Date: December 18, 2018
Location: Save Mart Center, Fresno, California
Commentators: Tom Phillips, David Otunga, Corey Graves
The big story coming out of last night was the huge shakeup with the McMahons taking over the company again. This presents the question of what that means for Smackdown, which could be a few different things. The main story coming out of TLC is Asuka as the new Women’s Champion, which is likely setting up a big title match at the Royal Rumble. Let’s get to it.
Shane McMahon gives a speech to the locker room, recapping what happened last night and saying they owe this to the WWE Universe. Everyone needs to go for the brass ring and they’re all accountable. Paige is officially out as GM, but will still have a role on the show. Well thank goodness for that. Why would we want someone young, fresh and talented in the roll when we could have an old guy instead?
Here’s a ticked off Becky Lynch to open things up. She’s not cool with meetings so it doesn’t matter what Shane said. It doesn’t matter who is running the show because it’s all about someone delivering Ronda Rousey to her right now. She didn’t come this far to have a ladder turned over so it’s time to fight. This brings out Charlotte instead, to say that Becky can take a number. Say perhaps the number two, because she’s in line behind Charlotte to get at Ronda. Becky says the days of pretending to be behind Charlotte are over, but Charlotte thinks the days of Becky looking up at her will be then, now and forever.
Cue Asuka to say forget Ronda because she’s the champion. Becky and Charlotte call her a paper champion but here’s Vince McMahon for a very rare Smackdown appearance. Vince doesn’t want to hear complaints because anything goes in a TLC match, including Rousey interfering. As for tonight, Asuka is defending her title against….someone to be named and here’s Naomi to interrupt, with Vince getting in some dancing of course. We’ll have that title match right now.
Women’s Title: Asuka vs. Naomi
Naomi is challenging with Becky and Charlotte at ringside. They fight over a wristlock to start as the announcers recap the elimination of automatic rematches. Naomi takes her down and gets in a kick to the back until Asuka grabs an armbar to slow things down. The armbar goes on in the corner as well but Asuka takes too long yelling at Becky and Charlotte.
That’s enough for Naomi to get in a super Russian legsweep and we take a break. Back with both of them on the floor and Naomi hitting a spinning kick to the face from the barricade. Naomi takes it back inside for a bunch of kicks but the split legged moonsault hits knees. The Asuka Lock is broken up so Asuka pulls her back, only to get rolled up for two. The Rear View gets two but another Asuka Lock retains the title at 12:30.
Rating: C. There wasn’t any drama here but that wasn’t what they were going for. The point of this was to give Asuka a win over someone who has some credibility and that’s what they did well enough. The question now is who gets the Royal Rumble shot and ultimately the Wrestlemania shot, which is what really matters most.
Post match Asuka stares down Charlotte and Becky.
Miz knocks on the McMahon’s door and gets Vince instead of Shane. After making fun of Miz’s knock, Miz pitches his tag team with Shane to Vince. Miz actually asks for the blessing, but Vince says he doesn’t do that. Instead, Miz can go find a partner to face a team of Vince’s choosing to show how good he is.
Rusev and Lana want the US Title because Rusev is a hunk and his beard hair can be made into blankets for orphans.
Here’s Jeff Hardy for an apology from Samoa Joe. Jeff admits that he’s made mistakes but that was then and this is now. He’s alive and well and here today and he’s very thankful for that. This brings out Joe to say this is an intervention instead of an apology. Joe knows he’s going to break again one day and go right back where he was before. Jeff says that’s never happening and thinks Joe attacks other people’s weaknesses to cover up for his own insecurities. Is it because Joe has been here for two years and hasn’t won one title? Joe charges and gets caught with a Twist of Fate. As usual, Joe brings the awesome on the mic.
Miz/Mandy Rose vs. R-Truth/Carmella
Rose is quite the surprise and Graves is pleased. Graves: “CHRISTMAS HAS COME EARLY! MR. MCMAHON IS LIKE SANTA CLAUS BUT BETTER!” Truth brags about winning Mixed Match Challenge and says they’re looking forward to this match with Miz and Maryse. Carmella headscissors Carmella down and Truth knocks Miz outside….and let’s have the DANCE BREAK. Carmella superkicks Mandy but Miz grabs the Skull Crushing Finale to pin Truth at 1:26.
We look back at Mustafa Ali from Daniel Bryan from last week. Ali is officially on Smackdown, and that’s a very good thing.
Video on the upcoming NXT stars.
Here are the Usos to say that they should get a title shot because they didn’t get pinned at TLC. Instead they get the Good Brothers, who are tired of seeing the same three teams over and over again when they haven’t been on Smackdown since August. They want a match right now and the Usos are fine with that.
