- Last week on Smackdown Live... James Ellsworth fulfilled a boyhood dream of becoming a contracted WWE Superstar, defeating A.J. Styles in a Ladder Match... American Alpha survived a 6-team Gauntlet Match, only to find out they have to get by Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt to earn the title shot at TLC... Baron Corbin distracted Kalisto during his match with The Miz, and Kalisto returned the favor when Corbin was fighting Kane... Nikki Bella and Carmella exchanged words in their rivalry that will never end... Becky Lynch defeated Natalya in a Non-Title Match... Daniel Bryan announced Dolph Ziggler will get one last shot at The Miz, and it will be a Ladder Match.
(I must've had a brain fart, because I watched the show live, and didn't even think of doing a recap. Since I actually enjoy watching Smackdown and want to keep the weekly continuity of each show available for future reference, I'm rushing through this week, then working on TLC, and then we've got the new episode shortly after that. LOVE SMACKDOWN LIVE PEOPLE!)
- Live from the University of South Carolina, with Mauro Ranallo, John “Bradshaw” Layfield, David Otunga, and Tom Phillips hanging around to give us the skinny about everything Smackdown Live related. We're on the go home show for TLC, and the card has mostly taken shape. Advertised for tonight is American Alpha vs. Wyatt and Orton for a shot at the Tag Team Titles, and the return of The Ambrose Asylum with James Ellsworth.
- Renee Young is in the ring for the official contract signing between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss for the Women's Championship Match. Bliss quickly dismisses Young and knocks her wardrobe. I feel like we've seen this before... but with a different twist. This time Becky makes the first move, throwing Alexa around the ring. She sets her up across the top rope, teasing a super-plex through the table, but Alexa goes for the eyes and pushes Becky off, with Becky going through the table, instead. Hmm... there isn't a tables match booked for TLC... yet.
We return from a break (after 30-seconds of action) with Corbin still in control. He does the old Boss Man in-and-out slide and takes Ziggler down from behind (for those who don't know what I'm talking about, Corbin will slide out of the ring from one corner, run around to the other side to run back in, and attack, a spot the Boss Man did a lot, especially as a babyface). The action spills to the floor, with Miz senselessly pulling out a ladder. Ziggler lays him and Corbin out with Super-Kicks. Kalisto with the hot tag. He comes off the top with a missile dropkick on Miz, followed by a tornado off the middle rope. Short-rana for a near fall. Miz with a boot to the face and wrecking ball slide to Ziggler. Now he's stealing Zack Ryder's offense! Kalisto with tope suicida to Corbin. Miz throw him back in, and Ziggler nails him with a Super-Kick. Maryse knocks the ladder over, whacking Ziggler. Salida del Sol, but here's Corbin with a chair and the DQ finish at 3:46 (shown). ** Good, hectic action while it lasted.
- 205 Live premieres TONIGHT! (Spoilers: It was a so-so show until a hot main event where Rich Swann defeated Brian Kendrick for the Cruiserweight Title.)
- Andrea D'Marco (I'm pretty sure that's her name) interviews American Alpha. They've already earned their shot by winning the turmoil, but they'll go through Wyatt and Randy if they have to. Gable wonders if they can levitate. Jordan can suplex them both, and eventually they're going to have to come back down. Wyatt can have the whole world in his hands, because all the Alpha's care about is the Tag Titles in theirs. Well, that was super-goofy. We balance it out with a creepy promo from the New Wyatt Family™. Orton says he proved he belongs and that at Survivor Series, they proved they were the best team. He questions Luke Harper's intent and if he can get the job done against Kane. Wyatt tells Harper to send Kane back to hell. That's not very PG.
- Carmella comes out for what is supposed to be a wrestling match, but then she starts trashing Nikki Bella. She has a message for her boyfriend (and the crowd chants “How You Doin?” to try and be smart, but she shuts them down like a heel should)... an apology for what will happen to Nikki at TLC. She's going to hit Nikki so hard in her chest, that her own “Bella twins” will be popping out of her back. Then she's going to rearrange her face so bad, she won't even think about a wedding. Nikki Bella finally interrupts for a pull-apart brawl, the screen goes black for a second (nip slip!), and we don't have a match. If Nikki wasn't her scheduled opponent, then that leaves Naomi... they really need to use female enhancement talent.
