Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: The old Daniel Bryan “died,” the IIconics got murdered by Charlotte Flair, and Cesaro got hit in the face with a bunch of Thanksgiving food. Also, Shane McMahon is still the best wrestler in the world.
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Here’s this week’s Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live’s 1,006th episode for November 27, 2018.
Best: Man, I Feel Like A Woman(‘s Battle Royal)
Opening this week’s show is The Man, Becky Lynch, getting into it with a newly rage-empowered Charlotte Flair, rewriting the past couple of weeks of story development, and setting up Flair vs. Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at TLC. I would be madder about them going from “Becky Lynch chooses Charlotte and asks her to fight Ronda for her, Charlotte agrees and whips Ronda’s ass” hugging to “Becky thinks Charlotte sucks for not beating up Ronda enough and didn’t want her to wrestle in her place” promo bickering, but Lynch’s new Twitter bio makes up for a lot of it.
With the match made, the champion, challenger, and only properly functioning authority figure on the WWE main roster are interrupted by a shoulder-to-shoulder collection of Smackdown’s B-team heels. Huge -1 to Smackdown for having Mandy Rose talk for her team instead of the IIconics, but it is what it is. Mandy asks Paige why she ditched Absolution and decided to give non-stop opportunities to her old Team PCB friends, which gets back that subtracted one for referencing Actual Recent WWE History.
They get interrupted by a similar shoulder-to-shoulder collective of Smackdown babyfaces, and Naomi tries her best to get over with the crowd while they all chant “Asuka.” With ten women on her case and no Baron Corbin in sight to focus the entire first hour of Smackdown on, Paige sets up a women’s battle royal, with the winner moving on to TLC to be the third wheel in a Becky vs. Charlotte championship match.
Three good things come from this:
- a battle royal, which I almost always love, even when it’s a complete waste of time
- ASUKA getting a win and moving on to the championship match, giving us Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka for the women’s championship, a match you’d have to try really hard to not want to see
- by adding Asuka to the match, you allow Becky to lose the Smackdown Women’s Championship without actually “losing” it. That allows you to transfer the championship to Asuka or (probably more likely) Flair, which clears up a completely healed-up Man to win the women’s Royal Rumble and challenge Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women’s Championship in the main event of Wrestle goddamn Mania
Let’s hope that’s what they’re actually doing, and not, like, having Becky roll up Asuka to win the match to give Charlotte a reason to think Becky is a cowardly heel or whatever. You know they’ve at least thought about it.
Best: Mike Mizanin, Trophy Wife
My favorite development of the week is the reveal that Big E apparently carries around an 8×10 of Kairi Sane in his sparkling sleeveless ring cloak at all times, and that The Miz finally gave him a reason to display it. I just wish Miz had reached into his golden Serpentor gown and pulled out an 8×10 of Shayna Baszler to counter it.
Heel The Miz loses to the Damned Numbers Game® of The New Day and their constant interference, because they’re “advancing the sport” and using New Day House Rules, which state they can wrestle singles matches 3-on-1. It’s new and exciting! It’s also not true, they’re just a pack of goofy dorks and at least Smackdown isn’t trying to convince us you and your friend beating up once person together makes you a hero.
This all sets up one of the funniest and most existentially confusing bits of the show, in which The Miz confronts Shane McMahon about not being a good tag team partner and backing him up (even though Shane clearly doesn’t give a shit about him), then turns it into a weird plot about how he and Shane are the parents of the Best in the World blood money trophy and that its dad (Shane, I guess?) is a deadbeat.
Like the Dean Ambrose story on Raw that plays as “he’s a heel so he HATES these fans” but should play as “a broken man is further broken by his friend’s sudden leukemia diagnosis and is suddenly paranoid about getting sick himself and is self-sabotaging by lashing out at everything good in his life,” this story that plays as “Miz is delusional and Shane’s too cool for him” could/should play as, “the birth of the Miz’s daughter fundamentally changed him as a human being, and even though he’s naturally a hateful narcissist, he’s progressively more and more human, and he doesn’t know how to deal with these feelings of separation from his family every week.” He got used to Maryse being there, and then when Monroe showed up she couldn’t be there all the time, and he’s treating every accomplishment or goal like it’s fatherhood.
He’s probably just a delusional heel who should get beaten up by Shane 18 weeks in a row.
The Usos Have Pinned The Smackdown Tag Team Champions!
The best match of the night is the Usos vs. The Bar, which proves that even basic tag team wrestling with a “blank has pinned the blank champion” finish is light years better than Raw’s pee-pee poo-poo. This feels like it only happened to set up The Usos getting a tag title shot at TLC, which could’ve been skipped completely by saying “The Usos won that Survivor Series match so they get a title shot.” But I guess they don’t want to remind you about that match, other than to say it “didn’t count.” Harsh.
I think the Usos are the best guys in wrestling at mapping out the final 2-3 minutes of a tag team match. No matter how good or bad the actual match is, Usos matches almost always seem to end with something at least mildly exciting or interesting. None of those finishes being pancake based helps a lot. Frankly, I’d be happy to see the Usos take the titles at TLC and end The Bar permanently, if only to give us the empty, hopeful promise of CESARO: SINGLES STAR heading into the only time a year when WWE’s main roster creative seems to try.
