- Apologies for the lateness of another Smackdown Live recap. Now that the World Series is over (congratulations to the Chicago Cubs for finally ending their 108 years of misery, and woo-hoo for former Rays manager Joe Maddon and Series MVP Ben Zobrist), I can get back to a normal viewing schedule for my rasslin' fix.
- Last week on Smackdown Live... Dean Ambrose failed to earn the spot as the #1 Contender when James Ellsworth accidentally caused him to be Disqualified against A.J. Styles... Randy Orton "shockingly" turned on Kane and appears to have joined the Wyatt Family... Nikki Bella made Natalya tap to the STF to be the Captain of the Women's Survivor Series Team... The Hype Bros won a qualifying match over The Ascension to earn a spot on the Tag Team Survivor Series team... Alexa Bliss punked out Becky Lynch and spray-painted her spine yellow... Heath Slater and Rhyno successfully defended the Tag Titles against the Spirit Squad... Dolph Ziggler offered Miz a title match, but the Miz rejected because it wasn't on his terms.
- LIVE from Newark, NJ, with Mauro Ranallo, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and David Otunga calling the action, unless otherwise noted.
- James Ellsworth of all people comes out to kick the show off, with some generic theme music straight out of the early 2000's. We get a replay of what happened to close out the show last week, and he looks like someone just killed (and possibly fed him) his puppy (the culprit? Melvin Upton Jr. His nickname is BOSSMAN JR. after all). Ellsworth thanks Shane O'Mac and D-Bry for letting him come out to say goodbye. He calls out Dean Ambrose to give him an apology. Ambrose insists an apology isn't necessary, while holding back the obvious attempts at wanting to knock his block off for costing him a shot at the WWE World Title. A.J. Styles interrupts (and calls Ellsworth "Big Game James") and the crowd is into him, so he does what any good heel should and tells them off. He says Ambrose has been using him (Ellsworth) this whole time, and if he owes anyone an apology, it's to him (AJ)... and a cut of the merchandise check. Things get physical, with Styles tossing Ellsworth out of the ring and nailing Ambrose with the Phenomenal Forearm.
- Highlights from last Tuesday where Randy Orton appears to have formed an alliance with Bray Wyatt. "If you can't beat them, join them."
- Daniel Bryan calms things down backstage between Ambrose and Ellsworth. Bryan offers Ambrose another chance at A.J. Styles to earn his spot as the #1 contender, and this is his last chance (and I don't mean one of those Major League Baseball, Steve Howe, kind of last chances!). Under no circumstances, Ellsworth is not allowed to be at ringside (which means he'll show up at ringside).
- Baron Corbin vignette. He's the Lone Wolf, and he doesn't care about what anyone else thinks about him and has zero remorse.
- Post-match, Alexa Bliss turns away the random interview girl and the two cut their own promo about the Survivor Series 5-on-5 Women's Match (running down Charlotte and Bayley on Raw) before Alexa Bliss focuses her attention on next week's Championship Match in Glasgow Scotland.
- Backstage, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan inform Naomi she'll be the 5th Women for the Survivor Series Team, joining Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch, Carmella, and Alexa Bliss. I'd question how some of them "earned" their spot, but they've literally used all their available options without any cute "pick up a ringer" situations. Natalya shows up and gets appointed the role of "Coach" because she gets along with everyone (well, except Becky). I have a feeling she was trying to rip off the lines from another song in her little speech. Something about respect.
