I take full responsibility for this being so late. Mitch had it to me for review on time, I'm the one who was late. Any blame goes to me, and not Mitch! Thanks for being so cool about it.
Hello, WNW people and welcome to another edition of the Smackdown Breakdown! Now while Smackdown didn’t sweep Smackdown as I had predicted, Raw didn’t either. I’ll take two wins for each brand and one draw. Now with that out of the way, let's get stuck into what happened on Raw this week, shall we?
Opening Segment: Shane, Ambrose, Ellsworth & Styles >B+
I am amazed Shane McMahon is still walking to ringside. But then again, how many times have we said that over the years! The “you still got it” chants may be overused in this day and age, but in Shane’s case, I think it’s well deserved.
The boos Shane got when he gave Team Raw their props made me laugh. And the cheers Shane got when he brought it back to how Smackdown won the day in the REAL main event of Survivor Series (I refuse to count Goldturd and Lazy Lesner as the show's main event) proves which brand fans think is the “A SHOW”. Isn’t that right Kendra Bunyon?
Do you really want to go into this Mitch? I will destroy you and your SD Predicts Team easily. I say we take this one step further! Let's go for a year long challenge. Your little team predicts your little SD PPVs, and my strong and voluptuous (yes, I said it) Raw Predicts Team will predict the Raw PPVs. Both teams will offer up their best for the Big 4, and at the end of 2017, we will see which Team, and which overall predicter, comes out on top. Deal?
I love Ambrose’s mic game, always have. Some people may not like Ambrose glossing over his actions at Survivor Series. But the fact is it fits his gimmick to a tee!
AJ is no slouch on the microphone either, though. It boggles my mind that people thought he couldn’t cut a promo. It must be so satisfying for AJ to prove people wrong every single week.
Mitch, you really need to go back and watch TNA, because that's where AJ earned his rep of not being able to cut a promo. No clue if it's because of the writing, direction, or something else, but his mic game sucked in TNA. Maybe his time away from that pathetic mess Dixie likes to try to call a wrestling company has opened his eyes and showed him the light, or maybe something in the WWE just clicked for him, but he really is a changed man on mic now that he's in the WWE.
But the real story here is none other than James Ellsworth facing AJ Styles in the main event to earn a Smackdown Live contract AND a WWE World Title shot! Some people may hate it, but I love it. And Ellsworth mic game was surprisingly strong here as well.
All in all, an entertaining opening segment.
Backstage Segment: Miz, Maryse & Bryan > B+
Miz is the perfect example of the heel you love to hate. He cheats to win, has a hot girl on his arm, has a championship, and bullies anyone he feels is “beneath him”.
Bryan is the perfect babyface foil for him for so many reasons. Their history, their obvious chemistry, the fact they are opposites in every conceivable way and the fact DB is Smackdown’s general manager all make this a compelling story.
Miz and Maryse’s reaction to the news he’ll be defending the Title against Kalisto was classic. I’ve never seen any couple with such a hateful matching scowl. Bryan asking the photographer who must have taken a photo of the couple scowling for a copy of it made me laugh our loud!
Backstage Segment: Shane Kicking Ambrose Out > B
Not something that should have been memorable on paper. But Ambrose somehow made this brief segment entertaining.
WWE Intercontinental Title Match - The Miz (c) [w/Maryse] vs. Kalisto > B+
Despite this match only being done to further the Miz/Bryan and Kalisto/Corbin storylines, it was still a solid match. Both Kalisto and Miz put in some good work here, with a surprising amount of back and forth action considering the short amount time they were given for the match.
Corbin coming out to attack Kalisto during/after the match was to be expected, but I wasn’t expecting Ziggler to come out and attack Miz on the ramp. I had tired of the Miz/Ziggler program weeks ago. It’s time to move on already!
