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KELLER’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT
DECEMBER 4, 2018
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Tonight after WWE Smackdown, join me live with guest cohost Greg Parks from the PWTorch Livecast and PWTorch Newsletter to break down the show with live callers, an on-site correspondent, and the mailbag.
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-A video package aired on last week’s developments with the Smackdown Women’s Title situation setting up the Triple Threat match at TLC.
-Paige stood mid-ring with the belt hanging over her head. She talked about the TLC stips in the match. She introduced Asuka who then made her ring entrance. Then she introduced Charlotte Flair. Graves said what Charlotte showed at Survivor Series could be what leads to her becoming Smackdown Champion again. Saxton said Charlotte rediscovered who she truly is. Then Becky came out to the biggest cheers of all three. (The camera angles on this show suggest sparse attendance.) She said she plans to make history at TLC. She said dealing with tables, ladders, or chairs is nothing compared to what she’s gone through to get to where she is. She said it doesn’t matter to her whether her opportunity was earned or they are hurt. She said she will do anything it takes to win, “and I can’t really say the same thing to you two.”
Charlotte took the mic. “Woos” broke out. Charlotte said it’s the same song every week that she was handed an opportunity. She told Becky to spin the story however she wants to sleep better at night. She said she destroyed Ronda Rousey with one kendo stick at Survivor Series, and it took Nia Jax one punch to bust her face open. Becky tried to retort. Charlotte said she wasn’t done and told her to shut her mouth again. She told her to imagine what she’ll do to her at TLC. Becky said she will own Charlotte. Asuka interrupted. Asuka told Charlotte that Becky already beat her, but she never beat her. She said she’d have beaten Rousey if she was chosen to replace her at Survivor Series. She vowed to beat Becky at TLC. Charlotte asked if she thinks she can really beat Rousey. Charlotte said she beat her at WrestleMania and broke her winning streak. Asuka said she got lucky one time, that’s all. Charlotte said she doesn’t need luck when she’s as good as she is. Becky said neither of them can beat Rousey or her. Becky signed the contract and slid out of the ring and marched to the back.
Charlotte said Becky is leaving because she’s all talk these days. When Charlotte said she’ll beat Becky and beat Asuka again and let out a “woo,” Asuka snapped back in Japanese. Charlotte plugged her ears, then said she already shattered her mystique at WrestleMania. She said TLC is where she finishes her. Paige asked them to sign the contract because “this is a contract signing.” Asuka said, “How about I break you right now!?”
Suddenly Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville came out. Corey Graves chuckled excitedly and said, “This is too good to be true.” Mandy said those two women are undeserving and accused Paige of “grooming them for stardom.” She said Charlotte lost at Survivor Series. Deville said Asuka only won the battle royal by a fluke because she dominated everyone in that match and just made one small mistake. She told her to look her in the eyes and then said that won’t happen again. Mandy said she’s driven to action by her words. She said they have fire and desire. Mandy asked what happens if Charlotte and Asuka don’t make it to TLC. Paige booked them against each other “right now.” (Who saw that coming!?!… Oh, everyone?)
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s still difficult to tell if they’re trying to frame Becky as a heel. I sure hope not, and I don’t think so. That said, though, if Becky weren’t so likable and popular, in isolation her role in that segment was basically what a heel would say and do. Charlotte looked strong standing her ground. Asuka was quirky, but in a way that didn’t diminish her.) [c]
-Backstage Shane McMahon and The Miz stood in front of the Best in the World Trophy. Miz said they were born to be the best tag team in the world. Shane said they’re not partners. Shane said Miz needs to use his skills to get the truth out of “The New Daniel Bryan.” Miz scoffed at Shane saying he doesn’t owe Miz anything. “Not in front of the trophy,” he said. Shane rolled his eyes at him.
(Keller’s Analysis: Uh, okay. Not that Miz has been a serious main event level character, but this seems too corny even for him. The two just hanging out by the trophy is also just ridiculous looking. Is that what Shane does not? Just stands around admiring his Best in the World Trophy?)
