WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Analysis from November 27
Becky Lynch returned to SmackDown Live Tuesday night and, in the process, set up an enormous main event with TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs implications.
The Man's return was but one of the segments on this week's show that set the stage for the December 16 pay-per-view extravaganza.
What went down, how might it affect the build to that show and who emerged victoriously in the night's in-ring action?
Find out now with this recap of the November 27 episode.
Becky Lynch Returns
SmackDown women's champion Becky Lynch hit the ring to kick off the show, drawing a big pop from fans as she joined general manager Paige in the squared circle.
She wasted little time iterating her desire to fight Ronda Rousey and then called out Charlotte Flair.
Lynch insulted her former friend, saying Flair was obviously trying to copy her. The seven-time women's champion took exception and accused The Irish Lass Kicker of riding her coattails.
The back-and-forth arguing culminated with Paige announcing a Tables, Ladders & Chairs match for the December 16 pay-per-view.
Zelina Vega, The IIconics, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville appeared and claimed they all could have beaten down Rousey, too. Naomi, Asuka, Carmella and Lana interjected themselves, echoing the same sentiments.
Paige ultimately ended the segment by announcing a Battle Royal in which the winner would be added to the Lynch-Flair match.
Lynch is a genuine star right now. She is greeted as one and carries herself as one, and it has really helped with her ascension over the last four months.
Her ongoing issues with Flair were perfectly revisited here but should have been left alone. Theirs is a rivalry deserving of a TLC match.
To interject another woman in there for the sake of making it a Triple Threat diminishes what the creative team has accomplished with Lynch and Flair to this point.
The Bar's Open Challenge
The Usos answered The Bar's open challenge Tuesday night, leading to another hotly contested match between the two teams.
Jimmy and Jey started the match hot, frustrating the champions until Cesaro distracted the referee long enough for Sheamus to hang him up on the top rope.
The heels isolated Jimmy and worked him over until a hot tag to Jey sparked the babyface comeback.
Sheamus tried to ground Jey with a knee drop off the ropes, followed by a second, but Jey recovered and flattened The Celtic Warrior with a superkick. The Usos tried for a double splash to Sheamus, but the champions countered it.
The action broke down from there, leading to a missed charge from Cesaro, another superkick and a top-rope splash that earned The Usos the non-title win.
The Usos defeated The Bar
This was not quite up to par with the other matches between the two teams, but it did enough to jump-start their rivalry en route to a showdown at TLC.
Unfortunately, the two teams have worked each other so many times over the last year or two that a match between them, even with a stipulation, is not particularly interesting or exciting.
The likelihood that the match steals the show is still incredibly high.
AJ Styles Returns
AJ Styles returned to SmackDown two weeks after losing the WWE Championship to the newly minted heel Daniel Bryan, drawing a big pop from his faithful fans.
Styles talked about Bryan turning heel on him to win the WWE Championship, with videos of the loss and The Yes Man's promo from last week spliced in.
Styles criticized Bryan for missing this week's show and last weekend's events and told him to show up at TLC, where he will regain his title.
This was a short, sweet promo that put over the feud and set up Styles as a vengeful babyface seeking another run as the top star on Tuesday nights.
The promo never overstayed its welcome, and The Phenomenal One did a solid job of conveying the emotions necessary. The result will be a hotter championship clash come December 16.
Rusev vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Before the scheduled match between United States champion Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev could begin, the former blasted the latter with a Kinshasa and left him lying.
Continuing his attack, Nakamura leveled The Bulgarian Brute with another of his trademark finishers before exiting up the ramp.
It may have been a short segment, but this at least set up a rivalry over the United States Championship, something that has been missing on Tuesday nights for a while.
Nakamura is such a talented and engaging competitor that to see him so woefully underutilized by management ranks among the most disappointing aspects of this entire year.
A feud with a cooled-down Rusev may not be the most electric imaginable, but they demonstrated strong chemistry on the Crown Jewel Kickoff Show, so the in-ring product should be OK.
Jeff Hardy Celebrates 20 Years in WWE
Michael Cole introduced Jeff Hardy, sans face paint and hair dye, for a special celebration of The Charismatic Engima's two decades with WWE.
A video package paying tribute to the former world heavyweight and WWE champion aired, with the emotion Hardy felt watching it painted across his face.
Afterward, he cut a promo thanking the fans and his family. After vowing this is not a retirement speech, he implored the audience to join him on the rest of his journey.
