DANIEL BRYAN MAKES ANNOUNCEMENT- He says he’s been trying to contact Dolph all week and Dolph hasn’t answered, so he is forced to assume that what Dolph did was relinquishing the title, so we’re going to have a tournament to crown a new one. He gets as far as announcing that one of the opening-round matches will be Roode vs. Corbin before he is interrupted by Benjamin & Gable, who want to know what is going to happen with the tag titles. Bryan asks them “didn’t you just get an opportunity at the tag team titles two week ago on Clash of Champions?”
Well… yes. But they just pinned the champs clean again last week so they should get another title shot. Bryan bringing this up was completely irrelevant (unless he was going into business for himself to troll the writers for their dumb booking, but Gable’s response was a very WWE-scripted answer, so I’m sure that’s not the case). Gable tries to say that the title shot wasn’t fair, and Benjamin says that they never got a one-on-one shot and Gable says that there was no reason to add those other teams to their title match. Shelton points out that last week they pinned the Usos and says that that proves that if the title match at the PPV had been one-on-one, they would have beaten them. This line of thinking still doesn’t justify Benjamin & Gable being the ones who got pinned at the PPV.
Rusev & English came out and English sang some reasons why they deserve a title shot:
1. They beat the champs two weeks ago
2. They didn’t get pinned at Clash of the Champions
They also claimed that they deserve a title shot because the day after Christmas is Rusev Day, which is blatantly false. Rusev Day is September 26th, not December 26th. That’s what the mayor of Plodiv proclaimed in his proclamation. No other day is Rusev Day. That’s just a fact.
Then New Day came out and said that they deserved a title shot, too because they didn’t get pinned at the PPV, either and also pinned Rusev & English last week. Of course they did this all in a very New Day way, which involved asking Bryan to take the “Kofi Kingston True/False Challenge.” The third question of this challenge was “who else but your boys deserves a title shot?” which is not a true or false question.
Anyway, we’ve got the same three teams out here claiming to be the #1 contenders, so what did the PPV match solve?
Bryan said that everyone has good points, so we’re going to have a #1 contendership match. Sorry, Bryan, but while one could argue that New Day and especially Rusev & English should be made to earn another title shot, Gable & Benjamin pinned the freakin’ champions. That should be grounds for an automatic title match because if they don’t get one then the whole concept of being a champion loses its meaning. They have now created doubt in people’s minds as to whether or not The Usos- the current champions- are really the best team in the division. We need to settle that doubt, and the only way that can be done is by having The Usos face off with Benjamin & Gable to either prove that the win was a fluke (an Usos victory) or to prove that it was not a fluke and that Benjamin & Gable truly are the best team now and thus deserve to wear the championship belts (a Gable & Benjamin victory).
#1 CONTENDERSHIP MATCH: Aiden English & Rusev vs. Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable vs. The New Day (w/Kofi Kingston)- 8/10
Shouldn’t Bryan have at least made this an elimination match to preclude the possibility of the team that doesn’t get pinned here still making the same case that they deserve to be #1 contenders because they didn’t get pinned in this #1 contendership match?
Do you remember that gimmick they did with these teams at the PPV where they decided to have one guy from each team in at once and you can only tag in your own partner? The one pretty much everyone with the exception of Dave Meltzer hated? Well WWE decided to do it again.
And I’ll give them credit where it’s due: They thought they had the issue figured out and that having three guys in the ring at a time rather than four (and thus only one action sequence going on at a time) would solve the problem, and it did. This match was fourteen minutes of exciting wrestling action, and these guys did an excellent job of managing to make every move feel important while also keeping things feeling relatively fast-paced. Awesome match!
Gable pinned Big E. after he and Shelton hit Big E. with their finish. If there was one negative about this match t was the fact that WWE’s stupid way of doing things mean that The Usos had to come out here to do commentary where they babbled on about all of the teams and had a conversation with the announcers rather than just having the announcers call the match and then having The Usos cut a promo later in the show when they know which team they should cut their promo on to build up the title match.
BRYAN & SHANE BACKSTAGE- terrible.
This started with Bryan in his office… and rather than f*cking around on his phone, they made it clear that had just been watching the match. What a novel concept!
Shane is here to tell Dragon that he took exception to Dragon telling him that he was trying to stop him from turning into Vince because, although Shane admits that Vince can be “ruthless,” “cold,” “difficult to work with,” and “a downright S.O.B.,” Vince “built this empire brick by brick, by himself” and has “redefined this business” and blah blah blah. So yeah. Shane once again clearly does not understand the very simple point Bryan was trying to make to him. Luckily for Shane, Bryan is a patient man and is willing to pretty much spell it out for him, saying that the things Shane has been doing lately remind him of some of the aspects of Vince that “aren’t so pleasant.”
