AXS TV begins a three week coverage event of the 2018 New Japan Cup! NJPW’s finest fight for the right to face a champion of their choice for his title! This first week is for the quarterfinals, with matches such as Michael Elgin VS Juice Robinson, Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Bad Luck Fale and Kota Ibushi VS Zack Sabre Jr!
This review of The New Japan Cup 2018 will be as broadcast by AXS TV.
Therefore, all images are courtesy of AXS TV.
- Michael Elgin VS Juice Robinson; Robinson wins and advances to the semifinals.
- Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Back Luck Fale; Tanahashi wins and advances to the semifinals.
- Toru Yano VS Sanada; Sanada wins and advances to the semifinals.
- Kota Ibushi VS Zack Sabre Jr; ZSJ wins and advances to the semifinals.
PLAY BY PLAY
AXS TV and NJPW recap the New Japan Cup’s opening round!
Sixteen of NJPW’s best Heavyweight wrestlers started this year’s tournament in eight spectacular matches over the first four days! And all for a shot of the winner’s choice in titles: the IWGP Heavyweight Championship; IWGP Intercontinental Championship; or the NEVER Openweight Championship.
The Flamboyant Juice Robinson defeated Tokyo Pimp, Yujiro Takahashi and Big Mike Elgin overcame the Stone Pitbull, Tomohiro Ishii. The Underboss, Bad Luck Fale, battled it out with Killer Elite Squad’s Lance Archer and came out on top while Hiroshi Tanahashi returned to eliminate the newly-minted Heavyweight in Taichi. The Golden Star and former Cup winner took care of the Head Hunter, Yoshi-Hashi, while the Technical Wizard known as Zack Sabre Jr. made the 2016 winner, Tetsuya Naito, tap out. In quite the surprise victory, the Sublime Master Thief, Toru Yano beat Killer Elite Squad’s Davey Boy Smith with a count out. But the Kentucky Gentleman, Chuck Taylor, could not keep even with his Chaos ally against the Cold Skull, as Sanada would powerbomb him through a table, and out of the tournament.
Our field of eight is set! The quarterfinals begin, who will win to become the Final Four in the next round?
Michael Elgin VS Juice Robinson!
The Juice is loose and thirsty for gold, but so is the Unbreakable Canadian. Elgin broke through the Stone Pitbull while the Flamboyant Robinson outdid Bullet Club’s playboy, who will have what it takes to get to the semifinals?
No time wasted in this No Time Limit match as AXS TV gives us more of a montage of the solid shoulder collisions between Juice & Elgin. Elgin dominates Juice with suplexes, back elbows and slams, but Juice soldiers on. Elgin slingshots but Juice dodges, letting Elgin hit hard on the mat. Then Juice slingshots onto Elgin on the outside! At one point, Juice gets Elgin on his shoulders for the Electric Chair facebuster!
Cover, TWO, and the frustration grows for Juice. Later, Juice and Elgin stand on the top rope, and Elgin hits Juice with a SUPERPLEX! Cover, TWO, but close. Elgin clobbers Juice with another lariat and fires up while Juice’s eyes glaze over. Elgin picks Juice up, prepares the powerbomb and hits the buckle bomb, to then move right into another, but Juice small package counters, Juice wins!
Winner: Juice, by pinfall
The Flamboyant One surprises the Unbreakable to move forward, and the elation is clear on Juice’s face. Can he surprise everyone again in the next round?
Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Back Luck Fale!
The Bullet Club’s Underboss is already one-third of the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Champions, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting more. Meanwhile, the Once in a Century Talent returns from being sidelined by the menacing Minoru Suzuki in their IWGP Intercontinental Championship encounter back in January. Will Fale move to add more titles to his collection? Or will The Ace take one step closer to revenge?
Another montage shows us Tanahashi hit Fale with a baseball slide dropkick but then Fale using Tanahashi as the ball in a game of bowling-for-chairs! Fale continues the outside action as he disassembles the railings to then use them all to flatten Tanahashi! Or, he would, if they weren’t mostly plastic… Fale keeps piling the railings on, then leaves Tanahashi behind. The 20 count rises up to 14 before Tanahashi makes it back to ringside, then 17 before Tanahashi gets back in the ring. Fale keeps on Tanahashi with a scoop slam then sitting pin, putting his full weight on Tanahashi’s chest! TWO, but Fale keeps his cool.
Tanahashi turns things around with a drop toehold that sends Fale into the corner pad. Tanahashi throws body shots, and manages his own scoop slam of the massive Underboss! Fans fire up with Tanahashi as he runs and hits the slingblade! Tanahashi clotheslines Fale out of the ring, then climbs up for a SUPER Crossbody!
Both men would climb up onto the apron at about 8 in the count, but Fale would clothesline Tanahashi down onto the apron! Fale drags Tanahashi off to then prepare a Razor’s Edge! But Tanahashi would push off the post to send Fale into the railings! The count reaches 18 and Tanahashi gets in the ring! Fale can’t get back, he’s counted out! Tanahashi wins!
Winner: Tanahashi, by count out
The Ace survives the Underboss, but after he clears his head, Fale comes back to the ring.
Fale pushes past the referee and goes after Tanahashi, but Tanahashi blocks his boot to dragon screw him down. Tanahashi stands tall as Fale retreats, then Tanahashi takes to the mic. “New Japan Pro Wrestling has returned to Fuji City!” He thanks the fans for their support, and vows to “keep building up New Japan”, so please continue to support him now. “Thank you for everything.” Tanahashi then celebrates by playing his air guitar! Will the Ace of NJPW rock and roll all the way to the finals?
Toru Yano VS Sanada!
Chaos’ Binwan Producer survived Bulldog The Second with a count out victory while Cold Skull decisively dealt with the Kentucky Gentleman. Can the former three-time IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion keep one half of the current Heavyweight Tag Team Champions out of the semifinals? Or will Sanada put Chaos’ comedian to sleep?
Yano tries to get Sanada before the bell but Sanada is ready for him and counters by putting Yano’s shirt over his face. Sanada then gets Yano in an Oklahoma roll! They roll and roll and roll and roll, then Sanada finally stops, TWO. Sanada keeps his cool while Yano struggles to figure out where he is in the ring. He’s by the ropes, so Sanada goes over and includes the rope in the Paradise Lock! However, the referee backs him off before he can finish it, so Sanada settles for hitting Yano with a baseball slide dropkick. Yano falls to the floor, and Sanada goes out to fetch him. Sanada rocks Yano with a haymaker, and they go around the outside of the ring as the ring count begins. Yano pushes Sanada back then whips him, but Sanada reverses and whips Yano into railings.
Sanada then goes after Yano, wanting to use camera cables to hog tie Yano, but Yano shoves him away and into the crowd! The count reaches and Yano hurries into the ring. Sanada hurries, too, and narrowly beats the count at 19! Fans applaud and chant as Yano goes after Sanada with stomps. Yano takes off his shirt to choke Sanada, but the referee counts. Yano lets go at 4, then goes back to stomping Sanada. He whips but Sanada reverses again, Yano holds onto ropes. He baits Sanada in then dodges, but runs into Sanada’s headscissors. Yano ends up outside the ring again and Sanada goes over. Sanada slingshots over and knocks Yano down. Fans applaud again while Sanada brings Yano up to rake the back.
Sanada searches for something under the ring but Yano pounces and pushes him into a post. Yano grabs his “director’s chair” and swings, but Sanada ducks to let the chair hit post. Then Sanada kicks the chair into Yano’s face!
Sanada leaves Yano out for the count now, and it reaches 17! Yano stirs but beats the count at 19, too. Sanada argues with the referee but Yano did make it in. Sanada takes his frustrations out by stomping Yano. He then drags Yano up for a haymaker, and more stomps. Sanada brings Yano up again but Yano fights back! They brawl with forearms back and forth, but Sanada knees low. He goes to run but Yano grabs him by the hair and brings him down to a pin! TWO, but Yano hurries to untie a corner pad. Sanada runs at Yano but Yano gets away, corner pad in hand. Yano runs back in but Sanada dodges, and Yano hits the buckles he himself exposed!
