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Live from Washington, DC this is Smackdown Live for episode #904.
Smackdown began with a clip of last week’s Smackdown with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan watching it on a screen backstage. It was James Ellsworth “accidentally” costing Dean Ambrose the IC Title against The Miz.
Ellsworth showed up to talk to Shane and Daniel. Ellsworth was sick, though. He was coughing a lot. Shane and Daniel said that he was scheduled to face AJ Styles for the WWE Title. When Ellsworth tried to talk, he just kept coughing. Daniel told him that his championship opportunity is postponed. Ellsworth coughed on Daniel, so Shane gave him some hand sanitizer as the scene ended.
Analysis: It was likely done because AJ Styles’ ankle injury still isn’t healed enough to allow him to have a match. He didn’t work the live events on the weekend as well. He should be back in action very soon.
The Intercontinental Champion The Miz was in the ring with his lovely wife Maryse for another edition of Miz TV. He said that tonight, Miz TV brings you to two champions on the same show and here’s the WWE Champion AJ Styles. Styles walked out in jeans and his shirt.
The announce team of Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga and Tom “no talking during matches” Phillips welcomed us to the show.
Styles went into the ring as both he and Miz stood side by side with their titles on their shoulders. Fans chanted “AJ Styles” as he sat down.
Miz noted that Ellsworth will not be able to compete. Styles said that Ellsworth came down with “Chinfluenza.” Styles said that sooner or later he’s going to destroy Ellsworth in the middle of the ring. Miz wondered how Styles can sleep at night knowing he has to defend the title against Ellsworth. Styles laughed and told Miz that he was funnier than he gets credit for. Miz complimented him back saying that Styles’ hair is way nicer than a soccer mom’s, which Styles replied to by saying he’s trying to get that shampoo conditioner endorsement.
Styles said he didn’t know what was next for him. He admitted that he beat John Cena and Dean Ambrose. He knows he’s going to beat Ellsworth. Styles called himself the longest reigning champion on Smackdown right now. Miz said there’s only one superstar in the ring that brought it from obscurity and took it to new heights of glory. Miz claimed that he has made the IC Title legendary while pointing out that he beat Ambrose last week. Miz said his point is that Styles claimed that nobody is on his level and Miz told him he’s above it. Miz said maybe it’s time that he made the WWE Championship legendary. They both got out of their chairs to make it look like they were going to fight, but Dean Ambrose entered the fray.
Ambrose walked down to the ring, which led to Styles and Miz both leaving the ring. They stood on the apron.
Dolph Ziggler made his entrance. He walked into the ring. Ziggler told Styles and Miz two people that can’t seem to win a match without cheating. Ziggler said that if Miz didn’t have Maryse’s skirt to hide behind then maybe he could hide behind Styles’ skirt. Miz went after Ziggler, who hit him with some punches, but Miz did an eye gouge leading to the Skull Crushing Finale. Ambrose dropped Miz with Dirty Deeds. Styles walked away to avoid a physical confrontation. Ambrose nailed Dirty Deeds on Ziggler as well.
The Wyatt Family logo appeared. When the picture was back in the ring, Luke Harper was in there. He crushed Ambrose with the discus clothesline. Harper pointed at Styles as Styles went up the ramp. The scene ended there.
Analysis: It was a typical show opening segment to set up a match for later. That’s the formula that WWE has used for years and sometimes I wonder if they are able to do a show opening promo without setting up a match for something in the future. It’s what they love to do. What they did in the ring was fine, but it isn’t anything that felt fresh or new either. Ziggler was made to look like such a loser here for taking two finishers so easily. It also was foreshadowing about who was going to win the match later.
Later on Smackdown: A #1 Contender’s battle royal and Natalya vs. Carmella up next.
Shane and Daniel were backstage in their office. AJ Styles showed up saying he needs protection. Daniel suggested going to a pharmacy for that and Styles wasn’t amused. Shane said they’ve been doing some thinking. Bryan said they are going to set up a four-way match to determine the number one contender to the WWE Title: Ambrose vs. Ziggler vs. Miz vs. Harper in an elimination match. If somebody interferes in the match then that will cause an elimination. Styles bitched about it saying it was a stupid idea.
Analysis: I like how they say they’ve been doing some thinking and then just put the four guys involved in the previous segment in the match. The WWE Creative team isn’t that creative.
Nikki Bella was on commentary for the next match. They plugged Total Divas. I yawned at the exact same time.
Natalya made here entrance. Natalya told Nikki that she wasn’t the one that attacked her at Survivor Series. She said that Nikki hasn’t returned her calls or responded to her texts. She wanted to do this because Carmella is spreading her lies and…there’s the entrance of Carmella.
