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WWE SmackDown Live preview (Dec. 19, 2017): Personality clash

They probably can’t top Raw’s surprise announcement, but Team Blue will try as they come out of their own pay-per-view (PPV) and start building to Royal Rumble tonight in Newark, New Jersey.

The Headliners

And those efforts will include putting the last two matches from Clash of Champions into one six-man tag while we all wonder about the power struggle backstage, and what it means for the Road to WrestleMania... and beyond.

The official preview for tonight’s show on barely mentions General Manager Daniel Bryan and commissioner Shane McMahon, but their conflicting officiating styles in the Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s job-saving victory over Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton are the focus of the commercial for the episode that ran on Monday night:

And even if fast-counting Dan and no-counting Shane don’t factor into the rematch (which adds WWE champion AJ Styles to the good guys and keeps the man he defeated two nights ago atop the card for at least one more show), their issues will certainly be addressed throughout the evening in backstage segments... or possibly even in-ring pronouncements.

McMahon didn’t get to fire the guys who screwed him at Hell in a Cell. So could he take that out on the man who saved their jobs by handing them a victory? Since the brand split, we’ve seen his sister go through a General Manager over on Raw, but the DB/Shane team has seemed rock solid - until now. Could we hear Shane utter one of his dad’s favorite sayings in Jersey?

And, who gets their win back in the tag match? 50/50 booking usually sees these PPV rematches go the other way, but with winners and losers from Sunday on each side of Owens, Zayn and Mahal vs. Nakamura, Orton and Styles, something’s gotta give!

Perhaps more importantly, will we see AJ’s next challenger emerge from this match? All signs point to The Modern Day Maharajah moving on to something else, but keep a look out for indicators of who The Phenomenal One could face on Jan. 28 - and possibly even on April 8.

The Title Scene

After successfully defending her title against Natalya, Women’s champ Charlotte Flair is also on the lookout for new competition. Natty is teasing... not retirement, but something... but is definitely not up for another rematch. The lumberjacks ringside at Clash proved there is no shortage of heels for The Queen to rumble with... provided they’re not all in the just-announced Royal Rumble match.

Sunday didn’t feature many surprises, but the Dolph Ziggler’s United States title win was certainly one. Former champ Baron Corbin is pissed, and not just because The Show-Off being a late addition to the match put him at a disadvantage. Ziggler is planning to celebrate in Newark, but watch for The Lone Wolf to try and prove he didn’t squander another opportunity at the PPV.

Even though it was clearly Rusev Day in Boston, it was sadly not Rusev Day’s day, as The Usos retained their tag team championship. Aiden English and The Handsome One’s popularity should earn them future opportunities, but first up are Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin. The amateur standouts still believe they’re owed another title shot after winning their last one in a countout, and they’re getting the old “beat the champs to earn a match with the belts on the line” opportunity tonight.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- They also came up short in their quest to reclaim tag gold (or blue and silver, I guess), but The New Day and their holiday preparations are actually the second thing hyped in the preview. What does it mean? Probably pancake-related, with a side of pushing their Mixed Match Challenge vote.

- Now that Mojo Rawley has shown Zack Ryder, and the WWE Universe, his killer instinct, what’s next for the former Hype Bro?

- Another team asking “what next?” is Breezango. Tyler Breeze and Fandango saw their show moved to the web and the case they were pursuing end with a Bludgeoning at the hands of Harper and Rowan. Those brothers look to be on the way up, while the Fashion Police are back to looking for answers.

It’s the Clash of Champions fallout show!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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