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WWE SmackDown Live recap & reactions (Nov. 13, 2018): Scrambling

WWE SmackDown Live returned last night (Nov. 13) from the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri. You can find all the results from the live blog that will never turn heel on you right here.

New Champion

So... we have a new WWE Champion. It’s Daniel Bryan. Heel Daniel Bryan.

How’d we get here?

The show opened with the promotion of the AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar match. They brought Paul Heyman out, and it seemed to be standard fare. The SmackDown champ talked up that since the last time he and Brock met, he’s just gotten better at submissions. And Brock is ripe for tapping.

But for some reason, Paul Heyman kept bringing up Daniel Bryan, describing him as the #1 in ring worker, putting Styles at #2. Styles just kind of brushed that aside. He is the champ, and he did just submit Bryan a few weeks ago after all.

Nonetheless, Bryan came out because they were saying his name too much. The Beard seemed to be unreasonably angry that they kept mentioning him, even though they were pretty much putting him over. Apparently, Bryan has lingering issues from his brief feud with AJ Styles from weeks back (you know, when they teamed with each other but accidentally hit each other on purpose).

This seemed VERY forced. They went from 0 to 60 with minimal explanation. Their last feud always had some respect to it, and now they’re doing pull apart brawls? But it felt forced because it was forced. The major beats of this episode were trying to make the best of a bad situation. And if they’re going to book a title change, they need to book the title match. If they’re going to book a title match five days away from a PPV, then they need to come up with a reason, even if that means forcing a square peg into a round hole.

The match itself was very good, especially at the end when it really reached a boil. The finish was AJ Styles accidentally hitting the referee when trying for the Phenomenal Forearm. That’s when Bryan delivered a shocking low blow and then capitalized with the running knee.

Just in case anyone was going to doubt “Is this a heel turn?” he then kicked AJ’s face a whole bunch after the match.

The heel turn was shocking. My mouth was actually hanging open when he delivered that low blow. And I’m not against the move.

Bryan is a very good babyface, but he wasn’t in the position where fans were rabid for him everywhere he went. He has been somewhat cooled off since his big comeback. I’m willing to see how this plays out. Maybe fans will reject it, but I’m curious to see how he plays it.

Plus, the title change itself felt predictable. It was clear they were shaking up Survivor Series to make up for the loss of their marquee match. But the heel turn was not predictable. May as well start telling a story with this shake up.

The timing is certainly odd though. The idea of Brock vs. Bryan is the underdog vs. the monster. David vs. Goliath. Now David’s the heel? Do they expect us to cheer for Brock? Are we supposed to forget the heel turn for Sunday and then come back to it on Tuesday?

This is a match I’m looking forward to, but the situation is curious. And the rushed way they had to get there takes some of the fun out of it. (Though it’s not as if they had a choice.) I’ll also probably cringe every time Brock Germans Bryan across the ring.

Listen to what The Man said

Due to an injury sustained in last night’s utterly epic Raw takeover, Becky Lynch is out of Survivor Series.

They opened the show addressing this right off the bat. Tom Phillips said Bex had a “broken face and severe concussion.” They made sure to show us the specific moment when it happened, playing a video and highlighting the stiff elbow of Nia Jax. This is likely just to get heat on Nia. After all, she has a future date with Ronda Rousey for the Raw women’s title. It’s probably the main reason. But I would be lying if I didn’t think “Are they throwing her under the bus?” for at least a moment.

After holding my breath for an hour, I was able to finally exhale when we learned that The Man would not be relinquishing her title. She just chose her replacement.

Paige called all the women down to the ring before the champ walked down, rocking a wicked shiner. She stared down all of the women as the crowd let her know who they’d prefer. (Judging by St. Louis, Asuka was their pick.)

Eventually, she went back to Charlotte and told her to beat Ronda like she’d beat Ronda. Make her tap like she would. Then they shared a hug.

The hug felt slightly out of character for the Badlass, and I wish they kept the moment more subtle and in line with who Becky is now. But it didn’t bother me too much. She was still full of swagger and crowds have been treating her like a babyface for... well... pretty much this entire time. But I do hope that when WWE starts treating Becky as a face, she won’t lose that attitude that fans are loving.

