I haven’t made a habit of watching SmackDown since I started reviewing Raw. It’s just…a lot of wrestling, you know? So ten minutes into SmackDown, two things struck me.
Firstly, a competent babyface General Manager is like manna from the heavens. Oh my goodness Paige, I’ve needed you for so long. Secondly? I haven’t heard someone on Raw get Becky Lynch’s reaction in quite some time.
Lynch talked about how annoying it was to watch someone step into her shadow – and I loved that phrase, by the way – to fight Ronda Rousey in her stead at Survivor Series. And that of course brought out the woman in question: Charlotte Flair.
Y’all, I’m so down for a return of the Genetically Superior Charlotte. I’ve been a huge fan of that mentality since her NXT days and it presents a perfect foil to the man-made Lynch. The two traded vicious barbs for a moment as Paige beamed with pride.
And back to Paige for a second; she was the fulcrum of this entire storyline, the catalyst for an entire division. Paige offered a title match to Charlotte at TLC because her passion and drive to match Becky are obvious. This time though? TLC match. Let’s get crazy.
The rest of the locker room took issue with Paige letting Charlotte cut to the front of the line, though. They aired their grievances and get this: Paige actually listened to the talent and gave them a chance to prove her wrong! I know! I can’t believe it either!
Paige booked a battle royal in the main event where the winner would join the TLC match. And for a while, I was convinced it might be Mandy Rose. She’s been talked up a lot and was clearly a focal point of the opening segment.
But no, how can you pass up Asuka when she gets the reaction she got tonight? This is SmackDown’s very best and I’m already convinced that this match should main event TLC.
Now to be fair, there’s a huge gap between these three names and the rest of the division. WWE should probably work on that. But with the Royal Rumble merely two months away, I can’t be too critical.
Straight Edge Joe
My oh my how history repeats itself.
Jeff Hardy got an awesome tribute on this show, celebrating 20 years of death-defying moments and general craziness. Or as the Hardy boys probably call it, a Tuesday.
And it was neat! The production crew rocks with these sorts of videos and the crowd was suitably engaged. I watched with a warm, fuzzy heart as Jeff completely undersold his adventure within the wrestling industry.
…But then? Joe.
Samoa Joe crashed the party and I swear to goodness that he’s the most vicious male wrestler in WWE with a microphone in his hand. Instead of celebrating Jeff’s ability to overcome his past issues and find happiness and success, Joe derided the man for his vices and mocked Hardy for his failures.
“People like you never change,” Joe? Geez!
And of course, he’s talking about Jeff’s history with alcohol and drugs. We’ve also heard every single point that Joe made before from a certain Straight Edged Savior. That version of CM Punk and this version of Samoa Joe are completely different though; while Punk was delusional and perhaps even afraid of what Hardy stood for, Joe’s just a mean ol’ dude who laughs at anyone for being “weak.”
My oh my if it isn’t effective though. I hope the matches here deliver as well as this segment did.
The Usos def. The Bar – The Big Show turned once again and this is my shocked face. The match was fun, but it was just your ordinary tag match opening affair.
Daniel Bryan don’t want none – I really dug AJ Styles’ promo tonight. He said that he understands Bryan doing something villainous to win. He can relate to that. But stomping on his face repeatedly after the match? That pissed Styles off, and Bryan’s explanation didn’t help at all.
I love how Styles took shots at Brock Lesnar, by the way. Bryan skipped out on his duties, “taking pointers” from Raw and anyone who takes shots at Raw nowadays is a good guy in my book. But that irks AJ because he made a point of not missing dates, of always being at shows. It disgusts him to lose to a man who’s acting like Bryan’s acting.
I like how straightforward this all was. I also love how well AJ Styles displays disgust. He’s really great at that.
The Miz and Shane McMahon’s love child – The Miz is killing it. After picking a fight with the New Day – and losing – he immediately confronted Shane to ask why he was no help. I couldn’t help but giggle when Miz shoved that Best in the World trophy at a bewildered Shane.
Nakamura ambushes Rusev – Okay, this isn’t it. If Paige is supposed to be a babyface GM, this sort of stuff needs to be nipped in the bud. And frankly? Nakamura and Rusev are too good for this sort of stuff. I don’t think this sort of stuff really engages the crowd.
The…Colleague Killer? – Not sure how I feel about Randy Orton at the moment. Is he going through a mid-life crisis? Trying to reclaim his Legend Killer glory days? Orton’s eerie to be sure, but I don’t think there is enough substance here to get the reaction they’re hoping for.
This was such a breath of fresh air after sloughing through Raw yesterday. There are clearly some issues, but we can work with this, folks.
Same time next week?