Cliffhanger – (noun) – a melodramatic or adventure serial in which each installment ends in suspense in order to interest the reader or viewer in the next installment.
It’s also a word that you could say sums up this week in the WWE. Whether it be what will happen next between Seth Rollins/Kevin Owens and the Authors of Pain or an RKO to AJ Styles on RAW, or a triple-threat treat ending things on NXT or Bray Wyatt’s kidnapping of Daniel Bryan leading to the bizarre intrusion into The Miz’s family, the next step is left in the balance.
It’s a refreshing change in the WWE’s storytelling to let things play out over several weeks. A little breathing room brings out the mystery akin to the old days of pro wrestling where everything didn’t need to be explained in one episode because the attention span of the audience was only 30 seconds long. It’s also a building block to get us to come back week after week.
Take for instance the Daniel Bryan vs. The Fiend/Bray Wyatt storyline. I think we all expected this week’s Smackdown to just move into the announcement of Bryan vs. The Fiend for another WWE Universal Title match after The Fiend kidnapped him at the end of last week’s episode.
Cliffhanger time! Instead, we get a Firefly Fun House on Miz TV edition where Wyatt reminds us that Bryan was part of his family and that he won’t come out to play at the TLC PPV. Instead, we get a challenge for The Miz to play and when he won’t, Wyatt threatens his family. Brilliant.
So, after a backstage attack, will The Miz accept a match with The Fiend at TLC and just how Bryan play into it? How will he look when he returns? Will he be with Bray or against him?
Intrigue. Emotion. Drama. Exactly what you need for a good cliffhanger.
STAR OF THE WEEK:
It would be easy to give it again to an NXT star like Keith Lee or Rhea Ripley, but we’re going another route this week. Our star of the week goes to LACEY EVANS. It’s not because she dominated this week. It’s because she gave us a reason to like her. She gave us a reason to care. She gave us a reason to invest in her. By standing up to Sasha Banks as the mother of her 6-year old daughter, by standing up as a Marine and by showing it to us while keeping a little of that “nasty” persona, Evans did more to further her character than any match could do. Well done, Lacey!
- Kevin Owens defeated Lashley (DQ when Authors of Pain interfere)
- Drew McIntyre defeated Akira Tozawa
- Aleister Black defeated Tony Nese
- Andrade defeated Eric Young
- Kyle Busch wins 24/7 Championship over R-Truth
- Erick Rowan defeated No Way Jose
- The Kabuki Warriors defeated Charlotte
- The Viking Raiders defeated Mark Sterling & Mitchell Lyons
- The OC defeated Rey Mysterio, Ricochet, & Humberto Carrillo
What we loved:
The KO Show – Absolutely loved the spotlight that Kevin Owens is getting on Monday nights! Arguably one of the WWE’s best on the mic these days, Owens is working to thwart Seth Rollins and the AOP while interjecting himself into the Lana/Rusev/Lashley feud. Entertaining doesn’t even begin to start the back and forth between KO and Lana. Including the effort at Starrcade, it’s made me gain back my interest in Rusev vs. Lashley.
Kyle Busch wins the 24/7 title – Does anything else need to be said?!
Kabuki Warriors – Sure, the Warriors should win a 2-on-1 handicap match against The Queen, Charlotte Flair. But, in the match of the night, we get the Women’s Tag Team Champions win it with an InSane flying elbow from Kairi Sane off the top rope onto Flair while she’s got Asuka in a figure-eight leglock! Great visual.
Lana – I’m suing! I’m suing! I’m suuuuuuiiiiiinnnnnngggggg! Her dramatics (and green dress to boot) after Bobby Lashley and herself were arrested for “assaulting” local police authorities was hysterical.
What we hated:
RAW Tag Team Championship – Can we get some challengers and a storyline? I get that they want to show The Viking Raiders as strong champs, but squash match after squash match isn’t helping them. They need to face, challenge and beat teams like The OC (possibly at TLC maybe).
