Written by: Scrooge McSuck
– Presented live on the WWE Network on October 9th, 2016, from the brand-spanking-new Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, CA, with Mauro Ranallo, John “Bradshaw” Layfield, and David Otunga calling the action, unless otherwise noted. The Kickoff Show featured an 8-Man Tag with American Alpha and the Hype Bros going over the Vaudevillains and the Ascension. Hopefully they’ll push forward with the American Alpha push now that the fire is dying out for the Heath Slater and Rhyno Cinderella story.
WWE World Championship Match:
A.J. Styles (c) vs. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose:
No, that isn’t a typo. The Main Event is going on first (and this IS the Main Event). I guess it was a counter-programming decision because of MLB Playoffs, Sunday Night Football, and the Presidential Debate, but this is a PAID FOR SERVICE. ON DEMAND ARCHIVES. I don’t have to say more than that. Cena is chasing Championship #16 to “tie” the record of Ric Flair. Everyone teases their finisher before we get a triple clothesline spot. Ambrose sends Styles to the floor with a basement dropkick and leg sweeps Cena into the barricade. Cena catches Ambrose off the apron and rams his back into the over-sized ring post. Styles with a version of the Phenomenal Forearm to a distracted Cena. Styles and Ambrose fight over a suplex until Cena joins in for a double German Suplex. Cena counters a Styles Clash with a slingshot to the corner and follows with a twirling neck breaker for two. Styles counters the AA with the Pele Kick. Ambrose sneaks back in with a sunset flip for two. Styles springs off the ropes and catches both Cena and Ambrose with a DDT for a set of near falls. Cena with a Gord Buster on Styles, followed by the Code Red for two. Styles with the torture rack into a Powerbomb for two. Ambrose wakes up from his coma for a game of “let’s trade sleeper holds.” Cena crushes Styles in the corner to get Ambrose off his back and its time for the Five Moves of Doom. Styles interrupts with a German Suplex and face-buster for two. Cena resumes the 5MOD on Styles, but Ambrose interrupts this time with the flying elbow for two. Styles with a Frankensteiner, but Ambrose rolls through with a sunset flip for two. Styles with a victory roll for two. They take each other out with a clothesline, and Cena comes in with a double Five-Knuckle Shuffle. AA to Styles, but he rolls to the floor. AA to Ambrose for two.
Styles with a brain buster onto the end of the ring apron. Springboard 450 splash on Ambrose for two. Ambrose avoids the Phenomenal Forearm, but Styles recovers to hit the Styles Clash. Cena interrupts the pin attempt and slaps on the STF, but Ambrose won’t let Styles tap and breaks the hold. Cena goes for a Double AA, but Styles lays him out with an enzuigiri, and Ambrose lays out Styles with the Lunatic Lariat. Cena with a running Liger-Bomb to Ambrose for two. He catches Styles going for a cross body, but Styles counters the AA with the Calf Crusher. Ambrose breaks the hold and puts Styles in the Calf Crusher. Cena comes in to apply the STF, and Styles taps out… but the referee rules the match must continue since two men can’t submit one (except when Zayn and Samoa Joe did it to Baron Corbin in NXT). Cena and Ambrose slug it out. Ambrose goes for the Lariat, but Cena counters. Ambrose counters the AA with Dirty Deeds, but Styles pulls the referee out. Ambrose with tope suicida, knocking Styles over the announcer’s table. Cena catches Ambrose making a slow climb and hits the Super-AA. Styles returns with a chair in hand, whacks Cena with it, and covers to retain at 21:15. **** Outstanding match to open the show, with non-stop action, great spots, and smooth transitions to keep things one-on-one at times and leaving the door open for the third man to bide his time and take advantage at a moment’s notice.
Final Thoughts: For a one match show, this was fantastic… oh wait, I already forgot, the show has only begun and has 2 hours left. Just like the WWE World Title Match, THE REVIEW MUST CONTINUE!
