Published Dec 4 2018 By Andre Corbeil
SmackDown Live took place in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, December 4th 2018
Opening segment: Contract signing Summary: With the SmackDown Women’s title suspended above the ring, Paige introduced Asuka, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch for a TLC contract signing. Flair and Lynch argued over whether or not Flair has been handed opportunities in WWE. Asuka interrupted and said she would have beaten Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series if Lynch selected her instead of Flair. The war of words between Flair and Asuka continued even after Lynch signed her contract and left. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville then appeared. Rose said Paige has given opportunities to undeserving roster members and Deville told Asuka that her Battle Royal win was a fluke. Paige then set up a tag match between the four women.
Verdict: Just like Raw, SmackDown Live kicked off with a women’s promo segment and tag match. These back-and-forth Lynch and Flair promos are some of the best we’ve seen in WWE all year. Even Asuka’s brief one-liners were executed well and received strong reactions from the crowd. Can you believe there was a contract signing and nobody went through a table?!
Match 1: Asuka & Charlotte Flair vs. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville Summary: Asuka dominated the early stages against Sonya Deville, then Mandy Rose, before tagging in Charlotte Flair. When Flair took out both opponents at ringside and began to strut, Becky Lynch walked down the ramp with her title over her shoulder and watched the rest of the match from ringside. Rose and Deville began to turn things around against Asuka, notably when Rose landed a knee to the face. In the end, Flair knocked Asuka off the ring apron with a big boot and Asuka retaliated by kicking Flair in the face, allowing Deville to take advantage and get the 1-2-3.
Verdict: Everybody was raving about the chemistry that Asuka and Deville had in the Battle Royal last week, and they showed again here why they are both so highly rated by WWE fans. The dissension between Flair and Asuka was a good way to continue the build to TLC. Overall, this was an impressive first half-hour of the show.
Match 2: Xavier Woods vs. Cesaro vs. Jey Uso Summary: All three men looked on course to get the victory at various stages in this high-tempo match. One of the biggest moments came when Cesaro placed Xavier Woods on his back and began to swing Jey Uso around with a Cesaro Swing. Within a minute, Cesaro threw Woods out of the ring and turned around to receive a superkick to the face from Jey, who got the 1-2-3 to build some momentum for The Usos ahead of TLC.
Verdict: Given the crazy things we’ve seen in the SmackDown tag division lately (Mr. Bootyworth, Thanksgiving Food Fight etc), this was a big improvement. Cesaro’s double-swing is worth a watch. Sidenote: what has happened to The Big Show? He punched Cesaro last week, so is that it? The alliance is over? No follow-up?!
Miz TV w/Daniel Bryan Summary: The Miz was introducing Miz TV when he was interrupted by Carmella and R-Truth, who had a seven-second dance break on the stage and immediately walked to the back again. Once Miz TV began, Daniel Bryan said he does not care about fans’ opinions and reiterated that his dreams have taken control of him. Miz said he was right all along about Bryan, reminding him that he has been saying he should change his attitude and not pander to fans for the last eight years. Bryan repeatedly called the fans “fickle” and said, unlike him, who did one bad thing (kick AJ Styles in the groin) on one day, they are harming the earth every day with their use of plastic water bottles and other negative effects on climate change. When Styles interrupted, a brawl between all three men broke out and Miz stood tall by hitting a Skull Crushing Finale on Styles as Bryan walked up the ramp
Verdict: Once again, The New Daniel Bryan delivers. Some heel turn explanations leave a lot to be desired, but every word Bryan has said since his WWE title win has made total sense. While Raw has the deer-hunting Brock Lesnar as their main champion, SmackDown Live has the eco-friendly Daniel Bryan as their main champion. You don’t get a much bigger contrast in champions than that!
Match 3: Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton Summary: Jeff Hardy withstood some early offence from Randy Orton before throwing “The Viper” back-first onto the announce desk. Orton turned things around with a middle-rope DDT before he failed with two RKO attempts. Jeff took control again and climbed the top rope after lining Orton up on the announce desk. However, Samoa Joe appeared in a bar on the big screen to cause a distraction, allowing Orton to hit an RKO for the win. Joe reappeared on the screen post-match and poured himself a beer. He mocked Hardy’s substance abuse by telling fans to drink responsibly, not “have 14 drinks and wake up in jail”.
Verdict: Some might not like this storyline but I’m enjoying it so far. Fans have genuine sympathy with Hardy — they were cheering his name as he left the ring after watching Joe’s promo — and I’m interested to see where it goes from here. The match itself was okay but it’s a little underwhelming to see Orton vs. Hardy in a relatively meaningless match when they were already involved in one of the best rivalries of the year.
Match 4: AJ Styles vs. The Miz (Daniel Bryan on commentary) Summary: This was a back-and-forth match until Daniel Bryan stood out of his chair and distracted AJ Styles at ringside. The Miz threw Styles over the steel steps and hit him with a Skull Crushing Finale inside the ring, but Styles kicked out. Bryan tried to interfere when the referee had his back turned but Styles kicked him in the face. Seconds later, he made The Miz submit to the Calf Crusher. Bryan repeatedly slammed Styles’ leg against the ring post after the match. The WWE champion continued the attack at ringside before throwing Styles back into the ring, where he locked in the Heel Hook and repeatedly kicked his TLC opponent in the head. The show ended with Bryan shouting “Fickle! Fickle!” at the fans before attacking Styles again.
Verdict: The New Daniel Bryan has quickly become one of the best characters in WWE. The guy is out there wearing a plant t-shirt, discussing climate change and water bottles, quoting philosophers, and he’s the WWE champion. On paper, this probably sounds terrible. In reality, it’s incredible.
Elsewhere on the show
- Speaking backstage, Rusev mocked Shinsuke Nakamura for holding onto his United States title “like a little child”. He then said he is ready to “feast” on his rival on the greatest holiday of them all, Rusev Day.
- The Bar will face The Usos in a rap battle, hosted by The New Day, next week.
- Charlotte Flair and Asuka will go one-on-one next week.
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