Carmella vs. Natalya
This is heel vs. heel although they don’t push the idea of Natalya as a heel that much. Nikki said she’s confused and needs time to figure things out. Survivor Series was nearly one month ago, so she really is taking her time. Natalya was aggressive, so Carmella bailed to the floor. Hard slap by Carmella followed by some punches. They went to break one minute into it.
Back from break, Natalya with a snap suplex followed by a hard slap. Another suplex from Natalya. Carmella took control. Bronco buster by Carmella got her a two count. The announcers kept talking about Nikki’s attacker. Carmella applied leg scissors. Nikki – who was a heel for most of her career – can’t believe Natalya would have attacked her. Natalya came back with a Michinoku Driver. Carmella avoided a Sharpshooter. Natalya dropkick on Carmella while she was on the floor. Nikki got up to talk to Natalya. Forearm by Natalya on Carmella. They were in the ring and Carmella grabbed her in an inside cradle for the pinfall win after about eight minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Carmella
Analysis: *1/2 It was an okay match. At least it wasn’t a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! An inside cradle is more of an actual move for the finish. There wasn’t much to the match other than that except for the cool Michinoku Driver by Natalya. They went nearly ten minutes doing basic stuff.
Post match, Nikki went up the ramp alone while the announcers continued to bicker about things.
Analysis: Here’s the difference between the good writing on Smackdown and the poor writing on Raw. They have spent nearly one month talking about who attacked Nikki, yet on Raw Bayley has done nothing to get revenge on Charlotte. I feel bad for the performers.
Battle royal still to come.
The announcers talked about WWE Network while regurgitating the exact same stuff that the Raw announcers said.
There were clips of John Cena on Saturday Night Live this past Saturday.
It was also announced that Cena is back on Smackdown Live in two weeks on December 27.
Analysis: Good to have him back after his hiatus to film the American Grit TV show. I assume that’s either going to lead to him being in the Royal Rumble match or perhaps setting up a WWE Title match against AJ Styles at Royal Rumble.
There was a backstage scene with comedian Gabriel Iglesias and Apollo Crews. Iglesias was doing some poses and said looking at Crews is like looking in a mirror, which is funny since Iglesias is chubby. They were interrupted by Miz and Maryse, who complained about Gabriel’s loud noises. Gabriel asked Miz what planet he got his out from “Uranus.” Miz said mocked the childish it’s a $5,000 suit. Iglesias and Crews said that Miz overpaid for that while noting he can’t take a joke. Miz called Apollo “Creed” again. Miz said he had championship goals to prepare for.
Analysis: The Uranus joke was lame. It’s nice to see Apollo Crews on the show although they still haven’t had a storyline for the guy after five months of the brand split. What a waste of talent. If he stayed in NXT he could be doing meaningful things.
The American Alpha and Hype Bros teams made their entrance as the show went to break.
The other teams entered to fill the ring.
Tag Team Battle Royal: Heath Slater & Rhyno, American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable), Fandango & Tyler Breeze, The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley), The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch) and The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor)
The winner of the match earns a tag team title match for his team. Both members of a team have to be eliminated for the team to be gone.
Rawley hit Gotch with a clothesline as soon as the bell rang to eliminate him. There were spots where guys were trying to shove people over, but nobody could do it. Slater avoided an elimination. It went about three minutes with nothing happening. Slater hit a corner dropkick on English. Gable applied an armbar on Viktor against the ropes and eliminated him. Konnor ran into Gable to eliminate him. Slater went for a leaping punch on Fandango, who moved and Slater accidentally hit Rhyno who was on the apron. Rhyno is eliminated.
Analysis: They teased the Rhyno/Slater problems on Talking Smack last week with Rhyno blaming Slater for their title loss. Good way to further that story.
Jordan battled English on the apron and Jordan tossed him in the air to eliminate him. Slater did a legsweep on Fandango while they were on the apron to eliminate him. Earlier in the match, Fandango eliminated Rawley. Jordan was on fire on offense with running shoulder tackles on the four other guys in the ring. Overhead belly to belly suplexes by Jordan on two guys. Konnor picked up Jordan and Breeze nailed a jumping kick to eliminate Jordan.
Final four are Breeze, Konnor, Ryder and Slater. There was flurry of offense from Slater with a flying knee and a neckbreaker. Slater kick to Breeze. Konnor picked up Slater and tossed him over the top to the floor. Breeze with an enziguri on Ryder and Konnor hit a clothesline on Ryder. Konnor tossed Breeze over the top, but Breeze hung on. Konnor ran at Ryder, who moved and Konnor hit a shoulder tackle on Breeze to eliminate him. Ryder went for the Rough Ryder, Konnor caught him, so Ryder hit a hurricanrana on Konnor to eliminate him. Good move to end it. The match went 14 minutes.
