- Last week on Smackdown Live... It was the 900th episode of Smackdown, which means all the part-time stars were brought back! Edge hosted the Cutting Edge, with the Smackdown Men's Survivor Series Team as his guests. The Undertaker made an appearance and warned them that if they fail, they'd have to deal with the Deadman... The Miz defeated Dolph Ziggler to become the 6-time Intercontinental Champion, with a minor assist from Maryse and the Spirit Squad... 8 of the 10 Tag Teams representing Smackdown had a warm-up match against all the scrubs not good enough for a spot on the PPV... Nikki Bella and Carmella fought to a No Contest when a big brawl erupted involving the Women of Monday Night Raw... Kalisto had a tune-up match against NXT's Oney Lorcan... Alexa Bliss will be granted a rematch following the controversial finish to her Championship Match with Becky Lynch on Episode #899.
- Episode #901 of Smackdown Live is coming to us from the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, with Mauro Ranallo, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, David Otunga, and Tom Phillips sitting at ringside to cover all the action, unless otherwise noted. Advertised for tonight is a Tag Team Gauntlet Match to determine a new #1 Contender for Heath Slater and Rhyno. TLC is less than 2-weeks away, so we'll see some aggressive card building tonight.
- Shane McMahon comes out to kick things off, looking a bit roughed up from his performance at Survivor Series. He wants to give props to Team Raw for their (losing) effort. He wants to specifically thank Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt for their performance, and is disappointed that Dean Ambrose and A.J. Styles couldn't put their differences aside for one hour. Dean Ambrose interrupts and tries to make Shane see the positive side that Smackdown won, so what does anything else matter? Shane calls him out for the Shield Reunion, but Ambrose shrugs it off and welcomes team Smackdown's MVP, James Ellsworth, who is sporting a neck brace. Ambrose spills the beans that Shane has a big surprise for Ellsworth... that he's going to be offered a Smackdown Live Contract™. Shane offers Ambrose the night off, and by that he means he has to leave the building. A.J. Styles complains about Ambrose not deserving a title shot, and now Ellsworth gets a contract?! Styles calls Ellsworth a charity case. If Ellsworth wants to "earn a contract", Styles offers himself up in a Ladder Match. Ellsworth accepts, but if he wins, he not only gets a contract, but a future opportunity at the WWE World Championship. Ambrose pops up from out of nowhere, and I'm guessing this is the theme of the night.
- The Miz and Maryse are backstage for a photo shoot. Daniel Bryan interrupts. Miz says it's Miz-Giving and Bryan should congratulate him in front of everyone, but Bryan says Miz humiliated Smackdown Live with his underhanded victory over Sami Zayn at Survivor Series. Bryan reminds us that Baron Corbin ruined Smackdown's shot for taking the Cruiserweight Division, so Miz has to defend the Intercontinental Title against Kalisto. NEXT.
- Shane McMahon is backstage to show Dean Ambrose the door. Ambrose offers to bring Shane McMahon something back to eat. I don't think this is the last we'll see of Dean.
- Alexa Bliss is backstage to bother Shane McMahon about when she'll get her Championship rematch. Becky Lynch interrupts to tell Alexa that she'll get her match at TLC in two weeks. Natalya interrupts with her coach whistle (why does she still have that?!). Natalya blames Becky for what happened to Nikki Bella at Survivor Series. Long story short, Shane books Natalya vs. Becky, and Becky quotes Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" to Alexa's displeasure. Dean Ambrose shows up with a box of pizza.
- Daniel Bryan interrupts Baron Corbin walking backstage, calling him out for costing them the entire Smackdown Division and ruining tonight's Intercontinental Title Match. Actions have consequences, and tonight, Corbin gets to face a close, personal friend of his, Kane.
