By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! emanated from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Backlash fallout continues as three new champions were crowned on Sunday. Becky Lynch became the first Smackdown Women’s Champion while Heath Slater and Rhyno won the Tag Team Titles to put an exclamation point on the all blue, clone everything initiative. AJ Styles won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship when he kicked Dean Ambrose in the groin behind the referee’s back. It was a devious way to win the title, but there is an old saying that still rings true today: It’s not cheating if you don’t get caught.
How did the New Face That Runs the Place celebrate his championship victory? Did someone rain on his parade and piss in his celebratory bowl of Booty-Os? The answers to these pressing questions can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of SD Live! in no particular order.
· The WWE World Championship looks good around AJ Styles’ waist.
· Styles apparently has another moniker: The Clairvoyant One.
· John Cena is in the building, ladies and gentleman!
· Damn. John Cena is going in on Dean Ambrose. The shade throwing is in full effect.
· Ambrose just returned fire by calling Cena a lazy part-timer.
· SmackDown Live! got off to a hot start as Shane McMahon announced that Styles will defend his WWE World Heavyweight Title against John Cena and Dean Ambrose in a Triple Threat Match at No Mercy next month.
· The verbal barbs Cena and Ambrose threw at each other leading up to the blockbuster announcement was great. Cena rightfully called Ambrose out as he agreed with Stone Cold Steve Austin when it came to Ambrose resting on his laurels as of late. It was spot-on and true.
· Ambrose didn’t go out like a punk as he took a few shots at Cena for taking his talents to Hollywood over the past couple of years because he is past his prime. Those sentiments rang hollow to me because Cena’s body of work in 2015 prior to his hiatus and torn rotator cuff injury was pretty damn stellar. His rebuttal was weak on paper, but it got over with the crowd. I consider that a win for Ambrose.
· Overall, I thought this was great way to kick off the show. It is not lost on me that SD Live! pulled a page from the Raw Playbook by making their main event at No Mercy a Triple Threat Match when Raw teased the same thing last week with Roman Reigns being added to the Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins bout. I guess both shows are not separate entities when it comes to borrowing storylines from each other. It’s simply an observation…
· The Usos made quick of The Hype Bros as Jimmy Uso laid out Mojo Rawley with a Samoan Splash to pick up the win. The action was okay while it lasted. This match served as a way to establishment The Usos as badass heels. I prefer the all black ensemble instead of the red and white gear they wore tonight. It made them look second rate. Maybe Naomi can give Jimmy some fashion tips on how to dress for success.
· The Miz is using a contract negotiation tactic to avoid defending his Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler. I don’t blame him. Despite Maryse spraying a foreign substance in Ziggler’s eyes, I don’t feel sorry for Ziggler. He is beyond tired as a babyface and I can’t wait to see Miz beat him clean as a sheet so the heel turn can FINALLY commence. I am sick and tired of Ziggler whining and complaining every week about not winning the big one. It drains me to no end.
· Well, that was sudden. Baron Corbin destroyed Apollo Crews before the match started when he dropped Crews with End of Days on the floor at ringside. Corbin continues to look dominate while Crews continues to spin his wheels with little sense of direction.
· Jack Swagger has officially joined the SD Live! roster as he signed a contract with the blue brand after his Raw deal expired. I am not huge Swagger fan, but I hope that a change in scenery can re-ignite his career. The talent depth on SD is still shallow and it’s nice to see the Powers That Be address this issue. Swagger’s character needs a major revamp in order to get over with the crowd and I am willing to give the creative team a chance, but he has to hold up his end of the bargain in the ring and on the mic as well.
· I love Becky Lynch’s fire and spunk. She is such a likeable babyface and a deserving Smackdown Women’s Champion.