Nikki Bella vs. Carmella:
These two have been at each other’s throat since the day after SummerSlam. Nikki is sporting a new-look… kind of. She’s traded in the booty shorts for even shorter booty JORTS. Maybe someone found the old stock of A.J.’s and shrunk them in the wash. At least Carmella is getting some reactions since bombing as a babyface. Carmella tries to hide, but Nikki throws her by the hair and gives her receipt for the slap to start the match. Nikki with a baseball slide, but Carmella recovers and sends her into the LED board side of the ring. Carmella with a bow-and-arrow, using the ring post. Back inside, Carmella with elbows and a chin-lock as Mauro desperately tries to mention Carmella’s father without calling him a scrub. Bronco Buster gets a two count. Nikki fights out of another chin-lock, but gets sent to the corner. Nikki counters another Bronco Buster attempt with a weak looking spear. Nikki with dropkicks, diving clothesline, and springboard kick for a near fall. Carmella blocks the TKO, so Nikki hits her with the “Bella Buster” (X-Factor) for two. Small package for another two count. Carmella with the flat-liner into the Code of Silence, but Nikki muscles up to her feet. Nikki with the big forearm. Carmella goes for the Code of Silence again, but Nikki makes it to the ropes. Carmella freaks out and pounds away. Nikki counters the X-Factor, and the TKO (now called the Rack Attack 2.0) for three at 8:05. ** This was better than I expected, but I wasn’t expecting much to begin with. Maybe now Nikki can keep living the life… FEARLESSLY.
– The Miz confronts Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon backstage about renegotiating his contract once Dolph Ziggler’s contract is off the books.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
Heath Slater & Rhyno (c) vs. The Usos:
The Usos won the contenders spot against the less than 100% American Alpha. Since winning the titles, Rhyno and Slater have mostly been featured on Main Event, so they’re due to lose the belts I guess. They gave us the happy ending, so that’s really all that matters. As I type that, I notice the Usos didn’t get an entrance. I also refuse to call the Champions “Beauty and the Man-Beast.” Rhyno and Jimmy start. Rhyno with a side headlock and shoulder tackle. Jimmy’s hip toss attempt is blocked and Rhyno pounds away in the corner. Whip to the ropes and the champs with a double elbow. Slater with a diving forearm into the corner as a “He’s Got Kids” chant breaks out. Jimmy surprises Slater with an uppercut and Jey take exception to the chant (“I got kids, too!”). Jey with a scoop slam and back suplex for two. Slater counters another suplex attempt and tags out. Rhyno with elbows to Jimmy, followed by a charging clothesline. Shoulder charge to the midsection and a belly-to-belly suplex. Rhyno sets up for the Gore, but Jey with a distraction, allowing Jimmy to surprise Rhyno with a running dropkick. Jey with the running hip attack for two. Rhyno fights out of a chin-lock, but gets pulled down with a handful of hair. Jey pounds away, with Rhyno asking for more. Rhyno gets an elbow up in the corner and connects with a spine-buster. Hot tag to Slater (still can’t believe I’m typing that). He knocks Jimmy off the apron and comes off the ropes with a running high knee. Jumping leg lariat to Jimmy and a hangman’s neck breaker to Jey for two. Slater counters a Samoan drop with a roll up for two. Whip to the ropes and the Samoan drop works on the second attempt for two. Rhyno breaks up a double team attempt and gets hit with a baseball slide for it. Jimmy to the top, but Slater recovers and takes him over with a Power-Slam for two. Jimmy with the Super-Kick with GUSTO. Jey with the jumping kick to the back of the knee. Rhyno with the GORE on the floor to Jimmy. Back inside, Rhyno bulldozes Jey to break up the Tequila Sunrise. Rhyno tags back in legally, and the GORE~! finishes at 10:17. The Cinderella story continues! **3/4 Another solid match, but I feel like this was the time to finally move the titles onto the Usos for the big feud with American Alpha.
