Live from San Diego, California this is Smackdown for episode #894.

There was a brief opening video package hyping up the AJ Styles, John Cena and Dean Ambrose rivalry heading into No Mercy. It informed us that there will be a “face to face to face” segment between them later in the show.

Bray Wyatt entered the arena first. I thought it might be a promo, but instead here comes Kane for a match. The announce team is Mauro Ranallo, John Bradshaw Layfield and David Otunga, who has yet to say anything interesting in over two months on the job. I like Mauro and JBL, though.

Analysis: It’s so rare when WWE starts a show with match. I like it way more than a promo, but it always surprises me because of how much they love starting with a promo.

Bray Wyatt vs. Kane

Wyatt was in control early with a running forearm smash followed by a corner splash. Kane with a jawbreaker, but Wyatt came back with a clothesline. Wyatt missed a senton splash. Kane came back with a slam and a jumping DDT. Wyatt came back with a uranage followed by a senton splash. Wyatt did his upside down crab walk, but then he noticed Randy Orton on the video screen with Orton’s head upside down. Orton said he’s looking at the world upside down like Wyatt, but then he said he’ll turn his world right side up like this. Orton said he can play Bray’s games better than him. He invited Wyatt to come catch him. Is there a match still going on? Yes. Kane went for a chokeslam, Wyatt fought out of it and Kane hit an uppercut punch. Wyatt just left up the ramp for the countout loss. Kane was bleeding from the mouth. It went about five minutes.

Winner by countout: Kane

Analysis: 1/2* The match was an afterthought as soon as Orton appeared on the screen to deliver a one-minute promo during a match. I’m not a fan of that happening during a match. I also hate the countout loss when the heel just leaves the ring. Wyatt should have beat Kane in a few minutes to avenge his loss at Backlash, which he still hasn’t done. Wyatt needs to be booked to win matches. It doesn’t happen often.

Baron Corbin was walking backstage. He was interviewed by Charly Caruso. Corbin said he didn’t care why Smackdown signed Jack Swagger and if Swagger’s stupid enough to challenge Corbin then he (Corbin) will have to drop him where…Swagger showed up…and Corbin said “where he stands.” Swagger challenged him to fight right now. Corbin said he does his talking in the ring. Swagger said he’ll find Daniel Bryan and he’ll see if they can continue this in the ring. Corbin told him to do it.

Analysis: I’m glad Swagger is on Smackdown where he might actually be used, even if he’s just there to put over a guy like Corbin.

Nikki Bella vs. Alexa Bliss is next.

(Commercial)

Bray Wyatt was shown walking backstage in a darkened saying that Randy Orton’s time is coming.

The women’s match is up with Carmella joining the commentary team for it.

Nikki Bella vs. Alexa Bliss

Bliss took down Nikki early, but then Nikki tripped her up and did a facebuster to the knee for a two count. Nikki with a shoulder tackle as well as a dropkick that looked bad. Nikki was outside the ring, so she tossed Bliss into Carmella to knock down both girls. Bliss tried to get back on offense, Nikki picked her up and Carmella went in the ring to attack Nikki with a kick to the back. There’s the disqualification finish. It went two minutes.

Winner by disqualification: Nikki Bella

Analysis: ½* A quick match that never really got going because it was just about pushing Carmella’s feud with Nikki.

Post match, the heels stomped on Nikki to keep her down. Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch ran down to the ring to make the save. Lynch sent Bliss out of the ring and Nikki sent Carmella out of the ring to end the segment.

Analysis: I wonder if we are getting a tag match after the break. That’s sarcasm.

(Commercial)

Nikki Bella & Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss & Carmella

The match started after the break with JBL saying Daniel Bryan was doing a Teddy Long impression making this a tag match. It’s like the show is run by the same people in creative or something. The heels controlled Nikki in the early going. Carmella with a bronco buster on Nikki in the corner. Speaking of busts…never mind. Bliss with a clothesline for two. Carmella got in there, did some taunting and missed a bronco buster. Lynch with the hot tag against Carmella with a leg lariat. Bliss tagged in, Bexplex by Lynch (overhead suplex) and there’s a second one. Bliss went outside the ring, so Lynch nailed her with a forearm off the apron. Carmella nailed a kick to the head of Lynch as the ref was concerned with Bliss. Nikki took out Carmella and they went fighting up the ramp. Bliss went up top and hit the Twisted Bliss splash for the win after four minutes. The announcers pushed the significance of Bliss beating her No Mercy opponent.

