After a quick recap of the events that transpired Sunday at Survivor Series on Sunday, SmackDown Live is underway.
Commissioner Shane McMahon, looking like slightly warmed over dog shit makes his way down to the ring for the opening talky portion of SmackDown. He talks about how he’s not 100% because of Survivor Series and gives props to the Raw team and the SmackDown team except for Dean Ambrose.
Dean comes out and McMahon is kind of annoyed with him for his impromptu reunion with the Shield to powerbomb AJ Styles through a table. Dean is basically like “Whatever man. Hey, how about that James Ellsworth? Didn’t he do a great job last night? Why don’t we bring him on out?”
James Ellsworth comes out looking worse than even Shane McMahon. He’s got a neckbrace on and is selling some sort of back injury as he makes his way down to the ring. Ambrose is all like, “Tell him the surprise Shane,” but Shane says that he was going to do it in the back.
“Tell him the surprise Shane. Tell him that he’s getting a SmackDown contract. That’s the surprise James, you’re getting a contract.”
Shane confirms that James Ellsworth is indeed getting a SmackDown contract for all his hard work and congratulates him before turning his attention back to Ambrose and telling him he has the night off. Ambrose offer to buy him wings and Shane’s like, “No man, you just need to leave the building.”
Ambrose shrugs and heads off as AJ Styles makes his way out. AJ is pissed off that he’s going to have to share a locker room with James Ellsworth. Shane says that Ellsworth deserves the contract, but Styles disagrees and calls him a charity case and says that James Ellsworth didn’t earn his contract he was given it.
AJ then offers James Ellsworth a chance to earn his contract by putting it on the line in a ladder match later tonight since AJ needs to warm up for TLC. If Ellsworth can climb the ladder and get the contract then he will have earned it, but AJ says that that will never happen and that he’s going to climb the ladder and get the contract and then rip it up right in front of Ellsworth.
Shane is like, “James, you don’t have to do this. You’ve earned the contract already,” but James Ellsworth gets on the mic and says, “I’ve already beaten you twice AJ. I accept, but if I win I want a shot at the WWE World Championship.”
The audience goes nuts and Dean Ambrose randomly appears back in the ring with Shane and Ellsworth.
The Miz and Maryse are in the midst of a photo shoot when General Manager Daniel Bryan shows up and was like, “You made SmackDown look shitty when you and Maryse reenacted the Montreal Screwjob in Canada against a Canadian wrestler for like the 8,219th time since the original one went down so I’m putting you in a match against Kalisto tonight for your IC championship.”
Miz is all like, “Yo dude WTF? I won. I saved us from losing the belt. Who cares if I did it in the most cliche and stereotypical heel in Canada way? This is total bullshit.”
But Daniel Bryan is just like, “Yo, whatever mang, your match is next, so you might want to get out there.”
Shane is still trying to get Dean Ambrose to leave. Dean says he’ll go get some food and offers to bring back some for Shane.
Match 1: Kalisto vs. The Miz (w/ Maryse)
Miz starts off strong, but Kalisto uses his speed to counter the Miz’s offense and quickly takes control of the match. Kalisto seems poised to become Intercontinental Champion but gets distracted by Baron Corbin on the outside. The Miz capitalizes on the distraction and picks up the win.
Post-match shenanigans ensue as Baron Corbin hits the ring and lays out Kalisto with the End of Days. The Miz walks up the ramp to the back backwards watching the destruction happening in the ring only to get blindsided by Dolph Ziggler and superkicked in the face.
Winner: The Miz
I thought this was a pretty good match and like that SmackDown seem to be trying to keep guys who are feuding with each other away from one another until PPVs. Having guys do run-ins or ambushes after a match work just as well in progressing a storyline and don’t cause us to get burned out by seeing the same two guys compete against each other week after week.
Shane and Bryan are watching chaos on a monitor backstage and cannot abide by it. Alexa Bliss shows up and D-Bry’s all like, “I don’t got time for this shit, but Shane does…” and heads off.
Alexa demands her title shot but before Shane can say anything Becky Lynch shows up and is like, “You can have your title shot at TLC in two weeks.”
Natalya then shows up and blames Becky Lynch for Team SmackDown losing at Survivor Series and then quotes from Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” which causes Alexa Bliss to freak out again and then bails. I have no idea why Natalya now has the character tick of inexplicably thinking terrible pop music from 1997 is still awesome in 2016, but it is kind of awesome.
Shane is sick of this shit so he books a match between Becky Lynch and Natalya for later tonight and then Dean Ambrose shows up again with some pizza for Shane. Shane is like “Seriously dude? Why are you still here?” and banishes him again.
Dean wanders off and Becky Lynch makes a lame pun. about “taking a pizza (piece of) Nattie.” She explains the pun to Shane who looks disgusted, but from off camera Dean declares, “Heard it! Loved it!”
