We open this week’s SmackDown Live with Daniel Bryan already in the ring and a yes chant full in force. You know, this week I had a dream that SmackDown would open with talent in the ring. Granted, in my dream it was talent that you’d never expect to start the show, but you know what dreams are like.
Daniel Bryan tells us that No Mercy will be the home of the first SmackDown Women’s Championship title defense, and so this week’s SmackDown is the first SmackDown Women’s Championship contract signing. He chides the crowd for booing him saying that he hopes it will be a civil signing, before Becky and Alexa join him in the ring. Commentary compares Alexa Bliss to Harley Quinn, and I don’t care how obvious it was – where are my royalties from when I said the same thing at Backlash?
Alexa snarks at Becky for not using moisturiser, and Becky retorts that while Alexa is preparing for a pageant, she’s preparing for a fight. There’s some harsh words from Alexa about how Becky was never born to be a champion, which is a bit of a bold claim given that Becky is the one, regardless of what Alexa wants to believe, holding the title right now. Becky counters with a long little story that culminates on the perfect line: no, Becky was not born to be a champion, but she fought to be one anyway.
It comes as little surprise when things turn vicious despite Daniel’s asking that it stay civil, with Alexa flooring Becky in the ring, then taking a beating from Becky as she tries to make her way up the ramp. Becky fetches her title and holds it above her head triumphantly.
Tonight, American Alpha are making their return, with a match against the Usos! I’ve missed these boys.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan is talking to The Miz. The Miz is very happy with his new contract, except that he doesn’t want to defend his title against Dolph Ziggler tonight. Well, he has a choice – he can defend the title, or have his contract cancelled. Miz eventually, begrudgingly, agrees to fight Ziggler tonight.
MATCH: The Usos vs. American Alpha – Number One Contenders Match
The Usos make their way down to the ring first, all decked out in red this week. We get a brief recap of their heel turn, before Alpha make their grand return. In a taped ‘earlier today’ segment, they promise to restart their journeys to become the new tag-team champions.
- Chad Gable and Jimmy Uso start in the ring together. Gable immediately on the offensive, to the point that Jey comes in to interfere and hits an Alphaplex followed by working the left leg, before tagging in Jason Jordan.
- Backstage, Slater and Rhyno are awkwardly watching the match on the sideways television and commentary tells us about Slater’s new double-wide and Rhyno’s love of cheez whiz.
- Back in the ring, it’s a pair of dropkicks from Jordan and Gable onto the Usos, but Gable ends up draped over the ropes and takes a superkick to the knee.
- Gable breaks free and tries desperately to make the tag. Jey Uso comes in to try to stop him, but Gable just manages to get there.
- Jordan hits a pair of Alphaplexes on both Usos, then sets up Jey on the turnbuckle for a superplex.
- Jey fights him off, then Jimmy tags in. Jey hits a superkick, while Jimmy sets up for the Samoan Splash. Gable disrupts the pin.
- Jey sends Gable out of the ring, and Gable lands on his bad knee again. Meanwhile, Jordan tries to rally with another suplex to Jimmy, but he takes a superkick and has to frantically crawl to make the tag.
- Gable’s knee buckles as Jordan goes to make the tag, so Jordan turns back, declining to make the tag, and takes a superkick from Jimmy.
- Superkicks in stereo from the Usos, then a Samoan Splash from Jey Uso, and Jordan goes down for the three count.
Slater and Rhyno have a brief chat about the winner of the match; they’ve beaten the Usos before and can do it again. Rhyno does not have patience for Slater trying to invent a back-and-forth chant for them, but they’re distracted by the Usos wandering in. The Usos threaten to take out Slater’s knee and lose him and his 26 children the double-wide, but Rhyno protects his boy.
MATCH: Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin
Jack Swagger is on commentary for this match, and I’m going to let my smark flag fly for just a moment – these three names together mean I don’t think I could care less about this segment if I tried. Apollo Crews is being a little less smiley this week.
- Corbin starts things off by shoving Crews, then hits a deadlift Samoan Drop on Corbin for a nearfall.
- Corbin rolls out of the ring, and Crews follows, throwing Corbin into the barricade, then hitting an enzuigiri to take Corbin to the floor.
- Both men back in the ring for a two-count, but Corbin regains the upper hand and drapes Crews over the barricade for some forearms, then into the ringpost.
