Written by: Scrooge McSuck
– Presented live on the WWE Network on December 4th, 2016, from Dallas, TX. Mauro Ranallo, John “Bradshaw” Layfield, David Otunga, and Tom Phillips are hanging around ringside to call the action and/or to keep a chair warm for anyone else who might want to sit at the table and put a headset on.
Kickoff Match: American Alpha, The Hype Bros, and Apollo Crews vs. The Vaudevillains, The Ascension, and Curt Hawkins:
I’m still amazed that they spent weeks giving dumb promos and vignettes to Hawkins, and he’s never even used on Smackdown Live. Yes, we knew he was coming back as enhancement, but if you’re wasting time promoting it, use him more. Crews and Hawkins start and have a decent exchange, with Crews getting the better of things. Ryder tags in to tease a battle between former Edge-Heads, but Hawkins quickly tags out. Ryder and Viktor with decent action, and then Mojo tags in to perform one of his signature goofy dances that nobody could possibly find amusing. The babyface team continues to control the action, with everyone getting tossed to the floor. The heel side give it another go and get tossed to the floor again. We return from a break with Gable as the face-in-peril. He teases a few hot tags, but keeps coming just short. Vaudevillains and Ascension do most of the work. Viktor with a sweet press in the air into a super-kick for a near fall. Gable avoids contact from pretty much the entire team and hot tags Jordan. He hits Konnor with forearms and dropkicks. T-Bone Suplex to Gotch. Body press to English. Angle Slam to Konnor for two. Hype Ryder to English. American Alpha with a double clothesline to the Ascension. Crews takes Hawkins over the top rope to the floor with a suplex. Grand Amplitude finishes Gotch at 13:05. *** Hot action and a good match to kick the night off. My only complaint is the use of rest holds in a 10-man tag, but it was minimal.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
Heath Slater & Rhyno (c) vs. Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton (w/ Luke Harper):
I don’t like the odds of the defending Champions. Orton and Wyatt defeated American Alpha to earn the title shot, hornswoggling their way into the end of the line of a Tag Team Gauntlet Match. Curious note… has Wyatt ever challenged for a title on PPV, excluding the ’16 Rumble Match? Rhyno and Wyatt start. Ranallo notes that typically Slater starts the match. Maybe they feel their only chance is Rhyno’s power overcoming the odds. He holds his own against Wyatt and Orton for the brief time he’s in the ring. Slater goes wild on offense, but finds himself on the apron and Wyatt sweeps him off to turn the tide. Orton drops him across the top rope and gives him the Garvin stomp. Wyatt with rear ground-and-pound for two. Avalanche for two. Slater fights out of the draping DDT, but springboards into Orton’s snap Power-Slam. Slater gets a boot up on a charge from Wyatt and hot tags Rhyno. He runs through Wyatt with a clothesline and elbow, followed by a second rope shoulder tackle. Rhyno goes to the floor for the Gore on Orton, but Harper takes the bullet. Wyatt creeps out Rhyno with the Spider-Walk, and RKO Out of Nowhere finishes at 6:03, making Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions. They all pose, with Harper holding both Championships. ** Basic formula match with little resting. The Cinderella Story is over, and should be interesting to see where they go with Heath Slater and Rhyno.
No Disqualification Match: Nikki Bella vs. Carmella:
This might sound like a surprise, but this has been an ongoing rivalry since the Smackdown after SummerSlam, when Carmella turned heel, jealous over Nikki Bella showing her up in her “home state” at her first WWE Pay-Per-View. This is No DQ, but Count-Outs are still a thing, so maybe they’re trying to tease us with a non-finish. Carmella’s sporting a shiner via decent makeup job. Nikki gives chase to the floor and trips. She tries to Powerbomb Carmella on the floor, but Carmella counters with a head scissors, sending Nikki into the steps. Carmella with a suplex into the ropes for two. Nikki with a small package for two. Carmella with another suplex for two. Carmella traps Nikki in the tree of woe, retrieves a kendo stick, and starts whacking away at her leg with it. She slaps on the Code of Silence, but Nikki uses the kendo stick to escape. Nikki boots Carmella down for a vicious face-first bump on the floor, and they take turns ramming each other into stuff. Nikki climbs the security wall and hits the Disaster Kick. Back inside, Nikki continues to treat Carmella like a pinata with the kendo stick. Nikki pulls out a fire extinguisher and blasts Carmella with it for what feels like forever, almost reaching comical levels, and finishes casually with the Rack Attack 2.0 at 8:15. *1/2 That seemed a bit anti-climactic, but the poor pacing didn’t help, and the action was a bit clumsy at times. Post-match, Carmella throws the accusation at Natalya for Nikki’s mysterious survivor Series attack.
