Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon finally meet after their Clash of Champions conflict. Can the two continue to coexist on Smackdown Live?
Smackdown Live comes to us from Newark, NJ after a fast count from co-special referee Daniel Bryan ensured Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn would retain employment with WWE. Fans have been waiting for answers after this shocking conclusion to Clash of Champions.
Does Daniel Bryan even have a job at this point? Would Shane McMahon fire him or worse?
Bryan opened the show to explain his actions.
Who’s the Boss?
Despite Bryan’s seemingly heel tactics at Clash of Champions the crowd was firmly behind the bearded one.
The opening segment was similar to an awkward meeting with your boss after screwing up at work. McMahon, unashamed of his bias against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, lamented that he was unable to rid Smackdown Live of the pair.
Bryan advised his actions were motivated by the dream of creating an equal opportunity for all Smackdown Live wrestlers. This brings to light a real sentiment shared by many fans. WWE is often criticized for pushing stars who fit a certain look or niche but may not be as capable in the ring or popular with the fans.
This segment effectively drew a line between the visions Bryan and McMahon have for their program. McMahon chastised Bryan for losing his cool and putting over the undesirables. Bryan immediately called out Shane for following too closely in his father’s footsteps. Was Bryan supposed to do “what’s best for business”?
Ready, Willing and Gable
Chad Gable is looking more and more like a monster each week. This week Gable along with Shelton Benjamin pinned the reigning Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions the Usos clean! Other than a few impressive German suplexes from Gable there was not much going on here.
Anyone who has followed Gable from NXT knows he can go. It is great to see him showcase his talent with a veteran in Benjamin. Creative is clearly positioning this team (or at least Gable) for what seems to be a push.
Dolph Ziggler has a legitimate heel claim: being overlooked by both fans and management. Although many fans have stood by Ziggler he made his bitterness known in a United States title victory “celebration”. This lead to a memorable moment when after disowning fans he simply dropped the belt in the middle of the ring and casually strolled to the backstage area. At this point it is unclear if he has vacated the title.
This is amazing!
Ziggler has solidified that he is more than a gimmick and now he is more than a title. He does not need fan approval to prove he is great.
I also think this is smart from a booking standpoint as Ziggler would have either lost the belt soon after or found himself in lackluster feuds. Instead we have a buzz worthy act of defiance with options for follow up.
Beautiful plot twist here.
After briefly promoting the first Women’s Royal Rumble Charlotte Flair stood in the ring and stared deep into the camera. With full confidence the seasoned ring general warned she would be ready for whomever emerged on the other side of the battle royal that will take place in January.
With the internet buzzing and whispers of contract negotiations in the final stages one can only hope the challenger would potentially be Ronda Rousey.
If there was a women’s match worthy of a Wrestlemania main event Rousey vs Flair checks all the boxes. There are so many story angles to work and both competitors would certainly find ways to display their superior athleticism. The rivalry has already been featured on WWE programming during an NXT Takeover event.
There will surely be future speculation leading up to the Royal Rumble.
This brief moment of self indulgent daydreaming was rudely interrupted by the Riott Squad being made to look weak in a throw away match against Flair and Naomi. The Riott Squad was easily defeated again this week and I’m hoping they do not become the next forgotten stable.
If they are not booked correctly they will flounder.
Happy Rusev Day!
As Rusev Day continues to get over both Rusev and Aiden English took on the New Day in a shameless merchandising plug posing as a match.
Everyone was dressed as classic Christmas characters and chased each other around the ring as WWE shirts were thrown into the crowd. This match was saved by the ridiculousness of the crowd who invented several new chants involving pancakes.
I do like that Rusev is able to explore his comedic side in this feud and English works well opposite the New Day.
The New Day clenched with victory with the help of pancakes and whip cream.
Styles, Nakamura and Orton VS Mahal, Owens and Zayn
This was a decent match. Orton and Nakamura were hungry to avenge their loss from the other night while AJ Styles was still recovering from a physical match against Jinder Mahal.
I felt this main event could have been more exciting given the caliber of the participants. The issue was that there was nothing at stake here. There was also no involvement from management.
Nakamura was able to gain the pinfall after delivering a Kinshasa to Sami Zayn.
Onward to the Rumble:
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan have agreed to disagree for now. McMahon respects Bryan and trusts his judgement despite recent rebelliousness. I do feel however that McMahon let Bryan off the hook way too easy. This is not a McMahon characteristic and there may be something brewing below the surface of the composed business professional.
Bryan historically poses a threat to authority and maybe McMahon may be starting to realize he will have the same problem that HHH and Stephanie McMahon once had. A great story line would be to let this stew and add in further conflicts between the two management styles.
Bryan did make it clear to Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn that they are still on thin ice after Clash of Champions. The Canadian duo continue to seek the favor of the general manager by highlighting that Shane McMahon and superstars like Randy Orton represent an oppressive regime.
These ploys are transparent but it could very well be planting the seeds for Bryan to align with there cause in the future especially if Shane McMahon starts sabotaging Bryan.
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