(1) ASUKA & CHARLOTTE vs. SONYA DEVILLE & MANDY ROSE
Graves said Sonya assured him that she and Mandy are on great terms and there are no issues between them. Charlotte rallied a couple minutes in, diving over the top rope onto both opponents at ringside. She strutted and pointed at Asuka. Then out walked Becky. They cut to a break. [c]
On split screen during the break Asuka took it to Mandy. Then Deville tagged in and took over on Asuka. The heels tagged in and out against Asuka and isolated her in their corner after the commercial break ended. Becky watched from ringside. Grave complimented Mandy and Sonya for backing up their words so far. Asuka eventually hot-tagged in Charlotte who went to work on Sonya and also knocked Mandy off the ring apron with a chop. “That was unnecessary,” said Graves. Charlotte speared Ronda and then had to fend off Rose interfering. She threw Rose out of the ring, then turned back to Sonya. Mandy climbed back onto the ring apron and punched Charlotte. Asuka yanked her down and then stood on the ring apron herself. Charlotte turned around and kicked where she thought Rose was, but kicked Asuka by mistake. Sonya rolled up Charlotte from behind, but Charlotte rolled through. Asuka charged into the ring and intentionally dropkicked Charlotte in relation. Deville then pinned Charlotte.
WINNERS: Rose & Deville in 12:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Can we please – pretty please – have a match where two wrestlers who are babyface with some tension between them don’t have a “miscue” that leads to a “misunderstanding” and retaliation as a result? It’s so predictable because something that is, by definition, happenstance, happens 100 percent of the time in situations like this. And then the babyfaces handle it so poorly that fans can’t help but think they’re boneheaded for not seeing it for what it is. It’s just a tired cliché finish which should be retired for a year or more before being brought back. Other than that, though, good match.)
-The announcer plugged upcoming matches on Smackdown. [c]
-They showed Jon Stewart in the front row. Phillips said he’s going to be part of Tribute to the Troops in two weeks on Thursday on USA Network.
(2) XAVIER WOODS (w/Big E, Kofi Kingston) vs. CESARO (w/Sheamus) vs. JEY USO (w/Jimmy Uso)
As New Day came out, Phillips talked about all of Xavier’s travels since Smackdown last week including his trip to Manilla (where he told a reporter that fans should like everything WWE does and complainers are like spoiled infants). Phillips said Xavier ate Balut, which is a duck embryo still in a shell. Graves was disgusted. Phillips said Xavier loved it. They showed Kofi and Big E at a table at ringside throwing pancakes to the crowd. They cut to an early break. [c]
They showed that during the break, Cesaro tipped over the table of pancakes. Big E and Kofi were on commentary and expressing their dismay. Xavier gave Jey a tornado DDT off the ring apron onto the floor at ringside. Graves said it’ll be double the action with all six men involved at TLC. Back in the ring Xavier face-planted Cesaro for a two count. Jey leaped off the top rope toward Cesaro, but Cesaro lifted his knees. Cesaro rolled up Jey for a two count. Xavier landed THE BEST LOOKING FLYING ELBOW EVER for a two count on Cesaro. They went back to Big E and Xavier calling the action. Graves said, “Can someone tell me why Big E is sweating so profusely from just talking.” (Last time someone asked that, it was about Shane McMahon, and before that, Ultimate Warrior the weekend he died.)
Cesaro gave the Cesaro Swing to Jey as he had Xavier on his shoulders. Cesaro then put Xavier in a sharpshooter mid-ring. Xavier held on for a while and then Jey entered the ring. Cesaro let go, but Jey kicked him. Xavier rolled him up for a near fall. Cesaro threw Xavier out of the ring, but then Jey surprised him with a kick for the win. (The adorably innocent Byron said: “You know what this means, gentlemen! Momentum advantage – Usos!” He said it like he really believes that’s a thing.) All six wrestlers paired off and trash talked a bit after the match.
WINNER: Jey Uso in 9:00. (***** – Five Stars! Like all WWE matches! It’s all perfect. Especially Xavier.)
-Kayla said the Smackdown tag team scene is “hotter than ever.” (Really? Than ever?!) In walked Rusev and Lana for an interview. They showed a clip of Shinsuke Nakamura giving Rusev a flying knee before the bell and attacking him to the point that the match didn’t take place. Kayla asked Rusev if he knows why Nakamura did that. Rusev said it’s because he is scared of him. He bragged about his chest and biceps. He said his traps are like “double decker taco supreme.” He said, “I’m strong, I’m relentless, and now I’m hungry.” He said he’s not hungry for chicken or yogurt or cheese, but rather his U.S. Title. He said Nakamura holds the belt so tight like a child holds a toy, but the title isn’t a toy, it represents courage and tradition and honor. He said Nakamura is trying to avoid defending the title at any cost, but once he gets his hands on him, he is going to feast on Nakamura on the greatest holiday of them all. Fans chanted “Rusev Day” briefly. Rusev then yelled it. Fans cheered. Lana stood by and smiled.
(Keller’s Analysis: There aren’t enough interviews like that where for a minute or two a wrestler hypes his current feud, states his goals, and presents his character’s point of view. This worked. More of this. There’s no odd “why are they standing there together” like with Shane and Miz. There’s no “why was the camera filming him texting on his phone before that other person arrived.” There’s no long-winded inauthentic promo mid-ring that drags on minutes longer than it should.)
