Welcome to SmackDown Live! We open tonight’s show with a recap of Survivor Series, and then Shane O’Mac comes out to talk to us. He reassures us first of all that he’s okay, even if Roman tried to Spear him right out of his shoes, before he goes on to give kudos where it is deserved to both RAW and SmackDown’s teams. Bray and Randy really brought it, despite being the ones he’d expect to collapse the team, but Dean and AJ really didn’t.
Dean comes out to ask what Shane’s problem is, and Shane quite rightfully points out that his cute little Shield reunion could easily have cost his team the victory. Dean just wants to invite James Ellsworth, who took out Braun Strowman, to come out in celebration. Unfortunately, Dean is being a spoiler happy little man and tells Ellsworth before Shane gets a chance that he’s getting a SmackDown Live contract.
Shane has bad news, though – Shane would like Dean to have the night off. No, he doesn’t want him to sit in catering and enjoy the night. He would like him to leave the building. AJ Styles comes out at this point, thinking this is insufficient – Dean deserves to be kicked off SmackDown Live altogether, or at least lose his number one contendership. As for Ellsworth – AJ earned his contract with WWE by working hard for years, and Ellsworth has done nothing to deserve it. So how about a ladder match for Ellsworth’s contract? If Ellsworth wins, he can stay, but if AJ wins, he’s tearing up Ellsworth’s contract.
Shane tries to assure Ellsworth that he doesn’t need to do this, but Ellsworth agrees anyway. More than that – if he wins, he wants a title shot thrown in on top. And if he loses, he’s happy to accept missing out on the contract. Dean wanders back in at the end for some reason, smiling happily.
Backstage, Miz and Maryse are posing with his Intercontinental Title when Daniel Bryan comes out to have a chat with him. Miz wants to know when his celebration begins, because he saved the IC championship for SmackDown Live. By sharp contrast, however, Daniel doesn’t think he deserves anything – he embarrassed SmackDown Live by having Maryse interfere. What he can have instead is a title match against Kalisto, who was also embarrassed because of Baron Corbin.
Apparently we’re having tag team turmoil to determine the number one contender for the tag-team championship tonight! I am not looking forward to recapping that.
Shane escorts Dean back out of the building. I can’t see that lasting.
MATCH: Kalisto vs. The Miz (with Maryse) – Intercontinental Championship Match
JBL doesn’t know why this match is happening, because at least Miz brought the title back to SmackDown. We’re underway quickly, however!
- Kalisto with some early offense, scoring a few nearfalls on Miz with some fast-paced rollups.
- Miz topples out of the ring and Kalisto follows with a suicide dive as we cut to commercial.
- When we’re back, they’re back in the ring, with Miz having Kalisto in the corner. Ref creates separation, but as Miz comes back for a splash, Kalisto gets out of the way and Miz hits the turnbuckle.
- Springboard seated senton from Kalisto, for a two-count.
- Kalisto reverses a slingshot powerbomb into a hurricanrana for another two-count.
- Kalisto up to the top rope, but misses as he’s distracted by Baron Corbin’s appearance.
- Skull-crushing finale, as Kalisto is too busy looking at Baron Corbin, and Miz retains!
It’s Miz-giving! Miz and Maryse practically skip up the ramp in celebration as Corbin enters the ring and takes Kalisto out for a second time with the End of Days. I feel like Daniel Bryan should have seen this coming when he set up the match. As Miz is watching, a figure appears – it’s Dolph Ziggler, and Miz turns around straight into a superkick.
Miz looks distressed that the superkick may have damaged his beautiful face, as we cut backstage to where Daniel and Shane are watching. Daniel is off to deal with Dolph and Corbin, but Alexa Bliss has some questions for Shane – like, when does she get her title match? Becky comes in to clear that up. She’ll defend the title in two weeks, at TLC and no sooner.
Before they can get much further, Natalya comes in to say that as coach of the SmackDown women’s team, she blames Becky for their defeat. Shane cuts it to say that the blame falls on whoever attacked Nikki Bella, and that Becky can have a match against Natalya tonight. Natalya quotes Celine Dion, and Dean wanders in with a pizza to explain that he kind of liked Titanic. Shane shoos him back out of the building and says he’ll text him when he’s ready for him to come back. Becky makes an awful pun about pizza. Love it.
Corbin is walking through a hallway when Daniel Bryan comes out to confront him. He doesn’t mind that Corbin wants to make a name for himself, but he does mind that Corbin is getting in everyone’s way to do it, so Corbin will be fighting Kane tonight.
MATCH: Tag Team Turmoil – Number One Contender’s Match
So the way this works is that every time a tag-team is eliminated, a new one comes in, and the last team standing becomes the new number one contenders.