Shane tries to counter this by saying that Bryan has also been “throwing [his] weight around,” and supports this by bringing up Bryan booking a tournament to replace Dolph Ziggler as the US Champion. Specifically, Shane brings up the case of Baron Corbin, who, as the former champion, Shane says “has a legitimate gripe” that he shouldn’t have to go through a tournament. One would think that Shane is about to suggest that Corbin, who as the former champion is theoretically due a rematch and should thus get a bye into the finals of the tournament, which is the next available title match. Or you might even think that Shane was about to argue that having his champion’s rematch owed to him made Corbin the default #1 contender, and thus Dolph throwing down the belt and not showing up to work is tantamount to forfeiting that match and that Corbin should be the next champion.
But if you thought either of those things you would be wrong, because those are positions based on logic, and thus would never have entered into Shane’s mind. Instead he followed this up by saying “why wouldn’t you just make Baron Corbin vs. Bobby Roode? I’m sure Bobby Roode doesn’t want to go through an entire tournament, either.”
Shane, why are you automatically presuming that Bobby Roode should be in the match that decides who the next champion will be? He hasn’t done sh*t to earn it! Isn’t that you’re favorite condescending lecture to give, Shane? That “title opportunities must be earned” or however you phrased it Charlotte or Lana or Corbin or Owens or some other heel would just come out and demand one? Or, if you prefer, look at it through the lens of your other favorite bullsh*t catchphrase, “The Land of Opportunity,” and say that by booking a whole tournament, Bryan is giving other wrestlers the opportunity to win the US Title (which is what Bryan said to him). How is this so f*cking hard for you to understand?
And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, Shane says that he doesn’t understand why Bryan would book AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens as the main event of tonight’s show. Um… because it’s two of the top stars on the show facing off? Shane does realize that when Vince was “building this empire brick by brick,” he did it by booking Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper as the main event all over the country and not Johnny Rodz vs. Jim Brunzell, right?
Shane asked Bryan if he had at least barred Sami Zayn from ringside, and when Bryan said that he hadn’t, Shane said “well then we all know primarily how that will turn out.” Oh really, Shane? As opposed to what? When you did ban Sami Zayn from ringside and he still interfered in the match? Are you really going to criticize Bryan for this?
Shane then found an obnoxious round-about way to accuse Bryan of showing favoritism towards Owens & Zayn, telling Bryan that “perception is reality” and that “other people have been saying” that Bryan is showing such favoritism but insisting that he isn’t among them. What a little sh*t.
Daniel Bryan explains to Shane that he is booking Owens vs. AJ as the main event because that was the best feud Smackdown had all year so why not let them go out there and deliver an exciting main event for Smackdown. The fact that Bryan actually had to explain this to Shane should be sufficient evidence for the Board of Directors or whoever to get him removed from power like they did when Vince tried to fire Cena after he lost to Punk at Money in the Bank 2011 (and Steph and Hunter would definitely support the move, so there is no reason for it not to happen). If guys could pass around a petition in 2011 to get Hunter removed from power then surely Owens & Zayn would be able to do the same to Shane right? Daniel Bryan is a true saint for the patience he has shown in dealing with this obtuse legacy-hire rather than doing the right thing for the wrestling business and sneaking up behind him as soon as he gets to the building every week and choking him out, then tying him up and shoving him in a broom closet until the end of the show, where he can do no harm.
I mean… Shane has to be going heel at the end of this, right? There is no possible way they can think Shane is coming off like a babyface here, is there?
THE BLUDEGON BROTHERS vs. TYLER BREEZE & FANDANGO- DUD!
This match is happening because ghosts of The Ascension got it booked as a Christmas present to Breezango to allow them a chance to redeem themselves after their PPV loss. Clearly they are vengeful spirits whose real goal is to make life hell for the two men who left them to die in a gas chamber.
Or maybe I’m wrong. This match was very short, but not because Breezango were squashed like bugs but rather the because just when the bludgeoning was about to really get going, the Ascension ran in and each hit a Bludgeon Brother with a shoulder tackle that didn’t even knock them down, but this is still enough to warrant a DQ so at least the referee made the right call. The Ascension ran away, and for some reason the Bludgeon Brothers neither followed them not just returned to bludgeoning Breezango.
