After a bizarre night last week where, during a tag team match where he teamed with Kane to face Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper, Kane would completely disappear during the match and The Wyatt Family would end up walking out with the victory, SmackDown LIVE kicks off with “The Viper” Randy Orton. Orton says that he’s got to give credit where credit is due, saying that trying to escape Bray Wyatt’s world is like trying to escape “quick sand”. Orton then says that he feels like he’s going “crazy”, but he also feels like Bray has set him free, stating that he is “wrath” and he is “vengeance” and he is coming after Bray Wyatt. Appearing from his dark and smoky location, a legion of men wearing black sheep masks would be standing next to an open casket and, lying in the casket, was Bray Wyatt. Bray tells Orton that he is about to take Orton on a “journey” and, on this journey, Orton will be “gasping” for his last breath of air over-and-over again. Bray then says that he’s having “so much fun” before stating “he’s here”.
This would signal the arrival of Luke Harper as Randy Orton would go one-on-one with Bray Wyatt’s follower in the opening match of SmackDown LIVE. However, it would not take long for the match to be interrupted by the arrival of Bray Wyatt as “The Eater of Worlds” rides in his casket down to ringside, carried by his masked druids. The match would then continue with Bray Wyatt at ringside, taunting Orton with the casket. However, once Orton starts to gain momentum against Luke Harper, Bray Wyatt attacks “The Viper” from behind, ending the match in a disqualification. Harper then takes Orton down with a big boot before The Wyatt Family beat down Orton, but just when Wyatt & Harper are about to put Orton into the casket, Bray opens the casket to find Kane lying inside it! “The Big Red Monster” emerges from the casket, helping Randy Orton take it to The Wyatt Family, but when Orton and Kane size Wyatt & Harper up for a simultaneous chokeslam and RKO, the lights go out as The Wyatt Family makes a quick disappearance.
In a rematch from No Mercy where Naomi picked up an unexpected victory over Alexa Bliss, the two would face off again on SmackDown LIVE as Naomi would go one-on-one with the #1 Contender for the SmackDown Women’s Title Alexa Bliss. In the end, it was Alexa Bliss hitting Twisted Bliss on Naomi, avenging her loss at No Mercy by pinning Naomi for the win.
After repeatedly claiming that he was going to compete, it looked like it would finally happen on SmackDown LIVE as Curt Hawkins would go one-on-one with Apollo Crews. However, before the match begins, Hawkins would insult Apollo, calling Crews “Apollo Lose” and Crews would respond by popping Curt with a right hand. Hawkins would then exit the ring, saying that Apollo has deprived the Denver crowd of seeing his debut match, walking to the back as Hawkins’ SmackDown LIVE debut is postponed again.
In her ongoing rivalry with Nikki Bella, “The Princess of Staten Island” Carmella would appear on SmackDown LIVE. Carmella says that she doesn’t get Nikki Bella’s popularity before saying that she’s here to “spill the tea”. However, this is when Carmella is interrupted by Nikki Bella, making her way to the ring to confront Carmella. Nikki says that she’s so curious about what Carmella has to say, saying that, whatever Carmella has to say, she can say it to her face. Carmella says that Nikki can get away with whatever she wants because she’s dating John Cena. Carmella then says that she’s not going to walk on eggshells around Nikki like everyone else does. Nikki says that Carmella is just like every “jealous hater” she’s had to deal with over the last few years.
Carmella then accuses Nikki of trying to hide her relationship with Cena and Nikki responds by reminding Carmella that there’s two reality shows and countless pictures of her and Cena together online. Nikki then says that she chooses not to talk about her personal business because when she’s in the ring, she’s an athlete and she does what athletes do. Nikki continues, telling Carmella “shame on you” to take away all of her accomplishments as a competitor and attribute all of her success to dating John Cena. Carmella responds by calling Nikki a “clingy, gold digger” before showing some footage from Total Bellas that shows some clips of Nikki and John’s relationship.
Unimpressed by Carmella’s editing skills, Nikki says that she wears the pants in her relationship, saying that her world shattered when she was told she would never compete again because of her neck injury. Nikki continues, saying there’s a reason she wears “Fearless” on her shirt and the fans know that she’s not afraid of a “boss” or a “queen” and she’s certainly not afraid of “some princess from Staten Island”. Carmella then says that Nikki may be fearless but she tells the truth, saying that the truth is that Nikki used her “looks” to get her foot in the door and she used her sister to get her foot in the ring and she used her boyfriend John Cena to become a celebrity. Having said her piece, Carmella leaves the ring, leaving Nikki unimpressed in the ring.
After Heath Slater & Rhyno saved Dolph Ziggler from a three-on-one beatdown at the hands of The Miz and The Spirit Squad on last week’s SmackDown LIVE, this week’s SmackDown LIVE would see Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler join forces with SmackDown Tag Team Champions Heath Slater & Rhyno to face The Miz and The Spirit Squad, with Maryse in their corner, in a 6-Man Tag match. During the match, Rhyno would take Mikey out with the Gore before Heath Slater tries to roll-up Kenny. However, The Miz would catch Heath with a left hand from the outside, allowing Kenny to roll Heath up for the win, picking up the win for The Miz and The Spirit Squad.
In a rematch from No Mercy where Baron Corbin used some underhanded tactics to defeat Jack Swagger, “The Real American” Jack Swagger would face “The Lone Wolf” Baron Corbin on SmackDown LIVE. In the end, it was Baron Corbin picking up a much more convincing victory, hitting Jack Swagger with the End of Days, pinning Swagger to pick up an impressive win.
With the main event just moments away, Dean Ambrose would confront SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan backstage with his referee shirt on. However, the GM would inform Ambrose that he can’t have him be the referee for the WWE World Title match tonight. Daniel then offers “The Lunatic Fringe” the opportunity to be the timekeeper, ring announcer, or be a guest on commentary. Ambrose responds by accepting all three of these job offers!
Then it was time for the main event as preliminary competitor James Ellsworth would get the opportunity of a lifetime as, complete with his own music and a new t-shirt, James Ellsworth would challenge AJ Styles for the WWE World Championship with Dean Ambrose doing the honors as the guest timekeeper, guest ring announcer, and a guest on commentary. After doing the ring announcements, Dean Ambrose would ring the bell excessively to get under the skin of AJ Styles. Shortly after this, Dean Ambrose would continue to annoy the champion, taking attention away from the title match to shill James Ellsworth’s new t-shirt. The shenanigans would continue throughout the match and, at one point in the title match, AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose would take turns throwing James Ellsworth in and out of the ring! Ellsworth would then get his first major burst of offense in against the champion, actually taking Styles down with a super kick and nearly pinning the champion!
Dean Ambrose would then continue to badger AJ Styles, pushing the champion to hit James Ellsworth even harder and Styles would do just that. However, Styles would pummel Ellsworth in the corner, ignoring the referee’s five-count and getting himself disqualified. As a result, James Ellsworth would win the match by disqualification, meaning that AJ Styles is still the WWE World Champion. After the match, a furious AJ Styles would try to attack Dean Ambrose, but, much like last week, “The Lunatic Fringe” would plant the WWE World Champion with Dirty Deeds, leaving Styles down in the middle of the ring before raising the hand of the technical victor James Ellsworth, who was clearly out of it and unaware that he won again.
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