Winners by pinfall: Alexa Bliss & Carmella

Analysis: ** A solid tag match there for the time given. They had a competitive four-minute match with the heels outsmarting the faces. Bliss faces Lynch for the Women’s Title at No Mercy on Sunday, so it gives her momentum going into that match while also furthering the Nikki/Carmella story. I doubt Lynch is going to lose the title on Sunday. That would be a surprise to me.

Wyatt was walking in the darkened area backstage again. He found an empty rocking chair. He was yelling “is this all you got?” Orton showed up and closed the door on Wyatt. Orton locked it while wondering how it feels for the hunter to be the hunted. Orton said “Lord have mercy…or not.” A camera showed Wyatt alone in the storage locker room while yelling that nothing can hold him.

Analysis: Last week it was Wyatt tormenting Orton in several segments. Now it is Orton’s turn.

A “Face Off” main events Smackdown between Cena, Styles and Ambrose. Also Miz TV with Dolph Ziggler.

(Commercial)

Daniel Bryan, the GM of Smackdown, was in the ring with five women breast cancer survivors. They plugged the Susan G. Komen company working with WWE to raise awareness for breast cancer. Just like on Raw, they presented the women with titles – in this case replicas of the Smackdown Women’s Title. Bryan did a good job of getting the crowd behind them with a lot of “yes” chants. For more info visit Komen.org/WWE now.

Coming up later is Swagger vs. Corbin.

(Commercial)

A tag match is up next. Is there any sane person out there that would listen to the Hype Bros theme song by choice? It’s painful.

The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch) vs. Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder)

Rawley did his energetic dances early on to try to fire up the crowd. Otunga on commentary said they’re different “Rawley is the hype and Ryder is the bro” as if that’s supposed to be something worthwhile. Ryder with a missile dropkick on Gotch, English with a distraction and Gotch knocked Ryder down to give the heels control. The Ascension showed up by the entrance way to watch the match. Nice exploder suplex by Gotch. The heels worked over Ryder for a couple of minutes. Ryder slipped out of a slam by Gotch and tagged in Rawley against English. Running shoulder tackle by Rawley. That looked great. Rawley with a running corner splash and then a fireman’s carry into a gorilla press slam. Ryder sent Gotch out of the ring. Rawley picked up English and Ryder hit the Rough Ryder leg lariat off the middle ropes for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Hype Bros

Post match, Hype Bros celebrated the win while staring at The Ascension. JBL said Hype Bros are on a roll. I guess one win is a roll.

Analysis: ** It was a match to put over the faces that needed the win. Out of the two teams, I like The Vaudevillains more and wish they were used better, but I don’t think WWE is interested in pushing them at the moment. Ryder and Rawley have some potential as a natural face team. Giving them wins like this will help.

Miz TV segment is up next.

(Commercial)

Miz TV Hosting A “Dolphumentary”

The Miz, who is the Intercontinental Champion, was in the ring with his lovely wife Maryse. Miz is wearing a red jacket and he noted on Twitter it was a Ron Burgundy reference because they were in San Diego. Great movie. Miz brought out his guest, Dolph Ziggler. At No Mercy it’s Miz vs. Ziggler in a Title vs. Career match. Ziggler received a nice reaction like usual.

Ziggler sat down in the chair and Miz set up a Ziggler video about his career.

The teaser video was called “The Success of a Failure: The Dolph Ziggler Story.” They showed clips from his career showing him shaking hands saying he was Dolph Ziggler, then he was the caddy for Kerwin White and a member of the Spirit Squad. There were clips of him kissing Sheamus’ butt, getting punched by Hugh Jackman and his ten-minute World Title reign on Smackdown. There were clips of people talking about other stuff that likely wasn’t Ziggler related, which was done as a way to insult his career. More clips of bad moments in his career. Then it said after No Mercy the full airing of “The Success of a Failure: The Dolph Ziggler Story” will air.

Analysis: That was pretty clever as a heel mocking a face with a video showing the worst parts of his career. I hope some stupid people watching this really think that documentary will air on WWE Network on Sunday.

