Hello and welcome to SmackDown Live! Unfortunately, I have two and a half days off work and my body has decided to respond by making me ill, so there’s every chance that I’ll be a little extra critical of events tonight.
We start the show off with a return from a man who hasn’t been around much lately – it’s John Cena! He tries to have a chat with the Chicago crowd about sports stuff that is entirely lost on me, an Australian. Moving on to things that I do understand, he tries to poll the crowd on who they think is ending 2016 as WWE World Champion. This might be more interesting if we thought that either Dolph Ziggler or Baron Corbin were credible contenders, which this crowd clearly does not.
Cena goes on to ask if we know why he’s with us tonight, and the crowd takes up in an ‘Undertaker’ chant. It might be a little too early to play that card, though, so instead Cena is reminding us that he is Never Giving Up and that means that even though AJ Styles has knocked him down before, at the Royal Rumble he’s going to be facing whoever wins the title tonight, for the title. It’s nice that he can make that decision. I thought that was Daniel Bryan or perhaps Shane McMahon’s job.
There’s not a lot of time to focus on that, though, because this is a very special SmackDown with a lot of titles on the line – and the Wyatts start to make their way in for the first title defense of the night.
After a commercial, we cut to Miz’s dressing room, protected by what looks like an absolute army of security guards. Miz tells Dasha in no uncertain terms that the only interviewer he is willing to speak to is Renee Young, after the events of last week.
MATCH: Luke Harper & Randy Orton (with Bray Wyatt) vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. American Alpha vs. The Usos – SmackDown Tag Team Championships Fourway Elimination Match.
Speaking of the fact that I’ll be extra critical, can anyone explain to me the reason for this fourway? I know that Zack Ryder’s knee injury means that the Hype Bros don’t get their title shot, but I seem to recall Konnor and Tyler Breeze being second and third last standing in that battle royal the Bros won. Did someone in booking think it would just be a little too ridiculous to see either the Ascension or Breezango as contenders?
- Chad Gable and Rhyno start us off, Gable with a waistlock which Rhyno reverses into a wristlock.
- Rhyno knocks Gable to the mat with a shoulder block, then a second time with a lariat.
- Gable back on his feet with a wristlock into a bridging Northern Lights Suplex for a one-count.
- Jey Uso tags in, laying in with strikes on Rhyno, then a leg drop for a quick cover. Rhyno stumbles away, then Jey follows him into the corner with a shoulder to the midsection making the tag to Jimmy.
- Jimmy drapes Rhyno over the ropes and Jey attacks him from the outside when the referee tries to tell Jimmy to create separation.
- Jey back in, with a chinlock on Rhyno. Rhyno powers to his feet and Jimmy tags back in for a second chinlock.
- Rhyno powers out again, this time flooring Jimmy with a lariat and tagging in Slater.
- Slater with strikes and kicks before knocking Jimmy off his feet with a boot then a hangman’s neckbreaker for a two-count.
- Jimmy back on his feet throws Slater into the ropes, but Slater kicks him away and delivers a dropkick to an interfering Jey.
- Slater up on the turnbuckle but misses, setting Jimmy up for a superkick – and Slater and Rhyno are eliminated!
- When we’re back, Jey has a rear chinlock on Jason Jordan. Jordan tries to power out but Jey lays in with some strikes and locks in again. Bray is looking very menacing on the outside.
- Jordan powers out but can’t make it to Gable before Jey suplexes him. Jordan still lands on his feet and makes the tag!
- T-Bone suplex from Gable, and Jimmy breaks up the cover. Jordan comes in to send Jimmy back out, and both Usos up on the turnbuckles for tandem splashes. Alpha dodge, and hit tandem belly-to-belly suplexes instead.
- Jey manages to get out of what looks like a setup for Grand Amplitude, but a sunset flip from Gable gets a pin anyway. The Usos are eliminated!
- More out of spite than anything else, Jimmy knocks Jordan off the apron and lays into him as Luke Harper enters the ring. Gable climbs out too and Alpha and the Usos fight it out until the referee sends the Usos away, and Harper throws Jordan at Randy Orton.
- Orton stomps Jordan then suplexes him onto the rope, then more stomps, before whipping Jordan into the corner.
- Whip into the opposite corner, then Randy hits a powerslam for a nearfall.
- Orton with uppercuts in the corner, but Jordan reverses the next whip and hits a dropkick. Both men tag in their partners.
- Gable with a crossbody on Harper, then a dropkick and a German suplex. Bray starts to interfere, and Randy on the outside attacks Gable while the referee is distracted.
- When we’re back from commercial, Harper has Gable in a rear chinlock. Gable powers out, but Harper knocks him back to the mat with a shoulder block, then catapults him into the rope.
- Harper throws Gable to the floor, then Randy tags in and meets Gable with a back suplex sending him into the barricade – and then again, just for good measure.