- The Hype Bros and the Ascension are the first teams out for this match, with the Ascension immediately going on the attack as the bell rings. Konnor throws Mojo Rawley into the steel steps, while Viktor fights Ryder in the ring.
- Ryder flies over the ropes, tumbling to the ground, and Konnor tags in to clothesline Ryder and throw him headfirst into the apron before throwing him back in the ring.
- Quick cover; Ryder kicks out.
- Viktor tags back in for a quick tag-team assault, then elbows to Ryder’s head. Ryder collapses over the ropes as Konnor tags back in.
- Strikes from Konnor, then Viktor back in for a suplex that Ryder reverses into a double neckbreaker.
- Mojo back in, then Ryder back in to hit the Hype Ryder on Viktor. The Ascension are out!
- Up next we have Breezango, who rush the ring before the ring announcers can finish saying their names, but they’re thrown to the ground and Ryder hits a somersault senton to take them both out as we cut to commercial.
- Tyler and Mojo are in the ring when we come back; the referee is trying to keep Fandango out of the way as Ryder tags in and hits a missile dropkick on Tyler.
- Fandango pulls Tyler out of the way of the Broski Boot, then Tyler makes the tag and Fandango eliminates the Hype Bros with a slingshot elbow drop.
- Tyler and Fandango quickly check on each other as American Alpha make their way out; Tyler tries to attack Jordan on the outside while Fandango tries to get a quick pin on Gable.
- Fandango hangs Gable over the ropes, then Tyler tags in – Tyler and Fandango with a kick to either side of Gable’s head. Tyler’s cover gets a two-count.
- Fandango tags back in and they try the same move that eliminated the Hype Bros, but Gable counters and pins Fandango. Breezango are eliminated.
- Vaudevillains come in; Jordan tags in for a quick bridging German suplex, and the Vaudevillains are eliminated.
- The Usos make their way in slowly, and I think we all suspected it might come down to these two!
- Gable and Jimmy in the ring as we cut to commercial.
- Dueling chants of ‘let’s go Usos’ and ‘Usos suck’ as Jimmy has a rear chinlock on Gable.
- Tags made to Jordan and Jey, and a tag-team assault on Jordan gets a nearfall.
- Rear chinlock from Jey to Jordan; Jordan gets to a vertical base and breaks the hold before being thrown into the corner.
- Tag back to Jimmy, and my television tries to turn itself off, and Jordan kicks out at two.
- Another tag back to Jey, and Jimmy holds Jordan still for a superkick. Lateral press, for a two count.
- Crossface from Jey, Jordan powers out but Jey slaps him back down to the ground before tagging in Jimmy.
- Jordan lands on his feet out of the suplex attempt, and scrambles to tag in Gable. Jimmy tries to pull him back, but falls short.
- Dropkick from Gable, then an overhead belly-to-belly.
- Clothesline, then a bridging German suplex, but Jimmy kicks out just in time.
- Jimmy rolls out of the ring, but Gable follows and ends up fighting both Usos on the outside, going facefirst into the ring post.
- Back in the ring, pendulum backbreaker from Jimmy followed by a splash from Jey Uso gets a nearfall, but Gable just manages to kick out in time.
- Jey goes for a Samoan Drop, but Gable breaks out with a back elbow and tags in Jordan.
- Jordan turns around into a superkick from Jey, then Jey up on the turnbuckle for a Samoan Splash, but Jordan gets his knees up.
- Rollup from Jordan gets a two-count.
- ‘This is awesome’ chant from the crowd. Jimmy Uso takes out Gable on the outside, but Gable manages to get himself back into the ring to defend as Jimmy tries to interfere.
- Grand Amplitude, and American Alpha win!
Before anything else happens, however, we cut straight to a Wyatt family promo. Bray Wyatt reminds American Alpha that they haven’t yet faced all the tagteams, and they can have a breather for tonight, but Bray and Randy will be coming for them next week.
Backstage, Daniel double-checks on James Ellsworth to make sure he’s okay to do this tonight. Ellsworth acknowledges that his bruises have bruises and even at his best it would be hard to defeat AJ, but he’s achieved childhood dreams in the WWE like being in the ring with the Undertaker and Edge so he wants to try. Dean wanders in, dressed in a mountie costume, and before Daniel can make him leave before Shane sees him, Shane storms in to yell at him because he’s been disrespectful and insubordinate. Daniel tries to calm him down, and Shane says he’s leaving before he does something he regrets.
MATCH: Natalya vs. Becky Lynch
We have Alexa Bliss on commentary for this match! Mauro asks her if she knows who attacked Nikki Bella at Survivor Series, and Alexa dismissively says that she doesn’t care. She’s got more important things to concern herself with.
- Snapmare takedown from Natalya into a chinlock, reversal by Becky. Both women get to their feet, and Becky takes Natalya down again.
- Both women back on their feet – a kick from Natalya, then several strikes from Becky sending Natalya into the corner.
