Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Friday Night Smackdown: King Corbin brought out a guy in a dog costume and said it was Roman Reigns. Vince McMahon laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.
One more thing: Hit those share buttons! Spread the word about the column on Facebook, Twitter and whatever else you use. Be sure to leave us a comment in our comment section below as well. I know we always ask this, and that this part is copy and pasted in every week, but we appreciate it every week.
Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Friday Night Smackdown for November 22, 2019.
The Last Time We’ll Have To Talk About Survivor Series All Year, Except For NXT TakeOver War Games And, Uh, Survivor Series
This week’s Friday Night Smackdown opens with the natural evolution of the “promo parade” segment: a promo where everyone on the roster stands together in matching t-shirts to listen to Roman Reigns speak candidly about WWE Superstars in t-shirts that are different from theirs are coming to get them tonight. It’s the North-going Zax versus the South-going Zax, featuring an invasion of Too Many Daves.
This leads directly into another promo parade, wherein Sasha Banks and the Smackdown women’s team get interrupted by Charlotte Flair and the Raw women’s team, which then gets interrupted by Rhea Ripley and (presumably) the NXT women’s team. It’s Rhea Ripley’s War Games team — gee, I wonder who’s winning that War Games match on Saturday? — with Toni Storm as their fifth. Dakota Kai got replaced again, y’all. I think my least favorite part of this segment is that I couldn’t suspend disbelief enough to believe Lacey Evans would wear a t-shirt under any circumstances. Okay, maybe one that says “I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR STUPID FEELINGS.” That’s what the evil right-winger says, right? Not the workhorse champion of the people?
After everyone’s done talking — you know how they do — they agree to a “captains match.” It’s Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Rhea Ripley, which Wrestling Genius Rhea Ripley wins by Army crawling under Flair’s still-totally-unnecessary figure-four bridge and locking her down in a pin. I loved that a lot. Rip could’ve gone the classic Becky Lynch route and just pinned Sasha, since Flair can’t see shit when she’s doing that move, but chooses to pin Flair herself with the sweet science.
I also really appreciate that Sasha sat up and sold the pain of the leg lock, not only because having someone wedged under you like that might actually apply the crazy pressure a back-bend pretends to, and because it kept her shoulders off the mat for the finish so there’s no confusion as to who actually won. I’m honestly surprised they didn’t have Ripley didn’t slide in under Charlotte on her back and tell Sasha to lie still so they could say that while Ripley technically pinned Flair, Flair technically pinned both Ripley and Banks. This was way better.
Elsewhere in the women’s division, Bayley manages to get the jump on Shayna Baszler. That should help her feel better about herself when Shayna rips off Bayley’s arms and legs and beats her to death with them at Survivor Series.
In case that’s not enough INVADING FORCES action for you, because God forbid they keep that limited to a couple of segments and not the entirety of every weekly show for a month, here’s the Undisputed Era interrupting Sami Zayn’s unveiling of Shinsuke Nakamura’s new Intercontinental Championship belt to set up a match against [checks notes] Heavy Machinery and the New Day. All right.
As a quick aside about the championship belt, I think the new one looks fine. I like that it reflects the modern lightning so well, as I believe it’s the only title belt on the main roster that actually does that. It looks a lot cooler in the show lighting than it does in promo photos. Also, just to say it …
thought I'd seen that belt before pic.twitter.com/7DFPExApi4
— Brand Stroud (@MrBrandonStroud) November 23, 2019
I really loved that old Intercontinental Championship belt design, as it was the only one they had left that didn’t look like big pennies or homogenized class rings with slightly different coloring. That was the belt Cody Rhodes brought back in 2011, though, so I guess we’ve gotta get rid of it now.
I know WWE redesigns their title belts every few years so they can sell more toys and replica titles or whatever, but I really wish they’d just come up with a design in 1979 and stuck with it. It would’ve been cool to have visual continuity and be able to say, “Nakamura is holding the same title belt that Seth Rollins used to hold, which is the same title belt Triple H used to hold, which is the same belt Macho Man used to hold, which is the same belt Pat Patterson held.” It’d be even cooler and more prestigious with the WWE Championship. Can’t let anything seem “old” though. WrestleMania can’t even have numbers anymore, because the numbers got too high. So now you’re going into WrestleMania Pirate Ship holding the Blue-niversal Title. Kind of a shame, if you think about it.
Undisputed Era vs. New Day and Heavy Machinery, suggested tag team name The Brand New Heavies, ends up being the best match of the night. I think it’d have to be, as Undisputed Era could lift their legs and fart in the general direction of an opponent and get three and three-quarter stars out of it. That group’s so good it made me appreciate Roderick Strong, for God’s sakes. But yeah, they get 15 very fun minutes and a clean finish. That’s all you can ask for. Tucker gets pinned, because he’s Tucker, and that’s what Tuckers do best.
