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WWE Smackdown LIVE!- September 20, 2016

by Scrooge McSuck

Dean Ambrose

- Last week on Smackdown Live... John Cena returned from hiatus (as in working exclusively in dark matches and house shows) to declare his intentions to become a 16-time World Champion, so a Triple Threat is signed for No Mercy with A.J. Styles defending the WWE World Title against Cena and Dean Ambrose... Cena and Ambrose won in the Main Event over Styles and the Miz (who ruthlessly stole the spot from James Ellsworth), and post-match, Ambrose laid Cena out with Dirty Deeds... Heath Slater officially signed his WWE Smackdown Live Contract, and along with Rhyno, successfully defended the Tag Team Titles against the Ascension... The Miz blew off Dolph Ziggler's newest challenge, demanding to renegotiate his contract first... Alexa Bliss won a Fatal-5-Way to determine the #1 Contender to Becky Lynch's Women's Championship... Curt Hawkins is still coming, and the less said about that vignette, the better... The Usos easily defeated the far-from-100% Hype Bros... Jack Swagger became the first Raw Superstar to jump to Smackdown and cut a brutally awful promo on Baron Corbin... Randy Orton hit Erick Rowan with RKO OUT OF NOWHERE™.

- Live from the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, AL, with Mauro Ranallo, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and David Otunga calling the action, unless otherwise noted. Advertised ahead of time for tonight: Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena, as well as the Miz defending the Intercontinental Title against Dolph Ziggler. I guess the contract negotiations went well?

- We open the show with Daniel Bryan already in the ring, with the ring dressed for a contract signing. He announces the Women's Championship will be defended for the 1st time at No Mercy, which means this will be the 1st Women's Contract signing. He says things will be kept civil, and tells the fans not to boo that. Becky Lynch comes out first. I'd like to smack whoever came up with the "Becky Balboa" nickname. Can they also retire the phrase "meteoric rise" to describe someone earning a title shot shortly after their debut? They replay the finish to last week's match to remind us Alexa Bliss's victory was more of a fluke than anything. She tries making fun of Becky's skin, so Becky tells her while she's busy preparing for a pageant, she's preparing for a fight. Alexa says Becky's role is to be a loser. Becky says she watched way too much TV and learned she could be anything she wanted to be, and she wanted to be a Champion. She wasn't born to be a Champion, she poured her heart and soul into this (holds belt up high) and fought to be a Champion and at No Mercy, she's going to rip her head off. Alexa completely no-sells her passionate response, tells her she's going to be a one hit wonder, and knocks her down. She signs the contract and flips the table on top of her to add an exclamation point. Becky quickly tracks her down in the aisle, sending Bliss scurrying away like a rat. Not the worst segment. Becky's got the passion in her promos and Bliss recited her scripted lines well.

- The Miz confronts Daniel Bryan backstage. It's not about his newly renegotiated contract, but it's about the Intercontinental Title Match. Bryan says he can cancel the match and he can cancel the contract. He didn't read the fine print and was too busy bashing him on Twitter. Bryan throws the "going out there to do what you can't do" line back in his face.

American Alpha vs. The Usos:

(Chad Gable & Jason Jordan vs. Jimmy & Jey Uso)
Good to see Gable has recovered from his sprained MCL. Personally, I would've milked it a few more weeks and done a couple of hype videos of him training for the return, but that's just me. Inset promo from Jordan and Gable working out and getting heated about what the Usos did. Tonight they start a new journey to become the Tag Team Champions. Gable quickly takes Jimmy down and pounds away. Jey comes in and is met with the same. Overhead belly-to-belly suplex on Jimmy for two. Gable goes to work on the left knee. Jordan tags in to do more of the same. Slater and Rhyno are watching backstage, eating cheese-whiz and crackers. American Alpha with a pair of double dropkicks to clear the ring. Jimmy sends Gable to the apron, hooks the leg between the ropes, and Jey with the assist, hanging him up. Jimmy with a Super-Kick to the knee, and Gable is hurt on the floor as we take a break. We return with the Jimmy dropping a leg across the chest while Jey has the injured leg in a grapevine. Gable tries fighting back, but Jimmy pulls him back to the corner and continue to attack the knee. Gable back drops Jimmy to the floor and does the slow crawl to make the hot tag. Jordan with rights and a body press. Overhead belly-to-belly suplex to Jimmy, and another for Jey. The straps are down! Running shoulder tackles to the midsection and a T-Bone Suplex on Jey gets two. Jordan sets Jey up across the top turnbuckle, but gets shoved off. He goes for it again, but Jey rakes the eyes and knocks him down with a headbutt. Jey with a Super-Kick, and Jimmy with the Splash, but Gable breaks the cover at 2.9999. Jey tosses Gable back to the floor, and he continues to sell the knee like crazy. Jordan walks into a Super-Kick, but the momentum of hitting the ropes gives him the opportunity to lay into Jimmy with a hard clothesline. Gable wants in, but Jordan won't tag him in and chooses to continue to go it alone. He counters a Samoan Drop with a sunset flip for two. Jimmy with another Super-Kick. Jey clips the knee of Gable as he tried to enter the ring, and a Double Super-Kick to Jordan. Jey with another Splash, and that does it for American Alpha at 10:35. *** Really good match that makes both teams look strong. The Usos relentless attack on Gable's injured knee, and the fighting spirit of American Alpha. Nice touch to have Jordan refuse to risk further injury to his partner and be the sacrificial lamb. This definitely isn't the last we'll see between these two teams.

