WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Vicious side of 'new' Daniel Bryan emerges
Bryan gave everyone a taste of the violence he's now capable of exhibiting
One of the more intriguing stories in all of WWE in recent weeks has been the unveiling of the "new" Daniel Bryan following his recent heel turn that saw him become the WWE champion once again. In recent weeks, Bryan's turn has been more about explaining what drove him to the point of kicking AJ Styles in the groin to win the title. Tuesday night, Styles saw firsthand what sort of physical carnage this new version of Bryan can bring to the table when he's triggered.
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The vicious side of the 'new' Daniel Bryan
Two bitter rivals met for a segment as The Miz hosted WWE champion Daniel Bryan on an edition of "Miz TV." Well, they met after an interruption in the form of an R-Truth and Carmella dance break, actually. Miz said it does seem as if Bryan has morphed into a new person, but it also appears as if Bryan realizes that he's been right about him all along. Bryan said people used to think he was smart, but how smart could he actually be if he listened to "these people"? Bryan quoted Alexander Hamilton to explain his attitude change, but Miz believed that Bryan simply began to take his advice on doing whatever it takes to win. The WWE champ then went on a rant against the fans detailing how their actions in their daily lives harm the earth. When it came down to it, Miz just wanted to hear Bryan say that he became WWE champion because he listened to his advice. Bryan shot back by saying that it doesn't matter because the old Daniel Bryan is dead, and he even ripped off and threw down his logo plates from the belt to prove his point.
Styles hurried to the ring gunning for Bryan, who briefly used Miz as a shield. Bryan wasn't able to get away, as Styles directed him back toward the squared circle. Styles, though, ended up eating a Skull Crushing Finale from Miz as Bryan was able to escape up the ramp. Immediately after the segment, it was announced that Styles would be facing Miz later in the night.
AJ Styles def. The Miz via submission: Bryan returned to the arena to provide commentary, and despite his best efforts to help Miz win, Styles earned the victory with the Calf Crusher. Following the bout, though, Bryan viciously attacked Styles by not only working over the former champ's left knee but repeatedly stomping his face as officials tried to break it up. Bryan eventually exited the ring and again made the ring announcer announce him as the "new" Daniel Bryan while he stood atop the commentary table. After calling the fans "fickle" over and over, SmackDown went off the air as Bryan bolted back into the ring to continue tearing apart the knee of Styles.
The evolution of this heel Bryan character has been fascinating to watch for the short time it's been in existence, and the more psychotic side of him that was unveiled on Tuesday night was another great layer to everything. The once-beloved figure is drawing great heat from the crowds with his promos alone, and adding in cowardly, vicious attacks can only speed up the process of Bryan becoming one of the most hated performers in the company as his dark turn continues on. If anything, the "new" Bryan is slowly showing us how truly great of a professional wrestling performer he is -- even more so than when he was a white-meat babyface. Grade: A-
Charlotte Flair-Asuka drama takes center stage
Surrounded by tables, ladders and chairs around the ring, general manager Paige began SmackDown this week by saying she's proud to sanction the first-ever women's TLC match. Asuka was out first to the scheduled contract signing, followed by Flair and then, of course, SmackDown women's champion Becky Lynch. "The Man" said that she makes history when she steps inside the ring every Tuesday, and she plans on doing the same thing at TLC. She'll do anything it takes to win, and she can't say the same for her opponents. Flair took the microphone and told Lynch that she picked up the ball that she dropped by taking care of Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series in the manner in which she did. She wants Lynch to imagine what she'll do when there's tables, ladders and chairs involved, Asuka had enough by that point, telling Flair that Lynch has already beaten her, but the reigning champ has never done the same to her. After the three women began arguing simultaneously, Lynch signed the deal on the table and left up the ramp. As the last two women remaining in the ring, Flair told Asuka that she would defeat her again just like she did at WrestleMania in breaking her streak, which led to Asuka shouting at Flair in Japanese before they both signed on the dotted line.
Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville were out to interrupt. The two former Absolution sisters of Paige once again spoke about getting opportunity, and the GM gave them just that in the form of a tag team match against Asuka and Flair right there.
Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose def. Charlotte Flair & Asuka via pinfall: Deville got the pin on Flair after Asuka laid Flair out with a knee in the middle of the ring as she was attempting to pin Deville. This was brought upon by Flair accidentally connecting with a boot to the face of Asuka that was meant for Rose on the apron. Lynch, who reemerged halfway through the bout, smirked from the outside while Asuka and Flair stared one another down.
Sure, Lynch is the hottest thing in the game right now, but it was a nice move this week to put the focus mainly on Asuka and Flair. There is some history between those two stemming from what went down at WrestleMania in New Orleans, and it was refreshing to have that addressed as the build for this historic match kicks in. It also wasn't a negative that Rose & Deville were given another spotlight because they just continuously seem to improve in all aspects. The women's division on SmackDown right now is in a truly good place both with stars at the top and those working hard every week to eventually get there. Grade: B+
What else happened on SmackDown?
- Jey Uso def. Cesaro (via pinfall) and Xavier Woods in a triple threat match: In a small preview of the triple threat bout for the SmackDown tag team titles coming up at TLC, Uso picked up the pinfall after Cesaro walked right into a superkick.
- Randy Orton def. Jeff Hardy via pinfall: Orton was able to put away Hardy with an RKO, thanks to a distraction from Samoa Joe on the Titantron. Joe was in a bar and lectured Hardy about the dangers of alcohol excess both before and after the match as they continue to run with Joe playing into Hardy's past substance abuse struggles for this new feud.
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