Published on October 26th, 2016 | by Sean Hollenhors0
WWE SmackDown Live Recap (Oct. 25, 2016)
RANDY ORTON STRIKES!
NATALYA and NIKKI BELLA have the match of the night! Also: Peak Ellsworth!
On Raw’s leaner, meaner counterpart, SmackDown Live, the motivations are clear and the mat action is brisk and occasionally excellent.
Let’s get in the ring!
Match 1: Bray Wyatt vs. Kane (No DQ match)
The quasi revivalist vibes that Bray Wyatt and family trade in receive a major boost from The Viper Randy Orton. The ever-changing facets of the Orton/Wyatt feud apparently include a case of Stockholm Syndrome, unless The Viper is pulling a double (or triple)-cross. Perhaps if Orton does join Luke Harper in the Wyatt extended universe, the win column will fill up a bit quicker. If two third generation wrestlers can exert some control over the roster, perhaps elusive championships will find a home within the probably filthy and spooky House of Wyatt.
Winner: Bray Wyatt (via pinfall)
Match 2: The Hype Bros vs. The Ascension (Survivor Series Team Qualifying match)
As the most kid-friendly team in the WWE (along with The New Day), The Hype Bros find perfect foils in the spooky Ascension. In a just world, Viktor and Konnor would have held main roster title belts at this point. As the longest reigning NXT Tag Team Champions, The Ascension wove a tapestry of violence and along the way became exceptional wrestlers. Viktor’s brief solo run in the pre-Roster Split WWE is worth looking up as it demonstrates the masterful ring work he is capable of.
Former Green Bay Packer Mojo Rawley has the potential to be a major boon to the WWE marketing department if the reaction of the Milwaukee crowd is any indication. As far as hyper-kinetic wrestling weirdos go, Rawley has a tremendous in-ring potential that could lead to singles title headway. Gimmick fatigue is real though and with a fanny-pack bearing screaming Zubaz enthusiast never ceasing to be hyped, who can say how long Rawley’s hype train will run?
Winner: The Hype Bros (via pinfall)
Match 3: Nikki Bella vs. Natalya (Survivor Series Team Captaincy match)
In what has to be a match of the week, Nikki Bella and Natalya put on an excellently paced and technical contest. This caliber of match almost makes up for Raw’s lack of Women’s Division mat action (arm wrestling matches aside). The sequence beginning with Natalya’s tasty Michinoku Driver through to a Jushin Thunder Liger-approved Surfboard Strech and Nikki’s elegantly applied and deeply set STF is professional wrestling of the highest order. This match should be notice served to the Raw roster ahead of Survivor Series. Recommended match!
Winner: Nikki Bella (via submission)
Match 4: Heath Slater & Rhyno (c) vs. The Spirit Squad (SmackDown Tag Team Championship match)The through-the-looking-glass nature of current WWE reality is filling our plates with match ups like Rhyno & Slater (whaaa?) and The Spirit Squad (double whaaaaaa?). The current standard bearers of weird/interesting match-ups, Rhyno & Heath Slater have little trouble holding on to their straps in the face of Dolph Ziggler‘s Jacob Marley-esque former partners.
As a vehicle for the ongoing Ziggler/Mizryse/Intercontinental Championship saga, this match is great, but as a title match, it’s a bit sparse. Going into Survivor Series, competition will likely pickup for the SmackDown Tag Team champions.
Winner: Rhyno & Heath Slater (via pinfall)
Match 5: AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose w/ James Ellsworth
AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose are different sides of the same coin. One is the “rich” cool kid and the other is the “poor” cool kid. One is the popular jock, one is the popular greaser…you get the idea. Ring acumen aside, both wrestlers are on level ground. James Ellsworth is hapless dweeb caught in the middle. Ellsworth’s unlikely and meteoric rise to a championship match is a prop in the Styles/Ambrose feud. However, it would be a mistake to not note and savor this situation.
Ellsworth is a 14-year veteran, making him more experienced than many WWE wrestlers. Can he put on 4.5 star matches like Styles, let alone hold a title like the United States or World championships like Ambrose? Not likely, but stranger things have happened in pro wrestling. Those things may true, but unique to Ellsworth is the seemingly organic nature of his rise to notoriety. Making hay while the sun is shining is a deceptively complex task and many are unable to adapt on the fly. Ellsworth is a reminder that extraordinary opportunities, like an RKO, can come out of nowhere, even after 14 years.
Winner: AJ Styles (via DQ)