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WWE Smack Down Live Review 12-20-16

WWE Smack Down Live Review
Detroit, Michigan

AJ Styles (WWE World Champion) Vs James Ellsworth

Smack Down immediately starts with AJ Styles coming down to the ring with a huge pop from the crowd. The heel champion has been getting quite a lot of love from the crowd, despite his dastardly ways. Next comes out James Ellsworth, who surprisingly has three wins over AJ. If you’ve been watching the past few weeks, you know Ellsworth had some help from Dean Ambrose in getting those wins. The bell rings and AJ Styles makes quick work of Ellsworth, who is only able to get off one attempt at his no chin music kick. AJ deftly catches Ellsworth kick, and counters with his three hit combo, and then levels Elssworth with a elbow strike to the head. Ellsworth falls to the ground sprawled out, and AJ pins him for the three count. Looking completely unimpressed AJ proceeds to decimate Ellsworth outside of the ring. At one point he even beats Ellsworth under the ring, and catapults him into the beams underneath the ring, to the crowds delight. AJ then gets on the mic, and says that beat down had been building up for 6 weeks, and that now he can move on to more important things this year. Styles then proceeds to gloat about the great year he has had, and runs down his list of accomplishments, before being interrupted by Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler then reminds AJ that he’s next up in line for a title shot. The two men trade barbs, until Baron Corbin comes out and challenges Ziggler for the number one spot. Claiming that he had beaten Dolph multiple times, and also claiming Ziggler stole his spot in his absence. While still cutting his promo, Corbin hits Ziggler with a short jab, while the crowd begins to chant one more time. AJ Styles simply walks away during the argument between Baron and Ziggler, and watches from the top of the ramp till the fade to commercial.

Backstage Segment

Daniel Bryan is pleading with Dolph Ziggler to not let Baron Corbin get under his skin. Ziggler demands a match against Corbin anyway. Bryan then says he will let him have his match, but adds that if Corbin wins, he will also win Dolph’s spot as the number one contender. Ziggler agrees anyway, once again showing that he would rather have a fight, than just a shot at the championship.

The Miz (Intercontinental Champion) Vs Apollo Crews

Miz comes down to the ring with Maryse, as they show footage from last weeks Tribute to the Troops show. Miz lost to Apollo during the broadcast, and had some help from comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesisas. Sadly tonight’s match starts off with Crews already in the ring, as Miz and his wife come down. The match starts off quickly, and while Crews in one heck of an athletic talent, he still lacks character, motivation, and any semblance of a story. Apollo does put on quite a performance tonight though, and has a very entertaining match against Miz, with several very near pin falls. Maryse eventually climbs the ring apron, and before she can try to interfere the referee catches her, and banishes her from ring side. Apollo nearly wins the IC title after catching Miz in the air, and hitting him with a German suplex. Miz kicks out, and counters by poking Crews in the eye, before hitting him with the Skull Crushing finale for the win. After the match Renee Young comes out to interview Miz, and asks him about his ongoing feud with Dean Ambrose. Miz in his typical smart mouth fashion says perhaps she is the one obsessed with Ambrose, since she is the one sleeping with him. Renee looks shocked at first before slapping Miz in the face and storming from the ring.

Before heading to commercial break, we’re shown footage of Zack Ryder’s knee injury from last weeks show. Ryder injured his knee during the Hype Bros match when the earned the number one spot for the Tag Team Championships. Due to the injury though we learn, that next there will be a four way Tag Team elimination match, between The Usos, American Alpha, Heath Slater and Rhyno, and the current champions the Wyatt Family. While I’m not a fan of the Hype Bros, I do like Zack Ryder, and it’s sad to see another opportunity blown for the long Island native. I hope Ryder is ale to make a full and speedy recovery, and return to action in the ring soon.