Sanada runs in but Yano dodges, and Sanada runs into the buckles, too. Yano drags Sanada, in the dragon sleeper! He lifts Sanada but Sanada slips out into his own dragon sleeper. But then Yano reverses into the Urakasumi fisherman cradle! TWO, but very close! Yano and Sanada slowly stand, and Sanada kicks Yano. Sanada runs but into an atomic drop, and then Yano catapults Sanada at those exposed buckles! Yano grabs Sanada and lifts for a powerbomb, but Sanada sunset flips out. TWO, and Sanada goes after Yano, but Yano grabs for the ref! It’s a distraction so Yano can low blow Sanada with a mule kick!
Then back to the Urakasumi! But Sanada blocks the count! He pushes the referee away and gets out of the cover. Fans applaud while both men stand. Yano argues with the ref, but Sanada low blows Yano with a kick! Then Sanada puts Yano in the Skull End!
Yano taps, Sanada wins!
Winner: Sanada, by submission
Los Ingobernables’ Cold Skull takes care of #YTR in quick fashion, but he’s not done with him. Sanada puts Yano in the Paradise Lock, and stands over him as the conqueror. Then when the referee protests, Sanada does the same to him! A young lion tries to undo the lock, but Sanada catches him into one! Another young lion protests, but Sanada scares him off with the threat of being the fourth victim. Sanada leaves Yano, the referee and the random trainee in the ring like this. Will he leave his semifinals opponent the same way?
Kota Ibushi VS Zack Sabre Jr w/ Taka Michinoku!
It’s The Golden Star and the Technical Wizard in a highly anticipated match that’s already amazing just because it’s happening! Will the former New Japan Cup winner make his way to a possible repeat? Or will he #JustTapOut to ZSJ’s arsenal of sinister submissions?
But before the match, fellow Suzuki-Gun member Taka speaks. “The 2018 New Japan Cup. Who do you think will take it?” He wants to know what fans think the result of this match will be. And he asks again, who will win the New Japan Cup? It’s “the man who can finish an opponent with a joint lock anytime, anywhere, the man with unlimited submission holds, the man who beat Tetsuya Naito in the first round.” That man is “the master of submissions”, Zack Sabre Jr! Some fans cheer and some boo while Taka finishes with a message “to anyone who stands in his way: Just Tap Out!” And with that, Taka shouts for Ibushi to “come on over here” so this match can begin!
Fans cheer for Ibushi as he enters the ring. The bell rings, and the chants fire up already. Ibushi and ZSJ circle, feeling each other out. ZSJ reaches in but Ibushi slips away, but they circle again. ZSJ gets the headlock and wrangles Ibushi down to go after arms. Ibushi sits up but ZSJ gets a chinlock, then brings Ibushi back to an armlock and a cover, ONE. The fans applaud this great opening exchange while the two men get up and circle again. Ibushi is wary of ZSJ as they tie up, ZSJ pushes him to ropes. ZSJ honors the break, but still pie-faces Ibushi. Ibushi shrugs that off, and the two circle again. They reach in at each other and now Ibushi pushes ZSJ to the ropes. ZSJ calls for the break, as does Red Shoes, and Ibushi honors it, to then swing a roundhouse!
ZSJ narrowly avoids the hit, and keeps between the ropes for safety. Ibushi backs up so ZSJ can come out, and the two circle again. The two tie up again and ZSJ gets a barbed wire armlock and pushes Ibushi over to a cover, but Ibushi keeps shoulders up. ZSJ makes it a mount then a headscissors hold. Ibushi works his way around to get the ropebreak, and ZSJ lets Ibushi go. The two stand once again and circle to tie up once again. ZSJ gets the wristlock and bends Ibushi’s arm back into a top lock. He sits Ibushi down, and adds on a chinlock for a modified crossface. Ibushi endures the bend and reaches for ropes but ZSJ shifts right to a half-surfboard. ZSJ turns Ibushi away and digs his forehead into Ibushi’s back for more torque.
Ibushi works and turns the hold around to put ZSJ in that hold! ZSJ stands up and breaks out to hit Ibushi with a European Uppercut! Ibushi hits back with a forearm and ZSJ falls down. Ibushi hits him again and then kicks him down. ZSJ gets up but Ibushi just kicks his leg out again. Ibushi targets that thigh with more kicks while ZSJ is down. ZSJ stands and catches that kick into a heel hook! Ibushi drags himself to ropes and gets the break just as ZSJ shifts to include one of Ibushi’s arms in the hold. ZSJ has to let Ibushi go, but he’s still got control while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns, and ZSJ stands on Ibushi’s leg while twisting the other. ZSJ tortures both Ibushi’s legs at the same time, then stomps the back of a thigh. Fans cheer for Ibushi but ZSJ is on him again, grinding his wrist tape and forearm into Ibushi’s eyes. ZSJ then grinds a knee into Ibushi’s face while going after the leg again. ZSJ suddenly shirts to a standing knee wrench! He even adds a bridge!
ZSJ doesn’t hold it long, he goes right back to the heel hook. Ibushi tries to use his free leg, so ZSJ grabs it to twist its ankle. Ibushi uses his hands to fight now, and gets that leg free to kick with it! ZSJ tries to bend that leg back again, but Ibushi still fights back, and gets another kick. The kicks are too much for ZSJ, he lets Ibushi free of the knee wrench. Fans rally for Ibushi and he kicks ZSJ again. Ibushi snapmares and kicks ZSJ in the back, then dares ZSJ to get up. ZSJ does, and snapmares Ibushi down to scrape his heels on Ibushi’s face. ZSJ then traps the arm and spins around to twist it! Ibushi writhes and clutches his arm, but ZSJ takes a moment to catch his breath.
ZSJ goes back to Ibushi to grind his knuckles into various points. Ibushi gets the ropebreak but ZSJ doesn’t care, he just puts an arm in a figure four scissors. The referee counts so ZSJ lets go, but he then goes back to Ibushi to continue torturing that arm all the way to the wrist. ZSJ uses his chin to dig in and bend the arm more, then rocks Ibushi with another EuroUpper. Fans rally for Ibushi while he and ZSJ glare at each other. ZSJ gives another EuroUpper, then a running one, and then runs corner to corner. Ibushi goes up and over, and he throws ZSJ with a huricanrana! Ibushi kicks ZSJ down, and the fans chant for him while both he and ZSJ are down on the mat.
That leg bothers him, though, so he’s slow to standing up. ZSJ also stands, but Ibushi gives a strike fest and another swift roundhouse. ZSJ falls down, Ibushi adds a standing moonsault! Cover, TWO! Fans rally for Ibushi again as he stands up. Ibushi drags ZSJ up but ZSJ resists the Half ‘n’ Half. ZSJ gets the standing switch but Ibushi prevents the full nelson to standing switch back. ZSJ switches again and puts Ibushi in a modified abdominal stretch!
Ibushi endures the bend, stretch and digging elbows as ZSJ shifts through all sorts of minor changes. ZSJ settles on a chinlock variant, but Ibushi wills himself to walk towards ropes. Ibushi reaches but ZSJ shifts to a crossface variant! Ibushi still gets the ropebreak, and ZSJ lets go in frustration. Taka coaches ZSJ to keep going, so ZSJ stands and brings Ibushi up. ZSJ rocks Ibushi with another EuroUpper but Ibushi hits back with a forearm. ZSJ hits another EuroUpper, but Ibushi comes back with another elbow! Fans rally while ZSJ gives more and more EuroUppers, but then Ibushi slips around to hit the Half ‘n’ Half Suplex! Cover, TWO!
Fans are fired up for Ibushi and he fires up with them. Taka coaches ZSJ to get up but Ibushi is upon him. Ibushi goes to lift ZSJ but ZSJ slips under and trips Ibushi up. ZSJ then rolls Ibushi for a bridging cover, TWO, but into an STF! ZSJ then changes it up again to be combination STF and chickenwing crossface. Ibushi reaches but then ZSJ grabs that arm to shift things into a partial straitjacket. Ibushi moves the other arm to reach forward, but ZSJ grabs it to complete the straitjacket.
