Date: December 4, 2018
Location: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
We’re coming up on TLC and the big story, and pretty easily the real main event of the show, is coming from Smackdown. That would of course be the women’s triple threat, though odds are we’re going to be stuck watching Baron Corbin and Braun Strowman close things out at the pay per view. Hopefully we get a nice show tonight though as this has been a heck of a build towards the women’s triple threat, especially now that Becky is cleared. Let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of last week, with the TLC match being set up and Asuka being added after winning a battle royal.
Ladders surround the ring and it’s Paige at a table to host the contract signing. Paige mentioned making history so Becky says it must be Tuesday because that’s what she does every time she gets in the ring. She doesn’t care what happens at TLC because she plans to win and doesn’t care what happens to these two dopes. Charlotte doesn’t like Becky implying that she was handed a title shot because she beat up Ronda Rousey on her own. Then it took Nia Jax one time to knock Becky onto the shelf so Charlotte won’t have any trouble.
Asuka cuts off the argument and says Becky has never beaten her so she’ll beat Becky at TLC. They all yell at each other (as WWE women tend to do when they’re in large groups) but Becky says neither of them can beat her and signs. That’s it for Becky, which Charlotte says is appropriate because Becky is all talk these days. Charlotte promises to win too and signs as well. Asuka wants a fight right now but cue Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville to cut them off. They promise to beat up Asuka and Charlotte the first chance they get so Paige makes the match for later. Why not just do it now?
Miz isn’t pleased with Shane McMahon putting Daniel Bryan on MizTV tonight and asks why Shane doesn’t want to be his partner in the greatest tag team in the world. Shane tells him to worry about getting the answers out of the new Daniel Bryan. Miz agrees, but says after this, Shane owes him one. That’s not happening, so Miz covers the Best in the World’s trophy’s handles so it won’t hear them fight. WHY IS THIS A THING???
Asuka/Charlotte vs. Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville
Ok this makes more sense. Asuka kicks Sonya down to start but Mandy comes in for some double knees to the ribs. Charlotte comes in a few seconds later and throws Mandy around with ease, including a t-bone suplex. Sonya gets one as well and a slingshot dive takes them both down. Cue Becky again and we take a break.
Back with Mandy working on Asuka again and hitting a jumping knee to the face for two. Asuka hits something like a bulldog and that’s enough for the hot tag off to Charlotte. A spear cuts Sonya down and Mandy gets tossed out to the floor. Asuka cuts Mandy off again and Charlotte kicks Asuka in the face by mistake. Charlotte grabs a rollup so Asuka kicks her in the face (with far less accident), leaving Sonya to get a rollup pin at 10:24.
Rating: C-. This was all about the angle advancement and that’s fine. It’s not like Sonya did anything of her own to get the fall and Charlotte has a big reason to go after Asuka again. Becky smiling at the whole thing made it even better, as they’ve somehow advanced five women in the span of about half an hour. Take that Raw.
Jon Stewart is here.
Xavier Woods vs. Cesaro vs. Jey Uso
One fall to a finish and everyone is at ringside. New Day has their own commentary table again as Cesaro is sent to the floor for some consultation with Sheamus. Woods flips out of a belly to back suplex but misses a discus forearm. An exchange of rollups get two each and we take an early break. Back (after Cesaro wrecked the pancake table during the commercial) with Cesaro in control but getting thrown outside to put him in trouble again. Everything breaks down and all three head outside with Woods hitting a tornado DDT off the apron to drop Jey.
Woods gets two off a faceplant to Cesaro and the top rope elbow drop is good for the same with Jey making a save the second time around. Cesaro rolls outside again and it’s Woods getting the better of a slugout with Jey. They trade running forearms but Cesaro comes back in and swings Jey….with Woods on his shoulders in a fireman’s carry at the same time. THAT! ISN’T! NORMAL! Anyway the Sharpshooter to Woods is broken up and a superkick finishes Cesaro at 9:00.
Rating: C+. This was more energetic than most triple threats but that’s not shocking given who was in there. That being said, can we just stop and marvel at how strong Cesaro really is? I mean DANG that was impressive as he carried one person and swung the other one around. Those are adult men and he did it with ease. That’s just scary, other worlds of strength.
Everyone glares at everyone after the match.
Rusev and Lana aren’t cool with Shinsuke Nakamura attacking him before their match last week. Rusev thinks Nakamura is scared because his biceps are like Mt. Fuji and his traps are like tacos supreme. He’s hungry for his US Title, which Nakamura holds like a toy. It means something to Rusev, so when he gets his hands on Nakamura, it’s time for a Rusev Day feast. That’s one of the better Rusev promos I’ve heard in a long time.
Lars Sullivan video.
It’s time for MizTV but hang on because we need R-Truth and Carmella for a dance break. Miz’s guest tonight is Daniel Bryan, who has been on the show several times but never as WWE Champion. Miz says that Bryan’s comments last week were proof that Miz was right all along. Bryan says he came to the realization that he doesn’t care about the people and he’s allowed his dreams to take control. He doesn’t have a lot of intellectual peers to discuss this with (Miz included) but he can consult great minds of history in his books. Men like Alexander Hamilton for instance.
Bryan calls the fans fickle for chanting YES because they’re sheep who regurgitate things from twenty years ago for reasons they don’t know. Anyway, Bryan talks about the abilities of the old Bryan being mixed with the mentality of the new Bryan. Miz thinks that sounds like EXACTLY WHAT HE TOLD BRYAN FOR YEARS. Bryan talks about doing one bad thing to one man while all these people do horrible things to harm the planet every single day. They drink from their plastic water bottles and eat their processed meat that releases methane into the air and causes permanent changes to the climate.
