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WWE Smackdown LIVE!- August 23, 2016

by Scrooge McSuck

WWE Smackdown Live

- Last week on Smackdown Live, in our weekly cheap plug for last week's article... John Cena defeated Alberto Del Rio in the latter's more-than-likely farewell due to a wellness violation and an opt-out clause in his contract... American Alpha put the tag team division on notice with a big pin fall in the 12-Man Tag Team Match... Heath Slater earned a hard-fought victory over Randy Orton, but mistaking Shane and Daniel for Stephanie and Foley lead to his contract offer being taken away, again... Erick Rowan's 900th consecutive loss has lead Bray Wyatt to question his faith in the former wine connoisseur... Dolph Ziggler faked out Dean Ambrose with an over-blown promo before laying him out with a Super-Kick (out of nowhere)... The Miz continues to insist Apollo Crews is really "Apollo Creed"... Eva Marie's traffic problems lead to another delay in her debut, this time against the repackaged Naomi, who appears to have come back from a rave... Baron Corbin continues to make Kalisto's life a living hell... and with that, SummerSlam was this weekend! Cheap plug #2 and we're still one paragraph deep! Here's the rundown of the Smackdown exclusive roster...

- A.J. Styles pinned John Cena in a phenomenal rematch, kicking out of the uber-protected Super-AA and finished Cena off with second-helpings of the Styles Clash and Phenomenal Forearm... Randy Orton did his best and took Brock to Viperville, but a pair of brutal elbows ripped open a huge gash and the referee awarded the match to Lesnar by TKO... Dean Ambrose retained the WWE World Title against Dolph Ziggler in a surprisingly disappointing match... The Miz retained the Intercontinental Title against Apollo Crews thanks to a quick distraction from Maryse... Nikki Bella made her return, teaming with Natalya and Alexa Bliss, in a victory over Carmella, Becky Lynch, and Naomi... The Usos stole a pin away from American Alpha in a rematch of the 12-Man Tag Team Match.

- Presented LIVE on the USA Network from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT (good luck with that town being mentioned more than once on the broadcast), with Mauro Ranallo, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and David Otunga calling the action, unless otherwise noted.

-A.J. Styles interrupts conversations between Corbin and Rowan, Crews and Rhyno, and over in the corner Dolph Ziggler is moping. He brags about being the new Face That Runs The Place™. He has Cena's arm band as a trophy. He gets in Ziggler's face for being a choker and gets sucker punched for it. Looks like we haven't seen the last of "top guy" Ziggler after all.

- The ring is filled with the Tag Teams and Women of Smackdown, as well as the NEWLY CREATED Championship Belts for their respective divisions (basically the same designs of the other belts, but with BLUE). Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan come out to give us the skinny. They address the women first, because at Backlash it will be a Women's Six-Pack Challenge to determine the 1st ever Smackdown Women's Champion. Hopefully they won't have to relinquish the belt because of an unnecessary injury. The Smackdown Tag Titles will also be awarded at Backlash on September 11th via Tournament, but before we get more details (especially since we have six teams), THE HOTTEST FREE AGENT in wrestling, Heath Slater, interrupts. Bryan refuses putting him in the hunt for the Women's Title for the obvious reasons. He wants a shot at the Tag Titles, but Shane reminds him he doesn't have a partner (on top of not being a member of the roster). If he can find a partner, Shane and Bryan will put them in a spot in the tournament along with an eighth team. A.J. Styles interrupts the festivities to complain about being sucker-punched by Dolph Ziggler (and turn down Slater before he can ask), but before he can really get going, Ziggler attacks from behind and all the tag teams are ordered by Shane to break things up.

Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss:

Did You Know... Alexa Bliss is on the cover of this month's Muscle & Fitness (Hers)? Natalya and Naomi are joining in for the commentary team. Lockup into the ropes and nothing comes of it. Becky goes to work on the arm. Bliss with an elbow to the side of the face to escape. Crisscross and they fight over a hip toss. Alexa with a headlock takeover, Becky counters and goes for the Disarm-Her, but Alexa makes it to the ropes before she can hook it properly. Crowd chants "Becky" as Alexa stomps her face repeatedly into the canvas for barely a one count. She hangs on to an arm-bar as we run down Alexa's experience in the Arnold Classic. Whip to the ropes, Becky ducks under an elbow and comes back with a pair of clotheslines, followed by a leg lariat. She charges into the corner with the big forearm (the "Flying Fire-Arm). Alexa counters another charge with a sunset flip for a near fall. Bliss comes off the ropes with a wheel barrow arm drag, but Becky counters with the Disarm-Her for the tap out at 4:02. *1/2 Quick showcase to remind fans that Becky Lynch is one of the top contenders for the new Championship.