Usos vs. Good Brothers
Joined in progress with Anderson holding Jimmy in a chinlock and Gallows adds a running uppercut in the corner to keep him in trouble. Some elbows to the face set up another chinlock but Jimmy fights up and gets over for the hot tag to Jey. Everything breaks down and Anderson’s running kick in the corner gets two. The Boot of Doom is broken up though and it’s a chokebomb for two on Jey.
The Usos make back to back blind tags and it’s Jimmy clotheslining Gallows to the floor. Jey’s running dive is countered with a kick to the head and we take a break with Jey’s leg caught in the ropes. Back with Jimmy superkicking his way to freedom but here’s the Bar. Before they can do anything though, Sanity comes in for the double DQ at 7:52.
Rating: C. Works for me. The Smackdown division has needed fresh blood for a long time now and you have these teams sitting right there with nothing to do. There’s no logical reason to not put them into the mix and see what they can do. If nothing else you get some fresh matches, which is exactly what was promised.
Post match Sanity beats both teams down and leaves. The Bar does exactly the same and poses with the titles.
Shinsuke Nakamura isn’t scared of Rusev, and we see a video of his sillier moments on Total Divas, including grilling naked and dressing up like a clown, showing more personality than pretty much any of the women on the show.
Next week: MizTV with Shane McMahon, Rusev gets his US Title shot and Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe.
New Day tells us to watch their end of the year special tomorrow night.
Here’s Daniel Bryan for a chat before his tag match. Bryan says he killed the YES Movement and tore down the house that AJ Styles built. After all that though, the people, including these here in Fresno, California, are wrecking the planet. Fresno ranks #1 in California in pollution. That means SHAME, and a quote from Isaac Asimov about educating yourself being the most important kind of education. The people here are too stupid to learn that, but he’s here to teach them.
Mustafa Ali/AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan/Andrade Cien Almas
Joined in progress with Bryan tagging out so Ali can elbow Styles in the head for two. AJ is right back with the drop down into the dropkick and it’s off to Ali for a dropkick of his own. Bryan comes in for the kicks to the chest in the corner and an abdominal stretch to keep Ali in trouble. The rolling X Factor sends Bryan outside but Almas and Zelina Vega are there with the tranquilo pose to block the dive. AJ isn’t having that though and backdrops Ali onto Bryan as we take a break.
Back with Ali having to slip out of a Liontamer but Almas comes in for a running kick to the back of the head. Bryan comes in for the YES Kicks (with Almas handling the chanting), followed by the running clothesline to keep Ali in trouble. A surfboard into a dragon sleeper makes things even worse and it’s back to Almas for more kicks. Almas turns him inside out with a clothesline but the moonsault into a moonsault hits Ali’s knees. That’s finally enough for the diving tag off to AJ and the pace picks way up.
AJ gets two off a neckbreaker and the Calf Crusher has Bryan in trouble. Almas makes a save but the hammerlock DDT is broken up with Almas being sent outside. Ali slips off the steps but manages to turn it into an acceptable enough hurricanrana. Bryan’s running knee is countered into the moonsault reverse DDT and it’s back to Ali for a tornado DDT. AJ takes out Almas with the Phenomenal Forearm….and the 054 finishes Bryan at 17:39. Ali seemed to land on Bryan fairly hard but Bryan seemed ok.
Rating: B. Well that’s how you put someone over as a new talent and Ali is a good choice. He’ shad some incredible matches on 205 Live and I’m really glad to see him get rewarded for it. If nothing else, that might give more people a reason to head over to that show. If Ali can use it to get a big boost, other people can too. Also, it makes sense to move a high flier or two up rather than leave them on 205 Live. When you have someone who can do the flying like Ali, it shows off even more as there aren’t many on the roster doing that stuff. This should get Ali a one off title shot and that’s not bad for his second match on the main roster.
Overall Rating: B-. Like I’ve said since the announcement that Vince was changing things, Smackdown didn’t really need that much of a fix. It’s a good show with solid wrestling and storytelling, so what exactly needs to be saved? They really didn’t even change that much here as it was more about putting people already on the roster on the show for once, which isn’t exactly a major shift. In other words, Smackdown is still a pretty good show and they should stay the course. Nice stuff here, including a very surprising main event result.
Asuka b. Naomi – Asuka Lock
Miz/Mandy Rose b. Carmella/R-Truth – Skull Crushing Finale to R-Truth
Good Brothers vs. Usos went to a double disqualification when Sanity interfered
AJ Styles/Mustafa Ali b. Daniel Bryan/Andrade Cien Almas – 054 to Bryan
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