Notes In Observance – WWE SmackDown Live 8/23/16: Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
– Headed out of WWE SummerSlam on the SmackDown Live side was the news that AJ Styles cleanly pinned 15-time World Champion John Cena in the ring and despite a close effort (in a dud match), Dolph Ziggler didn’t fulfill his opportunity against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose and fell short yet again. It was a smart idea to have the gloating Styles and upset Ziggler collide in the locker room based off SummerSlam alone. The only thing that confused us was a random locker room as Baron Corbin talked to Erick Rowan (with the sheep mask on) and Apollo Crews spoke with Rhyno. Like, what? Anyways, Styles had Ziggler snapping at him coming since he called the guy a loser to his face. Styles has comfortably settled into the “pest heel” role and it doesn’t hurt to have a solid character behind the guy who can go in the ring.
– The opening in-ring segment with SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon, SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan, Nikki Bella, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Naomi, American Alpha, Breezango, The Usos, The Ascension, The Vaudevillains, The Hype Bros., Heath Slater, Styles and Ziggler carried off the announcement earlier in the day by social media that two new Titles would be introduced and they were the WWE SmackDown Live Women’s Championship and the WWE SmackDown Live World Tag Team Championships. We also had clear plans set for Backlash, as Shane booked a six-pack challenge between the ladies at Backlash to crown the first-ever SmackDown Women’s Champion and then announced a Tag Team Tournament that’d culminate at Backlash to crown the first-ever SmackDown Tag Team Champions. This was all fine and good since they took everybody who established themselves as contenders prior to SummerSlam and set things forward. The fan support for Slater continued to grow despite his pest heel ways, as he tried to get his way into the Tournament. Bryan/Shane continued to create obstacles for him in that he needed to find a partner by the end of the night to be able to compete and would only get a SmackDown Live contract if his team went on to win the whole tournament. The people actually booed the big mountain to climb. This then seamlessly transitioned into Styles, who came out and complained before he was attacked from behind by Ziggler, which tied into the opening segment, so it all made sense here.
– Bliss got some love from commentary as her cover photo from Muscle & Fitness magazine was displayed before her match with Lynch, as Naomi and Natalya sat in on commentary all to push this six-pack Backlash match. The in-ring action was fine, as Bliss continues to develop her skills. she was on the offense with a lot of rest holds and trash-talk, while Natalya showed some decent charisma at the booth to put herself over as a “born Champion.” For her loud attire, we certainly expected more from Naomi than monotone answers. She used to be such a badass. It’s not the best direction to see her back to the dancing, pandering babyface lit up in neon. It made sense for Lynch to go over here given her experience and the Disarmer was a fine finish that cemented her comeback. The crowd certainly was into her as well, so that was a help.
– The search for a partner for Slater began as he approached WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz and Maryse backstage to pitch the idea. Miz made like he was a “big fan” and that he’d be honored, only to have it be revealed that he ignored Slater and spoke into an earpiece to Stephen Spielberg about being the next Indiana Jones. This seemed purely designed to build sympathy for Slater, so maybe they’re moving in the right direction for the hard-lucked heel.
– The Tag Team Tournament First Round match between The Ascension and The Usos felt predictable from the start, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Usos remained babyface, but showed a lot of overconfidence in the way they carried themselves. Ascension put in some early offense before they were overcome by the end. Again, predictable but not always a bad thing. The Usos will always be better positioned than Ascension these days.
– The in-ring segment with Styles, Bryan and Ziggler gave us the main event announcement with an eye towards Backlash. Styles continued to throw it in everybody’s faces that he beat Cena despite the many cheers he received, while Ziggler continued to try to get his hands on Styles for his earlier comments before Bryan broke it up and formally announced that the Backlash main event would be Styles-Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and if Ziggler beat Styles later, then the match would become a Triple Threat. Except it wasn’t quite announced that way, since Bryan didn’t officially name Styles the #1 Contender. The way it was phrased made it implied Styles was #1 contender and was only battling Ziggler to keep his Title match one-on-one.
– These exaggerated Curt Hawkins facts continue to make us laugh as they remind us of the old Matt Hardy V1 statistics. We’re curious what his character will bring to the show down the road. One thing that WWE hasn’t addressed since the Draft is how the GMs and Commissioners are able to access the free agent list.