· Alexa Bliss is the new number one contender for Lynch’s Women’s Championship when she pinned Nikki Bella. Carmella provided the assist, but Bliss tossed her out of the ring to reap the rewards. One can assume that Lynch and Bliss will face off at No Mercy next month. Therefore, they have plenty of time to build this match up in a meaningful way. Both ladies are capable of doing quality work in the ring and on the mic if they are given good opponents and written material to work with. This should be a slam dunk feud, but we shall see. I am tentatively optimistic.
· The five-way women’s match was solid, but it didn’t quite top the Six Pack Elimination Challenge at Backlash. I will give Naomi a slight demerit for lowering her head to set up Natalya’s running stomp followed by the low front dropkick for two. She telegraphed the spot too soon which lessened the impact of the sequence. Naomi has been impressive in the ring as of late, but there have been a few slip ups which has prevented her from being a full-blown show stealer. Naomi is on the cusp of greatness, but she needs to clean up a few things in order to become a complete wrestler. If she does that, everyone feel the glow in due time.
· JBL, I believe Heath Slater has sliver around his waist instead of gold. Yes, I am being picky.
· Heath Slater is finally a member of the SD Live! roster. Halleluiah!!!
· Heath Slater and Rhyno successfully defended their tag team titles against The Ascension in a ho-hum match. It was ugly in spots, but Rhyno hit the gore to salvage things.
· James Ellsworth!!! The infamous first victim of Braun Stroman is on SD Live! And he’s Styles’ tag team partner! The look of disgust on Styles’ face was priceless. This is random as hell, but I love it. Ellsworth is drawing a check and living the American Dream. I can’t knock him for that.
· I guess Erick Rowan is off probation as he made his return to attack Randy Orton. However, Orton hit Rowan with a RKO as he sent a message to Bray Wyatt that he is not easily intimidated. The promo exchange between Orton and Wyatt was nothing to write home about. This segment still worked for the most part as their feud continued to build towards their match at No Mercy if Orton is medically cleared to compete.
· Styles has been spared! The Miz is stepping in to be his partner. Poor Ellsworth. At least he got paid for getting his ass kicked.
· Cena picked up the win for his team as he dropped Miz with the Attitude Adjustment. I guess Miz will lose leverage in his quest to renegotiate his contract which makes Daniel Bryan a very happy camper. That storyline will continue to unfold in the weeks to come.
· The main event was decent, but the aftermath was more important when Ambrose nailed Cena with Dirty Deeds to end the show. Ambrose was booed for attacking Cena which was refreshing to see and hear for a change. Some fans stray away from the script when it comes to cheering heels and booing babyfaces in peril, but the reverse happened in Philly. The crowd turned on Ambrose as he sent Cena a message that it was every man for himself at No Mercy.
· I thought both men were too cordial during the main event as they politely tagged in and out of the match which watered down the tension built from earlier in the show. The ending managed to fix that and I can’t wait to see how Styles takes advantage of the situation over next week. Most importantly, it’s great to see the main event at full strength which helps bolster the SD Live! roster as whole.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! was decent. This show featured a lot of talking segments and little in terms of in-ring action. The five-way women’s match to determine the number one contender for Becky Lynch’s SD Women’s Title was the wrestling highlight of the show prior to the main event. The rest of the broadcast was filled with short tag team matches or bouts that never got underway. The roster remains thin and some of the talent is not over enough to gain traction with fans. That has been the major drawback to an otherwise watchable show.
· Call-ups from NXT, trades, and signing free agents who are no longer under contract to Raw can help SD Live! in a big way. The show is good most weeks, but it could be much better if the right pieces are in place to push things over the top.
· Backlash was a nice show in terms of pacing and match placement, but the weekly broadcast leading up the brand exclusive PPVs need to follow the same blueprint. The less is more approach can work, but WWE needs to shore up the mid-card scene in order to sustain the momentum they have built over the past couple of months. Above everything else, the talent must be presented in a smart way and given the chance to shine without getting bogged down by bad booking and questionable writing. These are the keys to SD Live’s! success in the weeks and months to come.
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back Monday with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!