Miz talked trash saying if that was his career he would have quit a long time ago.

Ziggler said “I’m not gone assface” and threatened to slap Miz. Ziggler said he could have quit, but he couldn’t do it. Ziggler talked about how he had the magic moments like high fiving a kid and saying that’s what keeps him going. He spoke about how backstage they do Make A Wish, some kid says he is their hero and Ziggler says no that kid is his hero. Then he remembered the night after WrestleMania a few years ago when he cashed in the Money in the Bank contract to become World Champion. Ziggler said it was a magical moment that everybody was a part of. That’s why he can’t walk away. He said he knew he had to put his career on the line because if he can’t deliver then he doesn’t belong there.  Ziggler added that he will deliver on Sunday and he will become Intercontinental Champion. Ziggler said that Miz is never taking his career from him, not this Sunday and not ever. The fired up speech from Ziggler continued as he said he is not done yet. Miz: “Yes you are.”

Miz talked about how this Sunday, Ziggler’s career will end and it will end because of Miz. He said that Ziggler has just the thing to raise his spirits.

Former Spirit Squad members Ken Doane (Kenny) and Mike Mondo (Mikey) walked out in green outfits. They went into the ring. They did a Spirit Squad chant and then they spelled out “D-O-L-P-H” letter by letter. Miz celebrated it as if it was good. Then Spirit Squad did a song saying that when he loses to Miz he’ll join the unemployment line. Miz said two of them got lost in transit when they got sent back to OVW. Good memories. Miz said that Nicky can reunite with the Spirit Squad.

Ziggler got in the face of Miz, but Kenny and Mikey attacked Ziggler from behind. Miz went up the ramp with Maryse. They did a double team slam on Ziggler. Ziggler nailed Mikey with a back elbow, then nailed a superkick to Kenny and a superkick for Mikey as well. Miz tried a cheap attack, Ziggler fended him off and Miz left again.

Analysis: That was really well done, especially the promo from Ziggler just like last week. Miz talked less this time, but he was solid as the cocky heel. The joke video about Ziggler’s career puts a lot of heat on Miz while showing support for Ziggler as well. Ziggler showed a lot of passion in his promo as he talked about how much it means to him seeing the fans at shows or backstage. He is doing some of the best work he’s done in his career as a face with this feud. As for the Spirit Squad guys, that was an unexpected appearance because they haven’t been in WWE for a very long time. Kenny is actually a good performer that just ended up moving on. The guy was something like 19 years old when he was on the main roster a decade ago. Mikey looks like he’s put on some pounds. I doubt WWE is going to use them again, but you never know because they can always use talent. The Ziggler/Miz match has been built up so well. There are rumors that Ziggler’s contract may be up, but I don’t know if that’s true. I think Ziggler wins the title on Sunday. I’ll have more thoughts on it in the preview later in the week.

Bray Wyatt was back in his locked room with the chair.

Jason Jordan vs. Jimmy Uso is up next.

(Commercial)

A video aired about baseball player Roberto Clemente for Hispanic Heritage Month.

A new match is official for No Mercy: Nikki Bella vs. Carmella.

Jason Jordan (w/Chad Gable) vs. Jey Uso (w/Jimmy)

The graphic before the break said Jimmy Uso, so they got it wrong or changed their mind somewhere. Jordan took down Jey early, but then Jey came back by snapping Jordan’s neck against the top rope. Chinlock by Jey. Jordan whipped Jey into the turnbuckle, then he stacked up Jey for a pin and kept him down for the three count victory. It went a little over one minute.

Winner by pinfall: Jason Jordan

Analysis: 1/2* A very quick match to give Jordan some momentum in this rivalry with The Usos. It would have been nice if they got more time.

Post match, Jimmy grabbed Gable when he was on the apron. Jimmy sent Gable’s knee into the ring steps. Jey took out Jordan with a chop block to the back of the knee. The Usos went for a double team splash on Jordan, but Heath Slater and Rhyno, the Tag Team Champs, showed up scare The Usos off. The Usos left looking happy about their work.

Analysis: The cheap attacks from The Usos continue to further push the idea that they are heels now. I liked what they did again. It’s adding more heat to their rivalry with American Alpha. The Usos will probably win the tag titles on Sunday since Slater and Rhyno had to win at Backlash to pay off the Slater storyline. It’s fine to do a title change because The Usos deserve the gold.

