This week's episode of Smackdown Live was light on wrestling and heavy on angles with the purpose of selling fans on this Sunday's TLC pay-per-view.
Despite featuring only three matches over the course of two hours, Smackdown Live still managed to put together a solid program that actually accomplished its goal of building anticipation for the pay-per-view.
I'll give my analysis in a second, but in the meantime, here are the full match results from Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C.:
- Dolph Ziggler & Kalisto def. Baron Corbin & The Miz via disqualification
- Kane def. Luke Harper
- Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton def. American Alpha
AJ Styles destroys James Ellsworth
After losing three times to the underdog wrestler, Styles was finally able to get his hands on Ellsworth Tuesday and he made the absolute most of it by destroying him with a Styles clash off the steel steps to the floor.
The move looked legitimately painful and in storyline sent Ellsworth to the hospital.
Ambrose got his revenge on Styles at the end of the show by ambushing him backstage, but the WWE World champion gained some much-needed heat anyway whether Ambrose attacked him or not.
Styles' attack on Ellsworth was a slight reminder that he is an actual threat. I think some of the shenanigans the last couple of weeks with Ellsworth may have caused fans to lose sight of that.
It also finally helped the rivalry between Styles and Ambrose take a more serious tone, which was lost for weeks with the Ellsworth story. With him seemingly out of the way, the humorous aspect of the rivalry can take a backseat in favor of the serious nature of a tables, ladders and chairs for the richest prize in the industry.
Tables match for Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch
Smackdown Live opened with a contract signing for Becky Lynch's Smackdown Women's title defense against Alexa Bliss at the pay-per-view.
The two had yet another solid verbal exchange, but as expected, Lynch and Bliss engaged in fisticuffs.
The brawl ended with Bliss pushing Lynch off the top rope through a table below.
I thought that the end result of their contract signing would turn their championship match in a tables match and it turned out I was right, as Smackdown Live general manager officially added the stipulation on Talkin' Smack.
The only weird thing was that Bryan added the stipulation after both Lynch and Bliss signed the contract, which in theory, wasn't for a tables match.
This may be seen as nitpicking, but it was something that I noticed.
Regardless, I am definitely looking forward to a tables match between these two. With Raw putting on a fantastic falls count anywhere match between Sasha Banks and Charlotte Monday, it was nice to see Smackdown Live keep pace with Lynch and Bliss.
WWE isn't doing a perfect job with its women's divisions, but with the championship matches, I believe the company continues to live up to its word of giving them the same opportunities as the men.
Table matches featuring women are not a common occurrence in WWE, but we will see one Sunday.
Wyatt, Orton to face Heath Slater, Rhyno
Another match that was made official for TLC was a Smackdown Live Tag Team title match with Slater and Rhyno defending against new No. 1 contenders, Wyatt and Orton.
Wyatt and Orton earned their title shot after defeating American Alpha in Tuesday's main event with an assist from Harper.
I'm not completely sure what to expect out of the title match Sunday. One on end, I can see Wyatt and Orton taking the titles away from Slater and Rhyno, which would give Wyatt his first championship since being called up to the main roster more than three years ago.
On the other end, I can see Sunday being the night Orton finally turns on Wyatt to destroy The Wyatt Family from within.
What I can say for sure is that I have liked the work being done with Wyatt and Orton as a tandem. I wasn't all that enamored with their rivalry, as I found it cheesy and campy at times.
However, since Orton joined The Wyatt Family I have enjoyed the slow telling of the story. It's something fans always yearn for so when it actually happens, I feel the need to applaud it, especially when it is done right.