Tonight on SmackDown Live, James Ellsworth will battle AJ Styles in a match with the WWE World Championship on the line, but this time he’ll be doing so without the help of Dean Ambrose. Plus, there’s tension between Rhyno and Heath Slater following their loss to The Wyatt Family, and the rest of the tag teams on the roster are looking to challenge the new title-holders. Meanwhile, Carmella is desperately trying to convince Nikki Bella that she isn’t the one who attacked her at Survivor Series, though Bella does not seem to believe that. The show will be broadcast tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on the USA Network. Read on for match results and spoilers, followed by a preview of the night’s events written earlier this afternoon.
8:00 – The show opens with Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon watching a replay of last week’s match between Dean Ambrose and The Miz where James Ellsworth accidentally caused Ambrose to lose. McMahon lectures Ellsworth, telling him he can’t be interfering in matches. Ellsworth is extremely sick tonight, so Daniel Bryan asks how he is possibly going to still compete. Bryan postpones Ellsworth’s match with AJ Styles and tells Ellsworth to go home.
8:04 – The Miz hosts an episode of Miz TV. He says that tonight’s episode will feature two of the most powerful champions the WWE has to offer.
First, AJ Styles enters. He laughs about Ellsworth being sick and says that McMahon and Bryan did him a favor by postponing the match. However, Styles says that sooner or later, he’s going to destroy Ellsworth in the ring. The Miz asks how Styles is going to sleep at night knowing that at any time, he might have to defend his championship against James Ellsworth, and Styles bursts out laughing. When asked what’s next for him, AJ Styles says that he beat John Cena, Dean Ambrose, and he’s going to destroy James Ellsworth, so who else is there? Who else is on his level?
The Miz says that he’s the one who brought his title to new levels of glory, and that’s The Miz himself. The Miz goes on to say that while Styles has been battling Dean Ambrose for months, The Miz easily defeated Dean Ambrose last week. Therefore, The Miz concludes that he isn’t on AJ Styles’ level; he’s above it. Maybe it’s time he go after the WWE World Champion, Miz adds.
Just as a fight is about to break out between The Miz and AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose enters. He starts throwing the chairs around in anger.
Immediately, Dolph Ziggler enters as well. Ziggler says that Miz and Styles are talking a lot of game for two people who can’t win a match without cheating. Ziggler and The Miz start fighting, and after Miz takes Ziggler down, he’s attacked by Dean Ambrose. Meanwhile, AJ Styles watches from outside the ring.
Suddenly, Luke Harper appears in the ring, leveling Dean Ambrose while AJ Styles slowly retreats from the arena.
8:17 – Backstage, AJ Styles approaches Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan, saying he needs protection from all of the superstars trying to attack him. Bryan says that Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz will compete in a fatal four-way match tonight, which will determine the #1 contender for the WWE World Championship.
8:19 – Before a match, Natalya tells Nikki Bella – who is sitting in on commentary – that she isn’t the one who attacked her at Survivor Series.
8:20 – Carmella defeats Natalya.
8:38 – Backstage, Gabriel Iglesias runs into Apollo Crews, saying he’s excited to be on SmackDown Live. Maryse interrupts him, asking Iglesias to be quiet because he’s distracting The Miz.
8:40 – The Hype Bros win in a tag team battle royal against Heath Slater and Rhyno, Breezango, American Alpha, The Vaudevillains, The Ascension and The Usos. During one key moment of the match, Heath Slater inadvertently eliminates his own partner, Rhyno. The match comes down to Conor O’Brian, Tyler Breeze and Zack Ryder; O’Brian eliminates Breeze, but then Ryder eliminates O’Brian.
9:06 – Alexa Bliss is scheduled to fight a local jobber. But Bliss grabs the microphone and says that she’s above this match, refusing to compete. She does, however, quickly attack the jobber and throw her out of the ring.
Becky Lynch enters. She apologizes for being rude last week when she asked for her rematch when Alexa Bliss wasn’t ready. But Bliss is ready now, so this seems like the perfect time for the rematch, Lynch says. Bliss refuses, saying the rematch will happen on her terms.
Shane McMahon enters. He says that the Women’s Championship rematch will, in fact, take place next.
9:20 – Alexa Bliss retains her title in a match against Becky Lynch after being counted out.
9:30 – Dolph Ziggler wins in a fatal four-way match against Dean Ambrose, The Miz and Luke Harper, therefore becoming the #1 contender. The Miz is the first person to be eliminated, being taken out by Dean Ambrose. The next to go is Luke Harper, who is also eliminated by Dean Ambrose. The Miz returns after being eliminated, distracting Dolph Ziggler and almost causing him to lose. But Ziggler’s interruption actually ends up helping Ziggler, who’s able to take down Dean Ambrose after Ambrose is distracted by The Miz.
The main event of tonight’s SmackDown will be a title match between James Ellsworth and AJ Styles, which was actually supposed to occur last week but that had to be delayed when Styles suffered a legitimate injury. Ellsworth has already beaten AJ Styles three times, but in each of those instances, he only won because Dean Ambrose interfered; Ellsworth very clearly would not have defeated The Phenomenal One on his own. Now that Ellsworth has made an enemy of Ambrose, he’s up against Styles on his own tonight, and things sure don’t look good for him. Just how badly will Ellsworth be dominated?
Plus, Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt are now the Tag Team Champions, and the relationship between Heath Slater and Rhyno now seems to be falling apart. After all, Rhyno walked out on Slater during a tense episode of Talking Smack last week. What is to come of that partnership, and which tag team will go after the Wyatt family’s title next? Could American Alpha or perhaps The Usos get a shot?
Speaking of getting a shot at the title, now that The Miz’s feud with Dolph Ziggler is apparently over, someone will be coming after the Intercontinental Championship soon. Who might that be? Could Dean Ambrose himself go for it? And in the women’s division, Nikki Bella is still upset about being attacked by a mysterious person at Survivor Series; she assumed this was Carmella, but Carmella is claiming it was actually Natalya. Who’s lying to who? Is it possible that it isn’t either of them, and the attacker is someone else we haven’t considered? Eva Marie, perhaps?
Finally, comedian Gabriel Iglesia will be showing up as a special guest. It all goes down tonight at 8 on the USA Network.