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WWE Smackdown LIVE!- October 11, 2016

by Scrooge McSuck

AJ Styles

- Unfortunately, there’s no immediate recap of No Mercy. With a hectic work schedule, baseball playoffs (this recap is delayed due to Cubs/Giants Game 4, so you can see I’m prioritizing the playoffs), and honestly, a bit of burn-out with "Pay-Per-Views" every other week, it was inevitable to have to skip one. Beyond the intriguing (and by that I mean "stupid") decision to open the show with the Main Event, Dolph Ziggler actually winning the big one when everyone had assumed he was losing, and the return of Luke Harper, not much else really happened and the crowd interest was really hampered by starting the show with the biggest match of the night.

- Last week on Smackdown Live... A.J. Styles, John Cena, and Dean Ambrose got personal with each other... Randy Orton’s "mind games" lead to Bray Wyatt taking a walk in a match against the Devil’s Favorite Demon™... Jason Jordan pinned an Uso and the unlikely Championship team of Heath Slater and Rhyno made a post-match save... Jack Swagger made Baron Corbin tap out when the only referee in history not to be able to distinguish a slap of the canvas to a crawl called for the bell... The Miz mocked Dolph Ziggler and brought back Spirit Squad members Kenny and Mikey to add insult to more insult... The Hype Bros and Ascension are teasing something meaningless... Curt Hawkins STILL hasn’t wrestled... Alexa Bliss pinned Becky Lynch in a match that originally had nothing to do with either of them (it was originally Nikki Bella vs. Carmella, if you’re wondering).

- Live from San Jose, CA, with Mauro Ranallo, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and David Otunga calling the action, unless otherwise noted. The only thing advertised ahead of time (to my knowledge) is Randy Orton and Kane taking on Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper.

- NEW Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler is here to open the show. Miz’s expression of being on the verge of tears at No Mercy was glorious. Ziggler reminds us that the "TV Guide previews" had already listed him as losing his career, which shows how much faith everyone had in him (or how predictable the WWE’s booking patterns are). The Miz and Maryse come out, apparently in mourning based on their attire of choice (all black, including sunglasses). 188 days as Intercontinental Champion down the tubes. He brought prestige back to the Intercontinental Title and now it’s dead. The story isn’t over. This is just Act II. Miz is the hero who overcomes and gets the gold and the girl at the end. Dolph calls Miz out for crying. Miz brings out the Spirit Squad again and I guess there’s going to be a handicap match.

Dolph Ziggler vs. The Spirit Squad:

Ziggler starts with Mikey. Ziggler tosses Mikey through the ropes and knocks Kenny over the top rope with a clothesline as Mauro Ranallo continues to confuse him for Daniel Bryan. We actually keep the action rolling during the commercial break. Ziggler rolls to the floor to avoid any chicanery, but a distraction from the Miz makes that a moot point. Back inside, Kenny lays him out with a short clothesline. Cradle into the corner and Mikey puts the boots to Dolph. Whip to the corner, Ziggler gets an elbow up, and connects with a dropkick for two. The Spirit Squad regain control. Kenny with a suplex for two. The commercial break officially ends with Ziggler fighting out of a chin-lock, but Kenny takes him over with a snap mare and reapplies the hold. Ziggler with rights, but Kenny blocks a Super-Kick and connects with a lariat. Mikey drops a pair of elbows across the chest. Whip to the ropes, Ziggler escapes a sleeper attempt and a crisscross sequence leads to Dolph applying the hold himself. Ziggler slides out of the ring to pull Kenny off the apron. Sunset flip on Mikey, but Kenny gets the tag. Whip to the ropes and Dolph with a Double-DDT. Dolph with a Splash in the corner and diving clotheslines on Kenny. Mikey with a cheap shot from the apron and Kenny with a jumping clothesline for a near fall. Dolph with a Super-Kick out of nowhere ("He Killed Kenny!") for three at 6:43. Miz runs in almost immediately, pounds away on the back of the head, and lays him out with the Skull Crushing Finale. Before the Spirit Squad can Parachute Bomb him, Slater and Rhyno make the save for reasons unknown. ** Decent match and they move the storyline forward. Are we going to get Slater and Rhyno vs. THE SPIRIT SQUAD? So weird, but when the other heels are the Ascension and Vaudevillains, anything is a better option.

- Due to injuries not related to in-ring activity, the Women’s Title wasn’t defended at No Mercy. Becky Lynch will instead defend the title against Alexa Bliss on November 8th from Glasgow, Scotland. So, is that a live event or a Network Special?

- Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are standing by for something big to announce for the 30th annual Survivor Series. After beating around the bush for a while, the challenge is made: a 5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series Match... as well as a 5-on-5 TAG TEAM ELIMINATION MATCH. And if you haven’t expected it yet, here it is: 5-on-5 Women’s Elimination Match. That severely limits the options, since Raw doesn’t even have 5 teams, does it?

Naomi vs. Carmella:

Earlier today, Carmella attacked Nikki Bella from behind and laid her out. It was at No Mercy that Nikki Bella finally scored a pin fall victory over Carmella after doing a bunch of jobs. In Carmella’s defense, Nikki "living the life fearlessly since winning at No Mercy" was a complete joke. It’s literally been less than 48 HOURS. This should’ve been a squash match with local enhancement talent, but we’ve got to over-expose the 5-women roster (with Becky injured and Eva Marie MIA). Carmella attacks before the bell, but the match will take place. We return from commercial, with Carmella in control of a chin-lock. VERY mild "How You Doin?" chant. Carmella with elbows and back to the rest hold. Backstage, Alexa Bliss is watching at an angle that gets her and the screen in perfect view of the camera. Naomi from out of nowhere with a split-leg jaw-breaker. Kick to the midsection and now she does the stupid jumping in place kicks. Naomi with a bulldog into the turnbuckle and a flying body press gets two. Carmella blocks a boot in the corner and slams Naomi down. Nikki Bella slowly approaches the ring, but the referee brigade stops her. Naomi uses the distraction to roll up Carmella for three at 2:59 (match started during the commercial). I hate that finish. Nikki chases Carmella around, but can’t get a hold of her. Nice of her to bring back to the Booty Jorts look. DUD Match was a lot of nothing happening and Naomi gets her 2nd fluke victory in three days.

- Alexa Bliss is very unhappy backstage. She uses the excuse that she was prepared to fight for the Women’s Title, not to fight a Rave Party. Daniel Bryan interrupts and offers Alexa a chance for redemption next week on Smackdown Live.

Chad Gable (w/ Jason Jordan) vs. Jimmy Uso (w/ Jey Uso):

No ring entrances for either set. Lockup, Gable with a takedown and slams the arm against the canvas. Gable with another takedown and he traps the arm between the legs. He mounts Jimmy with an arm-bar and I expect this to go as long as Jordan vs. Jey last week (about 90-seconds). Jimmy comes back with a Super-Kick to the midsection, followed by a Samoan drop for two. Jimmy grabs a chin-lock as they introduce the idea that these two teams might have to get along as part of the "Smackdown contingency" for Survivor Series. Gable skins the cat and takes Jimmy out with a head scissors. Back inside, Gable with forearms and mounted punches. Jimmy escapes and Gable follows up with a twisting clothesline. He sends Jimmy across the ring with the Alpha-Plex and hooks a cross arm-breaker across the top rope. Gable misses a charge and Jimmy (with the help of Jey) rolls him up for three at 2:50. Too short to go anywhere, but these two teams have a lot of unfinished business.

- The Hype Bros are backstage and Mojo is acting like a doofus. This feels like a recycled promo from NXT with Mojo talking about having hot chicks lined up and Zack Ryder playing with his toys all night. The Ascension interrupt the nonsense and they somehow have crossed over a Main Event level program onto the main show.

- WWE World Champion and the Face That Runs the Place™, A.J. Styles, comes out to celebrate his (tainted) victory from No Mercy. Have I mentioned how refreshing it is for a heel to be on top of the card without being the puppet of an EVIL authority figure? Beating Ambrose and Cena at the same time isn’t "great", it’s "phenomenal." He suggests cheering for Cena, but he’s gone trying to be Kelly Ripa’s co-host. Then he suggests cheering for Ambrose before reminding us he’s a lunatic loser. He not only beat them both at the same time, but he’s not even taking the night off! He’s giving someone a "Main Event opportunity" and introduces us to... Dean Ambrose? No, he’s just interrupting because he’s rude and doesn’t follow the format sheet. The real choice is everyone’s favorite loser, James Ellsworth. Tonight, Styles is giving him a Non-Title Match and tells Ambrose to step off. Daniel Bryan interrupts (sporting a pretty pink sweater, if I haven’t mentioned it). Bryan is The Guy Who Runs Smackdown Live™ (that doesn’t even rhyme!) and makes DEAN AMBROSE THE SPECIAL REFEREE. If Styles strikes Ambrose, he’ll be fined and/or suspended.

