Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: It was Halloween (almost), New Day showed up dressed like The Brood, and Daniel Bryan lost a WWE Championship match to AJ Styles so he wouldn’t have to do it in Saudi Arabia.
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Here’s this week’s Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live’s 1,003rd episode for November 6, 2018.
Best: The Man Comes Around
We’ve spent the last however long squeeing with glee at how great Becky Lynch is, and how happy we are that she’s The Champ and The Man and having the most memorable matches on the best cards of the year, but every time I think of Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series I have to talk myself off a ledge. My brain is like, “no matter how good she is, Ronda Rousey is a protected settlement, there’s a better chance of Survivor Series ending with The Revival beating up D-Generation X and the Brothers of Destruction than with Becky beating Ronda.” And still, my heart says, “BUT BECKY.”
The promo on Smackdown was good, and the backstage version where she doesn’t have to speak in that weird WWE promo cadence for a big crowd to understand is even better. This feels like one of those CM Punk vs. The Rock situations where everything one guy’s saying is correct and everything the other’s saying is disconnected baby-talk horse shit, but it’s still going where you think it’s going. If we win the lottery, it’ll be some kind of non-finish.
All I can do is lend my voice and reach to open, loud-mouthed pessimism, so maybe it’ll be agreed with or at least parroted on the Internet enough for WWE to say, “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we swerved everybody and did what they think could never happen?”
NEVERMIND THAT SHIT, HERE COMES NECKY
BEST: AYE NO WHO DEDDAH
Here’s the best news of the week: now that she’s done snitching on Johnny Failure for attacking Aleister Black, Nikki Cross is finally able to show up on Smackdown and join her Internationally Diverse Purge Pals. Like always, it’s one part “HOORAY, Nikki Cross got called up,” and one part, “OH NO, Nikki Cross got called up.” At least she’s on Smackdown, where she’ll be allowed to maintain some sort of character consistency and not just be one of 10 smiling or frowning women standing around the ring on Raw.
Anyway, the match was good for what it was, which was an introduction to Cross without taking anything away from The Man. It’s one of those random TV matches where you think, “wow, I wish this was happening on an NXT TakeOver.” If you’re me, that happens a lot. But hey, Nikki rules hard and has never really lived or died on wins and losses, and her being on Smackdown instantly gives Sanity a desperately needed boost. It’s weird that they weren’t all just called up together, and Sanity’s milquetoast-ass Smackdown run so far is a big indicator of how important Cross is to the group.
Somebody give Road Dogg (or whoever) a tape of the past year and a half of Nikki Cross in NXT so we can make sure she stays a weird Scottish feral informant cat, or whatever she is. Necky forever.
Best: A Show Of Matches You Wish Were Happening On Pay-Per-View
Aside from Cross vs. Lynch, holy crap, here’s Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas.
The general consensus is that the match was great while it lasted, and nearly everyone who watched wished they’d given it some kind of program and built it up to make their first one-on-one meeting really matter. “Who will get to be on the Survivor Series team in the hopes of winning nothing” isn’t really a story befitting these guys.
Still, the best thing that can happen to Almas right now is continuing to get paired with guys like Styles, Bryan, and Mysterio. Not only does he get to show off his undeniable in-ring skill, he does it alongside people WWE think matter, which can only be good for his rep. Besides, you aren’t going to beat WWE Rey Mysterio right now. Rusev could show up on his tank and Mysterio would just flop sideways until the tank was draped across the middle rope for a 619. You could walk up to Rey Mysterio and shoot him in the face with a pistol and the bullet would just reverse directions and hit you instead. The only reason he didn’t win the tournament at Crown Jewel is because that was an Elseworlds pay-per-view.
Also on the “wow, this is good, give me 10 more minutes of it” tip is something we’ve seen on pay-per-view plenty of times, but somehow not enough: The Usos vs. The New Day. The highlight of the match is all of it, but the thing you’ll remember is Kofi Kingston causing a major distraction using the Hanging Dick Wiggle.
This brings up a broad, general Worst I need to just go ahead and type, even though I’m afraid I’ll have to type it at least twice a week every week until Survivor Series: these matches don’t matter.
Don’t get me wrong; the Mysterio match was to “prove” to Smackdown Survivor Series co-captain The Miz that Mysterio should be on his team, and New Day vs. Uce and Additional Uce was to see which team would captain the Smackdown tag team Survivor Series team, so there’s context that should make them matter, but … okay, let me put it this way. What does winning the Survivor Series match get you? Approval from your boss? Didn’t you already have that if you were on the team? And what does being “captain” of the team mean? That you get to pick the team? The Usos fought the New Day for the chance to captain the team, won, then put New Day on the team anyway. So what do Jimmy and Jey gain from being the captains in that scenario? Is their blue shirt brighter? Do they get a C patch on the breast?
