With this week’s SmackDown airing on Christmas Day, the episode was taped in advance on Tuesday night.
The tapings were headlined by Big E defeating Sami Zayn in a lumberjack match to win the Intercontinental Championship. Big E then celebrated with some of the lumberjacks to close the show.
This is the second time Big E has held the Intercontinental title during his career. He previously held the championship from November 2013 to May 2014.
The lumberjack stipulation was due to Zayn winning matches by countout multiple times in recent weeks. When Zayn and Big E faced off in a non-title match on SmackDown earlier this month, Zayn defeated Big E by countout. Zayn had gone under the ring during the match and Big E chased him. Big E held onto Zayn’s leg to try and stop him from beating the count, but Zayn broke out and got back into the ring to get the countout win.
Zayn vs. Big E was announced for this week’s SmackDown after Big E pinned Zayn during an eight-man tag match on Sunday’s TLC pre-show. There was also a segment on last week’s SmackDown where Big E ruined Zayn’s “first annual Sami Awards.”
Three title matches in total took place at the SmackDown tapings. Friday’s SmackDown will also feature Roman Reigns defending his Universal Championship against Kevin Owens in a steel cage match, along with Women’s Tag Team Champions Asuka & Charlotte Flair making their first title defense. The episode will air on Fox at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Like live episodes of WWE television, the SmackDown tapings included a virtual crowd on the screens of the WWE ThunderDome.