This week’s episode of SmackDown Live comes in from the Wells Fargo Center at Philadelphia, PA. This is the first episode after Backlash. Expect them to keep the storylines alive.
AJ Styles is out to open the show. He says that he hates to tell us that he already told us so, but he is now truly the face that runs the place. He is interrupted by WWE’s resident face that runs the place, John Cena. Cena says AJ has something that belongs to him and he wants it back. Styles throws the head band in Cena’s face, who clarifies that he was talking about the title. He says that he has always wanted to hold the world heavyweight title as many times as Ric Flair and now Styles stands in his way.
Before Styles can respond, Dean Ambrose interrupts and talks about how Styles stole the title from him and that from now Styles is his enemy and will make sure that Styles suffers. Cena calls out Ambrose for hitting Styles with a low blow from two weeks ago. Cena says Austin was right for calling out Ambrose and that the low blow should not hurt him much, since he does not have balls. Ouch!! Ambrose calls Cena a corporate puppet and a lazy part timer. Shane McMahon is out and says AJ Styles took the easy way out in the match at Backlash. He says Cena will eventually get his one on one match against Styles, but for now, at No Mercy, it will be AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose vs John Cena for the title. As of tonight, we have a tag team match between Cena and Ambrose against AJ Styles and a partner of his choosing. If Styles is unable to find a partner, someone will be appointed. Great work, SmackDown Live! Excellent way to start things off! As we had called it earlier, it’s a triple threat.
The Usos vs the Hype Bros: Ryder appears to injure his knee and Usos work on it systematically. Mojo is tagged and clears the ring by hitting stinger splashes on the Usos. At ringside, Jimmy works with Ryder while in the ring, Jey hits Mojo with a super kick, following it up with a splash off the top for the win.
The Miz is out with Maryse to gloat about his victory at Backlash. Ziggler interrupts and says that the fans will never accept the Miz as a true champion since he is a phony. Miz retaliates by saying he does not care about the fans and says Ziggler’s career is dead. Ziggler admits his career is in a slump but he wants the Miz to prove it again without the help of his wife. Maryse tries to interject, but Daniel Bryan comes out and says Ziggler will get his rematch. Miz says that he will not defend the title till he gets a new contract. Daniel Bryan walks to the ring to confront the Miz, who leaves through the crowd.
AJ Styles tries talking Baron Corbin into being his tag team partner for the match tonight. Corbin says he’d rather be the opponent who takes his belt than a tag team partner.
Apollo Crews vs Baron Corbin: Corbin lays out Crews before the match begins. Jack Swagger comes out to make the save who gets in Corbin’s face. Corbin leaves the ring and heads back. Swagger says he has joined SmackDown Live officially and says we might know his abilities, but we do not know ‘Jack’.
Alexa Bliss vs Natalya vs Nikki Bella vs Carmella vs Naomi: Before the match, Becky Lynch cuts a promo about winning the title and says she will be at ring side for the match. Natalya takes out all the women after the bell rings. She hits the Michinoku driver on Naomi and goes for the pin, but Nikki breaks it up. Nikki hits the electric chair on Naomi and goes for the pin, but Alexa breaks up the pin. Natalya hits Alexa with a spear, while Naomi hits Alexa in the face and follows it up with a full nelson bomb. Natalya dropkicks both Alexa and Naomi, walking into the X-factor by Nikki for a two count. Natalya takes out Naomi leaving Alexa and Nikki in the ring. Carmella out of nowhere super kicks Nikki only to be thrown out by Alexa who pins Nikki and picks up the win.
Shane McMahon brings out the new tag champions Rhyno and Heath Slater for Slater’s contract signing. Slater thanks Shane and Daniel Bryan. He thanks his wife and Rhyno and says they are ready to defend their tag titles against anyone, anytime. Slater goes on to thank his kids but is interrupted by the Ascension who want a shot at the titles. Slater says they should not do it now because of the table and the carpet. Shane says now is a great time and makes the match official, up next.
Rhyno and Heath Slater vs the Ascension: The Ascension botch a Doomsday Device double team on Slater. Slater fights his way out and tags in Rhyno who clears the ring. Rhyno goes to work on Victor, hitting a spine buster for the near fall. Connor throws Slater outside of the ring only to be thrown to the outside by Rhyno. Rhyno hits the gore on Victor for the win.
AJ Styles is talking to Daniel Bryan, who says he is going to appoint a tag team partner for Styles. He is James, one of the local jobbers from the previous show.
Randy Orton is out who cuts a promo on Bray Wyatt. Wyatt interrupts on the big screen. Lights go out and suddenly Wyatt is in the ring. Wyatt takes off his jacket and hat and the lights go off again. When the lights are back, Eric Rowan is in the ring, who attacks Randy Orton. Orton hits an RKO on Rowan to end the segment.
John Cena and Dean Ambrose vs AJ Styles and James: As James makes his way out, Miz comes running from behind and hits the skull crushing finale on the ramp on James. Miz is now AJ’s partner. Miz is on the offense initially on Cena. Cena tags in Ambrose, simultaneous tag to Styles as well. Ambrose drops Styles with a back breaker, following it up with an elbow off the top rope for a near fall. AJ retaliates with a pele kick. Cena wants to be tagged in, but Ambrose ignores him, only to be dropped by the Miz.
AJ tags himself in and hits Cena with a forearm, sending Cena to the floor. Meanwhile, the Miz is choking Ambrose behind the referee’s back. Cena and Miz tag themselves in and Cena hits the back suplex and the five knuckle shuffle on the Miz. He goes for the attitude adjustment, but is disrupted by AJ Styles. Ambrose throws AJ to the outside and hits a suicide dive. Miz gets up and Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment on him for the win. Post-match, Ambrose hits the dirty deeds on Cena and leaves him lying in the middle of the ring.
Thoughts and analysis: As we expected, Cena made his come back and is inserted into the title picture. Makes sense, since he has unfinished business with Styles. Ambrose also deserved the re match. Having the three go against each other would make for one of the exciting matches making the outcome all the more unpredictable. Ambrose and Cena had some great work on the mic. Expect more such promos!
The tease between Daniel Bryan and Miz where Bryan walked to the ring for a stare down/fight, evoked a lot of response from the crowd. The WWE might continue to tease us more with such angles. Hope they finally give Ziggler a run with the title. Having Rhyno and Slater go against the Ascension helped them establish themselves as a credible tag team.
Jack Swagger might be in a program against Corbin. Good to see him back in action. Corbin would benefit from working with Swagger. No sign of Curt Hawkins this week as advertised. Having Randy Orton continue his feud with Wyatt is good to know. There has been no report about whether Orton would compete against Lesnar in his rematch. But he definitely will compete against Wyatt at No Mercy, from the looks of the booking.
The women’s division is unpredictable currently, with all the divas producing exceptional moves unlike RAW where only a handful of the divas are involved in the title picture.
Overall, pretty decent card for the night, especially after the great card at Backlash. Our rating: 4/5