DASHA TRIES TO INTERVIEW THE ASCENSION & BREEZANGO- You’ve all heard of the item of women’s clothing known as the pants-suit? Well Dasha appears to have invented her own variation on the concept called the pants-toga. She looks ridiculous. Did someone forget to tell her that the holiday we’re here to celebrate is Christmas, not the Ides of March?
The Ascension said that Breezango weren’t in the right frame of mind to conduct this interview so they would speak for them. They said that The Bludgeon Brothers had crossed the line and thus Breezango was challenging them to a rematch next week. Breezango did not look happy with this at all.
RUBY RIOTT INSET PROMO- soul-crushing.
“Everyone is talking about the women’s Royal Rumble. Well a ‘rumble’ is just another word for ‘riot,’ so that gives me an advantage. So at the Royal Rumble… or should I say ‘the Royal Riot,’ I will be the last one standing. And Naomi, you’re going to be the first one I eliminate. But why wait? That glow has got to go.
Yeah. They signed one of the best promos in wrestling and gave her a lobotomy.
Props where they are due: Liv Morgan has found a great look for this gimmick. She looks like she should be a total babyface, being all smiley and happy and wearing a shirt that says “Liv Life” on it, but something in the splotches of coloration she has on her gear and in her hair makes her subtly come across as just a little bit off; like she’s too happy and smiley, and thus, under the surface probably lurks something dangerous and a little bit crazy.
NAOMI vs. RUBY RIOTT (w/the Riott Squad)-
Wow. They treated this like an actual grudge match this time, starting off by charging at each other and throwing punches. They had one opening exchange, which Ruby won. They did one more quick sequence in which Naomi got a nearfall off of a Disaster Kick. Then Naomi got distracted by first Liv and then Ruby, both of whom she make look like punks by knocking them down with one shot. Then Ruby kicked Naomi in the back of the knee, then kicked her in the head with the Riott kick and got the pin. Total match time was fifty-six seconds (Cagematch.net has it listed at a minute and a half, but I literally timed it so they are very wrong). Long live the Divas/Women’s R/Evolution! (Or, more likely, they think they can get away with giving the women short matches and sh*t segments because all of their talk about how the women are “making history” with the “first ever women’s Royal Rumble” will distract us all and we’ll pat them on the back for being so progressive and ground-breaking that they don’t actually have to live up to the standards they now claim to have for the women in the intervening month, and they’ll go back to treating them more equally again once they don’t have a big fancy announcement to distract us with).
Sarah Logan purposely stepped on Naomi after the match, which made me laugh because the atrocious way Naomi has been written lately makes her a total heel in my eyes.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- bad.
The Riott Squad beat Naomi up until Charlotte comes out. Sarah Logan tries to meet her on the ramp but gets clotheslined. Charlotte then slides into the ring and only Ruby steps up to challenge her. Are these women being controlled by some primitive video game AI? Ruby gets speared, and only once Charlotte has started to rain down punches on Ruby does Liv get involved… and she gets immediately speared and punched a lot as well before Logan comes back and boots Charlotte in the face and they finally started beating Charlotte up all together and then get to celebrate. Why not just have them all beat Charlotte up together so that you don’t make them look like total punks who would never have a shot of beating Charlotte in a fair fight?
Then Nattie’s music hit and the rest of the locker room (aside from the injured Becky, so a whopping four women, one of whom is Lana) came out and they had a sh*tty state-down until the Riott Squad tried to back down, but then the others attacked them anyway and the Riott Sqaud ran off.
This was basically the same exact segment we got a few weeks ago on Raw when the combined might of the remainder of the women’s locker room came out to fight off Absolution. You know… the other group of three women who debuted the night before the Riott Squad did, and did the exact same thing the Riott Squad would go on to do in their debut? Except the differences between the two segment are as follows:
1. On Raw they didn’t go out of their way to make Absoluton look like chumps before sending the whole locker room out to stop them.
2. Raw has a much larger roster, and thus we had a lot more women chasing the heels off, so it looked more impressive.
3. Raw hadn’t just given us several weeks of giant schmozes with pretty much the entire women’s roster, so when they did it, it felt like something out of the ordinary, not the usual laziness.
