Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The SmackDown Files: The Apocalypse, Nowish Edition (11-9-2016)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Last night’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland. WWE was in a tough spot since the show aired while America was deciding the next President of The United States. However, the company did a great job hyping the SmackDown Women’s Title match between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss. They hammered the date and location for weeks which should help them on the counter-programming front. Did the rest of the show exceed expectations or did the company go into cruise control until next week’s 900th episode of SD Live? The answer to this question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect last night’s show in no particular order.

·        Shane McMahon announced that The Wyatt Family (including Randy Orton) will face off against Dean Ambrose, Baron Corbin and James Ellsworth in a six-man tag team match. That fact that Ellsworth made the transatlantic trip to Glasgow says a lot about his long-term status in WWE.

·        Also, No Chin Wonder was named the official mascot for Team SmackDown at Survivor Series. The rest of the segment was fine, but it felt too similar to the opener from Raw as AJ Styles acted like the arrogant team captain trying to rally his troops to victory.

·        Shane removed Baron Corbin from the six man tag because The Lone Wolf doesn’t play well with others. Therefore, Corbin was booked in a match against Kalisto who is returning from injury. At least storyline continuity exists in this case.

·        Breezango’s outfits are amazing. I guess they borrowed portions of The New Day’s kilts and created a fashion masterpiece.

·        Breezango defeated The Vaudevillians and secured the final spot on Team SmackDown at Survivor Series. Tyler Breeze and Fandango are underrated and underutilized as a team. Here’s hoping they are given more airtime in the future because they could bring so much to the tag team division from a wrestling standpoint.

·        Natalya vs. Naomi served as the backdrop for Carmella and Nikki Bella getting into another scuffle at ringside. Natalya tried to act as mediator by blowing her whistle. When that didn’t work, she pushed Nikki back which caused Nikki to shove Natalya on her ass. Carmella was laughing and got blindsided with a wicked forearm with Nikki. Natalya tried to intervene again, but she had to get back in the ring before she was counted out. Naomi took advantage of the situation and rolled her up for the win. The match was okay, but it was too short to really judge it fairly.

·        Kane will team with Dean Ambrose and James Ellsworth to take on The Wyatt Family later in the show. Kane’s match strategy was simple. No hot tags to Ellsworth. That seems reasonable enough.

·        Ouch! Corbin had a nasty slip through the ring apron. That might have been Corbin’s finest sell job to date.

·        Kalisto targeted Corbin’s knee by ramming it into the steel steps and delivering a frog splash from the top rope. Corbin got a dose of his own medicine and it appears that he won’t be able to represent Team SD at Survivor Series. I am not crying into my chicken noodle soup over this sudden turn of events.

·        Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss for the SmackDown Women’s Championship ended in controversy when Bliss tapped out to the Dis-Arm-Her. However, the referee didn’t notice that Bliss’ foot was on the bottom rope which would have made the tap out finish invalid. With this loophole in mind, I expect both ladies to face off in a rematch at TLC next month. Will there be a special stipulation added to raise the stakes? We shall see.

·        Outside of the finish, Lynch and Bliss had a very good match. Bliss did a great job targeting Lynch’s arm by slamming it into the ring post, steel steps, and locking in various submission holds. By doing this, Lynch would have a hard time locking in her signature submission hold if her arm wasn’t at 100%.

·        Lynch recovered and managed to pull off most of her spots as the crowd cheered her on. It was an evenly-matched bout and I look forward to them having an even better match in the future.

·        You know it’s a sad state of affairs when Curt Hawkins picks up a win over Apollo Crews. The match was decent as both men showed off their athleticism, but the outcome emphasized how much Crews’ star has fallen. 

·        Daniel Bryan announced that Brian Kendrick will face Kalisto for the Cruiserweight Title at Survivor Series. If Kalisto wins, the entire Cruiserweight Division will move to SD Live. This would be a huge coup for the blue brand, but it makes the upcoming 205 Live show even more confusing. I don’t think the Cruiserweights need their own standalone show. There is enough television real estate on USA Network to get the wrestlers over in a meaningful way. If not, the division should be the exclusive home of the WWE Network where it will be treated seriously and presented as a wrestling show instead of sports entertainment fluff.

