Notes In Observance – WWE SmackDown Live 12/20/16: Straight Shooter
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.
– The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Champion AJ Styles and James Ellsworth felt overdue, but this was probably their way to finally silence Ellsworth’s surprising push. The fans obviously would side with Styles here since Ellsworth isolated himself when he betrayed Dean Ambrose at TLC. The awkward heel-heel dynamic didn’t last, because Styles laid him out with a martial arts array of strikes. Bam, three-count. Now, post-match was where things bettered. It seemed they looked to get heat on Styles as he annihilated Ellsworth with attacks that used the ring frame, barricade and steel steps. Styles’ promo afterwards set up the main event, as he looked towards 2017, but Dolph Ziggler interrupted him to remind him he had a shot next week with him. The Ziggler-Styles exchange was solid, as Styles pushed that Ziggler was known for losing, while Ziggler mentioned that Styles needed four tries to defeat Ellsworth. Baron Corbin also fit here as he claimed he should’ve had the Title match and not Ziggler. Eventually, Corbin laid Ziggler out with the End Of Days.
– The General Manager Daniel Bryan/Ziggler backstage segment set the night’s main event and surprise, Ziggler again put his already-earned Title shot on the line to prove a point. Isn’t this like the fourth time he has done that in 2016? After a point, it no longer looks noble. If we were Ziggler, wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on your guaranteed Title shot next week and then look to settle things with Corbin afterwards? Surely, he’s not going anywhere.
– The WWE Intercontinental Championship match between Champion The Miz and Apollo Crews stemmed back from “Tribute To The Troops” when Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias helped Crews defeat Miz in a non-Title match. Apparently, Miz asked for the rematch and Bryan forced him to put the belt on the line. Shouldn’t the belt have been on the line by default? Well, our main complaint with Crews on SD Live is that yes, he’s got the ring skills, but severely lacks any depth as a character. He smiles and he flies. Big whoop. This match was actually the first time we could appreciate a Crews match. Perhaps it was because of Miz, but we’ll take it. Good drama towards the end, as Crews gained a few near-falls when Maryse was ejected by the Referee for getting caught almost interfering. In the end, it was an eye poke and Skull-Crushing Finale that helped Miz retain. The “shock value” came with the post-match interview where Miz insulted Renee Young when she claimed he was obsessed with Ambrose. “You’re the one sleeping with him!” is a zinger if we ever heard of it. Will Young face any (kayfabe) disciplinary action for her reaction slap? Either way, doubt anybody saw them “going there.”
– With the news of Zack Ryder’s knee injury upon earning him and his partner Mojo Rawley a shot at the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships, it was announced that there’d be a four corner match where Champions Randy Orton/Bray Wyatt would defend against The Usos, Heath Slater/Rhyno and American Alpha next week. That’s certainly a plus to the loaded card. Shouldn’t Rawley argue he earned the shot and propose to bring a partner or is Rawley’s character just a happy-go-lucky dog?
– The John Cena hype video aired and was different than the one that aired on the previous night’s Raw, but it was cool. There was an orchestral version of Cena’s theme that played over stock footage of his various Attitude Adjustments over the years. It hyped his return next week.
– The Natalya/Carmella/Nikki Bella in-ring segment finally gave us the big reveal that little cared about. Despite that, it was pretty good, as Carmella “spilled the beans” about things Natalya told her in confidence that were obvious shots at Bella and her sister. Natalya admitted to it and then chased Carmella up the stage and threw her into the holiday decorations before Carmella escaped. At that point, Natalya revealed she was the Survivor Series attacker in cool fashion – “It was me, bitch!” were her exact words. She cut a good heel promo that expressed jealousy for the Bella’s success over her own and even insulted the crowd for good measure. We’ll suspect this leads to a Triple-Threat match since there are problems across the board with all three. Natalya got the final zinger when she claimed that Cena would never marry Bella.
– The Bryan/WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss backstage segment added to next week’s “Wild Card Finals” theme, as Bryan caught Bliss in her injury lies (spoke to her trainers) and forced her to defend the belt next week against Lynch as well as fight on this show, with the catch that if she backed out, she’d forfeit the Title. Bryan is great at “I got ya” segments like this, plus it never hurts to see Bliss angry. Seems to be her prominent emotion.
