The Best And Worst Of WWE Smackdown Live 11/15/16: 900 Down


Hey, Blue Team!

This week we celebrate the 900th episode of Smackdown, and as far as milestone shows go, WWE did a great job giving us just enough nostalgia without letting the past take up too much of the show. Some good matches, some questionable storytelling, and even The Goddamned Undertaker. It was a fun show, but don’t worry, that won’t stop me from dwelling on the negative and spending the rest of this column complaining.

Speaking of complaining, did you guys catch The State of the WWE Universe on the network Monday night? If you didn’t, it was basically a half hour of Daniel Bryan and Mick Foley yelling at each other about nothing and for no apparent reason. It made me feel kind of uncomfortable and a little sad. Why are these guys yelling at each other? In fact, why does anyone from Smackdown dislike anyone from Raw, and vice versa? None of it makes any sense, yet it’s the core thrust leading us to The Survivor Series.

I like the classic Survivor Series matches. It’ll be fun to see everyone from the two brands in the same ring on Sunday. And it would be totally fine to have these matches as exhibitions with no stakes other than bragging rights. But if you’re going to turn it into some big Raw vs. Smackdown storyline, then there actually has to be a storyline instead of them all being mad at each other for no apparent reason.

The Survivor Series is this Sunday, so we’re only a week away from everyone on Smackdown hating each other for no reason again, instead of hating everyone on Raw for no reason.

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And now without further ado, here is The Best and Worst of Smackdown Live for November 15th, 2016.

Best: The Match

Worst: Everything Else

Your opening bout for the 900th episode of Smackdown is an Intercontinental Title match between Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. At this point, we’ve seen these guys in every type of match possible. From the Battle of Cleveland, to The Retirement match, to a Trick or Treat match where they hit each other with pumpkins, and to a KFC commercial where they wrestled as Colonel Sanders and a chicken. Somehow through it all, I’m still enjoying their matches. In fact, they just seem to keep getting better.

This match definitely had a big fight feel. There was an electricity in the air right from the start, which is not an easy thing to pull off when the two guys have wrestled each other so much. They capitalized on that energy and delivered another great match. Hats off to The Miz and Ziggler and everyone else involved.

The end saw Ziggler roll up Miz in a small package. As the referee was making the count, Maryse reached in out of the ref’s view and pushed them over, causing Miz to end up on top of Ziggler. The ref counts three, and The Miz is once again the Intercontinental Champion.

I like the ending taken on its own. Taken as just the end of this match, and not as part of the bigger WWE picture, the end works great. I love a good “heel cheating to win.” We haven’t seen that exact ending of someone pushing over the Small Package in a while. It was just a good surprise ending to the match. But unfortunately we have to take into account the outcome’s ramifications on not only The Survivor Series, but the state of Dolph Ziggler, and everything that’s gone on between The Miz and Daniel Bryan. What are they thinking?

First off — The Miz vs. Sami Zayn is fine. We’ve seen it a bunch of times and it’s always been good. But man, I was really looking forward to Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn. It was by far the best looking match on The Survivor Series card. Like a bizarro Brock Lesnar/Goldberg.

RIP Zayn/Ziggler.

Second, if Daniel Bryan hates The Miz so much, and is trying so hard to bring respect back to The Intercontinental Championship, why on earth would he let the results of this match stand? As soon as the ref hit three, I thought Bryan was gonna be out there restarting the match and banning Maryse and The Spirit Squad from ringside. Nope! He’s just going to let The Miz cheat. If Miz loses the belt to Sami on Sunday and Zayn takes it to Raw, that certainly will help progress Miz’s storyline with Daniel Bryan, but where is that going? These guys can’t have a match against each other.

Then there’s Dolph Ziggler. I feel like I’ve typed these words a lot in the last year, but what do you do with Dolph Ziggler now? All that build-up, some actual great storytelling, the great moment at No Mercy … all for what? A completely unmemorable title reign, a couple of matches against The Spirit Squad, and a Curt Hawkins squash? It’s all very weird.

I’d like to think that this is all headed somewhere. That in the end there’s a reason for Ziggler winning and losing the belt for the change of the Survivor Series match and Daniel Bryan not doing anything to change the outcome. But then I remember this is WWE, so I don’t have much hope that this will all make sense in the end.

I need to take a moment and give a shout-out to the best four man announce team in the business. After months of David Otunga talking about The Miz using his wife Maryse to get where he’s at, JBL finally called him out and actually pointed out live on air that the only reason Otunga has a job is because of his wife, Jennifer Hudson. We have to sit through two hours of Otunga trying to talk every week just so he’ll bring his wife to the Hall of Fame ceremony every year. Thank you JBL. Then to keep it classy, Otunga seemed to diminish all his wife’s accomplishments by mentioning that none of them compared to graduating from Harvard like he did. The only thing classy about Otunga is the bowtie.

Worst: Oney The Lonely

NXT’s success rate has been pretty incredible. You can count on one hand the guys they’ve truly screwed up with. Sami Callihan immediately comes to mind. Oney Lorcan is shaping up to be another one if a course correct doesn’t happen soon. The former Biff Busick missed the “every indie guy gets to keep his name” time period by about three months, and that alone may have taken years off his career. But it’s not too late. Biff’s a great wrestler, as he showed on tonight’s Smackdown for the entire twenty seconds he wrestled Kalisto.

