The blue brand sets up shop in Minneapolis on Nov. 27.
If you’re on The Man’s crowded bandwagon, it feels like Women’s champion Becky Lynch has been gone for a long time - even though she’s really only missed a week’s worth of TV.
If you’re not, Lynch’s frequent tweeting and her fans (including those of us who run this site) fawning over her tweets probably makes it feel like she never left.
Either way, she will be on SmackDown tonight for the first time since relinquishing her spot in a match against Ronda Rousey on the Survivor Series card after a Nia Jax punch broke her face.
Both of the women it makes the most sense for Lynch to feud with are on Raw. The kayfabe border between the brands can be crossed whenever WWE feels like it, but there are creative and logistical challenges to building to a match across shows. One of the biggest ones is that Jax & Rousey are due to face each other at the next pay-per-view (PPV), Dec. 16’s TLC in San Jose. Team red faces a stiff enough challenge creating excitement for that Money in the Bank rematch, even with Nia’s meta-heat for injuring Becky. Trying to include the Badlass in any substantial way risks leaving the two principals looking like supporting players in their own story.
That leaves social media as the place to keep things hot for future Jax vs. Lynch, Rowdy vs. Badlass and any combination of Horsewomen showdowns. It’s also where things have been confusing with regards to where Becky stands with the woman she just ended a feud with - Charlotte Flair.
Last we saw the former Tea Time duo together, Lynch chose Charlotte as her replacement for Survivor Series. In a move some (including this writer) saw as unnecessary & out of character, that scene closed on Becky embracing her friend-turned-bitter rival. The Queen would go on to Los Angeles, a disqualification loss and her own online/cross-brand feud with Rousey.
That’s where it gets weird. In her promo last week explaining her actions, Flair aligned herself with the champ and generally just acted an awful lot like Becky. A lot of people noticed, including Becky, who used Twitter to poke fun at Charlotte for copying her act. But that was done almost simultaneously with the pair being allies in a war of words with Ronda & her running buddies.
WWE.com’s (sparse) official preview for tonight’s show questions if Lynch will “have anything to say about her former friend’s new attitude?” The “former friend” bit is good, as The Man really does need to walk alone, even if she has some allies she can lean on should a four-on-four fight break out in the future. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Becky’s online critique of Charlotte’s “new attitude” is brought over to television. That could signal that the program between the two isn’t over.
Which isn’t something either of them really need right now, I don’t think. But I’m also not sure what else there is for Lynch to do. SmackDown’s heels aren’t serious threats, and I don’t see what anyone gains by feeding her another babyface. And whether this discussion even matters depends on something we don’t know - is she cleared to wrestle?
It’s great to see The Man coming back around, but her return brings more questions than answers.
The Title Scene
Even without clarity on those issues, the women have been outshining the men on both shows of late. SmackDown’s best hope for a compelling program featuring WWE champ Daniel Bryan hinges on AJ Styles’ words & actions tonight. We haven’t seen the Phenomenal One (not counting Starrcade) since Bryan low blowed him and took the belt on Nov. 13. They’re got a rematch coming up in San Jose, and it’s up to the Phenomenal One to keep momentum from Bryan’s speech last week. He also needs to convince us the company really might hot shot the belt back onto him after DB’s loss to Brock Lesnar.
Things have not been great for tag team titleholders The Bar, being the first to fall victim to Drake Maverick’s urine-based managerial strategies at Survivor Series, then doing the job to New Day in last week’s Thanksgiving-themed shenanigans. Hopefully they can start a feud with The Usos tonight.
Who knows if United States champion Shinsuke Nakamura will even make it onto our screens tonight, but he was there during Sunday’s Starrcade special on WWE Network. If that counts in continuity, Nak did set up possible feuds with Rey Mysterio, Rusev and even Miz. There’s also Jeff Hardy, who WWE informs us is celebrating 20 years since his WWE debit on this episode... maybe with a title shot?
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- There’s been a lot of interest in whether or not Miz is turning face, and if commissioner Shane McMahon is turning heel. Last week’s unsuccessful team-up between the two only added fuel to that fire.
- He may eventually be a challenger for Shinsuke, but Rey will first want revenge on Randy Orton for unmasking him last week, and trying to put him on the injury list with a steel chair attack.
- Can Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville get back on the same page? Is there any reason Asuka & Naomi are being used to advance that feud instead of doing something more meaningful?
Three weeks until TLC!
What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?