WWE SmackDown Live for 12/6/16
Watch: USA Network, Hulu, WWE Network on a one-month delay
Houston Toyota Center – Houston, Texas
After retaining the WWE World Championship in a grueling Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match against Dean Ambrose this past Sunday, thanks to interference from James Ellsworth, AJ Styles defends his title against SmackDown Live‘s perennial underdog in tonight’s main event. Plus, the SmackDown Tag Team champions, Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt are in action, as they defend their newly-won titles against the former champions, Heath Slater and Rhyno. How will things shake down in a post-TLC world? Read on and find out.
We open with a recap of the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs WWE World Championship match between AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose, as well as James Ellsworth’s subsequent appearance on Talking Smack.
AJ Styles is out to kick things off with a promo. He boasts about his victory over Dean Ambrose on Sunday before mentioning that he is not medically cleared to compete in tonight’s main event. This brings out James Ellsworth, who questions the legitimacy of Styles’ injury, pondering whether the SmackDown General Manager, Daniel Bryan, is trying to protect him. Styles is quick to dispute Ellsworth’s claims, nothing that the only reason he’s been a success in WWE is Dean Ambrose. Afterwards, Ambrose comes out and hits the Dirty Deeds on Ellsworth. Standard opening segment that got its message across in breaking the news that Styles wouldn’t be competing in tonight’s main event and allowed Ambrose to get his comeuppance for what happened on Sunday.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton) (c) def. Heath Slater & Rhyno
The Wyatts control things early on, working over Rhyno for a bit. Once Rhyno makes the tag to Slater, though, the Wyatts’ momentum is stunted. Since he began teaming with Rhyno earlier this year, Slater has flourished as a babyface. Although he and Rhyno have cooled off since Backlash, which is partially due to a lack of screen time, they always impress in their sporadic TV appearances. Sure, the “I’ve got kids” gimmick is a little goofy, but it works in Slater’s favor. Slater fights valiantly, warding off The Wyatt Family’s members one by one, but he eventually succumbs to an RKO from Orton. I’m digging Orton’s dynamic with The Wyatts at the moment, especially with Harper’s unspoken animosity. They needed the win here to solidify their victory on Sunday and further establish their dominance over the SmackDown tag team division.
Backstage, Dasha Fuentes inquired about Kalisto’s request for a rematch against Baron Corbin later tonight. Kalisto said that his match at Corbin at TLC felt like “a car wreck,” but he had one advantage, and “speed kills.”
Carmella vs. Natalya went to a double count-out
After her loss to Nikki Bella at TLC, Carmella grabbed a microphone and revealed that her opponent tonight, Natalya, was the one who attacked Bella at Survivor Series. Before the match, Carmella cut a quick promo, recapping Sunday’s events, calling Natalya jealous. A brawl immediately broke out, and Natalya chased Carmella to the back, where she encountered Bella. More of an extended segment than an actual match.
Dasha Fuentes interviews Baron Corbin backstage. Corbin says Kalisto is like everyone else who has stepped in the ring with him and tonight, he will fall like the other “mosquitoes.”
The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) def. The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor)
We get brief in-set promos from both teams, with the Ascension claiming that they are “the comets and the Hype Bros are dinosaurs.” The Hype Bros, however, have fewer wacky remarks, as their primary focus is now on capturing the SmackDown Tag Team Championship. This was mostly a showcase designed to allow The Hype Bros to pick up momentum, although The Ascension dominated Ryder for the majority of the match. The Ascension and The Hype Bros made the most of the time they were given, weaving in a couple of nice teases and near-falls, which I enjoyed.
It’s time for Miz TV with Dean Ambrose. Ambrose comes out, continuing to take credit for James Ellsworth’s success. Miz remarks that Ambrose has every right to be angry, and presents him with the first Miz Participation Award to thunderous chants of “You deserve it!” Before a scuffle can break out, Daniel Bryan comes out and announces that Miz will defend the Intercontinental title against Ambrose in tonight’s main event. Miz came off as an excellent smarmy heel here, particularly in the opening moments of the segment where he snidely asked the crowd: “What, no ‘you deserve it’ chants?”
Baron Corbin def. Kalisto
Corbin and Kalisto have developed a good big man/little man formula during their short feud, and it’s working for them thus far. Corbin uses his size to his advantage, whereas Kalisto uses his agility. They manage to work in a few new spots, including a moonsault to the outside while maintaining the idea that they have each other well-scouted thanks to their past encounters. I’d have liked this to go a bit longer, but it was a good, compact match with some slick counters.
Backstage, Nikki Bella is joined by Sophia Grace, and they briefly speak about Grace’s upcoming album.
Chad Gable def. Tyler Breeze
Well, it sure was fun to watch Gable throw Breeze around for a few minutes. Gable maintained control for the majority of the match, but Breeze was occasionally able to mount some offense. In the end, Breeze failed to capitalize when it mattered most and he fell victim to a Chaos Theory suplex. I wouldn’t mind seeing a rematch between these two at some point, or a rematch between American Alpha and Breezango, for that matter.
Next, we got Alexa Bliss’ SmackDown Women’s Championship title celebration. Bliss begins to go on a tirade about her victory at TLC, but Becky Lynch is having none of it. Lynch does a great job of expressing her displeasure with not getting the job done on Sunday and vows to knock Bliss off her throne. Lynch then requests a rematch, but Bliss simply walks away. While far from the best mic work we’ve seen from Bliss and Lynch, this segment effectively set up a rematch between the two, without blowing off the inevitable, all-out brawl too soon.
Intercontinental Championship Match: The Miz (c) def. Dean Ambrose
Things start off with some really smooth counter-wrestling, with neither competitor being able to gain the upper hand. From there, The Miz methodically goes to work on Ambrose’s right leg, continuing to imitate Daniel Bryan in the process. The crowd, firmly behind Ambrose, reacts appropriately to Miz’s villainous tendencies. At this point, the match begins to pick up quite nicely, with an impressive string of counters and near-falls. Despite his best intentions, the appearance of James Ellsworth at ringside would allow The Miz to roll up Ambrose. Up to Ellsworth’s interference, this was shaping up to be a very good match. At the same time, the finish makes sense within the context of Miz retaining his title at all cost, and Ellsworth being in the right place at the wrong time. All things considered, Miz and Ambrose produced a good main event.
WWE SMACKDOWN LIVE FOR 12/6/16
Good - 7.0/10
This week's edition of SmackDown Live provided a clear direction for the future, setting up rematches from TLC, furthering storylines, and giving new challengers momentum. We got three quality matches, with the others being to-the-point encounters that effectively furthered storylines and/or feuds. The blue brand continues full-steam ahead, and it doesn't look like they plan on stopping anytime soon.