Posted October 8th, 2016 by 1Wrestling News Team

By Don Murphy

The Smackdown brand presents its second exclusive offering Sunday night with No Mercy, coming from Sacramento, California. In the early months following the roster split, I think the Smackdown brand has done a very good job making the most of the limited roster depth that they have. They’re not quite at the point where the talent could headline one of the “top four” shows, but it’s clear that the writers are developing stories that not only make sense, but accentuate the positive aspects of their talent. It also helps that the show doesn’t have to worry about a third hour of content, so they’re able to deliver the key matches and angles that advance storylines without having to fill too much time with fluff. Eight matches, four of them being for titles, are advertised for the show and all of them have a solid story behind them. Let’s run down the card….

Main Event: AJ Styles defends the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Dean Ambrose and John Cena in a Triple Threat Match

Analysis: Typically, I am not a fan of triple threat title matches. But, in this case, I am actually looking forward to the presentation here. I really like that the creative team has changed its typical approach to these types of matches, where the two babyfaces don’t really have any issue with each other. That’s clearly not the case here and this past Tuesday night, the three competitors did a great job outlining all of the issues at play in this match. AJ and Dean resent Cena for not respecting them, being a part-time performer and a “sports entertainer.” Cena resents AJ for taking shortcuts and resents Dean for not taking the championship seriously. We should see all of that come into play here. There’s also the intrigue of Cena potentially winning his 16th world title and tying Ric Flair’s iconic record. I don’t see that happening here, as I believe that the WWE will tease us with that for several months and save that moment for a bigger show, likely WrestleMania. In the end, I see AJ retaining, while Dean continues to evolve slowly into a heel.

Murphy Predicts: AJ Styles retains the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Singles Match: Randy Orton faces Bray Wyatt

Analysis: Since this match didn’t happen at Backlash, as advertised, I am largely borrowing from what I said about the match last month. Once again, this is a tough match to predict. Though the Smackdown brand lacks depth, in terms of main event heels and babyfaces, a loss by either one isn’t the end of the world, as both have enough credibility to look strong in their next program. But, with Orton coming off a SummerSlam loss where he clearly presented as inferior to Lesnar and Wyatt not coming out on the winning end of a program for the last year, if not longer, the writers will have to find a creative way to tell this story and book the finish in a way that causes as little character damage as possible. The difference between this month and last month is how I see this match going. Last month, we had Kane going over Bray, as a last minute replacement for Orton. This month, I see a finish where Erick Rowan and/or potentially a returning Luke Harper get involved to cost Orton the match and continue the feud.
Murphy Predicts: Bray Wyatt defeats Randy Orton

Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: Heath Slater and Rhyno defend the titles against The Usos

Analysis: As expected, a heel turn was just what the Usos needed to improve their status on the card. Up until recently, the only things we knew about them were what we gathered from their appearances on Total Divas, as well as they fact that they were related to Roman Reigns. Since turning heel, they carry themselves with more confidence, and it’s ultimately improved their in-ring. I see them winning the titles here and moving on to a big feud with American Alpha, which should be a great series of matches. But, let’s not discount what the creative team has done with Heath Slater and Rhyno. They took a career under-carder, paired him with someone who has historical name recognition, but is extremely one-dimensional as a character, and made them relevant with the fans. My hope that this isn’t thrown away once the titles go away. By giving a boost to some of the other tag teams on the roster, I think there’s more they can do here to keep Rhyno and Slater relevant, which will particularly be important for Slater, as his career has less mileage on it at this stage.
Murphy Predicts: The Usos win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match (Career vs. Title): The Miz defends the title against Dolph Ziggler, with Ziggler’s WWE career on the line
Analysis: Arguably, the Miz is the best heel in wrestling today and his recent work should put to rest those that said he never deserved to be at the top of the card several years ago. This feud has built nicely, with Ziggler doing a great job selling us on what his WWE career means to him. My concern is what the aftermath will be should Ziggler win the title, which I think he will. The Miz has been such a great heel, but having the title has been an important part of that presentation and it’s made the title feel more relevant. Can the writing find a way to keep the title relevant on Ziggler? Beyond the Miz, there aren’t too many credible contenders. Perhaps they elevate a few, such as Baron Corbin, or perhaps Jack Swagger, but I think the best bet at this stage would be, similar to the Usos, turning Ziggler heel, giving him a refreshed character with an edge and have him feud with some of the babyfaces on the brand.
Murphy Predicts: Dolph Ziggler wins the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Smackdown Women’s Championship Match: Becky Lynch defends the title against Alexa Bliss

Analysis: I like how they’re presenting the women on Smackdown. In the past, it was a monthly merry-go-round, featuring the contender of the month. But they’ve actually developed characters and stories here. A few weeks ago, both Bliss and Lynch delivered great promos to set up this match and articulate what the title meant to them. Lynch has the potential to be a top-level performer, while Bliss plays the obnoxious, bratty heel role well. I look for Lynch to retain, but I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this story, which will be a nice change of pace from what we’ve seen in the past.

Murphy Predicts: Becky Lynch retains the Smackdown Women’s Championship

Singles Match: Nikki Bella meets Carmella

Analysis: Similar to my comments above, it’s nice to see a women’s match with a build and a story. The difference here is that Alexa Bliss has better potential at this stage. However, working with Nikki Bella, the stronger of the two Bella twins, in terms of in-ring performance, will serve a great benefit to Carmella. The nice thing is that she’s separated herself from Enzo and Cass, in an attempt to develop her own persona. Now, it’s on her to take that opportunity and run. And, I see them giving her that first chance by giving her the win over the former women’s champion.

Murphy Predicts: Carmella defeats Nikki Bella

Singles Match: Baron Corbin faces Jack Swagger (Pre-Show Match)

Analysis: Corbin has a great upside and has been built nicely since moving to the main roster. Swagger has done little in the past couple of years, but his name still hold some credibility. I’m not sure if they’re planning to do anything with Swagger down the road, aside from using him to get other talent over, but I think the table is set for a competitive match, that ultimately has Corbin winning, as he continues to move up the card.

Murphy Predicts: Baron Corbin defeats Jack Swagger

Singles Match: Curt Hawkins makes his Smackdown roster debut (Opponent TBD)

Analysis: This, of course, isn’t a real match prediction since we don’t actually know who his opponent is. There’s one of two ways this plays out. He either faces someone like Kalisto or another lower-card opponent and wins a competitive match, or he gets squashed by someone like Apollo Crews, a talent that really hasn’t gotten over yet, but by all accounts, is still someone they are committed to doing something with. I am hoping that it’s the first scenario, as the Smackdown roster is in need of credible talent, given the limited roster depth. Otherwise, Hawkins will be relegated to a similar spot that others, such as Swagger and Jinder Mahal have. Given the weeks of vignettes leading up to this, I am predicting that we’ll see the beginning of some kind of build, though the character really hasn’t gotten over with the crowd. After that, it will be interesting to see how his character evolves.

Murphy Predicts: Curt Hawkins wins his Smackdown debut

Follow me on Twitter: @don424

Category: Wrestling.

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