A.J. Styles vs. James Ellsworth:

This screams screw-job finish, and in this case, predictability actually makes sense. Ambrose plays a bit of comedy, emptying his pockets before starting the match. Ambrose checks Styles in the corner for potential hidden objects. The action continues during the commercial, and by action, I mean Ambrose doing some goofy aerobics and forcing Styles to play along or risk being disqualified. They circle and again Ambrose interrupts. Lockup into the corner and Ambrose forces a break after a goofy group hug. Lockup and Styles with a takedown. Ambrose overs him advice, and sure enough, Ellsworth takes Styles over with a deep arm drag. Lockup into the corner and Styles lands a forearm. Ambrose prevents a closed fist from being used. Ellsworth with a right of his own and Styles is mad. They do a cat-and-mouse before Ambrose accidentally on purpose trips Styles up. School boy for two. Styles with a snap suplex and back breaker. JBL and David Otunga arguing is almost as bad as... no, sorry, it’s worse than JBL and Cole. Styles with the Calf Crusher, but Ambrose looks away from the tap out to answer a phone call. Next distraction is signing an autograph and taking a picture with a plant. Styles slaps the picture out of his hand and yells some more. Styles Clash (and an ugly one), but Ambrose makes a slow count before giving up at two. Ambrose with Dirty Deeds, and he throws Ellsworth on top for two. Another Dirty Deeds and fast count at 10:30, meaning James Ellsworth technically has pinned the WWE World Champion. No Rating. I’m sure others are going to dump on it, but this was great. Ambrose frustrating Styles with his unique blend of comedy and douche behavior and screwing him over against a total bum is in line with his usual mental games, but Styles’ reactions really pushed it beyond the typical levels of what Ambrose delivers.

- Randy Orton and Kane bond backstage.

- They’re already doing the "Royal Rumble by the Numbers" segment.

- A.J. Styles is upset over the nonsense that just took place, but is forced to stay in line and accept his loss without further complaining.

Randy Orton & Kane vs. Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper:

Main Event of the night. Harper returned at No Mercy, costing Orton his match with Bray Wyatt. With Erick Rowan out, this move made the most sense, but at the same time, you can only go back to the same trope when it comes to Harper and Rowan before it becomes meaningless. Kane and Harper start. Kane goes for a slam, but Harper fights free. Wyatt tags in and pounds away in the corner. Kane turns things around quickly, unloading with rights and lefts. Kane with a big boot, sending Wyatt to the floor. Orton greets him with a boot and tosses him back in the ring. Kane goes for the Choke-Slam, but Wyatt breaks away and retreats as we take our last break. We return with Orton fighting Harper across the top rope and takes him down with a Super-Plex. Kane with a clothesline into the corner, followed by the sidewalk slam for two. Kane comes off the ropes with a basement dropkick and goes for Wyatt, but Harper comes back with a dropkick. Wyatt greets Kane outside the ring by throwing him at as little speed as possible into the security barrier. Back inside, Wyatt with a running senton for two. Harper and Wyatt take turns pounding away. Whip to the ropes and Kane comes back with a DDT. Orton with the hot tag, laying out Wyatt with clotheslines and a snap Power-Slam. Orton with a Thesz Press and series of rights. They take it to the floor, with Orton tossing Harper over the announcers table and sending Wyatt into the steps. Back inside, Orton with the draping DDT. Orton goes for the RKO, but gets sent into a Super-Kick from Harper. The entire time, the referee and Kane are kind of out of position. Orton reaches for the tag, the lights go out, and KANE HAS DISAPPEARED, with Harper in his place. The distraction allows Wyatt to hit Sister Abigail for three at 7:46 (excluding one break). ** Another decent match that was more about keeping the feud simmering instead of giving us a blow-away performance. What happened to Kane?!

- Daniel Bryan’s big idea.... A.J. Styles vs. James Ellsworth for the WWE World Championship. NEXT WEEK ON SMACKDOWN LIVE.

Final Thoughts: The NXT format continues to shine, with a balance of quick matches, a decent main event, in-ring segments that go somewhere without recycling the same material every week, and trying to use everyone to their strengths. I’m a bit disappointed that they’ve practically abandoned Heath Slater and Rhyno as a weekly storyline, but they got more out of that than anyone expected. They also need to go somewhere with the Usos and American Alpha. A.J. Styles continues to be the MVP of Smackdown Live, Miz and Ziggler pull off miracles every week by being not just watchable, but must see TV, and they continue to maximize with what limited roster they have. After failing to follow through at No Mercy and this week on Smackdown, where the heck is Curt Hawkins?!

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