Match 2: The Hype Bros. vs. The Ascension vs. Breezango vs. American Alpha vs. The Vaudevillians vs. The Usos
Tag Team Turmoil to determine which tag team will get to face Rhyno & Heath Slater at TLC. What’s Tag Team Turmoil you ask? Two teams start off when a team is pinned, submits, or gets DQed they are eliminated and another team comes out to take their place until only one team remains.
The Hype Bros and Ascension start things off with the Ascension attacking right away. Ryder gets sent to the floor and the Ascension dudes follow after him to beat on Ryder. The Ascension make quick tags and keep Zack Ryder isolated. Ryder makes a comeback and Mojo Rawley get the HOT TAG! He and Ryder hit the Hype Ryder to eliminate The Ascension.
Breezango hit the ring next decked out in their Village People Police Cop finery. Ryder hits a dive to the outside to wipe them both out. After the break Ryder hits a missile dropkick on Breeze but Fandango helps him avoid the Broski Boot. Breeze and Fandango double team Ryder and hit him with a slingshot elbow to eliminate him and send the Hype Bros. back to the locker room.
American Alpha hit the ring ready for action. Breeze and Fandango try to isolate Gable but he’s not having it and rolls up Tyler Breeze to eliminate Breezango.
The Vaudevillians make their way down to the ring next, but America Alpha is still on a goddamn tear and ruin their shit with Grand Amplitude, eliminating the Vaudevillians.
The final team of Tag Team Turmoil, the Usos, saunter down to the ring. Heath Slater and Rhyno are shown watching backstage. Rhyno has his hair back in a ponytail showing of some sick muttonchops I never noticed before.
The Usos work on Jordan. They make quick tags and keep Jordan isolated in their corner. Jordan fights back and sends one of the Usos to the floor and makes the HOT TAG!
Gablemania runs wild as he suplexes the shit out of everyone like some long lost Steiner Brother nearly picking up the win, but he gets smashed into a ringpost on the outside. The Usos get back in control and back inside the ring hit a crazy double team move for a near fall. Gable fights back and Jordan makes the tag.
Jordan and Gable hit a doomsday bulldog thing like the Steiner Bros. of yore used to do and nearly win it all but all hell breaks loss. Jordan gets superkicked but has the wherewithal to block the splash with his knees and gets a roll up for two.
The Usos are crafty fuckers though and they start working the Jordan’s knee. Jordan gets to the corner and Chad Gable comes back in and hits Grand Amplitude for the three count, eliminating the Usos.
American Alpha doesn’t get to savor their victory very long for almost as soon as they’re declared the winners the lights go out and The Wyatt Family appears on the Titan Tron. Bray Wyatt’s all like, “You haven’t beaten all the tag teams on SmackDown. Next week you face me and Randy!”
Winners: American Alpha
This was a pretty good match. The first part was basically inconsequential but still pretty fun nonetheless. The right dudes won the match and I don’t even have a problem with Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton inserting themselves into the tag team championship picture since they were the only two from Team SmackDown to survive Survivor Series it makes sense that they’d be rewarded in some way.
James Ellsworth is with Daniel Bryan and Dean Ambrose (dressed as the Mountie) who are telling him to be careful when he faces AJ tonight. Shane shows up and is like “Dean what the f man? I thought I told you to go!”
Daniel is like, “Shane maybe you should take the rest of the night off. I can handle things.”
Shane agrees and leaves and then Dean tells Daniel to tell AJ that the Mountie always gets his man. Daniel Bryan nearly laughs before the camera cuts away.
Wild and crazy Dean Ambrose has been pretty fun tonight mostly since he seems like he’s just trying to make Shane and Daniel Bryan break character and laugh which is hilarious to me.
Meanwhile Somewhere Else Backstage…
Daniel Bryan meets up with Baron Corbin and is like, “Baron, you’re a fucking dick. You cost us the entire goddamn cruiserweight division that Raw has no fucking clue what to do with. So to punish you tonight I’m taking a page out of Teddy Long’s playbook!”
“Tag team match? Holla holla holla!”
“No. One on one…”
“With the Undertaker?!”
“No, I don’t think he’s cleared to wrestle yet, you’re going to have to settle for Kane.”
Match 3: Natalya vs. Becky Lynch
Alexa Bliss is on commentary during this totally eviscerating David Otunga. It’s pretty amazing.
Natalya and Becky Lynch start off pretty evenly matched and there’s a solid back an forth in the opening moments of the match, with both women trading strikes. Natalya ends up getting the early advantage after hitting the champion with a sitout powerbomb before going to break.
After the break Natalya’s still in control, hitting a Michinoku Driver for a near fall, but Lynch gets fired up and unloads on Natalya with back elbows and lariats followed by a corner elbow.
Both women try for pinning combos. Natalya ends up getting Becky into the Sharpshooter, but Lynch counters into the Dis-arm-her, and after after a hard-fought battle, Natalya taps out.
