WWE SmackDown live results: The final episode of 2017

Date: December 26, 2017
Location: Allstate Arena in Chicago, IL

The Big Takeaway --

Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles in a non-title match, likely setting him up as the next WWE title contender for the Royal Rumble. Shane McMahon marched down to toss Sami Zayn from ringside during the match, but the distraction allowed Owens to apply a schoolboy for the win.

Daniel Bryan started an 8-man tournament to determine a new US Champion. He seemed to suggest that Shane was on board for this, but we found out later that Shane was not a fan of this idea. Bobby Roode and Jinder Mahal have both advanced. Baron Corbin and Tye Dillinger are out.

Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin won a hell of a triple threat tag match over the New Day and Rusev & Aiden English. Gable & Benjamin will face the Usos for the titles next week. Rusev was over like crazy.

Show Recap --

Daniel Bryan came out to a huge reaction to start the show. He’s wearing a red and green plaid shirt. Corey Graves announced AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens for tonight. Bryan wanted to address the most shocking thing that happened last week, which was Dolph Ziggler leaving.

Bryan has been calling and texting Ziggler all week, but he hasn’t responded and has therefore relinquished the US title. The crowd chanted for Rusev. Bryan wished Ziggler well and called him one of the all-time great performers, but they had to move on. He and Shane McMahon have agreed to have a tournament to decide the new champion, which starts tonight.

Bryan announced Baron Corbin vs. Bobby Roode as a first round match. Roode got a big reaction. Before Bryan could announce more, Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin interrupted. Gable said he was happy for the US Title but wanted to know what was next for the tag titles. The crowd chanted “Rusev Day.”

Bryan referenced their loss in the tag title match a few weeks ago. Gable and Benjamin said they deserved a shot without any other teams involved, and again the crowd chanted for Rusev. Gable said they should be champions and the crowd booed.

Rusev and Aiden English interrupted and the crowd chanted some more. English sang a song to explain why they deserved a shot. He mentioned that they beat the Usos and didn’t actually lose at Clash of Champions. English said we know what day comes after Christmas and Gable said it was Boxing Day. Rusev said called him a fool and announced it was Rusev Day.

The New Day came out next, so Byron Saxton asked what comes after Rusev Day and Graves responded, “Rusev Day again!” Kofi Kingston flung pancakes into the crowd. Big E said Gable and “Old Jason Jordan” got pinned at Clash, and Rusev & English got pinned last week. (The crowd liked New Day but did not want to cheer them over Rusev.)

Xavier Wood said they should be tag champs and had Bryan swivel his hips with them (and he was totally out of sync). Rusev told them to shut up. Rusev wondered if Bryan was going to ask his “mommy” Shane for a decision. Bryan smiled and announced a triple threat match with the winners facing the Usos.

Triple Threat Tag Team Match: Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin defeated Big E & Xavier Woods (w/Kofi Kingston) and Rusev & Aiden English (13:59) 

There were some cool spots early. Woods hit a flip dive on the other teams, Big E powerbombed Woods onto English, and Gable gave a German suplex to Big E and English at the same time. The crowd chanted “We want Rusev.” A “CM Punk” chant broke out but others booed it.

Rusev made a hot tag and ran wild on Gable and Woods. His comeback included kicks to the head and running body blocks in the corner. He also gave Big E spinning heel kick and gave Benjamin a superkick. Rusev charged up like he would do a suicide dive, but Gable cut him off and hit a German. Woods followed with a diving dropkick on English for a nearfall.

Later, Rusev powerbombed both Gable and Benjamin off the ropes, then English followed with a frog splash for a nearfall (he also slapped his chest like Eddie Guerrero and pointed to the sky). Rusev stacked Woods and Gable on top of each other and gave them both an Accolade, but Benjamin broke it up.

Big E then ran as fast as possible and hit a dive through the ropes. The crowd popped big for that. Benjamin hit a running kick in the corner on Big E, then he and Gable hit their powerbomb/flying clothesline combo for the win. Gable & Benjamin vs. The Usos will take place next week.

Crazy good match. Way more happened then I could recap. Check it out if you skipped this show.

Shane caught up with Bryan backstage. Shane told Bryan that his comment about turning into Vince McMahon really upset him. Shane took exception to this and called Vince a crazy S.O.B. However, Shane also wanted to give Vince credit, saying he reinvited the business and he’s still Shane’s father.

Bryan wasn’t trying to take that away from Vince, he just noticed that Shane’s been throwing his weight around. Shane thought Bryan was doing the same with the US Title tournament, thinking Corbin and Roode shouldn’t have to go through a tournament. Bryan thought everyone deserves a shot.

Shane also didn’t like tonight's main event and figured Sami Zayn was guaranteed to get involved. Bryan simply made the match because Owens and Styles was one of the best rivalries of 2017 and wanted to see it one more time. Shane said “ok” and that was it. (They left the camera on the two of them for too long and they awkwardly stared at each other.)

(It appears they are going commercial-free for the first hour in Canada after all.)

