I hate to be one of those fans that’s always trashing Raw, but it’s tough not to when I’m more excited for next week’s Smackdown over Roadblock. This particular episode of Smackdown gave the fans a reason to tune in next week and care about most programs.
Management/James Ellsworth Segment: All three of these men did a brilliant job in this promo. It was a brief interaction, but every man got their point across, and it came off as a realistic conversation. Kudos to whoever wrote this segment.
Miz TV w/AJ Styles: As the top two heels on Smackdown, we’ve barely seen Styles and the Miz interact. Apart from their encounters when AJ first debuted, they’ve never been in the ring together.
AJ and the Miz worked perfectly together. There was nothing better than hearing the two compliment each other. However, I’m glad they eventually found reasons to disagree. The back and forth came across logical for both characters, as each of them had a solid claim for being the top guy on Smackdown. This was nothing short of solid character presentation.
While the Miz is presented as a coward, him heading into the ring to fight Ziggler was completely out of character (but it worked). The great apart about that is how he found a way to deliver his finisher to Dolph. As a chaotic opening segment, it set the narrative for the show which gave fans something to look forward to.
Natalya vs Carmella
The highlight of this match/promo was easily Natalya talking about apologizing before Carmella interrupts her, which was proceeded by Carmella interrupting her. It was something simple, but it worked for me.
A lot of the in ring action was easily overshadowed by announce team, but it’s worth noting that Carmella and Natalya had good chemistry. Along with that, the Princess of Staten Island was on point with her in ring trash talk. The finish was done well, as it allowed for this three way feud to be continued. It’s worth acknowledging that Carmella’s inside cradle looked rather strong and tight. With the amount she continues to improve, I hope this feud goes somewhere for her.
Tag Team Battle Royal
Smackdown has done a good job at keeping their tag team division relevant, but most of the teams haven’t been booked strong enough to enter a feud with the Wyatts. It was hard to imagine any of these teams holding their own against the current champs.
I was convinced the American Alpha was guaranteed to win, as they’re the only team that’s showcased as the top team in the division. Needless to say, I was on the edge of my seat once Jason Jordan was eliminated. Once Zack Ryder won this for the Hype Bros, my jaw dropped. I don’t mind that decision though, because this is the time of year to push colder talents and see where they’ll go.
Alexa Bliss vs Deonna Purazzo/Becky Lynch
Alexa stole the show by referring to Deonna as “Jane Ellsworth”. I was overcome by laughter after that statement.
Initially I was wary of Becky and Bliss having a rematch unannounced, but it worked based on how the action played out. What I continue to love about Alexa is how she uses classic heel tactics in her character, which is why her fake injury fit this contest. I’m actually more curious to see how this feud unravels heading into the New Year.
Dean Ambrose vs The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler vs Luke Harper
I thought this was a great opportunity for Luke Harper. He’s always booked as Bray Wyatt’s goon, but this reminded the fans that he’s still a capable performer and character on his own. After his early domination, I was most interested in seeing him leave as number one contender for AJ’s title.
Apart from Dean Ambrose, AJ hasn’t had many run ins with the other competitors, so that made his words on commentary somewhat fresh. He also knew when to contribute on commentary, which made his input more entertaining and valuable.
In terms of the elimination order, I thought it was done properly. The Miz was caught of guard with an inside cradle, while Harper needed two finishers to put him out. That sounds fair to me in terms of character status and booking (if anything, it makes Harper look even stronger than he was coming into this fatal four way). I’m sure most fans weren’t clamouring to see Ambrose win, so having the Miz cost him made sense.
With Ziggler and Styles only wrestling once on WWE television, a small feud between them could be quite entertaining. I’m guessing next week will be about Ellsworth’s championship match, but hopefully Dolph and AJ are given some mic time.
This show was simply efficient. In terms of in ring matches/promos there were only five, and all of them meant something. At no point did this episode drag, because there was always a story/feud being progressed. There wasn’t a low point, but the high point was Miz TV. Overall, I give this show an 8.5/10.