Before we delve into the nuts and bolts of this week’s episode of SmackDown Live, I hope you can indulge me for a minute. You see, if there’s one thing I just can’t resist it’s a cheap pop. And as the curtain closes on 2018, there’s no quicker way to draw one of those than by referencing the SmackDown Women’s Champion, Becky Lynch.
The ‘Man’ has been on one hell of a run since putting her friendship with Charlotte – and mercifully that ridiculous-looking mimed teacup celebration – behind her. In the few short months since SummerSlam, Becky has completely reinvented her character, claimed the blue brand’s top belt and created the kind of groundswell excitement not seen in many years. At this point in time, she stands head and shoulders above the rest of the roster as the company’s biggest star.
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) December 1, 2018
A well-know story around wrestling circles is that, during the late 90s, the writing process for Raw revolved solely around what Stone Cold Steve Austin was doing that night. The foul-mouthed texan was Vince McMahon’s only concern because he knew that if the ‘Rattlesnake’ had a good night, so would the show.
Now, I’m not for a second suggesting that Becky has become the kind of cultural phenomenon that Austin was (although the comparisons have been made by fans). What I am saying though is that the ‘Irish Lass Kicker’ has reached a measure of prominence few in this business ever have. Like The Rock, Stone Cold, John Cena and Daniel Bryan before her, Lynch is starting to transcend the confines of our little wrestling world and make her way into the mainstream consciousness.
Consider, for example, ESPN‘s latest power rankings of WWE talent. The largest sports television network on the planet regularly convenes six of its rankers to evaluate the WWE hierarchy. Normally, the list comprises the usual faces. However, this past week something unprecedented took place. Becky Lynch became the first woman ever to claim the top spot.
And that accolade only tells half the story. Because not only does ESPN consider Lynch the biggest star in the company right now, but the vote amongst its staff was entirely unanimous. Think about the enormity of it for just a moment. In a promotion boasting generational names like Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins and Daniel Bryan, Becky Lynch is unquestionably, undeniably the biggest name in the company. At a time when WWE is pushing its women’s division like never before, the first woman to reach the mountaintop is not Ronda Rousey or Charlotte Flair, two company darlings. It’s instead the often maligned, downtrodden Becky Lynch.
As strange as it would’ve seemed just six months ago, could anyone honestly dispute that title? Lynch runs the show like few others have before her. Whether signing contracts on SmackDown or invading Raw, she routinely generates excitement, elevating those around her by association. Just in the past month alone, Rollins, Rousey, Charlotte and Nia Jax, amongst others, have thrown stones (or, in some cases, stray fists) at the champ. In each instance, the simple mention of the ‘Man’ has made those performers more relevant.
Worrying, Lynch has not taken a single bump since suffering a concussion at the hands of Jax. While her availability for TLC has not officially been brought into question, lingering fears may remain until the event in ten days time. Despite that however, last night’s show kicked off in promising fashion – with the ‘Man’, Charlotte and Asuka gathered in the ring for a contract signing ahead of their pay-per-view clash.
It was the first chapter of an interesting episode of SmackDown Live and, as has become customary, we’re here to guide you through the main goings-on. In what follows, we’ll take you through what we considered to be the best and worst the show had to offer, before venturing an overall rating of the episode.
So, with all the rambling out the way, on with the good!