- Heath Slater approaches The Miz with his butt-kissing lips on. Things seem to be going well for Heath, until Miz reveals his complimentary responses are really just him on his blue-tooth earpiece responding to "Mr. Spielberg", so everything Slater said fell on deaf ears and he still doesn't have a partner.

The Usos vs. The Ascension:

(Jimmy & Jey Uso vs. Viktor & Konnor)
1st Round Tournament Match to crown the 1st Smackdown Tag Team Champions. I wouldn't be shocked if the Finals, as the division looks right now, comes down to the Usos vs. American Alpha. The Ascension attack from behind, dumping Jey and hitting Jimmy with a double team high knee spot for a near fall. Whip to the corner and Konnor comes off the second rope with a clothesline for another two count. Konnor with a crushing corner clothesline for two. Viktor with chops for two. He slaps on a single-leg crab while Konnor comes down with a leg drop across the back of the head for two. Jimmy fights out of a nerve hold, but it looks like Jey is still napping on the floor. Jimmy with a sunset flip for two. He connects with a spinning enzuigiri and Jey gets the hot tag. He hits Viktor with a top rope body press for two. Jey with a Super-Kick to the midsection, but Viktor surprises him with a back slide for two. Jey with a Samoan drop but Konnor breaks up the charge to the corner. Jimmy sends him to the floor with a Super-Kick and nails a tope suicida. Jey with a Super-Kick to Viktor, and Jimmy finishes with the Splash from the top rope at 3:49. ** All action packed into a short match. When it comes to the Ascension, you have to think shorter will lead to better quality matches, otherwise we'll suffer through chin-locks and other rest-holds.

- A.J. Styles makes his second appearance to brag about being the unofficial NEW Face That Runs the Place™. The crowd is actually pro-Styles so he has to quiet them down to keep up his heel persona. He did exactly what he said he would do... #BeatUpJohnCena, and then he beat him in the ring. He constantly repeats he's the new face and he should be the #1 contender to the WWE Championship. This brings Dolph Ziggler out AGAIN! Is that Billy Kidman helping to keep him at bay?! Daniel Bryan interrupts and wants them to stop trying to ruin the show, so tonight, in the Main Event, it's A.J. Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler and if A.J. wins he goes on to face Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Championship at Backlash one-on-one, but if Dolph wins, it's a Triple Threat. That's a no-lose situation for Styles, isn't it?

- Curt Hawkins is still coming to WWE Smackdown Live... FACT. I credited this as ripping off "Matt Facts", but then the whole "Fact" thing is ripping off Tyson Kidd and Cesaro during their short reign at the top of the tag team division.

Carmella vs. Nikki Bella:

This could be disastrous. Nikki is making her first singles appearance since being out of action last October, and Carmella gets to be her sacrificial chicken. My "pet name" to mock her is Camilla the Chicken, a.k.a. Gonzo's chicken love interest from the Muppets, so if I ever use that reference, now you know. Renee Young is in the ring to interview Nikki before the match. How disrespectful to Carmella. Carmella actually attacks from behind in a bit of a heel move and does some ground and pound. Carmella with a Super Kick and some trash talking. She hits her with a poor looking Downward Spiral and poses. She targets the back of the head and neck and I guess the match is being called off. DOUBLE TURN!? I'll take it, gives Carmella new motivation. She comes back in and plants Nikki with the X-Factor, ripping off Brie's former finishing move.

- Randy Orton comes out for his post-SummerSlam Pity Party™. He's showing off the nasty cut that required ten staples, courtesy of Brock. He would rather be taken out on a stretcher than have the match ended the way it did. We don't get much further than that before Bray Wyatt's music plays as I expected. He reminds Orton that he's just a man capable of dying, while he's a God, and a God can never die. Suddenly the screen flickers and Wyatt disappears... Huh. I would've put money on that being a cue for the return of Luke Harper.

- Charley Caruso interviews Shane McMahon about what happened at SummerSlam. According to Shane, Stephanie's "punishment" for Brock was a fine for $500, and says things are far from over between the two of them (insert Goldberg or Samoa Joe rumors here).

- Heath Slater's next option: ARN ANDERSON. That's only about twenty years too late. Maybe Slater should try and find Marty Lunde (wink-wink). Rhyno walks in and agrees to be his partner, disappointing me as I expected him to pull out some really oddball partner.

