HOUSTON - WWE World Champion AJ Styles kicked off the show to announce that he would be unable to compete tonight due to an injury suffered at WWE TLC against Dean Ambrose, and thus, his scheduled match with James Ellsworth tonight was cancelled.
Ellsworth arrived, claiming that he thought it was possible that Styles was not competing tonight because he was being “protected” by SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan in fear that Ellsworth would defeat him for the fourth time. However, before Ellsworth could go on too long of a diatribe, he was met by an incredibly disgruntled Ambrose. Still clearly incensed that he cost him the WWE World Title on Sunday, The Lunatic Fringe made a beeline for Ellsworth and dropped him immediately with Dirty Deeds before leaving as soon as he came in.
Here’s the thing about Cinderella stories … they eventually end.
Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton proved they may be borderline unstoppable as the new SmackDown Tag Team Champions. Despite a valiant fight Heath Slater & Rhyno, The New Wyatt Family were able to mirror the result from WWE TLC, defeating the former titleholders with a Sister Abigail into an RKO combo.
To paraphrase the late, great WWE Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon, “Who the heck are gonna stop these guys?!”
Following Carmella’s accusation at WWE TLC that it was actually Natalya who attacked Nikki Bella at Survivor Series, The Queen of Harts challenged The Princess of Staten Island to a fight here on SmackDown Live.
Carmella ran down Natalya’s character which prompted Natalya to aggressively attack her before the bell could ever ring. Carmella then bolted, which prompted Natalya to chase her to the backstage where she ran into Nikki Bella.
Nikki stared daggers into Natalya and although Natalya began to try and explain Fearless Nikki would have none of it and just coldly stormed off.
With competition tight in the SmackDown LIVE Tag Team division, both The Hype Bros and The Ascension came out looking to make a statement. Konnor & Viktor attempted to use their brute strength to overpower Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley, but in the end, Ryder & Rawley got (and stayed) hype enough to pick up the victory with the Hype Ryder onto Viktor for the victory.
What we’ve learned: It’s probably best to not try and interview the unstable.
Clearly on edge and furious over James Ellsworth costing him the WWE World Title against AJ Styles at WWE TLC, Dean Ambrose was in no mood for Intercontinental Champion The Miz’s sly offhandness on “Miz TV.”
The A-Lister tried to prod Ambrose even further by awarding him the first “Miz Participation Award” for his valiant effort at WWE TLC. SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan arrived to announce that Ambrose and Miz would clash for the Intercontinental Title tonight in the main event!
The two Superstars fought tooth and nail, with Corbin using his strength to overpower Kalisto while the cruiserweight used his speed and athletic ability in attempts to wear out The Lone Wolf. Kalisto mounted a good amount of offense, but in the end, Corbin caught Kalisto with the End of Days for the win.
Breeze, clearly enraged by the hair insult, brought the fury to Gable. Fandango’s antics on the outside were neutralized by Jason Jordan and, in the end, Breeze’s efforts were not enough as the former Olympian defeated him with a bridging German Suplex.
Alexa Bliss had planned on having an elaborate championship celebration to commemorate her major title victory over Becky Lynch in a Tables Match at WWE TLC, but The Irish Lass Kicker interrupted and then things just kind of went downhill from there.
Bliss and Lynch hurled insults at one another, with each seemingly questioning every fiber of the other’s being before Lynch challenged the champion to a rematch right then and there, prompting Bliss to stoically exit the ring with her title in hand.
Not tonight, Becky.
Following their explosive session on “Miz TV” earlier in the evening, The Miz and Dean Ambrose laid it all out for the Intercontinental Championship in the SmackDown LIVE main event.
The two Superstars battled ferociously and it looked like Ambrose was gaining ground en route to the victory, but then Maryse interfered behind the referee’s back. Much like on Sunday night, James Ellsworth ran out to ringside, but this time it seemed like he was trying to help Ambrose by informing the referee of Maryse’s wrongdoing. All of this calamity led to The A-Lister striking with The Skull Crushing Finale from behind to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
The Lunatic Fringe was enraged after the contest, however, Ellsworth wisely got out of dodge … at least for tonight.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark Match: Apollo Crews defeated Aiden English
- The New Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton) (c) (w/ Luke Harper) defeated Heath Slater & Rhyno to retain the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship (9:13)
- Carmella vs. Natalya ended in a No Contest
- The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) defeated The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) (3:28)
- Baron Corbin defeated Kalisto (2:51)
- Chad Gable (w/ Jason Jordan) defeated Tyler Breeze (w/ Fandango) (2:32)
- The Miz (c) (w/ Maryse) defeated Dean Ambrose to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship (13:31)
The following day, it was announced that Luke Harper had been sanctioned as champion as well, making him eligible to defend the title under the "Freebird Rule", similar with Raw's The New Day of Raw Tag Team Champions.
Other on-screen talent