They aired a clip from Fashion Files where Ascension had a gift for Breezango--a rematch with the Bludgeon Brothers. Fandango was disappointed they didn’t get sexy astronaut costumes.

The Bludgeon Brothers defeated Breezango via DQ (2:06)

Harper and Rowan had the match won with a sit-out powerbomb on Tyler Breeze, but Rowan picked him up at the two count so they could continue the beating. Ascension eventually ran down to save Breezango by attacking Harper and Rowan. They carried away Breezango.

Backstage, Konnor and Viktor told Dasha Fuentes that their best friends, Breeze and Fandango, weren’t in their right state of minds. Viktor said their best friends were challenging the Bludgeon Brothers to a rematch next week. The crowd thought this was funny.

Ruby Riott (w/Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan) defeated Naomi (0:54)  

Riott did a pre-taped promo where she said “rumble” was basically another word for “riot” and gave her an advantage. She said she would win the Royal Riott and Naomi would be the first eliminated.

Naomi knocked Logan and Morgan off the apron, but the distraction allowed Riott to kick her leg out of her leg. She followed with a Riott Kick for the very quick win. The Riott Squad put the boots to Naomi afterwards until Charlotte made the save. She took out Riott with a spear but the numbers caught up to her and they took her out too.

Natalya’s music hit and she marched out with Carmella, Tamina and Lana. There was a face-off but the Riott Squad backed off. As they left, Natalya and company attacked them anyway but the Riott Squad quickly ran away.

Renee Young interviewed AJ Styles. The crowd loudly chanted for Styles as Renee asked her question and Styles let them go for a bit. Styles said he’s the favourite whenever he steps in the ring and his opponents are the underdogs. He said nobody would be handed opportunities as long as he was on Smackdown. Styles was fine with Zayn being at ringside tonight. He said Owens can’t beat him and this was the house that AJ Styles built.

I like that Styles called himself the favourite against everyone. I didn’t like when he called himself the underdog against Brock Lesnar. He’s the champion and we all know he’s among the best in the world, he shouldn’t consider himself the underdog.

US Championship Tournament First Round Match: Bobby Roode defeated Baron Corbin (8:51)

Roode came off the top and Corbin caught him in position for a chokeslam, but Roode countered into a roll-up for the win. This was fine. The crowd liked Roode.

They finally went to commercial after this match, which ended about 12 minutes after the top of the hour.

US Championship Tournament First Round Match: Jinder Mahal (w/Singh Brothers) defeated Tye Dillinger (5:58)

Dillinger did a pre-taped promo where he said it was an 8-man tournament but the only number that mattered was 10. Graves called him a sociopath. It appears this was Dillinger’s first TV appearance since Hell in a Cell back on October 8th, where Corbin won the US title in a threeway against him and Styles.

Mahal won with the Khallas. Of all the matches that have ever happened, this was definitely one of them.

Hideo Itami will face Jack Gallagher on 205 Live.

Backstage, Fuentes caught up with Owens and Zayn. Owens shook a bottle of champagne and Fuentes asked what he was doing. Owens told her not to worry, because he would pop the bottle after he beat Styles. They mentioned it was the same bottle that Bryan refused to accept last week.

Owens reminded us that the last time he fought Styles, a certain referee--a guy who likes to shuffle his feet and is also Vince McMahon’s son--cost him the match. Owens said he had a guardian angel on his side tonight. Owens told Fuentes that she was not invited to their celebration, nor was anyone in Chicago. Zayn said “Yep” to everything Owens said.

Elsewhere, Young interviewed Randy Orton. Orton said he’s been dealing with everyone’s issues except his own. He was only concerned with winning the Royal Rumble. Shinsuke Nakamura showed up and said, “That’s a good idea. Let’s Rumble.” Orton appeared nonplussed. This was fine, but why would they both declare themselves entrants in the Rumble knowing Styles doesn’t have a contender...

Non-title: Kevin Owens (w/Sami Zayn) defeated WWE Champion AJ Styles (16:28) 

They traded punches but Styles got the better of it and hit a strike combo, followed by a sliding forearm and Pele kick. Owens countered a springboard forearm into a gutbuster, followed by a diving elbow drop for a nearfall. Styles followed with a torture rack into a spinning slam for a nearfall.

Owens rolled to the outside and Styles hit Zayn with a slingshot crossbody. After Styles tossed Owens back in the ring, Zayn distracted Styles and Owens nailed a superkick for a nearfall. Shane walked down and told the referee to toss Zayn from ringside, so he did.

Styles applied a small package but the referee was distracted by Shane and Zayn. As Styles grabbed the referee’s attention, Owens applied a schoolboy for the win.

Owens popped the bottle and doused himself with champagne. Styles was pissed. As he walked up the ramp, he stopped to stare down Shane, who apologized. Owens and Zayn celebrated as the show went off the air.

Final Thoughts --

I thought this was a pretty good show. I was expecting a throwaway show, but it definitely wasn’t. Styles has a new contender and it continues the story with Shane and Bryan, a US title tournament is underway, and there was an excellent tag match.