This week’s SmackDown (11/29/2016) featured the final build to this Sunday’s TLC pay-per-view from including a number 1 contender’s match for the tag titles!
Becky Lynch/Alexa Bliss
It’s been nice to see SmackDown take the focus away from Nikki Bella and putting the spotlight on the up and coming Alexa Bliss. It would have been easy to give Nikki the first big title feud over the new SmackDown Women’s Championship, but they went with someone somewhat unproven. It shows the change in mentality within WWE and it’s something that has worked out well. Becky’s injury and Survivor Series put this one on the backburner for a while, but both women have made strides to make sure this feud is a good one.
These two had an interesting promo battle on SmackDown. I have consistently felt like Alexa has been better on promos and I felt the same on this night. Becky keeps going back to the fighting champion point and you can only keep saying that so many times before it becomes redundant. You can say the same thing about Alexa, but Alexa’s promos are actually pretty varied with insults, truths, and predictions. The thing I loved about Becky on this night, however, was that she didn’t just sit back to get insulted, she fought back. She did all this after calling Alexa, Lexi. I still can’t figure out if that was a mistake or not.
Becky threw the first punch at Alexa and the two fought into the corner. Becky set up a table in the corner and went to do an Exploder Suplex through it from the top rope. Alexa ended up knocking her off and through the table. We’d find out later in the night, predictably, that their SmackDown Women’s Championship match would be a Tables Match. I think these two can have a pretty good match, but I would have preferred a ladder match or a TLC match. You’re limited in a Tables Match because the match ends when a person goes through the table. It’s essentially a normal match.
Kalisto/Baron Corbin & The Miz/Dolph Ziggler
In the race to get some build up for the Chairs Match between Kalisto and Baron Corbin and the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler, SmackDown decided to run a pointless tag team match between the faces and heels. The match ended up in a DQ win for Ziggler and Kalisto after Corbin hit Kalisto with a chair (Maryse had already hit Ziggler with a chair).
I felt like this was a poor way of building up such an important Intercontinental Championship match. The Miz and Dolph Ziggler should close the show and this is the last time these two will do battle. It just seemed like an afterthought on SmackDown. The two did address the match on Talking Smack, but that’s to a limited audience. It was certainly a missed opportunity to do some important promotion for Sunday’s match.
As far as Baron Corbin and Kalisto are concerned, this may be the worst feud in WWE right now. WWE is trying to make Kalisto the next Rey Mysterio and I just don’t see him getting to that level. Kalisto is a great talent, but I just don’t see him as a flagship star that WWE seems to want him to be. Baron Corbin should definitely be fighting someone higher up on the card, he looked like he was well on his way and then he just kind of stalled out. I believe that Corbin is ready for a big push, I’m not so sure about Kalisto.
This feud has been incredibly entertaining for me. Most of that entertainment has been from Carmella. She’s delivered some very good promos during the length of this feud. This week was no exception with Carmella talking about Nikki’s “Bella Twins” and making her forget all about a wedding to John Cena. This of course brought out Nikki and these two brawled. This ended with Nikki standing tall and Carmella backing off up the ramp.
If Nikki wins on Sunday in their No Disqualification Match at TLC, it will still be a huge win for Carmella. Carmella has proven that she can hang in there with anyone on the roster and that she is a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think any of the call-ups from NXT at the Draft have impressed me more than she has so far. She has consistently put together some head-turning promos while being solid in the ring. More importantly than those things, she’s established her character as a hated heel. She’s my pick for the next contender for the Women’s Championship if Becky retains. I’m sure that would be a great feud.
AJ Styles/Dean Ambrose/James Ellsworth
This whole James Ellsworth thing has taken a really violent turn and maybe that works for the type of character Ellsworth is, an enhancement talent. Ellsworth talked about beating AJ Styles 3 separate times before AJ came out to make his rebuttal. That only lasted a couple minutes before AJ proceeded to beat down Ellsworth including a vicious Styles Clash off the stairs and onto the floor below. Ellsworth ended up being taken away in an ambulance, Ambrose went with him.
Amrbose did end up showing at the end of the show to confront AJ as he was talking to Heath Slater and Rhyno. ambrose ended up beating him all around the backstage room to end the show. I was underwhelmed with the build up for the World Heavyweight Championship TLC match. I thought more could have been done and I was pretty disappointed that the whole thing has been based around Ellsworth. If Ellsworth costs AJ the title at TLC, I’m going to be furious!
The Wyatt Family/American Alpha
I was against this match from the beginning. American Alpha won the Tag Team Turmoil Match to be the Number One Contender’s to the SmackDown Tag Team Championship and they got that pulled out from under them. I understand this is WWE, but things have to make sense. As expected, The Wyatt Family found a way to win against American Alpha. Luke Harper showed up and the numbers games proved to be too much as Jason Jordan missed a shoulder tackle in the corner only for Bray to hit Sister Abigail for the 3-count.
The peculiar thing about The Wyatts is that Randy told Harper to take care of business against Kane and he lost. It seems like Randy is trying to create a rift between Luke and Bray. Part of me wonders if that’s going to come to a head at TLC or if it’s going to be held off longer. It was also mentioned on Talking Smack that they expected Randy to be playing mind games by joining The Wyatt Family, yet that hasn’t been the case so far.
I fully expect The Wyatts to take the tag titles from Slater and Rhyno Sunday. Those two haven’t done much as champions and those belts need to be legitimized, especially because they’re new titles. If this turns into an American Alpha/Wyatts feud, then I’m happy with this turn of events. If not, then American Alpha has once again been tossed to the side and I won’t be happy with it. Jordan and Gable certainly deserve to be doing more than they have been. I worry about this problem every time a tag team comes up. It’s almost never as good as it was in NXT and that’s been the case with The Ascension, The Vaudevillains, The Hype Bros, and American Alpha. Things need to change and hopefully they do soon.
It was a weak show to build to TLC. The women built to their matches nicely, but I wasn’t as enamoured with the men’s side. I feel like the women do more with less time, maybe it’s time to give them a little bit more since they make the most of it?