Assuming WWE Champion AJ Styles doesn’t lose the title to James Ellsworth on SmackDown LIVE, he will have to hold on to the belt for more than six weeks if he wants to walk into Royal Rumble 2017 — the beginning of the “Road to WrestleMania 33” — with the biggest prize in the game around his waist. After SmackDown this week, all talk of the WWE Championship will revolve around the Royal Rumble, who will get a title shot at the event, and who might win the Royal Rumble Match to challenge for the title at WrestleMania.
If the most recent WWE rumors are true — that the main event of Royal Rumble 2017 will be AJ Styles vs. The Undertaker and that The Undertaker vs. John Cena will happen at WrestleMania 33 — then the obvious answer that is Styles will definitely walk into the Alamodome as the WWE Champion. However, the foot injury that prevented him from competing on SmackDown LIVE last week wasn’t just part of the show. Due to the injury, there are concerns that The Phenomenal One may not make it to the Rumble as the “champ that runs the camp.”
However, with John Cena’s return date still set for December 26 — meaning it could end up being AJ Styles vs. John Cena at Royal Rumble 2017 — there are a few weeks left in which SmackDown LIVE must put on a show without their biggest name. After he hosted SNL over the weekend, members of the WWE Universe that count themselves as a part of the Cenation are anxious for the 15-time former world champion to return to the ring. This week, however, instead of John Cena or The Undertaker, the fans will be treated to James Ellsworth.
Of course, there’s plenty of other drama that will unfold on SmackDown LIVE this week, as noted by WWE’s official SmackDown preview. Going forward, The Wyatt Family will apparently defend the SmackDown Tag Team Championship using the “Freebird Rule,” meaning any two of the three members could defend the titles for any given match (like The New Day and the Raw Tag Team Championship). Teams like The Hype Bros and American Alpha are hinted as possible contenders for the tag titles.
Additionally, Nikki Bella will continue to search for the true perpetrator of the Survivor Series attack, The Miz will move on to his next challenger for the IC title, and comedian Gabriel Iglesias is inexplicably scheduled to make an appearance on SmackDown LIVE.
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Predicted WWE Royal Rumble 2017 Card
- Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, and 28 others TBD — Royal Rumble Match (confirmed)
- Kevin Owens (c) vs. TBD — WWE Universal Championship Match
- AJ Styles (c) vs. TBD — WWE Championship Match
WWE Royal Rumble 2017 will be the next PPV featuring stars from SmackDown Live. Aside from Goldberg and Brock Lesnar entering the Royal Rumble Match, very few details have been confirmed for the event. Royal Rumble 2017 will air live on Sunday, January 29, from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. As more information is confirmed, it will be updated at WWE’s official Royal Rumble preview page.
Where To Watch WWE SmackDown LIVE
WWE SmackDown LIVE airs Tuesdays on the USA Network at 8/7c. Replays of WWE SmackDown aren’t made available on the WWE Network until several weeks after the original air date. However, a replay of SmackDown LIVE is available to stream on-demand Wednesdays via Hulu. WWE Talking Smack begins at 10:45/9:45c on the WWE Network and is immediately made available to stream on-demand.
[Featured Image by WWE]