WWE SmackDown Results: Mustafa Ali Earning More Opportunities and Top Takeaways
The battle lines have been drawn for Sunday as the best on SmackDown Live prepared one last night before their WWE TLC 2018 matches. Asuka was set to wrestle Charlotte Flair for the first time since WrestleMania with the champion Becky Lynch watching from the sidelines.
The New Daniel Bryan prepared for an epic clash with AJ Styles by competing for the first time ever against 205 Live's Mustafa Ali. The New Day hosted a rap battle between The Bar and The Usos before their triple threat title match.
All these moments though were just the expectations for the night. It was the execution that made the show stand out with strong matches and moments throughout that continue to allow the blue brand to stand a step above the red brand.
New stars emerged. Old stars got a chance to stand out, and the only real disappointment is that Shane McMahon continues to be far too heavily featured each week.
These are the biggest takeaways from the December 11 edition of SmackDown, focusing on what is to come on Sunday.
Mustafa Ali Should Get More Chances Against Main Roster Talent
Ali interrupted Bryan to ask him why he had forgotten who he is. The Beard would not listen, setting off this booked match early. While The Heart of 205 Live refused to stay down, Bryan went after his leg and forced him to tap out to the heel hook.
Few men have been better in 2018 than Ali; arguably no one has. His match quality over that time has been unbelievable with even those who have not watch 205 Live getting to see him at his best when he and Buddy Murphy nearly stole the show.
However, he feels like he is spinning his wheels in the division, having already feuding for so long with the current champion. He needs new challengers, and SmackDown could absolutely present a fresh opportunity for the cruiserweight star.
Bryan and Ali had a solid match together, but it felt like they could do so much more with another opportunity. The Heart of 205 Live could also have awesome matches with guys like Rey Mysterio, Andrade Cien Almas and Styles, just to name a few.
The blue brand is not exactly hurting for stars, but the show could certainly use a guy who is this consistently excellent. Since he is mainly focused on becoming WWE cruiserweight champion, he wouldn't even need to win often to get the rub in this arrangement.
Tag Team Wrestling Barely Matters Anymore
The Bar challenge The Usos to a rap battle with Jimmy and Jey clearly dominating. However, as Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E were ready to call the fight, Sheamus and Cesaro took out both teams, standing tall before Sunday.
The three best tag teams in WWE today are feuding at the moment, and few legitimately care. This is just because team wrestling has been so badly devalued by WWE. Even the best in the business cannot stand out.
Raw is a more noticeable culprit with the complete mishandling of talent like The Authors of Pain and The Revival, but SmackDown has not done its impressive tag team roster many favors. Three teams feel like the only stars around, and even they are being used in silly segments every week.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson as well as Sanity should be used better than they are, but they just don't matter. The teams in title contention barely matter. The whole entire division has become a mess of poor booking decisions that have left no one worth investing in.
Shane McMahon Should Never Be Treated Like a Real Wrestler
The Miz took the Best in the World trophy and headed to the ring where he demanded Shane give their tag team a second chance. The A-Lister then made an impromptu tag match against Las Vegas' finest jobbers with Shane-O-Mac doing all the work and making one tap to a triangle choke.
Few Superstars over the years have done more with less than Boy Wonder. He's always been able to do a lot by simply putting his body on the line, taking the risks full-time wrestlers could not afford to take, and he always made getting beat up look good.
However, he has been around so long that WWE has decided to start treating him like a real performer. His crowning as the best in the world was insulting enough on its own, but now one of the best Intercontinental champions in history is treating the commissioner like he's a great worker.
The Prodigal Son should not be beating people up with ease. His offense is far too awkward to be believable. The jobbers were working over time this week to treat him like a legitimate threat.
Miz is also trying way too hard in a situation that is simply holding him back. Shane needs to return to a purely authority role.
Asuka Is Ready for the SmackDown Women's Championship
In a physical rematch from WrestleMania 34, Charlotte and Asuka brutalized each other until The Nature Girl had had enough. She pulled out a kendo stick and started attacking both her future opponents with the Japanese Superstar firing back and standing tall over Flair and Lynch.
With most expecting The Irish Lass Kicker to go after Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania, she will need to drop her title before getting that chance. That likely means Charlotte or Asuka is walking out with that championship on Sunday.
It is far more likely The Queen will be champion again especially to set up a champion vs. champion clash at Royal Rumble, but The Empress of Tomorrow would be far more interesting representing the blue brand going to the Grandest Stage of Them All.
She is one of the best wrestlers in the world, male and female, and she shows it by absolutely bringing everything in her matches. The clash between The Empress and Queen this week was once again an excellent battle between two of WWE's best.
Charlotte is the safe choice to carry SmackDown while The Man takes over the whole company, but the right choice is Asuka.