- End of Days from Corbin, and that’s the match!
Corbin rolls out of the ring to get in Jack Swagger’s face, but then just turns and stalks away without saying anything.
Backstage, Charly Caruso is having a word with Naomi and Nikki Bella, who are setting up for a tag match against Natalya and Carmella. Naomi explains that the ‘glow’ is about confidence, about being yourself regardless of what other people think about you. Nikki Bella knows a thing or two about that, too. And Natalya used to be one of the most respected women in the locker room, and this whole heel turn business has soured her, and Naomi wants her to feel ‘the glow’ again. Nikki continues on, explaining that Carmella is tough, but she’s just feuding with Nikki to try to make a name for herself, to try to prove that she’s awesome by taking on Nikki Bella, and that’s not going to be so easy.
Also on the interview scene, it’s Renee Young with Dolph Ziggler. He compares Miz and Maryse to Brangelina and says that Miz is a lying, cheating, obnoxious scumbag, but he’s desperate to have worth as champion. Thing is, Dolph is desperate too – he was never ‘meant’ to be World Champion, and he was never ‘meant’ to be a Kent State hall of famer, so tonight he’s going to take the title from Miz.
MATCH: Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz (with Maryse) – Intercontinental Championship Match
Dolph makes his way down to the ring and I think I just always forget how much I love him because he never makes my list of faves but I just have this big goofy smile every time I hear his music. As the ring announcer bills Dolph as from Hollywood, Florida, and then The Miz from Hollywood, California, The Miz has such a goofy, smug smile and I love it.
- Dolph and Miz get into it as soon as the bell rings, with Dolph using some of that classic grappling, getting a brief cover, but Miz kicks out and then rolls to the ropes to get Dolph off him.
- Dolph follows Miz out of the ring and takes him down with a lariat before throwing him back in the ring.
- Wrecking ball dropkick from Miz back in the ring, sending Dolph back to the floor, then Miz throws Dolph into the barricade.
- Dolph back in the ring, and Miz hits a double axe handle to drop Dolph to the mat.
- Miz tries to lock in the full nelson for the Skull-Crushing Finale; Dolph counters and goes for a superkick, but Miz catches his leg.
- Miz slowly taunts the crowd with a yes chant, before striking Dolph with several kicks to the sternum.
- Dolph gets to his feet and knocks Miz off-balance with a series of strikes, before he ends up going shoulder-first into the ringpost.
- Dolph hits Miz with a Stinger Splash but his follow-up is countered, and Miz throws him shoulder-first into the ringpost again.
- A pair of dropkicks to Dolph in the corner, then a clothesline, but when Miz jumps off the turnbuckle for another double axe-handle, Dolph meets him midway with a dropkick, and both men are down.
- Dolph goes for the Famouser, but Miz counters, sending Dolph into the ropes. Miz tries to lock in the full nelson again, but Dolph counters and hits a DDT for a two-count.
- Dolph signals for the superkick as Miz gets to his feet, but Miz steps out of the way, and Dolph sends him out of the ring with a clothesline instead.
- When we’re back from commercial, Dolph has Miz on the turnbuckle, and Miz goes for a sunset flip powerbomb, then turns it into a slingshot sitout powerbomb for a two-count.
- Miz tries to set up for the Figure Four leglock, but Dolph reverses and Miz makes a rope break before Dolph can properly lock anything in.
- “Let’s go Ziggler!” chants from the crowd.
- Dolph reverses the Skull-Crushing Finale into a rollup, then hits the Famouser, but Miz kicks out. JBL on commentary suggests that Ziggler is losing faith in himself, which is rather the whole point of his recent character arc, so I’m not sure that’s great commentary here.
- Dolph goes for the Zig Zag, but Miz holds onto the ropes and Maryse gets herself ejected from ringside trying to get involved. While Miz is so furious with the referee, Dolph goes for a rollup; Miz rolls through for another rollup.
- Dolph hits the Zig Zag, but Miz kicks out. Miz rolls out of the ring and grabs his title from the timekeeper’s area before trying to make his escape, and Dolph comes after him, sending him into the steel steps.
- Miz with the spray this time, hitting Dolph in the face while the referee is trying to return the title to the timekeeper’s area, then hits the Skull-Crushing Finale for a successful pin.
Dolph Ziggler is absolutely crushed, and the Miz rolls on the ramp clutching his Intercontinental title like nothing is more important to him.