ZSJ and Ibushi struggle against each other, and somehow Ibushi gets the ropebreak. ZSJ lets him go and fans rally for Ibushi all over again. The two slowly stand, but ZSJ grabs Ibushi first. Ibushi arm-drags ZSJ away, runs into ZSJ’s EuroUpper, but retaliates with the Pele! Both men are down, ZSJ reeling while fans will Ibushi on. Ibushi brings ZSJ up in the powerbomb position, but ZSJ makes it into a triangle hold. Ibushi endures the hold, drags ZSJ around, then deadlifts him for a sit-out powerbomb!
Cover, TWO! Ibushi has turned the tides while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns to Ibushi slowly standing. That leg still bothers him, but he still signals he’ll end this with that knee. He walks over to ZSJ and Taka panics, but ZSJ rolls to pop Ibushi into a sunset cover, TWO and Ibushi covers ZSJ, TWO back ZSJ’s way! TWO but it was so close! Fans are thunderous for Ibushi as the two crawl over to each other. ZSJ kicks Ibushi’s bad knee then his chest, but Ibushi kicks back. Ibushi reaches for ZSJ but ZSJ kicks him near the face, so Ibushi dares him to do more. ZSJ slaps Ibushi so Ibushi slaps back! Another slap for a slap, so ZSJ goes back to a kick. Ibushi kicks back, then shifts things to forearms.
They hit each other back and forth, Ibushi continuing to egg ZSJ on. ZSJ stands up and stomps Ibushi right in the neck! He drags Ibushi up for another EuroUpper, but Ibushi wants more. ZSJ gives him more, so Ibushi gives back. They go EuroUpper for forearm, and Ibushi gets the edge. Ibushi reels back for another but ZSJ kicks that away to then Pele Ibushi’s arm! Ibushi roundhouses and clotheslines ZSJ down! Both men fall and the fans rally for Ibushi while Taka coaches ZSJ.
Ibushi is up first, but he’s sore and exhausted. ZSJ sits up, Ibushi goes for the buzzsaw but ZSJ catches it! ZSJ then yanks Ibushi down and catches him with the Penalty Kick! Taka wants him to keep going, so ZSJ stands up. ZSJ kicks again, but Ibushi blocks it! Ibushi stands up, ZSJ slaps him again and again, but Ibushi holds on to slap back! Fans are thunderous again while ZSJ flounders. Ibushi waits for ZSJ to run at him, and catches him with a powerslam! Ibushi immediately moonsaults, but into ZSJ’s triangle!!
The hold is in, both arms trapped inside! ZSJ shifts it around to a one arm with the figure four headscissors, and then he grabs the trapped arm. Ibushi clasps hands to prevent the extension, but ZSJ drives elbows into Ibushi’s head. Red Shoes checks on Ibushi, but Ibushi is still conscious. Ibushi fires up again, he gets another deadlift! He tries the Last Ride but ZSJ pops out to put on the Octopus stretch! Ibushi endures, pops out and swings ZSJ around onto his shoulder. He aims for a corner but ZSJ slips out the back. Ibushi runs at ZSJ but ZSJ back elbows him away. ZSJ slaps Ibushi again, then runs, but the back elbow is turned into a backslide! ZSJ rolls through, and sees Kamigoye coming, to duck under and cross Ibushi’s arms.
Ibushi resists and pulls ZSJ back around, for the straitjacket suplex pin! TWO!! But Ibushi keeps hold of the wrists! Kamigoye misses and ZSJ puts the Octopus back on!! He even shifts it to be part motorcycle stretch, using his foot to push Ibushi’s head down. ZSJ kicks and kicks Ibushi in the head, and fully bends the arms back! Red Shoes asks Ibushi, but Ibushi shakes his head “No”, even as ZSJ gives stomps and elbows. ZSJ cranks on the hold as hard as he can but Ibushi won’t quit. Fans are at a fever pitch as ZSJ turns Ibushi around. Ibushi is stuck, Red Shoes calls it! ZSJ wins!
Winner: Zack Sabre Jr, by referee stoppage
Ibushi didn’t tap but he couldn’t defend himself anymore, so Red Shoes had no choice but to spare Ibushi more suffering. In the end, the submission machine of Suzuki-Gun still moves on to the next round.
Taka takes to the mic again. “Kota Ibushi versus Zack Sabre Jr, who won?” And who will Zack face in the semifinals? Sanada, this is your chance. Come out and say something! “Come on over!” But he’s not coming out. Not that he’d say anything anyway. Taka says Sanada is next, because “anyone who stands in Zack’s way, you just tap out!” So Taka will ask again: “Who will take the 2018 New Japan Cup?” Zack! Who? Zack!! Yes, the winner will be the man with unlimited holds and now defeated both Naito and Ibushi, the Submission Mater, Zack Sabre Jr! He has two belts already, will ZSJ win it all to add a third?
Kota Ibushi admits defeat, his New Japan Cup run is over. He had lots of support from the fans who felt he could win it all, but he let them down. Ibushi apologizes and hopes they forgive him.
As for ZSJ, he knows he’ll wake up the next morning as if he spent a “fortnight in a bad moon.” He admits Ibushi is strong, powerful and fights with a lot of heart. That’s admirable, but stupid. ZSJ doesn’t fight with his heart, he fights with his brain. “And an underlying hatred of the British Conservative Party,” but mostly his superior brain. He’s the dark horse, right? Not favored? What’s wrong with these people? Just look outside! He’s won titles everywhere he’s been! “This cup is mine!” But he’s gonna go ice now, so he leaves Taka to finish.
Taka knows everyone saw what just happened. Ibushi had the whole crowd while ZSJ only had Taka while “fighting in a foreign land.” ZSJ’s heart, mind and skill, but the best is yet to come. There are no flukes here. Naito, Ibushi, and next will be Sanada. Sanada, bring it on! Because as always, fighting ZSJ means “You Just Tap Out!” The semifinals will feature Cold Skull’s Skull End going against ZSJ’s limitless list of holds, which one will get the job done?
This was a pretty good way to cover the quarterfinals in one night. The summarized coverage of Elgin VS Juice and Tanahashi VS Fale were well done to give us the best moments. Juice has been doing great so it made sense he went over, even if it was a bit of a surprise when against a veteran like Elgin. Fale obviously gets upset over losing in only a count-out but it still makes him pretty strong, as the returning Tanahashi couldn’t put him away with a pin or submission. Seeing Juice VS Tanahashi in the semifinals makes for a great young vs old story.
Then seeing the entirety of the rather short Sanada VS Yano match was fun, because it still hit all the finest points of a Yano match: buckle pad, low blow, and a touch of comedy. Yano loses because Sanada has been on his own roll in singles competition. All the members of LIJ are strong, so if Sanada and EVIL were to drop those IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships, Sanada would be just fine if he were to try for a singles title. And the entirety of Ibushi VS ZSJ was the perfect choice for the match of the show, because it was amazing. Great story and contrast in style, and ZSJ wins out because he’s been on the best roll of all these winners. By this time, we already know [Highlight for spoilers] Sabre wins it all, but it was booked so well that it feels natural as opposed to inevitable.
My Score: 8.5/10
Mitchell’s WWE Mixed Match Challenge 2 Results & Report! (12/11/18)
The Mixed Match Challenge is almost done, but there’s been a last-minute substitution! Apollo Crews replaces Finn Balor, can he help Bayley make it to TLC?
- Jinder Mahal & Alicia w/ The Singh Brothers VS Apollo Crews & Bayley; Mahal & Alicia win and advance to the Finals at TLC.
- The Miz & Asuka VS R-Truth & Carmella; Truth & Carmella win and advance to the Finals at TLC.
PLAY BY PLAY
It’s time for the Mixed Match Challenge Semifinals!
The final four teams will be cut down to just two tonight! The Season One champions are still in the running, but they’ve had a rough go of it this year. The Miz and Asuka lost to the #ExtremeFlair after Jeff Hardy stepped in for AJ Styles. However, not even the top seed still stands as the #FABULOUSTruth pulled off the biggest upset to date! Can Truth & Carmella pull off another upset against a tense and dysfunctional Team AWESKA?
