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WWE SmackDown Live preview (Dec. 13, 2016): Second chance at history

WWE heads to our nation’s capital to film their annual holiday special celebrating the men & women of the armed forces, and while they’re there, they’ll also shoot an episode for Team Blue in Washington, D.C.!

The Headliners

This is kind of cheating, but hey, it’s the advertised main for the second week running. The differences are (1) we know AJ’s banged up since he missed a week with an ankle injury and (2) Ambrose has even more reason to want to end Ellsworth after his assist backfired and cost the Lunatic Fringe in his match with Miz last Tuesday...

That James Ellsworth sure is something.

He’s 0 - 3 in matches against World champion AJ Styles, including the ladder match where he earned his SmackDown contract. That win also entitled him to a title shot, so...

It made perfect sense in the Chinless One’s book to ensure the Phenomenal One kept his belt at TLC this past Sunday (Dec. 4) during his ladder match with Dean Ambrose... even if that meant screwing over the guy who’s been integral to all three of his wins over Styles. We haven’t heard from the Lunatic Fringe since Ellsworth sent him crashing to the floor in Dallas, but it’s difficult to imagine he’ll be too gung ho to help out his little buddy again, even if James is promising to give him a title shot of his own when he’s champ.

Of course, while we’re all mocking the man with two hands and a fighting chance, he may be crazy like a fox. Reports are AJ is banged up coming out this weekend’s pay-per-view (PPV). You’d think the Champ that Runs This Camp would be up to beating Ellsworth even on a bad ankle, but... stranger things have happened in pro wrestling history.

Well, maybe not stranger. But just as strange, anyway.

The Title Scene

Even before beating Dean last week, the A-Lister was on a heck of a roll. Who’ll next try to take the Intercontinental champ’s crown?’s preview is teasing names like Baron Corbin and former titleholder Luke Harper. The rumor mill says it’s Ambrose. With a long way until SmackDown’s next pay-per-view (PPV), will we even find out tonight?

Some deposed champion’s take their losses in stride and move on to the next thing. But Becky Lynch seems a little unhinged in the wake of losing the Women’s title to Alexa Bliss at TLC. The Lasskicker wants her rematch, well, yesterday, basically. But so far, the Wicked Witch hasn’t said when she’ll face Lynch again.

Beating Beauty and the Man-Beast twice in three nights didn’t just establish the new Wyatt Family as dominate tag team champions. Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper also seem to have broken Rhyno & Heath Slater’s partnership. We’ll not only be looking for the Freebird Rule qualifying squad’s next challenger (American Alpha and Hype Bros are good candidates, based on recent wins), but also the One-Man Band’s response to his suddenly cold friend.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- There’s INTRIGUE in the women’s division, where Carmella says Natalya was behind the pre-Survivor Series attack on Nikki Bella, but Natty says “no way”. Who will the Fearless One trust, and who’s ass will she kick?

- If the Lone Wolf doesn’t go after the IC strap, what’s next for him after seemingly ending his feud with Kalisto with a pair of wins last week?

- It’s WWE Week, which not only means Tribute to the Troops tapes before SmackDown tonight, but also that Gabriel Iglesias will be on hand as a celebrity guest!

Seven weeks until Royal Rumble!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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