American Alpha vs. Breezango:

(Chad Gable & Jason Jordan vs. Tyler Breeze & Fandango)
1st Round Match for the Tag Team Championship Tournament, and if this got more than 4-minutes, could be an outstanding match. It really looks like we're getting all the babyface teams advancing to the Semi-Finals. Gable and Fandango start. Gable with a takedown. Breeze tags in to try his luck, but it's not much better for him. American Alpha take turns working on the arm of Breeze. The referee gets distracted by Jordan, allowing Breeze to send Gable into a hard clothesline for a near fall as we take a break. We return with Gable fighting his way out of a chin-lock. Fandango tosses him over the top rope, but Gable hangs on and takes him over with a head scissors. Breeze with the tag, but he can't cut off Gable, and in comes Jordan. He hits Breeze with a dropkick and press him high in the air. Overhead belly-to-belly suplex to both members of Breezango. He hits the running shoulder to the midsection, but Fandango blocks the Grand Amplitude. Jordan with a dropkick on Breeze into a German Suplex by Gable for a near fall. Jordan lifts Breeze into the electric chair, but it's countered with a hurricanrana after Breeze shoved Gable off the top rope. Super Model Kick between the legs and Gable breaks the cover. Gable takes Fandango out with a body press while Jordan takes Breeze over with a sunset flip for two. Breeze with an enzuigiri on Jordan for two. Jordan counters the Super Model Kick with an Exploder, and the Grand Amplitude sends American Alpha to the Semi-Finals at 10:29. *** Really good TV match and to my surprise, they were given a decent amount of time considering the typical circumstances and average time for matches every week.

- Dean Ambrose is WALKING, wearing an over-sized novelty cowboy hat and a Mohegan Sun shirt. Charley Caruso asks him what he thought about the #1 Contender situation, but he mostly blows it off to talk about gambling and always betting on black. He's going to join the commentary team for tonight's Main Event. He tips a waitress with casino chips.

Dolph Ziggler vs. A.J. Styles:

This should be good, with 20+ minutes to fill the rest of the show. If Dolph wins, he's added to the match at Backlash for a Triple Threat, but if Styles wins, it remains a one-on-one match. I guess the incentive for Styles is he wants to keep it to just one opponent, while Ziggler has no other option than to fight both. Ziggler shoots for a takedown, but Styles makes it to the ropes. They do it again and this time Styles nails him with a straight right. He sends Ziggler to the corner and nails him with another right. Ziggler with a waist-lock into a takedown, trying to hook a rear choke, but Styles escapes to the floor. Back inside, Ziggler clotheslines Styles across the top rope and sends him back out with a dropkick as we take a break.

We return with Styles working Ziggler over in the corner. During the break, Styles sent Ziggler to the corner via slingshot to take over. Whip across the ring and Styles misses a diving forearm. Ziggler with rights. Whip to the corner is reversed and he takes a hell of a chest-first bump with very little time to adjust. Styles with a running back breaker for a two count. Crowd with dueling chants while Styles lays into him with rights, followed by a roundhouse kick. Ziggler with a cradle from out of nowhere. He goes for a waist-lock, but Styles elbows his way free. He sends Ziggler to the corner and gives Ambrose a warning for Backlash. Ziggler fights his way out of the corner. He misses a shoulder, allowing Styles to hang him up across the middle rope as we take another break.

Back from the last commercial break of the night, with Styles holding on to a chin-lock. Ziggler with fists to the midsection, but Styles knocks him back down. During the break, we see Styles sending Ziggler crashing into the ring steps. Back to live action, Styles in control with an arm-bar. Styles struggles to the ropes and escapes with rights. Styles counters an Irish whip with a knee to the midsection. He hits the ropes and Ziggler catches him by surprise with a beautiful dropkick. Ziggler with an elbow on the chin, followed by a pair of diving clotheslines. Stinger Splash in the corner, followed by a neck breaker and jumping elbow drop for two. Styles meets the post on a charge and Ziggler hits the Rocker Dropper for a near fall. Both men are slow to their feet. Styles counters the Zig Zag attempt with an Ushigoroshi for two. Styles with a slam but the springboard 450 splash misses. Ziggler with a DDT for two! Styles catches the Super-Kick and sets up for the Styles Clash, but Ziggler counters with kicks to the head. Styles misses a charge and the Zig Zag connects for two! Ziggler with a headbutt, but Styles avoids another Super-Kick, and the Styles Clash finishes Ziggler's hopes for redemption at 21:31. ***1/2 Another really good television match. The commercial breaks always hurt things, and you can tell they weren't going too hard tonight until the final 5-minutes, but they kept a good pace and worked a smart match even if it wasn't "PPV levels" of great. Blew away the Ambrose/Ziggler match from SummerSlam.

Final Thoughts: A strong show from start to finish, highlighted by an outstanding TV quality Main Event, as well as a solid 1st Round match in the Tag Team Championship Tournament between American Alpha and Breezango. Elsewhere on the show, Heath Slater is still on a mission to earn himself a contract with Smackdown Live, Nikki Bella is back and got a beat down courtesy of Carmella in a solid choice for a turn heel, The Usos defeated the Ascension to advance in the tournament, and we're building momentum for the Women's Six-Pack Challenge. The only angle for the show I didn't care for was Orton vs. Wyatt, and with so much going on, the Miz was almost a non-factor, we got nothing from Apollo Crews, and we didn't get a follow-up on the Corbin/Kalisto angle.

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