It’s less a problem with Smackdown and more of an issue with how WWE builds these pay-per-view cycles, and how Survivor Series has become such a wishy-washy gimmick that there’s no consistency, and Raw is just fighting Smackdown for the rights to [gestures wildly]. They could at least bring back the goddamn Bragging Rights trophy. Give the show that wins the Survivor Series main event the #30 spot in the Royal Rumble, or “home field advantage” so their main event goes on last at WrestleMania or something. Literally anything. Raw’s been calling Smackdown the “b-show” for as long as I can remember, and nobody’s keeping track of cross-promotional wins and losses to prove or disprove it.
Worst: BEST IN THE WORLD
That leads us to the sweaty, increasingly pink elephant in the room: Shane McMahon, winner of the WWE World Cup tournament and the title of “best in the world” at Crown Jewel. That actually happened. Smackdown attempts to lampshade it by having Shane say, “I don’t think I’m the best in the world, that trophy belongs to Smackdown,” but yeah, no, you guys booked 48-year old non-wrestler Shane McMahon to pop in halfway through the final match of a tournament to win a blood money trophy that says he’s better than Rey Mysterio, Seth Rollins, Miz, Dolph Ziggler, and everybody else. I don’t now how many episodes of Glee you’ve watched, but pointing out what sucks about your show all the time doesn’t make that stuff suck less.
Shane ends up making Daniel Bryan and The Miz co-captains of the Smackdown Survivor Series team, saying they bring out the best in each other. They also have been feuding for eight years and are dramatically different people with confrontational personalities. Just once I want an authority figure to go into one of these matches valuing teamwork and cohesiveness over the dorky thrill of “can they co-exist??”
Also, Shane McMahon is on the team. He’s the best wrestler in the world, though, why WOULDN’T he be?
Miz and Bryan argue throughout the show for various reasons, and it all culminates after Samoa Joe defeats Jeff Hardy to claim the last spot on the team. It’s probably the least interesting match on the show, but is a make-good after that World Cup qualifier where Joe lost because his leg was made of spaghetti.
Joe wins, and because Joe is Joe, he wanders to the outside and puts his dick in Bryan’s face, Austin Aries-style. Bryan, who has never been very good at controlling his emotions, starts kicking Joe’s ass. Miz, who is somehow the babyface in all of this, gets mad at Bryan for attacking one of his Smackdown Survivor Series teammates. BUT CAN THEY CO-EXIST? Bryan goes after Miz, and when Shane McMahon tries to intervene, Bryan judo throws him and bails. Bryan should know better than to mess with Shane McMahon, modern-day Steve Blackman and clearly the best wrestler in WWE. The trophy says so.
So that’s the angle. Raw’s Survivor Series team is a bunch of people who hate each other, and Smackdown’s Survivor Series team is a bunch of people who hate each other. They should just divide them up by heel and face instead of “Raw and Smackdown” and tell a story that’s not “wait a minute, HE TURNED ON HIS TEAM AND CAUSED AN ELIMINATION!!” over and over.
Best: Absolution Is A Mystery
The women’s team build is a little better, with Paige announcing a team of three faces (Asuka, Naomi, and Carmella), one face who is actually a heel (Charlotte, who didn’t even show up), and one heel who is probably a face (Sonya Deville). Mandy Rose shows up wondering why she was left off the team, hands are thrown, and Deville and Rose continue their slow resolve to absolving Absolution. Honestly though, I don’t blame Mandy. Paige putting one of her old Absolution friends on the team but not both of them was a dick move. It’s not like Sonya’s won a ton of matches lately.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
THE ONE WE LIKE
Baron Von Raschke
Put Nikki Cross on Total Divas and tell her to stay in character the whole time. It would be amazing. You know it to be true.
The Real Birdman
Becky Lynch finally found a loophole in getting over in the women’s division in WWE: Say you’re a man
Push Almas. Then push him again
This weeks Raw is focusing on Steph, Brock and Alexa? Jesus, thanks for the warning, voice-over guy.
Meaningful women’s match on SD Live with nary a hint of a Bella or Charlotte? There’s your Evolution.
Becky Lynch vs Nikki Cross in a Who Hates the English More match
Wait. I just realized. Ronda just said she was raised only for this purpose.
Becky has called herself Becky Balboa.
Guys, This is Becky Balboa vs Ronda Drago.
Kofi tried to hit the rearview….Uso got that move scouted in the biggest possible way
Blade_222, on watching Smackdown and election results simultaneously
Red v. Blue, same thing.
That’s it for this week’s Smackdown. Note: NXT is the A-show, Smackdown is the B-show, and Raw is a blank sheet of paper with SEE ME AFTER CLASS written at the top in red pen.
Make sure to drop a comment below to let us know what you thought of the episode, pepper the comments with plenty of love for Nikki Cross, and share the column on social to help us out. See you next week, for more Raw vs. Smackdown, now with 100% fewer invasions!