Bray Wyatt Story Shift Devalues TLC PPV, More WWE SmackDown Fallout
The December 6 episode of WWE SmackDown showed more urgency than Raw in terms of building matches, angles and stories for the upcoming TLC pay-per-view, but it was a sudden shift in storylines that stood out as the biggest takeaway from this week's show.
Bray Wyatt will now square off with The Miz at the December 15 extravaganza and the transition from Wyatt-Bryan to Wyatt-Miz has the show feeling even less-significant than the half-assed, relatively nonexistent lineup would suggest.
What else joined the shift in booking as the most buzzworthy topics coming out of the network television broadcast?
Find out with this recap of the Friday night program.
WWE Shifts Bray Wyatt Feuds, Admits TLC's Placeholder PPV Status
In shifting focus from Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan to Wyatt vs. The Miz at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, WWE Creative has essentially admitted the secondary nature of the annual December pay-per-view, as if we did not already know how insignificant that particular event is.
Yes, WWE Creative is attempting long-term storytelling with the Wyatt-Bryan program, using last week's beatdown by The Fiend to set up an eventual rematch between the two. Unfortunately, in doing so, it robbed TLC of a potentially red-hot PPV main event and replaced it with a program asking us to buy The Miz as a genuine threat to the universal champion after months of irrelevancy on the blue brand.
The booking choice not only hurts the credibility of the PPV, but it also puts Miz in an unfair situation in which he will be asked to ensure the success of a main event match despite having no real compelling background for the contest.
To the performers' credit, the promos and vignettes from Friday's show were well done but it is too little, too late to build Miz into a credible challenger to Wyatt after he has spent so many months wallowing as a talk show host rather than building momentum as an in-ring competitor.
Lacey Evans Babyface Turn Suits Her
Lacey Evans is a mother, a former United States Marine and an genuinely inspirational woman, so it makes sense WWE would focus on those elements of the performer as she embarks on a babyface turn that suits her well.
The Sassy Sothern Belle is a tough, no-nonsense woman who was able to showcase that side of her personality Friday as she sparred verbally with Sasha Banks. Threatening to drop The Boss where she stood if she mentioned her daughter again, Evans won the crowd over and had a portion of the North Carolina chapter of the WWE Universe chanting her name.
Building on that, allowing fans to choose to cheer for Evans because she is allowed to showcase her real personality and tell her story will only benefit the performer, the creative team and the overall show. We saw as much this week as Evans firmly entrenched herself in a rivalry with SmackDown's resident angsty mean girls.
Sheamus Has Rare Opportunity to Reinvent Himself a Decade into WWE Run
Sheamus has been gone from WWE television long enough that he now has a rare opportunity to make a second impression on fans some 10 years after he first exploded onto the scene as a challenger to John Cena's world title.
The Celtic Warrior's pre-taped promos, in which he takes exception to SmackDown's perceived softness and laziness, have been spectacular and really set the stage for The Celtic Warrior to re-emerge and establish himself as a major player on network television.
The question is whether or not he re-emerges as a babyface or heel.
We have seen him succeed in both roles, most recently as a villain alongside Cesaro in The Bar. Perhaps a shift to the babyface side of things, and a program with someone like King Corbin after the heel wraps up with Roman Reigns, would be the most effective use of the former WWE champion.
Either way, Sheamus has done a solid job of reintroducing himself in a way that creates interest rather than just popping back up on TV and doing the same thing he did before.