The chase of championship glory dominated this last episode of Smackdown Live for the year 2017 as the brands two major titles were at the heart of the night’s show.
GM Daniel Bryan officially announced that US Champion Dolph Ziggler has vacated the United States Championship, leaving the title for new contenders.
Baron Corbin fought Bobby Roode while Jinder Mahal battled Tye Dillinger for the opportunity to determine the new US Champion in their first-round encounters.
In the Tag Team scene, the teams of Benjamin and Gable, The New Day and Aiden English and Rusev battled in a Triple Threat match to determine the new No. 1 Contenders.
The Smackdown Women’s Division was also on rampage as former Women’s Champion Naomi sought retribution against Ruby Riott in a bout that evolved into an all women’s showdown.
Let’s take a look at the full video highlights, analysis and ratings of the December 26’s episode of WWE’s Smackdown Live.
GM DANIEL BRYAN KICKS OFF SMACKDOWN LIVE WITH AN ANNOUNCEMENT.
SmackDown general manager Daniel Bryan started off the Boxing Day show announcing that US Champion Dolph Ziggler has voluntarily vacated the US Title for good.
He moved on to schedule a mini-tournament to determine the new US Champion.
Shortly after, Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable interrupted, demanding answers about why they’ve not received a one-on-one shot for The Usos’ Smackdown Tag Team titles.
Rusev and English followed afterwards, demanding for their own opportunity, and so as The New Day.
After the mic exchanges from everyone present, Daniel Bryan announced a Triple Threat No. 1 Contender’s match involving the three teams to come up next.
THE NEW DAY VS. ENGLISH AND RUSEV VS. GABLE AND BENJAMIN (The Triple Threat match)
The Triple Threat bout kicked off at a very high and entertaining pace as these three teams battled for the right to compete for the Smackdown Tag Team titles.
The Chicago crowd amazingly hailed the team of Rusev and English throughout the course of the match, thanks to their outstanding new “Rusev Day” act.
After a long stint of tho-and-fros, The Bulgarian Brute applied the Accolade to both Woods and Gable at the same time thrilling the crowd in return.
Big E too wasn’t left out of the action; he drove a devastating Spear to the mid-section of Benjamin that took him down to the arena floor.
Back in the ring, The Gold Standard returned to team up with Gable to score the pinfall victory via a Bulldog and Powerbomb combination.
Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable emerged victoriously.
THE BLUDGEON BROTHERS VS. BREEZANGO.
In their second encounter, Breezango sought retribution against their Clash of Champions victors The Bludgeon Brothers in singles action.
Much like their first meeting, Harper and Rowan obliterated Fandango and Breeze without remorse.
An assisted Powerbomb manoeuvre should have ended the match but Rowan instead, pulled up Breeze’s back at the count of two.
As the big Heels continued their pounding and mauling on Breezango heading to the end, The Ascension hit the ring and interfered with the match. They shoved Harper and Rowan and rescued their friends from further punishment.
The Bludgeon Brothers defeated Breezango via disqualification.
RUBY RIOTT VS. NAOMI.
Former Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi continued her rivalry with the Riott Squad this Tuesday night on Smackdown Live.
With Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan lurking at ringside, Naomi squared off against Ruby Riott in singles competition.
The Glow Princess frustrated Riott in the early going as she controlled the pace of the fight with her intensive in-ring abilities.
Moments later, Morgan and Logan infused a distraction but Naomi was able to shove them off the apron. This, however, allowed Riott to pick up the control of the bout.
In the end, Riott ended Naomi’s night with a kick to the back of her leg and finished her off with a Riott Kick for the win.
As expected, The Riott Squad attempted a 3-to-1 beatdown just after the bell rung. This drew the Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair in rescue mode.
In the end, the trio mentality of the Riott Squad allowed them to lay waste to the Babyfaces, establishing dominance as they stood tall.
This wasn’t yet over! Former Women’s Champion Natalya emerged from the locker room with Lana, Tamina and Carmella flanking her.
They stormed the ring and a face-to-face against the Riott Squad took the spotlight.
Shortly after, Riott, Logan and Morgan backed down and fled the scene.
Ruby Riott defeated Naomi via pinfall.
BOBBY ROODE VS. BARON CORBIN (US Title tournament)
After a good start, ‘The Glorious One’ found himself grounded by ‘The Lone Wolf’, who sought to attain championship greatness one more time.
Corbin did pretty well in cutting off Roode’s comeback attempts at every turn. He flattened the former NXT Champion with his powerful sidewalk slam and Deep six for a near-fall.
Soon, the fight took its toll and both competitors extended the brawl by taking the bout to the outside.
Back in the ring, Roode countered a Powerbomb attempt and slid up Corbin for a roll-up victory.
Bobby Roode defeated Baron Corbin via pinfall.
TYE DILLINGER VS. JINDER MAHAL (US Title tournament)
In another encounter, ‘The Perfect 10’ Tye Dillinger returned to the show to battle former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal for a chance at the vacant US Championship.
Mahal eventually scored the upper hand after Dillinger had put up a huge fight and worn down The Maharaja in the early going.
An impressive Gutbuster nearly concluded the bout in favour of the Indian Superstar, but Dillinger kicked out at the count of 2.
Ultimately, a series of Khalasses eventually put ‘The Perfect 10’ away, gaining Mahal the winners momentum as he proceeds to the second round of the tournament.
Jinder Mahal defeated Tye Dillinger via pinfall.
KEVIN OWENS VS. AJ STYLES
WWE champion AJ Styles battled his longtime rival Kevin Owens in a one-on-one encounter as the blue brand closed its show for the year.
Styles started the match at a good pace, beating and grounding the PrizeFighter with a selection of high-flying manoeuvres and a chin lock.
Owens later gained the upper hand returning from the break. He mauled the WWE Champ and landed a nasty Clothesline that turned Styles inside out.
Later on, the bout broke out and gave way to a fist-for-fist exchange that ended with a Pele Kick from Styles and a Superkick from Owens.
An interference from Zayn almost allowed his compatriot to score the finish; thanks to the intervention of Shane McMahon, Zayn was ejected from ringside.
In the final moments – shortly after the distraction as a result of Zayn’s ejection by McMahon, Kevin Owens scored a schoolboy roll-up for a major upset victory.
Styles filled with disbelief, focused his sights on McMahon as Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn celebrated joyfully to the close of the show.
Kevin Owens defeated WWE Champion AJ Styles.
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