-Phillips plugged Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton coming up later on the show. [c]
-WWE Superstar Fact: Becky Lynch started training for WWE at age 15 at Finn Balor’s wrestling school in Ireland and travelled the world before making her WWE debut.
(Keller’s Analysis: I get the feeling “Superstar Facts” are a replacement for the bragging WWE once did about their TV ratings in the same space.)
-They went to the announcers on camera who talked about Lars Sullivan as a sought after free agent. And then they played his video.
-MIZ TV: Miz stood in the ring. Out came R-Truth and Carmella who did a brief Seven Second Dance Break. Then Truth said, “As you were.” Miz asked the fans if they really just started dancing. He asked if he could continue.
Miz said tonight is a historic night because it’s his first chance to interview “The New Daniel Bryan.” Bryan made his ring entrance to the same music. He didn’t throw his arms into the air. He teased it by pointing a finger in the air, then stopped with a bit of a grin. Miz asked what he should call him. He said he’ll stick with “Daniel” because he looks like the old Daniel. He said he does seem more confident and like his eyes have been opened. “You’ve realized there is no such thing as a virtuous win. It’s winning and losing, and you chose to be a winner. It seems you have realized I was right all along.” (That’s funny.)
Bryan said everyone thought the old Daniel Bryan was really, really smart, but how smart could he have been if he was catering to the thoughts of “these people” (the fans). He said the old Bryan allowed their expectations to subvert his own dreams. He said he realized that he doesn’t care about “these people” and he has allowed his dreams to take control. He said he doesn’t have a lot of intellectual peers to discuss these ideas with, Miz included, but he does have books. He said he can consult great minds in history such as Alexander Hamilton. He said the fans are fickle. Fans chanted “What?” He called the fans sheep. “They’re reciting something stupid from 20 years ago, but they can’t help themselves.” Boos. He said Hamilton said giving power to the mindless masses is dangerous, both for the individual and for society. He called the fans sheep. He what is most dangerous is the theoretical knowledge of the old Daniel Bryan combined with the practical wisdom and brutality of The New Daniel Bryan. Boos.
Miz said he’s listening to what he’s saying, but he asked if that was really Alexander Hamilton or if he was quoting him, because that’s what he’s been saying for years. Miz said Bryan did whatever it took to win, just as he has said all along, when he become champion. Bryan said he kicked A.J. Styles in the groin. He said he kicked one man in the groin on one day, but the fans harm the earth every single day with their needless consumption. He brought up factory farmed meat and plastic bottles. He stood and yelled. He said if you want to count sins, he kicked one man in the groin on one day, and those people commit countless atrocities against the Earth and future generations every day or every week or every month or every year. “Count the sins,” he said.
Miz asked if he thought he brought him out there to talk about Hamilton, methane gas, and water bottles. He said for eight years, Bryan has painted him as the bad guy and he had everyone fooled. He said he always saw through him. He said he wants Bryan to give him a simple answer for a simple question. “Are you WWE Champion because you listened to what I said? Yes or No?” Miz asked. Miz stood as fans chanted “Yes!” Bryan said, “Yes.” Miz paraded round the ring with his arms extended. Bryan added. “No.” Then he said, “Yes, no, yes, no, yes, no… It doesn’t matter.” He said all that matters is that the old Daniel Bryan is dead. He held up the title belt plates with “Yes” on them and said those are dead. He said he is the WWE Champion and nobody can do anything about it. He held up the belt. Fans booed.
Styles came out. Bryan shoved Miz into Styles when he entered the ring. He then scurried over the ringside barricade, but Styles grabbed him and threw him back to ringside. Styles re-entered the ring, but had to fend off Miz. Then he went after Bryan again. Miz gave Styles a Skull Crushing Finale. Bryan walked backwards up the ramp, seemingly admiring what Miz just did.
-Saxton plugged Hardy vs. Orton. [c]
-Phillips announced Styles vs. Miz will take place tonight.
(3) RANDY ORTON vs. JEFF HARDY
A soundbite aired with Orton during his ring entrance. He said after destroying the cockroach known as Rey Mysterio, another cockroach appears out of the floorboards, so he’ll stomp him again. They brawled at ringside early. They cut to a quick break. [c]
They stayed with the action during the break. Orton settled into his obligatory mid-match chinlock. Orton eventually hit the DDT off the middle rope and set up an RKO, but Hardy recovered and blocked it. Orton blocked a Twist of Fate. Hardy still took Orton down, though, and then climbed to the top rope. Orton knocked Hardy off balance on the top rope and then set up a superplex. Hardy slid to the mat and hit a Twist of Fate on Orton. He took off his shirt and the fans cheered. Then he climbed to the top rope again as fans chanted “Delete!” Orton rolled to the floor. Hardy slidekicked him under the bottom rope. He slammed Orton onto the announce table and then was about to leap when Samoa Joe interrupted him. Joe said he is at a bar. He told him he is having a hell of a match. Orton then gave an RKO to the distracted Hardy.
