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SmackDown Redux (December 20th, 2016): ‘Tis the season for mic drops

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With only one SmackDown left of the year, team Blue needed to build up to a bang. And this week very much did so. With the claws out and the rumors put to rest, this week we see story progression, character build, and an impress load of Talking Smack – in every sense of the word.

One of the first matches of the night is an Intercontinental Championship contest between the champion The Miz (accompanied by Maryse) and the challenger Apollo Crews. After Maryse gets caught trying to cheat, she gets sent to the back. But with a Skullcrashing Finale, The Miz takes home the win, and his precious championship.

Renee Young comes out to interview The Miz, asking him about his obsession regarding the Lunatic Fringe, Dean Ambrose. The Intercontinental champion then turns the tables, by asking Young about HER obsession regarding Dean Ambrose, as she “sleeps” with him every night. And of course, Renee inserts a nice slap across The Miz’s face before storming out of the ring. Though, on Talking Smack she does apologize. caught up with her afterwards and asked the backstage correspondent about the incident. Renee said that she’s tired of the slander regarding her boyfriend, and finally felt the need to stand up for herself. She also found it pretty humiliating for The Miz to say that kind of comment in front of so many people, so the timing of her reaction was more than necessary.

Following this, Natalya takes to the ring to address the Survivor Series issue. Neidhart calls out Nikki Bella to the ring, the Fearless One shows up! However, Carmella joins the pair – uninvited – as she wants to witness how Natalya “weasels her way out” of the situation. Nikki defends Natalya by addressing the Princess of Staten Island by saying that it could easily be her. Carmella, once again, says that she’d be bragging about it had she been the one to implement the attack. And then she says that instead of “daydreaming about the Saturday Night Live afterparty” with her boyfriend John Cena, she should realize that her friend is a liar. She then ends her statement by saying “or has some of that silicone leaked up into your brain?”

Natalya interrupts by telling Carmella that she shan’t “dare” talk to her friend like that, but Carmella cuts to the chase. She insists that Natalya is looking for an Academy award as she doesn’t even care for Nikki. The Princess of Staten Island reveals that Natalya cried on her shoulder over the fact that Nikki was getting all of the attention since her return, as well as saying that the only reason either Bella is in the WWE is because nobody cared when they tried to be successful on their own – ouch. After a dumbfounded Nikki is seen, Natalya, in disgust, admits that it was said to Carmella in “private” and that her conniving friend is nothing but a “dirty little Staten Island snitch.”

After Nikki asks whether Natalya attacked her or not, the Queen of Harts refuses to respond and decides to go for Carmella instead, as she “caused all of this.” The two run up to the ramp and Natalya manages to toss her betraying friend into the Christmas tree. Carmella manages to kick her off and get away, but instead of catching up with her, Natalya stays behind to address the Fearless One in the ring. “Alright, I did it, you bitch!” the Queen of Harts admits, shocking the longest reigning Divas champion. “I have always despised you,” she continued, gaining some momentum from the interested crowd. “I am Natalya Neidhart! I am wrestling royalty! You, are not.” She then goes on and tells her former friend that despite being the longest reigning Divas champion and a hard worker, she and her twin only got their credentials because of their beauty. “You’re nothing, just like these people here,” she emphasized, causing a bit of a boo from the audience. Her complaints continue as Neidhart brings up Bella’s magazine covers, red carpets and the Total Divas spin-off that “should’ve” been hers. She continues by saying that she didn’t get it through her “great personality” as even Neidhart’s cat (we’re assuming 2Pawz at this point) has more charisma than her – “yeah, bitch!” And despite Nikki’s inner and outer beauty, she is “nothing” in this life, and that is why John will “never” marry her. Mic drop!

Later on an “injured” Alexa Bliss greets SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan. Alexa says that her leg still “hurts” and that she demands a punishment for Becky Lynch for causing it. Bryan says that he has come up with a “fair” punishment, and it is a title match against Alexa next week on SmackDown! Bliss insists that an “injured champion” doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment, and Bryan reminds her that the medical staff have informed him that she is 100% cleared to wrestle. And if she doesn’t want to compete, she doesn’t have to worry about her match next week as she won’t be champion if she does so! A no longer Bliss walks away, but before she does so, she says that whatever happens to the “poor little soul” that she’s facing, is on Bryan.

The match then takes place and Bliss is scheduled to fight a fully masked and dressed wrestler that goes by the name “La Luchadora”. The Luchadora manages to outsmart Bliss throughout the match although the champion does get a few moves in. However, when she manages to get Alexa in a move that looks very similar to the Dis-Arm-her, the champion is forced to tap out. The Luchadora runs around the outside of the ring celebrating with fans – and the announcers – before running inside the squared circle to greet her defeated opponent. And it turns out, once the mask is taken off, it was BECKY! IT WAS BECKY ALL ALONG! The Blissed off champion then storms out of the ring as Lynch’s theme plays, and a signal that a new champion will be crowned next week is all we can see in the ring.

