-WWE Smackdown Live for 8/23/2016
-From The Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut with Mauro Ranallo, JBL and David Otunga providing commentary.
-Smackdown begins with the locker-room milling about, when AJ Styles walks in, high off of his victory over John Cena at SummerSlam. Moping before him is Dolph Ziggler. AJ doesn’t like losers like Dolph, which results in a quick pull apart brawl.
-We head into the ring, where Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan join the rest of the roster. Inside of the ring are a new pair of tag team belts and a new women’s belt. We have a Six-Pack Challenge to find the new Smackdown Women’s Champion at Backlash. Bryan then announces a tag team tournament that will run into Backlash. But here comes Heath! And he’s over, baby! He’s sick and tired of this disrespect! But, he wants to be the next Michael Phelps, baby. He wants some gold. Shane mentions that Heath doesn’t have a tag team partner, too. Heath just needs to find a partner by the end of the night. Heath also needs to win the tag team titles to get a spot on Smackdown. This draws the anger of AJ Styles, who comes down the ring in need of attention. But bitter Dolph Ziggler takes issue with this and we have yet another pull apart brawl between the two of them.
Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss
Becky controls the arm to start. Nattie is on commentary with Naomi as well, here. Bliss escapes with an elbow, and Becky unsuccessfully goes for the DisarmHer. Bliss takes over in the ropes, drawing chants for Becky from the crowd. Bliss now controls the arm and grinds down Becky. Lynch twists back Alexa’s hand and escapes, building momentum with clotheslines and a leg lariat. She spits fire with a forearm into the corner but Bliss comes back with her sweet sunset bomb out of the corner. Becky counters a wheelbarrow on the whip with the DisarmHer for the win.
Thoughts: This needed another five minutes, as there’s some good chemistry with these two. I guess we can just toss a snowflake at it and move on and hope for them to have more time another time.
-Heath finds his first option, asking Miz to be his tag team partner. Things go well, but it turns out that Miz is just a douche on a bluetooth. I’m surprised that’s still a thing. Crestfallen, Heath walks on to find his tag team soulmate. Maybe they re-signed Justin Gabriel while we weren’t looking. But I want DEMON KANE for this role.
Tag Team Tournament – The Ascension vs. The Usos
The Ascension get the jobber entrance, while Jey and Jimmy get scattered boos and whoops from a few. The Roman stink is strong. Ascension attack to begin getting two from a move from the top. Konnor hits a big clothesline and tags in Viktor to get two. There’s lots of facepaint in this match. A chop puts Uso down and gets two and brings back Konnor with the legdrop for two. We get to the nerve hold, so this isn’t good for The Ascension. An awkward sunset flip gets two for Jimmy, and an enzuigiri helps Jimmy get the hot tag. Crossbody on Viktor from the top gets two. Viktor gets a backslide for two, but takes a Samoan Drop for two. Konnor cuts off the hip smash, but gets dumped out and dived upon. Back inside, the big splash takes care of The Ascension following a superkick.
Thoughts: Just a squash for The Usos to help them gain some momentum following their lousy fortunes of late. *
-AJ Styles comes out, proudly wearing John Cena’s armband over his bicep. He first runs down the jealous people out there, jealous of his victory. We get the still shots, and AJ comes back with reitterating the fact that he BEAT UP JOHN CENA. He tells Cena’s fans that they don’t have to follow John anymore, and tells them to hop on board his train. He proclaims to now be the face that runs the place. And now is the time to get his shot at Dean Ambrose. Dolph Ziggler comes out, once again. He is held back, and this brings out Bryan to break it up. Bryan announces AJ is indeed the new number one contender. However, we also have a main event of Dolph Ziggler vs. AJ Styles. If Dolph wins, he gets added in and makes the title defended in a triple threat. Hi, Billy Kidman.
-Curt Hawkins once broke a promise…in half!
Carmella vs. Nikki Bella
Carmella is just dying for a reaction. Like the one that Nikki Bella gets. Renee does a pre-match interview with Nikki, but Nikki gets attacked from behind by Carmella. This makes sense. Carmella should turn and they should ride the return pop. Carmella hits a bad downward spiral and keeps the beatdown going before a couple of referees break this up. They do a dreadful job, as Carmella comes back in and hits an X-Factor. No match.
Thoughts: This was a fine angle, as Carmella was not at all working as a face, and Nikki has that Misawa thing going that makes her hard to boo.
-We are graced by the presence of Randy Orton. We don’t have a bandage, so we might get a nice view of the ten staples in his scalp. Randy happily shows off the staples but he’d rather have been pinned and not had the match stopped by Shane McMahon. However, Randy is now interrupted by Bray, because this is exactly what we wanted. We get the full intro, so I’m gonna use the bathroom….so Bray sits in his rocking chair and reminds him that Randy is just a man, and how he must have realized this while he was bleeding on Sunday. But Bray is a God! So, this is why they’re gonna feud. Before a fight can break out, we get the redneck ninja smokebomb disappearance.