All he did was kick one man in the groin and he’s the bad guy? Bryan tells us to count the sins and Miz is confused. Miz: “Did you think I brought you out here to talk about Alexander Hamilton, methane gas and water bottles?” He’s not cool with Bryan not admitting that he was right and wants a simple answer: was he right nor not? Bryan finally says yes….and then no….and then yes and no again over and over.
It really doesn’t matter either way, because the old Daniel Bryan and the YES Movement are dead. Bryan throws down the YES plates from the side of the title and holds up the title while calling the fans fickle again. This brings out AJ Styles so Bryan throws Miz into him and runs off but can’t get away fast enough. Bryan tries to use Miz as a shield again and this time it works, as a Skull Crushing Finale drops AJ. This was more gold from Bryan, who is playing a great heel. That’s very impressive given how big he was as a good guy.
Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton
In an inset promo, Orton talks to Rey Mysterio’s mask and promises to crush another roach tonight in the form of Jeff. They head outside to start with Hardy dropping him onto the announcers’ table and we take an early break. Back with Jeff fighting out of a chinlock and hitting some of his usuals, including the basement dropkick for two. An early Twist of Fate attempt is broken up and Orton nails the hanging DDT. The RKO is blocked though and Jeff hits his swinging clothesline drop.
Hardy takes too much time getting up top and Orton punches him in the face but the superplex is escaped. Instead Jeff drops him onto the turnbuckle and hits the Twisting Stunner. It’s too early for the Swanton so Jeff settles for the dropkick through the ropes. Orton gets dropped onto the announcers’ table again and Jeff goes up but here’s Samoa Joe on screen at a bar. Joe offers some people one more round and the distraction lets Orton hit the RKO for the pin at 9:06.
Rating: B-. It wasn’t a question of whether or not Joe would interfere but rather when/how he would do so. The wrestling was fine as they know each other very well and showed that with a lot of the counters. Orton did that in his feud with Christian and it was as good there as it was here. Also, well done on having Jeff control here. There’s no point in having Joe face him if he’s getting destroyed in every match leading up to their pay per view match.
Post match Joe says he’s here to warn you about the dangers of excess. You can choose to have a few drinks and wake up just fine, or you can have fourteen of them and wake up in jail, if you wake up at all. The choice is clear: drink responsibly.
Next week: the Bar vs. the Usos in a rap battle and Charlotte vs. Asuka.
Daniel Bryan is still here and says he didn’t run. He does everything with a purpose, like now when he goes to do commentary.
AJ Styles vs. The Miz
Miz grabs a headlock to start as Bryan talks about how the fans wanted him to come back but weren’t willing to put in the work with him on the way. Saxton reads some comments from hurt fans and Bryan calls them idiots. AJ gets two off a slingshot splash (Bryan: “I could do that.”) as Bryan wishes that his daughter kicks thousands of men in the groin, including Saxton.
The reverse chinlock goes on to put AJ in some trouble so Bryan calmly goes off about ruining the environment. Saxton continues to come off as the lamest commentator ever, again asking about Bryan’s new attitude and getting laughed off. AJ gets dropped to the floor and we take a break.
Back with both guys down and Saxton again trying to question Bryan, who cuts him down with ease. AJ hits a running clothesline in the corner and gets two off the fireman’s carry backbreaker. The Skull Crushing Finale is countered so Miz gets two off a DDT instead. AJ sends him outside for the slingshot forearm but Bryan gets up for a distraction, allowing Miz to send AJ into the steps. That and the Finale are good for two back inside and that should be about it for Miz. Bryan grabs AJ’s leg so Miz charges, only to get caught in the Calf Crusher to make him tap at 13:02.
Rating: C+. This was much more about Bryan, though as awesome as he was, he made me want to strangle Saxton all the more. He’s just so annoying and comes off like a child in an adult’s world. Anyway the match was fine and helped advance AJ vs. Bryan, which is exactly the point of what they were doing here.
Post match Bryan goes after AJ’s leg with a chop block and wraps it around the post. Bryan puts on a heel hook until referees break it up so he settles for a kick to the head. The multiple stomps to AJ’s head have Bryan doing a victory lap, only to come back for even more stomping. Bryan insists on being announced as the NEW Daniel Bryan and then rants about the fans being fickle. One more chop block ends the show.
Overall Rating: B. How can this show be made by the same company that makes Raw? Smackdown hasn’t been incredible TV or anything lately, but it’s running laps around Raw and not even thinking twice about it. For one thing, just look at how much better it is when your GM is on TV ONCE instead of nearly a dozen times (even though Paige is better in just about every aspect). This show is more entertaining, has better wrestling, better storytelling (there wasn’t a thing on here where I didn’t see a point) and just….everything is better.
For some more specifics, Bryan is nailing it as the heel champion and we had a good triple threat match to help set up the title match. The women’s division is especially interesting as well and the lack of Tamina isn’t hurting things at all. TLC is looking great on the blue side and that makes things a little better. I can’t get over how much better of a show this was than last night, even if that’s almost always the case these days.
Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville b. Charlotte/Asuka – Rollup to Charlotte
Jey Uso b. Cesaro and Xavier Woods – Superkick to Cesar
Randy Orton b. Jeff Hardy – RKO
AJ Styles b. The Miz – Skull Crushing Finale
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