WWE is at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois for an absolutely stacked final Smackdown of 2016. John Cena makes his return to the program after a long hiatus, and there are three title matches already announced:
- WWE Champion AJ Styles defends the title against Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler in a triple threat match.
- Smackdown Tag Team Champions The Wyatt Family defends against The Usos and American Alpha and Rhyno & Heath Slater in a Four Corners Elimination Match.
- Smackdown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss defends against Becky Lynch.
And, I’m sure at some point, The Miz will be forced to defend his title as well.
We will have live coverage of this huge episode of Smackdown starting at 8pm Eastern. Be sure to join us here and on Twitter @RingRap!
WWE wants to get those boos right out of the way, and John Cena kicks off the show to a rowdy Chicago. Cena stands in the middle of the ring to a mixed reaction, and he invites the fans to continue, saying he missed it. Cena says he doesn’t care what you do or where you go, there’s nothing like the excitement of the “WWE Universe” and few places that compete with the Allstate Arena.
Right on cue, the CM Punk chants start. He asks the fans if they’re chanting “Cena Sucks.” He says he’s surprised that they’re not chanting “Go Cubs Go” (boos), and he asks if there are any White Sox fans in the house (cheers). Cena calls Chicago the city of champions, and segues into talking about the championship titles that are on the line tonight, and hypes up the matches. He asks if Dolph Ziggler will win (b00s), Baron Corbin (boos), AJ Styles (cheers). He says there are a lot of AJ Styles fans in the house, and we can add him to the list.
Cena then asks the fans what he’s doing there tonight. The fans start chanting “Undertaker” at Cena, and he says a lot of people have been speculating and planning his future. He says 2016 wasn’t a super year for Super Cena, because he heard things like “damaged goods” “washed up” and “part timer.” He says he’s here to set the record straight – he’s not done, he’s not leaving, and he’s sick of this new era BS. He says it’s the “My time is now” era. He talks about his mantra, Never Give Up. He says he’s challenging whoever wins tonight in a championship match at the Royal Rumble. He says people are saying he can’t do that – well he just did, because he’s John Cena. “Recognize.”
Our announce team hypes up some of the matches for later tonight, and then The Wyatt Family comes out for their tag title match.
Before the match begins, we go backstage to The Miz’s dressing room, which has tons of security in front of it. Miz rejects the woman trying to interview him, and says he’ll only answer questions asked by Renee Young. He shoos her away.
We go ringside.
The Wyatt Family (Randy Orton & Luke Harper) (c) vs. American Alpha vs. The Usos vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno in a Four Corners Elimination Tag Match for the Smackdown Tag Titles
Winner: American Alpha to become the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions
The Reax: Rhyno and Chad Gable start it off. Gable hits an impressive Northern Lights suplex into a bridge, but is tagged out by Jey Uso shortly thereafter. The Usos use rapid tags to keep Rhyno cornered with a slow, methodical pace. Rhyno makes the hot tag to Heath Slater, who unloads with a running knee. Neckbreaker to Jimmy for a two-count. Slater goes for a jump off the top turnbuckle, but slips. Uso pushes him away and hits a superkick for the pin.
Heath Slater & Rhyno eliminated by The Usos
Jey Uso has control of Jason Jordan out of the break. Gable makes the hot tag and hits an Alphaplex for two. Chaos breaks out and both Usos head up top, caught by both members of Alpha in suplexes. Gable goes for a Sunset Flip, it’s reversed, but reversed again for the pin.
The Usos eliminated by American Alpha.
The Usos attack Jason Jordan in frustration, while Luke Harper attacks Gable in the ring. Harper tosses Jordan into the barricade, and Randy Orton stalks Jordan. This is the first time The Wyatt’s have been in the ring, so they are fresh. Orton stomps Jordan, and hangs him on the ropes stomach first. Orton keeps Jordan under control, hitting nasty uppercuts in the corner. Jordan counters an Irish whip and hits a dropkick. Tags all around, Gable and Harper in, Gable hits a nice German suplex into a bridge. Bray Wyatt distracts the referee long enough for Orton to get a sneak attack in. We go to break.
