By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Randy Orton def. Luke Harper
I'm sorry, but this program has officially jumped the shark for me. I was in the minority that was looking forward to this feud when it was initially teased, but the promos have been boring, the matches haven't been compelling, and all this hocus pocus garbage makes me roll my eyes. It's a shame because I'm sure Orton and Harper could have had a hell of a match, but this was total throwaway because of everything else that was going on with Bray Wyatt on the outside. The caskets were too Undertaker-esque for me, and as we already know, he isn't the "New Face of Fear" because he's lost to 'Taker twice.
Alexa Bliss def. Naomi
Their No Mercy match was a major flop, but this was a much better wrestled bout. Both ladies are natural athletes, so I knew they had it in them. They actually did a good job of building up Naomi over the past two weeks so she had a real chance of beating Bliss here. I was glad they received an ample amount of time to work, too, and it resulted in a nice little match with the right person going over.
Apollo Crews vs. Curt Hawkins Went to a No Contest
Fans gave up on Hawkins as soon as he started ripping off Tyson Kidd's "Fact!" shtick during those pre-taped vignettes, and now it looks like he's following in the footsteps of Eva Marie by delaying his in-ring debut on a weekly basis. It worked for her because she had legitimate heat. It doesn't work for him because people just don't care about him. He could be a fine undercard competitor, but he's doomed to fail before he even wrestles his first match back because this gimmick doesn't have a lengthy shelf life.
Nikki Bella Confronted Carmella
Wrestlers criticizing Nikki for "sleeping her way to the top" may be an overdone insult at this point, but I thought it worked for the story they're trying to tell between these two. Yes, it's common knowledge that she has been dating John Cena for years now, but I always thought it was interesting it was rarely if ever acknowledged on WWE TV before now. I guess it makes sense to bring it up at this point considering they're both babyfaces. As happy as I am for Sasha Banks and Charlotte stepping inside Hell in a Cell later this month, it doesn't feel like a heated rivalry, whereas this one does.
The Miz and The Spirit Squad def. Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler and SmackDown Tag Team Champions Heath Slater and Rhyno
That fun factor of seeing The Spirit Squad back might not last long, but I give WWE credit for milking it for all its worth. I couldn't care less about Mikey, but Kenny Dykstra is a damn good athlete and I wouldn't mind them keeping him around beyond the retread of this act. Speaking of fun, that's exactly what this match was, and it furthered two feuds in one. Kenny pinning Slater should set them up for a tag team title match soon, but I'm really ready for the Miz and Ziggler program to reach its end.
Baron Corbin def. Jack Swagger
It was weird that they promoted this No Mercy rematch one week out yet neither of them were even on SmackDown last week. Well, now we know why, because WWE never intended for this match to run long unless it was cut short due to time constraints. But hey, I'm not complaining! Corbin went over decisively as he should have and I'm excited to see him enter a title picture or meaningful storyline before long. Swagger's revival hasn't been much of a revival at all and I hope WWE didn't think it would be.
James Ellsworth def. WWE World Champion AJ Styles by Disqualification
I enjoyed this match more than their premiere encounter because Dean Ambrose wasn't directly involved as the referee. Ellsworth's hope spots, specifically the superkick, were great and Styles was exceptional in his role, too. I figured Styles would get his win back and be done with it, but him getting disqualified was strange. And they have already announced it will be Styles vs. Ambrose for a potential title shot next week, leaving me wondering whether this was it for Ellsworth or not.
While this wasn't a home run of show by any means, SmackDown Live continues to be the better brand compared to Raw. The storylines are simple, fans are engaged in almost everything going on at the moment, and there are always a handful of matches that are a treat. The main event was entertaining, the six-man tag team match was good and I liked what they did with the women, but Hawkins' debut (or lack thereof) was whatever while Orton and Wyatt resumed their stinker of a rivalry.
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