WINNER via PINFALL: The Miz
Backstage Segment: Shane, DB, Women's Division & Ambrose > B
This was a bloody funny segment! I found it very funny that DB (who’s been dealing with the women’s division solo for weeks the poor bastard) just left the room saying “I don’t have time for this, but Shane does”. I glad Becky Lynch is being allowed to talk again, and I suspect we have Triple H having a chat with Kevin Dunn to thank for that.
I disliked Shane (amongst all the blaming for the Smackdown Women’s team's loss at Survivor Series) insinuating that it may have been a different story if Nikki Bella was in the match. It drives me nuts that WWE’s higher-ups insist on keeping that Kim Kardashian wannabe front and centre in Smackdown’s women's division. Especially when Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss have been tearing it up for weeks!
Dean Ambrose coming into Shane’s office with Pizza offering an annoyed Shane a slice cracked me up. Can you tell how big of an Ambrose fan I am? Because him popping up repeatedly during the show despite being banned from the arena has me in guffaws.
Backstage Segment: DB & Baron Corbin > A
I am so happy that since the brand split Baron Corbin has gone back to the gimmick that served him so well in NXT. The idea that Corbin feels he should automatically be given every opportunity because he’s a “big man” and not an “Indy darling” is so perfect in today's pro wrestling climate. In a time where fans continue to question WWE’s long held policy of pushing people based on aesthetics, I find it very interesting to see WWE playing it up for storyline purposes.
I’m always amused of having a bias towards big men, but I marked out a little when DB told Corbin he’s be facing Kane. That, and Corbin vs Strowman are two big man matches I’d love to see.
Tag Team Turmoil
I enjoy how Smackdown seemingly tries to make Raw’s weaknesses (like a lacklustre Tag Team Division) their strengths. I love the idea of Tag Team Turmoil, even if I’m not big on a lot of the teams involved. Why? Because it’s creative and different! Two things WWE desperately needs more of as I’ve said on many occasions.
#1 - The Hype Bros vs. The Ascension > D
This match was nothing to write home about. I’m not big on either of these teams really.
Winners: Hype Bros
#2 - The Hype Bros vs. Breezango > B+
Breezango may be two of the most underrated people on Smackdown’s roster. I honestly didn’t expect much from this match, but I was very impressed by the work put in by Fandango and Tyler Breeze.
#3 - Breezango vs. American Alpha > A
Hands up everyone who thinks American Alpha is the best all-around Tag Team in WWE today. I could watch these two work a match on a loop for hours on end. Again Breezango impressed me here, but AA were definitely the right choice of team to go over.
Winners: American Alpha
#4 - American Alpha vs. The Vaudevillains > F
I forgot the Vaudevillains were still in WWE honestly. This ended quickly as it should have. But still, not very exciting addition to Tag Team Turmoil.
Winners: American Alpha
#5 - American Alpha vs. The Usos > A
I told you guys WWE higher ups were just toning down the Usos heel turn for the sake of Survivor Series. They're still Smackdown’s number one heel team. I enjoy the Usos as heels so much that it’s now difficult for me to remember they were babyfaces for so long. And it’s proof WWE should learn when to cut their losses. I mean, when babyfaces they have invested a lot of time and money just can’t connect with the audience…it’s time to turn the heel “cough" Roman Reigns, "cough."
This was the longest and best match of Tag Team Turmoil, obviously.
The ring work of both teams was fantastic! I loved AA paying homage to the legendary Steiner brothers in the match. Yes, the Steiners are legends even though one of them is crazier than Kanye West! And how good is American Alphas finishing move? It’s both beautiful and painful to see performed. Which is exactly how a Tag Team finishing move should make you feel when you see it done.
WINNERS: American Alpha
Post Match Segment: Wyatt Family Promo > B
I still don’t like the idea of WWE’s most famous loner Randy Orton joining the Wyatt Family. I understand it’s all a set up for Orton to turn on Wyatt eventually. But it just seems like poor storytelling to me character wise. But the promo was good, and it helped sell American Alpha vs The Wyatts in the number one contender match next week.