We return to Harper with a headlock on Gable. Harper catapults Gable into the second rope. Orton tags in and rolls Gable into the ring. He hangs Gable on the ropes, then hits a slingshot suplex for two. Harper tags in and continues control, hitting a Minchinoku Driver and sidewalk slam. Gable fights out of a powerbomb attempt and crawls for the hot tag. Jordan and Orton legal, Jordan is on fire. He easily suplexes both Harper and Orton. Jordan goes on the offensive outside, and Orton capitalizes with a draping DDT. He sets up an RKO, but he’s distracted by Chad Gable. Luke Harper goes up to help Orton out, and the two collide, giving American Alpha the opening they need. Grand Amplitude to Randy Orton is enough to pick up the win.
After the match, Harper and Orton start to have words. Bray Wyatt breaks it up. Meanwhile, AA celebrates on the ramp.
A fun match to open up the show, with a shocking victory for AA. I really didn’t expect to see them pick up the victory here, but I’m excited, and hopeful that we will get a chance to see what they’re really all about now.
The announcers recap the events of last week’s main event. We see how tonight’s main event became a triple threat. Backstage, Dolph Ziggler is warming up when Renee Young approaches him. She asks him about tonight’s match, and says it probably wasn’t a good idea to put his title shot on the line last week. Ziggler starts screaming about nothing and says he might be the wild card in this match.
We go to James Ellsworth in a neckbrace. He’s asks if he ever gets down being picked on. He admits to being scrawny, but Carmella walks in and interrupts Dasha, saying she’s part of the problem. She says she finds Ellsworth “uniquely attractive” and walks away with him.
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
Winner: Alexa Bliss to retain the title
The Reax: Championship intros for this match, the ladies lock up while a split audience chants. Slow pace to start out the match, both ladies trading wrist locks and head locks. The ladies trade pin attempts back and forth. Bliss hits a series of vicious forearms. Bliss drags Lynch out of the ring and slams her head into the floor. The two brawl near the apron, and Bliss pushes Lynch into the ring post. We go to break.
Out of the break, Lynch starts to pick up some steam with a set of lariats. She misses her flying forearm, but hits a springboard kick. Lynch sets up for an exploder, but Bliss counters. Lynch traps Bliss’s side against the mat and yanks her other arm backwards, then tosses her into the ring post. Vicious. Bliss meets her up top, but Lynch is able to hit a missile dropkick for two. In the middle of the match, someone in La Luchadora’s ring attire comes running down to the ring. Bliss tries for a schoolgirl off the distraction. Meanwhile, La Luchadora takes off one of the turnbuckles.
Bliss and Lynch trade pin attempts. Goes for Twisted Bliss, but Lynch gets the knees up. She goes for Disarmer, Bliss breaks it on the ropes. Bliss’ arm looks dislocated, and the ref checks on her, meanwhile La Luchadora distracts Lynch and pulls her into the exposed turnbuckle. Bliss gets the pin.
After the match, Bliss is asked who it was under the mask. Bliss says she has no idea, and says it’s probably Sasha Banks. Dasha says she was bigger than Banks, so Bliss says Nia Jax. Funny.
Let the speculation begin to who La Luchadora is. Running through the existing roster, I can’t think of anyone, so I look to NXT, or the incoming Mickie James. That said, a good match that didn’t need the distraction, but it’s a good way to get Lynch focused elsewhere so Bliss can move on to other opponents.
We see a recap of Renee Young slapping the taste out The Miz last week. We go backstage, and it’s Renee knocking on The Miz’s door this time. Maryse answers and tells her to run. Miz asks her if he can handle it, and she walks off. Miz wants to know if she’s going to ask him a question, and then he shoos away the security. Young reluctantly asks Miz how he plans to follow up his resurgence in 2016 next year. He says 2017 will be the year of The Miz. One of his “security officers” walks up behind him, and it’s Dean Ambrose. Young smiles as Ambrose lays into Miz, then tosses security around.
The announcers recap the Carmella/Natalya/Nikki Bella saga. Backstage, Dasha asks Nikki about Natalya’s betrayal. Bella says she became the longest Divas champ because of hard work. She says nothing has happened because of her looks, it’s all dedication. She says what she wants to say to Natalya she’ll say to her face.
