WWE SmackDown is set to celebrate its 900th episode in style with a phenom, an opportunist and an Intercontinental Championship showdown.
Ahead of Sunday’s Survivor Series pay-per-view, SmackDown is going all out. The blue brand is set to welcome Undertaker and Edge. Dolph Ziggler will defend his IC crown. And two members of SmackDown’s female Survivor Series team will look to rip each other apart before joining forces against Raw.
The Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, will host the stacked go-home show.
What will Undertaker’s first WWE appearance since WrestleMania 32 lead to? Will The Showoff be able to hang on to the IC title? Will Apollo Crews be able to stop his recent skid?
News updates, analysis and the SmackDown preview on WWE.com help answer those questions before the show airs on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on the USA Network.
Big Names for a Big Show
Undertaker will invade Pennsylvania on Tuesday night.
Gone from WWE TV since defeating Shane McMahon at WrestleMania, The Deadman is set to re-emerge. Hall of Famer Edge will join him. WWE released a video hyping the two stars’ arrivals:
Edge will be hosting a "Cutting Edge" segment with AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and the rest of SmackDown’s male Survivor Series team as his guests, as the WWE.com preview noted.
This is a major opportunity to generate heat on one of the blue brand’s heels. Styles or Bray Wyatt gnashing their teeth in front of the popular retired star would make for a strong image. Edge’s spinal stenosis limits how physical such a moment could get, but suspense can be mighty powerful.
News, Potential Spoilers
Speculation is rampant about what Undertaker might be up to when he steps onto SmackDown’s stage.
There is some buzz about the possibility of his appearance setting up a future match at next year’s marquee show. Troy L. Smith of Cleveland.com wrote, "The Deadman is expected to make a monumental announcement regarding WrestleMania 33."
There has been no confirmation of that, though.
Baron Corbin could get involved in the show on Tuesday night. The knee injury that had him pulled from Survivor Series last week is not real.
Corbin worked several matches during WWE’s European tour, per the Internet Wrestling Database. It looks as if WWE had a change of heart about the PPV and wanted McMahon in rather than The Lone Wolf.
Joining The Wyatt Family has been good for Randy Orton in terms of his record. After teaming up with Wyatt and Luke Harper to take down Ambrose, Kane and James Ellsworth last week, Orton is now 3-0 in his last three bouts, per CageMatch.net.
That has given him solid momentum en route to Survivor Series.
WWE would be wise to keep Orton and The Wyatt Family looking strong heading into the PPV. This angle will work best if The Viper and Wyatt seem to be a united front for now, even if betrayal is around the corner.
Apollo Crews hasn’t been nearly as lucky as Orton.
His position on the WWE ladder has worsened in the past few weeks. Last Tuesday, Crews dropped a bout to Curt Hawkins. That’s become the norm for him on the blue brand.
Crews has won on lesser shows like Main Event, but he has now lost four consecutive matches on SmackDown, per CageMatch.net. The last time Crews won on the show was on Aug. 2, when he claimed the No. 1 contender’s spot for the IC title.
His fans are going to have remain patient. It doesn’t look like WWE has any plans for him at the moment.
Last Chance to Sell Survivor Series
The SmackDown side of the 10-on-10 clash at Survivor Series is now set. Breezango knocked off The Vaudevillains last week to earn the final spot on that squad.
What now? Rivals American Alpha and The Usos are unlikely to put away past differences. The WWE.com SmackDown preview asked whether an implosion is on the way: "Will they be able to survive long enough to compete on the one night of the year when Raw and SmackDown Live are pitted against one another for brand supremacy?"
Tension is promised for the female Survivor Series team, too.
In the midst of their feud, Nikki Bella and Carmella will be forced to team up on Sunday. Before that, they will go to battle against each other on SmackDown.
Their fellow SmackDown stars may get involved in the action. The SmackDown preview asked, "Will coach Natalya and the other members of the team look to play a part in the outcome?"
And the spotlight on the IC title will continue to shine. SmackDown will feature The Miz trying to reclaim that prize from Ziggler. The winner will face Sami Zayn at Survivor Series in another championship match.
Ziggler and The Miz have put on some of SmackDown’s best matches this year. Their rivalry has cooled since No Mercy, but they have a shot to get fans buzzing about them once more.
The Showoff is the smarter choice for the victor here.
Ziggler vs. Zayn is a more intriguing match than Zayn vs. The Miz. And we are just over a month removed from the last IC title change.
Regardless of who wins, their clash promises to be excellent. Undertaker and Edge will get all the headlines going in, but count on Ziggler and The Miz making sure they are a big part of the post-SmackDown conversation.