The final Smackdown Live of 2017 has come and gone, but we learned some things before going into 2018. For one, which superstars on the blue brand announced their entry into the Royal Rumble? Who earned a WWE Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship match against the Usos next week? And what is the story with Dolph Ziggler and the WWE United States Championship? Keep reading to find out this and more.
The show begins with Daniel Bryan coming to the ring. Bryan touches on the Dolph Ziggler situation where he dropped the WWE United States Championship in the middle of the ring last week and left it behind. Bryan said he tried reaching out to Ziggler all week to no avail. Bryan said he was then given no choice and declared the title vacant. Therefore there will be a tournament to crown a new United States Champion.
Bryan however is interrupted by Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable. At first you wonder if they’re throwing their name in the hat for the tournament. However it turns out they ask Bryan about their tag team title shot against the Usos. “Rusev Day” chants break out and are loud and frequent during the first portion of Smackdown Live. Rusev and Aiden English then come out and answer the call regarding the tag team titles. Last but not least, The New Day come out as well. All three teams dispute on who should get the next shot at the Usos. This prompts Daniel Bryan to make a triple threat match on the spot with the winner challenging the Usos for the WWE Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship next week.
Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable vs Rusev & Aiden English vs The New Day (Xavier Woods & Big E w/ Kofi Kingston)
The Usos join the commentary table before the match to get a firsthand look at this match. This match once again delivered as all three tag teams fought it out tooth and nail. Many close pins, many big moves. There was brawling on the outside, chaos in the inside. Chad Gable was tossing people around with nasty German Suplexes. Aiden English paid tribute to his father in law Eddie Guerrero with a Frogsplash. Rusev Day chants were running fierce and at one point he locked both Gable and Woods in a Super Accolade. I thought for sure this was going to win the match for Rusev, but Benjamin broke it up. Eventually it was the team of Benjamin and Gable that gained the upper hand by nullifying Big E. Benjamin hoisted Big E up in the powerbomb position and Gable flew off the top rope as they delivered their tag team finisher to secure another big win.
WINNERS: Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable via pinfall
CHAIRMAN’S TAKE: Benjamin and Gable beat the tag team champs last week in a non title match and now this week take down the top two contenders in a triple threat match. Momentum is definitely on the side of Benjamin and Gable right now. The question is whether or not they can keep it going against one of the top tag teams in 2017. Will 2018 be just as good to the Usos or will a new team rise up and take 2018? As for Rusev, it’s clear the crowd was majorly behind him again. Going forward, Rusev Day needs to be a key part of Smackdown Live programming. I’m curious if he’ll be part of the United States Championship tournament? As for New Day, they had another great performance. However with how much depth the Smackdown Live Tag Team Division has, will 2018 be the end of New Day?
Shane McMahon confronts Daniel Bryan backstage regarding the comments he made last week comparing him to his father Vince. Shane basically stuck up for Vince even though he’s been tough all these years for all the things he’s done for WWE. Shane then questioned the United States Championship tournament Bryan is holding when it should’ve just been Corbin and Roode one on one. Bryan stuck up for his tournament by saying that since Smackdown Live is the land of opportunity, then other superstars should get to take advantage of that opportunity. Shane then questions Bryan putting Kevin Owens in a non title match against WWE Champion AJ Styles. Bryan sticks up for his decision by stating the obvious that Styles and Owens had one of the best feuds in 2017. Shane jumps to the Sami Zayn factor and how there’s some talk that Bryan is showing favoritism to Owens and Zayn.
Breezango (Tyler Breeze & Fandango) vs Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan)
The Ascension ended up getting Breeze and Fandango another match against Harper and Rowan. This match didn’t go well for the Fashion Police as they were brutalized by Harper and Rowan. It was basically another squash in the making. However the Ascension ran into the ring and basically did a hit and run on the Bludgeon Brothers and ran out of the ring to get Harper and Rowan a DQ win and save Breezango.
WINNERS: Bludgeon Brothers via DQ
CHAIRMAN’S TAKE: While four tag teams are fighting it out for the titles, three other tag teams are involved in some strange storyline. Ascension of course got Breezango booked yet again a match against the Bludgeon Brothers for next week? I guess this is how Harper and Rowan are going to continue to build momentum before they’re finally unleashed against the top tag teams of Smackdown Live. It’s also a shame Breezango never got more of a chance other than being a comedy skit. Breeze and Fandango are great in the ring and underrated.
Naomi vs Ruby Riott (w/ Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan)
This was basically a instant squash. Morgan and Logan caused distractions at ringside and Naomi couldn’t overcome the odds as she fell victim to the Riott Kick in seconds.
WINNER: Ruby Riott via pinfall
After the match, the Riott Squad attacked Naomi. Moments later, Charlotte Flair came out to make the save. Charlotte had the upper hand for a moment, but even the three to one odds caught up to her. Suddenly Natalya, Lana, Tamina, and Carmella came out and the Riott Squad wanted no part of them. A small brawl broke out before the Riott Squad escaped.