Samoa Joe interrupted the proceedings and immediately went after the low-hanging fruit, making a crack about Hardy's history by saying it's probably a bad idea to have a bottle of champagne around.
Joe also said Hardy was probably too incoherent to remember much of his career and admitted the pedestal he is put on by so many is sickening to him.
The Samoan Submission Machine continued to tear down Hardy, but the night's honoree said he was about making moments and offered to do just that with Joe Tuesday night.
Hardy was the humble Superstar whose accomplishments have never allowed him to change who he is. He struck the right chord and came across as genuinely likable, as he has throughout the majority of his Hall of Fame career.
Joe was the star of the segment, though, and that is saying something.
The unforgiving bluntness of his promo added emotion to the budding rivalry and enticed fans to emotionally connect with the feud. Considering how many times the two have wrestled to this point, that is a necessary element of a successful program.
Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz
Two of the longest-tenured Superstars in WWE squared off in a singles match made after a backstage encounter earlier in the show as Kofi Kingston battled The Miz.
Late in the match, Kingston scored a near-fall that left him, Xavier Woods and Big E jaw-dropped at ringside. Miz followed up with a spike DDT for two that nearly scored him the win.
Frustrated, The Hollywood A-Lister exposed the turnbuckle and tried to use it. Big E cut off that attempt, and Kingston rolled up Miz for two.
Miz wiped out Woods at ringside and attempted to manipulate the situation to his favor. Big E grabbed hold of a chair, preventing him from using it. Stunned, The A-Lister walked right into Trouble in Paradise, and Kingston scored a rare singles victory.
Kingston defeated Miz
This felt like two acts spinning their wheels, waiting for something more important to do.
Kingston won a largely forgettable match, and while it was nice to see him pick up a victory in singles action, it hardly feels like the start of something big for the longtime competitor—no matter how much Woods insists he will be heavyweight champion.
Miz's current spot on the roster is a major disappointment given how red-hot he was just a few months back.
Randy Orton Addresses Attack on Rey Mysterio
Randy Orton hit the ring Tuesday night to address his attack on Rey Mysterio and the theft of his mask.
The Viper called the experience euphoric, insisting he does not care about the history or prestige of the mask. He vowed to make Mysterio the latest of his long line of victims.
The Master of the 619 interrupted, rushing the ring sporting a neck brace. He endured an assault at the hands of The Viper but fought back and landed two 619s.
Orton fought back, delivered two draping DDTs and finished by wrapping a chair around his rival's head and sending him into the steel steps.
The fans booed as officials checked on Mysterio.
Orton continued to be at his most sinister, and in a day and age when heels are boring and one-dimensional, a cold-hearted villain motivated by his desire to punish fans' favorites is welcome.
It is certainly interesting to see Mysterio's first program back come against The Viper, but the chemistry is there, and the luchador has a way of garnering sympathy that will do wonders in helping the already-over Orton form a strong bond with audiences in his heel role.
Women's Battle Royal
Competitors: Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Zelina Vega, Asuka, Naomi, Lana and Carmella
The product of the night's opening segment, the Battle Royal to determine which woman would join Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair at TLC on December 16 headlined Tuesday's show.
Zelina Vega was eliminated first and turned her frustration on Lana, attacking her at ringside. The IIconics sent The Ravishing Russian packing next.
Asuka sent Billie Kay and Peyton Royce to the floor while Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville teamed up.
Carmella leveled Asuka with a big kick at one point, but The Empress of Tomorrow eliminated the former SmackDown women's champion.
The final four competitors were Asuka, Deville, Rose and Naomi.
Naomi eliminated Rose, and Deville returned the favor, bringing the match down to Deville and Asuka.
The Superstars brought their fight to the ring apron, each teasing elimination until The Empress of Tomorrow obliterated Deville with a knee to the face, knocking her to the floor and securing the victory.
Without any kind of story for fans to sink their teeth into, Battle Royals are a tough sell to the audience. Sure, there are a bunch of recognizable faces, but it ultimately boils down to wrestlers punching, kicking and forearming their way through the match with a high spot here and there for effect.
This was no different.
Asuka winning was the right move and hopefully signifies her return to relevance on Tuesday nights. The thought of her, Lynch and Flair tearing down the house at TLC is an appealing one for fans of women's wrestling.
Deville looked strong here, demonstrating why she is a legitimate candidate for most improved Superstar of the year.