The final Smackdown Live of 2017 saw both the Smackdown Tag Team Championship as well as the United States Championship picture detailed moving forward, as well as a huge main event rehashing one of the biggest rivalries of 2017 with WWE Champion AJ Styles taking on Kevin Owens.
Daniel Bryan Promo. Grade: B+ The General Manager opened the show announcing that Dolph Ziggler had relinquished the United States Championship & that there will be a tournament to determine the new champion; tournaments are always good and should give a number of guys a chance to shine while showcasing the US title. After this Gable & Benjamin, New Day & Rusev & English all interrupted and staked their claim to the Tag Titles, which set up the following match. A really good opening here that made clear the future of two Smackdown Championships.
Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin defeated New Day & Rusev and Aiden English. Grade: A- Six of Smackdown Live’s best put on a fantastic match here equal to a demolition derby of tag teams, and it was a whole world of fun. Good that Gable & Benjamin may finally get their proper one-on-one chance at the titles, but the Chicago crowd was crazy for Rusev Day here; that man needs to be pushed to the moon immediately.
The Bludgeon Brothers defeated Breezango via Disqualification. Grade: B- Similar to their PPV match the Bludgeon Brothers just battered Breezango around, however this time The Ascension made half a save for their new best friends I hate the Ascension in this role, but it is ultimately better than nothing.
Ruby Riott defeated Naomi. Grade: D- This was bad; why does the leader of the new heel faction need so much help for a simple singes victory? Why were the new heel trio confronted by four other wrestlers for a brawl? Why were the new heel trio outnumbered and how does that build heat for them? Natalya, Carmella, Tamina & Lana are all meant to be heels, are we meant to want them to beat down the heel Riott Squad or not? So many questions, so few answers.
Bobby Roode defeated Baron Corbin in the First Round of the US Title Tournament. Grade: B- Good win for Roode, he should go close to winning this tournament. Baron Corbin continues to struggle and fall, hopefully this can all be tied into a long-term story for the Lone Wolf and not just go to waste.
Jinder Mahal defeated Tye Dillinger in the First Round of the US Title Tournament. Grade: C- Clearly this is WWE’s way to get Jinder Mahal to bounce back, which is great, however clearly Jinder was going to win here, clearly Dillinger has lost so much momentum since this time last year, an =d clearly after the babyface won just earlier the heel was going to win here. Decent enough, but just very hard to invest in.
Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles. Grade: B+ A very good match between two of the very best on Smackdown Live, in the WWE and in the world. Zayn got involved late but Commissioner Shane McMahon called for him to be thrown from ringside, however Owens was able to steal the victory thanks to Shane. The tension teased between Shane & AJ is intriguing and adds just another layer into this already compelling story; absolutely fantastic work.