WWE SmackDown Live for November 15, 2016
Watch: USA Network, Hulu, WWE Network on a one-month delay
Mohegan Sun Arena – Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Tonight, WWE comes to us from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for the 900th episode of SmackDown Live. Just days before his Intercontinental Championship defense against Sami Zayn at Survivor Series, Dolph Ziggler puts his title on the line against The Miz. Plus, The Undertaker returns for the first time since defeating Shane McMahon at WrestleMania and Edge hosts a special edition of the Cutting Edge. It’s shaping up to be a big show, so let’s dive right in.
Before the action, we get a video package highlighting some of the top moments in SmackDown history, and hyping the returns of both Edge and The Undertaker.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan briefly go over the schedule for tonight’s show before announcing that we’re going to kick things off with the latest installment in the feud between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler.
Intercontinental Championship Match: The Miz def. Dolph Ziggler (c)
Since the brand split in July, Ziggler has had a career resurgence, of sorts. He’s gone from toiling away in mid-card matches to delivering on all fronts, be it in the ring or on the microphone. The Miz, however, has been on fire all year and seems to bring out the very best in Ziggler, so I’m really looking forward to this one. In the early going, both competitors find themselves at a stalemate; neither being able to gain the upper hand. Miz focuses his attack on Ziggler’s left leg, but his plan backfires when he misses a corner clothesline and injures himself. From that point, there were plenty of nice callbacks, including one where Miz attempted to use the leverage of the ring ropes to his advantage; only this time, he was caught by the referee. Another nice callback came when Miz distracted the referee, allowing the Spirit Squad to come to ringside and interfere in the match. Continuing with his blatant mockery of Daniel Bryan, Miz hit a running knee strike, but Ziggler somehow managed to power out at two. Though Ziggler fought valiantly, interference from Maryse eventually came back to cost him the Intercontinental Championship. The latest installment in this rivalry was built upon counter-wrestling, as Ziggler and Miz have familiarized themselves with each other’s move sets through their recent battles. But the funny thing is, it looks like these two are done with each other just yet. The finish was rather sloppy, but that’s just one knock on an otherwise very good match.
Backstage, Alexa Bliss is shown talking to SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan. Bliss explains that her foot was on the ropes when Becky Lynch defeated her last week, but Bryan says that the referee’s decision is final. Bryan then informs Bliss that she will get a rematch if Team SmackDown wins at Survivor Series, but their conversation is soon interrupted by Natalya. Natalya spews a few motivational phrases that cause Bliss to storm off.
Kalisto def. Oney Lorcan
Well, this is certainly a pleasant surprise. Lorcan, for those who may not be familiar with him, has made sporadic appearances on NXT television as of late. Lorcan jumps Kalisto from the outset, using a number of power moves to his advantage. Kalisto makes a brief comeback and, despite whiffing a springboard kick, musters the strength to take control of the match and put things away with a Salida del Sol. A fine squash that didn’t overstay its welcome, even with a minor slip-up.
SmackDown‘s tag team division is shown backstage, preparing for their upcoming ten-on-ten elimination match this Sunday. During the segment, we get a King Booker cameo/diatribe that is interrupted by Team Blue’s resident fashion police, Breezango. Fun little comedy segment while it lasted.
Nikki Bella def. Carmella
Immediately, you get the feeling that this feud has become personal, as Carmella does John Cena’s “You can’t see me.” taunt. Carmella does a nice job of laying into Bella’s previously injured neck, even going so far as to play to the crowd whenever Nikki gets a chance to breathe. Just as things appeared to be reaching a crescendo, Charlotte, the RAW Women’s Champion appeared at ringside. At some point, Bella loses it and attacks Charlotte, at which point a brawl breaks out between all of the Team RAW and Team SmackDown members. The match itself was nothing memorable, but the brawl that ended it was fantastic. It really felt like all these women were going to war for their respective brands, although seeing Bayley as an invader was quite unusual.
The Usos, Breezango, The Hype Bros & American Alpha def. The Spirit Squad, The Headbangers, The Vaudevillains & The Ascension
What started out as a heavily one-sided affair in the favor of Team Survivor Series quickly spiraled into an all-out spotfest. Each team hit their signature maneuvers in rapid order. All but two teams ended up outside of the ring, at which point The Usos dove onto everyone. American Alpha picked up traction, hit the Grand Amplitude and that was all she wrote. In the end, we ended up with the very definition of a “fun” match.
Edge comes down to the ring for the Cutting Edge, accompanied by the familiar introduction of the “Rated-R soooooperstar,” from Tony Chimel. Edge introduces Team SmackDown, led by the captain and WWE World Champion AJ Styles. Edge tries to maintain decorum, but the members of Team Blue aren’t having any of that, and they get into an argument. Shane McMahon attempts to cool everyone down, saying that despite their differences, he knows they can come together and win this Sunday. This brings out The Undertaker, who stares McMahon dead in the face, stating that he’s here for two reasons. The first reason is that “WrestleMania will no longer define him…” and “SmackDown will always be his home.” That brings Taker to the other reason he’s here tonight. Taker says that they’ve no reason to fear failure at Survivor Series, but if they lose, they will be given a reason to fear “The Deadman.” Emotion and fear seeped through the screen here, and Undertaker’s constant contact with McMahon throughout this segment makes me think they may be rekindling that flame. A fantastic way to end the show, and the importance of the stakes at hand on Sunday have never felt more significant.
WWE SMACKDOWN LIVE FOR NOVEMBER 15, 2016
Goof - 7/10
SmackDown Live continues a string of successful, recent shows with one of its strongest to date since the brand split. Between the compact grudge match with Carmella and Nikki Bella, to the post-match brawl between both Survivor Series teams, to the spotty 16-man tag match, to the main event, there was something on this show for everyone. The Miz and Dolph Ziggler furthered their rivalry in a barn-burner of an opening match, with the former using every heel tactic in the book to reclaim his title. We also got an unexpected debut in the form of Oney Lorcan, and what appears to be a full-time return for The Undertaker for the time being. But, when it was all said and done, everything came together in a concise two-hour package that was true to form.