THE TEMPTATION OF BRYAN…
Recap: The show began by teasing a MizTV segment, but when the cameras went to the ring the audience learned that they’d instead be watching “Truth TV,” hosted by R-Truth and Carmella. Carmella introduced Daniel Bryan as the show’s first guest.
Truth led by asking Bryan if defeating Miz in Australia would be cathartic. Before Bryan could answer, however, Carmella informed him that it “was time.” This led to Truth introducing a “7 second dance break,” where Truth and Carmella danced to music before the talk show format resumed.
Bryan clearly enjoyed the antics, and after a joke regarding whether or not Truth knew the definition of the word “catharsis,” agreed that it would be cathartic.
Miz then interrupted. Truth told Miz that when he beat him the other week, he would’ve taken his title if he had one, but since he didn’t have a title, he took the show instead.
Miz was dismissive to Truth’s comments and addressed Bryan instead. He said that Bryan was a scrappy, relatable underdog, but that he could never beat Miz because he always fought fair. Miz said that unlike Bryan, he would do anything to win, and that Bryan would lose in Australia because he was too proud to do cheat to win. He said Bryan would never cheat because not only would he let the fans down, but he would tarnish his name.
Truth the blamed Miz for running over time and causing cancellation of his animal segment. He banned Miz from the show for life. When Miz was angered by this, Truth told him they could have a match for the show. He then broke for a second dance break. This led Miz to head backstage and plead with Paige to get his show back.
Paige informed Miz that if he wanted his show back, he’d have to fight for it as Truth suggested.
After a commercial break, the match between Truth and Miz began. On commentary, Bryan admitted that Miz had become a better wrestler, but still criticized him for not turning over his hip on his “It Kicks.” Miz defeated Truth after an eye poke and Skull Crushing Finale by emulating Bryan’s “Yes” hand gestures and finishing Truth with Bryan’s flying knee.
Evaluation: Several weeks ago I commented that Carmella’s face persona when pairing with R-Truth would likely be isolated to Mixed Match Challenge since WWE treats that show as a separate universe. I was clearly wrong, as Carmella is a full babyface at this point. The change in her hair color from blonde to dark provides a clear visual break to go along with the persona change.
The Truth TV segment was good overall, if not just a bit too cheesy. Everyone involved seemed to be having a good time with it. It was reminiscent of many 1970s shows where boozy celebrities would tease each other and crack each other up.
WWE deserves credit for running with R-Truth while he’s been getting pops from the crowd. This is a good role for him, and it made sense to take advantage of him now while the crowds are hot for him, as this gimmick is one that will likely run hot but burn out fast. In the ring, he looks good, especially for his age.
Bryan’s criticism of Miz’s It Kicks as being weak due to not turning over the hip was ironic considering his wife knocked someone out with the move last night.
The story they’re telling where Miz is exploiting Bryan’s reluctance to cheat in a match is solid pro wrestling booking. It allows for a classic story where the hero is tempted to abandon his morals to achieve a just end.
Forecast: During the match in Australia, hopefully they tell a story where Miz cheats and Bryan is repeatedly tempted to take shortcuts because it appears he’ll lose otherwise, but ultimately finds a way to win cleanly through shear grit.
AIDEN TEASES EVIDENCE…
Recap: At the top of the second hour, Rusev and Lana came to the ring to confront Aiden English. Aiden addressed them from the stage. Aiden claimed that Rusev previously lacked direction, but when he joined Aiden his fortunes turned. Aiden played a video package of Rusev’s successes with Aiden by his side before Lana came to SmackDown.
He then claimed that Lana was the reason for the more recent failures of the group. He showed then showed a Rusev lowlights video where Lana was prominently featured.
In the ring, Rusev disagreed with Aiden’s evaluation. Lana then took the mic and took credit for much of Rusev’s success, reminding the crowd that she obtained the tank which he rode into WrestleMania. She called Aiden a glorified cheerleader trying to make a name for himself at the expense of Rusev.
Aiden responded by asking that if Lana is so honest and loyal, why didn’t she tell Rusev about the “one night in Milwaukee?” Aiden then dropped the mic and left.
Backstage, Lana asked Rusev if he believed her. He said he did, but asked why Aiden specifically brought up Milwaukee. Becky Lynch then interjected, saying that Milwaukee is a fun town. Lana told her to mind her own business. Becky responded that if Lana weren’t careful, she’d end up like Charlotte Flair. [Becky had taken out Charlotte during a photo shoot earlier in the day.] Becky then said “Milwaukee, eh” as she shot Lana a look and walked off. Rusev then asked Lana the last time they were in Milwaukee. Lana got angry and walked off.
We were later told by the announce team that Becky had referred to Lana as discrediting the women’s division, and that a match between the two had been set. In the match, Becky defeated Lana.
Backstage after the match, Aiden told an interviewer that he would be presenting evidence next week.
Evaluation: Tonight added a new twist to the breakup storyline. I liked it, since I originally expected it to be a quick and predictable angle from here on.
Becky’s sly references to Mikwaukee being “fun” and the look she shot at Lana were great.
Forecast: There are a lot of ways this could go next week, but no matter what the alleged scandal, I presume Aiden’s video evidence will be somewhat inconclusive in order to continue the mystery.
JOE STALKS AJ’S FAMILY
Recap: In the main event, Paige came to the ring for the contract signing between AJ Styles and Samoa Joe. She called AJ to the ring, and he appeared. She then called Joe, however he did not come to the ring.
Joe appeared on the TitanTron via cell phone video. He said that one thing he liked about his job was traveling to exotic places. He then panned the camera so that the crowd could see his current location: AJ’s house. [The camera revealed “STYLES” on the mailbox.]
AJ was angry at first, but soon began to plead with Joe not to do anything stupid as Joe made his way to the front door. Joe held up a doll and said it was a gift for his daughter. Joe asked AJ if he was paralyzed and falling to pieces. He said that would be good, as that’s how he’d feel losing the title in Australia. Joe then rang the doorbell and said “Daddy’s home” as the show ended.
Evaluation: Tonight further upped the ante on the storyline between Joe and AJ’s family. Ending with the doorbell ring was creepy (in a good way) and builds suspense for next week to see what happens. This was a good segment.
Forecast: After Hell in a Cell, there needs to be a totally clean finish in Australia. I’m honestly 50/50 as to the winner. Assuming Bryan beats Miz to become Number Once Contender, either Joe or AJ works well as an opponent.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – SMACKDOWN 9/18: Miz & Bryan Lose the Wives, No Longer Rusev Day, Becky Gets the Title