– The Ambrose-Luke Harper match was interesting, since both men had similar brawl styles and it was hyped the night before headed in. Cool spots where Harper was shown to have the upper hand, though there was a moment where Ambrose took out the Tag Champs on the outside. Ambrose pulled out a surprise cradle pin to get the victory before he was ambushed by Orton/Wyatt. He ate a Sister RKO (we’re going to call it that, okay?) and then Miz came out to feast on the bones with a Skull-Crushing Finale. It continued the Miz-Ambrose conflicts and it also foreshadowed things to come as Harper didn’t partake on the Ambrose attack.
– The Bliss-La Luchadora match served as the debut of “Mil Mascara’s granddaughter from Guadalajara, Mexico” as she took on the Champ and rattled her for a loop. There were also many “Si!” chants from the crowd, because why not? Something seemed off from the get-go and we suspected a “Los Conquistadores situation” (defeated challenger upsets Champion in masked attire) and that’s what we got with the not-so-subtle finish as she made Bliss tap out to the Disarmer. When that wasn’t obvious enough, she unmasked to reveal herself as Lynch. Since she already had a Title shot next week, what did she need to do this for? Will she get an extra shot as La Luchadora? We did get the line of the night when JBL uttered, “She just got insulted by that purple head.” To be frank, the attire did look atrocious. Picture a purple mask on top of a Superman costume.
– The Ryan Phillippe/Mojo Rawley/Curt Hawkins backstage segment set up the reason for the Rawley-Hawkins match later on, as Phillippe was there to look for Orton, who starred on his “Shooter” television show, that just so happens to air on the USA Network after SD Live. No coincidence or anything. Hawkins came off as a tame comedy heel that set things up. Meh.
– The Rawley-Hawkins match with Phillippe on commentary was the evening’s filler bout. Commentator Mauro Ranallo mistakenly called Hawkins by the first name of “Chad” and we were done from there. This was an obvious plug for “Shooter” than anything to take notice of. Hawkins put in some offense, but was easy pickings for the energetic Rawley. He downed him with a pounce and a punch. The crowd chanted for JBL, so we think they were into it. Lame post-match celebration as Rawley called Phillippe into the ring to celebrate. Didn’t even know the guy 20 minutes ago and now they’re best friends. Shaking our damn heads.
– The Ellsworth/Carmella backstage segment was different, as she apparently took interest in the bandaged one as he couldn’t talk upon being in so much pain. Surely, she couldn’t have had good intentions.
– The main event match between Ziggler and Corbin where the winner would face Styles next week for the Title already had “high stakes” and it was good to see Styles on commentary here, as it added to the dynamic. You could tell he rooted for Ziggler since he found him an easier opponent, but hid it from the other commentators. This was actually a pretty good encounter considering their past feud stunk up the place. Some convincing near-falls towards the finish, particularly where Corbin kicked out of the Zig Zag. Ziggler did kick out of Deep Six, but so does everyone else. Corbin tossed Ziggler into Styles, as the crowd began the “10” chants over the Referee’s ring out count. We thought maybe Styles’ paranoia would get the best of him and he’d interfere to later make it a triple threat next week, but it happened differently. Both men were called for a double countout and we had no winner. We liked that Styles went after both men with a chair, the only way he could get an advantage on both. That set up Bryan to make the final announcement that next week’s main event would be a Triple-Threat for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship between all three. The most logical way to go. Plus, with next week set in Chicago and a loaded card, we have the potential for the year’s best show. No, really.
- WWE World Heavyweight Championship – AJ Styles (Champion) def. James Ellsworth via pinfall to retain
- WWE Intercontinental Championship – The Miz (Champion) (w/Maryse) def. Apollo Crews via pinfall to retain
- Dean Ambrose def. Luke Harper (w/Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton) via pinfall
- La Luchadora def. Alexa Bliss via submission
- Mojo Rawley def. Curt Hawkins via pinfall
- Winner Faces AJ Styles For WWE World Heavyweight Championship Next Week – Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler to a double countout
Posted on March 5, 2017, in WWE and tagged AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Carmella, Curt Hawkins, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, James Ellsworth, JBL, John Cena, La Luchadora, Luke Harper, Maryse, Mauro Ranallo, Mojo Rawley, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Randy Orton, Renee Young, Royal Rumble, Ryan Phillippe, SmackDown Live, The Miz, Tom Phillips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.