WINNER: Orton in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: So is the heel heat on Joe for interrupting, the director for playing it on the big screen mid-match for some reason, or Hardy being stupid enough to turn his back on Orton? Certainly there’s no heat on Orton, the heel in this match, for fair and square beating Hardy.)
-Joe then said he was there to warn everyone of the dangers of excess. He said there can be too much of a good thing, so moderation is key. He said it’s okay to have a couple beers with friends and call it a night, or you can have 14 of them and wake up in jail “or maybe not wake up at all.” He said the choice is clear, drink responsibly.
(Keller’s Analysis: So we have heels preaching about the real-life negative ramifications of factory farming of animal food products and moderation in drinking, scripted by a company that has seen many of its stars over the years die or have their lives ruined by excessive drug and alcohol use? I don’t even know what to do with this kind of messaging, but it’s not an escape for viewers and the heels are right, even if their delivery is a bit over-the-top and, in Joe’s case, very tasteless. I think WWE Creative is misreading their audience if they think reducing plastic bottles in the world is something only annoying precious ultra-liberals believe is a good idea.) [c]
-Phillips did that “WWE announcer fake laugh” as he hyped a “rap-off” next week with New Day, the Usos, and The Bar. Graves plugged that Charlotte faces Asuka next week in a “WrestleMania Rematch” also.
–After ring entrances for A.J. Styles and The Miz, Kayla caught up with Bryan backstage. She said it appeared he left the arena after running from Styles, so why is he still there. Bryan said The New Daniel Bryan does not run. He said everything he does, he does with purpose. He said now he is going to commentary. [c]
(4) A.J. STYLES vs. THE MIZ
Bryan joined the announcers on commentary. Graves said he’s eating too many simple sugars and needs help. Bryan said he knows what is right and now he just needs to do what’s right and stop being selfish. Graves asked Bryan to explain more to the WWE Universe the dangers of methane gas. Bryan said he could, but he just wants to enjoy the beauty of watching Styles perform. He said he’s such a maestro in the ring. “Not there he wasn’t, but usually,” he said. Phillips asked what his wife thinks and what his daughter will think. Bryan said he hopes his daughter kicks thousands of men in the groin who consume plastic water bottles and eat unsustainable meat. He yelled at Saxton for eating too much chicken. He said he’s a horrible human being and should be ashamed of himself. Graves said Bryan’s daughter will thank her father for making a better Earth for her. Miz settled into a chinlock. Miz gave Styles an inverted DDT for a near fall. The focus was on Bryan on commentary here much more than the action in the ring. Bryan said he didn’t get his own bus as champion, he just kicked one man in the groin. [c]
Back live, Saxton and Bryan got into it. Graves said he won’t even tell Bryan about Saxton’s carbon footprint. Graves asked Bryan what he thinks of a fan who might have arrived in a big SUV who drinks water out of a plastic bottle. Bryan distracted Styles at ringside with a fake peace offering, which opened up Miz to shove Styles into the ringside steps. Then Miz landed a Skull Crushing Finale for a near fall in the ring. Miz couldn’t believe Styles kicked out. Styles avoided a charging Miz, who went shoulder-first into the ringpost. Bryan yanked Styles’s leg. Styles kicked himself free, but Miz went after him. Styles, though, rolled Miz into a Calf Crusher and Miz tapped out.
WINNER: Styles in 12:00.
-As Styles celebrated, Bryan clipped his leg from behind. Bryan then rammed Styles’s leg into the ringpost several times. Bryan worked over Styles’s leg inside the ring and then applied a heel hook. Styles yelled in pain. Three referees ran out to try to separate them. Bryan kicked Styles in the head and stomped on the side of his head over and over. They showed three worried kids in the front row. Bryan went back to the head stomps. This was a long time for no babyface to come out to Styles’s aid. Bryan grabbed his belt and then ordered the ring announcer to say, “Here is your WWE Champion, The New Daniel Bryan.” Bryan held up his belt as fans booed. Bryan said, “What, you people don’t approve? Fickle! You people don’t love The New Daniel Bryan. Fickle! Fickle! Fickle!” He charged back into the ring and beat up Styles some more with another heel hook. Styles yelled, “Get him off!”