As Becky Lynch’s music hits, Alexa Bliss rushes into the ring and lays out Becky with a DDT.
Winner: Becky Lynch
This was a good match all around. Becky Lynch looks strong picking up a clean win. Alexa Bliss got the post match beat down so she looks like a credible threat and Natalya had a competitive match with the champion so even in defeat she doesn’t look like a chump. I said it before, but I’ll say it again, Alexa Bliss busting David Otunga’s balls on commentary was fantastic and if she ever decides to stop wrestling, I’d gladly take her as the quasi heel commentator over JBL.
We get a commercial featuring the Hype Bros…uh…hyping the WWE Shop. Not since Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire tried to sell me an Ultimate Warrior “suck cup” has a duo of wrestlers hocking WWE merchandise filled me with as much glee as Messrs. Ryder and Rawley do in this advertisement for the WWE Shop.
The Miz is pissed. He has an ice pack on his face and is glaring at Daniel Bryan. He wants Dolph Ziggler to get suspended for superkicking him in the face. Daniel Bryan’s like, “Whatever dude. He gets a rematch for the Intercontinental Championship at TLC. It’s a ladder match. After that you and him are done and will move on to new feuds.”
Meanwhile In The Women’s Locker Room…
Carmella’s on the phone with someone when Nikki Bella shows up and accuses her of taking her out before their match at Survivor Series. Carmella’s like, “It wasn’t me!”
Nikki’s like, “Bullshit. Who was it then?”
Carmella replies, “I dunno. One of the Raw chicks? One of the other girls here? Peyton Royce…I hear she likes to beat people up. The ghost of Mae Young? You’re no Mother Teresa, Nikki. A lot of people hate you.”
Nikki’s like, “Yeah whatever. My brother-in-law is the General Manager and he gave me a match with you at TLC. It’s no DQ so that means we’ll hit each other with kendo sticks or some other garbage to cover up the fact that you’re not that great in the ring.”
Match 4: Kane vs. Baron Corbin
Corbin tries to attack as soon as the bell rings but runs into the big boot. He the fires backs with rights but Kane clotheslines the shit out of him. It doesn’t go much further than that since Kalisto runs out and attacks Corbin with a chair. Kane then chokeslams the shit out Baron and takes off leaving Kalisto to ruin Baron Corbin’s shit with a chair.
Winner: Baron Corbin via DQ
This match was exactly as long as it needed it be. Kalisto got a brief measure of revenge for Survivor Series and for Baron costing him the IC title earlier in the night and because he used a chair the two now have reason to have a random gimmick match at TLC a week later.
Match 5: James Ellsworth vs. AJ Styles
A contract hangs above the ring. If James Ellsworth can climb a ladder and get the contract he becomes a WWE superstar and earns a shot at the WWE World Championship. If AJ Styles gets the contract, James Ellsworth is out of the WWE.
AJ mocks Ellsworth’s injuries and tears off his neck brace and then heads out of the ring to get a ladder. Styles slides a ladder into the ring, but Ellsworth manages to fight him off and stop him from using it.
Styles rips off Ellsworth’s t-shirt reveal a back brace underneath. AJ tries to rip it off but can’t. He sets up the ladder so it’s on top of Ellsworth and begins to climb it while talking shit to Ellsworth, but before AJ can grab the contract, a maniac in hockey gear hits the ring. One of the commentators (possible JBL in a rare moment of not sucking) wonders aloud in perhaps it is former WWE superstar, The Goon. It’s not The Goon. It’s Dean Ambrose.
“But he’s been banned from the building!” JBL screams.
Yes, JBL he had been banned, but it was obvious from the numerous backstage skits he appeared in that he never actually left the building. I don’t know why you’re so surprised dude.
Ambrose attacks Styles and in the confusion James Ellsworth get up and knocks the ladder over, sending AJ crashing to the outside. AJ comes back into the ring but gets his foot tangled in the ropes. Ellsworth hits the No Chin Music and then climbs the ladder and grabs the contract and then falls to the mat. Dean Ambrose picks up Ellsworth who looks like he’s crying for real and brings him over to the announce table to celebrate his victory.
Winner: James Ellsworth
This was a fun, feel good match even if the ending was pretty telegraphed. You knew Dean Ambrose was going to do a run-in from the minute he was told to go home. Now that Ellsworth is an actual contracted WWE wrestler, I wonder what they’re going to do with him once the Dean Ambrose/AJ Styles feud has run its course. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
TLC is in two weeks, which means SmackDown only has two episodes to set up an entire PPVs worth of matches. I think they did a pretty decent job with doing that with this tonight’s episode. Yes, most of these feuds have been in the works for awhile now, but the booking was natural and the random TLC-esque stipulations that have been added make sense.
I’m curious what’s going to happen next week with the Wyatts and American Alpha and where there going to go with James Ellsworth in the future. We’ll have to see.