WWE Intercontinental Championship; Ladder Match:
The Miz (c) (w/ Maryse) vs. Dolph Ziggler:
This is the end of the line for the Miz vs. Ziggler rivalry that started shortly after SummerSlam (yes, another feud that has been going for about 3 months) and included a retirement stipulation at one point. You’d think, considering all the times she’s interfered, that Dolph would insist for the final encounter that Maryse not be allowed at ringside. Hot sequence to start, with both men countering each other’s signature spots. They do the same trying to use the ladders, with Dolph eventually getting the upper hand. Ziggler avoids Miz’s attempt to use a ladder as a battering ram and scrapes his face across it like it’s a mesh cage. Dolph prevents Miz from pulling a ladder into the ring and has it knocked back in his face for it. Miz blocks the Famouser, but Ziggler drops him with a DDT across the ladder. Ziggler finally brings a ladder in the ring, but Miz recovers and nails him from behind with a dropkick. Miz sandwiches Ziggler between the turnbuckle and ladder and hits him with a dropkick. Miz pulls Ziggler to the top rope, using the ladder as a bridge, but Ziggler drops him and comes off the ladder with a springboard elbow drop.
Ziggler makes the first climb attempt at around the 11:00 mark. Miz pulls him down and gets laid out with a clothesline. Ziggler tosses him to the floor and climbs again. This time, Miz tips the ladder, causing Ziggler to land across the top rope. Side note… is there a new obsession from WWE’s production crew to show random fans during the match? Miz does his Daniel Bryan impression, with running dropkicks to the ladder propped up against Ziggler in the corner. He goes to the well one too many times and has the ladder thrown back in his face. Miz wraps the leg of Ziggler around the ladder and tips it over to add insult to injury. Miz blocks the Super-Kick and drops Ziggler knee-first across the ladder. Ziggler rolls away from the ladder being tipped over on him. Miz continues targeting the leg, ramming the knee across and then sandwiching it between the ladder. Miz with the Figure-Four, with Ziggler’s leg wrapped up in the ladder. Well, there’s no submission, but the damage is done.
Miz lets go of the hold, then casually stomps on the ladder. He goes for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Dolph escapes with a flurry of elbows. He goes for the Super-Kick, but the leg gives out, and Miz with the Skull Crushing Finale onto the ladder. Miz climbs, but Dolph tips the ladder over. Miz hangs on to the mechanism holding the belt until Ziggler whacks the leg with the ladder, knocking Miz off and rolling to the floor in pain. Ziggler makes the slow hop up the ladder rungs, but Miz breaks his progress and connects with a slingshot Powerbomb across another ladder. Every few minutes, chants of “Miz” have grown louder. Miz sets up two ladders, and dang if one of them isn’t in need of some WD-40. Miz does his own hopping, while Ziggler pulls himself up without the use of his legs. Miz blocks all of Ziggler’s blows with his face. Ziggler knocks Miz silly with headbutts. Ziggler climbs up, one foot on each ladder. Miz comes back to life, kicks Ziggler square in the genitalia, and climbs up to retrieve his Championship to retain at 25:08. **** This feud has been such a waste of my time, being the highlight segment of almost every episode of Smackdown they were featured on, and having two outstanding Pay-Per-View matches, as well as several other high quality performances. Oh, that was sarcasm when I called this feud a waste of my time. This started off hot with great pacing, slowed a bit, then picked up for an amazing finish. I’m not a fan of ball shot finishes, but with Miz, it’s acceptable.