As for the Raw Block, #Mahalicia is the only team standing with its original members! Of course, Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox have yet to truly see eye to eye despite making it back from the bottom of the block. That said, Finn Balor must step down from the Mixed Match Challenge because of the beating Drew McIntyre gave him on Raw a week ago. In his place now stands Apollo Crews, who wants to finally make his mark on the main roster! Can this new Team A’n’B go all the way to TLC?
Backstage with Bayley & Apollo Crews.
New partners start big with a semifinals match, but the dynamic doesn’t change for Bayley. These two are more prepared than ever, and they’ll be so close to being the #30 spots in their respective Royal Rumbles! But the Singh Brothers come in to get them to slow down. No one cares about where they “think” they’re going, because they’re going home! The Maharrrrraja and Foxy will be Too Sweet. No, better: they can hug it out! Bayley boots the Bollywood Boys out, and says she and Apollo will worry about vacation destinations after the match.
Backstage interview with R-Truth & Carmella!
The FABULOUS Truth is ecstatic for tonight. They had a rough start but are on a roll. They’ll be up against the MMC Champions. Miz & Asuka were worried about every team but Truth & Carmella. Well Miz has run his mouth a long time, and Truth knows that from teaming with Miz back in the day. Truth knows for a fact Asuka carries that team. As for tonight, Mella & Truth will carry SmackDown’s flag all the way to TLC. They vow to win, and that’s the truth. Also, Miz said something about shoes? Check these! Carmella’s kicks are F A B U L O U A S! That’s not how you spell fabulous. That aside, let’s move on to choosing a vacation site. Truth likes the idea of Athens. Greece? Georgia? No, Ohio. Well on to match preparations!
Jinder Mahal & Alicia w/ The Singh Brothers VS Apollo Crews & Bayley!
Team A’n’B already meshed well together when they and The Boss, Sasha Banks, took it to #Mahalicia on Raw. However, Sasha Banks won’t be present to help cancel out Samir & Sunil, will #HugNation be able to overcome Shanti and head to TLC?
Bayley and Apollo talk on the way out, and it’s decided: once they win that vacation, they’ll go to Jamaica. “This one’s for Finn!” The teams then sort out, and the men begin. Apollo circles with Mahal and they tie up. Mahal gets a headlock and the Singhs already celebrate. Apollo powers out but Mahal runs him over with a shoulder. Mahal runs but Apollo gets up, only for Mahal to whip him. Apollo leaps over for the sunset flip, TWO! Backslide, TWO! Apollo rolls Mahal up, TWO! Mahal scrambles away and Alicia tags in. Mahal claims he had this, but Alicia doesn’t care. Vegas fires up for Bayley as she circles with Alicia. Bayley rolls Alicia, TWO! She tries again, ONE! A third time, TWO!
Alicia wants a breather and she bails out of the ring. She reprimands the Singhs and Mahal for not helping out. Alicia wants that 30th spot and vacation, but the Singhs and Mahal remind her she needs to win first. Alicia gets back in the ring, but Bayley gets her with a drop toehold! Bayley wants to put on an abdominal stretch, but Alicia resists. They go around and Bayley gets a facelock. The Singhs say that’s cheating, but Alicia drives Bayley into a corner. Alicia throws forearms then wrenches the arm. She kicks Bayley around then reels her in. Bayley reverses to a cradle, TWO! Bayley gets to a corner and flapjacks Alicia on the buckles! The Singhs coach Alicia up and she tags to Mahal!
Apollo comes in, but Mahal wants him to take it easy. Mahal kicks but Apollo blocks to counter punch. Apollo whips but Mahal hits a body shot. Mahal stomps a mudhole into Apollo, then whips him corner to corner. Apollo goes up and over and handsprings, then leaps over Mahal to hip toss him down. Fans fire up with Apollo and Apollo back flips. He lansd on his feet but walks into a hotshot and big knee! Cover, TWO! Mahal keeps his cool as he drives an elbow into Apollo’s head. He whips Apollo corner to corner hard and Apollo hits the mat. Mahal stomps away but Bayley keeps the Singhs back. Mahal drops knees then grinds Apollo down. The ref counts and Mahal stops at 4. Mahal brings Apollo up in a half nelson chinbar.
Apollo endures as fans rally up, and Apollo fights out. Mahal shoves Apollo and runs him over with an elbow! Cover, TWO! Mahal puts Apollo back in the half nelson, but Apollo endures. Fans rally up and Apollo fights back. Mahal shoves but Apollo kicks back. Apollo runs but into a clobbering clothesline! Mahal pulls back with a camel clutch. Fans rally again but Mahal wrangles Apollo back down. Mahal wrenches back on the chinlock, but Apollo endures. Fans rally up and Apollo gets moving. Apollo arm-drags out and enziguris Mahal down! Both men crawl for their corners, hot tag to Bayley!
Alicia comes in but Bayley rallies! Bayley puts Alicia in a corner for the back elbow, and corner punches! She gets 8, but Alicia slips out. Bayley jumps over to hit a big back suplex! Bayley runs in for the big knee, but Alicia gets to the apron. Alicia bumps Bayley off buckles, but Bayley hotshots her back! Bayley2Belly! Cover, but the Singhs drag Alicia out! The referee reprimands them but Apollo wipes them out with flying clotheslines! Apollo then leaps up again, asai moonsault takes them out again! He feeds Samir to Bayley2Belly! Then the same for Sunil! Bayley fires up but Mahal boots Apollo down! Bayley DIVES on Mahal! She puts Alicia back in, but walks into a boot!! Cover, Mahalicia wins!!
Winners: Jinder Mahal & Alicia Fox, Alicia pinning; advance to the MMC Finals at TLC
The dysfunctional duo makes it work! Granted, they succeeded against teams that had substitute members, such as how Curt Hakwins stepped in for Braun Strowman last week. But a win is a win, and now Mahalicia will represent Raw in the Finals! Who will they face in their shot at the 30th spots and the all-expenses-paid vacation?
Backstage interview with Mahalicia.
Did they ever think this day would come? Of course they did! Mahal meditated and visualized, and he sees himself, Alicia, and the Singhs on the beach. Alicia agrees with winning, but NOT with letting the Singhs joining them. They’re successful because SHE is the Captain! She’s driving this ship into Port Victory, without them! But Asuka comes over, laughing at how Mahalicia thinks they’re gonna win. It doesn’t matter what happened on tonight’s SmackDown, Asuka says she’s gonna win, because her match is next!
The Miz & Asuka VS R-Truth & Carmella!
The Season One champions are on the rocks right now as The Empress doesn’t appreciate The A-Lister trying to take credit for her work. Meanwhile, the fourth seed FABULOUS Truth have put in the work to make it back up from the bottom. Will we see another historic upset from Truth and the Princess of Staten Island?
“Las Vegas, make some noise! What’s up!?” The Miz and Asuka aren’t impressed, and aren’t in the mood for that Dance Break the fans are cheering for. The teams sort out and both Miz and Asuka say “I’ve got this.” Fans are on Asuka’s side. Miz concedes, and Asuka starts with Carmella. But then Miz calls over to tag in. Asuka refuses, because she’s got it. But then she chops him, which counts for a tag! Truth comes in and Asuka is annoyed. Truth rolls Miz up! TWO, but Truth stays on Miz. Miz powers out but Truth runs him over. Truth does his bunny hop dance, then things speed up. Truth holds ropes to do the rest of his dance. Miz runs in but Truth dodges to tilt-o-whirl Miz to a corner. Truth runs in to haymaker Miz. The ref backs Truth up and Miz kicks low.
Miz bumps Truth off buckles, then stomps him. Miz whips corner to corner but Truth goes up and over to dab on ’em! This annoys Miz and he runs back in, but Truth does the splits to dodge, then hip tosses Miz down! Truth clotheslines Miz out, and Carmella comes in, for the DANCE BREAK~! Asuka is furious at Miz while Truth and Carmella floss and twerk. Carmella calls out Asuka, so Asuka shows off her moves on the apron. Miz is annoyed but Truth hip tosses Miz back in! Truth throws hands then climbs up for corner punches. He gets 8 before Miz pushes him away and boots Truth down. Miz chokes Truth on the ropes, then hits his straddle attack. Cover, TWO!
