SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
AJ VS BRYAN MOVED UP…
Recap: The show opened with AJ Styles in the ring. He was cheered by his hometown Georgia crowd. He was soon joined in the ring by Daniel Bryan.
AJ said he wanted to apologize to Bryan, but before he could, Bryan cut him off to say no apology was necessary, as he respected him as a competitor. AJ continued, saying that before he was cut off, he was going to apologize for lying, as last week’s “accidental” kick was intentional. Bryan sarcastically acted shocked, and said he wanted to intentionally hit AJ. AJ responded by offering to move up their title match to make it immediate. Shane McMahon came out and made the match official.
The two had a solid match. The crowd was solidly behind AJ due to the match being in Georgia. AJ worked the Bryan’s leg all match and eventually won with the Calf Crusher.
After the match, the two shook hands and hugged. Samoa Joe then attacked AJ from behind. Bryan attempted to save him, but was put down with the Coquina Clutch.
Later backstage, AJ asked to fight Joe at Crown Jewel, and Paige agreed.
In another backstage segment, Joe cut a promo on AJ’s family similar to what we saw during their feud.
Evaluation: It had been widely reported that Daniel Bryan would be written off of Crown Jewel due to personal objections related to the show’s location. Moving up the title match to television was fine, as it hadn’t been built well anyway. They can do a rematch later in the year with a better build.
The location change did affect the dynamics of the match, as being in AJ’s home state of Georgia Byran was booed.
The AJ-Joe match does seem tired at this point, but on short notice it’s hard to criticize the booking.
Forecast: After Crown Jewel, WWE can build to an AJ-Bryan rematch for Survivor Series.
BECKY CHEERED OVER RONDA…
Recap: Late in the show, Becky Lynch came to the ring for a promo. The crowd popped. She wore an “I’m the Man” shirt.
Becky said she proved at Evolution that she is “The Man.”. She said that applied to both Raw and SmackDown. There was a very mild “we want Ronda” chant which Becky tried to play it up for heat, but that seemed to cause the fans to boo Ronda. Becky mocked Ronda claiming to be the baddest woman on the planet, asking to which planet she was referring. Becky said she’s traveled the world to smash people like Ronda. She said that unlike Ronda’s other competitors, she doesn’t believe herself to be beaten as soon as she steps into the ring. She then said she’d rip Ronda’s arm off at Survivor Series, threw down the mic, and left.
Evaluation: Becky was awesome on the mic as always and the fans loved it. My gauge of the crowd tonight was that Becky had more support than Ronda. We shall see if that continues.
The “I’m the Man” shirt was a great tough and a perfect dig at the Flair family.
Forecast: I imagine WWE will want to protect Ronda as a “special attraction,” and that she’ll therefore win at Survivor Series. On a personal level, I find this unfortunate, as readers of this column are probably aware that I find Ronda Rousey’s character weird, off-putting, and nowhere near Becky’s level.
At a minimum, WWE should not be expecting the crowd to overwhelmingly back Ronda during the match.
SHANE TO FIRE A SMACKDOWN WRESTLER?
Recap: During hour 2, Shane McMahon met with all of the SmackDown World Cup entrants backstage. As they argued about who would win, Shane complimented their intensity. Shane said he couldn’t have his sister claim to be the best in the world, so if the winner of the SmackDown bracket were to lose to the winner of the Raw bracket, they’d be fired.
In the main event, the Miz and Randy Orton faced Jeff Hardy and Rey Mysterio. Jeff won with a Swanton to Miz. After the match, Randy Orton took out all three of the other competitors with RKOs.
Evaluation: Threatening to fire the winner of the SmackDown bracket seems weird, as it creates a disincentive to win the SmackDown bracket. I suppose we are supposed to believe that winning the World Cup is prestigious to the point that these guys would be willing to take that risk.
Randy hitting everyone with RKOs after the match was very predictable.
Forecast: This may take some of the drama away from the finals, as I would assume that if Rey Mysterio or Randy Orton were to make the finals, for example, he’d be unlikely to lose (even if the fired party would be later signed by Raw).
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – SMACKDOWN 10/23: Becky Attacks, AJ & Bryan Bicker, Shane Acts as a Canary