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SmackDown Redux (November 15th, 2016): Welcome to our house

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We’re just days away from one of the most explosive events this year, and the excitement is getting bigger and bigger. The ladies of the blue brand pulled out their big guns this week – and a huge battle commenced! So let’s quickly take a look back at what we saw through the night before we get into it.

The first match of the night an Intercontinental Championship match between champion Dolph Ziggler and challenger The Miz (accompanied by Maryse!) The winner of the match will be defending the title against RAW challenger Sami Zayn, so the stakes are high, and The Miz’s pride seems to be the biggest one.

Throughout the match both men get the better of each other, and though an interruption from the Spirit Squad fails to save the day, The Miz finds himself being pinned in a roll-up, but is soon victorious as Maryse pushes him over to take the win. Brilliant.

We’re soon taken backstage as Alexa Bliss confronts Daniel Bryan about last week’s inaccurate decision made by the referee. Though Bryan understands her concern, he insists that the referee’s decision is final, and that a rematch will take place in the future. However, before Bliss can get really Blissed off, SmackDown Live Women’s Survivor Series team captain Natalya shows up, blowing her whistle! She sees the frustration in Alexa’s eyes and, with her trusted pop culture reference, insists that “when you get knocked down, you get back up again, because no one is ever going to keep you down”. Bliss isn’t too keen on the Chumbawamba reference so storms away, as expected.

Following this, our women’s match of the night ensues and it’s a contest between Team Captain Nikki Bella and Carmella!

Carmella uses some dirty tactics like slapping a semi-distracted Nikki and throwing her on neck onto the outside. We also see the Princess of Staten Island holding up a “you can’t see me” taunt to get the better of her opponent. Nikki doesn’t let this keep her down however as she inserts moves such an aggressive Snapmare Knee Attack. Carmella keeps her moveset dirty and she insists on choking Nikki with the ropes and holding on until the 4-count. Things get a lot more interesting however, as whilst both women are regaining their energy, RAW Women’s champion and Team Red captain Charlotte Flair walks through the crowd to her front-row seat, cheering on the captain of Team Blue, Nikki Bella. Though Bella is distracted for a short while, she remains focused on her opponent. Once outside the ring, she manages to throw Carmella straight into the barricade next to Charlotte. Flair goads Nikki on with insulting words, asking “is that all you got?” but quickly gets taken down as Nikki throws a forearm straight to her face. Before Charlotte can retaliate, Bella drags her over the barricade and slams her on the side of the ring. The action then gets taken inside the squared circle, but things go south for our captain as RAW’s Sasha Banks, Dana Brooke, Alicia Fox and Bayley (though it seems Mauro Ronallo doesn’t Brooke at all) rush in to gang up on Nikki Bella.

Carmella, quickly realising what’s happening, goes straight for Dana, but is then overtaken through the numbers game. She is then thrown towards the corner and pushed to the floor by the strength of Nia Jax. But, like the good team mates they are, Naomi, Natalya, Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss come to the aid of their captain and attack the other team.

We witness a brawl taking place outside the ring, but Jax quickly throws every member of the team around the place (minus Nikki) to settle things down a little. To take the scenario one step further, Nia rushes towards the SmackDown Women’s champion Becky Lynch to spear her into the barricade. Unfortunately for the team RAW member, the Lass Kicker quickly moves out of the way and she finds herself spearing herself through a broken barricade, knocked out.

Naomi then does a big springboard attack on the rest of the red team, and leaves them laying on the ground defenseless. Team Blue then return to the ring, standing strong as their opponents for this Sunday have failed with their invasion.

Following the show, the entire Survivor Series Women’s team sits on the panel for Talking Smack with Renee Young and Daniel Bryan. It appears that Nikki’s front tooth had been snapped, but she still manages to look as gorgeous as ever!

During the show, the coach Natalya says that team RAW have some “cracks in the mirror” as their captain has “some screws loose” and lacks stability. She also says that she’s proud of every woman on the team, “and even Carmella” as they showed that they stand united and left RAW “shaking in their boots”.

The team also seems to think that Nia will be a threat, but if they stand together, they can take her down.

Bliss states that although there is animosity between her and Lynch, she will do what’s best for the team on Sunday by sticking together. However, once the match is over, everything will go back to normal and she will no longer have her teammates’ backs.

Along the way, Renee suggests that the group have a pre-match dinner to get themselves together and Carmella insists that Nikki should ask John Cena for the money to pay for it. Nikki’s response is simply “how you doin’?” and through a slight bit of chaos, they apologise and get back onto the same page.

Bryan then expresses how proud he is of the team and they then slowly leave the set.