·        Maryse signed off on The Miz’s Intercontinental Championship rematch against Dolph Ziggler on the 900th Episode of SmackDown. Miz didn’t look thrilled, but he nodded his head in agreement. Next week’s show is shaping up to a great one. I haven’t been able to say that in a while.

·        James Ellsworth tried to be the hero for his team, but he fell short as Bray Wyatt nailed him with Sister Abigail to pick up the win. The six-man tag team match featuring Ambrose, Kane, and Ellsworth vs. The Wyatt Family was decent. It was nothing special as Orton was nothing more than a background player while Luke Harper and Kane took their fight backstage.

·        Ellsworth was the biggest star on the show outside of Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. Speaking of which, Shane McMahon saved Dean Ambrose from a three-on-one beat down courtesy of Wyatt, Orton, and Styles after the match was over. Bryan came out and the crowd erupted in a raucous “Yes!” chant. He went over the wrestlers listed on the SD Live roster and eliminated himself as the fifth man because he is not medically cleared to compete.

·        He took another look at the roster and noticed that Shane McMahon was listed as an active performer. Therefore, The Bearded One nominated his boss to fill out the SmackDown Five at Survivor Series. Shane-O-Mac accepted and the show went off the air with fans showering both men with “Yes!” chants.

·        Shane being added to Team SD Live says a lot about the depth issues plaguing the show. The roster is so pathetic that the commissioner has to act as the ring general. I am sure that Shane will deliver a memorable spot during the match, but it’s going to be hard to take him seriously as a performer when he takes on the likes of Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman.

·        If Shane gets a clean pin on any of these men, it would be an embarrassment of the highest order. The suspension of disbelief can only go so far. Shane is a mere mortal and should be presented as such. Anything less would be insulting. If he couldn’t beat The Undertaker at WrestleMania, he damn sure shouldn’t be the lone survivor at Survivor Series. That honor should go to AJ Styles or Dean Ambrose.

·        Overall, I thought last night’s episode of SmackDown Live was decent. The crowd was much hotter than the one from Monday Night Raw. Plus, there was less talking on this show that didn’t drag things down. The broadcast is still plagued by short matches, but I thought WWE did a very nice job hyping the Women’s Championship Match between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss. It felt important and both ladies held their own in the ring. Their bout deserved the promotion it received. The show airing on Election Day didn’t do the company any favors in terms of drawing a big audience, but I will give them credit for reaching out to hardcore fans who used last night’s show as a form of escapism. From that standpoint, it was a smart strategy.

·        As for the Survivor Series hype, it didn’t grate me as much versus the bullshit that went down on Raw. The bickering was kept to a minimum and the babyfaces authority figures didn’t come off as evil dictators who were bloodthirsty for a win. SmackDown is the plucky underdog that fans like to root for. It’s a two-hour show that is very good most weeks. They have been in a minor slump as of late, but it’s still miles better than Raw. If the creative team can get the mid-card scene up and running, things should improve. Until then, the blue brand is being buoyed by AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, and James Ellsworth. Would have thought that The Chinless Wonder would be such a difference maker? That says a lot about WWE not utilizing their contracted stars, but I digress.

·        The 900th episode of SD Live should be a great show next week. Edge is hosting a special edition of The Cutting Edge, Miz vs. Ziggler will face off for the Intercontinental Championship, and The Undertaker returns to SD for the first time since The Shield power bombed him through a table in 2013. Plus, this is the final live show before Survivor Series. It’s going to be interesting to see how WWE balances celebrating SmackDown turning 900 and promoting the last Big Four PPV of the year. Let’s hope they can serve both masters effectively. Fingers crossed!

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files, I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Expose. See you later, boys and girls!

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