WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Women state their main event case ahead of TLC PPV

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With just five days to go until the final WWE pay-per-view event of 2018, TLC, SmackDown Live in Las Vegas on Tuesday night served as the main roster go-home offering. While there is an absurd number of matches on the card this Sunday, without a doubt everyone is looking forward to the triple threat TLC clash for the SmackDown women's title featuring Becky Lynch defending against Charlotte Flair and Asuka. With that bout looming right ahead, the main event of SmackDown on Tuesday provided us a small preview in the form of a WrestleMania 34 rematch, while also reminding us all what Sunday's main event should be. 

Also, don't forget to listen to our audio preview of TLC from the In This Corner with Brian Campbell podcast, and be sure to subscribe at the link in the player below. We will have an instant analysis immediately after WWE TLC on Sunday night.  

Asuka stands tall before TLC

Asuka def. Charlotte Flair via disqualification: While it wasn't quite as good as their WrestleMania 34 bout, Flair and Asuka put on another fantastic bout. Flair was trapped in the Asuka Lock and escaped to the floor with Asuka clinging to her back. From there, it was shades of Survivor Series as Flair snapped once again, finding a kendo stick underneath the ring and nailing Asuka with it to cause the DQ. Flair then turned her attention with the stick to Lynch -- who was sitting ringside scouting her opponents -- who eventually fired back to get her hands on the weapon and beat down her opponents. As the chaos continued to ensue, Asuka eventually found herself in possession of the kendo stick and proceeded to violently abuse both Flair and Lynch with it. Asuka stood tall five days before TLC on top of the announce table to close the show. 

I'm not entirely sure what the match order is for TLC on Sunday, but the only aspect I truly care about is that this triple threat match goes on last. Given the TLC stipulation and the three incredibly-talented women involved, this has the opportunity to run away with match of the night honors, thus deserving the main event slot in San Jose. As for tonight, a fantastic job was done to end the show of reminding everyone that the "Empress of Tomorrow" is anything but a mere third wheel in the match. This one, for lack of a better description, is going to be so much fun come Sunday. Grade: A

Daniel Bryan welcomes a newcomer

WWE Champion Daniel Bryan kicked things off on the TLC go-home edition of SmackDown. Prior to his scheduled match with 205 Live star Mustafa Ali, Bryan took the mic and said he wanted to apologize to actual sheep because they don't deserve to be compared to the fans as he did last week. The champion said the people aren't really sheep, rather they're more like parasites in that they take and take and take while giving nothing in return. Again, Bryan reiterated that the old Daniel Bryan is dead, as is the Yes Movement. Bryan said that he will crush Styles' dreams of becoming champion once again at TLC, and at the end of the night, the champion will still be the new Daniel Bryan. 

Ali interrupted Bryan as he was running down the fans for being stupid. Bryan told Ali he knows they're supposed to have a match but invited him in the ring to talk first. Bryan complimented Ali and told him he actually sees a lot of himself in him. The WWE champ said they don't have to compete in the match tonight because the fans really don't care, as they're too consumed with their mindless consumption; the fans ultimately don't deserve to see the match. Ali questioned Bryan about what has happened to him. He explained how all the 205 Live superstars looked up to him, while wondering again what happened to the old Bryan -- who would love to fight. And that's what Ali is here to do: fight. In a strange turn, Bryan pegged Ali about what kind of car he drives, to which Ali replied an SUV because he has a family. Bryan slapped Ali across the face and the match was on. 

Daniel Bryan def. Mustafa Ali via submission: After Ali whiffed on the inverted 450 splash attempt, Bryan began working his knee and eventually made him tap to the heel hook for the victory. Following the bout, Bryan mugged Ali at the top of the ramp, repeatedly stomping his head into the floor before slapping on the heel hook one more time -- a clear message to Styles entering Sunday. 

In a backstage interview later in the night, Styles said no one wants to beat the hell out of Bryan more than him. He's counting down the minutes until he can get his hands on the champion. This isn't the new Daniel Bryan -- this is the real Daniel Bryan. But there's only one AJ Styles. 

Fans have yearned for the talented Ali to flash his skills on the main roster for a while now, and this was the perfect setting to formally introduce him to the world. Bryan did a fantastic job on the microphone of putting him over by not dismissing him, rather admitting that he knows exactly who he is while complimenting his skills. In the ring, Ali, of course, passed with flying colors and hopefully he impressed enough people to become a regular in the big time. While it's great that Ali got the chance to shine, Bryan's rivalry with Styles seems to be almost regressing in interest as TLC gets closer. As I've said previously, I don't believe we'll get the full brunt of this Bryan heel turn until he moves on to his next feud once Styles gets his obligatory rematch on Sunday. Grade: B

What else happened on SmackDown?

  • Rap battle ends in chaos: The Bar, dressed in their best RUN DMC cosplay, started the musical festivities off by butchering Vanilla Ice's timeless classic "Ice, Ice, Baby" in their own image. After Jimmy and Jey Uso schooled them during their turn, Sheamus & Cesaro attempted to attack but went over the ropes instead. As The Usos were facing off with New Day, who were judging the battle dressed in tuxedos, The Bar reentered the ring and took out both teams to close the segment. 
  • Shane McMahon & The Miz def. Chip & Chad via submission: Miz was in the ring with the Best in the World trophy and pleaded with McMahon to come to the ring. He once again begged for the commissioner to tag with him before calling out their opponents to the ring. They blindsided McMahon, who eventually got the win with one of the worst triangle choke attempts in the history of pro wrestling. That coming immediately after a horribly botched DDT from McMahon. All of this was unnecessary. Backstage, general manager Paige berated the referee for allowing the commissioner to compete in an impromptu bout. The official revealed that Miz told him that Paige sanctioned the bout, and immediately after, Chip & Chad confronted Paige looking for their $5,000 Miz said she would pay them for their efforts. Paige furiously ripped up their papers and sent them off. McMahon confronted Miz later in the night about his actions and refused his attempt at an emotional handshake. 
  • Rey Mysterio gets some revenge on Randy Orton: With their chairs match just announced on SmackDown, Orton came out and questioned why Mysterio would want to take part in the bout on Sunday given what's been happening over the past few weeks. As Orton was about to tell everyone that the three letters they should all fear are RKO as opposed to TLC, Mysterio blindsided him from behind with a chair shot. Orton retreated from the ring after eating a 619. 
  • Rusev & Jeff Hardy def. Shinsuke Nakamura & Samoa Joe via pinfall: With Hardy and Joe on the outside, Nakamura went for the Kinshasa on Rusev but was met with the Machka Kick instead and suffered the pinfall. 

Jack joined CBS Sports in 2018 as an editor and writer covering college football, combat sports and golf. He was raised to love the New York Yankees unconditionally since birth and firmly believes a four-team... Full Bio

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