Thoughts: What an episode! The men may have had a pretty cool invasion at the end of RAW last night, but the ladies really showed them how it’s done on SmackDown!

What’s so great about this encounter are the little moments spread throughout. Between the captains with a past squaring off to Naomi getting the best spot, we’re definitely treated to a great brawl with every active women’s wrestler.

Overall, it’s definitely an engaging segment that really pushes the story forward. It’s apparent that each team hates the other, and will even defend their enemies to overcome the battle. But there are issues that are shown throughout.

Firstly, the poor writing for Bayley… That “lovable hugger” that always does what is right, is seen ganging up with four other women to attack a defenseless and innocent baby face. It’s understandable that she wants to defend her team, but is it really in character of Bayley to join in on an attack to defend Charlotte? Of all people? This is the same woman that constantly belittles her and tells her that she’ll never be as good as she is. But somehow she finds it necessary to join in on an attack – that didn’t necessarily need her help – to defend her biggest enemy right now?

It would’ve been good if the likes of Alicia could’ve had held back also, as she has a past with Nikki. We could’ve then had seen Carmella attack them from behind, giving them somebody to attack that actually would make sense. Yes they’re on team RAW, but Alicia was friends with Nikki the last time we saw them interact whilst Bayley is a hugger, not a fighter (unless you really piss her off).

But I guess it does help to anchor the blood between the two groups, and it is a very exciting moment.

And though it isn’t terrible, the booking of the SmackDown Women’s championship and the champion is pretty bad. Not only is the champion the only current title holder that isn’t a captain of their team, but Becky almost has no importance in tonight’s segment. She’s the champion, she’s supposed to be treated as the best of the division, regardless of the other members’ past accolades and experience. The championship is a symbol of excellence and authority, yet Becky is treated like an average member of the division that has an extra accessory to hold. The title is still new, but that’s no reason to neglect it. The only time we hear of the championship is when Alexa – the challenger – brings it up in a four minute segment. Becky isn’t around nor is she spoken about in a good light to make her seem like a worthy champion. And as the very first reign for the title, this is slowly proving to be a pretty poor championship. This isn’t to say that Becky is at fault at all, but the creative team needs to somehow focus on the belt to make her seem like a worthy champion. Making her the team captain would’ve been the easy – and acceptable – solution, but the blue brand made things a little harder for themselves and have unfortunately failed in this aspect.

But, there are still some great parts of this week’s work that outweigh the negatives.

It’s hard not to appreciate the feud between Carmella and Nikki being extended and teased here. Carmella demonstrates clear hatred for Bella as she aims to take her out of action by focusing on the neck again and again. She uses the ropes to choke her and uses the outside as a weapon to damage her injury spot, and it makes for great television. Both women are far from friends, and this match alone proves that. It’s not what I’d call a “blood battle”, but you can tell there is fire behind both ladies. And this simply adds an extra layer of greatness to the feud – and more reason to speculate.

With the way that Carmella aggressively attacks Nikki but then aims to save her and gets along with her on Talking Smack, something definitely feels odd. Could this be Carmella’s way to really get revenge? Maybe she’s trying to soften her enemy up a little but making her think that there is trust, until it really matters and she can truly destroy her. The tag match may end with just the captains left over, and just as Nikki is about to take home the win, The Princess of Staten Island could show up to get in her way and cause the entire team to lose. This would only solidify the need for Nikki to really get revenge on Carmella at TLC…

We can simply compare Carmella’s face-like reaction on Talking Smack to Alexa Bliss, who remained fairly unbothered and full of many eye-rolls. But who knows?

Natalya is also a pretty big highlight tonight. Though she isn’t in this Sunday’s match, her role as the coach has benefitted her wonderfully. She’s able to exude comedy whilst showcasing her love for the business at once. The Queen of Black is a hilarious element of the division, and this role – though it started with its doubts – has done nothing but remind me of why I adore this woman so much. Combining what we love of her from ‘Total Divas’ to the semi-serious edge that she needs in WWE is a genius idea. Good job, creative.

The ending of the segment also has a nice touch to it as Naomi is the one to knock team RAW down. This woman has had some great momentum since the draft, and seeing her being the one to end the bout just adds that extra bit of adrenaline she needs going into this Sunday’s match. It’s lovely to see her being given small opportunities here and there before her time comes, and it’s fantastic that out of all the women, she’s pretty much the one that comes out on top.

Overall, tonight’s work was great.  The women proved their abilities to further a feud in just one segment, and it was great. Though this is a typical way to handle the annual Survivor Series issues and there are some problems throughout, it was still an exciting and engaging segment. I’m looking forward to this year’s show, and to nobody’s surprise, the women are definitely going to be my highlight!

Are you excited for this Sunday’s match? Which team are you on? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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