WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 11/27: A.J. Styles responds to Daniel Bryan, Becky Lynch returns after “broken face,” Jeff Hardy celebrates

By Frank Peteani, PWTorch Specialist


Jeff Hardy (artist Travis Beaven © PWTorch)

WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
NOVEMBER 27, 2018
MINNEAPOLIS, MN. AT THE TARGET CENTER
AIRS ON USA NETWORK 8:00 P.M. EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST

 Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves

 Arena & Items Advertised by WWE

 For the first time in over two years, the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota will host Smackdown tonight as we continue to focus on TLC which will occur on Sunday December 16, 2018.  Ironically the Target Center played host to the last TLC event which took place in October of 2017.  That night featured WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle’s return to the ring for the first time in over 11 years and a dream match (at the time anyway) of A.J. Styles vs. Finn Balor.  That was then and tonight we focus on what is to come at this year’s final PPV event.

WWE.com is not advertising much at the moment for tonight as of this writing, however we can expect additions as the day goes on.  Here’s what they show so far:

  • A.J. Styles returns to respond to Daniel Bryan’s shocking actions
  • Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch returns
  • Jeff Hardy celebrates his 20th anniversary in WWE 

A.J. Styles’ Response to WWE Champion Daniel Bryan

A.J. Styles returns to WWE television programming to respond to WWE Champion Daniel Bryan’s recent actions.  As we recall, A.J. lost the championship to Bryan just before Survivor Series.  He was slated to face Universal Champion Brock Lesnar in a rematch from last year’s event, but due to the loss stepped aside for Bryan to take the match.

A.J. technically returned at this weekend’s Starrcade event which saw him defeat recent rival Samoa Joe in a steel cage match.

Last week Bryan explained his actions.  He spoke in the third person and said the “betrayal” began when he announced his retirement nearly three years ago in which he gave up on his dreams.  He claimed he healed by spending time in a hyperbaric chamber which enabled him to refocus.  He discussed the fans being fickle and moving on to A.J. Styles.  He said his dreams took over and “kicked A.J. in the balls.”  He claimed the old Daniel Bryan and the Yes! Movement is dead.  The video is worth viewing if you missed it.  Take a look:

Bryan will defend the WWE Championship at TLC against A.J. in their first PPV match of the year.  Their previous three matches, including two WWE Championship matches, have taken place on Smackdown.

Frank’s Analysis:  This was a great explanation by Bryan in the sense that he completely said goodbye to “good guy” Bryan and gave way to this completely different character we haven’t seen in WWE.  He has played heel before, but even then, it was just a pre-cursor to the babyface persona with which we fell in love and pushed to be in the main event of WrestleMania 30.  To be quite honest, once he won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at that event, you could sense the bloom coming off the rose.  When he returned this year it was great, but the special feeling about him wasn’t the same as it was before.  This time he appears to have gone to a completely dark and different place.  To steal a phrase from my full-time job, let’s sit back, relax, and enjoy the development of this new Daniel Bryan. 

As far as A.J. is concerned it will be interesting to see things play out.  He is currently negotiating a new deal in which he wants a reduced schedule, similar to that of Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton.  According to one article, it is possible he will work with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 35.  If this is true, he will likely not regain the WWE Championship as typically when current wrestlers work with legends at upcoming events, they tend to not hold titles.        

Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch Returns

Tonight, Smackdown Women’s Champion “The Man” Becky Lynch returns to the show for the first time since selecting Charlotte Flair as her “replacement” opponent for Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series.  As you recall Ronda defeated Charlotte via DQ when Charlotte attacked Ronda with a kendo stick.  She continued to brutalize Ronda with her signature Natural Selection onto a chair and stomping on her head with it lodged into said chair.

Last week Charlotte claimed she was proud of her actions and did it for the girls “in the locker room.”  Mostly she did it for “the champ,” meaning Becky.  Here’s the YouTube clip in case you missed it:

Becky has been quite verbal on Twitter.  She’s had exchanges with Conor McGregor, which has been acknowledged by WWE.  She’s gotten into it with NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler as well, who of course is one of the four horsewomen of MMA which includes Ronda.  Here’s just a few tweets to give you a taste of what “The Man” has been saying:

https://twitter.com/BeckyLynchWWE/status/1065752262599942144

https://twitter.com/BeckyLynchWWE/status/1065644632921513990

Frank’s Analysis:  It just keeps getting more and more exciting with Becky.  I don’t think a wrestler has been as popular and must-see since “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s rise in 1997, which I’ve talked about in previous primers.  As far as Charlotte’s promo last week it was somewhat odd in the sense that she was framed as a heel at Survivor Series based on her attack on Ronda but returned to be a babyface on Smackdown.  I’ll maintain how I felt watching in that what we saw of Charlotte was better than what we’ve seen since she was moved to Smackdown in last year’s shakeup (I refuse to call it a superstar shakeup BTW…I think a certain editor would appreciate that).  Anyway, let’s just hope WWE is not trying to make Charlotte into what Becky became following her attack on Charlotte at SummerSlam. 

There’s talk that perhaps WWE saw the reaction for Charlotte at Survivor Series and changed course figuring she’d get cheered anyway?  Perhaps that’s true, but I’m not buying.  For 13 years they have pushed characters against how the crowd felt about them (John Cena, Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan when he joined the Wyatt Family, CM Punk heel turn, and Becky recently just to name a few).  Until they frame characters in a way that works with the crowd for an extended period, they will not have my trust in that regard.