Bray Wyatt was shown in the rocking chair talking to Sister Abigail, who was not there of course. Wyatt said he was ready to go home.

(Commercial)

Orton went to the storage locker room. He opened it up and found an empty rocking chair. Wyatt was gone.

Analysis: I’m not sure how to analyze characters that are able to vanish from rooms. If he has mystical powers can he avoid traffic jams? I’d love to do that. I like the feud, though.

There were clips of Cena from last week’s Talking Smack when he did a great job talking trash about Ambrose and Styles. Cena said that Ambrose doesn’t like Cena and that Cena doesn’t care about Ambrose.

Jack Swagger made his entrance.

(Commercial)

There was another mention of WWE’s work in raising breast cancer awareness and all the pink colors that dominate WWE programming in the month of October.

Curt Hawkins was shown delivering some “facts” including saying that CIA means Curt In Action. He needs better writers. Hawkins said that that at No Mercy, for the first time, he’ll be stepping into the ring.

Analysis: At least there’s some progress for this character finally having a match. It’s silly when former WWE wrestlers can say they are stepping into a WWE ring for the first time, though.

Jack Swagger vs. Baron Corbin

Shoulder tackle by Corbin. Shoulder tackle by Swagger. The announcers kept going on about the things they did before they were in WWE. Corbin nailed a punch to the head to take control. They went to break with Corbin having the upper hand.

(Commercial)

Corbin was still in control of this match. Swagger got some momentum with boots to the face, a corner clothesline and a lift into a slam. Swagger went for the Swagger Bomb, but Corbin blocked it with his feet. Swagger applied the Patriot Lock submission. Corbin tried to get to the ropes. He crawled over there, then he kept reaching a few times and the referee said he tapped out. Then Corbin got to the ropes. It did not look like a tap out.

Winner by submission: Jack Swagger

Analysis: *1/4 That was a boring match. It featured Corbin on offense for most of it, which helps make it boring because that’s his style. Swagger’s comeback was okay. The finish was something different to create controversy in a small way, but I thought it was pretty bad.

The announcers argued about it with Otunga saying he tapped while JBL was ranting saying that Corbin didn’t tap. JBL said it was a terrible call. The replay aired with the announcers arguing again while Ranallo said it was a tough call. Any sane person would say it was a terrible call.

Post match, Swagger left. Corbin freaked out at ringside as he kicked the ring steps and pounded his fist on the announce table.

Analysis: It’s probably going to lead to a rematch at No Mercy with Corbin getting the win. It was clear that Corbin didn’t really lose the match. They just did it that way to protect him and to set up the rematch.

The No Mercy main event face off is up next.

(Commercial)

No Mercy WWE Title Match Verbal Face Off Of Death Aka A Main Event Promo

Analysis: How is that for a title?

The WWE World Champion AJ Styles made his entrance first. A lot of cheers for the champ even though he’s a heel.

Styles started by saying: “San Diego – the champ is here!” Good use of a famous Cena line. Styles bragged about beating John Cena at SummerSlam and then he beat Dean Ambrose for the WWE Title. Then he reminded us that at No Mercy he beat Ambrose and Cena at the same time.

Dean Ambrose walked down to the ring to get in Styles’ face wondering if he might be the “Pest That Runs The Next.” Ambrose said he respected Styles before he came to WWE, but Styles took the low road with a low blow when they had a match. Ambrose said he’s mad about how he had Styles pinned last week when Cena had to interfere because Cena couldn’t stand the fact that Ambrose was going to win the WWE Title again. Ambrose said Cena should thank Ambrose for bringing the WWE Title to Smackdown in the first place so Cena has a chance to break (or tie) the Ric Flair record. Here comes Cena.

Analysis: Good point by Ambrose at the end there.

The walking merchandise machine John Cena entered the ring to join the festivities.

Styles told Cena to shut up. He said he knows what Cena is going to say, so he told him to shut up. Styles mentioned how Cena is chasing history and is going to be a 16 time champion. Then Styles wondered how Cena could compare himself to an icon, a legend like Flair. Styles told Cena he’ll never be in the same conversation as Flair. Styles said that Cena shouldn’t be worried about Flair’s legacy – he should worry about AJ Styles. He added that while Cena chases history, Styles makes history. Styles mocked Cena’s “rah rah” speeches and said Cena’s gonna make a fool of himself like he did at SummerSlam.

