The ‘A-show’ is back with the main event we were promised last week. With seven weeks between now and the Royal Rumble, SmackDown LIVE can afford to take time with its storylines. So don’t expect any hot-shoting during this rather slow time on the WWE calendar. With the majority of (male) performers in the Rumble match itself anyway, creative needs to be more concerned with the long road, the “Road to WrestleMania” that is. I always get the sense that this brand has a clearer sense of future goals. So we should be okay.
Here are five reasons to watch tonight’s SmackDown LIVE
1. AJ Styles vs. James Ellsworth
So, this is the main event we were promised last week but not given. In the non-kayfabe sense, the reason for last week’s cancellation was well-known. Styles hurt his ankle in the TLC match with Dean Ambrose and thus could not ‘go.’ In the kayfabe sense, well, no good reason was really given for the cancellation. But apparently, we’re getting the match this week. Obviously, this is being setup as a way for the Styles’ character to get retribution on Ellsworth for the three losses. There is zero chance that Jimmy Dream is going to become WWE Champion.
The other component is Ambrose, who likely will become involved. I’m interested as to how the face-heel dynamic plays out in the impending Ambrose-Ellsworth feud. Ellsworth turning on Ambrose at TLC and going full-blown heel seemed like the logical move, but the second part of the equation currently seems in doubt. I know one thing’s for sure; Ellsworth as a “tweener” definitely doesn’t work.
2. Tag Titles Aren’t Going Anywhere
Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton bring a legitimacy to the SmackDown Tag Team Titles that we never would have gotten from Heath Slater and Rhyno. (By the way, it now appears as if the former champs are headed for a breakup). Expect a long run with the belts from the Wyatt Clan, maybe not “New Day long,” but long nevertheless. Ironically, one thing that this run already has in common with the New Day is that the “Freebird Rule” has been enacted. That means we’ll sporadically be getting Luke Harper in title matches, which is just fine by me.
In WWE.com’s official preview for tonight’s show, speculation ran amok about who the next contenders will be. The Hype Bros were put over last week, but that’s clearly not a serious challenge. I also love how the idea of Breezango dishing out a “fashion citation” to Bray Wyatt was floated! If I could be serious for a moment, however, American Alpha is still my best guess for chasing the champs.
3. Nikki’s Attacker
Props to SmackDown for having a secondary storyline in its Women’s Division that doesn’t include the title. Contrary to what you may read elsewhere, the Nikki Bella vs. Carmella feud was perfectly acceptable. Now that it’s (seemingly) over, we move to the question of who attacked Nikki at Survivor Series. The way the storyline sits now, we’re to believe that it was Natalya, who you’ll remember replaced Nikki at Survivor Series. That seems too obvious though. Again, only speculation, but I believe it will eventually turn out that it was Becky Lynch. They can use the whole “Nikki was captain, not the (then) champ” as the impetus.
4. The Greatness of The Miz
The Miz is always a reason to watch SmackDown LIVE. I’ve said it before, but there’s really no one currently on this brand worthy of taking the Intercontinental Title from him.
Again turning to WWE’s official preview, they are speculating as to who will be Miz’s next challenger. Curiously, the names of Baron Corbin and Luke Harper were both thrown out there. That makes little sense to have two established heels chasing the top true heel on the brand. As discussed on the latest edition of Top Rope Nation, I remain very intrigued by the Miz-Daniel Bryan “feud” and if it will lead to an actual match, which I feel would be amazing.
So, to summarize, let’s hope The Miz’s act remains awesome because there isn’t really anyone who is going to beat him.
5. Gabriel Iglesias?
Honestly, I have never heard of this man. He’s some comedian that has allegedly been around for 20 years. He is going to be on tonight’s show. Okay.
I’ll be back Tuesday night with my thoughts on tonight’s show. See you then!