By Adam Salzer
Hello one and all and welcome to another edition of Making the Grade! Tonight was SmackDown Live's second brand-exclusive pay per view and what a show it was! Let's get into it, shall we?
Kickoff: American Alpha and Hype Bros v. Vaudevillains and Ascension
Even before this match started it felt like just another "Hey, look at this division!" match like we've had before. But the match was decent, the ending was sloppy, and points off for Mojo Rawley's dumb shit.
Grade: C, it's a kickoff match, it doesn't mean anything
"Main Event": John Cena v. Dean Ambrose v. AJ Styles (c)
First off, it's not a main event if it opens the show. Second off, don't do entrances first and then montage, it doesn't make sense. I will give them points for not doing what I thought they were going to do and having Cena win just to get his 16th title, and then lose the title back to Styles later in the night. Points off, though, for that stupid double submission spot that makes no sense in a one-fall match. The match itself, though was great, and if there's no follow up later in the night it should have gone on last.
Grade: B, great triple threat, with some good convincing false finishes. Dumb booking prevents it from getting an A.
Nikki Bella v. Carmella
Sadly not Hella in a Cella. Also, sadly, not good. Carmella's inexperience shined through here and some ugly spots just brought the whole thing down. Also Carmella's yelling was driving me insane.
Grade: C, Cena's cum dumpster won't put new talent over either. (That one's for Jason, and it's a joke)
Tag Titles: Usos v. Slyno
Not a bad match, but a surprising ending. I was not expecting Slyno to retain. The ending was a bit mistimed with Rhyno saving Heath from that Tequila Sunrise, but other than that a pretty good match.
Grade: B, decent. Wrong team won, but decent.
Jack Swagger v. Baron Corbin
This match can only exceed expectations, because I expect nothing from this. I will give them credit for keeping it mercifully short. Corbin wins, no one cares, this feud continues since he poked him in the eye.
Grade: C, meh.
Title vs. Career: Miz (c) v. Dolph Ziggler
I literally have no idea how this is going to play out, and I'm very excited about that. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that this was match of the night. Given that it could have gone either way every nearfall was tense and every kickout was a deep exhale. These two told a fantastic story, and there is no good reason anyone can provide that can convince me that that match shouldn't have been the main event if you weren't going to do the title match last.
Grade: A, enthralling, emotional, stressful, fantastic.
Alexa Bliss v. Naomi
There's nothing to really expect here, since this match was put together probably this afternoon. The women are not having a good showing tonight, as the finish shows Naomi botch two spots back to back and still get a pinfall victory, which is a terrible booking choice. You'd think they'd want the number one contender to look strong against someone who isn't the champion and not take a clean pinfall victory.
Grade: D, this match was not pretty, and Naomi absolutely should not have gone over.
Bray Wyatt v. Randy Orton
Why the hell is this main eventing? The only reason this match should have been in the top spot is if the ring gets destroyed, and it didn't. Yeah, Luke Harper came back, and that was cool, but that could have happened in the middle of the show and nothing would have been different about it.
Grade: B, decent match, Bray won, and Luke Harper came back.
Average Grade: B-, the two women's matches bring it down a bit, but the rest of the card bolstered the show to remain above average.
I usually don't do this, but I'm giving extra credit to the Title vs. Career match, that's how much I enjoyed it.
Match order, absolutely no reason for the "Main Event" to open the show if you're not having a second title match later, and if you're not then there's no reason for the Title vs. Career match not to main event. You could have ended with a huge Dolph Ziggler victory celebration and instead you shove it in the middle of the card and gloss over it in favor of Luke Harper in a hoody. No disrespect to Luke Harper, but there's no reason that couldn't have happened in the middle of the show. This demerit loses the show a full point instead of the usual half.
Final Grade: Half point up, full point down, that knocks No Mercy down to a C in my book, and as I was typing this up Daniel Bryan just apologized on Talking Smack for not having the IC Title match be the main event. I'm gonna count that as extra credit, which brings us back to a B- for the night.
That does it for me for tonight, Making the Grade will be back in THREE WHOLE WEEKS for Hell in a Cell on October 30th!
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