This episode of Smackdown was barely better than Raw, but it’s great that both shows are solely focused on Survivor Series. All of these Raw vs Smackdown matches are allowing for the shows to have a larger meaning as opposed to these wrestlers staying in their own bubble.
After how the main event unfolded last week, I’m sure more fans were interested in seeing what Ellsworth had to say than watching HIAC. More than that, I was actually more excited to hear what Ambrose had to say. It was nothing more than a comedic spot, but at the same time it was simply great storytelling.
The dynamic between Ambrose and Ellsworth continued to remain strong. I’m glad they didn’t get into a fight, because they have a loveable back and forth. James’ apology was quite entertaining, but this segment hit a high note once AJ came in. Styles was an absolute assassin with the mic, and he easily stole the show with his promo.
Randy Orton vs Kane
Based on how this feud is going, it appears we’ll see Orton infiltrate the Wyatts. I’m not sure if Kane is in on the plan, but it’ll be interesting to see how his role plays out. Hopefully it’s not a complete rehash of Daniel Bryan’s feud with Bray from 2014.
Even though we’ve seen this match countless times throughout the years, having this on Smackdown wasn’t such a bad idea. I was ready to see a full 15-20 minute no DQ match, but the finish they delivered was even better. It gave the audience what they wanted to see, and that was how well associated the Wyatts have become with Randy. Seeing the Viper align himself with the Wyatts is actually more believable than what they did with Bryan two years ago. In all honesty, this program looks like it’ll click.
Nikki Bella & Becky Lynch vs Alexa Bliss & Carmella
These two teams looked great together in terms of their characters. I can’t recall the last time we’ve witnessed two white meat babyfaces wrestle two hateable heels. The match wasn’t anything special, in fact it felt sloppy, but it worked for getting both Alexa and Carmella heel heat.
The post match promo was actually what made this entertaining. Since they’ve both debuted on the main roster, it’s incredible how far Alexa and Carmella have come with their mic skills. Their “interview” was executed smoothly, and they both did a good job at getting their characters across.
Spirit Squad vs American Alpha
This match surprisingly lasted longer than I expected. It still went by fast, but it was odd to see the Spirit Squad get as much offence as they did. Overall, it was obvious American Alpha was going to win, so this was very much a squash match with an added stipulation (which isn’t a bad thing).
Miz TV w/Daniel Bryan
Apart from their contract discussions, the contact between Miz and Bryan has been kept to a minimum. That only made this segment more intense.
Since these two have been linked together since Bryan’s WWE debut, they always prove to have impeccable chemistry. For every word one says, the other always knows how to react. Each of them conveyed the right amount of emotion that put over the Survivor Series Raw vs Smackdown match up. It would make sense for Miz to ask for his IC title rematch, but instead he’d rather represent his brand, which says quite a bit to what that five on five match means.
Dolph Ziggler vs Curt Hawkins
Let’s face the facts (pun intended), Hawkins is a jobber but it works for him. It especially worked well in this open challenge against Dolph. This was certainly the time and place for a quick match like this.
It doesn’t make sense that Dolph can just call for an open challenge at Survivor Series, because can’t the Miz request his rematch? It also didn’t make sense that the Miz was so frustrated over that announcement.
Bray Wyatt/Randy Orton Backstage Promo
I can already tell that this segment will have detractors, but I loved it. Once again, it adds to the campiness of this program, and Randy some how fits with the Wyatts. It’s like the cool kid at school finally understanding the kids who hang out underneath the bleachers.
The Usos vs The Headbangers
Even though this was a qualifying match, I couldn’t invest myself into it. The Headbangers aren’t a consistent act, so why should anybody care for them? At least the Spirit Squad has been on every Smackdown since returning.
Dean Ambrose vs AJ Styles
Did anybody seriously care to see this match once again? It was great how they kept it fresh, but once it headlines Smackdown in back to back weeks it starts to feel stale. There’s no argument towards the work rate, as it was strong, however they run the risk of ruining this feuds aura. In that sense, I didn’t exactly care for this until the finish came around.
Two months ago James Ellsworth was a complete nobody, and all of a sudden he’s become one of the more intriguing aspects WWE television. Once he made his way out, this match captured my attention. Even the in ring action became more intense, and made the outcome more unpredictable. His semi-interference didn’t allow for AJ to lose clean, but it still gave Dean the win he needed. Hopefully they save the title match for the episode of Smackdown that follows Survivor Series.
For Smackdown standards, this wasn’t the strongest show they’ve put forth. However, that doesn’t mean it was a bad show because a lot was still accomplished. Most feuds were furthered, and many of them were also built towards Survivor Series. The low point of the show was the Usos vs the Headbangers, while the highpoints were the opening segment and the Miz/Bryan promo. Overall, I give this episode a 7.3/10.