Jack Swagger vs. Baron Corbin:
Last week on Smackdown, Swagger made Corbin tap out, but it wasn’t quite a tap out, just the referee being a moron. With the need for fresh talent, it’s kind of funny that they’re (trying) to resurrect Swagger after pulling a miracle off with Heath Slater. Slugfest to start. Swagger reverses a whip to the corner, avoids the in-and-out sprint, and sends him back to the floor with a clothesline. Swagger follows, sending him into the barricade and slamming him face-first onto the table. Corbin sends Swagger into the steps and sandwiches his hand between the steps and the post. Back inside, Corbin continues to work on the hand, wrapping it around the ropes and stepping on it. Swagger with strikes, but Corbin cuts off the comeback and shoulder tackles him into the corner. Corbin charges into the corner and gets dropped face-first onto the ring post in a bad looking spot. Swagger avoids another charge and follows into the corner with a pair of clotheslines. Swagger with a Power-Slam and Swagger-Bomb for two. Swagger goes for the Patriot Lock, but his hand is hurting him too much. Swagger with the Deep-Six for a near fall. Swagger with a lariat for another two count. He goes for the Patriot Lock again, but Corbin makes it to the ropes. He thumbs Swagger in the eyes and the End of Days finishes at 7:30. *1/2 Nothing pretty, but the work was alright minus the ring post spot and at least came across as different from everything else on the show.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match:
The Miz (c) (w/ Maryse) vs. Dolph Ziggler:
With the WWE World Title Match going on first, this logical should be ending the show, considering the hype it has received and the fact that if Ziggler loses, his WWE career is over. The TV Guide previews even suggest he’s losing, urging fans to watch to see Ziggler’s farewell. Ziggler immediately goes for a Super-Kick and rolls Miz up for two. Leaping lariat for two. Miz catches a dropkick and slingshots him over the top rope, but Ziggler quickly re-enters the ring, connects with a dropkick, and sends Miz to the floor on the opposite side with a clothesline. Back inside and Ziggler with another dropkick. Miz reverses a whip to the corner, sending Dolph chest first to the buckle for two. Dolph fights out of a butterfly lock, but runs into a clothesline. Miz with a boot to the face for two. Miz with a slingshot beneath the bottom rope and teases a surfboard to mock Daniel Bryan. Miz blocks a Super-Kick and hits the back breaker/neck breaker combo for two. Miz charges into the corner with a trio of dropkicks. He lines up one more time and Ziggler surprises him with his own dropkick. Ziggler comes off the ropes with a pair of clotheslines, followed by the stinger splash, swinging neck breaker, and elbow drop for two. Miz tries a springboard Power-Bomb, but Ziggler cradles for two.
Miz with a boot to the head and roll up, with feet on the ropes, for a near fall. Miz meets the post on a charge and Ziggler rolls him up for two. Miz reverses into his own roll up and hooks the tights for two. DDT for another two count. Miz works on the knee, but Ziggler escapes a Figure-Four attempt. Miz wraps the left leg in the ropes and hits a dropkick across the knee. Back to the center of the ring, Miz goes for the Figure-Four again, but Dolph cradles him for two. Miz with the Awesome Clothesline, but a trip to the top rope is interrupted. Miz fights Dolph off and after a series of counters, Miz finally hooks the Figure-Four. Dolph reaches for the ropes, but Miz pulls him back towards the center of the ring. Dolph finally makes it to the ropes to force a break. Maryse with a distraction, buying Miz time to remove a turnbuckle pad. Ziggler with the Rough Ryder from out of nowhere for two. Miz counters the Zig Zag, sends Dolph into the exposed turnbuckle, and hits the slingshot Power-Bomb for a near fall. Miz with the “YES!” Kicks. Dolph ducks under the roundhouse and hits the Zig Zag for two. Miz blocks the Super-Kick. Dolph counters the Skull Crushing Finale into a roll up and hooks a sleeper, but Miz lunges for the ropes to force a break. Maryse with the hair spray to the eyes and Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale, but Dolph gets a foot on the ropes at two! Miz pounds away at the boot of Dolph and pulls the boot off. Dolph surprises him with the bare-foot Super-Kick and makes the slow crawl into the cover, but the Spirit Squad show up to distract the referee. Dolph with a Super-Kick to Mikey, but this allows Miz to hit the Skull Crushing Finale for a second time, but Dolph kicks out at two! The referee ejects everyone from ringside during the fracas. Miz turns around, eats the Super-Kick, and Dolph wins the Championship and remains a WWE Superstar at 19:42. ****1/4 After months of indifference, the crowd really bought into Ziggler and all the near falls, on the edge of their seats with every pin attempt that has previously won the Miz matches. Well worked match from bell to bell and one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from the Miz. His expression of being on the verge of tears is just icing on the cake.
