SmackDown Live is well on the way to Survivor Series!
The march on to Survivor Series continues Tuesday night with a series of important matches, including one for the top prize in the WWE on SmackDown.
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James Ellsworth challenges for the WWE Heavyweight Championship. Because it’s 2016 and why not at this point. He did get a non-title win over Styles last week with a large assist from Dean Ambrose. Will he get a win and a title, or more likely will he become a sacrificial lamb for Styles to slaughter on the way to his inevitable battle against Ambrose.
Who will the next challengers be for the tag team titles? The likely answers weren’t on the roster as of a month ago, but it looks like the Spirit Squad may be the next ones up. Can Kenny & Mikey regain tag gold after years away and only being 2/5 of the group they once were?
Alexa Bliss battles Naomi in a rematch from No Mercy. If Naomi gets a victory, she may be inserted into the Women’s championship picture. Can Bliss retain her throne as number one contender?
SmackDown Live opens with a recap of James Ellsworth’s “victory” over AJ Styles last week. After the win, EllsworthMania has been running wild.
Backstage Ambrose is talking to James Ellsworth and gives him an official James Ellsworth t-shirt, which is available on WWE Shop. Some words of encouragement from the former champ to the future champ.
Randy Orton Promo
Orton, who continues to have issues with Bray Wyatt and his rotating stable of followers, is out to address Wyatt. Last week Wyatt made Orton’s tag team partner Kane disappear.
He says that Wyatt’s evil mind games have set him free, causing him to now come for Wyatt stronger than before.
The spooky Wyatt cutaway happens and backstage is a bunch of guys in black sheep masks surrounding Wyatt in a coffin. He tells Randall not to worry about coming for him, because Wyatt will be coming for him.Wyatt asks Orton if he’s having fun, and reminds him that he’s here. Which brings out Luke Harper for our first match.
Does this mean a casket or buried alive match soon? That’d be neat!
Luke Harper vs Randy Orton Result: Orton def. Harper by DQ
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Harper is back in the WWE after a long absence, and sadly seems to just be filling the “Wyatt’s lackey” role that Rowan filled before he was hurt. Harper has a ton of potential (as evidenced by his time as a singles competitor and Intercontinental Championship run) that hopefully is not wasted taking bullets for Wyatt.
After a superplex from Orton, the Wyatt cutaway happens and the music for Wyatt hits. He makes his entrance in the same coffin from before. Wyatt gets carried out by his “sheeple” to ringside to watch the rest of the match.
Back from a commercial break, and Wyatt is crouched at ringside with the casket sitting ominously at ringside. Orton almost tosses Harper into the casket, but he gets away. As Orton sets up for the draping DDT, Wyatt interferes to cause the DQ and the beat down. They go to toss Orton into the closed casket…
Styles talks backstage about how he has scratched and clawed in order to reach the top, yet he has to go up against a “fat-skinny turd” in James Ellsworth. Styles talks about Ambrose is probably going to try and mess with him, and compares Ellsworth winning to David Arquette winning the WCW Championship and being embarrassing. He says if Ambrose causes him to lose tonight, he will find him and take him apart piece by piece.
Announced for tonight – Alexa Bliss battles Naomi, and Dolph Ziggler teams with Slater & Rhyno to battle Miz and his personal cheerleaders, the Spirit Squad.
Alexa Bliss vs Naomi
Result: Bliss def. Naomi by pinfall (Twisted Bliss)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Alexa Bliss lost to Naomi at No Mercy, where she was supposed to face Becky Lynch for the title. Now she is looking for a bit of revenge, while Naomi is looking to insert herself into conversation for a title shot as well.
Bliss is rocking her Freddy Krueger look she used to do in NXT, while Naomi continues to look like a pack of highlighters. Hallowe’en is fun, right?
Naomi is determined to make Bliss feel the glow, and she nails her with a nice springboard crossbody for a two count. After the commercial break, Bliss had taken control of Naomi using a rake of the eyes.
Naomi makes a charge for control and connects with a split-legged moonsault for a two count. She goes top rope again, but gets pulled off by Bliss. Alexa connects with Twisted Bliss right after for the victory.
Hawkins is finally debuting his new gimmick, which is, of course, a political fact checker. His entrance music includes a voiceover of terrible, yet hilarious and timely, facts about his opponent.
Hawkins gets on the mic before the match and tells Crews to face the facts. He says he’ll be changing his name to Apollo Lose after this, meaning that Hawkins has the same level of humor as your dad. Crews knocks Hawkins out of the ring, and then Hawkins grabbed a mic and says Crews has deprived all of us of Hawkins’ debut now. He storms off to the back, so his new gimmick involves not wrestling.
Carmella Reveals The True Nikki Bella
Apparently, Carmella is going to reveal the true Nikki Bella. She starts talking about how she hated Nikki Bella interrupting her debut at SummerSlam. Before she can say anything, Bella makes her way out.
Bella says for Carmella to finally say something to her face. Carmella says Bella can get away with anything because her boyfriend is John Cena. Carmella asks if she is trying to hide her influence, but Bella counters with the fact that they have an entire show based around it. Bella gets Shame chants to reign down on Carmella for diminishing her accomplishments as an athlete and a woman. Carmella shows clips from Total Bellas about Nikki being a whiner, and calls it Total Need-Freak.
