By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the University of South Carolina. This is the go-home show for TLC as the blue brand tries to end their PPV year on a high note. James Ellsworth is a full-fledged WWE Superstar after defeating AJ Styles in a Ladder Match last week. How did Styles react after falling to 0-3 vs The Chinless Wonder?
Also, Tag Team Turmoil continues with American Alpha facing off against Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton to determine the number one contender for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. Who punched their ticket to Dallas? Most importantly, did Orton turn on Wyatt revealing that his initiation into The Wyatt Family was an elaborate ruse? The answer to these questions can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of SD Live in no particular order.
· The Good News: Becky Lynch got the jump on Alexa Bliss during their SmackDown Women’s Championship contract signing.
· The Bad News: When Lynch tried to suplex Bliss through a table, Bliss raked her eyes and pushed her through the table.
· This might be a precursor that Lynch and Bliss will have a Tables match at TLC. This would raise the stakes for the ladies on SD Live because Sasha Banks and Charlotte have had high profile matches that continue to elevate the art of women’s wrestling.
· After a rough start on the mic, Lynch hit her stride down the stretch as she talked about her journey from being a part of the biggest women’s match at WrestleMania to winning the Women’s Championship at Backlash in September. She’s always relatable when she taps into something real and heartfelt.
· Bliss did a great job being the evil pixie who can get under people’s skin on a whim. She’s adorable, but devilish at the same time. Her promos have improved by leaps and bounds because she is fully invested in her character. Plus, it helps that the announcers have stopped harping on her size. If AJ Lee could be a 5’2 badass without anyone batting an eyelash, so can Bliss.
· Bliss and Lynch should have a good match at TLC. Their feud has had its share of unforeseen twists and turns, but it still feels fresh because there has not been a definitive finish yet. Here’s hoping there is one come Sunday.
· Dolph Ziggler and Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin and The Miz was a fast-paced and hard-hitting match, but it ended via disqualification when Corbin attacked Kalisto with a steel chair. Things got chaotic down the stretch as Ziggler delivered a couple of superkicks to Corbin and Miz while Kalisto laid out Corbin with a suicide dive.
· Maryse got involved when she laid Ziggler out with a ladder that was leaning against the steel steps. Kalisto hit Miz with the Salina Del Sol, but Corbin broke things up which lead to the DQ.
· At least no one ate an unnecessary pin fall heading into the PPV. That’s a positive.
· Carmella was greeted with a “How You Doin’?” chant, but she quickly shut it down by saying that she couldn’t wait to get the hell of South Carolina. That was a nice ad lib which shows that the Princess of Staten Island is quick on her feet when it comes to turning the crowd against her.
· Carmella cut a scathing promo as she apologized to John Cena in advance for what she plans to do Nikki Bella during their No Disqualification match at TLC. She vowed to hit Nikki’s chest with a steel chair so hard that her twins would be popping out of her back.
· Carmella went on to say that Cena would appreciate Nikki’s face being rearranged because he won’t have to worry about marrying her. That was a nice callback to Cena’s marriage phobia from previous seasons of Total Divas.
· Nikki heard enough as she ran down to the ring and attacked Carmella. The referee tried to break things up, but the ladies kept going at each other. Carmella eventually escaped while Nikki stood tall in the ring.
· This was an effective segment that put heat on their No DQ match at TLC. As I mentioned last week, it should be good if it’s not overbooked to death.
· AJ Styles finally got his revenge on James Ellsworth and Dean Ambrose when he attacked both men during a special edition of The Ambrose Asylum. Styles quickly got rid of Ambrose and focused his attention on Ellsworth.
· While the Chinless One was stuck in the headstand position against the ropes outside the ring, Styles delivered a wicked chair shot to Ellsworth’s back.
· The Phenomenal One wasn’t finished as he laid out Ellsworth with a sick Styles Clash from the steel steps onto the floor. Even JBL was taken aback after he called Ellsworth a deformed turtle earlier in the segment.
· Styles sent a clear message that the fun and games were over. Shit just got real, ladies and gentleman. Styles and Ambrose should have an excellent TLC match. Anything less would be a major disappointment.
· Luke Harper failed in his quest to send Kane back to hell as he got pinned via a Chokeslam. This was the longest match on the show so far with a clean finish to boot. Harper and Kane had a solid big man match that was surprisingly even from start to finish.
· The outcome put into question Harper’s standing in The Wyatt Family. Orton put Harper in the hot seat earlier in the show only for Bray Wyatt to pour gasoline on it by telling him to defeat Kane. I guess the seat is on fire which spells bad news for Harper. This might be a part of Orton’s master plan to take out the family from within. If so, that’s a brilliant strategy.
· Becky Lynch got colorful with her language when she called Alexa Bliss a little bitch after the evil pixie challenged her to a Tables match at TLC. It’s not shocking considering how their contract signing ended. This makes the second women’s match on the PPV to feature an extra dose of violence. Both feuds warrant the added stipulations which should enhance the overall quality of their matches on Sunday.
· The hot seat that Luke Harper was sitting in cooled off considerably after he helped Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton become the Number One Contender for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. They will go on to face Heath Slater and Rhyno at TLC.
· American Alpha vs. Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton was very good. It was nice to see Chad Gable and Jason Jordan in the main even spot as they gelled well with Wyatt and Orton. The crowd reaction was muted because most fans still view Orton as a babyface despite his alliance with Wyatt. Despite the odd face/heel dynamic, the in-ring work was strong.
· Harper magically appeared at ringside during the closing moments of the match. His distraction allowed Orton to block American Alpha from hitting Grand Amplitude on Wyatt when he nailed Gable with an RKO.
· Jordan rammed Orton into the corner and was about to tackle Wyatt, but Harper moved him out of way. This allowed Wyatt to hit Jordan with Sister Abigail to pick up the win. The in-ring portion of the show ended with The Wyatt Family standing tall.
· Heath Slater and Rhyno were doing a backstage interview with Dasha Fuentes when AJ Styles interrupted them. Styles proceeded to disrespect Beauty and The Man Beast by saying that no one cares about the Tag Team Champions. Rhyno was about to throw hands when Ambrose attacked Styles.
· Styles and Ambrose had a full-on brawl as they knocked over luxury furniture and snack tables while Slater and Rhyno egged them on. The broadcast ended with both men still going at it on the floor.
· This was an interesting way to end the show. I didn’t expect to see Ambrose again after he went to the hospital with Ellsworth. He came back to avenge Ellsworth’s good name. Styles was boasting like a peacock and ended up getting his ass kicked by the end of the night. This is all coming to a head at TLC. It should be a stellar match featuring sick bumps throughout. Don’t be surprised if Ellsworth shows up in a wheelchair to will Ambrose to victory.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was solid. It appeared as if fans were treated to a special two-hour edition of Talking Smack because there was a lot of talking on this show. It wasn’t bad as each segment promoted a match at TLC. Luke Harper and Kane having the best match on the broadcast prior to the main event is a little disturbing, though. However, WWE did a nice job hyping the TLC PPV. Each bout has a sense of purpose and the show looks good on paper. There are a couple of hit or miss matches on the card, but the Championship bouts should be very good if the booking team police themselves accordingly.
· After Sunday’s PPV, the blue brand will have a lot of time on their hands because they don’t have another major show until the Royal Rumble in January. Unless the creative team have a few tricks up their sleeve to keep things lively on Tuesday nights, the Winter Blues will be in full effect. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. 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!