Miz keeps on Truth with a camel clutch but Carmella rallies the fans. Truth gets up and fights back. Miz pulls hair to throw Truth down and deny the tag. Miz stalks Truth, to boot him down! Cover, TWO! Truth survives and Miz argues with the ref. Miz hears the fans rally and say “We Want Asuka!” Miz ignores that but gets rocked by haymakers from Truth! Truth back suplexes but Miz lands out to kick low and hit the basement DDT! Cover, but Carmella breaks it! Carmella goes back to her corner, but then Miz mocks the moonwalk. It wasn’t very good, but Miz stomps Truth down. Miz brings Truth up and uses his It Kicks. Miz winds up but misses, Truth rolls him up! TWO, and Miz clobbers Truth with a clothesline!
Fans rally but Miz grins as he runs corner to corner at Truth. He hits the dropkick, then keeps going to hit another. Miz soaks up the heat before running back in, but Truth clobbers him! Both men are down but fans are fired up. Truth and Miz crawl, hot tag brings in the ladies! Carmella rallies with lariats and a kick. She brings Asuka over for a bump off her boot. Asuka’s down but she dodges the bronco buster to then lift Carmella in a waistlock. Carmella screams and shouts to be let down, so Asuka gently sets Carmella back on her feet. To then lift her back up! Carmella fights out but gets the pop-up knee! Asuka runs, sliding wizard! Cover, TWO!
Carmella survives and Asuka grows frustrated. Miz is also frustrated but Asuka stays on Carmella with knees. Carmella jawbreakers and shoves Asuka away, Miz tags in! Miz goes after Truth but Truth punches him away. Truth rallies with the Lie Detector elbow! Cover, but Asuka breaks it! Carmella throws Asuka into buckles, and tunes up the band. She aims at Miz, but Miz uses Asuka as a shield?! The FABULOUS Kick hits Asuka, then Miz shoves Truth into Carmella before rolling Truth up! TWO!! FABULOUS KICK, to Scissor Kick! Cover, TWO!? Miz lives?! Fans are stunned but loving this!
Asuka throws Carmella out, then Miz dumps Truth out. Miz and Asuka catch their breath, but Asuka locks eyes with Miz. She knows what Miz just did, and he tries to say it wasn’t him. Asuka doesn’t believe Miz, she knows what she saw. Miz is afraid of what she’ll do, and says that they’re still a team. They can still win this together! Okay? No! Asuka fires off on Miz!! Buzzsaw! Miz is rocked, and Asuka ditches him! Truth gives Miz an Unprettier! Cover, Fabulous Truth win!!
Winners: R-Truth & Carmella, Truth pinning; advance to the MMC Finals at TLC
The Season One Champions are no longer in the tournament! The A-Lister made a major mistake thinking he could manipulate the Empress of Tomorrow, and now the FABULOUS Truth capitalize! It will be Truth & Carmella VS Mahal & Alicia at TLC, who wins to become the new Mixed Match Challenge Champions?
Last episode, last time for one of these. Admittedly, we all should’ve known, me especially, that this was not going to end with an amazing match up of top stars in the Finals. The big names like Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, Charlotte Flair, AJ Styles, etc were only in this second MMC to hook fans. WWE needs people to use Facebook Watch because of the deal they made, so that’s why we got great combinations to start. But naturally, it was all bait and switch, considering how those same big names would inevitably end up in more important stories like the titles and grudges we’re getting at TLC. Rest in peace, my dream of Bullet Club leaders and NXT Four Horsewomen members all in one match.
As for the bracket we did get, I knew it was going to end up this way. I thought Apollo was going to be Bayley’s second chance at that 30th spot after Finn had to step down for the sake of his match against Drew McIntyre. Then San Jose could cheer on their hometown girl as she goes against SmackDown’s finalist. However, Mahalicia still wins so that they are the Heels of the Finals. And while I knew Truth & Carmella were going to go in once Asuka ended up in the TLC Triple Threat, I really enjoy how they wrote it for the match. It was only a matter of time before Asuka got fed up with Miz’s ego, and this was the breaking point. Truth and Carmella will certainly benefit the most from being the 30th entrants, even if they aren’t destined to win the Rumbles.
Mitchell’s WWE SmackDown Live Results & Report! (12/11/18)
SmackDown brings us a Wrestlemania Rematch this close to TLC! The Queen ended the Empress of Tomorrow’s undefeated streak, but will history repeat itself?
- Daniel Bryan VS Mustafa Ali; Bryan wins.
- The Miz & Shane McMahon VS Chip & Chad; The Miz & Shane win.
- Samoa Joe & Shinsuke Nakamura VS Jeff Hardy & Rusev w/ Lana; Hardy & Rusev win.
- Charlotte Flair VS Asuka; Asuka wins, by disqualification.
PLAY BY PLAY
Daniel Bryan heads to the ring!
Or should we say, the new Daniel Bryan. Either way, the WWE Championship will be on the line against the Phenomenal AJ Styles. However, it’s a minor miracle Styles can even compete after what this Daniel Bryan did to his leg at the end of last week. Fans boo and jeer this Bryan as he picks up a mic. Bryan recalls calling the WWE Universe a bunch of sheep. He wants to apologize for that. Bryan wants to apologize to sheep. Sheep don’t deserve to be compared to such idiots! They’re not the ones destroying the planet with endless consumption. It’s not a “carbon hoof print.” The fans aren’t sheep. They’re parasites! Fans disagree, and believe “Daniel Sucks!” He just calls them fickle.
As he was saying, fans are parasites because they take and take and give nothing in return, especially in Las Vegas. But Bryan isn’t surprised, because fans latched on tot he Old Bryan and lived vicariously through him. That’s what the Yes Movement really was. “Well guess what? The Old Daniel Bryan is dead! And the Yes Movement is dead!” But just like any parasite, the fans have moved on to a new “fickle field”. And these idiots all sit on the couch in the House that AJ Styles Built. Fans cheer for Styles, but Bryan reminds us he is the WWE Champion! And at TLC, Bryan vows to crush Styles’ dream of reclaiming the title, and then the announcement will be “Still WWE Champion, the NEW Daniel Bryan!”
Do fans not believe him? “No! No!” Well Bryan debates with friends all the time, “sometimes you don’t know whether your’e stupid or you deliberately pull the wool over your eyes so you don’t have to realize the facts.” Stupidity is the deliberate cultivation of ignorance. Like in Vegas! But wait, here comes Bryan’s opponent for tonight, the Beacon of Light, Mustafa Ali! Ali responds to Bryan with an introduction, but Bryan already knows who he is. The idiot fans might not but Bryan does. And he knows they’re having a match later, but Ali can join him now. Bryan gives Ali an introduction, and it seems fans do know who he is. Ali is the Heart of 205 Live, and is an incredible performer. Bryan sees a lot of his former self in Ali.
So Bryan gives Ali advice: they don’t need to have this match tonight. Bryan tells Ali that the fans won’t care, “they’re too self-absorbed” and xenophobic. These fickle fans do not deserve this great match. Fans boo so Bryan calls them all fickle. But Ali wants to know what happened to Bryan. Bryan inspired wrestlers like Ali to become a superstar. The entire 205 Live roster looks up to Bryan because Bryan stood toe to toe with any giant and proved he had heart. So what happened? Bryan talks about the Old Bryan, but that Old Bryan would want a fight. Ali wants a fight! Bryan paces while fans chant “Fight! Fight!” Bryan asks Ali what kind of car he drives. What does that have to do with this? But, it’s an SUV.
Bryan doesn’t like that. Ali is small, why does he need a car so big? Well, he has a wife and kids- Bryan slaps him! Bryan says Ali is ignorant, and slaps him again. So Ali fights back! Bryan whips but Ali reverses and headscissors Bryan tot he apron! Then dropkicks Bryan out, and leaps with a senton! Ali looks to shut this New Bryan up, next!