Chairs Match: Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin:
This match is happening for no good reason, except for the fact in the first few weeks, Corbin was bullying Kalisto for being small, and then when Kalisto came back, took vengeance on Corbin by trying to further injure the knee he tweaked. Sorry, I’m nitpicking other people’s lame ass lack of following the product comments. Kalisto has new trunks. He throws a bunch of chairs in the ring before Corbin makes his entrance. Corbin avoids a Dam Daminator and knocks a chair out of Kalisto’s hands. Kalisto kicks Corbin into a chair and knocks him over with a dropkick, followed by a double springboard plancha. Corbin knocks Kalisto off the apron and pounds across the back of the neck. He throws Kalisto against the security wall and into a pile of chairs. Kalisto fights back before being planted with a one-handed choke-slam. Corbin sets up six chairs in the middle of the ring. He gives chase to Kalisto and gets knocked into a chair positioned between the turnbuckle pads. Short-rana to a chair. Kalisto comes off the top with a seated senton across the chairs, but it only gets two. Corbin catches a tope suicida and counters with the Deep Six on the arena floor. Corbin freaks out by Kalisto kicking out and piles up the chairs. Kalisto avoids a series of chair shots and comes off the barricade with a hurricanrana. Kalisto lays a chair across the chest and comes off the top with a double knees moonsault for two. Kalisto with chair shots across the back. He goes for Salida del Sol, but Corbin counters, smashes him in the face with a chair and End of Days onto the pile of chairs finishes at 13:02. **1/2 Good David vs. Goliath match, but nothing you’ll remember tomorrow. Probably could’ve stood to have a couple minutes shaved off with what they did, but that’s not too big of a complaint.
WWE Women’s Championship; Tables Match:
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Alexa Bliss:
It was the Smackdown after Backlash where Bliss originally earned the #1 contenders spot, but their first match wasn’t until the Smackdown in Glasgow on November 8th, where Becky retained by submission despite Bliss having her foot on the ropes. This screams like a great way to put the belt on a heel without the face doing a proper job. Becky wastes little time going for a table. Bliss with the unusual strategy of putting the table back under the ring. Interesting spot where it looked like a blown leap frog, but Becky hooked the ankle to take Bliss down. Becky goes for a suplex through a table, but Bliss fights free. Becky tries to boot Bliss off the apron, but she hangs onto the ropes for dear life. Bliss takes control, pounding Becky’s face into the canvas. Bliss sets a table up near the corner. Bliss lays her across the table and climbs to the top rope, but Becky hops off and slugs it out with Bliss across the top turnbuckle. Becky with forearms and jumping heel kick. Bliss blocks the Exploder Suplex and sweeps Lynch off her feet. Bliss with Insult-to-Injury after a few teased table spots. Bliss with a DDT across the bottom of a table, and that probably hurt her more than the spot was worth doing based on the sound of the landing. Becky with the Disarm-Her, but guess what, the submission doesn’t mean anything in this match. Becky props a table across the bottom rope and lays Bliss across it. She climbs to the top rope, but Bliss kicks her in the head and snap mares her off. They fight on the apron, and Bliss lucks into a situation that allows her to Powerbomb Becky off, through the table, to become the 2nd Women’s Champion at 15:16. ** Trying to tell a story under a “tables match” stipulation is rarely one that leads to a great match, and this was no different. It was alright when teasing spots, but incredibly underwhelming, and too long. Post-match, Becky stumbles through a “leave me alone” interview with… Dasha Fuentes? Is that her name? There’s way too many of these random interview girls.
