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WWE SmackDown Live preview (Dec. 5, 2017): Paying tribute

First they’ll pay Tribute To The Troops. Then Team Blue will take care of their regular business in San Diego

The Headliners

Viewership numbers may be trending up with AJ Styles as WWE champion, but that belt hasn’t become the focal point of SmackDown’s main stories again just yet. After Styles made quick work of The Singh Brothers last Tuesday, the man he’ll face for the title at Clash of Champions - former champ Jinder Mahal - also took out Sunil and Samir. That led to a bunch of rumors about the former Bollywood Boyz status with WWE, but it didn’t earn the rivalry between The Phenomenal One and The Modern Day Maharajah as spot in the preview for tonight.

Logistically, Mahal is probably going to either be on or about to board a plan for India, where he’ll face Triple H on a Raw card in New Dehli. AJ will probably work a match at Naval Base San Diego in the afternoon.

But there’s also a story that’s been given the limelight on the blue brand since the build to Hell in a Cell. And after Sami Zayn came to Kevin Owens aid and helped KO defeat Randy Orton last Tuesday despite being banned from ringside by commissioner Shane McMahon, well... that angle is going to stay atop the card.

Look for Sami to try to weasel his way out of punishment by pointing out that while he wasn’t supposed to get involved in Owens match against The Viper, it was a no disqualification affair and he only swung that chair once the action moved to the stage, so he technically wasn’t at ringside.

Something tells us Shane won’t buy it.

With two shows set for today, and Owens dealing with some real-life bull$#!+ caused by some @$$holes online, don’t be surprised if the punishment takes the form of Orton vs. Zayn... for now. How will this storyline lead to a match at the next pay-per-view (PPV), or the even bigger one after that.

A tag match with Shane and a partner seems inevitable, but will WWE save that for Royal Rumble? We’re getting close to Clash, so they’ll have to decide soon.

The Title Scene

It was rumored to be her next program before the NXT trio of Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan invaded. Now, before Charlotte Flair again defends her Women’s championship against Natalya - someone who walked away from a showdown with The Riott Squad - The Queen will face Lana’s client and fellow legacy wrestler Tamina.

Former foes Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler learned at the start of last weekend they’d be getting a United States title shot at Baron Corbin. First up, Roode will get to try and take The Lone Wolf down a peg, settling some issues that started during a lumberjack match a few weeks back. Will The Show-Off show up, or is he still questioning his future?

Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin were not happy to learn that their loss to The New Day had earned the Positive Trio entry into a Clash of Champions Triple Threat against tag champs The Usos. With Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods set to handle their own lumberjack-related issues with Rusev and Aiden English, expect Gable and Benjamin to keep trying to find out why New Day are in the match.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Harper and Rowan bludgeoned Hype Bros right into a break-up. WWE is promising us more Bludgeon Brothers action tonight... who will be their next victims?

- Speaking of Hype Bros, with Rob Gronkowski following his buddy Mojo Rawley into cheap-shotting heeldom, Zack Ryder better look out.

- Fashion Files trip to torture porn territory is supposed to continue, but we haven’t been promised anything this week.

- The Riott Squad’s big moment last week drew mixed reviews, and possibly injured Naomi. They’re not mentioned at all in the preview for tonight...

Two weeks until Clash of Champions!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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