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WWE SmackDown Live recap & reactions (Nov. 20, 2018): Shades of Confusion

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WWE SmackDown Live returned last night (Nov. 20) from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, the same city where the 10-1 Rams put up 54 points in victory in one of the best Monday Night games ever. You can find all the results at the live blog that is Un-de-fea-ted right here.

The New Charlotte

Charlotte Flair opened up SmackDown, coming off her vicious post match attack on Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series on Sunday.

It was a sign that when it comes to the top women, they’re throwing faces and heels out the window.

Charlotte answered a vicious attack that was by all intents a heel turn (one that was cheered on) by saying she did it for the women in the locker room and her friend Becky Lynch. Becky Lynch, who is the most over person on the roster right now, and got there by acting more like a heel.

Then Paige, who is the good gal general manager, told Charlotte she appreciated what she did to Rousey but at the same time, had to fine her for putting her hands on the referees. ($100,000!)

Then the heel IIconics came out to talk trash to the now heel Charlotte and that led to a match against Billie Kay that Flair won. After the match, Charlotte requested Peyton Royce fight her as well. Royce had a better showing against Flair and this match ended in DQ when Kay got involved. They attempted a post match beatdown but Charlotte beat the crap out of both of them.

To recap, after her “heel turn” on Sunday, Charlotte cut a promo that was pretty much a face promo, then was booked like a babyface in her matches, but ended with raising hell.

You could say it’s shades of gray, but it wasn’t really clear either way. They treated this like a heel turn on Sunday night. It was. Stomping a chair around a woman’s neck is a heel move. But then she came out and cut a babyface promo and the babyface GM was cool with it? There’s a disconnect here.

When Becky turned heel, I knew exactly why. They told a very long story to get there and fans cheered because they sympathized with her plight and understood her actions, even if that wasn’t the initial intent. I don’t know why Charlotte threw away her match on Sunday. It doesn’t matter to me if she’s acting like a heel and we cheer her as long as we understand why. And if anything, tonight made me more confused with who she is than I was coming into the show.

Performance wise, Charlotte is more suited for this role, but she’s not the natural in the role her tea-mate Becky is. Her promo had moments of trying to show her new demeanor instead of being it, as if she was trying to tap into that magic Becky Lynch found without the same level of success. Her confidence shines through more in this role though. When she told Peyton she didn’t have all day to fight her, pretty much telling her to get in the ring so she can kick her ass, that was Charlotte at her best.

The Man was absent from this show, which is always upsetting. But absence makes the heart grow fonder. As long as crowds are fiending for the Irish War Goddess, all will be well.


Bests in the World

Miz had Shane McMahon on MizTV this week. With Shane promising some changes after they got swept at Survivor Series (because the preshow doesn’t count), and advertising this segment being the “State of the state,” this was obviously going to be where we learned the fallout of the humiliation at Survivor Series.

Or not.

Instead, we got a segment where Miz sucked up to Shane so much, he was up to his waist in Shane’s backside. He convinced the commish to tag with him against a jobber tag team of the Bryant Brothers, who Miz considered “tag team specialists,” to try to sell Shane on the match.

Shane accepted but was too hurt from Survivor Series to tag in, so Miz had to take on these dudes, which should have been no problem.

He was rolled up for the loss.

In a vacuum, this was funny. Miz is always gold and his chemistry with Shane was present. But when Shane teased changes and then advertising the “state of the state,” a comedy segment where Miz loses doesn’t cut it.

The fact that they didn’t even mention getting trucked at Survivor Series makes the decision to book Raw to sweep 6-0 looks even worse in retrospect. That kind of loss is fine if there’s a story that comes from it. To ignore it completely just makes one of their two shows look clearly inferior.


The New Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan’s first promo as a heel was something else.

It was weird, awkward, and kind of perfect.

Bryan spoke in an odd cadence and continued to refer to himself in the third person. He was unkind to the fans, noting the Yes chants faded over time and people moved on. Those chants were replaced by chants for AJ Styles, which is likely part of his reason for targeting the former champ.

He talked about his match with Lesnar, telling us it was all part of the plan. There was weakness inside him and he needed Brock Lesnar to beat it out of him. Now that it’s done, he’s a new man. The Yes Movement is dead. He’s the new Daniel Bryan.

Daniel Bryan is committed to being heel, and that was completely evident here. His odd cadence and referring to himself in the third person, even dressing in boring ol’ street clothing, was all designed to make sure there was nothing redeeming about him. It is very easy to cheer Daniel Bryan. He’s been a fan favorite for ages. He only just came back from injury. He just had an excellent match with Brock Lesnar. And still, he had this LA crowd booing throughout this segment.

Twisting the dreams he spoke about in his first promo back into some weird voice instructing him was an excellent touch. It corrupted something about him we loved. Calling himself “The New Daniel Bryan” isn’t creative. It’s not cool. It’s lame, which is by design. It’s another thing not to like about him.

The goal here was to present nothing redeeming about this new Daniel Bryan and tonight, it worked. Daniel Bryan has a great mind for the business so I will bet it continues to work.


Unmasked

Randy Orton continues to go after people’s identities.

In the main event, Orton defeated Rey Mysterio, targeting Rey’s sacred mask the entire time. He won after an impressive RKO on the floor when Rey was going for his slide out of the ring, and then finished Rey off with another RKO back in the ring.

After the match, the Viper continued the attack. Rey’s mask had been torn through this time and fell off. Randy held up the mask as his spoil of war.

Orton taking Rey’s mask is part of his quest to attack what makes people who they are. Here it was Rey’s mask, which is very important to luchadors. With Jeff Hardy it was his face paint. With Tye Dillinger, it was his joy of holding up ten fingers.

I can’t imagine Mysterio is done with Randy and this segment has me anticipating his revenge.


Other Happenings:

Feast Fight: WWE held their obligatory holiday themed gimmick match as the New Day, dressed like pilgrims, defeated the Bar & Big Show. Food was thrown, tables were broken, Big E orally molested a turkey. You know... the usual.

Tags: Naomi and Asuka, who appear to be good friends, defeated Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, who aren’t good friends any more.


This show had its moments such as Daniel Bryan’s promo and the main event. Charlotte’s opening was solid but was oddly booked and left more questions about who Charlotte is right now. Not mentioning the clean sweep at all was a colossal disappointment for a fallout show.

Grade: C

Needs more The Man.

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