Winner: Zack Ryder
Analysis: **1/2 It was a solid battle royal. Good job of setting up the finish with Ryder getting the big win for his team. They built up Konnor well as a dominant big man in the match, which made it mean something when Ryder won. I was hoping American Alpha would win, but certainly don’t mind Hype Bros getting a chance. It’s not like they are winning the titles from the Wyatt Family.
Post match, Ryder was joined by Rawley to celebrate the win.
Analysis: The win was the good news, but the bad news is that Ryder hurt his knee. You could see Ryder was in pain as he was on the apron. A report from WWE.com notes that it could be a serious injury, but they won’t know until they do a MRI on the knee.
Fatal four way match still to come. Alexa Bliss is up next.
A video package aired about Baron Corbin talking about how he takes what he wants and nothing else matters. There were shots of wolves as well since he’s the lone wolf.
The Smackdown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss walked out with the title. She wears the title, which is good and rare in today’s WWE.
Bliss did a promo about how Smackdown is the land of opportunity, but she didn’t want to face the “charity case” unknown opponent in the ring. She wondered who the girl was…Jane Ellsworth? Bliss hit the girl with a forearm shot with Ranallo noting it was Deanna Purazzo and Bliss dumped her out of the ring.
Becky Lynch made her entrance. She said she was rude last week and caught her off guard because Bliss wasn’t in her ring gear. Lynch noted they are both in their ring gear and Bliss was looking for some real competition. Lynch suggested they have their title rematch right now. Bliss told her that she’s got her match…just not tonight.
Shane McMahon’s music hit. The SD Live Commish received a good ovation from the crowd. He sucked up to the crowd asking them what’s up. Shane told Bliss that’s not how they roll on Smackdown Live because Bliss has a championship rematch against Lynch and that match is up next. The show went to break.
Analysis: Good heel work from Bliss like usual. I really enjoy her as a performer and not just because she’s good to look at. She’s a well rounded performer as well.
The match began after they returned from break.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch
Lynch took her down early on. Lynch hit two arm drags, then a jump kick in the corner and they went to the other side of the ring with Bliss hitting a kick to the ribs to knock her down. Lynch avoided a knee attack and got a rollup for two. Hard strike by Bliss. Lynch with a running clotheslines followed by a jumping kick and forearm smash. Lynch went for the Disarmer, Bliss put her foot on the ropes, the ref told Lynch to break the hold and Bliss left the ring. Lynch followed with a forearm smash when they were on the floor. Bliss left the ring again while acting as if she hurt her right knee. Bliss limped around the ring while Lynch won the match by countout. It went five minutes.
Winner by countout: Becky Lynch
Analysis: ** A short match to continue their storyline with Bliss as the heel champion that found a way to leave with the title without getting pinned or submitting. It should lead to a future title match for them.
Post match, Lynch went after her out of the ring. Bliss came back with kicks to the gut showing the knee is fine. Lynch fired back with kicks of her own. Lynch with more punches, but Bliss left the ring again.
Analysis: The logic fail with this whole thing is that Lynch went out of the ring to bring Bliss back in the ring earlier in the match and then didn’t do it when Bliss was out of the ring. If she wants the title she should be more aggressive. That’s the way you have to look at it from a logic standpoint, but WWE doesn’t always book their wrestlers – especially the faces – to look smart.
The fatal four-way match is up next.
A short video aired about John Cena to hype his return to Smackdown in Chicago in two weeks.
There was a behind the scenes clip of Randy Orton on the USA Network show Shooter. It aired after Smackdown.
The introductions took place for the main event. Dean Ambrose was up first followed by Dolph Ziggler, The Miz and Luke Harper. It’s weird that they wouldn’t have one of the faces up last. The match begins after the break.
The WWE Champion AJ Styles joined the announcers on commentary for this match. He said he’s beat everybody there except Harper, who he doesn’t know except that he’s big.
Analysis: It should be noted that WWE is officially saying “WWE Champion” now instead of saying “WWE World Champion” like they had been saying for months. Earlier in the year it was “WWE World Heavyweight Champion.” Old man Vince McMahon likes to change his mind a lot.
