Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: A battle royal determined a new number two contender for a Smackdown Women’s Championship match already happening, The Miz took familial ownership over Shane McMahon’s blood money trophy, and Randy Orton shockingly revealed that he doesn’t give a shit about wrestling history and never bothered to learn it.
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Here’s this week’s Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live’s 1,007th episode (how long am I going to do this bit) for December 4, 2018.
Worst Best: The Contract Signing
This is a relative “Worst” and not a complete condemnation of Smackdown’s opening segment, I just didn’t enjoy it for a variety of little nit-picky reasons. The most egregious is Becky Lynch’s character, and how she’s been overshadowed on the microphone by Charlotte Flair (of all people) two weeks in a row. It’s not that Becky’s doing a bad job; it’s the opposite, really. Becky Lynch is great on the microphone, but the way WWE creative writers her character makes her seem like she’s detached from her own agency as a performer. Like, Charlotte is able to talk over her here and tell her to shut up without any heated response or ramifications. Becky’s just like, “yeah yeah, additional talking points.” Can you imagine Stone Cold Steve Austin talking on a live mic at the beginning of a show, someone telling him to shut up to his face, and him just going “yeah yeah, okay, whatever” and letting them cut the promo? He would’ve punched them in their face. Or, you know, kicked them in the stomach and sat down really fast with their face on his shoulder.
I think the other characters are more on point. Charlotte’s got a second wind following that glorious beatdown of Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series and is finally carrying herself with the believable confidence of a true Flair. Asuka screaming at people in Japanese always works. Maybe I’m just too worried about Becky Lynch losing that incredible momentum she developed due to WWE creative not knowing where to go with her next, and I wish they’d let her just write her own shit, because if we could get Twitter Becky Lynch on WWE TV all the time, nobody could take her. “Not caring” isn’t how anti-heroes work. They break the boundaries of traditional heroism because they care way the hell too much.
And because it’s a segment on WWE television in the 2010s, it’s only happening to set up an impromptu tag match. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville interrupt — I’m not sure what to make of their on-again off-again relationship, or even know if I’m supposed to be paying attention or caring — and end up in a match against Charlotte and Asuka. Becky Lynch ends up sitting on commentary, arguably making her the fifth most important person in the segment.
Rose and Deville get a big win thanks to, you know, Charlotte and Asuka being upcoming pay-per-view opponents who Can’t Co-Exist™, leading to them hitting each other. Again though, this is lazy but comparatively fine, as Raw would’ve had Paige join Mandy and Sonya’s team and say 3-on-2 is fair because it’s being contested under “Absolution Rules.” And Mandy Rose would’ve gotten rolled up after peeing herself.
Best: Someone Remembered That Cesaro Is Amazing
Up next is Jey Uso vs. Xavier Woods vs. Cesaro, which advances the Usos’ claim to another Smackdown Tag Team Championship match and brings back something that’s been missing from WWE TV lately: casual, constant reminders that Tony Cesaro is the strongest and most inhumanly wonderful wrestler in the world. Please enjoy him breaking out the “airplane swing,” aka giantly swinging Uce while simultaneously airplane-spinning woods.
I know we reference the insanity of Cesaro never being WWE Champion fairly often and keep wishing him into blockbuster singles runs, but man, it’d be nice just to give him a spotlight like this every now and then and not let him “being a heel” get in the way of his physical and professional peak as a performer. What, you wanna wait until he’s 45 to finally push him? Maybe he can feud with 60-year old “up and comer” Bobby Roode.
Best: THEY WORK HARD FOR THE CHICKENS
Speaking of talented physical monsters who need more love than they get, here’s Rusev corpsing Lana like three different times by comparing his body parts to food, and saying he’s going to fest on Shinsuke Nakamura. If you’re keeping score at home, his pecs are like wine barrels, and his traps are like “double-decker tacos supreme.” Also his bicep is bigger than Mount Fuji, which is not food, but is great.
The U.S. Championship scene on Smackdown is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to talent and likable characters, and I don’t think even the better weekly show realizes it. Imagine a division where Nakamura’s actually getting to be the Nakamura we knew and loved, AJ Styles was lingering around doing something other than I LUV MAH FAM’LY over and over, Samoa Joe wasn’t losing all the time, Cesaro was tearing through everyone, Rusev was riding in on a tank, and so on. They could clear up some room in the weirdly stale WWE Championship scene and do something really special just underneath. Eh, it’s still pretty good.
Also, Jon Stewart Is Here
He’s hosting Tribute to the Troops. I hope they keep him around for the next Saudi show, just to see if John Oliver still calls them out about it.
Best: Samoa Joe Dares To Resist Drugs And Alcohol
If you’re eight years old, you probably loved seeing Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton go through the motions of another tired but technically good wrestling match. I think everyone who watches the shows weekly is done seeing this match, but it’s two vets who know what they’re doing, doing what they know. It’s good for what it is.
The money here, however, is the fantastic assholery of Samoa Joe, who uses the same DIY spirit he used to make a storybook full of professional illustrations to insult AJ Styles’ family to film a PSA about moderation from a local bar, because Jeff Hardy’s had addiction issues his entire life and Joe’s the worst person in the world. Well, at least while Kevin Owens is injured. Joe pops in to distract Hardy with a condescending message, which honestly shouldn’t really affect a guy who shows up to work every week in 1997 Gadzooks pants with his face painted like a Papa Smurf acid trip, but here we are. Orton wins with an RKO, because of course he does.
