Written by M.J. Rawls
Before we head into one of the big four PPV’s of the year and the road to Wrestlemania, Smackdown Live! gave us another solid Sunday night entry with TLC. There was some wonky stuff, but for the most part, everything was solid as Smackdown seems to get it. Good wrestling plus good story telling is what the fans want. This was despite a crowd that was not interested at times and even chanting “JBL” at some points.
Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno (Tag Team Title Match): I feel that a title is WAY overdue for Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt family itself. After years of near misses and bad booking, The Wyatts have some legitimacy with this Randy Orton story line. Match itself was short, but the story telling was really the meat and potatoes. The Luke Harper/Randy Orton dynamic is very intriguing as you would have thought Orton would have turned on The Wyatts before this.
Nikki Bella vs Carmella (NO D.Q.): Man, I hope this feud is over. With the angle of Carmella bringing Nikki’s family into the story line, you would hope that this match would be a tad more brutal. There was some kendo shots here and there, but overall, it was little about No D.Q. There was even an instance where the ref was counting someone out in an D.Q. match. Afterwards, Carmella made an inference to Natayla double crossing Nikki. This feud desperately needs some new blood as it waits for the outcome of the Alexa/Becky feud.
The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler (Ladder Match): The Miz has proven that he is probably the top heel in the company this year. Dolph Ziggler has also proven that he is one of the best sellers in the business. This match had high spots with the ladders that I did not think that Miz would do, but he surprised me. The ending was a big anti-climatic, but overall, it was a good job by both men in the final match of their feud.
Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin (Chairs Match): A big surprise on this show – this match was really good. Baron Corbin does the “hulking, big man” stigma very well and Kalisto carried the “small guy that overcomes the odds” look very well. Both men came off believable and hopefully, Baron Corbin gets a push either into a IC title or World Title feud in the future.
Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss (Tables Match/ Women’s Title): It’s been a joy to see Alexa grow in her role in this feud. Her in ring work and promos has improved each week and this feud is a nice contrast to the more intense matches that take place on RAW. Alexa used her sneakiness to take the title and while some may have gotten confused with the Becky interview afterwards, it shows a side of her character that is a bit more fired up and will have an equally good rematch, possibly at Royal Rumble.
AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose (TLC Match): AJ Styles is a shoe-in for wrestler of the year (Kenny Omega also has a say in that as well). This was a brutal match that got the crowd to wake up. Both men brought it with high spots from the ladder onto the announcing booth and a somersault through a row of chairs. It was a chaotic and frantic pace towards the end. Yes, we had a James Ellsworth run-in, but I didn’t hate it. Ellsworth tipped over the ladder betraying his only friend. If you watched Talking Smack, it legitimized Ellsworth’s goofy reason for doing this. As much grief as we give Ellsworth being in the position that he’s in, there’s a legitimate interest in where this story is going. There’s no way that Ellsworth is going to take the title away from AJ, but how is Dean going to get his revenge?
With Talking Smack, the question remains is to why they choose to portray Daniel Bryan as a GM that constantly gets picked on. Smackdown Live is a show that has all heels holding a title. The tension between Bryan and Miz continues to build, but where is it going if Bryan can’t wrestle?