SmackDown Redux (November 14th, 2017): Do it for Flair

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This Sunday, RAW Women’s champion Alexa Bliss will face the SmackDown Women’s champion. Will it be the current holder, Natalya, or will it be Charlotte Flair as she gains her seventh title belt in the process?

At the beginning of the show, Shane McMahon rallies the SmackDown locker room, hyping them up for this Sunday’s events. He discusses some of the matches, including the women’s 5 on 5 contest. Team captain Becky Lynch promises that the only thing that’s going to “break” is Asuka‘s arm. No mention of the RAW captain though. Weird. Anyway, the group end the segment with a “Smack-Down-Rocks” chant in the style of The New Day’s famous catchphrase.

Before her match tonight, Flair tells WWE.com that she’s dedicating the title contest to her father, especially after his incident at the hospital just over a month ago.

Onto the match!

Charlotte enters the ring with the fans screaming for their hometown queen. The champ then enters and is booed louder than ever. This is going well.

The match goes off to a big start as we see a quick pin attempt as well as some hard-hitting moves. And although her pin attempts fail, still, the crowd is on her side.

When outside of the ring, Charlotte tries to go for a Moonsault from the barricade, but before she can get off of her feet, Natalya grabs her and slams her back into the ring post. Is this the end for Flair?

Well, Natalya places her opponent in the Sharpshooter and it seems like the end of the match is here. But it isn’t. Flair gets out of the hold and continues her quest to becoming champion. After a big boot and the Figure Eight, Natalya is forced to tap, crowning Charlotte as the new SmackDown Women’s champion!

Renee confronts the hometown girl, giving her some time to talk on the microphone. Firstly,Flair also expresses how hard of a fight Natalya put up against her tonight. She then states that ever since she got drafted to SmackDown Live, all she’s wanted is to be the Women’s champion – and now she’s done it.She then expresses how she knows her dad is watching from home and how proud he’ll be to see her. Saying that however, as she walks to the back her father’s music plays and he walks out to the stage to congratulate her! The new SmackDown Women’s champion rushes over to hug her dad and two duo celebrate. Aw!

Once she goes to the back, Charlotte tells WWE.com how she wasn’t aware of her father’s appearance tonight. She reminisces on how the two were by each other’s side during her NXT title win, and they have officially come “full circle”. Ric adds how “rewarding” it is as her father to see her win these matches. Their relationship is adorable!

During the main event contest between The New Day and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, we see an invasion from Team RAW take place. The Shield surround the ring, forcing Owens and Zayn to dip, and giving the three men a good advantage on an already tired New Day.

Backstage, the invasion continues, and it involves the women of RAW. Captain Alicia Fox leads the likes of Sasha Banks, Bayley, Asuka, Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss into the SmackDown women’s locker room – and they tears things down. Towards the end of the shot we see the women in red surround the new SmackDown Women’s champion Charlotte… And before anyone does anything, Little Miss Bliss knocks her down – to the delight of the team, especially Asuka.

After the men of RAW clear out the ring, the entire red team roster walks to the stage, bathing in their dominance.

Thoughts: This is a really important episode, with a few ups and downs throughout. So let’s start from the beginning.

During the opening monologue, we see Shane discuss most important contests from this Sunday. He talks about both five-on-five matches, citing the likes of Becky and Cena. And then he brings up the men’s Champion vs Champion match, yet skips past the women’s one. If the Women’s championships are supposed to be seen on the same level as the Universal and World titles, then surely they should be receiving the same kind of hype for Survivor Series. A simple mention of the match can make it seem a lot more important that not mentioning it – especially when the contest could change later tonight. But alas, the women’s match is secondary to the men’s – something that become quite the tradition at this pay-per-view.

Moving on.

The Women’s title match is both good and bad.

The crowd are into it. They’re feeding off of both stars’ energy. They’re cheering for their hometown favorite, and booing the foreign bad guy. The atmosphere is great. Each woman plays their role wonderfully, giving off the perfect vibe for the match. It’s a classic heel vs face set-up. And in the end, the crowd love the winner.

Saying that, there is a bit of awkwardness with this storyline. Shane has spent the last month preaching about how important brand loyalty is. So, during the week of the highly anticipated pay-per-view, he gives the woman that showed no signs of this loyalty, a title match against somebody that did. When the invasion happened on RAW a few weeks back, Natalya showed up to defend the blue team whilst Charlotte was M.I.A.. And although she is owed a rematch for the title, does it make sense – storyline wise – to give it to her on the week of Survivor Series? Does it make sense to trust a former RAW employee that has yet to prove herself to defend SmackDown in a Champ vs Champ match? Of course, there aren’t any signs of Charlotte being a tricky player. This is all just poor booking on behalf of WWE. Which only makes it worse. This is supposed to be about brand loyalty but those that have been faithful get thrown to the back. And now there is an open spot on the Women’s team, which I doubt Natalya will fill…

Charlotte plays her role as face really well – and can do so much better than given credit. She keeps the crowd on their feet, and gives her opponent a great reaction. Yet, after doing all of that on her own, the whole match is made to be about Ric Flair – again. Charlotte has yet to win a title for the first time without her dad being involved; he managed her during her NXT title win, walked out to congratulate her during her Diva’s and SmackDown Women’s title victories, and helped her to win the RAW Women’s championship. Charlotte is at a point where she doesn’t need somebody else to make her look better. In fact, she can be used to make others look good. She has the power, the credibility and the skill, yet WWE refuses to let her shine on her own. Both Neidhart and Flair could have a really great rivalry, but somehow their relatives must always be brought up, and it dampens the connection we so badly want to feel.

Both women do a great job, though. They give their all, and they tell a great story. Natalya deserves a better reign that showcases her more, however. And it would be nicer if Neidhart could have more on-screen offence. But overall, the match does its job and is worthy of rewatches.

Now onto the invasion.

It’s a pity that the women are pushed to the side yet again. They get a tiny section whilst the men take up the majority of it. Despite having two matches on the card, both are squashed into one small segment. We don’t see any exchanges of words, a stare down or anything between the champions, when this is allegedly a big deal.

Flair and Bliss have had parallels for the entirety of their main roster careers. A longer feud would be better; a feud where the two talk about each other on the mic during their respective shows’ segments. A feud where their history is acknowledged. Flair could state how the only time they stepped in the ring together she walked out victorious. Bliss could state how unlike Flair, she defeated Bayley for the title. The feud writes itself. But instead of becoming a long-lasting one, it’s reduced to five days, with minimal contact.

Overall, whilst it has its moments, a lot more should happen tonight. More contact, more longevity, and better reasoning behind the motives. The performers do great, though, and deliver exciting moments amongst poor creative decisions.

There isn’t much hope that the women will be given good writing at Survivor Series either. So maybe next year the curse of bad booking will end. Maybe.

What do you think of tonight’s show? Are you happy with the new champ? Which team are you on? Let us know your views in the comments below!