Daniel Bryan VS Mustafa Ali!
SmackDown returns as Bryan whips Ali and knocks him down with a kitchen sink knee. Bryan drags Ali up for a headbutt then toys with him. Fans boo as Bryan taunts Ali then bumps him off buckles. Bryan kicks away on Ali in the corner, then soaks up the heat. Bryan drags Ali up with an arm wrench, then whips him corner to corner. Ali goes up but Bryan catches him with a kick. Bryan kicks Ali while he’s down, then drops knees. Bryan hooks Ali’s face but lets up at 4. Ali gets to a corner but Bryan rocks him with a European Uppercut. Bryan grabs Ali for a toehold, then drops an elbow on the knee. Bryan hooks the legs and grabs at the arms. Ali resists so Bryan hooks the nose instead!
Bryan lets up at 4, then hooks the nose again. He lets go at 4, and then lets off the legs to stomp Ali on the back! Fans boo but Bryan soaks up the heat. Bryan stalks Ali and gives him the Yes Kicks. OR perhaps now, the “No Kicks” because fans say “No!” with each one. Bryan aims but Ali dodges to kick back! Ali SUPERKICKS Bryan in the back, covers, TWO! Bryan bails out but Ali builds speed to wreck him with a dropkick! Ali slingshots but Bryan dodges to send Ali into the post! Bryan grins while we go picture in picture.
Ali is down while Bryan catches his breath. Bryan climbs up top to make sure everyone can see him. Then he goes back for Ali on the outside, but leaves him for dead. Bryan soaks up the heat and counts along, but Ali gets in at 9! Bryan looks annoyed by the resilient Ali. He kicks Ali while he’s down, then drags him up. Bryan snap suplexes Ali down, then heads up top. Ali gets up and stops Bryan! Ali climbs up to join Bryan, and hits a SUPER SPANISH FLY!! But Ali flounders away, he crawls back to a cover, TWO!! Ali was so close to pinning THE WWE Champion! He hurries to put Bryan in a drop zone and goes back up. But Bryan trips Ali off and Ali hits the floor!
Bryan gets Ali back into the ring fast, and wraps on the No Lock! Ali moves around, enduring the hold. Bryan wrenches back hard, but Ali doesn’t give up. Ali drags himself and Bryan towards ropes as we return to single picture. Ali reaches, and gets the ropebreak! Bryan lets go, but is simply annoyed further. Bryan drags Ali up and puts him on the top rope backwards. He pulls Ali down into the Tree of Woe and gives more No Kicks. Bryan runs corner to corner, and hits a dropkick! Bryan drags Ali out of the Tree, then puts him back up. He climbs up behind Ali, but Ali slips out of the Super Back Suplex! Ali dodges Bryan and Bryan hits buckles! Ali CHOPS Bryan, and again, and again! Bryan kicks back and bump Ali off buckles.
Bryan whips but Ali reverses. Ali gets under Bryan to hit the tornado DDT! Cover, TWO! Ali again comes close and is shocked. Bryan ends up in a drop zone and Ali hurries up again. Ali leaps, 0-5-4 FLOPS! Bryan drags Ali over and slams his leg into the post! And again! And again! Ali crawls away but Bryan comes around from the corner to chop block the leg! Bryan drags Ali into the Heel Hook! Ali taps, Bryan wins!
Winner: The New Daniel Bryan, by submission
The WWE Champion’s new mean streak helps him snuff out the Beacon of Light tonight in Vegas! However, The Phenomenal One is coming for payback, will he become the new champion?
But Bryan isn’t done with Ali! He attacks Ali on the stage with those savage stomps! And he puts the Heel Hook on again! Ali taps but it doesn’t matter. More referees appear and Bryan lets Ali go. Fans boo but Bryan revels in it as he holds up his title. This mean streak runs deep, will it be the key to keeping the New Bryan the current champion?
Awww Vegas~! It’s time for a Rap Battle!
The New Day come out to host a special battle of bars between The Usos and The Bar!
SmackDown returns as Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E stand ready as judges for this second ever SmackDown Rap Battle. Meanwhile, The Bar look like they stepped out from the 90’s. Now they’ll all be battling in the SmackDown Tag Team Championship Triple Threat. The Bar requested this battle but the New Day won’t allow for any funny business. Sheamus starts off, “This has gone too far, Big Tony, hit them with the bar.” Cesaro starts a beat for “Ice Ice Shamy.” The Bar basically parody Vanilla Ice. Fans don’t know whether to laugh or boo. The New Day rank that… a trash can out of 10.
As for the Usos, Jimmy and Jey take a moment to collect themselves. “It’s the Usos VS the Bar in a rap off, I’m like it can’t be. What the hell are they about to talk about, UCe?” “Sheamus’ hair grease. Cesaro’s mouth piece.” The Usos got cheated, defeated, they removed it from their memories like Woken Hardy: DELETED. They beat the Ninja Turtles, and now it’s on to Bebop and Rock Steady. “FELLA~!” Mr. Movie Star, they’re not stealing a line but that was booty. Usos show love, like cupid. Sheamus looks dumb. No, like stupid! Is Sheamus purposefully staying white like chalk? Does he have Cesaro help him with the mohawk? Brogue Kicks VS Superkick, ain’t no pump action, those come from the hip, hit you in the teeth. But how do you knock Cesaro’s teeth out with no knuckles? I dunno. Let’s introduce our friend, Mr. Turnbuckle.
Hello, Mr. Turnbuckle! How did it feel? Well when he pushed Cesaro’s teeth down his throat, we learned who’s the real man of steel. Cesaro the Swiss Superman, right? King of Swing, right? But that won’t matter against their Uso kryptonite! The Bar sets the bar? No this is a true tag team, they’re the stars. Ten years, still going hard, zero injuries, Uso Iron Man! Tony Stark!! The Usos are bulletproof, are the truth and still have fun. Back to back tag team of the year, six time champs coming soon. The Bar, New Day, Usos, Sunday, Welcome to the Uso Penitentiary! The Bar have heard enough, they start swinging! The Usos are ready, and they hit back! Cesaro and Sheamus get sent out, and then the Usos are ready to throw with The New Day.
But The Bar comes back to blow it all up! BROGUE for Jey, and then a beating for the hosts! Jey gets up, but gets A-Swiss-ted White Noise! The Bar hold up their titles, and as the Usos said themselves, “We ARE the Bar!” Will #RunBAR continue to run the SmackDown Tag Team Division after TLC’s Triple Threat?
“I thought nobody would be ready for Asuka. I was wrong, I was not ready, I made one mistake.” The mistake was Asuka let up. But this Sunday, Asuka will kick, strike, climb and grab that title to win. As for tonight, Charlotte won’t be ready this time! The Empress is fired up, will she settle the score from back at Wrestlemania?
The Miz is in the ring!
He holds the World Cup trophy, and tells Shane McMahon that while it’s his week to have custody, Miz needs to speak his mind. Miz wants Shane to come out, and doesn’t want to have to beg. Fans want to see him beg. Miz concedes, and kneels. He bends the knee, and asks Shane come out to talk. This is bigger than a trophy, so please come out. Shane O’Mac appears! He joins Miz in the ring, and says “What’s up, Las Vegas?” And what is up with Miz? Is he okay? Why is Miz out here with the trophy? It’s the only way Miz can get through to him! Shane won’t respond to him. They can be so good together, if he’d just give Miz a chance.
Miz knows Shane is scared, and so is Miz. But Shane owes Miz one. They should tag together again. If they lose, fine, this can stop. But if they win, they can be the #BestTeamintheWorld! Shane thinks this is getting weird. No, the trophy is just a symbol. They can be so much more! Then enlighten him. Okay, fine. Miz will say this for the first time in his life. In fact, Miz will show him! Get a referee out here! A referee appears. They’ll take on Chip & Chad, The Vegas Boys! Chip & Chad appear, and the match is set?
The Miz & Shane McMahon VS Chip & Chad!