Natalya marches down to the ring looking determined. She comes out and grabs a mic, as we roll into the commercial. Upon return Natalya says she’s tired of the rumor mill going, and asks for Nikki to come down to the ring. No sooner than Nikki Bella comes out, Carmella’s music plays, and she comes down and injects herself once again in the middle of Natalya and Nikki’s situation. Carmella impresses once again with her skills on the mic. She once again verbally attacks both Nikki and Natalya, before Natalya cracks and says she said that stuff to Carmella in confidence. Natalya chases Carmella up the ring, where she catches her, and throws her into the Christmas decorations on the stage. Natalya then turns around and cuts a promo against Nikki saying she and her sister are only famous because of their looks, and not their wrestling skills or personality. Natalya even calls Nikki the B word twice during her rant, and ends it with a personal jab, saying that’s why John Cena will never marry Nikki Bella. Nikki pretty much glares from the ring, as Natalya walks away. The WWE has been working this heel turn from Natalya since before the brand split. The first attempt came across half hearted, and with no rhyme or reason, when she turned on Becky Lynch earlier in the year. This particular recent run has been a little more plotted out though, and with a decent storyline attached to it now, feels more authentic. I look forward to more heel antics from Natalya as we head into 2017.

Daniel Bryan is shown backstage, talking on his phone once again, when Alexa Bliss limps over., still faking her leg injury from last week. Bryan lets Bliss know that next week she will be defending her title against Becky Lynch. Bliss complains that he should not be putting his injured champ into the ring so soon. Bryan goes on to say she will compete or she will forfeit her title. He then goes on to tell her, that she will also be competing tonight against a new opponent. After some choice words, Alexa storms off, and Bryan mentions how her leg seems to be much better already.

Dean Ambrose Vs Luke Harper

Ambrose comes out first for his match against The Wyatt Family’s Luke Harper, who lost his shot at the WWE World Championship last week, at the hands of Dean Ambrose. As the bell rings and both men jump into action, I can’t help but wonder how do they wrestle in jeans? I’ve always wondered that about Ambrose in particular, as he wears tighter jeans than Harper. Anyway I digress. Harper once again puts on quite a show, surprisingly agile for a man his size. Harper dominates the majority of the match up, before a late rally from Ambrose. Harper quickly gets the upper hand again, and hits Ambrose with every power move in his arsenal. Ambrose kicks each time though, showing his resilience, and gets the pin against Harper with a slick roll up. The rest of the Wyatt family then hits the ring, and continues the beat down Harper started, before Randy Orton ends it with an RKO. The Wyatts disappear in one of their magic blackout moments. When the lights come to Ambrose still lays in the ring, struggling to get up, when The Miz’s music hits. Miz comes down the ramp quickly, and before Ambrose can even get up, Miz hits him with his finishing move. As Ambrose lays knocked out once again, Miz and his wife Maryse kiss over his prone body. While Ambrose is no longer champ, it looks like he is still going to have quite a busy feud filled 2017.

Alexa Bliss (Smack Down Women’s Champion) Vs La Luchadora

Alexa Bliss comes down to the ring to face her mystery opponent. In the ring is a masked woman the announcers are calling La Luchadora from Guadalajara Mexico. You can’t help but notice, La Luchadora’s wrestling gear looks hastily put together. Pink mask, white boots, and a blue and red full body suit make quite the site. The match begins, and La Luchadora begins a bit of a wrestling clinic on Alexa Bliss. Showing impressive mat skills, La Luchadora has a counter for everything Alexa throws her way. In quick manner La Luchadora is able to out wrestle the diminutive champ, and apply the disarmer submission move, causing Alexa Bliss to tap out. The crowd pops harder than they have all night, with chants of “Si” a la Daniel Brayan’s “YES” chants, as la Luchadora runs around the ring side in celebration. The masked woman gives high fives all around, before re-entering the ring. She then removes her mask to reveal that it was former champion Becky Lynch the whole time. Bliss’s face shows a mixture of shock and revulsion, as she realizes that she could suffer the same fate next week.