- Last week on Smackdown Live, James Ellsworth put his guaranteed contract on the line in a Ladder Match with A.J. Styles, with Ellsworth earning a Championship opportunity if he is to be victorious. Styles of course destroyed him, but a distraction from Ambrose and a tipped over ladder allowed Ellsworth to go up 3-0 in his lifetime series with A.J. Styles, earning his Smackdown contract and a Championship Match.
- It's the Ambrose Asylum, with Smackdown Live's newest roster member, a man with two fists and a fighting chance, James Ellsworth (In a sad bit of news... I've annoyed countless people with that catchphrase at every opportunity). I think the tank is running low unless they go in a different direction with him. A.J. Styles quickly interrupts the circus that is the Ellsworth Express (my wording, no one else). Styles laughs at the idea that Ambrose, and especially Ellsworth, is quality entertainment. Styles says Ambrose is better off with a ventriloquist dummy, because at least the dummy has a chin. Ambrose throws it in his face that he “lost to a dummy” three times. It's been Ambrose's fault every time he lost, and its time he shows some respect. Ambrose says he's gotten inside of Styles' head, and he'll regain the WWE World Title at TLC. Styles shoves Ellsworth in Ambrose and the beat-down is on, capped off with Styles giving Ellsworth the Styles Clash from the ring steps to the floor. Ellsworth does a stretcher job, and Ambrose shows compassion by riding in the Ambulance with him to a local medical facility.
We return from commercial with Harper in control with a chin-lock. During the break, Harper hit a slingshot senton on Kane. Kane escapes with a jaw breaker. He goes for the Choke-Slam, but Harper with a kick to the back of the knee and boot to the face for a two count. Whip to the ropes and Kane comes back with a DDT. Kane with clotheslines and a side slam for two. Whip to the corner and Kane follows in with an avalanche. Harper comes out of the corner with a sloppy dropkick and hits his own avalanche. Harper with mounted punches until Kane counters with a Power-Bomb for another near fall. Harper avoids another choke-slam, whiffs on the Discus Clothesline, then plants Kane with a spinning sidewalk slam for two. Kane escapes a cross-face with a back suplex. Kane misses the flying clothesline and Harper with the Super-Kick for two. Harper with a trip to the top rope, but Kane slows his progress. Kane goes up with him and connects with a Super-Plex. They trade blows, with Harper getting the better of things until Kane grabs him and plants him with the Choke-Slam for three at 7:48 (shown). So much for sending Kane back to hell. **1/2 Good big man match. Harper is such an underutilized talent, it's ridiculous. All the positives I can say for this match is for his performance, with Kane mostly standing still or moving in slow motion.
- Renee Young interviews Becky Lynch outside of the trainer's room... oh, and guess what, the Women's Title Match will be a TABLES MATCH. I smell new Champion.
We return with Wyatt squashing Gable in the corner for a two count. Gable tries slugging it out, but Wyatt drops him with a DDT on the apron. Orton comes back in and grabs a chin-lock. Gable fights free, but runs into a snap Power-Slam. Gable catches Wyatt napping with a dropkick, but Wyatt knocks Jordan off the apron before he can make the tag. Wyatt sandwiches Gable in the corner and connects with a uranage for a near fall. Orton sets Gable up across the top rope, but Gable knocks him down with a headbutt. Orton sweeps his legs, climbs back up, and takes him over with a Super-Plex. The impact rattled Orton enough to buy Gable time to recover and make the hot tag. Jordan takes Wyatt over with the Alpha-Plex, followed by a tear drop suplex for two. Orton in, but Jordan tosses him back out. Gable greets him with a cannonball from the apron. Wyatt wipes out Jordan with a missile dive for two. Jordan counters the uranage and takes Wyatt over with a release German Suplex. The lights flicker, and Harper shows up at ringside for the distraction. Wyatt goes for Sister Abigail, but Gable saves. Orton interrupts Grand Amplitude with the RKO out of nowhere. Harper pulls Wyatt out of the way of a charging shoulder attack, and Sister Abigail to Jordan finishes at 11:51 (shown). ***1/4 Good TV Main Event, and a loss for American Alpha doesn't hurt them when it was a competitive match against singles stars and only losing thanks to a third person on the floor.
- A.J. Styles interrupts Heath Slater and Rhyno's interview, but here's Dean Ambrose to beat the crap out of him for what he did earlier tonight.
Final Thoughts: Only three matches featured, but Smackdown proves good story-telling and natural progression of all their angles can make up for the light amount of wrestling. With TLC coming up this weekend, it only makes sense not to give away too much, and they did a great job of setting up every match, with every segment of tonight's episode meaning something towards the big picture.