Jeff Hardy’s 20th Anniversary in WWE

Jeff Hardy celebrates his 20th anniversary in WWE tonight.  I’ll save my opinion on this for my analysis paragraph.

Jeff’s career in WWE actually began in 1994 (then WWF) as an enhancement talent and wrestled his first match against WWE Hall of Famer Razor Ramon.  Over the next few years he would work matches with the 1-2-3 Kid and Rob Van Dam.  He became a more prominent full-time talent in 1998 alongside his brother Matt where they formed the Hardy Boyz.  They would become a part of “Team Xtreme” which featured WWE HOFer Lita, the girlfriend of Matt at the time.  They won multiple tag team championship through the years not only in WWE but TNA and ROH as well.  Matt and Jeff also worked against each other through the years during Matt’s runs as a heel.

Jeff is known as the charismatic enigma and has taken many risks through the years likely at great cost to his body.  He will certainly walk into the Hall of Fame when the time comes.  He has worked with sure-fire HOFers including the Undertaker and Triple H.  He is a grand slam champion and is considered as such under the original and current formats.  In the original format you needed a primary (WWE or World), secondary (Intercontinental), a tag team (World or WWE), and tertiary championship (European or Hardcore) on your resume.  In the current format, one is recognized as such when he has held a primary (WWE or Universal), a tag team (either brand), and a secondary championship (Intercontinental or U.S.).  Here’s a list of the titles he’s won through the years:

Primary:

  • WWE Championship
  • World Heavyweight Championship

Tag Team:

  • World Tag Team Championship
  • Raw Tag Team Championship

Secondary/Tertiary:

  • Intercontinental Championship
  • U.S. Championship
  • Hardcore Championship
  • European Championship
  • Light Heavyweight Championship

Here’s a few YouTube clips to give you a sample of Jeff’s highlights through the years:

There are many more highlights you may research if you wish.  Jeff has given us many memorable moments though the years.  He has also had his struggles both with alcohol and drugs through the years and has been suspended at times by WWE.  It seems he is in a better place these days and has been a prominent figure since his return to the company at last year’s WrestleMania.  Tonight, we celebrate a long and celebrated history of one the more popular wrestlers to come along through the years.

Frank’s Analysis:  I’m happy to celebrate Jeff’s time in WWE, but he hasn’t been here for 20 years consecutively.  He’s had a few stints in ROH but most notably TNA/Impact, where he was from 2004-2006 and 2010-2017.  This is a case of revisionist’s history, which WWE likes to pull as a matter of convenience for whatever reason whether it be to try and pop a rating or remind fans that wrestling doesn’t exist outside of WWE.  Nonetheless, I’m certain we will get many highlights throughout the night and likely a promo.  Historically when WWE does these “celebrations,” it usually leads to the beginning or a continuation of a feud.  Randy Orton looks to be working with Rey Mysterio.  The Miz is doing some weird stuff with Shane McMahon.  They could revisit him working with U.S. Champion Shinsuke Nakamura or start up something with Andrade “Cien” Almas, both of whom don’t have clear feuds at the moment.     

Other Items from Last Week:

•The Miz & Shane McMahon: On Twitter last week, Shane McMahon alluded to a change coming on Smackdown.  This apparently turned out to be teaming with the Miz.  They worked their first match against the Bryant Brothers, a local enhancement team.  The Bryant Brothers won Miz was caught in a small package two minutes into the match.

How this related to Smackdown being swept at Survivor Series and some sort of change is still beyond my understanding.  It’s called sloppy and lazy writing.

•Thanksgiving Feast Fight: New Day vs. Smackdown Tag Team Champions the Bar & Big Show: New Day won the first ever Thanksgiving Feast Fight over the Bar & Big Show.  Big E stuck his hand up a turkey and there was a food fight.  Does anybody remember when pride was taken in tag team wrestling back in the days of the Hart Foundation, the British Bulldogs, Demolition, the Fabulous Rougeaus, Valentine & Beefcake, etc.?

Asuka & Naomi vs. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville: Asuka & Naomi defeated Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville when Asuka finished Sonya via tapout.  Women’s tag team wrestling continues to be established in advance of the anticipated Women’s Tag Team Championships.

Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton: In the main event of Smackdown Randy Orton defeated Rey Mysterio.  As he has done to many opponents lately, he continued to brutalize Rey after the match.  It got to the point where Randy pulled off Rey’s mask, and he walked off with it to close the show.  There looks to be a continuation of this feud, likely with a match at TLC.

WWE doesn’t acknowledge that Rey has wrestled without his mask before.  In 1999, in WCW, he and Konnan lost a “hair vs. mask” to Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.  The stipulation on Rey and Konnan’s end was if they lost, Rey would remove his mask.  He wrestled as such in WCW under they closed their doors and were purchased by WWE (then WWF) in 2001.  Here’s the match if you wish to view this piece of history:

Rey came to WWE in 2002 and wrestled with his mask during his first run which ended in 2015 and has done so since his return this year.

Start Time & Matches Advertised

The arena website shows a start time of 6:30 p.m. local with doors opening at 5:00 p.m.  They advertise a six-man tag featuring A.J. Styles, Rey Mysterio, & Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton, The Miz, and U.S. Champion Shinsuke Nakamura

They also show New Day, Charlotte, Smackdown Tag Team Champions the Bar, and Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch.


Follow me on Twitter @FrankPeteani.  My e-mail is fpeteani@gmail.com.  Questions and discussion are welcome.  Thank you for reading!

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