Although there wasn’t a lot of wrestling, the blue brand put on an entertaining show in which the women main evented.
Hosted in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Smackdown Live was a much needed spectacle to wash away the sour taste left in everybody’s mouth by the Monday Night Raw fiasco. With the return of WWE Women’s Champion and The Man Becky Lynch being the biggest attraction, the blue brand put on a decent show that promised an exciting TLC.
The Man Returns
The show opened with general manager Paige introducing Smackdown Women’s Champion, Becky Lynch, to the ring. The Man’s anticipated return to the squared circle was greeted with a loud roar and flurry of chants, quickly re-establishing her as the WWE’s hottest commodity. Not wasting any time, the Irish Lasskicker demanded that her bitter rival, Charlotte Flair, come down to the ring for a one-on-one tango of words. The Queen answered her former friend’s invitation, and after a series of back-and-forth barbs concerned with envy and lack of identity, Paige announced that the duo would compete for the prestigious women’s championship at TLC in a tables, ladders and chairs match.
Smackdown’s strong opening swiftly became irksome as the blue brand’s female roster interrupted the proceedings to accuse Paige of favouritism. Naomi caused the most damage by saying, “Hold up, wait a minute, let me put some glow in it”; a shameful rhyme which surely made everyone want to vomit. Apparently spineless, the general manager bowed down to the pressure and announced that the winner of a battle royal involving Asuka, Naomi, Carmella, Lana, the Iiconics, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, and Zelina Vega would be added to Becky and Charlotte’s duet.
Becky was the star of this opening segment thanks to the way she presented herself as a fighting champion and The Man. Plus, “you just went from copying your old man to the man,” was a saucy jibe that left Ric Flair’s daughter red faced.
The Usos Vs. The Bar
First match of the night was a tag team contest between The Usos and The Bar. As Cesaro and Sheamus were finishing their spectacular entrance, footage was aired of the Big Show turning face for the hundredth time by knocking the Swiss Superman out backstage. Nobody cared.
Simply put, the action was a good, standard and safe bout in which the highlight was Cesaro performing an uppercut on the suicide diving Jimmy. The Usos won after executing their trademark superkick-superfly splash finisher, making them worthy of a title match in the near future.
AJ Styles Berates Daniel Bryan
"Make sure you're at #WWETLC. And you can bring your dreams. You can bring your excuses. But most importantly, don't forget the #WWEChampionship because it belongs to ME!" - @AJStylesOrg to @WWEDanielBryan #SDLive pic.twitter.com/cuTGNCIiN3— WWE (@WWE) November 29, 2018
AJ Styles entered his home and immediately berated Daniel Bryan for his heinous actions. Disgusted by the fact his WWE Championship was stolen from him through an unlawful kick to the d*ck, Styles promised Bryan that at TLC the prestigious belt would be returning to the phenomenal one.
Styles’ delivery was fine, and the promo was direct enough to not waste anybody’s time with corny jokes that only Mr. McMahon finds funny. However, Styles accusing Bryan of being an unbecoming champion who is as lazy as Brock Lesnar felt ill-thought-out. WWE fans know that Bryan is one of the hardest working competitors behind the scenes and in the ring, and a short respite isn’t going to make them suddenly perceive him as a careless freeloader.
Shinsuke Nakamura Assaults Rusev
Easily the most divisive segment of the show, United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura was scheduled to compete with Rusev. But, just as the Bulgarian bulldozer was ripping off his shirt to treat the folk at home to his hairy chest, Nakamura assaulted him from behind and the bout was cancelled after two consecutive Kinshashas.
On one hand, this brief altercation did well at re-establishing Nakamura as a malicious, sneaky fiend who is as stylish as he is unpredictable. On the other, it made the Bulgarian brute look incredibly weak, further damaging his character that fans have already given up on.
Jeff Hardy Celebrates 20 Years With The WWE
The only bad thing about this segment was the Smackdown roster being made to stand on the ramp and applaud the charismatic enigma, Jeff Hardy, as he was greeted with a rowdy reception. Why were they there? Bar Shane McMahon, none of them got involved, and it was more than distracting seeing heels applaud a babyface, and women gawking when they had an incredibly important main event in which they surely needed to prepare themselves.
However, that aside, Jeff Hardy’s 20th anniversary celebration was the best part of the night thanks to the intrusion of the abominable Samoa Joe. Although we’ve all seen the ‘heel doesn’t like Jeff because of his frequent difficulties with drugs and alcohol’ narrative before, Joe’s delivery was sublime, and it’s impossible to not be invested due to Hardy’s status as a fan favourite.
Miz Vs. Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston’s one-on-one tussle with the Miz was a swift contest that ended with the A-Lister being hit with Trouble In Paradise. Through shenanigans involving pancakes, trumpets and Big E’s Shakira-esque hips, this was a predictably fun contest that pleased the audience.
Randy Orton Breaks Rey Mysterio
Randy Orton came down to the ring with Mysterio’s mask fitted onto his hand like a sockpuppet. The viper droned on about how he didn’t unmask the master of the 619 to disrespect his culture, but rather to embarrass and make him another victim of the RKO. Mysterio then mistakenly came down to the ring and ended up being subjected to another beating.
While it would’ve been nice for Orton to talk up the history of the mask and its Luchador importance rather than overtly dismiss it, this segment succeeded in making fans continue to despise the once youngest world heavyweight champion.
Women’s Battle Royal
It’s amazing that fans continue to care about Asuka considering how much her unconquerable persona has been soiled through countless defeats since joining the main roster. While this was the deserved main event, it was a pretty lacklustre affair thanks to being so short and deafening. The screeching hyenas also known as the Iiconics were thankfully eliminated in quick fashion by the Empress of Tomorrow, who also proceeded to eliminate the screaming coward Carmella. The action boiled down to just Asuka and Sonya Deville, with the former MMA athlete being eliminated after a brutal knee to the face.
The show finished with Asuka celebrating in front of a defiant Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair.