By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Randy Orton Called Out Bray Wyatt
Orton has come across as more motivated than he has been in years since returning over the summer and that has carried over to this program with Wyatt, but simultaneously, Wyatt keeps cutting the same tired promos that got old years ago. His delivery is on-point, it's just the content that is extremely repetitive and hardly engaging. Did we hear him talk about Roman Reigns' kids too when they were feuding last year? And didn't that lead nowhere? I'm holding out hope that their No Mercy match (when it's confirmed for the card, anyway) delivers because the feud has very hit or miss thus far.
The Usos and The Ascension def. WWE Tag Team Champions Heath Slater and Rhyno and American Alpha
First and foremost, I am absolutely digging the dark new entrance theme that The Usos debuted before the bout. I have been clamoring for them to receive new music for weeks now, so I was glad they finally delivered on that. The match itself was really fun with all four teams being spotlighted nicely and The Usos scoring the win as they should have. Slater and Rhyno are already over and it's imperative that the newly turned Usos continue to build momentum going into their SmackDown Tag Team Championship match.
Carmella and Natalya def. Nikki Bella and Naomi
This was what I suggested last week: last week's minute-long match should have never happened and they could have saved it for this week. Well, they followed through with the rematch regardless and it was well-wrestled. There wasn't too much out of the ordinary about it, but it served its purpose in successfully furthering the feuds between the women involved. Additionally, Carmella scored another big win over Nikkia and I love how she's been able to build credibility on her own.
Dolph Ziggler Confronted Intercontinental Champion The Miz
Miz has always been a tremendous talker, but his promos have only improved since his blow-up on Talking Smack late last month. Him running down his hometown crowd in Cleveland was hilarious before ripping into Ziggler and spitting the absolute truth. Ziggler showed phenomenal passion as well, but I can get behind him and his mic work only so many times before it starts to ring hollow because, like Miz said, he can never win the big win. I imagine he finally will at No Mercy, which saddens me because I'd rather see Miz hold onto the title for the foreseeable future, but given the stipulation that he'll leave if he loses, I'm officially intrigued.
Alexa Bliss Attacked SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch
Having the heel ambush the babyface from behind is so simple yet so effective, and that was exactly what this segment accomplished. I love how Bliss has been nothing but dominant in her feud with Lynch and that she has been made to look like a legitimate contender to the title, not to mention it's fairly easy for Lynch to get the crowd behind her. Again, I doubt Bliss wins the belt this soon, but the build to the bout thus far has been very well done.
WWE World Champion AJ Styles def. Dean Ambrose
It can be argued that this was better than the match they had at Backlash, but one fact that can't be disputed is that they have exceptional in-ring chemistry together. They were given the time they deserved to once again produce a highly entertaining match filled with fantastic counters, though the ending outcome was never in doubt. John Cena did a solid job on commentary and I appreciated how he played a factor in the finish, inadvertently costing Ambrose the title and protecting him in the process. I am already infinitely more excited for the No Mercy main event than I was for Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins at Clash of Champions last Sunday because of how it's been built up.
I don't think there is any doubt that SmackDown is much more enjoyable (and less of a chore) to watch over Raw each week. Yes, the lack of a third hour makes a major difference, but the stories are also more compelling and the show's pacing is perfect. Even the stuff with Orton and Wyatt that lasted throughout the show, which had the potential to be terribly campy, managed to exceed my expectations. I realize some people are already down on the idea of two pay-per-views a month, and I'm not wild about it either, but I am ecstatic it creates new opportunities for fresher faces.