BECKY WINS ALONE…
Recap: The show led off with an in-ring face-to-face between Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Carmella. Carmella told Becky that she should return to her previous job as a clown, since it is the only thing she can do better than Charlotte. Becky saw through Carmella’s attempt to sow division between her and Charlotte, admitting that she wished she had Carmella one on one and that she dreamed of beating both Charlotte and Carmella, but also stating that she respected Charlotte’s ability.
Charlotte and Becky criticized Carmella’s underhanded tactics in earlier matches and stated she was reminiscent of the earlier Divas era. Carmella retorted by contrasting her beauty, body, charisma, and title to Charlotte and Becky.
Paige then came out, announcing that Charlotte and Becky would be doing what they do best tonight (wrestling) while Carmella does what she does best (talking, in this case on commentary).
Charlotte and Becky then faced Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville in a tag match. Becky wrestled the entire match herself, tapping out Mandy with the Disarm-Her.
Later backstage, Charlotte told Becky she was amazing, but that she didn’t have to do it all herself. Becky said she got carried away. The two agreed that the best woman would win on Sunday.
Evaluation: This was good. As Paige herself indicated, it put Becky in position to do what she does best (wrestling) and had Carmella doing what she does best (promos). Playing to the wrestlers’ strengths is good booking.
Becky not tagging in Charlotte was a nice touch to add some tension on Sunday.
Forecast: Enough breadcrumbs have been dropped that it would be disappointing if no one turns, or at least begins a turn, on Sunday. Despite most of the heelish hints coming from Becky thus far, it should still be Charlotte.
BRYAN VS MIZ IN THREE PARTS…
Recap: Throughout the show, a video package recapping the history of Daniel Bryan and Miz’s rivalry. Part 1 recapped their time in NXT, where Miz was assigned to be Daniel Bryan’s mentor. [This was the old NXT YouTube show, which was a competition show somewhat similar to Tough Enough.] It recapped their constant disagreements and failure to see eye-to-eye, along with Bryan’s poor performance on the show. It ended with Daniel Bryan finally making it to Raw and beating the Miz one-on-one.
Part 2 began with a quick recap of both Bryan and Miz’s title reigns, then moved to Bryan’s retirement. The segment focused on the now famous Talking Smack altercation between the two.
Part 3 recapped Daniel Bryan’s comeback and his request that Miz be traded to SmackDown.
Evaluation: This was very well done. Bryan and Miz have such a long history that the extended video recap really added to the build for Sunday. Part 1 was especially good, since so few fans likely saw NXT in its prior format.
Forecast: If Bryan hasn’t re-signed, it makes sense for him to lose here. Otherwise, a Bryan will seems likely.
CONFLICTING STORIES FROM AJ AND JOE…
Recap: Backstage, Paige approached Samoa Joe. She mentioned that Joe had declined to address the fans tonight. She told him to be a professional and not interrupt AJ’s address to the fans tonight. Joe said that Paige didn’t book the match for him to be professional, she booked it because of his killer instinct. He said he’d continue doing whatever he wanted, or maybe that he’d choose to just stay backstage.
Later, Paige also asked AJ to remain professional. AJ said he had made a promise to his wife, and he intended to keep it.
AJ came to the ring in the final segment and recounted how Joe had messed with his emotions over the past few weeks. He told a story about how his wife, Wendy, supported him in all he does and that she had asked him to promise not to lose his cool.
Samoa Joe then interrupted. Joe said he had a letter from a fan that he wished to read. The letter stated that Joe’s words about AJ as a father two weeks ago were sickening not because they were false, but because they were true. The letter said AJ never wanted kids, and maybe never even wanted a wife. The letter writer hoped that Joe wins on Sunday, so that AJ would feel what it was like to lose what he valued most, a feeling the writer had felt. Joe then revealed that the letter was signed by Wendy Styles.
Evaluation: This was well done. It leaves a little suspense as to who is lying: Joe or AJ. It builds even more tension and adds another dimension to Sunday’s match.
This angle reminds me of a good 1980s angle, of the type we would’ve seen on a Crockett show.
Forecast: I don’t see AJ turning heel, so I presume Joe will be revealed as the liar.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – SMACKDOWN 8/7: Orton Continues to Roll, Charlotte & Becky are Tense, New Day Advances