WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 12/18: Asuka era begins, Becky and Charlotte’s response to Ronda, Daniel Bryan’s crusade, Who can stop The Bar?

By Frank Peteani, PWTorch Specialist


Asuka (art credit Joel Teach © PWTorch)

WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
DECEMBER 18, 2018
FRESNO, CA. AT THE SAVE MART CENTER
AIRS ON USA NETWORK 8:00PM EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves

Arena, Smackdown TLC Results, and Items Advertised by WWE

WWE remains in the sunny state of California as Smackdown unfolds tonight in Fresno at the Save Mart Center.  The arena opened for business in 2003 and last hosted Smackdown in May of 2017.  Several WWE events have taken place here through these years.

We continue to move away from TLC and turn our attention towards the holidays and the new year, where we begin to have visions of Royal Rumble winners dancing in our heads.  Here are the results from TLC pertaining to Smackdown:

  • The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) retained the Smackdown Tag Team Championship over New Day (Kofi Kingston & always-good-and-awesome wrestler Xavier Woods) and The Usos (Jimmy & Jey)
  • Rey Mysterio defeated Randy Orton in a chairs match.
    Daniel Bryan retained the WWE Championship over A.J. Styles in what was arguably the match of the night.
  • Asuka won the Smackdown Women’s Championship from incumbent Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in a triple threat TLC match.  I won’t argue if people say this was the match of the night.  Nonetheless, Asuka won with assistance from Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey as I discussed in yesterday’s Raw Primer.

WWE.com is advertising the following items for tonight.

  • The era of Asuka begins
  • How will Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair respond to Ronda Rousey’s interference?
  • Will the “new” Daniel Bryan’s crusade continue?
  • Can anyone stop The Bar?

The McMahon Family Appearance on Raw

I would be remiss if I didn’t quickly discuss Vince, Stephanie, and Shane McMahon along with Triple H appearing on Raw last night to “shake things up” and “take back Raw.” They didn’t necessarily tell us how they were going to do so right away but rather admit they “haven’t been doing a good job lately” (really Stephanie?  Does that include 13 years of pushing John Cena and Roman Reigns against crowd reactions?).  Vince admitted WWE has been successful because they “change with the times” (he’s right as the more money they make the more foolish they are in their booking).  Triple H said to expect new faces, new ideas, and new matches.

Later in the evening we learned that Lars Sullivan, Heavy Machinery (Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight), Nikki Cross, “The Lady of NXT” Lacey Evans, and EC3 would all be coming to Raw.  Sullivan had been billed as coming to the main roster for about a month but we didn’t on what show he would appear.  Also, it was advertised that Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens would be returning soon.  With Zayn & Owens it was originally expected they would be out until approximately WrestleMania time, although nothing was 100% confirmed.  WWE has historically not been accurate about time missed to create a buzz when a wrestler returns.  John Cena returning to the Royal Rumble in 2008 is a perfect example.  Nonetheless, I’ll have more on the call-ups and the Zayn & Owens returns in next week’s Raw primer.

This sets the stage for possible call-ups tonight as Shane said they would be taking control of Smackdown as well, as he admitted they are responsible for the fans having the best experience possible.  Velveteen Dream and Kairi Sane are certainly possibilities to be called up although nothing is certain.  Here is Dream on Twitter making his case:

https://twitter.com/velveteenwwe/status/1074840152743268354?s=21

https://twitter.com/velveteenwwe/status/1074843418084470789?s=21

There were other tweets but that just gives you a sample.  As you may or may not remember he wore tights saying “Call Me Up Vince” at a Takeover earlier in the year.

The Asuka Era Begins

Asuka finally captured the Smackdown Women’s Championship after defeating incumbent champion Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair in the first women’s triple threat TLC match this past Sunday.  It’s her first run with the title after failing to take it from Charlotte at WrestleMania and several times from Carmella earlier in the year.

It’s not the first “first” Asuka has accomplished.  She won the first women’s Royal Rumble earlier in the year which propelled her to the championship match with Charlotte at WrestleMania.

She did have unsolicited assistance from Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey.  As Becky and Charlotte were climbing for the title, Ronda came down and pushed them off the ladder.  This enabled Asuka to climb a separate ladder and grab the title.

Her “era” is now officially underway, and she will be “coronated” tonight according to WWE’s Twitter account:

Frank’s Analysis:  I said the Daniel Bryan-A.J. Styles match was the match of the night, but I wouldn’t argue against anyone saying the TLC match between the women was given that distinction.  While I certainly am happy with Asuka winning the title considering it was my prediction, it does feel somewhat tainted for me as a result of the outside interference.  It doesn’t necessarily do Asuka the babyface any favors.  Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see what type of challengers Asuka will have as currently there isn’t a heel that jumps out to me on the Smackdown roster.  Mandy Rose has been the most pushed as of late so she could certainly earn a shot.  If you do babyface vs. babyface, Naomi is certainly a possibility.  This is also where the possible NXT call ups come into play.  

Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair’s Response to Ronda

As I talked about earlier, Ronda Rousey interfered in the women’s TLC match which cost Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair the Smackdown Women’s Champion.

As we recall, Becky attacked Ronda prior to their originally scheduled match at Survivor Series.  This of course was the same night Becky got her face “broken” by Nia Jax.  We diverted to a match between Charlotte and Ronda at Survivor Series, which saw Charlotte viciously attacked Ronda with a kendo stick.  That caused Charlotte to lose via DQ but the onslaught continued.

