WWE Champion Daniel Bryan def. Mustafa Ali (Non-title)
Ali was the last person I expected to interrupt Bryan, but it was a pleasant surprise. I have no clue whether this was a one-off or an official call-up for him (similar to how Drake Maverick, Lio Rush and The Lucha Dragons continue to appear on 205 Live despite being regulars on Raw), but I really hope it's the latter. They had a great exchange on the microphone and the subsequent match was equally entertaining. It wasn't the blow-away bout it had the potential to be, mind you, but Ali scored a decent amount of offense in defeat and had an impressive outing, so I can't complain.
The New Day Hosted a Rap Battle Between SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bar and The Usos
I got my hopes up for this segment following the success of the first rap battle hosted on SmackDown Live from one year ago between New Day and The Usos, but this was still enjoyable. The material wasn't nearly as funny or as edgy this time around, but at least the effort was there. Most importantly, the segment served its purpose in hyping up the SmackDown Tag Team Championship Triple Threat for TLC.
SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon and The Miz def. The Vegas Boys
It looks like Miz's angle with Shane isn't over and that he'll continue to attempt to recruit Shane to be his tag team partner until he agrees. Obviously, this wasn't much of a match and merely existed to show that Shane and Miz can apparently work together (even if Miz never tagged in once). Paige was upset afterward with Miz making the matchup without her approval, so I guess they're trying to tease tension between Shane and Paige? Is this leading to a Shane heel turn eventually? Regardless, I honestly have no clue what they're going for with this storyline, and I can't say I'm too thrilled to find out.
Rey Mysterio Attacked Randy Orton
Orton has had Mysterio's number for weeks and has attacked him at every turn. Thus, it was only a matter of time before Mysterio got one over on Orton and exacted a measure of revenge in the process, which is exactly what happened in this segment. It didn't reinvent the wheel or anything, but it succeeded in what it set out to do and the crowd ate it up. The addition of their Chairs match to the TLC card makes sense with the story they've been telling in recent weeks.
Rusev and Jeff Hardy def. United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe
This was a classic case of furthering two feuds with one match, and it helped that all four Superstars work well together. Granted, I'm not any more excited for either rivalry than I was beforehand, but from an in-ring standpoint, it was perfectly serviceable and everyone involved played their roles well. Rusev pinning Nakamura should set him up for another shot at the United States Championship, though I hope it won't be at TLC given how loaded the lineup already is.
Asuka def. Charlotte Flair by Disqualification
I loved how this was promoted like a marquee main event throughout the night and it was the perfect way to close out the show. Of course, it certainly wasn't on the level of their WrestleMania 34 encounter, but it was very well-wrestled nonetheless and I appreciated the intensity, making it feel like more than a standard singles affair. The non-finish was logical in protecting both ladies and the post-match angle with Becky Lynch, Flair and Asuka all battering each other with a kendo stick was excellently executed.
The main goal of this show was to sell viewers on the TLC pay-per-view, so in that respect, it was a good edition of SmackDown Live and way more bearable than Monday's Raw (though that has been the case for quite some time now). The opening and closing segments were the highlights of the night while everything else served a purpose and caused the two hours to fly by. SmackDown continues to be a significantly stronger show than Raw and I find myself infinitely more intrigued in most of what the brand has to offer. We'll see if SmackDown can maintain this momentum coming out of Sunday's event.
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