Welcome to SmackDown Live! We’re two weeks out from No Mercy now, and we open the show with Randy Orton’s music hitting and the Apex Predator himself slowly making his way to the ring. He’s wearing a shirt, which perpetually disappoints me, but the crowd doesn’t seem to mind that or the recent racism on Twitter (am I allowed to mention that?) as they break out in a “Randy!” chant. He takes the mic and explains that he understands Bray Wyatt a lot deeper than people might think; Bray Wyatt plays mind games with people because he is afraid of them.
Of course, Bray isn’t going to simply stand for that, and the lights go down and it’s storytime with Bray. Bray asks if Randy knows the story of Hansel and Gretel – well, of course he does, Bray has heard Randy tell the story to his kids, and isn’t that the most terrifying thing you’ve heard today? The reason he brings up Hansel and Gretel, though, is that he’s left a trail of breadcrumbs. Bray starts singing ‘he’s got the whole world in his hands’, and then the lights go up and Randy makes his way up the ramp, presumably to try and find where Bray is.
Mauro uses this to segue into the tale of the WWE World Championship – Dean wants to get his hands on AJ Styles, because he has a rematch tonight!
Backstage, Dean is talking to Charly Caruso, who asks him what he’s thinking. He replies ‘this is a PG show’, and I still have a little chill from the Bray Wyatt promo, but that made me smile a little.
MATCH: American Alpha, Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Ascension & The Usos
If we’re going to have more than half the division in a single match, I feel like they could have at least had the decency to include Breezango, but I’m not complaining. Much. We see a picture of Heath Slater proudly posing next to his new above-ground pool with his pretty blue title, and then the Usos make their way down to the ring with new gear and new music.
- Jason Jordan and Jimmy Uso start in the ring together; Jordan has Jimmy in a waistlock, then tags in Chad Gable.
- Gable makes the tag back to Jordan and the two work Jimmy, but Jimmy gets the upper hand against Jordan and whips him into the corner for a forearm.
- Jordan back in control with a double-leg takedown into an armbar.
- Jimmy able to make his way to the corner to make the tag to Jey, and then Jordan tags in Gable to hit double monkey flips on the Usos.
- Jey Uso with an armbar over the ropes on Gable, then outside the ring working Gable’s recently injured leg on the barricade.
- When we’re back, Viktor and Gable are in the ring together, and Viktor continues to work the leg.
- Tag made to Konnor, who holds Gable in place as he tags in Jimmy for more assault.
- Jimmy goes for a splash in the corner, but Gable is able to roll out of the way and scrambles to make the tag to Jordan. Viktor and Konnor both try to interfere to stop him, unsuccessfully, but they slow him down enough that Jimmy can stop him, and they pull Jordan off the apron just to rub it in.
- Rhyno flies off the apron to take them out, leaving Slater alone on the apron.
- Gable makes the hot tag to Slater as Jimmy tags in Jey. Slater knocks Jimmy off the apron, then takes out an interfering Viktor with a leg lariat.
- Swinging neckbreaker from Slater to Jey, but the pin is broken.
- Slater avoids a superkick and goes for a rollup, but Jey makes the tag to Jimmy and they attack Slater’s leg before locking in the arm-trap single-leg Boston crab, and Slater taps out.
The heels celebrate on the apron while the faces eye them off from the ring.
Cena is wandering about backstage, when Charly Caruso comes in to ask him about his plans going forward. Cena says whether the champ walks in to No Mercy phenomenal or unpredictable (and I appreciate that he chose ‘unpredictable’ as his adjective here), Cena is walking out having tied Ric Flair’s record.
The Wyatt Family video flashes onto the screen, and Randy Orton is in a dark locker room somewhere touching things like he’s a four year old child in a museum. The camera pans across to Erick Rowan in a mask with giant antlers, and we cut to black.
After commercial, Bray Wyatt is still creepily holding his hourglass and chuckling to himself.
