Smackdown – December 20, 2016

Date: December 20, 2016
Location: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield, David Otunga

We’re in the home stretch of 2016 and Smackdown is going out with a bang. Tonight we have two title matches and a major match between Luke Harper and Dean Ambrose. It’s unlikely that they’re going to change either the Intercontinental or Smackdown World Title here but stranger things have happened. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

Smackdown World Title: AJ Styles vs. James Ellsworth

Styles is defending and it looks like this match is actually happening for a change. An early attempt at No Chin Music earns Ellsworth a strike rush for the pin at 43 seconds.

Post match AJ destroys Ellsworth and catapults him into the bottom of the ring to (in theory) write Ellsworth off TV. Styles talks about how he’s glad to be past Ellsworth so he can move on to the new year with fresh challenges. This brings out Dolph Ziggler to say he only needs to win one match to become WWE Champion. Styles laughs him off and says anyone else should go after the title. Cue Baron Corbin who says it should be his title shot. Corbin thinks Ziggler got his shot because he wasn’t in the match. All Ziggler steals are opportunities so Corbin punches him in the face. End of Days leaves Ziggler laying.

Back from a break, Ziggler is given a match against Corbin tonight. If Corbin wins, he gets the title shot next week.

Intercontinental Title: The Miz vs. Apollo Crews

Miz is defending after losing to Crews at Tribute to the Troops and Crews doesn’t even get an entrance. A few rolling cradles give Crews some near falls early and a dropkick gets a third. Crews moonsaults off the apron to take Miz down as this is one sided so far. Back from a break with Crews nipping up and screaming a lot. The Toss Powerbomb is broken up but Crews gets two off an Angle Slam. The fans are WAY into these near falls too.

Maryse gets on the apron for a distraction and is quickly ejected for her efforts. That sets up a red hot near fall off a rollup before Miz has to flip out of a belly to back suplex. The ref gets bumped in the process (and I mean BARELY gets bumped), setting up a thumb to the eye and the Skull Crushing Finale to retain Miz’s title at 8:42.

Rating: C. I was digging the match until that way too fast finish. It really felt like they were out of time and had to get out as fast as they could. Still though, it’s a good performance from Crews, but that’s all he seems to have. Yeah he looks great but for some reason he’s almost never allowed to win a major match.

Post match Renee Young asks Miz about his obsession with Dean Ambrose. Miz: “Maybe we should ask about your obsession with Dean Ambrose. After all, you’re the one sleeping with him.” Renee slaps him in the face and walks off to a BIG reaction.

We look at Zack Ryder’s knee injury from last week and subsequent surgery.

John Cena is back next week.

Here’s Natalya to get to the bottom of this “Who Attacked Nikki” story. She asks Nikki Bella to come out here but Carmella is right there as well. Carmella brings up Natalya saying that no one cared about the Bellas when they left, which sends Natalya chasing Carmella up the ramp and throwing her into some presents.

Natalya admits that she was the attacker (WELL DUH!) and goes on another anti-Total Divas rant because NATALYA should have gotten the Total Divas spinoff. Nikki may be beautiful on the outside but she’s horrible on the inside, which is why Cena will never marry her. OH SWEET GOODNESS TELL ME THAT’S NOT WHAT WE’RE DOING NOW. That’s been the story of EVERY SEASON OF TOTAL DIVAS and now it’s happening on Smackdown too??? Good grief that show needs to die already.

Alexa Bliss comes in to see Bryan and is told she’ll be defending the title against Becky Lynch next week. Bliss isn’t happy but Bryan says he can go talk to the trainers. The champ storms off.

Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper

The rest of the Family is at ringside. An early Dirty Deeds attempt doesn’t work and Harper catapults him throat first into the bottom rope. Back from an early break with Dean being thrown off the top and getting caught in a torture rack. That really should be someone’s full time finisher. A superkick cuts off Dean’s comeback bid and the sitout powerbomb gets two. Harper loads up what looks like another powerbomb and gets caught in la majistral for the pin at 7:48.

Rating: D+. Not much to see here and I’m really not a fan of that slip on a banana peel finish. Harper completely dominated this match until Ambrose caught him with a single rollup for the pin. If you want to push Harper then push Harper by giving him some wins. Don’t have him dominate like this and then lose over and over because it gets old in a hurry.

The Wyatts lay Ambrose out post match. Bray and company leave via darkness so here’s Miz to give Ambrose the Skull Crushing Finale.

Alexa Bliss vs. La Luchadora

Non-title and Luchadora is in a mask and full body suit. You know who it is, I know who it is, and we have to listen to the announcers not know who it is. Luchadora gets in some rollups for two each until Bliss pounds her in the back to take over. The fans chant SI as Luchadora slaps on the Disarm-Her for the tap at 3:06.

Rating: D. Well duh. This is one you can file under storyline advancement instead of anything interesting and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a classic yet effective idea and helps set up next week’s title match. Sometimes it’s ok to just say what’s going on and let us see the obvious finish. That doesn’t make it a bad thing.

Of course it’s Becky Lynch.

Ryan Phillippe (of Shooter, a show which guest starred Randy Orton) arrives and tries to find Orton. Instead he gets Curt Hawkins and Mojo Rawley so some trash can be talked between the two wrestlers. A match is announced for later.

Mojo Rawley vs. Curt Hawkins

Phillippe is on commentary so hopefully this is short. Mojo runs him over to start as the announcers praise Phillippe and we hear a bit about Shooter. That shifts to a discussion of Otunga being married to Jennifer Hudson (rarely discussed in WWE) as Rawley hits some Stinger Splashes and the Pounce. A running right hand in the corner ends Hawkins at 2:28. Phillippe was fine here and seemed to be having a good time, which is all you can ask for from a celebrity.

Ellsworth, with almost every part of his body either in some kind of a bandage or wrapped in ice, can’t speak. The annoying interviewer keeps asking questions anyway until Carmella of all people comes up to say she’ll take care of him. Well ok then.

Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler

The winner gets Styles, on commentary here, for the title next week. Corbin takes over to start and takes Ziggler outside for some trash talk to the champ. A chest first whip into the buckle has Ziggler in even more trouble and Corbin does his slide under the ropes for a forearm to the back. Ziggler is sent shoulder first into the post and we take a break.

Back with Ziggler getting two off a rollup but having his head taken off with a clothesline. Ziggler gets in a neckbreaker and the Zig Zag for two more. A superplex is countered into Deep Six for another near fall and they head outside again with Ziggler being thrown into AJ. It’s a double countout at 15:44.

Rating: C. Well of course it sets up a triple threat. We haven’t had one in all of a week or two and that means we just need another one. This is getting WAY too common in WWE anymore and I really don’t need to see one for a long time. I like the idea of setting up Corbin in the main event but ENOUGH with the triple threats.

Post match Styles lays them both out with a chair. Cue Bryan to make the triple threat for the title next week.

Overall Rating: B-. The wrestling wasn’t the big deal here but rather having them do whatever the could with one week to go in the year. Instead of just folding up shop and saying we’ll see you next year, Smackdown is going with storylines and big title matches. I can greatly appreciate effort in wrestling and it makes for an enjoyable Tuesday night instead of something that feels like I’m stuck watching it. Good show here which gave me reasons to want to come back.


AJ Styles b. James Ellsworth – Backfist to the face

Miz b. Apollo Crews – Skull Crushing Finale

Dean Ambrose b. Luke Harper – La majistral

La Luchadora b. Alexa Bliss – Disarm-Her

Mojo Rawley b. Curt Hawkins – Running right hand in the corner

Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin went to a double countout

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