Unlike the Raw brand, Smackdown Live have a PPV just around the corner, with TLC airing on December 4th. Despite the need to address the aftermath of Survivor Series, the build towards their next PPV was the main focus of the blue brand this week.
Tensions continued to mount between AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose (with James Ellsworth) heading into Styles and Ambrose’s TLC match. The Miz defended his Intercontinental Championship against Kalisto but soon found out that he would be facing Dolph Ziggler in a ladder match at TLC.
American Alpha emerged victorious from a tag team turmoil meant to determine the number one contenders for the Smackdown tag championships, but Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt challenged the duo for next week’s show as their final opponents.
Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss’ bad blood continued to boil, with their rematch announced for TLC as well.
So, did Smackdown Live successfully begin the build towards TLC, or was Raw the better show this week? Let’s find out, as I Analyse and Grade each segment from the 23rd November edition of Smackdown Live.
#1 Shane McMahon opens the show:
This was a fine segment to open the show, although nothing particularly noteworthy happened here besides the announcement of the Styles-Ellsworth main event. Shane O-Mac is still incredibly over with every Smackdown crowd, and it was no different here.
Ellsworth’s involvement was decent, but he is starting to sour the main event scene on Smackdown. Some of you may enjoy his comedic segments, but instead of the intense, personal feud between Ambrose and Styles that we could’ve got, we have received a comedic feud based around Ellsworth instead.
When the main event between Styles-Ellsworth was announced, fans knew they weren’t going to receive a quality match. Although he is valuable now for his comedy, Ellsworth will eventually tarnish Smackdown Live as a whole, and he has already affected the Styles-Ambrose build.
Styles was his usual brash, arrogant character which he plays so well, but instead of Styles clashing with a determined, intense Ambrose, he is locked in a feud with a comedic Ambrose and a largely irrelevant Ellsworth.