MATCH: Natalya & Carmella vs. Naomi & Nikki Bella
Oh good, we get this match again! Carmella expresses her dissatisfaction that their match last week was so short, and I sort of agree, except that she claims that’s just what happens when Nikki gets in the ring with her.
- Carmella and Naomi start in the ring together, and Carmella pushes Naomi into the corner and then shows off her moonwalking talent.
- Naomi gets Carmella in the corner for the headscissors, then moonwalks around a bit herself.
- Nikki tags in and Carmella thrown out of the ring where she embraces Natalya and we cut to commercial.
- When we’re back, Natalya is in the ring posing, then steps out to hit a Michinoku Driver on Naomi on the outside. She throws her back into the ring for a two count.
- Armdrag by Naomi, then an attempt to make the tag, but Natalya picks her up and drags her back to her corner, making the tag to Carmella.
- Carmella shows off for Nikki, and Natalya gets in a kick to Naomi’s head behind the ref’s back. Carmella comes after her again, and Naomi counters into a small package, but Carmella kicks out.
- Carmella and Naomi in the corner and Carmella drags her by the hair to make the tag to Natalya, who hits a Northern Lights Suplex. Naomi kicks out at two.
- Quick roll-up by Naomi for a two-count, and then Natalya stops her making the tag to Nikki, dragging her to the opposite corner for knees to the midsection.
- Basement dropkick from Natalya for another two-count, and then Naomi rolls out of the way of the leg-drop that follows and crawls to tag in Nikki.
- Nikki ducks a clothesline, and comes back with a lariat of her own and a dropkick.
- A corner mount enzuigiri gets Nikki a two-count on Natalya, who then makes a quick tag to Carmella.
- Nikki picks Carmella up into the fireman’s carry, but she slips out, knocking Naomi off the apron.
- Carmella with a quick roll-up on Nikki, and it’s all over!
Eight minutes of action, including the ad break, which is basically infinitely better than last week! Carmella blows a kiss at Nikki from the apron as Nikki and Naomi commiserate about their defeat in the ring.
Randy is in that locker room where Bray Wyatt’s troubled teenage son has left graffiti everywhere – ‘there’s one way out, choose wisely’, and Randy has the choice between two labeled doors. One reading ‘I am a god’, which he goes for – a mutilated cardboard cutout of Randy stands behind it. The other reads ‘predator or prey’, and Randy hesitates and listens before opening it, cracking it slowly and peering through before closing it again and going back to the first door. The handle quivers as Randy goes for more exploring, and we cut away.
Maryse and the Intercontinental Champion, the Miz, make their way to the ring together, dolled up beautifully like this is an awards show or something. The ring is filled with paintings of the Miz, and he hoists his title on the turnbuckle while an absolutely disgusting amount of pyro goes off, and I’m just here for this.
Well; I’m totally here for this until Maryse announces that her husband is the most beautiful man alive. Guys, I respect you two as a couple, but Tyler Breeze tells me that your husband isn’t even the most beautiful man on the blue brand.
We get a video package about how awesome Miz is, before we’re back in the ring and Miz is looking absolutely fabulous as he despairs for the fact that he has never been treated like a true hometown hero in Cleveland. The Miz’s parents are here, and so are Dolph Ziggler’s parents, allegedly. This means that Miz insults Ziggler a little, and so Ziggler comes out because he cannot stand for this.
Miz says he’d be embarrassed if he was Dolph Ziggler, because Ziggler is like the warm-up guy that makes everyone happy before the real talent comes out but never actually does anything. Ziggler looks genuinely shaken by Miz, as he and his wife turn to leave, but before he can get too far, Ziggler yells out, “Mike?!” and Miz turns, astonished.
