WWE SmackDown Live for 12/27/16
Watch: USA Network, Hulu, WWE Network on a one-month delay
Allstate Arena – Chicago, Illinois
With 2016 coming to a close, SmackDown Live caps off the year with a show highlighted by three title matches and the return of John Cena. In a rematch from Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, Alexa Bliss defends the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Becky Lynch. Zack Ryder’s knee injury may have brought The Hype Bros’ plans to win the Tag Team titles to a screeching halt, but that won’t stop The Usos, American Alpha, and Heath Slater & Rhyno from trying to capture the gold in a Four-Corners Elimination Match against The Wyatt Family. Plus, AJ Styles defends the WWE Championship against Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler in a Triple Threat Match. Who walked out of Chicago, Illinois with the gold? Read on and find out.
John Cena kicked off the show. He played around with the crowd for awhile but ultimately came around to previewing tonight’s title matches, which brought him to the main event. Cena proceeded to cut a fiery, impassioned promo, which ended in him challenging the WWE Champion to a match at the Royal Rumble. I felt that this was a good promo and Cena did a nice job of playing off the crowd without delving too far into comedy.
Backstage, The Miz informed Dasha Fuentes that the only interviewer whose questions he will be answering tonight is Renee Young.
Four-Corners Elimination SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: American Alpha (Chad Gable & Jason Jordan) def. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso), The Wyatt Family (Randy Orton & Bray Wyatt) (c), and Heath Slater & Rhyno
Order of elimination: Heath Slater & Rhyno, The Usos, The Wyatt Family
The Usos dominated early on, quickly eliminating Heath Slater & Rhyno from the equation. They did a nice job of playing up the history between American Alpha and The Usos, which I enjoyed. The action to this point was unspectacular, but things began to pick up once it came down to American Alpha and The Wyatt Family. A small detail I appreciated was The Wyatt Family staying on the outside for the majority of the match, desperately trying to cling to their titles for as long as possible. Although there were several quality near-falls down the finishing stretch, I found the most enjoyment in The Wyatt’s ruthless decimation of Gable, during which they employed some great teamwork. A miscommunication between Harper and Orton would end up costing The Wyatt Family the titles. Harper and Orton tend to work well together despite their underlying animosity for one another, but Bray Wyatt had to visibly separate them post-match. There was plenty to enjoy here, but it was nothing special as far as multi-team matches are concerned.
A recap of last week’s main event between Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin aired. Afterward, Renee Young interviewed Ziggler about his triple threat match against Corbin and AJ Styles tonight. Ziggler told the tale of a wildcard that changes the game on occasion. While this segment was serviceable, it lacked authenticity, which is something I’d like to see more of in Ziggler’s promos. Less bellowing, more emotion.
Dasha Fuentes attempted to interview James Ellsworth, but Carmella cut her off before she could inquire about Ellsworth’s recovery. Carmella described Ellsworth as “uniquely attractive,” and the duo walked off together. Should be interesting to see where this goes.
SmackDown Women's Championship Match: Alexa Bliss (c) def. Becky Lynch
I was rather excited heading into this, largely because I enjoyed the match Lynch and Bliss had in Glasgow, Scotland last month. However, this match did not live up to my lofty expectations. It often felt like both competitors were going through the motions, exchanging holds and momentum swings with little rhyme or reason. Bliss and Lynch appeared to be on different pages on several occasions, which made their transitions come off as clunky and awkward. In a fitting end to this utter disappointment, a distraction from La Luchadora allowed Bliss to steal the victory. I’m hesitant to call this a bad match, but there were no redeemable qualities about the contest whatsoever.
Post-match, Dasha Fuentes interviewed Bliss on the ramp, asking if she knew the identity of La Luchadora. Bliss denied knowing La Luchadora, joking that the masked persona may be Sasha Banks or Nia Jax.
A recap of Renee Young’s interview with The Miz last week led into a backstage segment between the two. Young asks Miz how he sees 2017 going after a career resurgence in 2016, but Miz is attacked by Dean Ambrose, who’s dressed as a security guard. It was refreshing to see Ambrose as a no-nonsense brawler as opposed to an unhinged comedy figure, and this was a really well-done segment.
Following a recap of Natalya’s promo last week, Nikki Bella was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes in the locker room area. Bella said that the more successful you become, the more people will try to knock you down. As for Natalya, Bella will confront her face-to-face.
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Baron Corbin about his participation in tonight’s Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship. Corbin wastes no time reassuring Young that there’s no pressure, and “AJ Styles and Dolph Ziggler will meet the end of days.” A solid promo that served as a nice transition to the main event of the show.
Commentary announced that The Miz will defend the Intercontinental Championship against The Miz on next week’s edition of SmackDown Live.
WWE Championship Triple Threat Match: AJ Styles (c) def. Baron Corbin & Dolph Ziggler
The story they told here was one of Ziggler and Styles teaming up to overcome their larger counterpart in Corbin. Although the high points of the match came from Ziggler and Styles’ teamwork, Corbin more than held his own as a dominant bully. There were plenty of awe-inspiring spots throughout the contest, including one where Ziggler and Styles simultaneously hit maneuvers on Corbin to put him through the announcer’s table. Styles retaining the title after a hard-fought match was clearly the end-goal, but I felt this was an all-around strong performance from all three competitors. A good match that’s worth watching. After the match, John Cena came down to the ring and had a staredown with Styles.
To close the show, Neville cut a brief promo advertising his upcoming match with Rich Swann on 205 Live.
WWE SMACKDOWN LIVE FOR 12/27/16
Very Good - 8/10
This week's edition of SmackDown Live featured three matches that were allotted a good portion of time, with each one serving their purposes well. There seemed to be a clear direction for everyone on the show, and none of the backstage segments came off as inconsequential. I felt that the only low point on the show was the Women's Championship match, which still managed to further the feud between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss. Huge thumbs up.