By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the SAP Center in San Jose, California. No Mercy took place this past Sunday and if you missed the show, the main event kicked off the PPV as AJ Styles retained the WWE World Championship as he defeated John Cena thanks to a couple of steel chair shots to the back. Also, Dolph Ziggler kept his career intact as he beat The Miz to become the new WWE Intercontinental Champion. Finally, Luke Harper made a surprise return as he helped Bray Wyatt defeat Randy Orton in the main event. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. Orton and Wyatt closed the show despite their feud jumping the shark in recent weeks. Did the blue brand deliver a satisfying follow-up after what transpired on Sunday or did they lay an egg instead? 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.
· Between Dolph Ziggler and The Miz, I thought Miz showed more passion than the man that saved his career by winning the Intercontinental Championship. Ziggler did a decent job selling gratefulness and determination, but I couldn’t emotionally invest in his promo because his character has been damaged so much over the years. Even though the fans were happy about the title change, I don’t know how long the good vibrations will carry over before they mentally check out on Ziggler because he is booked like a chump for the zillionth time.
· Miz and Maryse were dressed in all black as they took a moment of silence to mourn the death of the Intercontinental Title. Miz talked about being the hero in Act III as he would take back what’s rightfully his. He did a great job selling his sadness and anger over losing a championship that he legitimatized over the past few months. Ziggler should have been just as passionate, but he decided to reveal that he tans Zack Ryder’s back. It got a good chuckle from the crowd, but it didn’t set the right tone in terms of emphasizing how close his career came to an end on Sunday. Hell, the cable and satellite providers tried to spoil the outcome of his match by saying that he lost. Ziggler could have hammered that point home a bit more, but I digress. Overall, this was a fine way to start the show despite my issues with Ziggler’s promo.
· Mauro Ranallo just made the call of his career when he pulled a South Park by saying that Ziggler killed Kenny. That was easily the highlight of the match. Ranallo made up for his Freudian slip when he called Daniel Bryan Daniel Ziggler.
· Ziggler vs. The Spirit Squad was fine as Kenny got to show off his physique and Mikey got to collect another check for the third time in seven days. That’s a pretty sweet deal all things considered.
· Miz attacked Ziggler after the match was over, but Heath Slater and Rhyno ran down to the ring to make the save. It appears that The Spirit Squad will be hanging around a bit longer. I have no problem with that if they keep the bad cheerleading to a minimum.
· Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon threw down the gauntlet as they challenged Monday Night Raw to find three teams of five from the Singles, Tag Team, and Women Divisions to face off in a Raw vs. SD Live battle at Survivor Series next month. This is already bringing back bad memories of the Bragging Rights PPV from a few years ago when the brands would fight over a trophy that was never seen or heard from again the next night on Raw or SmackDown. If WWE takes things seriously by delivering quality matches with legit wrestlers who have heat, I might be more optimistic about things. Until then, the verdict is still out.
· Nikki Bella got a measure of revenge on Carmella as she distracted her long enough for Naomi to pin her with a roll-up/bridge combination. The match was okay for the most part, but this all a setup for Nikki getting back at Carmella after the Queen of Staten Island attacked her backstage earlier in the day.
· Jimmy Uso found a new way to win a match by hook or by crook when he rolled up Chad Gable thanks to an assist from his brother Jey as he used his feet to give his twin leverage to pick up the tainted victory. Gable had a nice showing in the ring before the screwy finish. He wasn’t selling his leg and was able to move around freely for a change. I didn’t like how both men were thrown in the ring with little fanfare because it makes them look like a couple low-level guys, but the action was good while it lasted.
· Ranallo just tried it by saying that the Triple Threat Match between John Cena, Dean Ambrose, and AJ Styles for the WWE World Championship at No Mercy was hotter than a Samsung Galaxy Note 7. That was some cold-blooded shade.
· The Legendary James Ellsworth has returned!
· James Ellsworth just picked up the biggest win of his life as he defeated AJ Styles after special guest referee Dean Ambrose nailed Styles with a pair of Dirty Deeds. The match was a complete joke and I question Styles losing in this fashion, but it makes sense if Styles is going to go scorched earth on Ambrose after suffering the most embarrassing loss of his career. Styles’ promo leading up to Bryan making the match official was great as he did a wonderful job being a pompous heel who thinks he’s above it all.
· I really hope that Ellsworth is okay because that Styles Clash did not look pretty at all. Here’s hoping Ellsworth was selling his ass off instead of suffering a serious injury in the ring.
· Kane went missing after Bray Wyatt magically turned the lights off and on as he pinned Randy Orton with Sister Abigail for the second time in two days.
· When Orton tried to make the hot tag to the Big Red Monster, Luke Harper was standing in the corner where Kane should have been. Harper taunted Orton which distracted him long enough for Wyatt to strike.
· The main event was fine, but it dragged in spots with Kane being the babyface in peril. The layout of the match was even more bizarre when he was supposed to get the hot tag instead of it being the other way around with Orton hitting his signature spots which sets up the finish in a more believable way.
· The show ended on a lukewarm note as the heels stood tall while everyone wondered where Kane disappeared to. The fans were quiet and I don’t think this was the hottest way to go off the air. Orton did have a nice heat spot when he tossed Harper and Wyatt around, but it wasn’t enough to salvage the match.
· With the Orton-Wyatt feud losing steam in terms of excitement over the past few weeks, I don’t think they should be placed in the main event slot. It didn’t work at No Mercy and it damn near put the crowd to sleep tonight. Until the psychedelic game of Hide and Seek got underway, this feud wasn’t bogged down by parlor tricks and acts of the supernatural. It was about two men who could somewhat relate to each other on a human level and that’s rare when it comes to the presentation of Wyatt’s character.
· Orton’s injury at SummerSlam put a damper on things, but their rivalry still had some meat to it until it fell off a cliff. The sooner this feud ends, the better.
· Overall, I thought that tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was subpar at best. Things seemed scattered as WWE was trying to do ten things at once as they began promoting Survivor Series prior to Hell in a Cell which takes place at the end of the month. The blue brand has five weeks of programming to fill, but it’s kind of heavy handed to throw another PPV at the viewing public when they are trying to recover from No Mercy from this past Sunday, get ready for HIAC in a few weeks, and get jazzed about Survivor Series the following month. I think it’s best to give fans a chance to breathe instead of shoving more content down their throats.
· SD Live has a full month to get their shit together when it comes to getting their mid-card scene in order. It’s a mess right now with the tag team division floundering and the women losing steam since their impressive showing at Backlash last month. The Intercontinental Title picture is occupied with Ziggler and Miz, but who is the next man up after their feud is over? Is it Apollo Crews who has gone AWOL in recent weeks? Will Baron Corbin get a shot at the title which means he will have another series of lackluster matches against Ziggler? What about Jack Swagger who is still lacking something in the personality department? The pickings are slim, but if the creative team can perform a miracle with Heath Slater, anything is possible. Right?!?
· Here’s hoping that the Powers That Be have a game plan in mind to make Tuesday nights a bit more exciting because SD Live has been in a rut over the past couple of weeks while Raw has started to figure things on the creative front. We shall see how it all plays out.
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next Monday with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!