4. Due to the clearly limited creative capacity of the minds of the people who write the Smackdown, they were completely unable to even conceive of doing those schmozes without essentially breaking the women up into factions, first- and pathetically simplistic factions, at that. There is the Riott Squad, the babyfaces, and the non-Riott Squad heels (who had just spend most of the spring and summer running around together under the atrocious moniker of “the Welcoming Committee,” so they don’t even feel like a new faction). As a result of this, what on Raw felt like a massive display of unity, as heels like Alexa Bliss and Alicia Fox stood shoulder to shoulder with babyfaces like Sasha Banks and Mickie James, who they had spent the past few months feuding with, and all of them standing shoulder to shoulder with Dana Brooke, who was essentially a complete outside, all to come to the aid of big bully heel Nia Jax and a total outsider like Asuka, when transposed onto Smackdown just feels like the same old sh*t.
(And I would like to point out that items three and four wouldn’t even have been problems if not for their insane decision to make the Nattie vs. Charlotte match at Clash of Champion a Lumberjill Match rather than just booking Riott Squad vs. Lana, Tamina, & Carmella as a separate match, but these morons literally cannot seem to book anything with the women that does not involve throwing the entire roster out there at the same time.)
Take all of these points and then factor in the fact that Smackdown is also doing this a few weeks after Raw did it, and this came across like a sh*tty rip-off of what Raw did, done by people with no understanding whatsoever of why the Raw version of this segment was good.
Oh. And I guess Nattie is just back now, despite walking out in tears after throwing a temper-tantrum just nine days ago on the PPV, with no mentioned of the incident having been made between now and then. Good storytelling there, WWE.
RENEE YOUNG INTERVIEWS AJ STYLES- great!
She wants to know how he’ll deal with the fact that Sami Zayn will be allowed in Owens’ corner. AJ says he doesn’t give a sh*t about the angle with Shane and Bryan. He’ll take whatever is thrown at him and still win his wrestling matches because he’s the best wrestler in the world. He says that, 2018 will be his year, just like 2017 was.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE TOURNAMENT FIRST-ROUND MATCH: Bobby Roode vs. Baron Corbin- 6/10
Roode won by roll-up. Can we maybe get an announcement about who else is in the tournament?
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE TOURNAMENT FIRST-ROUND MATCH: Tye Dillinger vs. Jinder Mahal (w/the Singh Brothers)- 6.25/10
Dillinger cut a boring inset promo. Corey Graves said that Dillinger’s gimmick was narcissistic. Byron tried to refute this claim by saying Dillinger “has been very open about the fact that he doesn’t see himself as perfect. It’s a motivational tool.” When has Tye Dillinger ever said that?
Jinder worked Dillinger’s back and won. They’re already building up the idea that Jinder winning the US Title would disrespect the US because Jinder doesn’t like the US. So basically we’re back to the same old sh*t with Jinder, as well as the same old sh*t with the US Title.
DASHA INTERVIEWS KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN- Good promo by Owens & Zayn. The right finish for this match now has to be Owens getting the pin after AJ gets cracked in the head with that champagne bottle.
RENEE YOUNG INTERVIEWS RANDY ORTON- he enters himself into the Royal Rumble. Nakamura showed up and said he would, too, except they had him do it in a terrible, WWE way.
AJ STYLES vs. KEVIN OWENS (w/Sami Zayn)- 8/10
Byron is insistent that “there is a lot of buzz in that locker room” that Bryan is showing favoritism to Owens and Zayn. The problem with this is that we have seen exactly one person address this issue… and that person was AJ, who said that he doesn’t know if Bryan is showing favoritism or not, and doesn’t care. This is such sh*tty storytelling.
These guys had an awesome match together, as you would expect. While we didn’t get the champagne bottle finish, what we did get was interesting, which was Shane coming out to eject Sami (after Sami had distracted AJ several times), but this distracted the referee when AJ had Owens rolled up for the pin. AJ went to complain to the ref, and which allowed Owens to roll him up for the pin. This finish was interesting in that it seems to force Shane into a place where he seems to have to admit that, as Corey Graves said, his vendetta is now hurting other people (and, as I’m sure Bryan will put it next week, the show itself). Shane can then either give it up or he can pursue it anyway, not caring who else gets screwed, which would make him a heel (although what they’ll probably do is have him react how he usually does and make his bullsh*t excuses and expect us to treat him like the babyface).
This was two awesome matches and a bunch boring stuff in the middle, but at least this week they finally did things to move storylines along in a meaningful way.
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Hold #712: ARM BAR!
WWE in 2005
FIP in 2005
TNA Victory Road 2008
PWG All-Star Weekend V: Night 2
ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
WWE in 2005
FIP in 2005
TNA Victory Road 2008
PWG All-Star Weekend V: Night 2
ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
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