While both Raw and SmackDown are headed towards TLC, SmackDown is outshining Raw in almost every way. They did so again on Tuesday.
There was a contract signing between Asuka, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch that almost turned into a melee but wound up pitting two opponents at TLC in a tag match against Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles would meet face to face for the first time since Bryan turned. Randy Orton went up against Jeff Hardy and Cesaro, Xavier Woods and Jey Uso competed in a Triple Threat match.
The combination of the way WWE put Tuesday's show together proved they can write good television, just not on Mondays apparently. Bryan stole the show, but here are your winners and losers for SmackDown Live, December 4, 2018.
Winner: Opening Segment
The most interesting part about the open to the show that featured Lynch, Flair, and Asuka, was witnessing the story of each superstar and how they're coming into their TLC match from completely different angles.
Lynch feels like no one can hold a candle to her, Flair is confident she's the one person who can and Asuka is simply tired of being overlooked. If you take this match for those individual character arcs and weave them into the contest, you get something far more interesting than a simple Triple Threat Match. That's the way more of these matches should be put together and it's a shame WWE doesn't do it more often.
The other winner out of all this was Sonya Deville, who picked up a big pin.
What can you say about Cesaro, other than the fact that he's so underrated it's ridiculous? A strong Triple Threat match was accented by one of the highlights of the night when he did the Cesaro spin with Xavier Woods on his back. Cesaro does stunts like this so often, fans take for granted just how good he is at using wrestling and move sets to make himself a star.
Forget that he's not the best talker in the ring. Give him a match where he can show his stuff and let that match speak for itself.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
It's frankly amazing how quickly someone as popular as Daniel Bryan was able to get the WWE Universe to turn on him. He's teaching lessons in crowd manipulation when he can get thousands of annoying "what" chants to stop on a dime or start them up again while staying in character. He's able to twist his former beef with The Miz and somehow make it make sense that he doesn't still want to destroy the A-Lister, he played the coward, but not really and all the while, he's making AJ Styles more popular, which is the sign of a good heel.
You can tell Bryan is sinking his teeth into what he's doing and it shows with strong performances like the one he displayed on Tuesday. When he attacked Styles to end the show, it just added fuel to the question of just who is this new Daniel Bryan? Is he as vicious as he appeared to be, or is he more confused and tormented?
Loser: Hardy Versus Orton
Pitting two competitors against each other that have fought so many times before felt like a step backward if the idea was to promote Samoa Joe versus Jeff Hardy. Yes, WWE eventually got there and Joe made an appearance on the big screen, but after such a strong segment last week, WWE should have seized the momentum a little better.
There wasn't really anything wrong with the match, it's just not anything the WWE Universe should be aching to see anymore. Let Hardy and Joe run into each other and build their feud that way. Orton was too big a part of the picture.