WWE World Championship; TLC Match:
A.J. Styles (c) vs. Dean Ambrose:
Third time these two are meeting on Pay-Per-View, but only the second time in one-on-one situations (the other being when Styles won the title at Backlash). It’s almost a lock that James Ellsworth will factor into the finish. Ambrose controls the early moments and it doesn’t take long to get the furniture. They take turns interrupting each other’s progress until Ambrose throws the ladder in Styles’ face and clotheslines him to the floor. Ambrose punishes Styles at the top of the entrance ramp, but Styles ruins his lifelong dream of hopping off the world’s tallest ladder by wandering into the crowd. Ambrose settles for putting a garbage bin over his head. Styles counters a springboard off the security wall with a dropkick. Ambrose sidesteps a diving forearm and straddles Styles across the barricade. Ambrose with a chair, and he gets a running start to smash Styles in the face with it. Styles tips the ladder to interrupt Ambrose’s climb and smashes him across the chest. Styles with a slam across the ladder, followed by a sky-high knee drop. Ambrose counters a suplex and sends Styles into a ladder via catapult. Ambrose hoists up the ladder and tosses it over the ropes, right on top of Styles.
Ambrose grabs a table and throws it in the ring to utilize the 3rd part of the “TLC” gimmick. Styles quickly comes back to life, whacking Ambrose across the back with a chair. Styles sets the chair up and drops Ambrose across it with a side slam, a move made famous by Dino Bravo. Styles nails him with the chair again, exits the ring, and tosses three more into the ring. He sets them up, not unlike how Corbin did it earlier. Ambrose blocks another suplex and flips Styles onto them with a twisting suplex motion. It needs to be seen to understand. Ambrose with a chair and he comes off the second rope with an elbow drop. The last spot must’ve torn up styles tights, as we’ve got a bit of a wardrobe malfunction going on. Styles with a quick series of strikes and a snap suplex, sending Ambrose through the table propped up in the corner. Ambrose recovers, unloads with his own strikes, and springs off the ropes with a lunatic lariat, turning Styles inside out. Ambrose teases a suplex from the top rope to the floor, but Styles fights him off. Ambrose counters the Phenomenal Forearm, and Styles counters Dirty Deeds. Ambrose sends Styles to the floor via back-drop, and follows him out with a tope suicida. Ambrose undresses the announcers table and lays Styles across it. Ambrose sets a ladder up on the German table and pounds away at Styles some more. Ambrose climbs the ladder and crashes down on Styles with the big elbow drop.
Ambrose crawls his way over the wrecked table and Styles’ unconscious body and retrieves another ladder from under the ring. He makes the slow climb, but Styles pulls himself onto the apron and nails Ambrose off the ladder with the Phenomenal Forearm. Both men with the slow climb and exchange of blows, with both being knocked down. Ambrose counters the Styles Clash and spins him head-first into the ladder. Styles pulls Ambrose down and both men go spilling over the top rope. Styles with the moonsault off the apron into a reverse DDT. Styles sets Ambrose across a table and hits a springboard 450 splash! I see both men are trying to out-crazy each other. That couldn’t have been executed more perfectly. Styles climbs, and here comes Ellsworth. Styles stops what he’s doing to beat him up again. Ambrose saves and gives Styles Dirty Deeds on the stairs. Ambrose climbs, but Ellsworth TIPS THE LADDER OVER, sending Ambrose crashing through a stack of tables! Styles recovers from his coma and retrieves the belt to retain at 31:02. ****1/2 Another match that was just a bit too long, but another great performance, with good pacing between big spots, some memorable high spots, and both men working hard to give a memorable Main Event. During the post-show Talking Smack, Ellsworth explains his actions as being a strategic move, because he’s 3-0 against Styles and the odds are in his favor of beating Styles more than beating Ambrose, and will cash in on his guaranteed Championship match THIS WEEK. Maybe.
Final Thoughts: When all is said and done, this was the definitive two-match show, even though nothing is what I’d consider a “bad” match. The WWE World Title and Intercontinental Title matches are both good enough to give this show a solid recommendation, but everything else delivered the expected result and quality. Orton and Wyatt won the Tag Titles in what was mostly a short, one-sided match, Alexa Bliss won the Women’s Title in a bit of a fluke in a so-so tables match, Nikki Bella and Carmella had an alright match that had little expectation, and Kalisto and Corbin had a solid big vs. little match with the chairs gimmick attached to it. Smackdown Live continues to deliver.