Earlier in the night, James Ellsworth was knocked out and injured by WWE World champion AJ Styles. So after being carried out by medical staff, Carmella interupts his interview with Dasha Fuentes to take care of him herself. No seriously, this actually happened.

Becky Lynch joins the Talking Smack panel to discuss the events from SmackDown. She makes a few corny dad jokes and discusses the potential of her winning the title next week. It’s a pretty chilled conversation, and really showcases the humorous side of her character.

The juicier bit takes place when the Queen of Harts takes a seat. She says that the night was about her as she realised that due to having regrets in her life, she needed to put the spotlight back on her. One of those biggest regrets that lead to her actions was training both Bellas how to wrestle. She insists that because of her training, she allowed the twins to take ahold of her spotlight and never give her any shine. And as she is a “Hart” – something she does not stop mentioning, she believes that she deserves the credentials that they have both achieved. The niece of Bret “the Hitman” Hart – as she makes very clear in this segment – admits to being tired of being pushed to the back of the line to allow newer ladies to take her slot. So she’s finally taking a stand!

Thoughts: I absolutely LOVED Natalya’s work this week. She really had a hold of her character and showcased genuine emotion here throughout both segments. Whilst I’m pretty disappointed that the attacker was in fact her, the story still holds some interest. The fact that we’re now seeing a genuinely heel Natalya is amazing. Her somewhat aggressive nature is what I’ve been wanting to see for a while, so this should be great.

What makes Natalya’s efforts work is that it feels real. The things she talks about – particularly on the post show – are aspects of her life that she can relate to. The Queen of Harts has been pushed to the back again and again for other women, and it must hurt her personally, even in the slightest. So to see Natalya transcend those real life emotions into her character is a treat as it makes the story feel as raw as it needs to be.

My negative feelings regarding the story arrive when discussing Nikki Bella. I understand the need to allow other women to shine, but must Bella be so quiet and dumbfounded the entire time? She comes across as so basic and it’s so dull to watch. Though the other women are given great opportunities to shine, it leaves me looking at Nikki with no opinion. And as a huge Bella fan, this is really disappointing. She used to be the highlight of the show for me, and now she just smiles to the crowd and gives a shocked look here and there. Can we please do something to change this?

Carmella’s antagonistic ways are a pretty great addition to the story. Seeing her continue her cocky nature and her constant disliking of any other woman in her presence is great for continuity purposes – and she’s pretty entertaining as she does so. However the most shocking action of hers comes at the end, when she comforts James Ellsworth. She’s obviously up to no good, and it’s so exciting to see. But what will actually come of it? I have no clue. It’s usually great to see women integrated in male oriented storylines so hopefully this will follow suit.

Introducing a genuine role for Renee shocked me, in a good way. Young has always been very good at her job; whether you look back at her time on NXT, Main Event, SmackDown Live or even the short lived After Total Divas, you’ll more than likely be impressed by her work. And because of her clearly strong work ethic, Renee definitely deserves to and should be involved in a storyline. I’m hoping that this will lead to an intergender story between Dean, Miz and Maryse as the Sexiest of Sexy needs more to do, and it will definitely spice up the title picture. And seeing Renee play the good girl – that even apologised! – is great, too. Hopefully over the weeks we’ll see her gradually get sick of the situation and take her anger out on somebody. Maybe she can even wrestle? We’ll just have to see!

The SmackDown Women’s championship story is going great as well. I love how refreshing the work feels this week. It has a huge dose of comedy, but not so much that you forget that there is genuine hatred and a title involved in the storyline. We see Becky anchor her good girl/class clown gimmick, whilst Alexa’s angry and bitter self shines through, and this combines into the perfect heel/face dynamic. Both ladies are so great at what they do, and it’s extremely easy to stand behind one person as it happens. And though we all have our opinions, what is so great about this feud is that both women manage to convince you to care for them. Whether you prefer the good guy or the bad one, you definitely care. You’re most likely rooting for good or evil, instead of being bored by both. And that is done through the refreshing story and the fact that both women are so great at conveying their respective characters.

For next week, though I’m a huge Lynch fan, continuity and title integrity has me rooting for Bliss.

And in regards to the side feud, I still hope that Natalya isn’t the attacker. My optimism says that Natalya only clutched onto the idea that it was her as she wanted to add fuel to the fire. She may not have done the bad deed, but as it was so easy to claim, she took ahold of it. And maybe we can see her partnering with the red head person that did do it?

What are your thoughts on this week’s show? Are you excited for the Renee angle? Do you believe Natalya? How do you see Carmella’s near future? Team Bliss or Team Lynch? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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