis: Good ending to the show with Cena standing tall. I don’t think Styles is going to lose at No Mercy, but I’m really looking forward to the match. I complain about WWE doing triple threat matches all the time. In this case, though, I don’t mind it too much because it’s a fresh match that is going to be awesome.

On Talking Smack, Daniel Bryan made a match official at No Mercy: Miz vs. Ziggler in a Title vs. Career match. Cena was great on Talking Smack too.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. Dolph Ziggler

2. The Miz

3. (tie) AJ Styles

3. (tie) Dean Ambrose

It was hard to put them in order this week. That main event was great and it was one of the best promo segments of the year.

 

The Scoreboard

8 out of 10

Last week: 7.5

2016 Average: 6.05

2016 Average Post Brand Split (July 26): 6.4 (Raw is at 6.15)

Last 5 Weeks: 7.5, 6, 5.5, 5.5, 8

2016 High: 8 (August 23/September 27)

2016 Low: 4 (January 21)

 

Final Thoughts

It gets a 8 out of 10. Tied for my highest Smackdown score of the year.

Great show. Absolutely loved it.

There were only three matches on Smackdown this week, but they took about 40 minutes meaning they were all given time to tell a story.

The promos were outstanding all night long with Miz and Ziggler having the segment of the night. It felt real and it worked for their storyline too. We need more segments like that in WWE.

I liked the Wyatt/Orton stuff. It was different, but it wasn’t bad.

Raw is hurt constantly by involving the Commissioner and General Manager too much. Smackdown didn’t even show their people in charge this week. It’s so refreshing when the shows are about the talent in the ring instead of the people in charge.

Smackdown is clearly the better of WWE’s two shows. I don’t see how somebody could watch both of them and say Raw is better. The only advantage Raw has is that they can have longer matches due to being an hour longer. In terms of telling stories, Smackdown is kicking Raw’s ass. My scores for the two shows aren't that far apart, but I think in the last couple of weeks Smackdown has been clearly better.

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That’s all for now. Go Toronto Blue Jays.

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