Number One Contender to the WWE Title Elimination Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Luke Harper
Harper was aggressive early as he knocked Ambrose and Ziggler out of the ring. Harper with an uppercut on Miz followed by a Michinoku Driver for two. Ziggler back in wit ha dropkick on Harper followed by Ambrose hitting a dropkick as well. Double clothesline by Ambrose and Ziggler sent Harper out of the ring. Ambrose with a clothesline on Ziggler. Miz back in, he sent Ambrose out and Miz hit a snap DDT on Ziggler for a two count. Miz with dropkicks kept Harper and Ambrose out of the ring. Miz hit the “Yes” kicks on Ziggler followed by two corner dropkicks on Ziggler. Ambrose back in with a corner clothesline and bulldog on Miz. Ambrose jumped onto Harper, but Harper blocked it and Harper nailed Ambrose with a boot to the face. Harper with a backbreaker on Ziggler in the ring. Harper gave Ziggler a slingshot into the bottom rope. Harper sent Ziggler into the corner with a hard whip. Harper tossed Ambrose into the barricade at ringside. Ambrose back in the ring, Harper with a hard clothesline on Ziggler and Ambrose with a hard clothesline on Harper. Miz snuck back into the ring with pinfall attempts on two guys and then Ambrose grabbed Miz in a small package to eliminate him.
The Miz eliminated by Dean Ambrose
Miz complained about it to the ref as the show went to break.
Ambrose and Miz were in the ring while Harper was sitting on the floor chilling. Ambrose with a swinging backbreaker on Ziggler for two. Suplex by Ambrose on Ziggler gets a two count. Harper back in the ring and Ziggler hit a Zig Zag on him. Ambrose jumped off the top with a flying elbow smash on Ziggler for a two count. Ziggler and Ambrose ran the ropes leading to a double cross body block spot. Harper came back with a standing side kick to Ziggler and then a spinning sidewalk slam on Ambrose. Harper with a sitout Powerbomb on Ziggler. This is a great reminder of how awesome Harper is. He’s such a skilled worker. Harper with running shoulder attacks on both guys. He set up Ambrose on the top rope. Ziggler hit Harper with a superkick. Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Harper and eliminated him.
Luke Harper eliminated by Dean Ambrose
Ziggler and Ambrose both staggered to their feet to set up the final showdown. Ziggler hit a neckbreaker. Ambrose avoided an elbow drop. They battled on the apron with Ambrose giving Ziggler a slingshot that sent Ziggler crashing into the ring post. Ambrose brought him back into the ring. Ambrose went up top and Ziggler came back with an Avalanche Facebuster. Both guys were down again. Ambrose got an inside cradle for two. Back to their feet, Ambrose with a clothesline on Ziggler. The Miz showed up at ringside. Ambrose took out Miz with a suicide dive and Ziggler hit a superkick. Ambrose sent Ziggler into the ring post again. Miz held onto Ambrose’s foot on the floor. Ambrose tossed Miz into the barricade. Ziggler back to his feet, Ambrose slid into the ring and Ziggler hit a superkick on Ambrose leading to the pinfall win at the 21 minute mark.
Dean Ambrose eliminated by Dolph Ziggler
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Analysis: ***3/4 That was an excellent match that was competitive from start to finish. I like elimination style matches over one fall matches because you can build the story where it looks like the guy won the match on merit since he survived against the three others. In a simple one fall match it can be such a fluke. In a four way elimination it’s a better story. I’m such a fan of Harper being back in the ring in a featured match like this because he’s such a good performer. Ziggler winning makes sense since he’s a face and there’s no reason to do Styles vs. Ambrose again. The finish also suggests that they’re doing Ambrose vs. Miz as a feud in the near future.
Post match, Ziggler stared at Styles. The match will take place on the December 27 episode of Smackdown in Chicago. That's how Smackdown ended.
Analysis: That should be a great match. They’ve wrestled before and the matches were good. I have high expectations for this match as well. I don’t see Ziggler walking away with the title, but that’s fine because Styles is the best performer in WWE that should hold onto the WWE Title until at least WrestleMania.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Dolph Ziggler
2. Luke Harper
3. (tie) Dean Ambrose
3. (tie) The Miz
The four guys in the main event clearly deserve the honor this week.
7 out of 10
Last week: 6
2016 Average: 6.07
2016 Average Post Brand Split (July 26): 6.26 - Raw is at 6
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 5, 6, 6.5, 7
2016 High: 8 (August 23/September 27)
2016 Low: 4 (January 21)
It gets a 7 out of 10.
It was a typically good episode of Smackdown once again. That was an awesome main event that was given a lot of time and felt like a meaningful win by Ziggler.
I liked the battle royal featuring the tag teams as well. It was another match with good booking and an exciting finish.
They built up some matches for the future as well as the return of John Cena in two weeks. It sounds like that December 27 Smackdown episode will be considered a big one.
That’s all for now. Go Toronto Raptors. Go Los Angeles Rams.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org