WWE SmackDown returns tonight (Dec. 25) from Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida. This is the fallout show from the TLC pay-per-view (PPV) last Sunday.
Because this is Christmas night, and they have a lead in from the NFL, WWE is loading up this show in order to convince viewers to spend their holiday night with them. To do this, they have three title matches on the docket.
I didn’t look at the spoilers prior to writing this. In general, I try to avoid them. (You don’t have to avoid them and can check them out here.) So this is just a guess when I say I think one title is changing hands tonight.
If they’re hoping for a bigger audience with the NFL stragglers, it would make sense to give them a title change to keep their attention, maybe even open the show with it. Just one of three. So let’s look at the three title matches and see which one makes the most sense:
- Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens in a steel cage for the Universal championship
Yeah, no. This title isn’t changing hands.
But after their killer match at TLC, one where Jey Uso interfered over and over on behalf of the head of the Anoa’i Crime Family. So a cage match to help neutralize Uso while capitalizing on the chemistry these two had makes perfect sense.
Of course, the cage isn’t going to neutralize Jey Uso at all. But it’s another chance for KO to take the Universal championship from Reigns. It will be a good match between two guys who mesh well.
- Charlotte Flair & Asuka (c) vs. Bayley & Carmella vs. Bianca Belair & Sasha Banks in an elimination match for the Women’s tag team championships
There’s some chance here for a title change, but given Flair & Asuka won the titles just last Sunday, I don’t think they lose them immediately. They likely won’t hold the gold for long as they build a feud between each other for Asuka’s Raw Women’s championship. But they’ll draw this out for longer than five days.
I like the team of Bayley & Carmella, two real life friends who have never been a real team on TV. Now they’re both arrogant heels and it could be a fun pairing. Bianca Belair & Sasha Banks would make a great team too, though I think this may lead to a feud between the two for the SmackDown Women’s championship. That could be a strong program if they play it that way.
- Sami Zayn (c) vs. Big E in a lumberjack match for the Intercontinental championship
This is where I think we get the title change.
Big E already took a loss to Sami Zayn in this feud. Sure it was a cheap count out loss, but it was a loss. Finding another way to delay this will only work against the New Day member more.
Sami has done some great heel work in this feud, including his Tom Cruise-esque outburst after Big E sabotaged the Sami’s last week. After picking up a kickoff tag team pin on the IC champ at TLC, E has done what’s needed to earn a second shot. And the lumberjack stipulation should prevent the count out that Zayn has needed to win.
It’s time to really get that Big E singles push started.
The title scene:
The only title we haven’t discussed are the SmackDown tag team titles. The Street Profits defended their titles against Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode last week. There aren’t any exciting options. There’s Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler, who are now King Corbin’s lackeys. There’s Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura, my least favorite of the Cesaro tag teams. Maybe Rey Mysterio would want to pick up some tag gold with his son or future son-in-law.
Other things to keep an eye on:
- Otis picked up a win over Shinsuke Nakamura last week. Add in a kickoff tag win (alongside Chad Gable, Daniel Bryan, and Big E), the Alpha Academy is starting to pay dividends.
- Billie Kay did not win any Slammys. That’s a travesty.
What will you be looking for when SmackDown returns tonight after 8 PM ET (or after the NFL game if it runs really long) on Fox?