Nikki says she doesn’t need someone else to fight her battles for her. She fought back from her injury, she lives fearless. She isn’t afraid of a boss, a queen, and definitely not a Princess of Staten Island.
Carmella talks about how Bella used her sister, her looks, and her boyfriend to become a celebrity and a star. Scathing things from both women, as WWE continues to blur the line between kayfabe and reality even more.
Renee Young interviews the number one contender. He talks about how he can’t believe all the things that have happened to him so far, and he knows he isn’t in Styles’ league. He gets emotional talking about how he will tell his grandkids about this one day.
Dolph Ziggler, Rhyno & Heath Slater vs Miz & The Spirit Squad
Result: Miz & Spirit Squad win by pinfall (Roll-up)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Slater & Rhyno explain in a picture-in-picture promo why they saved Ziggler from the Spirit Squad last week. Slater says he wants to be a role model for his kids to look up to; Rhyno says he doesn’t like male cheerleaders. Simple as that.
This combines the two main undercard feuds for SmackDown Live – Miz attempting to get his title back from Dolph Ziggler, and the Spirit Squad seemingly asserting themselves as the next challengers for the tag titles.
The faces take control early in the matchup, with Ziggler coming in on fire against the Spirit Squad.
Ziggler is on a roll, until Maryse grabs his foot and gives the advantage back to her husband’s team. Miz and Ziggler are both down, Rhyno is taken out, and a hot tag to Slater follows. After a pin is broke up by Mikey, he gets Gored out of his shoes. Slater gets knocked into the ropes, Miz hits him with a cheap shot, and Kenny rolls up Slater for the quick pin.
Daniel Bryan is on the phone with Shane McMahon talking about the Survivor Series matchups against RAW. Natalya makes her way in, and says that she wants on the women’s team. She quotes Whitney Houston in her reasoning to be on the team. She also asks if Bryan follows her cat on Instagram. Tweener Natalya confirmed!
Jack Swagger vs Baron Corbin
Result: Corbin def. Swagger by pinfall (End of Days)
Rating: 2.25 out of 5 stars
WWE’s style for booking Baron Corbin seems to be “have him compete in the same match over and over.” That’s not the best strategy, but it’s the one they’ve got. Corbin is a talented heel, and these hoss fights against Swagger could boost him.
Early on Corbin lays into Swagger with forearms on the barricade and absolutely destroys him. A massive End of Days follows, and Corbin crushes him with a quick pin.
Is the WWE finally pushing Corbin as the monster heel that they should? I like to think that this is the case. Corbin can be a major player if they push him.
Bryan, Nattie & Ambrose
Backstage Natalya is showing Bryan cat pictures. Ambrose appears in a ref shirt and says he will call tonight’s match right down the middle. Bryan tells him he can’t be referee tonight since it’s for the world title. Ambrose can be whatever else he wants instead; timekeeper, ring announcer, commentator, any of those. He says he will, but doesn’t tell Bryan which one before leaving.
WWE World Championship Match AJ Styles (c) vs James Ellsworth
Result: Ellsworth def. Styles by DQ
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Ellsworth got this shot after pinning the champ last week thanks to a tremendous amount of assistance from Dean Ambrose. Now he gets to battle the champ for the title.
Dean Ambrose subs in as ring announcer for this matchup, and introduces Ellsworth to a massive round of “Ellsworth” chants. WWE should bring Ellsworth back as their next Gillberg.
Ambrose also subs in as the official timekeeper and drives Styles mad by constantly ringing the bell. Ambrose then calls for a commercial time out, so we take one. He’s the higher power!
Back from the commercial break, and Styles is firmly in control. Ambrose puts an advertisement on the titantron for Ellsworth’s shirt. Despite all of the distractions, Ellsworth is still getting dominated. Styles takes time out to go taunt Ambrose at ringside. Styles has Ellsworth ready for a top rope suplex, but Ambrose goes for more distractions. Ellsworth misses a crossbody attempt terribly.
Styles tries to toss Ellsworth out repeatedly, but Ambrose keeps tossing him back in. Ellsworth connects with an amazing super kick which Otunga calls “No Chin Music” and gets a ridiculously close near fall.
That was ridiculous. He charges at Styles but gets spinebustered. Styles is getting berated by Ambrose on the microphone while laying kicks into Ellsworth. He refuses to break the count, and gets disqualified by the referee for not breaking his beating.
Ambrose comes in and announces Ellsworth as the winner, and the man that now has two more wins over Styles than John Cena. He plants a Dirty Deeds on Styles to end the show.
Remember that near fall from when Seth Rollins defended the WWE Championship against Neville? Where the Red Arrow connected and then Rollins managed to get his foot on the ropes? I was fooled by that one. The near fall from Ellsworth had me nearly as fooled.
Ellsworth being used as a tool in the feud between Styles and Ambrose has not been for everyone, but it has been fun. He gets a good pop, and could have a decent career as the new Duane Gill if WWE so chooses. It would be a fun addition to the roster if they want to have him.
The rest of the card was pretty fun, but it seems strange that SmackDown Live is pushing certain matchups over others. Where were American Alpha, the Hype Bros, or really any of the rest of the tag team division? Did we need to have another match between Corbin & Swagger? Some strange booking decisions altered my view on this week’s episode.
What did you think of SmackDown Live this week? Are you buying an Ellsworth t-shirt? Let us know in the comments below!