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WWE SmackDown Live preview (Jan. 3, 2017): The dotted line

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Team Blue is kicking off 2017 with another loaded show... this one from Jacksonville, Florida!

The Headliners

He returned last week, and helped SmackDown beat Raw in ratings for the first time since the draft. But that wasn’t all John Cena did - he also booked himself in a World title match for Royal Rumble.

The champ who runs the camp, AJ Styles, may not have been thrilled about that - especially when it led to a tense standoff just moments after he successfully defended his title in a Triple Threat against Dolph Ziggler & Baron Corbin. But the Phenomenal One is a fighting champ, and someone who loves to #BeatUpJohnCena, so he’s not backing down.

Styles and Cena will be face-to-face once again tonight, as they sign the contract for San Antonio. I’m sure everything will go smoothly, and that there will be no violence.

The Title Scene

While the Faces that Run the Place ink on the dotted line, the next great Intercontinental title program gets right to the action. In the past couple weeks, both Dean Ambrose and his special lady have smacked Miz around. This week, the Lunatic Fringe will try to beat the champ in a sanctioned match. If he does as well at that as he did impersonating a security guard, he’ll leave Florida with the strap.

We all thought the Randy Orton alliance would lead to a long reign as tag team champions for the new Wyatt Family. But American Alpha didn’t get the memo, and upset Bray and company in the “Wild Card Finals” to claim the belt. With SmackDown Creative already teasing the dissension we all knew was coming between Luke Harper and the Viper, will they even get their acts together enough to challenge Chad Gable & Jason Jordan? WWE.com’s official preview is already talking up those long-time Alpha foils the Usos...

Becky Lynch’s quest to reclaim the Women’s championship from Alexa Bliss was thwarted by... a character she dressed up as on Dec. 20? While we all want to know if the Lasskicker will get another chance to reclaim the belt, we also really want to know who’s underneath La Luchadora’s mask.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Ziggler and Corbin came up short in last week’s main event, but they came away disliking each other even more than when they started that Triple Threat. They’ll get a chance to take out their frustrations, and maybe move up the ladder, when they face each other one-on-one tonight.

- She’s not worried about Natalya’s reasons for attacking her at Survivor Series - Nikki Bella knows she got to the top with hard work, and she plans on explaining that to Natty face-to-face, and probably with her fists, soon.

- He may have come up short in his title match, but James Ellsworth has found an advocate, and maybe an admirer, in Carmella.

- Rhyno’s probably not real happy Heath Slater took the pin which got them eliminated from the tag title match last Tuesday.

- His legacy might not be defined by WrestleMania any longer, but Undertaker’s next appearance is going to be on Raw.

Four weeks until Royal Rumble!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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