– The in-ring segment with Carmella and Bella was a welcome progress for the Women’s Division. Carmella came on as a babyface loosely associated with Enzo Amore/Big Cass on NXT before she debuted on her own on SmackDown to essentially crickets. We’re surprised they didn’t try to turn her heel in front of her hometown fans, but we see why they did it here. Bella was established as sort of a babyface returning from neck surgery and Carmella officially turned heel as she attacked Bella from behind before she could finish her thoughts in an interview with Renee Young. Again, we like this move for both parties as Carmella feels better fit for a heel. Also liked the finishing touch where Carmella hit Bella’s own finisher on her.
– The in-ring segment with Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt set direction for both men coming out of SummerSlam. Orton acknowledged that he was beaten by the better guy but gave it his all, but before he could offer more, was interrupted by the Rocking Chair God himself. We liked Wyatt’s brief speech about how Orton wasn’t a legend, but a simple man who bled. We didn’t see any physicality, but that should come within the next few weeks as Backlash draws closer.
– Shane’s backstage promo advanced things with him and Brock Lesnar, as he also expressed that he didn’t think his sister, Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon took things seriously, as she only fined Lesnar $500 for his actions. The line at the end that “this thing was far from over” made us groan a little bit. They’ll probably push this for Survivor Series based on Lesnar’s schedule. Surprised they didn’t mention a storyline suspension of some sort for Lesnar.
– Slater’s partner dilemma was solved in the backstage segment with him, Arn Anderson and Rhyno. Anderson was portrayed as Slater’s last chance to which the legend took offense at not being the first choice. Slater had to be desperate to rely on an old-timer for him. Is he just that unlikable? At first glance, we thought Rhyno’s hand was Corbin’s, but we’ll take it. While it felt random, we’re still yet to see what Rhyno’s intentions truly are. They could be to turn on Slater and turn him babyface. With the growing support, we can see it happening.
– The Tag Team Tournament First Round match between AA and Breezango made the tourney feel a little more important with pre-taped promos from both teams, as AA focused on rhymes and charisma and Breezango on their looks and VIP lives. The in-ring action was strong from start to finish and was the kind of match that elevated both teams coming out of it. We knew AA was capable of it, but we were pleasantly surprised to see Breezango treated as serious contenders and not jobbers like Ascension was earlier on in the night. It’s like we still figured AA would go over, but there were a few teases down the stretch that made an upset possible. Granted, it was the typical AA formula, but they changed it up a bit to have the heels stand out and almost take the match. A little drama is always nice, but they brought it home with Grand Amplitude to advance. We hope they don’t stop the push for Breezango because of the loss. The team is actually solid and could go pretty far if given the right opportunity to do so.
– We’re not sure why Ambrose is continuously portrayed as a careless gambling man, but it gives the impression he too doesn’t take things seriously. What kind of babyface is that? He emerged with a Mohegan Sun Casino t-shirt on and donned an oversized foam cowboy hat. He wasn’t even watching the show as the main event was news to him. This is our World Champion we’re supposed to rally behind? Show the guy cares, man. Perhaps it was by design?
– The Ambrose-Ziggler main event with Ambrose on commentary and where if Ziggler won, he’d get added to the Backlash main event was great in terms of in-ring action. Actually, we found ourselves rooting more for Ziggler here than we did his whole SummerSlam match. The thing was that Styles made him look excellent and gave the impression that he actually stood a chance to win, something we never felt with the Ambrose match at SummerSlam. Ambrose tried to put over both Ziggler and Styles, but his careless attitude really combated that to an extent. The near-falls were excellent towards the finish and we thought Ziggler would win after he countered the Styles Clash into the Zig-Zag, but it only counted for another near-fall. Styles won with a supposed asterisk as he used the ropes to low blow Ziggler before the Styles Clash to keep Backlash a one-on-one match. We wonder if it sets up Ziggler to turn heel based on his devastating losses. The face-to-face interaction between Styles and Ambrose to close the show was well-done, with the overconfident Styles trying to rile up Ambrose before he backed away when the Champ didn’t back down.
- Becky Lynch def. Alexa Bliss via submission
- Tag Team Tournament – First Round – The Usos def. The Ascension via pinfall to advance
- Tag Team Tournament – First Round – American Alpha def. Breezango via pinfall to advance
- If Dolph Ziggler Wins, He Gets Added To The AJ Styles-Dean Ambrose Match At Backlash For The WWE World Heavyweight Championship – AJ Styles def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall
Posted on October 9, 2016, in WWE and tagged AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, American Alpha, Apollo Crews, Arn Anderson, Backlash, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Breezango, Carmella, Curt Hawkins, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, Heath Slater, Maryse, Naomi, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Renee Young, Rhyno, Shane McMahon, SmackDown Live, SummerSlam, The Ascension, The Hype Bros., The Miz, The Usos, The Vaudevillains. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.