Breezango is the next participants. They run to the ring, and get tossed over the top rope. Mojo assists Ryder for a somersault senton as we take a break. We come back with Breeze raking the eyes of Mojo and getting nailed from the apron by Fandango. Ryder with a missile dropkick on Breeze, but the Broski Boot misses. Breezango with a double team slingshot elbow drop to eliminate the Hype Bros at 3:30. Wow, Fandango pinned someone. American Alpha is next. They run over Breeze in the aisle. Fandango hangs Gable across the top rope with a suplex. They try doing their double team spot on Gable, but it's blocked and Gable cradles Fandango for three at 4:43. The Vaudevillains are our next jobbers. Jordan press slams him into the air and Gable throws him out with a clothesline. Gotch gets caught with a double team dropkick and German Suplex for the three count at 5:05.
We're left with American Alpha vs. The Usos. There's a surprise. The Usos take their sweet time getting to the ring. Heath Slater and Rhyno (sporting mutton chops) are watching backstage. Gable and Jimmy start. Lockup and Gable avoids being trapped in the Usos corner. We return from break with Jimmy working over Jordan. Usos with a double back suplex for a near fall. Jordan avoids a Shining Wizard, so Jey slaps on a chin-lock. Methinks that was a botched spot. Jordan avoids the double suplex spot, tosses Jey to the floor, and sidesteps a dive from Jimmy. Gable with the hot tag and he unloads with rights on both Usos. Gable with a dropkick and belly-to-belly suplex to Jimmy, followed by a twisting clothesline from the top onto Jey. German Suplex with a bridge on Jimmy for two. Gable continues to fight 1-on-2 and gets sent into the post. Jey with the blind tag and a pendulum back breaker gets a near fall. Jordan gets his own blind tag, hoists Jey into the electric chair, and Gable comes off the top with the Avalanche Bulldog for a near fall, broken up by Jimmy. Jey with a Super-Kick to Jordan, but the Splash meets knees, and Jordan rolls him up for another near fall. The Usos try taking out the knee of Jordan, but Gable saves, and Grand Amplitude finishes at 14:06 (excluding two breaks). *** All for the stuff with American Alpha and the Usos. The rest was just junk to get us to the final destination.
- The celebration is short lived, as the Wyatt Family show up on the big screen to inform American Alpha that they haven't faced all the teams. Next week, Wyatt and Randy Orton are coming for American Alpha, and that match will determine the contenders for Heath Slater and Rhyno at TLC.
- Daniel Bryan is backstage with James Ellsworth to make sure he's OK with performing tonight, with his contract for Smackdown Live on the line. Dean Ambrose interrupts their lovefest, dressed up as A MOUNTIE. Daniel Bryan warns him the ramifications if Shane McMahon catches him. Wouldn't you know it, Shane walks in and yells, so Ambrose willingly offers to leave (don't be such a hoser!), but Shane decides to take the rest of the night off, instead. Ambrose has a message for Bryan to deliver to A.J. Styles: The Mountie always gets his man.
- Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder shill (and steal) merchandise.
- The Miz and Maryse interrupt Daniel Bryan's phone call. Miz wants Dolph Ziggler suspended for what he did earlier. Daniel Bryan says Ziggler is owed a rematch and makes a Championship Match for TLC. Win or Lose, this is the end of Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz, and to make sure it ends on a high note, it'll be a Ladder Match.
- Nikki Bella interrupts Carmella's phone call to call her out on allegedly attacking her from behind at Survivor Series. Carmella denies having any involvement. Carmella says she's more than willing to accept any credit when she did it, but this time, it wasn't her. Carmella says it could be anyone from the Raw roster, the E! Network, or even her own sister. They bicker until Nikki drops the bomb that it'll be her and Carmella in a No Disqualification Match. Odds are we'll know the identity of Nikki's attacker in two weeks.
Final Thoughts: TLC is taking shape, and doesn't look to be the train-wreck of a show we're used to seeing. Dean Ambrose vs. A.J. Styles has been a great program, with James Ellsworth as the unlikely entertaining wild card. We're promised what allegedly is the finale of the Dolph Ziggler/Miz program, Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton are throwing their names into the Tag Team Division and face American Alpha for the #1 Contenders spot at TLC, and we've got a few storylines in the women's division with a bit of intrigue (what are the chances of a surprise return being the person behind Nikki's attack and not the obvious conclusion that it was Natalya?). The wrestling was mostly so-so tonight, but as usual, the pushing of storylines and keeping continuity from week-to-week takes center stage.