By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! emanated from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California. This is the final show before No Mercy takes place on Sunday. Did the blue brand hype their second standalone PPV to the hilt or did they use their best material last week in Cleveland? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of SD Live! in no particular order.
· Bray Wyatt and Kane had an uneventful match to kick off the in-ring action on SD Live! The action was decent enough, but things got a little zany when Randy Orton appeared on the titantron during Wyatt’s match. He cut a spooky promo stating that he can see the world through Wyatt’s eyes and challenged him to a game of Catch Me If You Can.
· Wyatt weighed his options and decided to leave Kane high and dry as The Big Red Monster won the match via count-out.
· This was an okay way to start the show, but I am not a big fan of theme music or promos being cut on the titantron while a match is in progress. It's very distracting to say the least.
· Those air punches Alexa Bliss just threw at Nikki Bella were pretty ugly.
· As I feared last week, the 50/50 quota reared its ugly head when Alexa Bliss pinned Becky Lynch with Twisted Bliss. Carmella provided the assist when she blindsided Becky with a superkick. Nikki Bella laid Carmella out with a spear, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Becky from losing her first match since becoming SmackDown Women’s Champion.
· Bliss will go into No Mercy with a lot of momentum, but I expect Lynch to retain her title.
· The tag team match featuring Becky Lynch and Nikki Bella vs. Alexa Bliss and Carmella was solid. Outside of the air punches from hell, Bliss had a nice showing and the fans were hot for Nikki and Becky whenever they were on offensive. Carmella is doing a nice job being an annoying heel that continues to get under Nikki’s skin. She needs to sustain that for an entire match, but the potential is there for her to do great things in the Women’s Division. As I said a few weeks ago, Nikki will have to do the bulk of the work because she has the most wrestling experience, but they should be fine if their match at No Mercy is not overbooked to death.
· Orton trapped Wyatt in a garage with his rocking chair. Conveniently enough, there is a night vision camera in the garage to see Wyatt cornered like a rat. Thrilling stuff…
· Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley defeated The Vaudevillians when Ryder Rawley laid out Aiden English with the Hype Ryder while The Ascension looked on from the stage. The action was fine for the most part as Rawley showed flashes of what he can do in the ring. If Rawley toned down his personality by 50%, he would come off as being more likable instead of being insufferable.
· As for The Ascension, they need something meaningful to do and I would like to see them get a push if they can hold up their end from an in-ring standpoint. SD Live! is the land of opportunity. Let’s hope the duo maximize their minutes to the fullest.
· The Dolphumentary chronicling Dolph Ziggler’s career was pretty damn hilarious. The spliced comments from WWE Superstars dissing the former caddie, male cheerleader, and World Heavyweight Champion was the icing on the cake. Miz did a great troll job as he mocked Ziggler’s career. That is the extent of my praise for this segment as the promo work from both men wasn’t as strong as last week.
· Mikey and Kenny from The Spirit Squad made a surprise appearance that damn near killed the crowd dead when they did a lame cheer and dance as they made fun of Ziggler’s career possibly coming to an end on Sunday.
· The Miz did have a great line when he said that the rest of the Spirit Squad couldn’t make it because they were still in transit to OVW.
· Mikey and Kenny attacked Ziggler as Miz made his exit. Ziggler recovered from the double team a nailed his former squad brothers with a pair of superkicks. Miz got back in the ring and tried to hit Ziggler with The Skull Crushing Finale, but The Showoff blocked him in the nick of time.
· Ziggler tried to complete the hat trick by taking out Miz with a superkick, but The Awesome One ducked out of the way to end the segment.
· The Miz-Ziggler feud reached its emotional peak last week. They couldn’t top the magic they created in Cleveland as things took a sharp left turn in the wrong direction by adding The Spirit Squad to the mix. It wasn’t the right resonant chord to strike and the fact that nobody laughed at the gag outside of Miz’s joke didn’t help matters either.
· The Career vs. Intercontinental Championship match between Miz and Ziggler at No Mercy should be very good. The outcome seems obvious, but I want to see Ziggler snap even if he wins the IC Title. He needs a character revamp because I am not buying him as the underdog at this point. He has turned in nice performances in the ring and on the mic post-SummerSlam, but his babyface run has reached its limit in terms of sustained crowd support. That’s not a knock on the wrestler, it’s an indictment on the creative team for watering down his character over the past couple of years. Nonetheless, I can appreciate the performances from Miz and Ziggler despite my reservations when it comes to the presentation of Ziggler’s character.