Of course Survivor Series has to ruin everything, so this sets up a post-match confrontation between the warring Secondary Champions of Brand™ Brand® and Brand©. It’s way more limp and less effective than the match, which might’ve actually put somebody over if they’d let it breathe for a damn second. It’s also a rare WWE segment that starts with a steel chair attack and brawl and ends with a boring promo. Zayn attacks folks to set up AJ Styles talking. Styles can do this kind of thing well, but between The O.C. being the very nerds they decry and the Survivor Series build turning even complex characters into nothing more than t-shirt colors, there’s only so much he can do.
That match should be really good, though, if they go into it knowing nothing they’ve done to build it really matters, and that the only reason anybody’s gonna possibly like it is if the three very good wrestlers do the very good wrestles. Is that still important to anybody up here?
The “sorry, we’ve got more important shows to worry about” main event teams King Corbin and Cheer Money against Roman Reigns and his Amazing Friends, the lowest rated player in NBA Jam and Illinois Iron Man. It’s good for what it is, and at least Ali got to look good for a minute before taking the loss via “trying to wrestle within 40 minutes of his hometown.” The closer you get to your hometown in WWE, the lower your stats dip. CM Punk was the first guy in the company since Bruno Sammartino to flip that.
Because Survivor Series, this also turns into a Raw vs. Smackdown vs. NXT fight. If you’re keeping score, Smackdown only had four matches in two hours, and three of them turned into Survivor Series t-shirt brawls of one kind or another.
The main event version of T-shirt Hell features NXT arriving “on a tank” alongside every living member of D-Generation X that didn’t jump ship to seek wrestling’s greatest asses or openly criticize how garbage the product has been on Watchalong. The tank is still a jeep. It’s been said a lot, and you can read about it at length here, but D-Generation X “invading Nitro” is one of the dumbest and most disproportionately celebrated events in modern wrestling history. They didn’t do anything but hang out in the parking lot of a wrestling show and get some sassy comments from some there-too-early marks and WWE’s spent 20 years sucking their dicks about it. You’d think they’d brought Vince McMahon the head of Hollywood Hogan on a silver platter or something.
Roping NXT into this shit is just unforgivable. Does everyone there have to be a Triple H fanboy playing Triple H’s greatest hits just because Triple H is there? It was so sad to see the one show WWE puts out with consistent, dynamic characters reduced to a Munchkin Parade of HHH fanboys in matching t-shirts, following the orders of the Road Dogg. Jesus Christ.
— Brand Stroud (@MrBrandonStroud) November 23, 2019
Please at least keep this shit on “WWE” TV and let TakeOver stay TakeOver, okay? If you guys send out Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins to bust up War Games or whatever, you’re gonna put the heel of your boots on the face of whatever good will I’ve got left to give.
And Finally, In The One Segment Not Devoted To Survivor Series
Daniel Bryan, who was previously choked out by The Fiend Bray Wyatt, gets choked out by The Fiend Bray Wyatt to set up him getting choked out by The Fiend Bray Wyatt at Survivor Series. The pre-match promo with Miz slapping Bryan in the face to get him to stop being a little indecisive monotone complainer was pretty good. It’s gonna be lit if Bryan finally realizes Miz is the only person whose ever been honest to him and actually decides to be his friend, because pure, sincere hatred is a more valuable thing to rely on than empty platitudes.
Honestly though, it’s gonna be hilarious if Seth Rollins couldn’t pin Wyatt with 11 Stomps, 9 follow-up Stomps, a ladder to a tool box to a chair to the face, or a superkick off a stage into exploding fireworks, but Bryan pins the motherfucker with a small package.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
The Real Birdman
A month long build and still Regal hasn’t brass knucked anybody from Raw or SDL. What a waste of time.
The Miz: Where…where am I?
Ramblin’ Rabbit: whoa, I need to stop buying from Riddle, his stuff’s too strong
“Yo Hunter! It’s Marvin. Your cousin, Marvin Hearst Helmsley. You know that way to constantly insert yourself into every popular angle you’ve been looking for? Well take a listen to THIS!”
SAMI AND NAKAMURA ARE WATCHING THIS MATCH FROM THE TOP OF THE RAMP. I’VE BEEN WATCHING WWE FOR 20 YEARS NOW AND I CAN’T REMEMBER BEING THIS ANGRY/DISAPPOINTED
Baron Von Raschke
You know what this brawl needs? Orange Cassidy just hanging out in the crowd.
Chicago is a wrestling town….They love long in-ring segments and promos!
That should have ended with Sasha Banks beating the piss out of HHH
On the one hand, my heart is full of joy hearing the crowd chant NXT even when they are not in the ring.
On the other hand, my heart is full of dread thinking Vince McMahon might hear those chants and decide he needs to be more hands on with the brand.
It’s Kona’s Konvoy!
I hope they come back from commercial and we’re like 3/4 through a Carmella match.
At least Keith Lee didn’t look like a child standing next to Braun Strowman. That was good, right?
Thanks for reading this week’s Best and Worst of Friday Night Smackdown. We’re almost through! Make sure you drop down into our comments section below to let us know what you thought of the show, give us a share on social media to help us out, and make sure you’re here on Sunday for Survivor Series Proper. Oh, and on Saturday night for NXT TakeOver: Survivor Series Pre-show. I hope everyone wears identical shirts!
See you then, brands!