- Becky over the ropes on the apron, then Natalya sets her up on the turnbuckle for a sitout powerbomb. Becky kicks out at two.
- Natalya poses over Becky as we cut to commercial.
- When we’re back, Natalya has Becky in a bow-and-arrow stretch, but Becky manages to fight out.
- Natalya takes Becky down with a clothesline.
- Michinoku Driver from Natalya, then a very cheeky cover as she just sits on Becky’s chest. Becky kicks out.
- Becky firing back with two lariats and a leg lariat, then a corner forearm.
- Becky goes for the Dis-Arm-Her, but Natalya counters into a roll-up for a two count
- Bex-plex, and both women are down. Natalya goes for a roll-up, but Becky kicks out.
- Natalya goes for the Sharpshooter, but Becky rolls out and locks in the Dis-Arm-Her. Natalya taps!
Alexa into the ring for a DDT before Becky can even celebrate her victory over Natalya, then struts away up the ramp.
The Hype Bros try to sell me some WWE Merchandise! Hey, WWE Store, how about some Breezango merch? I’d pay for that. Zack Ryder runs away with a handful of merch that Mojo Rawley tells him he has to pay for.
The Miz is telling Daniel Bryan that he doesn’t think Dolph Ziggler should get a title shot, but Daniel reminds him that Ziggler is owed one as the previous champion. The Miz will defend the Intercontinental Championship against Ziggler in a ladder match.
Carmella is gossiping on the phone, probably with Big Cass who she hasn’t seen in far too long. Poor couples broken up in this brand split, honestly. Nikki comes in and snatches the phone out of her hand and demands to know why Carmella attacked her. Carmella, however, points out that she always takes credit for her attacks on Nikki so there’s no reason she wouldn’t this time. Maybe it was one the dozens of women Nikki has turned on in the past – there’s no shortage of those. Nikki even sold out her own sister once. Nikki doesn’t care who attacked her at Survivor Series, though; she and Carmella are putting this feud to death in a no-DQ match at TLC.
MATCH: Kane vs. Baron Corbin
Do I have to recap this match? I just… I really irrationally hate Baron Corbin and Kane honestly doesn’t excite me.
- Kane tries to go straight for the chokehold. Corbin tries to fight out, but Kane drops him with a boot.
- Corbin back on the offense with strikes, knocking Kane into the corner, then tries to get in the ref’s face for some reason.
- Kane with Corbin in the corner, but Corbin knocks him to the outside.
- Dropkick from Kalisto! The bell rings.
Kane comes back in to drop Corbin with a chokeslam, just for good measure, and Kalisto stands over Corbin’s body for a moment before going to grab a chair. Corbin rolls out of the way before Kalisto can hit him, but as Kalisto keeps yelling, he runs back in to grab the chair off him. A spin kick through the chair to Corbin’s face sends the lone wolf sprawling, and Kalisto’s music plays.
MATCH: James Ellsworth vs. AJ Styles – Contract Ladder Match
Ellsworth is waiting in the ring when we come back in, clutching at his neck brace like a lifeline. AJ makes his way out to follow as commentary explains that Ellsworth threw away a guaranteed contract for this moment. What a sweetheart.
- AJ immediately on the offensive, tearing off Ellsworth’s neck brace and throwing him out of the ring before going to fetch a ladder.
- As AJ gets in the ring with the ladder, Ellsworth tries to pull it away, but AJ just knocks him back down to the floor and sets up the ladder and starts to climb.
- Ellsworth starts climbing up behind him, but AJ just kicks him away before jumping back down and hitting a pendulum backbreaker. Poor Ellsworth is wearing a girdle as well, after going through that table at Survivor Series.
- Kicks to Ellsworth’s midsection as AJ hangs him off the ladder, then AJ pins him under the ladder and starts to climb after the contract again.
- Just as AJ reaches the contract, Dean comes in dressed in a hockey jersey, pulls AJ down and clotheslines him out of the ring.
- Dean on his knees coaxing Ellsworth back to his feet encouraging him to climb the ladder.
- Phenomenal Forearm from AJ to Dean, and Dean rolls out of the ring. AJ climbs the ladder again, but Ellsworth pushes the ladder over, sending AJ tumbling to the outside.
- Ellsworth struggles to his feet and, as AJ climbs over the ropes at him, Ellsworth hits him with No Chin Music.
- AJ is tangled in the ropes and can’t get himself free. Ellsworth gets his contract!
Ellsworth is literally sobbing in Dean’s arms as he clutches his contract, until Dean helps him up on top of the announce table to raise his arm in celebration. I actually have no trouble believing that’s real; it must be an incredible feeling to stand in front of a SmackDown crowd and have everyone know that you’re there to stay.
Good for you, Ellsworth! And we’ll see you next week!