There was a spot in this match where Kalisto slips while trying to do some flippy shit off the middle rope. When Kalisto fell to the mat, Oney immediately went for the pinfall. That may not seem like much, but how many times have we seen people in the ring just stand there and look lost after a botch like that? Here this guy is, wrestling on the USA Network for the first time, yet he still has it together enough to cover up that botch with a pinfall attempt. That great poet laureate Good Charlotte once said, “It’s the little things, the little things.”

Soon after that spot, Kalisto comes back and hits Salida Del Sol for the win. I’m not entirely sure I want to see Oney Lorcan on Smackdown again, but I’d love to see Biff Busick.

Once again — 

Best: The Match

Worst: Everything Else

There was a moment in Carmella vs. Nikki Bella when i started reflecting on the good job WWE has done with this feud. It’s been good for both women. A great return feud for Nikki Bella and a nice way to introduce Carmella to the main roster. I figured this must be the blow-off match, bringing the feud to an end. It was a strong match to finish on, and frankly if the feud went on any longer it would start to get stale. Just as I was about to compliment WWE on a job well done, the circus comes to town.

We see coming through the crowd and down to the front row, Charlotte. She’s got a ticket and she’s here to watch the match. We can automatically forget anything going on between Carmella and Nikki Bella, and toss this match and hell, even this feud out the window. It’s now all about Raw vs. Smackdown, and for no apparent reason.

The match spills out of the ring and in front of Charlotte, who begins to yell at Nikki Bella. Nikki can’t help herself, and hits Charlotte with a forearm before pulling her over the barrier. That’s when the rest of the Raw women show up and start to beat down Nikki Bella five-on-one. The whole thing just doesn’t sit well with me, because there’s just no reason for it to be happening. I’m looking forward to seeing all of these women together in one match on Sunday, but I don’t see any reason why the Raw women need to sneak into the arena and beat up Nikki Bella five-on-one. You want me to believe that Bayley would really take part in something like that? It’s so out of character.

There had to have been a better way of doing this. Possibly a way of doing it that didn’t ruin the Nikki Bella/Carmella match. So I guess this feud continues now? We couldn’t have gotten out when the getting was good? Are we going to stretch this out until the end of the year? Get to the point where no one wants to see them wrestle again, and that’s when you have their final match?

Best: The Entire Smackdown Tag Team Division

If you’re a regular reader of The Best and Worst of Smackdown, it will come to no surprise to you that I’m head over heels in love with every tag team on Smackdown’s roster. I want to give the Smackdown tag team division a big hug. I want to see all eighteen of them do backstage bits together. I want to see all eighteen of them hanging out after the shows together. I want to see pre-tapes of all eighteen of them riding from town to town together on a big bus. I love the Smackdown tag team division.

Luckily for me, tonight they’re all in one match. American Alpha, The Hype Bros, The Usos, and Breezango with Heath Slater and Rhyno in their corner, defeated The Ascension, The Headbangers, The Vaudevillains, and The Spirit Squad in a match that I enjoyed probably more than I should have. I hope The Ascension, The Headbangers, The Vaudevillains, and The Spirit Squad all show up in Team Smackdown’s corner at Survivor Series for moral support.

Earlier in the night we got most of the Smackdown tag roster involved in a backstage bit with Booker T, reviving his King Booker character in honor of the 900th Smackdown.

Once again, Rhyno gets to show off his tremendous skills as a background actor. He’s downright shocked to see Breezango show up, and then appears to have seen a ghost when Breezango insults King Booker as his eyes pop about two inches out of their sockets. I love that man. I may not agree with his politics, but I still would have voted for him.

Best: The Undertaker

Edge returns to Smackdown looking like he’s playing Ted Kaczynski in the USA Network’s Unabomber biography. He’s here to interview Smackdown Live’s Men’s Survivor Series Team. He does a little business with each of them that leads to some classic dissension among the ranks. And then BOOM! It’s The Motherf***in’ Undertaker.

The Undertaker is back. And from the sound of his promo, he may be sticking around for a bit this time.

The Undertaker. Man. He gets me every time. We’ve seen a lot of Undertaker returns over the years. This one may have been the least spectacular as far as smoke and mirrors go, but it’s kind of the most impressive. Because he’s still going. When the rumors started to spread a couple of months ago that his match with Shane McMahon at WrestleMania may have been his last, I found it very hard to believe. I knew he’d be back, but I didn’t know it would be this soon. Nor did I think it would be on a random episode of Smackdown. Yes, I know it’s the 900th episode of Smackdown, but c’mon, this is still pretty random.

Even though I’d seen the commercials for his return and saw his shadow lurking around backstage throughout the night, the fact that he was back didn’t really hit me until he was standing there in the ring.

There he is. The Undertaker. One of the most vivid memories from my childhood was watching him debut at The Survivor Series. I will never forget it. It’s crazy to look back and think that 26 years later, I’m still watching The Undertaker. He’s become as important to WWE mythology as Vince McMahon. I think the main reason I didn’t believe the rumors of his retirement is because I just can’t imagine it. I can’t picture a WWE that exists without the chance of The Undertaker showing up.

He’s the sole survivor of a bygone era; The Golden Age. The last link to real life comic book characters like The Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man. It’s amazing that he is still around. Once he’s gone, that era’s gone forever. There are not many things in pop culture that I’m nostalgic for anymore. I’ve been burned out by reboots and remakes, and the rehashing of everything from my childhood. But The Undertaker still does it. During uncertain times, it’s good to see The Undertaker.

Until next week, I’m Justin Donaldson and AJ Styles vs. The Undertaker is a match I didn’t know I needed until right now. Maybe at The Royal Rumble?