The One Before John Cena Returns – Smackdown Live Recap (12/20/16)

The December 20th episode of Smackdown Live comes to you from the happiest place on Earth, Detroit, Michigan.

But that’s not important, what is important is that next week the trumpets sound the return of the King:

Kicking it off with a Championship Match

As we all know, I’m not a fan of the TV time that Ellsworth gets, so the fact that the show kicks off with his title shot had me on edge that we were going to get more of the same, but AJ Styles slaughtered him, quickly, and continued to beat him.

Rather than anyone coming to his aid, AJ cut a bit of a promo about having already done everything he could possibly do in 2016, and then someone finally cut him off.

Dolph Ziggler confronts him, and a similar exchange to the majority of The Miz’s reminders that Ziggler never wins the big one takes place, only to be interrupted by The Lone Wolf.  AJ bails, and Corbin and Ziggler exchange words, mostly Corbin repeating AJ’s sentiments about Ziggler’s Win-Loss Record and reminding him that he’s a little man.

Corbin then stamps Ziggler through the mat with a hellacious End of Days.

So Ziggler will face Corbin tonight with his Number One Contendership on the line.

…well damn, they didn’t forget about Apollo

Apollo Crews, or the “Jacked-Robat”, beat Miz at Tribute to the Troops last week, so Miz wanted a rematch, and Daniel Bryan granted it with the caveat that the IC Title was on the line.

So Apollo Crews got matches against the Intercontinental Champion on back to back weeks, including this IC loss following an eye rake and a Skull Crushing Finale here tonight.  The big takeaway, this dude looked great tonight, and hopefully it will carry forward.

Brief Sidebar:  Jeremy and I discussed the whole Zack Ryder issue the other day, hoping they will find a way not to lose sight of Mojo.  We believe that pairing Rawley with Crews would help them both, as their styles play well together and Rawley has more than enough personality to rub off on Crews.  Could be fantastic.  In any event…

Natalya is secretly Braun Strowman


Yes, it’s the Scooby Doo ending, but as Carmella met the same fate tonight as poor Sin Cara did on Raw last night, I’m calling it now.

Natalya aimed to “set the record straight” on the whole Bella attack at Survivor Series, and Carmella came out to help it along.  I really like Carmella, have I mentioned that?  Natalya would then beat down Carmella and throw her through a Christmas tree at the top of the ramp before grabbing a microphone and confessing that the attack was her, and as expected, because she’s Charlotte wrestling royalty and Bella doesn’t deserve her place in the world, because she’s a nobody, and that’s why Cena will never marry her.

Randy Wyatt is Awesome

This isn’t the point of the segment, but just expect that any time the new Wyatt Family is on screen, it’s Orton that actually matters.

Dean Ambrose picked up a win on Luke Harper, only to meet the full force of the Family, including the Sister RKO.  I love it.  It refreshes Orton, it lends more credibility to the Wyatt Family that had gone so long without given they never won anything that mattered, it is just great.  Very well done, WWE Creative.

Following this mauling, Miz came down to lay a Skull Crushing Finale on Ambrose, to further Ambrose’s descent back into the upper midcard, which is a significantly better Ambrose anyway.

Alexa Bliss gets a Jobber, sorta

LaLuchadora is in a bright pink luchador mask, a blue lycra bodysuit and giant red granny panty tights.  She also beat Alexa Bliss with a Dis-Arm-Her….because, guess what, it wasn’t a jobber.

Mojo gets some singles action

Mojo makes really quick work of Curt Hawkins, I think both WWE and myself were looking for a reason to keep him on TV/The Dark Match.

Ryan Phillippe was on commentary because Shooter on USA has commandeered the Todd Chrisley time slot.  I’ve never watched it for that very reason.  Did Harvey Spector sit ringside for commentary at some point when Suits was actually good?  What about the dude from Burn Notice?

The Phenomenal Commentator

AJ Styles joins the commentary team for #CorbinvsZiggler, as Dolph Ziggler defends his Number One Contendership against Baron Corbin.  If the header isn’t an indication, I am completely on board for this, it makes more sense than randomly having Ryan Phillippe on commentary for a Mojo Rawley match.

I don’t know how this match is tonight.  I don’t know how Dolph Ziggler isn’t under some sort of concussion protocol after that End of Days at the kickoff of the show.

They really are doing a great job of working these matches to make Corbin look like a monster.  What’s the deal?  Who just got a job in creative that remembered Corbin and Crews were around to make use of?  Are they fans of the Vaudevillians…, probably not.  That’s ok.

Corbin spent the vast majority of this match beating the living hell out of Ziggler.  AJ on commentary seemed frightened of Corbin, which was a great sell.  He plays the hell out of his character, even in this two month long string of crap they’ve given him with Ambrose and Ellsworth.

Towards the end of the match, Corbin would throw Ziggler through AJ at commentary, and both would be counted out of the match.  AJ gets up and annihilates both competitors with a steel chair.

Triple Threat Main Event for the Smackdown World Heavyweight Championship Match next week.

Next Week’s Real Main Event