- The Miz and Maryse are in the ring for a Special Edition of Miz TV... with Daniel Bryan. This should get interesting. There's already tension as the segment begins, with Bryan threatening to cancel Miz TV if he's unhappy with things on Smackdown. Bryan says there's still two more qualifying matches for the Smackdown Tag Teams, but that's not what the Miz wanted to know. He wants to know about the men's SINGLES Team. After careful consideration, the list of 5 includes: Randy Orton, Baron Corbin (HA! I KNEW IT!), Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose and after teasing it's the Miz, selects A.J. Styles. Miz's look of disdain is priceless. Miz asks if he was even considered, but Bryan says no, so Miz goes off on Bryan's attitude towards him. Hold the phone, Bryan says he was considered, until he proved himself a coward last week who wouldn't fight unless it was on "his terms." Miz yells Bryan he's scared to fight, hides behind his wife, and says he's not good at anything anymore, and to go back and mope around John Cena's house. Bryan tosses a chair across the ring and calls Miz out for his wrestling abilities again, and leave the real fighting to the Superstars and announces an open challenge for the Intercontinental Title.
- Andrea D'Marco interviews Dean Ambrose and botches James Ellsworth's name (called him James Ellis) and Ambrose corrects her. There's no excuse not to do another take unless people find these entertaining or if they are planned botched lines (see also: Apollo Creed). Ellsworth asks Ambrose to come to ringside again, but Ambrose refuses his offer and tells him to eat some Halloween candy.
- Randy Orton is in a dark closet with Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper and says the devil has been whispering into his ear since he was a child, and that he's done fighting it. The darkness has shown him the light, and Bray Wyatt is a God (insert special effects for Orton's eyes here). Luke Harper's body language gives me the impression that he doesn't buy this "transformation" of the Apex Predator.
- A.J. Styles is annoyed by being stopped for an interview on his way to the ring. He cuts a sarcastic promo before saying he's going to beat Dean Ambrose (again) and Ellsworth can crawl back into the bargain bin he came out of. Meanwhile, Dean Ambrose shows Ellsworth the Exit so he doesn't screw up his last chance at the Championship.
We return from commercial break with Ambrose dropkicking the ropes to interrupt Styles' Phenomenal Forearm. Ambrose takes a trip to the third floor and comes down with his signature elbow. Back inside, Styles avoids Dirty Deeds. Ambrose with a series of forearms and a diving clothesline. Styles avoids a charge and goes for the Calf Crusher, but Ambrose rolls through. Styles regains control, sending Ambrose into the turnbuckles with a suplex. They go through with a series of waistlock switches until Ambrose plants him with a Full Nelson Bomb for a near fall. Styles with a flurry of strikes, but the Styles Clash is countered and both men connect on a clothesline. Suddenly, James Ellsworth comes through the crowd to be at ringside, much to Ambrose's displeasure. Styles with the Pele Kick for two. Security comes out and chases Ellsworth into the crowd. Ambrose with a roll up on Styles for two. Lunatic Lariat misses. Ambrose avoids the springboard DDT, but gets caught in the Calf Crusher. For the second time, he breaks the hold by making it to the ropes. Ellsworth has lead the security crew back to ringside, distracting Styles momentarily, so Styles throws him over the announcers table. He hops back on the apron for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Ambrose counters with a boot and Dirty Deeds to finish at 10:11 (excluding a commercial break). The security squad drags Ellsworth away, who appears to be smiling, possibly for helping cost Styles the match. ***1/2 Even though it was in an abridged form, this had the makings of a Pay-Per-View quality Main Event, had it gone another 5-10 minutes and didn't have the ending with Ellsworth. On Talking Smack, it was announced that Dean Ambrose gets his title match at TLC in, you guessed it, a TLC Match.
Final Thoughts: Another week of pushing things forward for the Smackdown brand. Dean Ambrose earns his spot (again) to challenge A.J. Styles for the WWE World Title. They continue to tease a possible program between The Miz and Daniel Bryan, despite the likelihood that WWE will never medically clear Daniel Bryan. The Survivor Series is shaping up, with the entire 5-on-5 Men's Singles and 5-on-5 Women's Teams announced, and all but one of the Tag Teams has been announced for the 10-on-10. The NXT formula was in super effect, with a lot of short matches, with nothing topping 2 ½ minutes (after factoring out the commercial interruptions), and a hot main event.