I wanted to lead this piece with the Smackdown Women’s championship match between Becky Lynch (c.) vs. Charlotte Flair, but what more is there to say about this feud right now? Lynch and Charlotte kicked off this week’s episode with a twenty-minute gauntlet, featured multiple heelish stunts from Lynch, and ended with a brutal spear from Charlotte that pushed both her and her former best friend through the LED wall. It was all well done, it was a very fun match, this feud still has some sizzle, but we’re at the point in this story where a definitive conclusion should take place sooner rather than later. After WWE Evolution, there will be more to say, like, you know, why it was always inevitable that this was ending with Charlotte as 46-time champion.
Instead, I’m leading with The Miz, more specifically, his Miz TV segment that featured the WWE champion AJ Styles and the No. 1 contender Daniel Bryan. This was everything it needed to be, and on a two-hour show where it felt like only two things happened, it shined. Yes, Charlotte taking out Lynch in frustration post-match was cool, but Styles telling Bryan that he isn’t moving was awesome.
After the personal, highly contentious feuds that Styles and Bryan have worked through over the last few months, it was refreshing to have a back-and-forth like the one Bryan and Styles had. Still, as Miz rightly pointed out, there is nothing inherently interesting about Styles and Bryan respecting each other as two of the best professional wrestlers in the world -- except in this case. Sometimes you just want to have a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Sometimes you just want to see two of the best professional wrestlers in the world have a five-star match on a WWE Network special. When you throw the Miz into the mix, which, I guess makes him the chocolate syrup in this never-ending metaphor -- it makes everything sweeter. Daniel Bryan, the astute man that he is, even admitted on commentary that the Miz is better than everybody at talking. Bryan isn’t wrong here, as there may not be anyone better in the company right now at working a microphone than Mr. Professional.
But he still the biggest match of his career against Bryan in embarrassing fashion. A few days removed from the Australian event, that looks to have been the right call by the WWE brass. An embarrassed and enraged Miz is the best version of the Miz. Whenever the Miz finds himself in a situation where he isn’t being taken seriously, that’s when he hits the hardest. There may be no better example than towards the end of this segment the Miz roared at both Bryan and Styles that he’s got next.
Here are my two other takeaways from the two-hour program.
What makes this a World Cup? Are we sure Vince McMahon has ever watched the FIFA World Cup? Are we sure if we were to ask him to explain what exactly the WWE’s version of the World Cup was, would Vince be able to piece together a coherent explanation? I have my doubts, as this week’s episode of Smackdown Live featured two more qualifying matches that featured four wrestlers from the United States. After this week’s episode, the four wrestlers who have qualified for the tournament are from the United States. Yes, Rey Mysterio vs. Shinsuke Nakamura is happening next week, but I’m fairly confident the WWE has no idea what the World Cup actually is. (Also, could they really have not given the winner a WWE or Universal title shot on an episode of Raw or Smackdown?)
Speaking of the World Cup qualifying matches, why did Randy Orton not viciously assault the Big Show after his victory? Are we done with Crazy Randy Orton, or was this just a one-week blip for the Viper on his quest to destroy fan-favorites? It just felt...odd. I found myself just waiting to write down “Orton punts the Big Show into retirement” on my Legal Pad, but that moment never came. Instead, Orton hit the fan-favorite RKO, his first use of the finisher since the heel turn, and that was that. I’d also like to mention that the fans chanting “You still got it” at the Big Show was one of the most baffling things I’ve seen in professional wrestling this year. If we are subjected to more Big Show matches in 2018 or 2019, I am blaming the city of Indianapolis.
Lifted from the Legal Pad:
Did anyone else laugh at the barrage of chops from Charlotte to Becky? Seemed very cartoony.
Becky rolling out immediately after the Natural Selection was just great in-ring psychology.
Last time we see Samoa Joe on television in 2018? Maybe he and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn can start their own YouTube show or something.
“How’s the family?” - The Miz
“If he goes to you house, he’s going to tend to your garden.” - The Miz, with the line of the night.
Shelton Benjamin Is Back Alert. That high knee of the ropes was tremendous. More Shelton, please.
Rusev and Aiden should get more time to see this feud through, but I suspect a WWE Network match isn’t in the cards and this feud is done.
“Cause you got hacked!” - Rusev, always funny.