Shane is very confused, and tries to reason with Miz while the bell rings. Chip and Chad attack Shane! Miz is shocked, but he coaches Shane up. Shane fires off fast hands! He knocks Chip(?) down then throws him out! Shane dares Chad(?) to fight, and he lights him up with jabs! Shane whips then hits a big back elbow. He hits Chip away and then gives Chad a float-over DDT! Fans want Miz to get in, but he’s busy holding the world cup. Shane brings Chad into a triangle hold! Miz is already celebrating before Chad taps out. Shane & Miz win!
Winners: The Miz & Shane McMahon, Shane by submission
The Best Team in the World finally succeeds! But Miz is clearly more pumped then Shane is about it. Will Shane come around and join Miz on this tag team journey to the top? Or is Miz just seeing what he wants to see?
Paige is furious with the referee.
They can’t just be making matches without the GM’s consent! Especially with the commissioner. But The Miz said she gave permission. Paige sees what’s going on now. But just as she tells the ref to hush, Chip & Chad come in, with invoices. The Miz said they were getting paid $5000 each for that match. Paige tears up the invoices, and tells everyone to leave. Will the GM have words for the overly ambitious A-Lister?
Randy Orton heads to the ring!
The Viper prepares for a Chairs Match with the King of Lucha Libre! These two will be able to do whatever they want with those infamous steel weapons. Orton brings one into the ring with him, and says “Nothing like a good ol’ fashioned solid steel chair, am I right?” They’re built for comfort, but can also make a statement. Orton rolls footage of how he’s used these chairs to brutalize Rey Mysterio these last few weeks, namely wrapped around Mysterio’s head before being thrown into a steel post. Orton likes that, but perhaps we can do better. He rolls more footage, as he did very much the same thing, but throwing Mysterio into steel steps this time.
“Now let me get this straight.” Mysterio knows he has a Chairs Match, and is okay with that? Everyone’s seen what Orton does to his opponent, yet Mysterio is okay with that? Mysterio must think he’ll get his revenge. But Mysterio is a victim, and victims don’t get revenge. The locker room will be worried about TLC, but Mysterio needs to be worried about RKO. But Mysterio SMACKS Orton from behind! Mysterio jabs the chair into Orton, then SMACKS him again! Then he tosses the chair at Orton, to dropkick it in his head! Orton is on the ropes, and Mysterio hits the 619! Orton bails out, but Mysterio wants more! Will the Viper be a victim after Sunday?
Backstage interview with Becky Lynch.
If Charlotte Flair and Asuka beat each other up badly enough, does that give her an advantage in the SmackDown Women’s Championship TLC? Advantage? Becky’s getting back in the ring, road testing both her banged up face and her banged up brain, in one of the most dangerous matches in all of WWE. And not just against one but two of the best. So no, there is no advantage. But Becky still loves it. Fighting against the odds is what Becky does. And doctors can get all twitchy, but she’ll still scout her opponents tonight. And then on Sunday, she’ll remind all of us how much chaos can happen when The Man comes around.
Samoa Joe & Shinsuke Nakamura VS Jeff Hardy & Rusev w/ Lana!
The Destroyer wants to remind the Enigma of his troubled past, while the King of Strong Style wants to make it clear the Super Athlete will never relive his glory days. Will Hardy and Rusev uniting be enough to show Joe and Nakamura that it’s not about the past but the future?
Nakamura and Joe troll their opponents, but then the FABULOUS Truth appears? Dance Break~! The music hits and the flossing begins! “Proceed.” Nakamura kicks Hardy and the match begins! Nakamura drives in knees, then stomps Hardy down. He tags in Joe and Joe drives down elbows. Hardy hits back and Joe bails out. Joe drags Hardy out to join him and then throws Hardy into barriers. The Destroyer looms over the Enigma as we go picture in picture.
Joe puts Hardy back in the ring and stands hardy up. He tags to Nakamura and Nakamura stomps away in the corner. Nakamura gives Hardy Bad Vibrations, then taunts Rusev. He says “C’MON!” and Rusev takes the bait, but the ref keeps him back. Nakamura goes back to Hardy for a snapmare and knee drop! Cover, TWO! Joe tags in but Hardy flounders for Rusev. Joe drags him back and stomps Hardy out, before driving elbow after elbow into Hardy’s shoulder. He wrenches Hardy’s neck and Hardy endures as fans rally. Hardy stands up and fights back, but runs into Joe’s back elbow. Joe covers, TWO! Joe stands Hardy up for jabs as we return to single picture.
The referee counts and Joe backs off. Hardy fires off but Joe reverses the whip to hit the back elbow to Pele! Hardy goes down, Joe covers, but Rusev breaks it. Joe keeps on Hardy with another snapmare, and chops to the shoulder. He tags in Nakamura and Nakamura stomps on Hardy. Nakamura brings Hardy up in a facelock, then rams his knee in. He puts Hardy on the top rope and hits the Top Shelf Knee! Cover, TWO! Nakamura keeps his eyes on Rusev as he tags Joe back in. Joe kicks Hardy while he’s down, then pulls on the arms for the half surfboard. Rusev and fans rally for Hardy, and Hardy gets up. Hardy kicks and punches Joe, but Joe denies the Twist. Joe runs into the corner but into an elbow. Whisper in the Wind hits! Both men are down but fans fire up!
Hardy and Joe crawl for their corners as fans chant “Rusev Day!” Hot tag to Nakamura, then to Rusev! The Bulgarian Brute rallies on the Rockstar, and throws haymakers! Rusev whips and clobbers him at the ropes. Rusev scoops Nakamura to ram in his knee, then throws him with the Fall Away Slam! Nakamura gets to a corner but Rusev runs in for the back shoulder, and then the spinning heel kick! Fans fire up with Rusev as he stomps the mat. Nakamura slowly stands, and he elbows Rusev away. Rusev still lifts but Nakamura slips out. Nakamura swings but misses, Rusev’s roundhouse connects! Cover, but Joe breaks it. Hardy gives Joe the Twist of Fate!
Hardy follows after, and leaps off the apron! He wipes Joe out, but Nakamura runs at Rusev. Drop toehold, into the Accolade. Nakamura escapes to use his strike fest, then aims from a corner. But he runs into a MACHKA KICK instead! Cover, Rusev & hardy win!
Winners: Jeff Hardy & Rusev, Rusev pinning
The Bulgarian Brute pins the United States Champion! Will Rusev use this to launch back into the title scene? Will Hardy be able to render Joe’s mind games OBSOLETE?
Shane McMahon confronts The Miz backstage.
What is going on with him and the trophy? Paying competitors to attack Shane? Tricking an official into calling a match no one sanctioned? Miz is crossing a line. Miz admits it! But he won’t apologize. Shane’s instincts kicked in and won, just like he did at the World Cup! That kill-or-be-killed McMahon instinct! Miz has main evented Wrestlemania, has a film franchise and a reality TV series, but he’s never been considered Best in the World. Not until Shane came along. Miz offers a handshake, but Shane denies it. Miz is left hanging, will he give up this pursuit? Or will he only be all the more motivated?
Backstage interview with AJ Styles.
“The New Daniel Bryan” took the WWE Championship through underhanded means, but is Styles ready to take the title back? Styles is biding his time, because no one else wants to beat Bryan up more than he does. He’s counting the days, hours and minutes to TLC. This “new” Bryan isn’t that new. It’s more like “the real” Bryan. But there’s only one Phenomenal One, and that’s AJ Styles. Styles is ready for revenge, but will he get satisfaction on Sunday?
Charlotte Flair VS Asuka!
The Queen and the Empress are both ready for TLC’s first ever Women’s TLC match, that is also a triple threat with the champion, Becky Lynch. However, tonight is about a rematch from their epic SmackDown Women’s Championship Wrestlemania match! Will Charlotte be able to repeat history? Or will she find she’s no longer ready for Asuka?
SmackDown returns with a backstage interview from Charlotte. She’s days away from another historic first, but what about this amazing rematch? Charlotte knows what’s at stake. Asuka says she’s going to break Charlotte, but The Queen doesn’t break. The Queen breaks streaks. This will be a preview of how Charlotte will make them bow down to the Queen! The Queen makes her entrance, and we begin!
