Unlike Raw, SmackDown Live had an actual target they were working towards. With Clash of Champions on Dec. 17, 2017 and right around the corner, the blue brand was working hard to solidify that pay-per-view and ensure the pieces were in place for the show to make sense.
Randy Orton now gets to pick his partner as he goes up against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, Charlotte Flair vs Natalya has turned into a Lumberjack Match, Aiden English alongside Rusev will get a title shot at the tag champs and there's something going on with Shane McMahon that makes you think a turn is coming.
Was the show perfect? Of course not, especially when you consider the matches themselves were far inferior to what the blue brand usually offers. But, the show served a purpose. Here are your 5 Winners and 5 Losers From SmackDown Live - December 5, 2017.
We'll explain how Rusev and English became winners here in a second but with that comes the reminder that Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable lost to the same team in the New Day just last week, halting any momentum they'd built up in a major way. This edition of SmackDown Live, one that crammed in a lot of people, left these two on the outside which isn't a good sign for the future of their team.
Gable and Benjamin are probably the more deserving team to get a title shot in a tag team match but that's not what WWE decided here, a Fatal 4-Way it is.
RELATED: GABLE & BENJAMIN TAG TEAM UPDATE
Perhaps it's baffling why Rusev and English are getting the rub here against New Day (especially since Gable and Benjamin lost clean last week) but it's a welcome change that Rusev scored the upset pin. It actually gives SmackDown Live another team that people believe are formidable opponents.
The duo of Rusev and English are quite entertaining and the fans are starting to dig their schtick. Will they score the victory at Clash of Champions? We wouldn't think so, but there's just enough doubt there to make the match entertaining now.
It's next to impossible to explain why Dolph Ziggler is back in the picture with Bobby Roode. The last time we saw Ziggler he was doing a WWE.com exclusive video interview where he said he needed to rethink his career choices and his feud with Roode appeared to be done. Now, he's back and like none of that ever happened?
Even more baffling is why Ziggler is in the picture for the United States Championship. He clearly hasn't earned that spot with the number of losses he's been piling up. This all appears like lazy writing.
Zayn is an awesome heel but his intro to the show and while some might have felt the segment went long, his diatribe where he had to explain the loophole he used to be ringside, but not be ringside during Owens match last week was Zayn doing his job being the annoying, grating pain in the butt he's supposed to be.
The fact that during his tutorial, he accidentally left Owens open to an attack from Orton made the segment work and led well into McMahon announcing the main event for later that night.
This entry could go either way. The Brothers are definitely a tag team that has struck a positive nerve with the WWE Universe. They look dominant and dangerous and Harper and Rowan look revived as a pair which is good for the WWE. That continued on Tuesday. That said, their "impressive victory" came in a match that included them taking a big step down, facing less-than-quality competition.
It's fair to suggest the team can't continually run through every strong team on the roster, but this match didn't make them look nearly as impressive. It wasn't surprising that it only took a minute to dispatch of these two jobbers.
I wouldn't say that I didn't notice AJ Styles, Jinder Mahal, and others weren't at SmackDown Live this week, but considering, the show did a decent job of moving the storylines forward without two of their bigger stars.
These two are going to need to find their way back to the show however or Clash of Champions is going to feel a lot like an episode of Tuesday television. SmackDown Live can get away with this for one week but not for long. They aren't as stacked with high-profile roster guys as Raw is.
This was a boring match. There aren't really any other ways to put it, and the Tamina/Lana part of the equation is what made it boring. Neither offered any chemistry with Charlotte and Tamina did not look strong in this match at all. She's becoming one of those female characters that could be a casualty of the new flood of women's talents entering the main roster.
The only thing that saved this bout was the involvement of The Riott Squad which added a little excitement to things and made them look like a team to take seriously.
Making himself the guest referee in the main event for Clash of Champions does a lot to this bout. First, it introduces the idea that he could turn and intentionally cost Owens and Zayn the match. If that happens, it also introduces a potential clash between Daniel Bryan and McMahon that would be entertaining to watch.
There's really no reason to think that Shane-O Mac is going to call this match right down the middle. Because of that, it's much easier to get invested in the contest.
It's painful to watch how the WWE has essentially wasted Bobby Roode thus far. In two straight feuds, he's been given very little to work with and his battle with Baron Corbin feels very empty. This is likely because WWE is trying to push him as a babyface and it's a terrible idea.
Now that he's going to have to run through the same garbage with Ziggler he did the first time, this is sure to halt any momentum he may have built from Survivor Series. Roode feels like a wasted opportunity in so many ways.
Well, we guess we know who Randy Orton's mystery partner will be at Clash of Champions. While Nakamura feels like a throw-in at this point, it's better this than him not be included in the card at all.
Hopefully, WWE uses this news and includes him in some of storylines moving forward because up until now, he's been largely irrelevant. The feud has focused on Orton and mostly McMahon's beef with Owens and Zayn. WWE is going to need to give Nakamura a reason to care about this.
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