Thu, Dec 12, 2019

WIth just over a week until Survivor Series, the build for one of WWE’s biggest pay-per-views of the year continued Friday night on SmackDown with an NXT invasion, a build of some Survivor Series teams and the announcement of a key title match for the universal championship. Somehow, despite having such an opportunity to deliver an interesting program, WWE failed completely.

From an somewhat bungled storyline involving Daniel Bryan and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt to the insistence from WWE to have Baron Corbin on screen for the entire first quarter of the show, nothing on Friday night truly felt important or monumental. The two NXT invasion segments were nearly identical, meaning only a couple legitimate matches were even held on the two-hour show.

What went down on Friday night? Keep on reading for results, analysis and grades from SmackDown.

Daniel Bryan challenges The Fiend

Confronted backstage about whether he had made a decision to join their group of “artists,” Bryan declined noting that Sami Zayn failed to have his back when “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt attacked him last week. He suggested that Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura recruit Braun Strowman instead, but Zayn and Nakamura accidentally insulted an angry Strowman who was standing behind them. This came after Strowman took out the B-Team earlier in the show.

Later on MizTV, Bryan was speechless when The Miz asked him why Bryan believes The Fiend attacked him last week. Miz came up with his own conclusion: Bryan does not have a handle on himself anymore and The Fiend believes that he can end a washed-up Bryan for good. Bryan said he did not answer at first because “MizTV sucks and MizTV has always sucked.” He also said Miz was right that he is struggling with his identity and may be washed up, but his passion still exists. “You don’t understand — they don’t understand — the passion combined with mental instability,” Bryan said, claiming it is what drove him to end the Yes! Movement, “kick a man in the balls” to win the WWE title and become the “New Daniel Bryan.” Bryan said he believed The Fiend is just like him and understands the mental instability.

This brought out Firefly FunHouse and Wyatt to explain that he never forgot what Bryan did to him. Wyatt rustled around in a toy chest to find his (new, blue) universal championship, saying all Bryan needed to say is the one magic word (“yes”) to have a shot at it. Bryan refused, saying “no” repeatedly as the Firefly FunHouse characters answered him with “yes.” Bryan said he is “not a puppet” and would not be manipulated; if Wyatt wanted to fight, he could put the title on the line. Wyatt began chanting “yes” just like Bryan used to … first happy and jovial but quickly turning to angry and manic, screaming at the top of his lungs. Miz then announced the match was on.

To put it simply, this was sloppy. Wyatt and Bryan are great when left to their own devices, but Bryan refusing to accept a title match only to issue the exact same challenge for Wyatt to accept did not make sense. Miz being involved to try and tell the story was completely unnecessary and only turned what could have been a serious, interesting segment with the potential for a Fiend attack into a boring, formulaic, scripted back-and-forth. Bryan does not need assistance getting over on the mic. A Wyatt-Bryan feud that has a natural backstory does not need Miz inserted to help it along. I tried to give this the benefit of the doubt because parts of the FunHouse were good and Wyatt was fantastic with his “Yes!” chant. The show should have ended there. Instead, there was an awkward reinsertion of Miz to … make the match official? It was a shame. This could have been memorable. Instead, it was forgettable Grade: C

What else happened on SmackDown?

Ali & Shorty G def. Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler via pinfall to remain on Team SmackDown: After King Corbin, Roode and Ziggler cut a promo before the match that included Corbin introducing a mascot “Big Dog” to an altered version of Roman Reigns’ theme with barking dog, the match began. When Corbin tried to interfere, Reigns came out from the backstage area to even the sides. The match concluded as Corbin was taken out by Reigns via spear at the ringside area while, inside the ring, Shorty G hit Roode with a rolling German suplex and Ali delivered a 450 splash for the 1-2-3. The opening segment wasn’t great, but it did elicit a chuckle from me. The match was an opportunity for Shorty G Chad Gable to showcase his skill, which he did on a couple different occasions. But while the finish was exciting, nothing to write home about here. I liked the opening segment more than most, and the altered Reigns theme was hysterical. Grade: C+

SmackDown Tag Team Championship — New Day (c) vs. The Revival ends in a no contest as Undisputed Era attack: In a rematch from the title change last week, New Day looked to have the advantage until Revival caught a flying Kofi Kingston and threw him into the ring post. They then backdropped Big E into the commentary table before hitting Shatter Machine on him for what looked like a 1-2-3, but a flying Kingston broke up the pinning attempt. Suddenly, Undisputed Era hit the ring and took out both teams. The SmackDown locker room cleared out to chase the invaders away. Solid match and a smart attack by UE, which came off as the big deal they are taking down two of WWE’s biggest tag teams. Grade: B

Heavy Machinery def. Enhancement talent via pinfall with the Compactor.

Sasha Banks, Nikki Cross, Carmella & Dana Brooke def. Rhea Ripley, Mia Yim, Teagen Nox & Dakota Kai via pinfall: Banks and Bayley both talked trash about Survivor Series backstage. A match between Bayley and Cross was quickly aborted as Shayna Baszler and other NXT women invaded, setting up an eight-woman tag team match. Each woman got some good action with Banks vs. Ripley the best matchup. Cross hit Kai with The Purge for the win, and Fire & Desire hit the ring to save their SmackDown cohorts after the NXT women attacked Cross following the pinfall. Grade: C-

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