MATCH: Randy Orton vs. Erick Rowan
Randy quickly makes his way down to the ring, to meet Rowan who is already there waiting for him.
- Randy goes almost immediately for the RKO, but meets a spinning powerslam from Rowan followed by a pair of elbow drops.
- Crowd chanting for Orton as Rowan gets in more offense with forearms and a headbutt, then a dropkick as Randy rebounds off the ropes.
- Randy going headfirst into the steel steps, then back into the ring. When Rowan follows, Randy catches him with a kick and then a DDT.
- Randy pounds the mat and hits an RKO, and it’s all over.
Randy starts to pose when the screen goes black and when the lights come back up, Rowan is gone, just his sheep mask remaining in the ring next to Randy. Bray is at ringside a moment later, clapping his hands and laughing at Randy.
Bray Wyatt reminds us, and Randy Orton, that he is a god, and a god can never die.
MATCH: Natalya & Carmella vs. Nikki Bella & Naomi
When we’re back from commercial, three of the four women are already in the ring, and only Naomi gets a full entrance. She embraces Nikki as she enters the ring, and the match gets quickly underway.
- Before the match can properly start, Natalya sends Naomi out of the ring with a knee.
- Nikki gets Natalya up in the fireman’s carry, but Carmella comes in to throw Nikki off-balance.
- Natalya tries to lock in the Sharpshooter, but Carmella grabs Nikki and drags her out of the ring. She’s not coming in for the save, though – she’s throwing Nikki into the barricade, and the bell rings.
I don’t even need to say it, do I? From bell to bell, that match was 31 seconds. Is this good enough?
Naomi boots Natalya in the ring, while Carmella puts a beating on Nikki Bella at ringside. Naomi comes after them to check on Nikki, and we cut away.
Backstage somewhere, AJ is polishing his title, and Charly Caruso comes out to ask him about his rivalry with John Cena and Dean Ambrose. AJ shows off his mad skills by telling us that by the dictionary definition of ‘rivalry’, he doesn’t actually have a rivalry with either of them because he’s already proven that he’s better than both of them and he has the title and they don’t. He explains that the reason why it’s a triple threat match is because everyone knows the only way that he’s losing the title is if he doesn’t have to actually get beaten himself.
MATCH: John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose
John Cena comes out to predictable “John Cena sucks” chants, and Dean gets a big pop.
- Dueling “let’s go Cena” “Cena sucks” chants as the two grapple in the early stages of the match.
- Go behind by Cena and a side headlock, then Cena gets Dean up in the fireman’s carry position, but Dean gets out and goes for a kick to the midsection to try to hit Dirty Deeds. Cena locks in the headlock again.
- Whip from Cena into the corner, but Dean gets out of the way as Cena comes after him, and Cena goes shoulder-first into the ringpost.
- Running bulldog from Ambrose, but Cena is able to kick out of the cover and lock in the STF. Ambrose makes a rope break.
- Cena out of the ring, and Dean goes for a suicide dive after him, taking both men to the floor and into the barricade.
- Cena is rolled back into the ring and Dean climbs up onto the turnbuckle, taking Cena down with a crossbody.
- Cena is able to roll through the cover and get Dean into the fireman’s carry then hits the Attitude Adjustment. Dean kicks out.
- Dean hits Dirty Deeds on Cena; Cena kicks out of Dirty Deeds, and honestly, I think it’s the first time I’ve seen anyone kick out of that move in months. I mean, it’s countered or reversed plenty, but I can’t remember when I last saw someone just kick out of it?
- While I’m lost in this reverie, Cena and Dean are trading strikes back and forth. Dean goes for the pendulum lariat, but Cena picks him up for the Attitude Adjustment. Dean reverses into a rollup for a – successful pin?
That honestly surprised me! I did not expect to see Dean Ambrose get a successful pin! It’s AJ Styles out of nowhere, though, flooring Cena as he is collapsed on the ramp confused about what just happened, and then hits Dean with a Pele Kick in the ring.
Daniel Bryan comes out and tells AJ that Dean was promised a one-on-one rematch and for a very terrifying second I’m afraid he’s going to say that’s happening right now – but no, it’s next Tuesday on SmackDown Live! Dean hits AJ with Dirty Deeds to punctuate the point anyway, then poses on the turnbuckle as we cut away.