Final Thoughts: What a perfect way to end the show, with Dolph Ziggler being triumphant in his win or go home match and what might be the best match the Miz has ever had in his career. Couple this with the outstanding opening with the WWE World Title… wait… there’s MORE? SERIOUSLY, who the hell structured the format of this Network Special?!
Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss:
This was originally supposed to be Becky Lynch defending against Alexa Bliss, but Becky is out due to a non-wrestling related medical issue, so the match is rescheduled for November 8th in Glasgow, Scotland. Interesting choice for location. Naomi grabs a headlock. Alexa counters and comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Alexa rides the back of Naomi and stomps her face-first into the canvas. Naomi comes back with the jumping in place kicks, followed by a roundhouse. Split-legged moonsault gets a two count. Bliss blocks a whip to the corner and lands a vicious forearm. Bliss counters a springboard from the apron and sweeps the legs. Crowd chants “We Want Becky” as stuff continues to happen. Alexa grabs an arm-bar. Naomi comes back with a jaw breaker and jumping heel kick. Whip to the ropes and the Rear View barely makes contact for a near fall. Bliss counters something off the ropes and goes for a cross armbreaker, but Naomi counters into a roll up and gets the three count at 5:25 * Just a match and it was kept short, so I can’t complain about the quality. Situations like this is what exposes the problem with the split. 6 women for a roster is enough, but an injury is far more devastating than ever before, so now we’re down to 2 babyface females on Smackdown and they have to give Naomi wins with Becky out. That and the “babyface goes over in a substitute situation” rule, I guess.
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt:
After weeks of mind games and a bait-and-switch last month at Backlash, we’re finally getting the one-on-one battle between Orton and the Eater of Worlds. How professional of them to lockup like this is a normal match. Wyatt tries freaking Orton out. Orton goes for the RKO, but Wyatt escapes the floor, laughing. Orton resumes control of the match with the Garvin stomp and mounted punches. Wyatt goes for Sister Abigail, but Orton counters. Wyatt escapes a draping DDT attempt and pounds away at Orton on the arena floor. Orton tries an RKO on the floor, but takes a comical bump over the table and wipes out the chairs. Wyatt tries to rearrange furniture, but Orton lays him out with clotheslines. Wyatt meets Orton on the apron, sending him flying into the security wall. I hope that wall gets paid extra for the excessive use. Back inside, Wyatt with a short clothesline and running senton for two. Orton fights out of a chin-lock with a series of rights. Wyatt cuts off the comeback with an uppercut. They take it to the apron, with Wyatt planting Orton with a DDT. Whip to the ropes and Wyatt with another clothesline for two. Wyatt with a slam. He makes a trip to the second rope and misses a senton. Orton makes his comeback and hits the snap Power-Slam on the second try for a near fall. Wyatt avoids the draping DDT again and hits a mid-ring dive for a two count. Orton blocks the uranage. Wyatt counters the RKO, and Orton counters Sister Abigail for two. Wyatt with the uranage for another two count. Wyatt sends Orton to the floor and misses a senton on the ring steps. Back inside, Orton hits the draping DDT and sets up for the RKO, but lights flicker, Luke Harper shows up, and Wyatt hits Sister Abigail for three at 15:40. **1/4 Felt like a lackluster TV Main Event. With two hot matches featured on the show that could’ve (and should’ve) gone last, this was a poor choice to end it with, with the predictable return of Luke Harper thanks to a significant injury to Rowan.
Final Thoughts: Hopefully this was really the end, because I’ve beaten the joke dead by this point. What a poor way to end what was otherwise an entertaining show. Two matches hitting the 4-star marker is an automatic thumbs up, especially since only one match would be considered bad, and it ended up being a 5-minute filler match thanks to a last-minute substitution. Anyone calling this a poor show and one of the worst of the year clearly hasn’t watched many PPV’s this year. Could it have been better? Yes, but other than the oddball structuring of the lineup, there’s not much to complain about as far as in ring quality is concerned. Anyone expecting a MOTYC between Nikki/Carmella or Corbin/Swagger is just being negative for the sake of negativity.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.