Charlotte is an interesting pick, especially given that there were rumors that this would be a WrestleMania 35 match... maybe even the main event. Not that they couldn’t do it now and then. Hell, they can use it as a test run to see how they mesh and if fans respond. But if they were absolutely set on that match, they may have wanted to do it for the first time in New Jersey. It’s not as if Asuka couldn’t take that spot on Sunday instead.

The other interesting aspect to me is it’s still a Horsewoman. So if they were going to use Becky vs. Ronda to set up a Horsewomen feud (and then lead into Ronda’s Mania match), they can still do that here.

(I’m actually really hoping for that to be the finish. It’d be an awesome reveal. The swagger of Becky powering this team who can do what they want could be wildly entertaining. Plus it’ll finally give Sasha and Bayley something to do. Lord knows they need it.)

I’m not nearly as excited for this match as Ronda vs. Becky. Hell, I’m not nearly as excited for Survivor Series without it, even with Brock vs. Bryan. But if we only lose Becky for a little time, it’s not too bad. We never want to see people getting hurt, but bloodied Becky taunting Ronda was an epic image that will always be part of her legacy. If she’s not out for long, that’s at least a small silver lining. Plus, they don’t have to figure out who’s going to lose between their big crossover star and the hottest act in the company.


With Bryan being moved to a title match, it was up to Miz to rebuild the Survivor Series team.

Unfortunately, the odd couple co-captain pairing that was so interesting last week had to be dropped for them to spice up Survivor Series with the Lynch injury. It was a casualty to all the hot shot booking.

Jeff Hardy earned a spot on the team by beating Andrade “Cien” Almas in a match that was nowhere near as entertaining as Almas vs. Rey last week.

Almas is picking up losses on SmackDown more, which is unfortunate. He’s so talented and he’s got a manager who can talk in Zelina. If he’s headed towards the spot of giving people great matches, it’s a waste of his talents. Hopefully they find something for him that’s more of a story and not just part of other’s stories.

The Miz tried to kick Rey Mysterio off the team because he smelled too much like a Daniel Bryan pick. (Speaking of scents, Miz really liked Samoa Joe’s coconut oil.) Paige didn’t like the move given Mysterio already earned his spot on the team. She made an executive decision. Rey would face Miz and if Rey won, he’s still on the team. If he lost, he’s off.

Rey was able to get the win. After the match, Randy Orton once again tried to attack the Master of the 619. But this time, Mysterio avoided the attack. However, the A Lister was in the wrong place at the wrong time and took an RKO from the unpredictable Orton instead.

Other Happenings:

New Day Walked into the Bar: More like walked into Big Show’s fist because that’s how Bar and Big Show beat the New Day this week.

You Hurt Me: Shinsuke Nakamura is hurt that Seth Rollins is more focused on Dean Ambrose than their match at Survivor Series. Because of that, he’s promising to break his face, ensuring both The Mans have broken faces.

No Raw: There was no retaliation from Raw. I was hoping we’d at least see the B Team and Ascension try to sneak in, but WWE security successfully stopping it and kicking them out. It’d have been the first time that WWE security was competent.

A lot happened on this episode, but everything was rushed. Without real world knowledge of the events and how they have to book things, this would have been down right weird. But even given that, I found this show more interesting than I found it outwardly entertaining.

It wasn’t a bad show and certainly there were aspects I enjoyed. AJ vs. Bryan was very good. Seeing Becky in any segment currently is a treat. But I found myself watching this episode interested to see how they handle having to rebook the show on the fly more than I did for the stories. Anything that wasn’t about the WWE title or replacing Becky Lynch just felt like it was there, taking up time until we could address one of those two things.

Because of that, it’s tougher to assign this show a grade.

I’d also like to point out how cursed this Survivor Series is. Rumors had it they weren’t going to even run the Raw vs. SmackDown gimmick, at least with the champs. But then Roman had to leave, and they rebooked the show. Then five days prior to the event, they’re forced to have to rebook the entire thing again.

Grade: B-

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