The Smackdown Live brand continues to make good use of their small roster. The amazing part about it is that several of the feuds on this show started back around the time of the WWE Draft four months ago. WWE may be billed as “the end of the line” but one has to assume that this will also be the end of the line for some of these programs. It will be interesting to see where Smackdown goes next and whether the show will maintain its high quality once they shuffle the deck.
AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose in a TLC match for the WWE Championship: This isn’t being billed as their final match, but I’ll be surprised if we see them meet again at the Royal Rumble. There’s plenty of speculation that Styles may end up defending the title against Undertaker at the Rumble, which would be tremendous. James Ellsworth was taken out by the Super Styles Clash off the ring steps. As much as I enjoy Ellsworth, it would be silly if he’s able to take part in this match. That said, he’s taken plenty of abuse and they always have him show up, so I don’t rule out anything. They had Ellsworth mention that he’d rather face Styles because he has three wins over him. It could be foreshadowing him actually helping Styles or even unintentionally helping him in a way that leaves Ambrose to wonder whether he did it intentionally. Either way, I don’t see a need for a title change.
AJ Styles retains the WWE Championship.
The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship: This one is billed as the blowoff match. It feels like we’ve seen these two wrestle a million times, yet I give everyone involved credit for breathing new life into the program. It’s nice to see them wrap up a feud that still has some life rather than drag it out to the point where fans care more about it ending than who actually wins. This has been a strong program and I don’t have a strong feeling about which wrestler comes out on top, but I lean toward the champion.
The Miz retains the Intercontinental Championship.
Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss in a tables match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: This feud appeared to be headed toward a one and done pay-per-view match. Lynch had to miss the match due to an undisclosed medical issue, and the feud seemed to find new life as Bliss delivered improved performances and found herself as a character. The added tables stipulation makes is intriguing. I assumed it was a slam dunk win for Lynch, but the tables element opens the door to Lynch losing without actually being pinned. I’m still going with Lynch, but it no longer feels like a foregone conclusion.
Becky Lynch retains the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton for the Smackdown Tag Titles: Rhyno’s new look has me wondering if he’s about to launch a new career as a Meatloaf impersonator. The thrill is gone with the tag team champions. They had a lot of fun with the Slater family and the oddball nature of this pairing, but it seems like they ran out of ideas. Meanwhile, the new oddball pairing of Wyatt and Orton were responsible for Team Smackdown winning the Survivor Series match. I still have no idea what they are doing with the Wyatt Family, but it sure seems like it’s a creative priority.
Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton win the Smackdown Tag Titles.
Nikki Bella vs. Carmella in a No DQ match: Another feud that just keeps chugging along. This has lasted much longer than I expected and it’s been mostly entertaining. Carmella is much better as a heel than as a babyface, and the personal edge they’ve given the feud seems to be working. Meanwhile, there’s the story of the mystery person who attacked Nikki at Survivor Series. I continue to hope that Mickie James is revealed as her attacker, which would be so much better than Natalya reading lyrics in between matches with Nikki. Natalya is great in the ring, but after all these years they still haven’t figured out what to do with her. What a shame. No matter who the mystery person is, I suspect it leads to a heel win.
Baron Corbin vs Kalisto in a chairs match: Here we go again. WWE featured Corbin in video packages and seem to be serious about moving him up the ladder. Meanwhile, Kalisto seemed destined to be the new WWE Cruiserweight Division until he lost and the division remained on Raw. Get ready for chairs to the back and lots of jabs to the gut.
Baron Corbin wins.