SmackDown Redux (November 7th, 2017): Ending the Man in Manchester


After heading over to Manchester for RAW last night, the SmackDown Superstars are following suit. And with a match set for tonight, this could be quite an interesting episode…

For the past few days, James Ellsworth and Carmella have been fighting with Becky Lynch on social media. Ellworth and ‘Mella insist that Miss Money In The Bank deserves to be the captain of the SmackDown Women’s team. So, to settle the argument, Cathy Kelley announced during Monday Night RAW that Ellsworth and Lynch will face off in Singles competition tonight. Oh boy.

Backstage in the Manchester Arena, Ellsworth asks Tamina to get Carmella from the locker room. But instead of his girl that’s a friend coming out, it’s none other than the Lass Kicker. Although Becky is pretty confident about the upcoming bout, Ellsworth insists that no matter how hard she tries, she’ll lose – because she’s a woman. And as they’re in the city of MANchester (and not WOMANchester), he’s sure that those in the audience will agree. Lynch however, isn’t taken aback at all. In fact, she compliments his words, saying that it’s pretty “ballsy”, but it’s a “pity [he] doesn’t have any.”

Later on we see Tamina, Lana, Naomi and Charlotte Flair outside of the ring for the match. Ellsworth – sporting the words “Captain Ellsworth” written over a Becky shirt – and Carmella first make their entrance – with James telling Carmella to back off so that he can do things alone. Becky, eager as ever, makes her way to the ring.

Before the match can begin, Ellsworth attempts a few push-ups to warm himself up. The crowd gets involved in the match by chanting “Becky’s gonna kill you” to Ellsworth’s dismay. Lynch then tries to put her opponent in the Dis-Arm-Her but he quickly grabs onto the ropes to get out. This is when the shirt comes off. It’s on. James gets a little bit of offense in by taking Becky to the ground, but each attempt falls flat as Lynch gets right back up.

At one point, after being rolled and spun around, Ellsworth contemplates leaving. But unfortunately for him, a stare from Tamina blocks any thought of an exit. Nice one, Snuka! He then gets back into the ring – after stopping himself from puking – and pushes Lynch outside of the ropes. Now he’s really pushed it.

After some showing off to the other women, Ellsworth is on the receiving end of a dropkick from a quickly recovered Becky. He then gets kicked in the mid-section, hit by the rope and Bex-plexed outside of the ring. Ellsworth attempts to exit, but is blocked by all four women outside. And although he still insists on not returning to the ring, a little push from Flair gets him where he belongs. He then gets on his knees and begs for forgiveness from Lynch, even going as far as kissing her hands and hugging her. And then during the hug, Becky quickly implements the Dis-Arm-Her on James, forcing him to tap. Looks like it’s a win for Miss Lynch!

During Becky’s celebration, Carmella enters the ring, yelling at the captain. And, as James gets to his feet, Miss Money In The Bank boots him straight in the face, knocking him right back down. Cue the “yes!” chants!

When asked about her actions, Carmella says that one “can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” and states that Ellsworth will be spending the night in a “literal doghouse”. Ouch.

Ellsworth then insists that when people are in “relationships” they will fight, so things between him and Carmella will be “okay” in the end.

We soon get backstage as Charlotte and Shane McMahon are talking. Women’s champion Natalya quickly interrupts them, insisting that she will “accept” McMahon’s offer to not only defeat Alexa Bliss at Survivor Series, but take Flair’s spot on the SmackDown team. Unfortunately for her, that isn’t the question he was going to ask.

Shane recalls how Natalya escaped Hell in a Cell as champion with the use of a chair – something that Neidhart refers to as “self defense.” Moving on, McMahon announces that Natalya will defend her championship against Charlotte next week, and the winner will go on to face Alexa Bliss at Survivor Series. Woo!

Thoughts: So this won’t go down as the most prestigious night for the women, but it will go down as a great one.

After weeks of lacklustre stories, this week’s antics offer a fresh side to the division: a comedic one. It’s great when things aren’t taken overly seriously – especially when the past few weeks have been abysmal. Seeing Becky have fun in the ring in a somewhat anticipated match is great. She’s got such a great sense of humor and character that when we get to see her truly lay it all out, it’s such a treat.

The match itself is pretty entertaining. We see both of their characters come out; James’ egotistic yet cowardly persona is seen, as well as Lynch’s funny and courageous side. When James gets in the ring, Lynch is having a laugh, and when he tests her patience, we see that fearless attitude creep its way out.

Tonight’s contest is a great one, but if I may criticise one thing, that’s the fact that James was allowed as much offense/defense as he got. He shouldn’t be pushing Becky around – even to the point of her falling out of the ring. His attempts should be minimal, only leading to a step or two back. But alas, it’s still a good, funny and engaging match.

Carmella’s turn on Ellsworth is something that the division may truly need. Based on the lack of a reaction for Miss Money In The Bank tonight, she definitely requires some form of change with her writing. Allowing Carmella to be her own individual is something she’s needed for a while. She needs to gain her own heel heat and not attract what James is giving her. And now it’s sink or swim. She needs to really take ahold of this new change – and WWE need to give her some good material to work. But what could it be?

If Charlotte defeats Natalya next Tuesday, could a Carmella cash-in be possible, and thus spoil the crowning moment for Miss Flair?

And speaking of the title picture: this is expected. If Charlotte wins then we’ll be seeing an intense match next Sunday. Alexa and Charlotte have both been the “it” girls on whichever brand they’ve been on. And during the Shakeup, they even switched brands at the same time – and remained supreme. It’ll be a battle of the top dogs, but it does deserve a bit of a better build-up. The two have had such a good parallel over the past two years that a longer story would have worked. But if we get it without that, then it’ll still be great. Let’s just hope that they can tell that story within the span of a few days.

Also, just a bit of reaching before we end the redux. Shane states tonight that the winner of the championship contest will go on to face Alexa at Survivor Series. So, if Charlotte wins by disqualification, would she then be facing Bliss next Sunday but without the belt around her waist? Maybe so. But we’ll find out next week if those words were purposely said that way or if it was just a miscalculation.

What do you think of this week’s episode? Are you rooting for Flair or Neidhart? And if Charlotte is out of the elimination match, who will take her place? Let us know your views in the comments below!