By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. WWE announced that AJ Styles would defend his WWE Championship against James Ellsworth after Styles wasn’t medically cleared to compete last week. Did the highly-anticipated Title bout go on as scheduled or was it postponed once again due to Styles’ nagging ankle injury? 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.
· James Ellsworth is too sick to face AJ Styles for the WWE Championship and has been sidelined indefinitely. Ellsworth sprayed Daniel Bryan with snot as a parting gift. That was nasty.
· Miz TV started off innocently enough with The Miz and AJ Styles congratulating each other for being great. The segment took an interesting turn when Styles stated that no one was on his level to take the WWE Championship from him. Miz disagreed by saying that he made the Intercontinental Championship legendary and would do the same for the WWE Title because he was not on the same level as Styles. He was above it.
· This led to furniture being tossed until Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler made their way to the ring. Ziggler called Styles and Miz paper champions who hid behind other people in order to retain their titles. Ziggler and Miz had a brief tussle before Miz laid him out with the Skull Crushing Finale. Ambrose nailed Miz and Ziggler with a pair of Dirty Deeds before focusing his attention on Styles.
· Luke Harper made his presence known by laying out Ambrose with a wicked clothesline as he stared down Styles. It appears that Harper wants a shot at the WWE Title as well.
· This was a good way to start the show as Styles and Miz made jokes at Ellsworth’s expense before having a proverbial pissing contest in the ring. Ambrose, Ziggler, and Harper coming out to stake their claim to the WWE Championship made sense because it gives Styles more opponents to work with as 2016 comes to an end. Plus, it’s nice to see Harper in the title hunt because he has been underutilized since his return from injury a couple of months ago.
· Daniel Bryan had a great line telling Styles to go to the pharmacy if he needed protection. Bryan informed Styles that there would be a Fatal Four Way Elimination Match featuring Ambrose, Miz, Ziggler, and Harper with the winner facing Styles on the December 27th episode of SD Live for the WWE Championship. If anyone interfered in the match on behalf of another wrestler, that person would be automatically eliminated from the bout.
· This is a sound strategy by WWE because they are hyping the Title match in advance by giving it a two-week build. Plus, it gives fans a good reason to tune for the final SD Live of the year.
· Also, Styles has more time to heal up from his ankle injury. There is no need to rush The Phenomenal One back into action prematurely. Styles’ presence is still felt through his entertaining promos which should balance things out for a while.
· Carmella rolled up Natalya for the cheap win in a decent match. Carmella needs to stop screaming like a banshee during her matches. It’s very annoying.
· Natalya tried to convince Nikki Bella that she didn’t attack her at Survivor Series and proved it by saving Nikki from getting laid out by Carmella at ringside.
· Natalya had the match won, but she felt compelled to pour her heart out to Nikki some more which led to the finish.
· Short of Natalya giving Nikki a Hallmark card filled with $100 bills, she should save her apologizes for someone who cares.
· John Cena will return to SD Live in two weeks. Coincidentally enough, it’s the final live show of the year. It’s kismet!
· Mojo Rawley kicked off the Tag Team Battle Royal by kicking Simon Gotch over the top rope. How symbolic.
· Jason Jordan will have to carry the load for his team because Chad Gable has been eliminated. That’s a shocker.
· Heath Slater accidentally eliminated Rhyno from the battle royal. I smell a breakup coming.
· American Alpha has been eliminated! That’s some serious bullshit.
· Zack Ryder eliminated Konnor from The Ascension to secure a future SmackDown Tag Team Championship match against The Wyatt Family.
· The Battle Royal was solid despite American Alpha getting bounced from the match. However, it makes sense because Gable and Jordan should be in chase mode a while longer. Therefore, The Hype Bros are the perfect guppies for The Wyatt Family.
· If WWE plans to push American Alpha, their story needs to develop organically over time. Plus, Gable and Jordan’s coronation needs to take place at a major PPV so they can soak in the moment in front of a raucous crowd. In the grand scheme of things, I am okay with this booking decision. The fans were pissed at Jordan’s elimination which is a good sign that American Alpha is getting their heat back.
· Alexa Bliss was not in a charitable mood and proceeded to lay out her opponent before their match got underway.
· Becky Lynch came out and wanted her rematch since both of them were dressed to compete. Bliss ducked Lynch’s challenge, but Shane McMahon came out and announced that Bliss would defend her SmackDown Women’s Championship against Lynch after the commercial break.
· Alexa Bliss “injured” her knee midway through her title defense and got counted out by the referee.
· Lynch was having none of it and attacked Bliss. Bliss miraculously recovered and stomped Lynch with her good leg in the corner. Lynch got back on offense and was about to lock Bliss in the Dis-Arm-Her, but the evil pixie rolled out of the ring and hopped up the ramp on her “bad” knee.
· Lynch and Bliss had a solid match, but it felt rushed and disjointed at times. However, I liked how Bliss took the heelish way out to retain her title. Their feud still has legs because Bliss has never pinned Lynch with the Women’s Title on the line. It’s a nice hook for their final match at the Royal Rumble next month. Presumably speaking, of course.
· Dolph Ziggler will face AJ Styles for the WWE Championship on December 27th as he defeated Dean Ambrose with a Superkick. The Miz played a role in the finish as he tried to put the screws to both men with Ambrose being the fall guy in the end.
· The Fatal Four Way Elimination Bout was very good as Luke Harper shined throughout the match. There was a smattering of boos when he failed to eliminate Ambrose. The referee didn’t blow the count, but it was a very close near fall. Harper laid out Ziggler with a Powerbomb for another near fall.
· Harper was eliminated when he got nailed with a Superkick/Dirty Deeds combo from Ziggler and Ambrose.
· Ziggler and Ambrose had a nice one-on-one match as Ambrose rammed Ziggler’s head into the ring post on multiple occasions. This allowed Miz to get involved which played into the finish.
· SD Live went off the air with Styles and Ziggler having a stare down leading up to their WWE Championship match in two weeks.
· This was a surprising outcome as Ziggler has been directionless since losing the Intercontinental Championship. Being catapulted to the main event scene is an interesting move, but it might do him a world of good because Styles has the Midas touch when it comes to delivering stellar matches. Their championship bout should be great to cap off the year.
· As for Ambrose, it appears he will stay in Miz’s orbit for a while. It’s a nice change of pace for both men because Ambrose needs a break from chasing the WWE Title for a while. I don’t know if another IC Title reign is in his future, but Miz is the perfect temporary foil as the creative team searches for The Lunatic Fringe’s next opponent. Let’s hope their matches are better than the one they had last week. That was a slog to get through.
· Overall, I thought that tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was good. The show had an overarching theme as Styles was looking for a new opponent despite no one being on his level in-ring wise. Ziggler gets another shot at glory while Ambrose is occupied with The Miz for the time being.
· Harper had a great showing during the Fatal Four Way Elimination match which should lead to him getting more opportunities to shine in the future because he is a talented performer who is powerful and surprisingly agile for his size.
· The rest of the broadcast did a nice job establishing The Hype Bros as The Wyatt Family’s next challengers for the Tag Team Championship while Becky Lynch continues to chase after Bliss’ Women’s Championship. By doing this, it gives the creative team something to build towards each week as the show has a lot of time to kill between now and the Royal Rumble next month.
· This was the most cohesive episode of SD Live since their blockbuster show in Cleveland a couple of months ago. The show never dragged and everything made sense from a storyline standpoint. Add in John Cena’s return in a couple of weeks and we have the key ingredient to counter the blue brand blues. I consider that an early Christmas miracle. Yay us!
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 Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!