- Even though it wasn't advertised as a #1 Contender's Match, the victory has earned them a title shot against Heath Slater and Rhyno at No Mercy. Backstage, Heath Slater wants to REALLY get the crowd behind them. When he says "Rhy" the crowd says "No." Rhyno seems more concerned eating his crackers. The Usos interrupt their strategizing and threaten to knock the crackers out of Rhyno's hand. Jey threatens to take Slater's knee out and send him and his 26 kids back to the mud hole they came fronm.

Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin:

This was supposed to happen last week, but Corbin attacked Crews before the match could start. Jack Swagger has joined the broadcast team, so we can assume this will be an easy victory for Corbin as the sacrifice of Apollo Crews continues. Corbin with a shove and Crews retaliates with rights. He takes Corbin off his feet with a running boot, followed by a Samoan drop for two. Corbin rolls to the floor to create separation, but Crews follows him and tosses him into the security barrier. Crews is actually showing fire for once. He follows up with an enzuigiri and tosses Crews back in the ring for another two count. Corbin with a dropkick, knocking Crews to the floor, and bashes him across the back of the neck with nasty forearms. He rolls Crews into the corner and repeatedly stomps him into the over-sized ring post. Corbin with End of Days to finish at 2:46. * Good energy for a match lasting less than three minutes. Instead of just having a match, they fought like they had personal issues and that at least made it look better than usual.

- Curt Hawkins with another "Face The Facts" promo. This went from a goofy series of vignettes to some embarrassingly bad vignettes where Hawkins comes across as the biggest geek of 2016.

- Charley Caruso is backstage with Naomi and Nikki Bella. I guess they have a match tonight with Natalya and Carmella. Nikki breaks kayfabe calling her "Trin" because fans care about using insider information like real names. Nikki is almost as poorly miscast as a babyface as was Carmella, but what are you going to do?

- Renee Young is backstage, but in a different section of the backstage area, to interview Dolph Ziggler who keeps finding new ways to make excuses for his failure, and yet he continues to get all the big title matches because... I don't know, maybe he's greasing Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan's palms. We have about an hour left, and there's the IC Title Match, Cena/Ambrose, the Women's Tag, and Orton/Rowan to squeeze in.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match:
The Miz © (w/ Maryse) vs. Dolph Ziggler:

These two had a pretty good match at Backlash, where the Miz retained thanks to Maryse spraying Dolph in the eyes with anything that can range from perfume to pepper spray. Even though Dolph wanted Miz out there by himself, Maryse is still by his side, so we can expect a bull-crap finish to build to another rematch at No Mercy. They do the big match introductions for this one. Ziggler with a takedown that ends up in the ropes. Miz tries to lead a game of cat-and-mouse, but Ziggler catches up to him and hooks a rear naked choke (insert CM Punk joke here). Ziggler follows Miz to the floor again and nails him with a clothesline. Maryse with a distraction, allowing Miz to nail Ziggler with a trio of dropkicks. Back inside, Miz comes off the top rope with a double axe-handle. Ziggler escapes a Skull Crushing Finale. Miz avoids a Super-Kick and the DDT, dropping Ziggler on his face. Miz mocks Daniel Bryan with "Yes" Kicks. At least he does them better than Brie. Ziggler blocks the big roundhouse kick and pounds away with rights. He misses a charge to the corner, meeting the post shoulder-first. Miz with a running boot to the face for two. Ziggler with a pair of dropkicks and stinger splash. Miz counters the swinging neck breaker and sends him into the post again. Miz with the running dropkicks, another trademark of Daniel Bryan's offense. Miz with the Awesome Clothesline, but another axe-handle is countered with a dropkick for a near fall. Miz counters the Famouser, Ziggler counters the Skull Crushing Finale with a DDT for two. The Super-Kick misses, but a clothesline takes both men to the floor.

We return from a commercial break, with both men fighting across the top rope. Miz blocks a Super-Plex attempt and goes for a sunset flip Powerbomb. Ziggler blocks it briefly, but Miz springboards him off the top rope and hits a sit-out Powerbomb for two. Miz with knees to the leg of Ziggler, but Ziggler counters the Figure-Four with another rear-naked choke. Miz with a boot to the face for two. Ziggler with a victory roll for two. Famouser for two! Both men are slow to their feet. Ziggler goes for the Zig Zag, but Miz throws him down. Ziggler gets an elbow up on a charge. The referee sees Maryse trying to cheat and ejects her from ringside. Ziggler from behind with a roll up for two. Miz counters for two. Ziggler with the Zig-Zag for the nearest of near falls you'll ever see. Miz rolls to the floor and crawls his way to the timekeeper's section. He grabs his belt and tries to run, but Ziggler cuts him off and throws him into the steps. Back inside, Miz still has the belt and tosses it across the ring. While the referee goes to remove it from the ring, the Miz has found the spray bottle at ringside, gets Ziggler in the eyes, and the Skull Crushing Finale finishes at 16:33. Miz's Never-Ending Intercontinental Championship World Tour continues! ***1/2 Pay-Per-View quality match, with the Miz finding another way to hold onto his Championship and once again Ziggler fails to succeed. How much longer is he going to lose before he snaps?