- Killian Dain defeated Pete Dunne
- Shayna Baszler defeated Xia Li (Submission)
- The Forgotten Sons vs. Adrian Alanis and Leon Ruff
- Matt Riddle defeated Kassius Ohno
- KUSHIDA defeated Cameron Grimes
- Dominik Dijakovic, Keith Lee, and Tommaso Ciampa defeated The Undisputed Era
What we loved:
Star makers – The continued rise of Keith Lee and Rhea Ripley is awesome! Lee not only is becoming THE big man in NXT, but now he’s worked his way into a possible NXT Championship match if he can defeat Tommaso Ciampa and Finn Balor on the next episode of NXT. As for Ripley, in addition to helping Mia Yim get some measure of revenge on Dakota Kai, Ripley gets a title shot herself against Shayna Baszler on December 18th after bearing the brunt of a beatdown from Baszler and her crew. The skies the limit for these two!
Lio vs. Angel – We said a couple of weeks ago that we hoped the first match between NXT Cruiserweight Champion Lio Rush and Angel Garza was only the start of a feud. We get our wish now as the two are set for a rematch that hopefully will build on the personal involvement of Rush’s wife.
The backstory – Love that NXT is taking the next step in trying to get some of the lesser stars of the company over with simple vignettes that make us care about them more than just in the ring. In bringing back KUSHIDA and Kassius Ohno with a setup, it makes the in-ring more of a payoff.
Match of the night – Dain vs. Dunne – What a way to start the show! What a way to end a match. With a sleeper hold firmly in place on the top rope by Pete Dunne, Killian Dane powers back to pin Dunne for the duke! Well-paced, physical and set the tone for another wonderful night of wrestling from Full Sail.
Welcome back Mauro – After taking a shot from Corey Graves on Twitter for his NXT Takeover: WarGames work and missing Survivor Series plus last week’s episode of NXT, it’s awesome to not only have Mauro Ranallo back on TV, but to start the entire show. He’s a one-man treat giving not only play-by-play but also some commentary along the way. If I’m WWE, I’d give him a shot to do a show by himself or just with one other analyst. He’s that damn good!
What we hated:
The ambiance – I’m going to keep harping on it until they move an NXT out of Full Sail. The crowd just doesn’t measure up to the in-ring product. It does make an impact on watching at home. It’s an obvious upgrade the WWE and NXT came make to take on AEW, who’s look and feel does out do NXT each week even though you can argue that NXT delivers the better in-ring show.
- Alexa Bliss defeated Mandy Rose
- Smackdown Tag Team Title #1 Contender’s Elimination Match: The Revival defeated Ali & Chad Gable, Lucha House Party, & Heavy Machinery
- Lacey Evans defeated Haley Jones
- Roman Reigns defeated Dolph Ziggler
What we loved:
FAMILY – Bray Wyatt wants to be part of The Miz’s family. As we’ve stated above, a brilliant and diabolical plot is now unleashed by Wyatt to get The Miz to play with him at TLC after kidnapping Daniel Bryan and making him unavailable to play. Very intrigued to see what the next step is in this one.
Elias and Dana Brooke – Forthe second straight week, we get an Elias sighting as Drake Maverick tries to get his swerve on with Dana Brooke. With a witty, whimsical rib, Elias not only mocks Maverick in song, but also in the ring, letting Brooke get the final say in embarrassing him with the “pin.”
Lacey Evans – see star of the week above.
What we hated:
King Corbin vs. Roman Reigns – Not for obvious reasons, but for the details. Before the show on social media, we get the announcement that it’s Corbin vs. Reigns in a TLC match at the PPV. Why? No explanation. Then, after a stellar match with Dolph Ziggler, Reigns gets handcuffed to the ring post and covered in dog food. Why? We get the obvious reference to Reigns as “The Big Dog,” but shouldn’t this all lead to a dog collar match instead of a TLC match? Makes no sense.
Who’s under the ring – During the Reigns beatdown at the end of Smackdown, we see someone holding Reigns’ leg from under the ring. Who is it? No reveal even with Ziggler and Corbin searching under the ring for the dog food. Huh?!
Parting thought – Was looking forward to Arrow star Stephen Amell on WWE Backstage, but sickness forced a no-show. It would’ve been interesting to see if Renee Young and crew would press Amell about his involvement outside of WWE with Ring of Honor and All Elite Wrestling as he is an honorary member of The Elite. Maybe he’ll reschedule for this week’s show when CM Punk returns!
Welcome back John Morrison!
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