While Raw closed out 2016 with a bit of a whimper, Smackdown Live ended the year with a bang with a very exciting and eventful show in Rosemont, Ill. Tuesday night.
WWE was in the Chicago suburb for the second night in a row, but presented products that couldn't have been more different.
Raw dragged on for more than three hours and left me wondering if anything of significance actually occurred.
Meanwhile, Smackdown Live presented only three matches, albeit all for championships, but still accomplished a lot more than its Monday night counterpart.
Before I dig into detail, here are the full match results from the Allstate Arena:
- WWE Smackdown Tag Team championship – American Alpha def. The Wyatt Family, Heath Slater/Rhyno & The Usos
- WWE Smackdown Women's championship – Alexa Bliss def. Becky Lynch
- WWE championship – AJ Styles def. Dolph Ziggler & Baron Corbin
John Cena to face Styles at Royal Rumble
Cena made his triumphant return to Smackdown Live Tuesday and it didn't take very long for him to waltz right into a championship match at the Royal Rumble.
After a stellar triple threat match in the main event, Cena's opponent for the Royal Rumble will be Styles in another chapter in a rivalry that was one of the highlights of WWE in 2016.
But before we get into what that match could mean for Smackdown Live, let's dive into Cena's return, which kicked off the show.
Cena took the microphone and said that it felt good to be back, but was sick and tired of fans and his fellow superstars saying that his best years are behind him and that he isn't fully invested in WWE anymore.
He said that although he does take time off to do outside projects, he isn't going anywhere and that he will prove to everyone that he is indeed still the man that sits atop WWE.
He then admitted that people may not like that he just waltzed into a title match, but that didn't matter to him simply because he's John Cena and everyone better recognize.
This immediately led to people speculating on social media to whether Cena was finally turning heel. I can say with a good amount of confidence that the answer to that question is no.
Cena was as close to a cocky heel that he has ever been, but it was more him just showing an edge and revealing the chip on his shoulder rather than him suddenly turning into a villain.
In his mind, he has been doubted and anyone with a competitive bone in their body is going to get upset when they are told they cannot accomplish something.
In storyline, no one is more competitive than Cena. No one works harder than Cena, so he is justified in feeling a little salty at the notion that he can't cut the mustard anymore because he's too focused on making inroads in Hollywood.
As far as the match against Styles at the Royal Rumble, it should be fantastic, just like their previous two encounters this past summer.
However, I think the outcome will be very different, as I believe Cena will finally vanquish Styles and win world title No. 16 in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
I know some people may not want to hear that, but Styles already has two one-on-one victories over Cena and pinned him a third time during a triple threat match at No Mercy. I'm not willing to bet against Cena a fourth time.
As far as Styles, losing to Cena will do him no damage. He helped his case with a stellar match Tuesday against Ziggler and Corbin. As a matter of fact all three men had great outings.
I thought the man that benefitted the most was Corbin. I have personally been a fan of Corbin's for a while, but the notion on the Internet is that Corbin isn't that capable in the ring.
I think he did more than enough Tuesday night to show that he could hold his own in a match with the likes of Styles and Ziggler.
Women's title match marred in controversy
The match between Bliss and Lynch was nothing really to write home about, but it is not what everyone was talking about after it was over.
What people were talking about was La Luchadora and what in the world happened to Bliss' right arm.
At one point of the match, a person dressed as La Luchadora ran down to the ring and was clearly lending a helping hand to Bliss. Remember, Lynch pretended to be the character last week.
When La Luchadora ran to the ring this week, it left the obvious question of who in the world was donning the mask? I saw some people say Naomi or Tamina. Personally, I have no idea, but I have a feeling we'll find out at some point in the future.
Also, what in the world happened to Bliss' arm? Lynch worked on her arm during the match to set up the disarm-her submission. Lynch even did Pentagon Jr's arm-breaker move, which looked very painful.
All of a sudden, Bliss got up holding her arm, which was bent in a direction is not supposed to be bent in. It looked like her arm was legitimately broken.
Thanks to an assist from La Luchadora, Bliss suddenly hit a DDT and pinned Lynch to retain her title and with her arm seemingly in tact.
Call me crazy, but it looked like Bliss didn't actually break her arm and that she may be double-jointed. She bent her arm in a weird way to distract the referee (can you blame him for being distracted?) so that the women dressed as La Luchadora could slam Lynch's head onto a turnbuckle the masked woman exposed earlier in the match.
Bliss denied knowing who La Luchadora was after the match saying it was either Sasha Banks or Nia Jax, which was hilarious, but her arm was perfectly fine.
The main reason why I liked is because it was something I had never seen before in wrestling. I have never seen someone use the fact they are potentially double-jointed as a finish.
We typically see a lot of the same finishes over and over again, but this one was a first.
American Alpha is the alpha team
On the surface, American Alpha toppling The Wyatt Family win the Smackdown Live Tag Team titles was a surprising move by WWE, but when you think about it, we should have saw it coming.
The reason why anyone would have been surprised by American Alpha's win was because the team hadn't done a whole lot since being drafted to the brand began back in July despite coming in with a bunch of hype.
On top of that, The Wyatt Family seemed poised to go on a dominant run as champions.
But the reason why we all should have seen this coming was because one of the titles was going to change hands Tuesday. WWE wasn't going to promote three title matches and not have one of them change hands.
Having a title switch would make the show feel significant. The prime candidate for a title switch was this one.
It became apparent later that WWE had plans for Styles to defend his title against Cena at the Royal Rumble and it isn't time for Bliss to lose just yet, so that left The Wyatt Family.
Plus, a championship loss could further the story with the trio that will lead to Randy Orton finally turning on Luke Harper and Bray Wyatt. It all makes sense when you really think about.
All of that was a recipe for American Alpha to become the first NXT Tag Team champion to go to the main roster and win tag titles.
Coincidently, Harper was the first individual to accomplish the feat, as he and Erick Rowan won the NXT Tag titles and he was technically a Smackdown Tag Team champion, as The Wyatt Family were using the famed "Freebird Rules."
History aside, Tuesday was big win for Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. Both of their respective families were at ringside and the reaction the win garnered showed that fans hadn't quite given up on them yet.
Dean Ambrose secures The Miz
A prime example of the differences in quality between Smackdown Live and Raw is the budding story between The Miz/Maryse and Ambrose/Renee Young.
On Raw, a guy (Rusev) defending the honor of his wife is vilified despite the reason for his actions being justified and noble.
On Smackdown Live, a guy defending the honor of his girlfriend is the good guy, which is the role said guy should be in.
With that out of the way, The Miz stayed in his dressing him Tuesday, which was guarded by a team of security.
A backstage interviewer attempted to interview him, but the Intercontinental champion told her to go find Young, as he was only answering questions from her.
Later in the show, Young came knocking on his door and got The Miz out of his locker room for an interview. He told his security fleet to get out of his shot and attempted to answer Young's very generic question.
Unfortunately for The Miz, there was one security guard he didn't account for and that was Ambrose. Ambrose beat up The Miz before his security team could help the champion escape.
I'm not sure why Ambrose needed to don a security shirt to get to The Miz, but the overall results made sense as a follow-up to last week.
In an effort to follow up on this week, WWE has already announced an Intercontinental title match between the two for next week.