Worst: Announcing A Match, Then Not Doing A Match To Set Up The Same Match
If you saw Starrcade (which basically nobody did), Rusev made the save for Rey Mysterio during an attack from The Miz and Shinsuke Nakamura, setting up a tag team match (holler holler). It also set up this United States Championship match for Rusev on Smackdown.
Instead of doing that match, Smackdown weirdly booked itself into a corner. It wants to do the match at TLC, or more likely on the TLC pre-show, but they don’t know how to build feuds without having the challenger pin the champion to set up a championship match. See also: The Usos vs. The Bar. So what they do is have Nakamura just attack Rusev before the match, causing it to be called off. And the expectation is that fans will want to see what happens when Rusev actually gets a chance to compete against Nakamura, even though we just saw Nak jump him and kick the shit out of him like it was nothing.
Eh, I’d rather see this than another 45 minutes of Constable Corbin.
Best: AJ Styles Lives In A Glass House, But Doesn’t Throw Stones
AJ Styles’ promo for his upcoming rematch with Daniel Bryan at TLC was fine, but I wanted to point out how much I love him breezing past Bryan kicking in the nuts. That’s been Styles’ entire career since going to Smackdown, from the ongoing saga of Shinsuke Nakamura vs. a Georgian nutsack to D-Bry’s low-blow championship win. Styles is like, “I GET YA DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO WIN THE TITLE, I’M MADDER ABOUT THE KICKS TO THE FACE.” Because never forget, this is how Styles won the WWE Championship in the first place back at Backlash ’16:
He’s a man who knows he’s got a certain amount of karma coming back his way.
Randy Orton Never Bothered
Randy Orton’s ongoing quest to destroy WWE’s biggest and brightest heroes from 2003 continues this week with another attack on Rey Mysterio. He explains in great Randy Orton-esque detail that he never understood the cultural significance of a luchador’s mask because he didn’t care and never bothered to learn about it, which … well, points for honesty, I guess. He just wants to embarrass and humiliate him. Now that he knows how important the mask is, he can use it as another weapon in his psychological and falling-headlock war against WWE Do-Goodery. Rey catches a chair to the throat here, which will only leave him at about 99% for a match.
My only real complaint here is that they’re clearly building up to an “if Rey loses the match, he loses his mask” stipulation, and Orton has nothing to put on the line. What’s he gonna do, shave off the landing strip on his head? He’s only got a few weeks to grow one of those John Cena anchorman hairdos so he can apuestas the luchas.
Best: Samoa Joe Remembers TNA
Finally we have the celebration for the 20th anniversary of Jeff Hardy in WWE, a place where he didn’t work from 2003-2006, and again from 2009 until 2017.
The highlight is, of course, Samoa Joe showing up to remind Jeff Hardy that he’s let down his fans as much as he’s raised them up, possibly because he also was hanging out in TNA for Victory Road 2011. It really made me wish CM Punk was still around to be Samoa Joe’s friend here.
And on another positive note, bless Smackdown Live for at least attempting to give its babyface characters some stability and edge. On Raw, every face is a loser geek. On Smackdown, you’ve got Styles acknowledging his shortcomings and throwing out challenges, Hardy standing up for himself here and challenging Joe to a fight, and Rey Mysterio at least showing up to take another ass-kicking from Orton. It’s not uniformly successful, but it beats the hell out of Finn Bálor smiling into the middle distance until it’s time for someone to beat him down, or Bayley and Sasha Banks having to go to couples therapy for getting mad at each other.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Coulda used about 5-10 more minutes of Asuka/Deville.
Tall Tyrion Lannister
ABC at TLC
The Real Birdman
Becky’ll take em both, she’s hardcore!
Baron Von Raschke
Becky gets in there, throws all of them out of the ring, grabs a mic, and says, “It just you and me, Charlotte!”
(cut to Paige with a broken hand and a TV monitor with a fist-sized hole in it after watching Rey Mysterio fight in a neck brace)
“You see, Rey wore a mask, a mask is used to hide one’s identity, and when one hides one’s identity, one hides their true heart. What I have done is help to expose Rey’s heart, but not in the surgical sense, as I am not a surgeon, and if I were to do that, that would be murder, and I am no murderer, despite what you may have heard, no I merely want Mysterio – both his heart and identity – to be open to one and all. It is then and only then will we get to know the true Rey Mysterio Jr.” – Randy Orton
Silly Graves… Philips keeps his love for Marine 6 on the low. He’s a Sub-Mariner.
Jeff: I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.
*Joe’s music plays*
Jeff: Oh, it’s pain.
Jeff Hardy is also 6ix9ine and will be going to jail.
The Saudi Prince just called Vince to ask why he didn’t send all of those Jeff Hardys to compete at Crown Jewel.
That’s it for this week’s Smackdown Live column. Make sure to drop down into the comments section to let us know what you thought of the show, and share us on social if you’re more of a Paige than a Shane McMahon.
Join us again next week for Randy Orton putting on a Psicosis mask and driving over Rey on a riding lawnmower.