Backstage Segment: DB, Shane & Ellsworth > B
Ellsworth’s promo game was surprisingly strong here! I have no doubt in my mind that once the Ambrose/Styles program ends they will have to find something for Ellsworth in WWE. I personally believe that with a little work he could be the next Santino Marella.
And once again, Ambrose proves he’s as talented outside of the ring as he is inside of it. The man is simply hilarious! It kills me that I wasn’t in Smackdown Open Thread this week. I would have loved to have seen WNW’s resident Canadian Brendon Whal’s reaction to Dean’s Mountie impression.
Non-Title Match - Becky Lynch (Smackdown Women's Champion) vs. Natalya >B
Solid Women’s Division match that put some much-needed focus on the Smackdown Women’s Championship program. Natalya had been looking very slack in the ring the last few months, but after this match, it appears she has finally recommitted herself.
Becky Lynch for my money is a better in ring talent than the rest of NXT’s Four Horsewomen. I know that could be a controversial statement, but I stand by it! Everything she does in the ring serves a purpose. However, I think Alexa Bliss will be the new Champion at TLC.
WINNER via SUBMISSION: Becky Lynch
Backstage Segment: DB & Miz > D
This Miz/Bryan stuff never gets old! But the announcement of a Ladder Match for the IC Title should make me giddy, but it doesn’t.
The Miz/Ziggler program has run its course in my opinion. And we already know Dolph is never getting his hand raised at TLC.
Backstage Segment: Carmella & Nikki Bella > F
And once again the focus is taken off the Smackdown Women’s Title program and put right back onto Nikki Bloody Bella “GROAN”! At least Carmella’s promo game looked strong here. I’m not going to lie; I hope Nikki goes under at TLC. I admit I'm biased towards here (she and Eva are the last aspects of the Divas Division, and they simply have to go).
But I also feel Carmella has more than earned the rub with all the stellar work she has done the last three months.
Kane vs. Baron Corbin > D
I knew Kalisto was going to come out and attack Corbin obviously. But I wish this match had gone a bit longer than it did. I hope Kane and Corbin get to have a real match someday.
WINNER via DQ: Baron Corbin
WWE Contract Ladder Match - James Ellsworth vs. AJ Styles (WWE World Champion) > A
Ok, firstly anyone who is actually worried Ellsworth is the future WWE World Champion…calm down! James Ellsworth is never going to hold the top Title in the industry for many obvious reasons. This whole storyline is just a brilliantly creative way to sell the Ambrose/Styles program. But that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying this wild ride WWE has us on with James Ellsworth.
We all knew Ambrose would come out and interfere in this match. But we didn’t know how that would happen, but it served a purpose. And is it just me, or was hearing JBL lose his mind over Ellsworth bloody hilarious.
Some may have especially disliked the finish of the match, but I absolutely loved it. I loved it because it’s something we didn’t expect.
No one would’ve thought that Ambrose interfering in the match didn’t actually play a huge role in the match. No one would have expected James Ellsworth’s super kick to AJ would leave him tied up in the ropes.
No one would’ve expected that this would result in Ellsworth climbing the ladder and grabbing the contract. And most importantly No one would have expected James Ellsworth would be wrestling for the WWE World Title.
And those are the reasons I loved it! Because I, a lifelong pro wrestling fan who has seen it all could never have predicted something like this.
And that’s why this whole storyline works. It’s creative and different.
Which as I’ve said, are two things WWE needs a lot more of.
WINNER: James Ellsworth
Overall Grade > B
Another very good Smackdown this week. Although I have to admit, as far as show quality goes, Raw and Smackdown were tied this week.
But Smackdown still does so many more things better than Raw it's ridiculous!
And that ladies and gents was the Smackdown Breakdown; I hope you have enjoyed it. Please feel free to follow me on Twitter @TheBigM91