- Both men back in the ring and Randy goes for a slingshot suplex for a two-count.
- Harper back in with a Michinoku Driver, and Gable is frantic to make the tag but Harper keeps him away with a spinning side slam for a two count.
- Harper picks Gable up in powerbomb position, but Gable reverses into a hurricanrana and makes the tag.
- Jordan with a dropkick as Orton tags in, then a suplex, but Harper breaks up the cover.
- Jordan and Harper trading strikes on the outside until Gable takes over. Jordan with a strike on Bray, then back in the ring, but Orton DDTs him.
- Orton pounds the mat for the RKO, but Gable distracts him and he sets up for a superplex on Gable instead. Harper comes over to help and I can’t quite tell if Orton pushes him away or if Gable knocks Orton into Harper, but either way – Harper hits the ground and Orton back on the mat for a missile dropkick from Gable.
- Jordan tags in Gable, and Grand Ampltitude – they win!
Gable wraps his legs around Jordan’s waist for a hug just to let us all know how they’re going to celebrate tonight, I guess, then hoist their titles proudly. Bray Wyatt does not look at all happy with this development. Randy and Harper look like they’re going to fight about what happened, but Bray breaks them up and Alpha are still alternating between embracing and proudly displaying their titles on the ramp.
Renee is interviewing Dolph Ziggler, and asks him how he feels having stupidly put his number one contendership on the line against Baron Corbin. Ziggler tells us that some of the best nights of his life have come from bad decisions, but gets overcome with some good Ziggler anger and emotion when he starts talking about how much the opportunity for the triple threat match tonight for the title means to him, and ends with him staring off into the middle distance with resolve.
Elsewhere, Dasha is talking to Ellsworth about whether it gets him down when people make fun of his face. Carmella wanders in to ask why Dasha would ask him a question like that, then tells Ellsworth that he’s ‘uniquely attractive’ and makes him take her arm to lead her away.
MATCH: Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch – Women’s Championship Match
I don’t have anything really angry to say about this title match like I do the tag team match, so can I just ask why the champions came out first in both matches so far? In any case, we get a brief recap of Alexa tapping out to La Luchadora – aka, Becky in disguise – last week before we begin.
- The two women circle, then a collar and elbow tie-up which Becky breaks by throwing Alexa to the mat.
- Waistlock from Alexa, then a body scissors, transitioned into an inverted figure-four from Becky. Alexa scrambles for a rope break.
- Wristlock from Becky, which Alexa reverses, then Becky reverses back before grabbing Alexa in a side headlock.
- Alexa reverses into a side headlock of her own, then both women to their feet and Becky bounces off the ropes with a shoulder block.
- Series of covers back and forth for none more than two count. Becky ends this by rolling out of a pin and knocking Alexa back with a kick before trying to transition into an armbar but Alexa is able to break out and roll Becky up for a one-count.
- Alexa catches a lariat from Becky, then knocks her to the mat.
- Alexa draping Becky over the ropes by her hair then standing on her and stomping her head into the mat. Becky kicks out of the cover at one.
- Strikes from Alexa keep Becky down, but then Becky takes Alexa down with two armdrags and a leg lariat.
- Alexa on the outside, Becky follows her with a baseball slide, but Alexa is well in control throwing Becky headfirst into the apron.
- Becky counters a second attempt with her foot on the apron, then sends Alexa into it headfirst. Alexa knocks her back down to the ground and climbs back into the ring as we cut to commercial again.
- When we’re back, Alexa with double knees to Becky draped over the ropes, then tries a knee drop but Becky moves out of the way.
- Becky with a series of uppercuts, then two lariats and a leg lariat. Alexa moves out of the way before Becky can get her in the corner, and when Becky still tries to grab her for a suplex, Alexa able to counter.
- Alexa thrown into the ringpost, then Becky up on the turnbuckle. Alexa knocks her off-balance, but Becky kicks her away and lands the missile dropkick for a two-count.
- Music hits, and La Luchadora runs out?! This version of La Luchadora has a cape and distracts Becky for a schoolgirl rollup from Alexa, but Becky kicks out.
- Series of pin attempts back and forth, and Alexa looks furious as La Luchadora – some brown hair peeking out of the back of the mask, it seems – watches.
- Twisted Bliss misses, and Becky locks in the Dis- Arm-Her. Alexa makes a ropebreak.
- La Luchadora drags Becky into the ringpost, and Alexa hits a DDT – Alexa Bliss retains!
Alexa practically snarling as she holds her title, but when she holds it up beside her head she’s definitely looking pleased. Who is La Luchadora? Dasha asks Alexa and she suggests either Sasha Banks or Nia Jax, two women who it is clearly not.
