WWE SmackDown Results: Biggest Winners, Losers and Moments from December 12
The December 12 episode of SmackDown Live was devoted entirely to telling the stories, presenting the Superstars and hyping up the matches that will make up Sunday's Clash of Champions card. It did so spectacularly, creating drama and intrigue ahead of the show's main events.
WWE champion AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and general manager Daniel Bryan all benefited, as WWE Creative provided them material that put them in the best position to succeed and thrive.
Unfortunately, Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley learned the big blowoff to their heart-wrenching breakup a few weeks back will be relegated to a Kickoff Show fans are unlikely to remember by the time the main card starts.
Those aforementioned Superstars defined Tuesday's broadcast and helped make it one of the better episodes in recent memory—even if there was an overreliance on Superstars sitting in on commentary.
Winners: Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and the Yep! Movement
One of the best stories currently being told on WWE television is the growing dissension between SmackDown general manager Daniel Bryan and commissioner Shane McMahon, and the involvement of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in it.
McMahon did not appear on Tuesday's show but Bryan did and he made a series of decisions that injected the story with even more intrigue than it already had going for it.
First, he interrupted Owens and Zayn's occupation of SmackDown Live and institution of the so-called "Yep! Movement" and announced he would be the second guest referee for what was otherwise a rather one-dimensional and repetitive pay-per-view showdown between the heels and their opponents, Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura.
Later in the night, Bryan interjected himself in the main event between The Prizefighter and The Artist, substituting for a fallen referee. Controversy arose when he was not quick enough to count Owens' shoulders down for three, but he seemingly had no issues counting Nakamura down and awarding the bout to his fellow indy alumni.
The is-he-or-isn't-he speculation surrounding Sunday's match and Bryan's alliance with the heels has created so much more interest in the match than it otherwise would have had.
Both the writing team and the performers deserve credit for making the contest an intrigue-laden spectacle rather than a glorified SmackDown Live TV main event.
Losers: Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley
The breakout of The Hype Bros was months in the making and the execution of Mojo Rawley's heel turn was as perfect as it gets.
The social media game of both Superstars has been even better. Perhaps that is why it is so disappointing to see both Superstars wasted on the Clash of Champions Kickoff Show, the first match in their rivalry relegated to a meaningless spot on the card, while The Bludgeon Brothers are likely to obliterate Breezango on the main show.
Ryder and Rawley may not be the most dynamic Superstars on the roster, but they took their angle seriously and have played it up well beyond the squared circle.
They have earned the opportunity to show a worldwide WWE Network audience what they are capable of once the bell rings. Instead, they are relegated to a pre-show environment that is likely to see half the arena filled and a crowd significantly less hot than it would have been had they been allowed to tell their story in front of a raucous WWE Universe.
Winner: AJ Styles
Not all WWE babyfaces are complete morons, as fans found out Tuesday night.
WWE champion AJ Styles quickly sniffed out deception on the part of The Singh Brothers, recognizing Sunil and Samir were only pledging allegiance to him instead of Jinder Mahal to lure him into a false sense of security before betraying him and costing him the WWE Championship at Clash of Champions.
That is a major leap creatively considering how questionably booked most of the heroes in WWE are.
So often, they succumb to the same betrayals that have plagued good guys dating back to the height of Hulk Hogan and his schism with Randy Savage. They are booked to appear so oblivious to their surroundings that they actually look stupid when the are finally turned on.
Not Styles, though. The Phenomenal One broke from the shackles of the WWE Creative process and looked so much better for it.
Whether he can overcome Mahal and The Singh Brothers on Sunday night to retain his title is the question fans will now eagerly anticipate the answer to.