Randy Orton vs. Erick Rowan:

Last week Rowan made it clear he's still somewhat in cahoots with Bray Wyatt, but failed to help the leader of the Family. Rowan is already in the ring, with a sheep mask that has some kind of creepy clown grease-paint design on it. Orton goes for the RKO, but Rowan escapes and plants him with a spinning power-slam. Rowan with rights and a pair of elbow drops. Rowan with boots to the midsection and a rake of the face. Orton fights back with boots and rights of his own, but Rowan cuts him off. Whip to the ropes and Rowan with a dropkick, knocking Orton to the floor. Back inside, Orton catches Rowan with a boot to the chest and the rope-drape DDT. RKO finishes at 2:20. Quick and harmless. Rowan got to show-off whatever he can do, and Orton won with literally three moves.

- The lights go out signifying the arrival of Bray Wyatt, but when the lights come back on, all that remains is the deranged sheep mask. Bray Wyatt is standing by via his undisclosed location, mockingly clapping for him. Same stuff as we've seen for weeks now. Orton is just a man, but Wyatt is a God, and he can never die.

Nikki Bella & Naomi vs. Carmella & Natalya:

Will Nikki Bella get some kind of revenge against Carmella, the woman that has been a thorn in her side since she returned at SummerSlam? Carmella and Natalya are already in the ring and we only see the end of Nikki's entrance, which means no booty shake. I guess Naomi's rave-party entrance is worth the valuable television time that is rapidly running out. Did she steal a pair of Tyler Breeze's fuzzy boots? Natalya knocks Naomi off the apron at the bell. Nikki goes for the TKO, but Carmella interrupts. Natalya with a big forearm on Nikki and slaps on the Sharpshooter. Carmella pulls her to the floor and throws her into the security wall. Even Natalya seems surprised by this. The bell rings at the 33-second mark and this might as well have not even officially started. Naomi recovers for the brutal forearm and casually scares off Carmella. Less is better when you have someone as limited as Carmella.

- A.J. Styles is backstage, polishing his WWE World Championship. Charley Caruso shows up from out of nowhere to ask about the rivalry between Cena and Ambrose. He doesn't care, because he doesn't have a rivalry with anyone. He beat them both, which makes him not only the Face That Runs the Place, but the Champ Who Runs the Camp. The only way the title can be taken away from him is... I don't know. My cable was acting up all night and a glitch interrupted him.

John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose:

For such a limited roster, they really are having trouble cramming everything they want to into the 2-hour window. Last week these two got into a heated exchange of words, and as mentioned at the top of the recap, Ambrose laid him out with Dirty Deeds after being victorious over A.J. Styles and the Miz. Lockup, Ambrose with a side headlock, followed by a shoulder tackle. Cena with a go-behind into a side headlock, followed by his own shoulder tackle. Ambrose avoids the AA, and Cena avoids Dirty Deeds. Cena with another side headlock and shoulder tackle. Whip to the corner and Cena meets the post on a charge. We return from commercial, with Ambrose fighting out of the AA and unloading with rights and chops. He comes off the ropes with a clothesline and takes Cena out of the corner with a bulldog. Cena counters Dirty Deeds with the STF, but Ambrose makes it to the ropes. Ambrose tosses Cena to the floor and follows with tope suicida. Ambrose goes for a flying body press, but Cena rolls through and hits the AA for a near fall. Ambrose counters another AA attempt with Dirty Deeds for two. They slowly get to their feet, trading blows. Cena counters the Lunatic Lariat. He goes for the AA, but Ambrose counters with a sunset flip... for three at 10:13?! Woah, I don't care if it's a fluke, but it was still clean. Post-match, Styles hits Cena with a Phenomenal Forearm and lays out Ambrose with the Pele Kick. **1/2 A little too short to hit the next level with where they were going, but still a perfectly acceptable Main Event and a surprising finish with Ambrose going over clean.

- Daniel Bryan interrupts A.J. Styles celebration to let him know that Dean Ambrose will get his promised one-on-one rematch for the WWE World Championship... NEXT WEEK on Smackdown Live!

Final Thoughts: What an outstanding two hours of television. Not only were all the storylines advanced, but we were treated to two great television matches between American Alpha/Usos and Miz/Dolph Ziggler, but a solid Main Event between Ambrose/Cena and a shocking result. They pushed the upcoming No Mercy PPV with a solid in-ring confrontation between Becky and Alexa Bliss, gave Heath Slater and Rhyno face time, and the war between Nikki Bella and Carmella is far from over. They even managed to fit in time to remind us of a potential angle between Baron Corbin and Jack Swagger. The only negative for the evening was the same-old-stuff between Wyatt and Orton, but the fact all this was crammed into a two hour window is extraordinary.

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