The biggest winners and losers from last night's SmackDown (December 4)
True to form, SmackDown outshined Raw and delivered such a good show during a notoriously lazy month of December. One wonders what's going on behind the scenes to make for the difference in quality between the two shows. With the talent Raw has, there's no reason it should be lagging so far behind, but it has done so all year.
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Back to SmackDown, all of the major storylines heading into TLC were advanced. SmackDown's side of the card looks very good. Who got the most out of a fun show last night?
Winner: The SmackDown women's division
While Raw's women's division feels like a wasteland, featuring an uninteresting feud between Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax and "open forum" segments, the blue brand is heading into arguably the most eagerly anticipated women's match of the year. There was some scepticism about bringing Asuka into Charlotte and Becky's feud last week, and the short build time it would have, but things went swimmingly last night.
Becky still has a chip on her shoulder. Charlotte is getting more arrogant despite her losses. Asuka voiced the opinions of fans in essentially saying that she's been criminally underrated and that if Becky had chosen her for Survivor Series, she would have won. Charlotte jabbed at her own mystique being shattered at WrestleMania, and Asuka challenged the "lucky" Charlotte right there.
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville came out and inserted themselves in the trouble. Surprisingly, they won the subsequent tag team match, with Sonya getting the pin on Charlotte, after the Queen and Empress couldn't get along.
So not only were the three women heading into TLC built up, but Mandy and, more importantly, Sonya, also benefited. SmackDown's women's division has had the problem of only feeling like Charlotte, Becky, and Asuka matter, while everyone else doesn't feel on the level. We saw what happened when Carmella was champion. In building Mandy and Sonya (the latter of which has a lot more potential), SmackDown looks like it's trying to address this divergence.