It’s been a secondary (or tertiary story) on SmackDown for several weeks, but c’mon. How can I not lead with Sasha Banks when she’s out here mocking children again?
Dana Brooke challenged Bayley to another match after losing last week to the Champion, and Bayley was willing to fight once more as long as it wasn’t for her title. And we could debate the intelligence of Brooke’s decision to fight Bayley with Banks lurking at ringside without any backup of her own, but the truth is that Bayley didn’t need any help; she put Dana away without too much trouble, and the two heels had no problems trash-talking Brooke after the match, either.
And that brought out the babyface of the hour: Lacey Evans. Evans’ role in this feud so far has been intriguing...and yet it’s worked, oddly enough. Sure, you could poke holes in her about-face change in character, but the dynamic works. It’s fun to cheer for her against two heels who have depth and are doing mean things.
Y’know. Like Banks trash-talking Evans’ daughter in the front row as she drove a knee into Evans’ gut.
Evans had challenged Banks to a match after the despicable duo started in on Brooke, and it basically devolved into a brawl as soon as Banks taunted Evans’ daughter. All of that further established the bad blood brewing, and Brooke’s involvement is now helping to create a resistance that’s more than just Evans.
It feels fresh to me. The SmackDown women’s division hasn’t really stood out in a little while, so this is a really welcome change to how the show’s been running. Consider me a fan of this angle; I hope it gets a bigger spotlight moving forward.
Daniel Bryan opened the show to talk about what happened to him when he was dragged away by the Fiend. In short...he doesn’t know. He remembered feeling the hair being ripped from his scalp and face and then nothing at all. He finally came to and felt as if something was missing - something, oddly enough, that he doesn’t miss at all.
The Daniel Bryan brand.
Before I get into that brand bit, can I just geek out over how amazing it is to see a supernatural/horror-styled kidnapping on a wrestling show? Bryan got away and remembers nothing. Who the hell even knows what the Fiend did to him! Wyatt talked for weeks about the Fiend “not being finished” with Bryan and the announcers discussed the Fiend’s propensity to change those he focuses his attention upon...so what was the Fiend doing with him? Did he brainwash Bryan? Is it something we’ll only find out when the Fiend needs him?
The Fiend is literally the best thing in WWE, man.
Anyway, back to the brand. Bryan really sold it well, considering he was in a black, logoless shirt and forwent his maroon colors in the match to close the show. He talked about his daughter no longer recognizing him without the hair and beard, and losing those things brought him back to how he felt when he was still trying to climb to the top.
The Miz came out to discuss things because Bryan interrupted his fight with the Fiend at TLC and those two were as wonderful as they always are playing off one another. They fought Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin in the main event, but they weren’t really the story.
The story was the Yes/It kicks in tandem. The story was Bryan ribbing Miz backstage with that “Awwwwwwwesome!” line when they were arguing who hated the other more. The story is the Triple Threat for #1 Contendership next week.
...And most importantly, the story is the ticking timebomb that is whatever the hell the Fiend did to Daniel Bryan.
New Day def. The Artists - Sign me up for fun matches with really good talent! The bigger issue at play here was that Sami Zayn got Braun Strowman in Secret Santa and Zayn went to ask the big man what he wanted for Christmas. The answer? An Intercontinental Championship match.
Zayn tried to chicken out, but when the heels tried to beat up the good guys after the match, Strowman came out to make the save. Strowman vs. Nakamura could be lots of fun.
Carmella def. Sonya Deville - These two needed more time than this. The only thing that stood out here was the clear emphasis on making Carmella seem important. I’m assuming she eventually gets in on the Banks and Bayley vs. Evans feud.
Heavy Machinery def. The Revival in a Christmas-themed match - Lots to break down in this one. Mandy Rose is apparently trying to win Otis over with ham and kisses on the cheek? How does she benefit from that?
The match itself was silly fun, which is totally fine. What wasn’t fine was the Caitlyn Jenner line from Elias. I get that folks backstage want to get people talking and be edgy, but c’mon guys. That’s careless and ignorant at best, and potentially hurting and isolating a portion of your fans.
I really liked how clean and concise this show was. WWE focused on several specific storylines and didn’t bother stuffing extra content on the show for the sake of it. If only we could have gotten more from the Carmella/Sonya match.