Ziggler is breathless and tearful as he screams at the Miz that this is all he has, but he can’t stop, because sometimes the things you love don’t love you back, and all people do is ask why he’s still doing it, why he bothers when things have gone so badly, but he just can’t stop himself. He asks for one final rematch, and the crowd starts chanting “one more time!”, before Ziggler finishes, softly, that he’s offering his career in exchange. He either walks out champion, or he walks out and doesn’t come back.
Miz accepts: No Mercy. Miz offers his title, Ziggler offers his career.
The Miz walks away and Ziggler looks down at the ground like he’s not quite sure if this is something he can really do.
Bray Wyatt says something cryptic about doors. I’d be so here for this story if it was anyone but Randy Orton.
Becky Lynch is making her way to the ring! Before she can get there, though, Alexa Bliss is out of nowhere beating her and screaming that she doesn’t deserve the title.
Next week, we’re getting a big Curt Hawkins announcement. How nice. I’ve been ignoring Curt Hawkins, honestly.
Randy Orton, still in the dark locker room of doom, is facing off with Bray Wyatt. He slowly puts on a sheep mask, and starts singing, “I’ve got the whole world in my hands”.
AJ Styles for a quick interview with Charly Caruso! He beat up John Cena, he beat up Dean Ambrose, and he has the title now. Last night, all eyes were on the presidential debate (because we like to keep things topical), but tonight, all eyes will be on him retaining his title.
MATCH: Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles – WWE World Championship Match
John Cena is on commentary for this match, and Mauro tells us this is a “pay-per-view worthy event”, and while I don’t exactly want to argue, I want to know why they keep putting these matches on weekly shows if they’re going to claim they’re PPV quality.
- Both men on the offensive, until Dean sends AJ over the top rope, then onto the announce table for a series of strikes. Cena reminds Dean that he’s not going to win from a count-out as Dean gets back in the ring. Good helping, Cena.
- When we’re back from commercial, Styles has Dean in a chinlock in the ring. Dean powers to his feet and fights out with strikes, before taking AJ down with a clothesline.
- Dean ducks a clothesline, before taking AJ down with a clothesline of his own. AJ into the corner, kicking Dean, then going for a crossbody.
- Dean catches him for a slam, for a two-count.
- Dean onto the turnbuckle, AJ rushes him and Dean jumps over him. Dean locks in a cloverleaf, and commentary is just as surprised as I am to see Dean lock in a submission, but AJ makes a rope break.
- Dean knocks AJ off the apron, then dives after him, before throwing him back into the ring. AJ rolls himself back out.
- Dean with another suicide dive after AJ, taking both men to their backs on the mat, and we cut to another commercial.
- Both men in the ring when we’re back, and Dean is struggling to put weight on his left leg, while AJ is laying in with more strikes.
- AJ locks in the Calf Crusher, and Dean struggles to make the ropes. Dean manages to get a few inches and AJ locks in harder, so Dean slaps himself in the face to keep his head in the game, then grabs AJ by the head and drives it into the mat to force him to break the hold.
- AJ on his feet kicking Dean in the bad leg, then goes for the Styles Clash, but Dean reverses into a back body drop.
- Swinging neckbreaker from Ambrose, then more strikes back and forth.
- “Let’s go Ambrose” chants as there’s more power moves from both men.
- AJ against the ropes, then creates space and hits a Pele Kick on Dean, then goes for the Springboard 450 – Dean rolls out of the way and takes himself to the top rope for a diving elbow drop, but AJ kicks out.
- Dean out of the ring, and AJ follows him out, but stops to attack John Cena before throwing Dean back in the ring.
- AJ goes for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Dean rolls out of the way and grabs AJ for a roll-up. AJ kicks out, then Dean jumps out of the ring to attack Cena as well. He climbs back in straight into a roll-up from AJ, AJ with a big handful of Dean’s jeans, and AJ retains!
Cena jumps into the ring as soon as the match is over, and ends up standing tall over both men, hoisting the championship above his head.
Less than two weeks out from No Mercy, and we’ll see you next week to see how this all shakes out!