Renee is here to talk to the Miz this time, even though Maryse isn’t thrilled about this. Miz asks Renee how she enjoyed the Skull-Crushing Finale he delivered to Dean Ambrose, and she very dully, boredly asks him how he plans to follow up 2016 with 2017. Camera pans across and Dean is there, ready to beat down Miz and all of his security.
Nikki is up next to be interviewed, this time about Natalya’s admission that she did attack Nikki. Nikki is proud of being on Total Divas and Total Bellas, is happy with John Cena, and knows that she worked hard to get where she is. As for Natalya, she’ll happily counter to her face.
Corbin yells some things about how he wants to win or something. Honestly, I’d skip his match tonight out of sheer boredom, but it’s for the WWE title so I feel as though I should pay some attention?
I normally don’t really comment on the match graphics, but the one for the Intercontintental Championship Match between Miz and Dean is comically awful – Dean is snarling like a bear, and Miz’s duckface is absurd. Who approved this graphic? No, seriously. Whose idea was THAT graphic??
MATCH: Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. AJ Styles – WWE World Championship Match
Just to confuse me, in the third title match of tonight, the champion actually comes out last. I like Ziggler and Styles a lot, so I’m also kind of mad at Ziggler for putting his number one contendership on the line against Corbin, meaning he’s added to the match.
The three men circle, until Corbin shoves AJ away and Dolph knocks him down with a dropkick.
- Zig Zag blocked by Corbin, and Dolph takes a quick forearm from AJ. AJ then goes after Corbin, who picks him up onto his shoulders. AJ slips out and delivers kicks to Corbin’s legs.
- Dolph comes in with a Stinger Splash on AJ, but AJ throws him back at Corbin. Corbin catches Ziggler’s dropkick and knocks him out of the ring, then knocks AJ out too.
- Ziggler tries to climb back in and is kicked back out as we go to commercial.
- When we’re back, AJ is rolling out of the ring again, then Corbin goes to the outside to throw Dolph Ziggler into the apron.
- Dolph thrown into the barricade by Corbin, then AJ into the apron. Corbin rolls AJ back into the ring.
- Corbin looks for End of Days, but AJ blocks, and both men are knocked over by a dropkick from Ziggler.
- Ziggler goes for a suplex on AJ, but he fights out; then the reverse, as ZIggler fights out of AJ’s suplex. The two men trade strikes until Corbin knocks them both down with clotheslines.
- Corbin stomps Ziggler, then drags him up by the hair into the corner, then throws him face-first into the opposite turnbuckle.
- Ziggler fights with strikes, but is hooked for End of Days until AJ grabs him and stays laying into Corbin.
- Corbin throws Ziggler into AJ in the corner, then levels both men when they try to mount comebacks, throwing them to the mat easily. Nearfall on AJ.
- Back from commercial and Corbin is stomping Ziggler in the corner before turning his attention back on AJ. Ziggler and AJ take turns striking and kicking at Corbin, backing him against the ropes then sending him to the ground with simultaneous clotheslines.
- On the outside, Corbin throws AJ into the barricade, then Ziggler jumps on him with a sleeper hold. Corbin throws Ziggler to the ground with ease, and starts clearing the announce table.
- AJ knocks Corbin off-balance and Ziggler hits a superkick to put Corbin on the table, then the two men leap off the barricade – Corbin goes through the announce table!
- AJ and Ziggler try to get back in the ring, and Ziggler plants AJ with a DDT, but it only gets a two-count.
- Ziggler jumps on AJ’s back for the sleeper hold, but AJ shrugs him off and reverses a second attempt into a ushigoroshi.
- Ziggler in position for a Styles Clash, but Ziggler kicks him in the head to break it. Styles tries to springboard, but Ziggler kicks him out of the air.
- Styles tries a roll-up, but Ziggler kicks out and floors AJ with a superkick – but only for a two-count!
- Corbin crawls back into the ring, and Ziggler kicks him and hits a neckbreaker and an elbow for a two-count.
- More strikes from Ziggler, but he rebounds off the ropes into Deep Six, and AJ breaks up the pin.
- Corbin and AJ now trading strikes, and Corbin hooks AJ for End of Days, but Dolph hits Zig Zag – Corbin kicks out at two!
- Corbin throws Ziggler into the ringpost, then sets him up on the turnbuckle. Dolph fights him off with strikes and a headbutt, but Corbin knocks him down as he tries to get to his feet, crotching him on the rope, then hits End of Days!
- AJ springboards into the Phenomenal Forearm on Corbin and rolls over for a cover on Ziggler – AJ retains the championship!
John Cena comes out to… well, not exactly congratulate AJ, but to tell him that he plans to make good on his intention to fight AJ Styles for the championship at the Royal Rumble. He holds out his hand for a handshake and even though it takes AJ a phenomenally long time, he finally accepts, the title laid on the ground between them.
We’ll see you Monday for RAW!