On Sunday, Ronda vowed revenge in her interview with Charly Caruso, saying “payback’s a bitch, and I’m the baddest one on the planet.”  Pushing Becky and Charlotte off the ladder was apparently that payback.

It wouldn’t be a Smackdown primer without a Becky tweet:

For what it’s worth, here’s what wasn’t aired on the WWE Network after TLC ended:

Frank’s Analysis:  It’s hard to know exactly how things will play out in the the coming months.  There were discussions of Charlotte vs. Ronda at WrestleMania for the longest time.  Since the emergence of Becky and the fact that the Survivor Series match got switched, there was talk of Becky vs. Ronda.  This past Sunday certainly leans us more in the direction of the triple threat match which has been discussed more recently.  Triple threats are used too often in WWE but I could understand them wanting to do it here, especially if the match is going to main-event the show.  Ronda, Becky, and Charlotte are the biggest stars in the company right now and they will want them included in arguably the biggest women’s match in history.  There are a lot of moving parts to get to that match as you have to wonder how they will get two Smackdown women in a match against a Raw Women’s Champion, if in fact Ronda is keeping the title until WrestleMania.  I have to admit, during this roster split era, WWE has done a good job overall keeping the brands separate.  

The “New” Daniel Bryan’s Continued Crusade

Prior to TLC, WWE Champion was interview on WWE Now by Mike Rome and Cathy Kelley.  He discussed his upcoming match with challenger A.J. Styles but also went off on things like social media, consumerism, and his issues with the environment and products made from animals which includes the WWE Championship belt.  He vowed to make a new title out of material that is more “sustainable.”  In case you missed it, here’s the interview which I consider must-see:

Bryan of course retained the WWE Championship over A.J. Styles.  WWE is alluding to the possibility of him showing up with the “new belt” for tonight.

Frank’s Analysis:  The interview was great.  Vince you want to shake things up?  Let your wrestlers talk like that.  The promo was likely scripted but it felt authentic and it felt like something not only Daniel Bryan would say but what Bryan Danielson the real person would as well.  It is interesting though that the platform on which Bryan is building his heel run is based on being an “environmentalist” and being against people that consume animal products, etc.  Nevertheless I continue to enjoy this new character and we’ll look forward to what he has to say tonight now that he has retained the title.  As far as his next opponent I would logically expect Rey Mysterio to move into that position considering his win over Randy Orton at TLC, but I can’t be 100% sure.  There’s other ways they can determine a new opponent and I expect we’ll set the stage for that tonight.

The Bar

The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) retained the Smackdown Tag Team Championship in a triple threat match over the Usos (Jimmy & Jey) and New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods with Big E in their corner).

This likely ends New Day and the Usos pursuit of the championship as WWE alludes to them being in the “rear view mirror,” and new contenders will likely emerge.

Frank’s Analysis:  I don’t have a strong feeling here.  The Good Brothers (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson) are out there but haven’t been on TV much lately.  Even when they have been around WWE hasn’t pushed them all that hardly.  Sanity has been quiet and jobbed mostly since their call up earlier this year.  I don’t expect the Colons to emerge.  This is again where possible NXT call ups come into play, if in fact a new tag team is headed to Smackdown.  Heavy Machinery is going to Raw.  Looking at the NXT depth chart the only team that could be headed up are the Street Profits, but that’s just a guess.  I only say that because Angelo Dawkins of the Profits retweeted WWE NXT’s retweet about the wrestlers going to Raw and also Otis Dozovic’s tweet about Machinery heading up:

https://twitter.com/wwedozovic/status/1074856846274514945?s=21

It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re coming but I thought it was interesting that Dawkins went out of his way to post these on his Twitter account.  The Street Profits would fit nicely on Smackdown though.

Other Items From Last Week:

• In a match that wasn’t announced until a few hours prior to the show, Mustafa Ali from 205Live took on WWE Champion Daniel Bryan.  Bryan came out on top in what was a solid opening contest and nice way for Ali to get a cup of coffee on Smackdown.  We learned he drives an SUV, much to the dismay of Bryan.

• Mandy Rose was to take on Naomi after a bit of a Twitter war, but the match was dropped.  No disrespect to both women but the match wasn’t a big deal; however, WWE went out of their way to have G.M. Paige explain why.  Here she is on YouTube with Mike Rome:

• Jeff Hardy was to confront Samoa Joe last week according to what WWE.com advertised.  This changed to a tag match featuring Joe and U.S. Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jeff and Rusev.  Rusev and Jeff picked up the victory.
• Shane McMahon and the Miz defeated local jobbers.  The Miz tricked a referee to doing the match saying G.M. Paige sanctioned it and promised the jobbers $5,000 each.  Paige threatened to fire the referee and ripped up the “contracts” the jobbers showed her after the match.  Miz then pleaded with Shane to continue their partnership.  Shane you say you’re responsible for giving the fans a good experience.  Please stop this storyline with the Miz.  It’s awful and not funny in the least.
• In the run up to the TLC match this past Sunday, Asuka took on Charlotte Flair in a WrestleMania rematch.  Asuka won by DQ when Charlotte attacked her with a kendo stick.

Start Time & Matches Advertised

The arena website shows a start time of 4:30 p.m local with doors opening at 3:00 p.m.

They are advertising two matches:

  • WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan defends against A.J. Styles and the Miz in a triple threat
  • Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton

They also show Becky Lynch still as Smackdown Women’s Champion appearing plus Charlotte Flair and New Day as well.


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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