Best: The Miz Thinks The World Cup Trophy Has Ears
Miz interrupts Shane McMahon’s intense weekly job of standing near a trophy he got for entering a murderer’s fantasy booked international tournament halfway through the finals and texting to ask why he’s interviewing a guy he hates on his talk show. Shane, who is still by record and definition the Best In The World, says he’s hosting it because it’s Miz TV and his name is Miz. Good one, Race Bannon.
After some prodding, Shane mentions that it’s a good idea for the guy who hates Daniel Bryan more than anyone in the world to do some investigative reporting and get some answers regarding his recent personality change, and Miz agrees, saying Shane owes him. When Shane says he doesn’t owe him anything, because he’s one of those garbage monsters from Fraggle Rock, Miz covers his trophy child’s ears. Which apparently the trophy has. THE HANDLES ARE THE EARS.
Really wouldn’t hate it if TLC ended with Miz and Bryan teaming up to shit-kick the Linda of Vince’s kids and his flat Earth frenemy.
Best: I’m Daniel Bryan, I Speak For The Trees
As for The New Daniel Bryan … holy shit, is he great. I wanted him to shave his head and beard and go back to being Ring of Honor American Dragon Bryan Danielson for a bit, but I’m all-in on him being an ultimate mash-up of Daniel Bryan, Kurt Cobain, and CJ Parker.
Bryan is now the top heel in the company because he cares about the environment, which is perfect for a company that went to Saudi Arabia after a Washington Post journalist got hacked to death with a bonesaw “because business” and gave George Bush a 10-bell salute at the beginning of Raw. Linda McMahon’s part of the Trump administration, so OF COURSE the worst person they could imagine is a little liberal-ass motherfucker who wears comfortable clothes and shades “real America” for not recycling or caring about climate change. It also allows those of us with basic interpretations of fact-checking and compassion to root for him, even if he’s calling us stupid all the time. Because guess what? We are super stupid. Not only that, but he kills the “what” chant by mentioning that fans are doing a stupid thing from 20 years ago. HEADSHOT.
I also love that it allows Bryan to remain at odds with his blood rival The Miz, who is easily the most society-obsessed and consumerist dude on the roster. Miz is the guy who WANTS to be on the red carpet and do talk shows all the time, and shows up to work every week in a sparkly Naruto headband. He’d hate the grungy little holier-than-thou know-it-all, and really the only difference in Bryan’s character is that he’s speaking out about the shit he cares about. If you’re going to make everyone a heel, at least do what Smackdown’s doing and give them enough dimension that you can understand their point of view beyond “I like the fans right now” and “I hate the fans right now.” I don’t care about the fans. I care about MOTHER EARTH.
Hey look, CJ Parker became the biggest star in WWE after all.
Best: Fickle Is Einhorn
This segment sets up the main event of AJ Styles vs. The Miz, which is very good but still highlighted by The New Daniel Bryan:
- saying he hopes his daughter grows up to kick as many men as possible in their groins, and
- jumping Style from behind and stomping him in his stupid yokel face
Bryan makes sure to get on the mic after the attack and once again scream “FICKLE! FICKLE! FICKLE! FICKLE!” at the fans. It’s such a good move, because yeah, you can say fans are stupid or whatever and that can be debated, but even my dorky entitled smark ass can’t deny wrestling fans are fickle. “Changing frequently, especially as regards one’s loyalties, interests, or affection?” Yep, that’s us. To deny that is to deny existence itself. My job is to write about wrestling for a large audience and approach the shows as constructively as I can, and I’m still gonna turn on Bo Dallas and Curt Axel the second they change their buttrock entrance theme to a Spirit Squad chant.
One thing I’m never going to stop loving is Daniel Bryan, though. Stomp fickle a-holes and truthers for THE PLANET, D-Bry.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
I hope the MMC is delayed, because Daniel refuses to stop beating up AJ, or they’re forced to just wrestle around Daniel beating up AJ.
The Real Birdman
I hope Bryan somehow repurposes New Day’s announce table & puts it on Etsy
Daniel Bryan and Cory Graves represents both types of hipster
I hope Daniel Bryan gets his own commentary table that is made out of reclaimed barnwood
Shinsuke Nakamura works for WWE full-time yet I’m more excited for the stereotypical Russian strong guy trained by Rikishi.
Baron Von Raschke
Asuka as the voice of reason and violence!
I never saw Ricky Morton do that to Robert Gibson.
I wish Becky had sat in a backwards folding chair with a towel draped over her shoulders, Samoa Joe style.
4 girls fighting for the right to go one on one with The Man. Becky Lynch has true Big Ric Energy.
Samoa Joe picked up Baron Corbin’s shift at Applebee’s.
Really enjoyable show this week, especially in the wake of a Raw that was a crime against nature. The New Daniel Bryan for President.
Thanks for reading, as always. Drop us a comment below to tell us whether you’re pro-environmental regulation or pro-everyone dying in an Earth-wide molten fire, and share the column on social media to help us out. Join us next week for Raw and Smackdown, WWE’s ongoing tribute to Goofus and Gallant.