But wait, The Man promised to be ringside, and her she comes! Becky Lynch raises her belt all the way down the ramp and over to commentary where she takes her seat. The bell rings and Asuka and Charlotte turn their focus back on each other. Charlotte boots but misses, and Asuka puts on a waistlock. Asuka lifts but Charlotte fights out, only for Asuka to chop her back. Asuka runs, but her hip attack is caught! She still victory rolls through to a Kneebar! Charlotte scrambles around and stands up. She pries Asuka off and drives her down with a back suplex! Charlotte stands but Asuka follows. Charlotte CHOPS Asuka, and again. Asuka ducks the third to hit a German Suplex! Asuka fires up and runs, but Charlotte dodges the hip attack. Charlotte boots Asuka off the ropes, and takes a moment to catch her breath.
Fans echo the “WOO~!” as Charlotte brings herself over to a corner. Charlotte climbs up and moonsaults, but gets knees! And then flipped into the Asuka Lock! Charlotte scrambles more and gets up. Asuka holds on, but Charlotte makes it a backpack senton! Asuka grabs Charlotte again! Charlotte scrambles around but can’t get Asuka off. Charlotte roles to a ropebreak, and Asuka lets go at 4. This epic rematch continues after the break.
SmackDown returns once more, and the two are brawling on the mat! Charlotte and Asuka fire up with each hit and fans are dueling. Asuka hits, Charlotte hits, but Asuka gets an edge! Charlotte blocks, spins Asuka around, but Asuka switches to an octopus stretch! Charlotte endures as Asuka pulls back harder. Fans rally on both sides as Charlotte works against the hold. Charlotte pops Asuka up but Asuka makes it a crucifix driver! Cover, TWO! Fujiwara armbar outta nowhere! Charlotte struggles against it, but can’t get away. Becky seems unimpressed either way. Asuka wrenches back but Charlotte rolls through, only to end up in a triangle hold! Charlotte makes it a cover, ONE. She tries again, ONE! Charlotte rains rights then makes it a cover again, ONE.
Asuka fires palm strike while holding the hold. Charlotte deadlifts and powerbombs! Cover, TWO!! Charlotte almost had Asuka, but both women are down from exhaustion. Fans “WOO~” for Charlotte and cheer for Asuka as the two stir. Charlotte sits up first, and crawls over to Asuka. Asuka sits up and they both trash talk. Charlotte slaps Asuka as she says “You will never break me!” But Asuka gets the takedown, the jackknife, but Charlotte slips through to Figure Four! Asuka endures as Charlotte wrenches back. Asuka turns the hold over! The pressure reverses and now Charlotte endures! Charlotte scrambles to ropes and the two separate. Becky seems amused now. Asuka and Charlotte force themselves up, but Charlotte gets Asuka’s leg. Asuka endures the toehold, but Charlotte drives in elbows! Charlotte goes for another Figure Four but Asuka resists, so Charlotte drops a knee!
Fans duel as Asuka endures. Charlotte hammers away on Asuka, her frustration boiling over. Cover, TWO! Becky is again stoic as she watches Chalrotte drag Asuka over to a corner. Charlotte throws a leg into the post! She gives Becky a glare before she again throws Asuka’s leg against post. Charlotte then drags Asuka over, covers, TWO! She goes for the figure four, but Asuka cradles! TWO, and Charlotte CHOPS Asuka. And chops, and chops! Asuka blocks the next chop, and fireman’s carry takedown to kicks! Asuka runs, but Charlotte follows. Spear into a code breaker! Cover, TWO!! Asuka almost caught Charlotte there but this battle continues. Fans continue to duel as Asuka stands. Asuka kicks away on Charlotte, again and again and again, but then the buzzsaw is blocked. She still knocks the wind out of Charlotte, then fires off elbows from all sides!
Asuka kicks Charlotte in the face again and again, almost toying with her. She gives another shot then runs, but into a SPEAR!! Cover, TWO!? Asuka survives and Charlotte is surprised. Becky is stone faced, but on the edge of her seat. Charlotte flounders to her feet while Asuka stirs on the mat. Charlotte drags Asuka to a drop zone while fans duel. She climbs up top, moonsault! Asuka gets her feet up, but Charlotte saw it coming! Charlotte grabs the feet for a figure four, but Asuka sees that coming! Cradle to Asuka Lock!! Charlotte flairs but the hold is on deep! Asuka stays on Charlotte’s back, and they fall out of the ring! Charlotte resorts to a kendo stick! And she SMACKS Asuka!
Winner: Asuka, by disqualification
The Mad Queen returns as she swings wild! Charlotte gave Asuka the win, but The Man simply smirks as she looks at her battered competition. Becky goes to leave, but Charlotte SMACKS her in the back! Charlotte SMACKS away on Asuka, but Becky comes back with kicks! Becky throws Charlotte into the steps, then takes up the stick! She SMACKS Charlotte now! And again, and again! But Asuka attacks Becky! And throws her over the announce desk! Asuka picks up the stick for her own, and SMACKS Charlotte back! And Becky on the table, too! Asuka smacks everyone!! The Empress stands over The Queen and The Man, but will she stand tall as the Women’s Champion?!
SmackDown again has the superior main roster go-home! And oddly enough, that might be because they changed some things. Naomi and Mandy Rose were meant to spark a feud tonight, as started by social media, but perhaps there were factors beyond anyone’s control that cancelled that match. After all, this is a live show. But I do appreciate SmackDown at least wanted a midcard story going into TLC, it can’t always be about the title.
Moving on, Daniel Bryan’s opening promo was great. I knew he was going to pull that gag about “that’s an insult to [x]”. And it’s great for Mustafa Ali to be the one trying to get through to Bryan about his new behavior. For one, it’s just great that Cruiserweights are showing up on both main shows, and I hope this continues to some degree, in perhaps an effort to stop the isolation of the Division on 205 Live. Raw already has Lio Rush and the Lucha House Party, perhaps SmackDown can have stars like Ali, Noam Dar, or Cedric Alexander show up to give us some great matches. Bryan VS Ali was itself a great match and Ali looked strong even in losing.
I’m a little disappointed Bryan VS Styles won’t be a Chairs Match, but learning that Orton VS Mysterio gets that, that’s really great. Orton and Mysterio have been heading that way given the violent chair spots, and I am sure they’ll do the stipulation justice. But Mysterio standing tall tonight, I have a feeling that means Orton wins at TLC so his hunt for heroes can continue. The rap battle was great, from The Bar having a completely comedic routine to The Usos having a killer one. The Bar attack and manage to stand tall, but perhaps that, too, is a sign we get new champs at TLC. I feel that since The New Day already reached their five-time mark, The Usos will get another turn. And as great as these three teams are, I hope Usos becoming champs help shuffle challengers. SAnitY and The Club deserve second chances.
The Miz is definitely heading for a match with Shane, he just has to be. He goads Shane into a surprise match with jobbers, which actually helps cover up that Shane’s floatover DDT turned into a hungover DDT. I’m just wondering what he’ll have planned now that Shane seems firmly against #BestTeamintheWorld. Hardy & Rusev VS Joe & Nakamura was a really good match, and definitely builds things towards their respective blow-offs. However, it still feels too early to call who wins their respective feuds. It would be great if Rusev gets the US Championship back, he could use it after that detour with Aiden English. Hardy-Joe is also harder to decide, but Joe hasn’t won much lately so he could really use this one.
The SmackDown Women’s Championship scene is incredible right now. This Wrestlemania rematch tonight was amazing, and in the moment I was disappointed that it ended with a disqualification. But between the awesome brawl that happened between Charlotte, Asuka and Becky and how a disqualification keeps both women strong, I’m okay with it. The TLC Triple Threat is going to be off the charts, and it will definitely steal the show no matter where it is on the card. I’m hoping that if there is a new champion, it will be Asuka. The fans were so behind her, they have been behind her, and will be behind her even if she takes the title from Becky. The only other option fans will still be behind is if Becky retains, because otherwise Charlotte treads dangerous waters in her push.
My Score: 8.7/10
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