CHAIRMAN’S TAKE: Crazy to see the former champion from earlier this year Naomi get squashed like that, but clearly it was to enhance the Riott Squad to build them as threats. Strange enough Natalya returned when I thought she basically quit on everybody after Clash? Carmella is an afterthought ever since Ellsworth was released and in case you forgot, she still has the Money in the Bank briefcase. Like I said before, Raw’s women division is significantly better than Smackdown’s, but Smackdown’s tag division is way better than Raw’s. Expect some major changes in both of these divisions come next Superstar Shakeup. I would love to see Carmella get traded to Raw personally still with the briefcase making it open season on the Raw brand. Only issue there is by then Asuka will probably be champion and she’ll be ultra protected.
Baron Corbin vs Bobby Roode (United States Championship Tournament Match)
This match wasn’t anything special. They were allowed a fair amount of time to work. One point Roode looked like he had the Glorious DDT ready to go, but Corbin countered into Deep Six. Roode though was able to kickout. In the end though, Roode was able to sneak in a roll up pin on Corbin giving him the win.
WINNER: Bobby Roode via pinfall.
CHAIRMAN’S TAKE: What’s annoying about this tournament is there’s no graphic showing who else is in it or how the brackets match up. This tournament I feel is clearly being done on the fly. I’m hoping this is the end of the Roode and Corbin feud because it wasn’t working. Then again, Roode as a face isn’t exactly working either. I really hope in 2018 we see a Bobby Roode heel turn. As for Corbin, I think his chances have ran out. There’s just no way of getting him over and he’s feuded with just about every babyface on Smackdown Live. I’ll be curious to see what they have planned for him in 2018.
Tye Dillinger vs Jinder Mahal (w/ The Singh Brothers) (United States Championship Tournament Match)
A rare Tye Dillinger sighting here as he gets to compete in this eight man tournament. Problem is he drew former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. Match was okay, Mahal did some stuff that impressed me. Dillinger I wish would get more of an opportunity, he’s definitely got a following. Mahal of course didn’t waste much time taking Dillinger out with the Khallas for the win.
WINNER: Jinder Mahal via pinfall
CHAIRMAN’s TAKE: Looks like the Jinder Mahal run in the WWE Championship scene is over and that’s a good thing. He should’ve been in the US title hunt before sniffing the big title anyway. So does Roode and Mahal matchup next or not? This tournament is setup so poorly. We also have no idea who the other four superstars in it are. With that, we’ll see Tye Dillinger again on Smackdown Live in probably March.
Backstage Randy Orton is interviewed and said he’s done dealing with everyone else’s business. He officially declared entry in the Royal Rumble. Shinsuke Nakamura nearby said good idea, let’s rumble. Looks like Orton and Nakamura are going to the Royal Rumble. I swear if Orton wins it again…
AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens (w/ Sami Zayn)
The main event and final match of 2017 is between Styles and Owens. Remember their feud earlier this year was for the United States title because Mahal was the WWE Champion. How 2017 failed us… Anyways we get one more epic battle between these two, only difference is Sami Zayn is now in the corner of Owens. Styles and Owens got some decent time to work and showcased why they’re two of the best. Zayn however made his presence felt enough where Styles dove at him on the outside. The action continued and Zayn made his way on the apron. This gave Owens an opportunity to superkick an unsuspecting Styles. Shane McMahon had enough and went to ringside to tell the ref to eject Zayn. During this chaos, Styles had Owens rolled up for a pinfall, but the ref was distracted. Owens instead manages to score a rollup pin and the ref counts to three for a win. Owens and Zayn celebrate while Styles walks up the ramp in disgust and glares at McMahon for a moment before walking to the back.
WINNER: Kevin Owens via pinfall
CHAIRMAN’S TAKE: Well by WWE logic, if you pin the champion you get a title shot. More than likely Daniel Bryan will in fact award Owens a WWE Championship match. Shane McMahon more than likely will not be on board with that. So we’re definitely going to have some fireworks regarding this situation next week. I’m just hoping there’s a AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn match in the cards soon.
RATING: 6 out of 10 stars. Decent show, way better than Raw was last night. The opening triple threat tag team match was on fire. These teams are doing something special right now along with the Usos. Styles and Owens was decent. I think this is the beginning of another story between these two with the WWE Championship considering how the show ended tonight. The United States Championship tournament is interesting, but I’m not a fan of how they’re treating it on the fly opposed to some structure. What we do know is Bobby Roode and Jinder Mahal are in the semi finals. The women’s division is in trouble, hopefully Becky Lynch returns soon to help it out. With that, 2017 is done and over. Hopefully bigger and better things are in store for 2018.