· Jason Jordan picked up the win against Jey Uso in a quick match that lasted a little over two minutes. The action was fine while lasted, but what happened after the match was over told the real story.
· Jimmy Uso rammed Chad Gable’s injured knee into the steel steps. Jordan tried to make the save, buy Jey Uso delivered a wicked chop block to Jordan’s leg. The Usos were about to finish Jordan off when Heath Slater and Rhyno made the save.
· It was a decent way to forward Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. The Usos for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles at the PPV on Sunday while also building towards the future with American Alpha feuding with Jimmy and Jey as they chase after the pretty silver belts.
· I guess Wyatt pulled a Houdini by escaping the garage with an assist from the ghost of Sister Abigail. This had me on the edge of my seat. *Insert Sarcasm Here*
· Jack Swagger defeated Baron Corbin in controversial fashion as The Lone Wolf “tapped out” to the Patriot Lock. It appeared that Corbin was reaching from the bottom rope as the palm of his hand hit the mat repeatedly. The referee assumed that he tapped out and rang the bell. Corbin through a hissy fit outside the ring as he tossed the steel steps around and made a mess of the commentary table.
· As for the match itself, it was decent at best. Both men must step up their game from an in-ring standpoint because the fans just see them as two dudes trading moves without an emotional hook to draw them in. Swagger needs a personality transplant because his Real American shtick has run its course. Corbin has shown flashes of how good he can be on Talking Smack, but that needs to be demonstrated on the main show as well. His character is stuck between two universes where one needs the other in order to survive. It’s time for the pieces to come together for both men.
· AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose handled most of the talking during the final segment of the show as they blasted John Cena from all sides.
· Styles stated that Cena was not in Ric Flair’s league and instead of chasing history at No Mercy, he would see Styles make history by retaining the WWE World Championship.
· Styles chilled in the background while Ambrose took his turn to bash Cena on the mic. He had a very nice rebuttal to Cena’s jaw-dropping comments on Talking Smack last week. Ambrose flipped Cena’s Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect mantra on its head by saying that he didn’t have to kiss Cena’s ass in order get ahead. Over the past couple of years, Ambrose clocked in the most hours on the job. He wasn’t cut from the same plastic, cookie cutter cloth as Cena and told him that rather be himself than a guy that plays a character on television. That was an odd line, but Cena does have a history of displaying robot-like tendencies which have been well-documented over the years. Therefore, I can defend the zinger.
· Cena said that talk was cheap and proceed to kick some ass. He laid out Ambrose with an AA and held the WWE World Title belt over his head.
· Styles attacked Cena from behind and nailed him with a Phenomenal Forearm from the top rope. Afterwards, he raised the title belt over his head.
· Ambrose attacked Styles from outside the ring and laid him out with Dirty Deeds on the steel portion of the entrance ramp. Just like Cena and Styles before him, he raised the title belt high over his head as the show went off the air.
· Styles and Ambrose did a nice job on the mic as they spared the audience from another John Cena sermon. Cena’s pep talks are usually great, but a change of pace from the norm is good from time to time. Plus, Cena let his actions speak louder than words which played into each man having his hope spot heading into the PPV.
· The Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Title should be amazing. All three men have delivered the goods on the mic and I expect to see them do the same in the ring. Ambrose is wide awake, Styles is game, and Cena always rises to the occasion when the lights are on bright. They should have one hell of a match on Sunday.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! was serviceable. The show promoted the main matches taking place at No Mercy, but the show lacked a sense of urgency for some reason. There was some unnecessary fluff on the broadcast that should have been saved until next week because SD Live! will not have another PPV until Survivor Series next month.
· Fortunately, the blue brand will have a mini-break from standalone PPVs which enables the creative team to flesh out mid-card storylines that need a little tender, love, and care instead of cramming everything on the go-home show with no sense of rhyme or reason.
· Once again, SD Live! dropped the ball when it came to building anticipation for their brand-exclusive PPV. The show felt lifeless at times which prevented me from being more gung-ho about No Mercy than I already was.
· Backlash ended up being a good show despite my lowered expectations. With the second Presidential Debate and Sunday Night Football airing at the same time, the buzz for this PPV will be tepid at best. Let’s hope good word of mouth pushes Team Blue over the top. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!