-Backstage, Shane is talking to Little Naitch, but then gets asked about Brock Lesnar. We find out that Stephanie fined Brock Lesnar $500 dollars as a punishment. And Shane claims that the story of he and Brock Lesnar is far from over. Oh boy.
-Heath is still in search of his tag partner. He tries to convince ARN ANDERSON to come out of retirement. This is his last chance, which displeases Arn. Rhyno pops in and offers to become Heath’s partner. Heath is overjoyed as they go off to make it official.
Tag Team Tournament – Breezango vs. American Alpha
Some brackets would be welcoming, but I guess this is alright. Gable and Fandango start and lock up. Fandango is proud of the snap mare that he accomplishes. So, the Olympian makes sure to humble him after Fandango gyrates in celebration. Tyler gets more of the same. Jordan comes and the two their dropkicks and stereo rear waistlock takedowns. Jordan gets a Manhattan Drop on Breeze and locks the arm as the crowd chants for America. Gable comes back to take the arm and drop the knee, passing the baton, says Mauro. The referee is distracted, allowing Fandango to clothesline Gable right onto his neck!
Back from commercial, Gable skins the cat and hooks his legs around Fandango and tosses him from the ring. Breeze tries to cut off the hot tag, but to no avail. Jordan runs in there and wrecks everyone. The straps come down and it’s a spear into the tag to Gable. A dropkick into a German gets two, before Fandango breaks it up. Jordan returns and puts Breeze in the electric chair. Fandango dumps Gable and a hurricanrana from Breeze gets two. Gable saves Jordan from a pinfall after a Super Model Kick in the corner. Gable and Fandango tumble to the outside, while Breeze gets two from an enzuigiri. Breeze misses the kick, and takes a capture suplex from Jordan. Tag to Gable, and it’s a sky high Grand Amplitude for the win.
Thoughts: This was surprisingly good. You just wouldn’t think that they’d get the time to do this. *** and American Alpha can GO. This is also a good showing from Breezango, who need to be kept in the mix.
-Dean is backstage and is enjoying his time at the casino. He’s also wearing an oversized, foam cowboy hat, channeling his inner Turd Ferguson.
Dolph Ziggler vs. AJ Styles
Dean is on commentary for this match. He debuts a new secret handshake with JBL, which is news to JBL. They take to the mat at the start, and wind up tangled in the ropes. They get tangled once more, before Styles takes control with a couple of right hands. Dolph gets on top and does some mat work, which is something he needs to do in the latter part of his career. Styles slips out, but gets dumped by a dropkick that follows a botched clothesline to the outside. We’re back from the first break in the match, and Styles has control in the corner. Styles misses a corner clothesline, allowing Dolph to pepper with right hands before taking the Bret Hart corner bump that always looks amazing. Styles follows with a backbreaker for two.
Dolph is out on his feet before taking a roundhouse kick to the head from Styles. They botch a rollup, but Styles saves it by getting back into control. This has been somewhat sloppy, but these guys look good together. A vicious high knee puts Dolph into the corner, and AJ takes the time to get the fans to despise him. Dolph takes some stiff shots, but keeps fighting back from behind. On the apron, Dolph slugs away, but walks into a knee that leads to a neckbreaker over the second rope.
We’re back with Dolph still suffering. AJ puts on a tricep hold as the fans start to get behind Dolph. Dolph fights back with rights, but takes a knee to the gut. Styles gets a head of steam but gets DRILLED by a Ziggler dropkick. They both fight back to their feet. Dolph hits a couple of clotheslines and the corner splash. The neckbreaker into the big elbow drop gets two for Ziggler. AJ runs into the post and takes a Fameasser for two that the crowd buys into. Dolph is really favoring his shoulder and hopefully works us by popping it back into place. Styles hits the move that Mauro knows by heart but I can’t spell. The AA into the knee. Styles hits an empty pool with the 450 and Dolph comes back with the big DDT for two.
Styles catches the superkick, but Dolph gets out of the Styles Clash and hits the Zig Zag for two! These two guys are kicking so much ass out there. Styles catches the superkick and goes low with help from the middle rope. Back into the middle of the ring, Styles Clash finishes it up. Phew.
Thoughts: Dolph Ziggler lost with so much style tonight, working perfect as an underdog here. I’m going to give this…****. There was some sloppiness in the early stages, but after that, this was an excellent wrestling match.
-After the match, AJ says hello to Dean, taking his headset off for him and forcing a staredown to end the show.
Final Thoughts: Two good to great matches in a two hour show is enough to put a smile on my face. Heath Slater is picking up some momentum and his oddball partnership with Rhyno feels like some great continuation. The new belts look nice and will look good around the waists of American Alpha and Nikki Misawa. I’m thinking that Dolph Ziggler moves on to do battle with The Miz over the IC Title. Speaking of The Miz, everyone should check out his worked shoot promo on Daniel Bryan from Talking Smack tonight. It was magnificent and will leave you with a dropped jaw.
Thanks for reading!