Renee Young asks Baron Corbin how he’s feeling heading into his first WWE Championship match. He says he feels impatient, because he should’ve been there a long time ago. He says AJ Styles and Dolph Ziggler are the only ones feeling pressure – they’re about to meet their End of Days.
Corbin comes out for his entrance as we go to break. We come back, and they announce the guests for Talking Smack, as well as a Intercontinental Championship match for next week – The Miz defending against Dean Ambrose!
AJ Styles (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin for the WWE World Championship
Winner: AJ Styles to retain the WWE World Title
The Reax: AJ is getting lots of love from Chicago, and it’s not hard to understand why. Corbin pushes AJ to the mat right away, and he and Ziggler mix it up. AJ goes for a flying forearm in the corner, misses, but hits a series of kicks to Corbin’s leg. Corbin misses a charge in the corner, but nails Styles off the apron anyhow. Ziggler and Styles are out of the ring, Corbin in the middle as we go to break.
We return to Corbin stalking Styles outside the ring. He slams Styles back into the apron. Styles kicks out of the cover at two. Styles locks in a crucifix and Ziggler hits a dropkick that pushes Corbin over, but Ziggler breaks up the pin. Styles and Ziggler trade punches, and Corbin clotheslines both men to the ground.
Ziggler goes for a DDT, Corbin counters by tossing him across the ring. He sets up for an End of Days, and Styles catches Ziggler’s leg. Corbin drives Styles into the turnbuckle. He launches Ziggler into Styles. Corbin slips under the ring and runs back in, hitting Ziggler with a clothesline and Styles with an STO of sorts.
We come back from another break. Corbin has Ziggler cornered. Styles and Ziggler team up on Corbin and clothesline him over the top rope. The two look at each other, then decide to persue him outside the ring. Corbin tosses Styles into the barricade, and tosses Ziggler off his shoulders. Corbin starts tearing apart the announcer’s table, then misses a shoulder into the barricade. Styles hits a flying forearm, Ziggler a superkick, and both men go to the barricade, climbing up, looking at each other and shrugging before diving onto Corbin, crashing through the table.
Ziggler and Styles head towards the ring. Ziggler slams Styles into the apron and hits a DDT for two. AJ hits a shoulder breaker on Ziggler, then sets him up for the Styles Clash. Ziggler breaks free. Ziggler kicks the ropes out from under Styles, nails him with a pair of superkicks for two, with Corbin barely making it into the ring, but not quite there in time to break up the pin.
Corbin hits an impressive Deep Six on Ziggler for two. Styles hits a flurry of offense, Corbin hits Styles with an End of Days at the same time that Ziggler hits a Zig Zag. Cool spot. Ziggler gets two. Corbin sends Ziggler into the ring post and sets him up on the turnbuckle. Ziggler fights free, and Corbin takes the legs out from under him. End of Days to Ziggler, but AJ flies in with a Phenomenal Forearm to Corbin, who rolls out of the ring. AJ covers Ziggler to get the pin and the win.
After the match, John Cena comes out to the ring, standing across from AJ Styles. He takes off his armband and shirt. The two have a staredown, and Styles lifts the belt up. Cena extends a hand. Styles lays the belt down in front of him, drawing the line. He takes his hand and shakes it, solidifying the match, and says “This ain’t going nowhere!”
We go to Neville cutting a promo for his match against Rich Swann on 205 Live. It’s a nice lead-in to the cruiserweight show, and I think it can help bring viewers in.
A good episode of Smackdown overall, anchored by a solid main event. Baron Corbin looked like he belonged in the ring with Ziggler and Styles, and that’s the most important point. He didn’t get pinned, so he has an argument he can make going forward as well.
Smackdown put on a really great show with only three matches on the card. With all the promotion that went on, I think there’s a good chance we’ll see Smackdown beat Raw in the ratings this week too. I’ll have more to say on Smackdown tomorrow night on Ring Rap Audio. In the meantime, please join me for my 205 Live coverage!