By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. It’s the final live broadcast of 2017 which should give WWE extra incentive to end the year on a high note. Did the company rise to the occasion or did they fall flatter than a flapjack prepared and plated by The New Day? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.
· SD Live kicked off with Daniel Bryan announcing a tournament to determine a new United States Champion after Dolph Ziggler relinquished the title last week.
· Bryan announced Baron Corbin vs. Bobby Roode and was about to make another match when Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin interrupted him. Gable and Benjamin wanted a shot at the SmackDown Tag Team Championship. Aiden English and Rusev & The New Day tossed their name in the hat as well which resulted in Bryan setting up a Triple Threat Match to determine the number one contender for the Tag Team Titles which took place immediately due to the first hour being commercial-free.
· Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable defeated Aiden English and Rusev & The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods) when Gable pinned Big E with a Powerbomb/Diving Clothesline combination in a great Triple Threat Match. This bout featured insane action throughout as each team got a chance to shine. Rusev was the most popular wrestler in the match as the fans showered him with “Rusev Day” chants.
· From Gable dropping Big E and English with a double German Suplex to Rusev nailing everyone with Machka Kicks, there was no shortage of breathtaking spots that popped the crowd something fierce.
· English had a strong showing as he got a chance to show what he can do in the ring for an extended period of time. His Frog Splash onto Gable was a mirror image of his late father-in-law Eddie Guerrero which put a smile on my face. Viva La Raza!
· However, the highlight of the match was Rusev putting Gable and Xavier Woods in a double Accolade. Woods was about to tap out when Benjamin broke the hold. From there, Big E was on the brink of winning the match for his team when he set up Benjamin for the Big Ending only for Old Jason Jordan to block it which set up the finish moments later.
· Gable and Benjamin will face The Usos next week for the Tag Team Titles which should be very good. However, I have a soft spot for Aiden English and Rusev because they are starting to get over as hot babyface act. The Chicago crowd loved Rusev which made my night. WWE has to realize that there is money to be made with The Bulgarian Brute in 2018. He is charismatic and has the in-ring talent to get over as a big-time star. Here’s hoping the Powers That Be read the tea leaves because they should push Rusev and English to the moon next year. Fingers crossed!
· The Bludgeon Brothers defeated Breezango via disqualification when The Ascension saved Tyler Breeze and Fandango from eating another loss. Their chivalry resulted in Konnor and Viktor putting their “best friends” in another match against Harper and Rowan next week. How sweet…
· Ruby Riott defeated Naomi with the Riott Kick in a quick match. Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan provided the distraction which allowed Riott to pick up the tainted win. The match was pretty nondescript for the most point.
· The Riott Squad were putting the boots to Naomi until Charlotte made the save. The numbers game caught up to The Queen as the heels laid her out with ease.
· Natalya, Tamina, Lana, and Carmella confronted The Riott Squad as the heels left the ring when they no longer had the numbers advantage.
· A brawl broke out at ringside as Natalya & Company beat down The Riott Squad before the trio ran backstage to fight another day.
· Bobby Roode defeated Baron Corbin with a roll-up to advance to the next round of the United States Championship Tournament. The match was solid as Corbin and Roode worked well together in order to put on a show for the Chicago crowd. This was a nice sampling of what both men can do when they are given a chance to shine. Corbin being pushed out of the mid-card title scene is a little jarring since he beat AJ Styles clean as a sheet a few months ago. It’s curious booking, to say the least.
· Jinder Mahal defeated Tye Dillinger with The Khallas to advance to the next round of the US Championship Tournament. The match was decent and it appears that Mahal is firmly slotted in the mid-card for the foreseeable future. Yippee!
· Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles with a roll-up thanks to an unlikely assist from Shane McMahon. The Styles-Owens feud from earlier this year has been marred by questionable booking which watered down the quality of their matches. It’s only appropriate that their final match of 2017 ended in similar fashion with McMahon getting involved down the stretch. At least the in-ring action was strong before the shenanigans ensued.
· Sami Zayn ran interference on KO’s behalf which led to his best friend picking up a near fall on Styles after he nailed the Phenomenal One with a Superkick.
· Shane-O-Mac made his way to the ring and told the referee to eject Zayn from the match. The ref acted accordingly, but he missed Styles visually pinning Owens with an inside cradle. Styles confronted the official which led to the aforementioned finish.
· SmackDown Live went off the air with Owens and Zayn celebrating in the ring while Shane looked on in disgust from the main stage.
· This was an interesting way to end the show. Shane McMahon’s overzealousness cost Styles the match which could lead to another ass whopping in the parking lot if McMahon continues to stick his nose in other people’s business.
· Plus, it gives Daniel Bryan more ammo to use against Shane because he’s afraid that his boss is turning into Mr. McMahon 2.0. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will continue to fuel tension between their superiors as the great Power Struggle of 2018 heats up. Who’s turning on who? We shall find out soon enough.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was solid. This was a nice way to cap off the year as SD Live delivered a late entry for one of the best television matches of the year as the Triple Threat Tag Team Match featuring Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin, Aiden English & Rusev, and The New Day stole the show. The tag team division has been on fire for the past six months and this was a great way to put an exclamation point on things.
· Here’s hoping 2018 is the Year of Rusev because WWE has a true star on their hands if they don’t screw it up. Aiden English also deserves credit for reinventing himself and finding a kindred spirit in Rusev. After a record number of tag team breakups this past year, their unlikely partnership has been a bright spot in a sea of doom and gloom.
· Elsewhere, it appears that Kevin Owens is in line for a WWE Championship match after defeating AJ Styles. Let’s hope their presumed title bout isn’t overbooked to death because both men are capable of delivering the goods if they are given the chance to do so. Rosy optimism aside, expect another bullshit finish from the usual suspects because it’s all about the game and how you play it. We can thank noted philosopher Triple H for giving us those words to live by for over twenty years.
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!