Analysis: Styles is the heel in the match, but he makes a lot of sense and says things that makes fans want to root for him because he is as good as he says. His arrogance comes off really well when he brags about his wins over Cena and Ambrose too.

Ambrose got in Cena’s face. He said that Cena’s going to say that Ambrose is his own worst enemy and to tell him to stop complaining. Ambrose said that Cena’s the master of the political spin and he should run for office. Ambrose talked about how that’s how Cena is in this match in the first place. Ambrose suggested that Cena tries to stop people from getting by him on the roster and claimed that Cena’s been trying to do that to him since day one. Ambrose told Cena that he can’t outwork him. Ambrose said he’s in the ring every night blood, sweat and tears in wars. Ambrose talked about how he’s had zero sick days, zero days off and the most matches in the company last year as well as the year before that. (I recall he did get a month off for an injury angle to film a movie, but he is making a good point.) Ambrose said that Cena’s got no respect for him because Ambrose was never a guy that kissed Cena’s ass looking for advice. He told Cena he’ll never play by his rules and he’s not going to start now. Ambrose told Cena he’ll be Dean Ambrose because that’s real while John should have fun being the guy that plays John Cena on TV.

Analysis: Awesome promo. It is funny that the guy with the fake name of Dean Ambrose says he’s real while the guy with the real name of John Cena is fake, but I see what Ambrose was getting at. I love the intensity when Ambrose gets to do promos like this. It’s when he is at his best.

Cena simply said “talk is cheap” and took down Ambrose. He followed up with some punches.

Styles went after Cena, but Cena threw him out of the ring. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on Ambrose. Cena held up the WWE World Title. He posed on the apron with it as his music played. Styles went after Cena, he avoided the AA and Styles hit a Phenomenal Forearm on Cena. Styles’ music played. He was outside the ring holding up the title.

Dean Ambrose attacked Styles from behind. Ambrose nailed Styles with a Dirty Deeds DDT at the bottom of the ramp. Ambrose grabbed the WWE Title as his music played.

Replays aired of all three guys hitting signature moves.

Ambrose held the WWE Title as the last man standing while Styles and Cena were both down. That’s how Smackdown ended.

Analysis: That’s pretty typical for the last segment heading into a PPV when there’s a three way match. Each guy had the advantage there, but in the end it was Ambrose standing tall. It was interesting that they did it in a way where Cena really said nothing in the promo while the other two guys ripped on him. It was done to try to make Cena something of a sympathetic figure as the older guy trying to win one more title. I like how it was done in that way.

I think No Mercy will see Styles pin Ambrose in the match to keep the title. They will probably do Styles vs. Cena for the WWE Title at Survivor Series or at some other show down the road. I don’t see Styles losing the WWE Title this year. I hope he doesn’t lose it until WrestleMania or after that.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. Dolph Ziggler

2. Dean Ambrose

3. AJ Styles

 

The Scoreboard

5.5 out of 10

Last week: 8

2016 Average: 6.04

2016 Average Post Brand Split (July 26): 6.32 – Raw is at 6.23

Last 5 Weeks: 8, 7.5, 6, 5.5, 5.5

2016 High: 8 (August 23/September 27)

2016 Low: 4 (January 21)

 

Final Thoughts

It gets a 5.5 out of 10.

A bad show for matches, but a great show for promos – at least two of them. It was a bit of a step back after the last two weeks, which were much better shows.

The promos by Ziggler and Ambrose were the highlights for me. Really well done by both guys as they showed a lot of emotion in different settings.

Raw was the better show for me this week. Smackdown wasn’t that bad, though.

Here’s the announced lineup for No Mercy.

WWE World Championship: AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena

Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler (If Ziggler loses, he must retire)

SmackDown Tag Team Championship: Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Usos

SmackDown Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss

Nikki Bella vs. Carmella

Baron Corbin vs. Jack Swagger (Daniel Bryan announced it on Twitter.)

Also Curt Hawkins has a match.

We will have a No Mercy Preview posted on Friday afternoon and then I’ll have a review up on Monday. I already mentioned some of my predictions in here, but I will obviously expand on them in the preview.

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John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

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