Screen cuts to actor Ryan Philippe as he walks around backstage asking various people if they have seen Randy Orton. He runs into Mojo Rawley, and two begin to talk, when Curt Hawkins literally pops up from below screen. He and Mojo then trade some verbal jabs, setting up a match between the two for later on tonight.

Mojo Rawley Vs Curt Hawkins

Nice to see Hawkins get some screen time tonight. Haven’t seen much of him since his debut. Ryan Philippe sits ring side at the announcers table, and Mojo comes over and the two high five. The match starts fast, and Hawkins is able to put in some good offense early on. Mojo Rawley perseveres though, and Hawkins is dispatched with a wild right hand lariat. Mojo then invites Ryan Philippe into the ring to celebrate is victory. This is a very obvious commercial plug for the TV show “Shooter” that comes on immediately after Smack Down Live. See, I just did it too. So yeah that match happened. Side note, poor Curt Hawkins. Not only did he have to be in this match, but Mauro Ranallo even got his name wrong. Now mistakes happen, but from then on it became a running gag through the rest of the commentary. I’m sure the guys just thought it was funny, but it undermines future credibility for the wrestler. For casual fans watching at home, it makes Hawkins even more forgettable. After some very funny promo videos, and impressive Indy background resume, I had good expectations from Hawkins. This is also his second run in the WWE after a lengthy departure. I hope his character is given some good story lines for 2017, and pushed better, to give the under rated Curt Hawkins a shot.

Backstage interviewer stands by to get a word from the injured James Ellsworth. Ellsworth is escorted from the trainer’s room, both arms bandaged, and wearing medical boots on each of his feet. With his head and jaw wrapped Ellsworth is clearly in position to try and answer any questions. Obliviously the interviewer begins to throw question after question at him. James Ellsworth dutifully replies to each question in unintelligible grunts and groans. Just as the interview reaches it’s crescendo of idiocy, Carmella comes to Ellsworth rescue. She justifiably shoo’s the interviewer away, and escorts Ellsworth away promising to take care of him. Wonder where this one is going?

Dolph Ziggler Vs Baron Corbin

Ziggler has once again, allowed another superstar to goad him into an unnecessary situation, and tonight’s match is now a number one contenders match for the WWE World Title. As Dolph and Baron square up, AJ’s music hits, and he comes to the ring to sit at the announcer’s table to watch the match. Ziggler jumps fist first into the match, and the two put on a decent ending to tonight’s up and down show. Ziggler does a good job at selling Baron’s power, and does not expose Corbin’s lack of wrestling experience. At times the match feels like it’s trying to build up to something, but since Baron has a lack of maneuvers, it falls flat. What should be a wrestling match remains primarily a fist fight, with a few drop kicks, and holds thrown in for good measure. Corbin does great work outside of the ring though, and as the match spills outside things start to build back up. Corbin dominates most of the match before a late rally from Ziggler. From there the two trade near pin falls before the fight spills back outside again. As the referee counts to ten, Baron and Dolph slug it out, until Baron throws Ziggler into AJ Styles, knocking both men to the ground. Ziggler and Baron continue to brawl as the ref calls for the bell after reaching the end of his count. AJ comes out swinging a chair, and beats both men to the ground with repeated shots. As AJ stands over the two spent men, Daniel Bryan comes out, and after berating all three wrestlers, he announces that they will be in a triple threat match against each other next week for the WWE world championship.

After an abysmal episode of Raw Monday night, my expectations for Smack Down tonight were very high. Maybe a little to high. I’m not sure if everyone is just ready to take a break for the holidays, or if it’s because a lot of the wrestlers stories are in transition, but tonight’s show seemed a bit stale. With a few comedic highlights, and the great opening, where AJ beat down the delusional James Ellsworth, little else got the crowd going. Don’t get me wrong this was still, miles away from the snore fest that RAW has turned into, but this is a C episode at best, and arguably a D. I hope everyone is able to recharge during break, and come back next week ready to roll. I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy Smack Down, and would hate to see it deteriorate.

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