SmackDown Live Notes (20/12/16)

Robbie Radford

Robbie Radford

Robbie covers NJPW, Lucha Underground and a few other promotions as well as various other articles. He is also a co-host of the PuroLads podcast. Robbie lives in Leeds, England.
Robbie Radford

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WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) defeated James Ellsworth.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) defeated Apollo Crews.

Dean Ambrose defeated Luke Harper.

La Luchadora (Masked Becky Lynch) defeated Alexa Bliss.

WWE Championship number one contenders: Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler ended in a double countout.


WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs James Ellsworth

Kicking off the show with the WWE Champion, it came as a great surprise to see AJ Styles in his wrestling gear. Assisted with a huge cheer from the crowd, Styles looked to be in a great mood as he made his way to the ring. Having grown tired of the sickly comedic act, the Smackdown crowd mostly booed and jeered James Ellsworth as he made his entrance. Thankfully this match was finally taking place.

Ellsworth had his no chin music reversed early on, Styles replied with a series of quick strikes, which then proved to be BALLGAME as JBL would say. Styles picked up the victory in very easy fashion. After the match, Styles further attacked Ellsworth in brutal fashion. Styles launched Ellsworth onto the edge of the commentators table, the steel steps and perhaps most brutally, slingshotted him whilst he was under the ring. Underscored by chants of “YES”  Styles returned to the ring, for one final assault, snap suplexing Ellsworth into the ring barrier. Styles cut a solid promo after the beatdown, noting how much he enjoyed his beatdown of Ellsworth.

Ziggler emerged, dressed straight out of an 80s music video. The pair engaged in an entertaining verbal joust, only to be interrupted by Baron Corbin. Corbin essentially tried to make himself number one contender, solidifying that notion by attacking Ziggler, much to the enjoyment of Styles.

Backstage, Bryan attempted to calm down Ziggler, which fell on deaf ears. Ziggler demanded a match against Corbin tonight, with the added stipulation that if Ziggler lost, Corbin becomes the new number one contender.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs Apollo Crews
Gifted with the assistance of Gabriel Iglesias, Apollo Crews secured the title match last week at Tribute to the Troops. Crews started the title match on great form, his superior athletic ability forced The Miz to retreat out of the ring more than once, regrouping with Maryse on the outside. Returning from the ad break, Crews was still in cruise control, dominating proceedings. Maryse was ejected from ringside, allowing Apollo to take charge once again, however The Miz had the last laugh, delivering a Skull Crushing Finale after an eye-poke. Very solid tv match.

After the match, The Miz refuted claims from Renee Young that he was obsessed with Dean Ambrose replying with “My Obsession, let’s talk about your obsession. After all, you’re the one sleeping with him.” This was followed up with a strong slap from Renee Young. Great segment.

Four corners match to decide the new Smackdown tag team number one contendership announced for next week: The Wyatts vs American Alpha vs The Usos vs Slater & Rhyno. No typo, that was literally the announcement.

A vignette for John Cena’s return next week was aired.

Continuing this storyline, Natalya summoned Nikki Bella to the ring to discuss matters. Before Nikki Bella was fully in the ring, Carmella interrupted. Carmella had some strong words for the pair before stirring trouble between Nikki Bella and Natalya. Carmella was great on the mic, probably her best work to date. In this segment it was revealed that Natalya did attack Nikki Bella. Natalya eviscerated Nikki Bella on the mic, leaving the former diva’s champion absolutely speechless.

Alexa Bliss limped towards Daniel Bryan backstage, insisting that her leg still really hurts. Daniel Bryan announced Becky Lynch vs Alexa Bliss for the Women’s Championship next week. Following the trend of good promo work, Alexa Bliss proved why she’s the best talker on Smackdown, accompanied with perfect use of facial expressions.

Dean Ambrose vs Luke Harper (w/ Randy Orton & Bray Wyatt)
Harper controlled the opening stages, leading to the inevitable fight back of Ambrose after he wriggled out of an Argentine backbreaker. From seemingly out of nowhere, Ambrose won the match with a roll up. After the match, Orton and Wyatt attacked Ambrose. The Wyatt family continue to look strong, long may it continue.

Whilst Ambrose struggled to get to his feet, The Miz emerged and delivered a Skull Crushing Finale.

Alexa Bliss vs La Luchadora
JBL informed us that Bliss’ masked opponent was related to Mil Mascaras. Secretly it was Becky Lynch, who got the crowd behind her as a completely anonymous star (for that moment in time) wrestling a strong luchadora style. Confirming early suspicions, this masked competitor defeated Bliss with a Disarm-her. Good match for what it was. Lynch unmasked after the match, confirming early suspicions.

Backstage, Curt Hawkins and Mojo Rawley bickered, leading to them setting a match for later tonight.

Curt Hawkins vs Mojo Rawley
The crowd immediately rejected the idea of this match, spending their time wisely by chanting for JBL and adding a few ooh’s every few moments. Rawley picked up a short but sweet victory over Hawkins. Ryan Phillippe celebrated with Rawley in the ring following the victory.

WWE Championship number one contendership: Dolph Ziggler vs Baron Corbin
AJ Styles joined the four-man commentary team, providing great insight throughout the bout. Corbin utilised his strength and size advantage to gain the advantage over Ziggler in the early stages. As the match continued on, Corbin was still well in control of Ziggler. Returning from an ad break, Corbin was still well in control, displaying more of his moveset that is seemingly improving each time we see him.

After a ring-assisted neckbreaker, Ziggler landed a ZigZag for a nearfall. Ziggler only took control of the match for a short period time as the brawl spilled to the outside where the match ended with a double countout. After the match, AJ Styles, who was incensed after Corbin launched Ziggler into him, attacked both competitors with a steel chair.

Seemingly right on cue, Daniel Bryan emerged, setting a triple threat instead of a singles match for the WWE Championship. Baron Corbin vs AJ Styles vs Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Championship next week!

Final Word
Best show since the brand split. Even the worst part, Hawkins vs Rawley, wasn’t as bad as I initially feared it would be. Really good fun, the first hour was fantastic. The second hour didn’t live up to the first however it was a very high bar set by the first hour. Overall, I lost count how many times I said “good match” or “that was cool!”

ShowGrade: A+

Robbie Radford
About Robbie Radford 137 Articles
Robbie covers NJPW, Lucha Underground and a few other promotions as well as various other articles. He is also a co-host of the PuroLads podcast. Robbie lives in Leeds, England.

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