WWE SmackDown Recap: December 11, 2018
S18 episode 50 Aired on December 11, 2018

The WrestleMania rematch between Charlotte Flair and Asuka ended when The Queen bashed The Empress of Tomorrow with a kendo stick, but that was only the start of SmackDown LIVE's chaotic conclusion. Though she took the first blow, it was Asuka who stood tall at the end, battering both Flair and SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch with the kendo stick. Was this a preview of what lies ahead for all three women in this Sunday's Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match?

Daniel Bryan has proven over the last few weeks he’s no longer interested in hero worship, but onetime admirer Mustafa Ali provided a bit of a bonus for the WWE Champion: Bryan could actually beat him up.

Of course, Bryan preferred not to have the match at all, as he believed the WWE Universe was too fickle to deserve it, and besides, Ali was just a “small little man” whose decision to drive an SUV put him on the level of the “sheep” in the audience. But when the Cruiserweight daredevil responded to Bryan’s literal and figurative slaps to the face with a flurry of offense, the champion decided to give the man what he asked for.

He got as good as he gave. Despite controlling the match early on, Bryan attempted to go high-risk, which played right into his opponent’s hands, and The Beard found himself subjected to an impressive array of high-octane offense. Ali came inches from victory with an 054 attempt, but Bryan evaded the maneuver and grounded the high-flier with a series of attacks on his leg before forcing him to submit to a heel hook. Bryan continued his attack after the bell, stomping Ali’s face and locking in another heel hook on the ramp. Whether the post-match assault was a statement directed at AJ Styles, the 205 Live roster, or the WWE Universe was somewhat unclear. The message, however, was crystal clear.

Whether The Bar can survive a Triple Threat title defense on Sunday remains to be seen, but they definitely got more than they bargained for when they challenged The Usos to a Rap Battle, as Jimmy & Jey responded to the champions’ rendition of “Ice, Ice Sheamy” by rapping circles around them and provoking a throwdown between the two teams. The New Day, who won the previous rap battle and returned to host this one, weren’t spared either, but Cesaro & Sheamus eventually cleared the ring of all challengers in a stark reminder to their opponents that while Vanilla Ice parodies may not cut the mustard in a rap battle, there’s no mistaking who’ll be under pressure when the bell rings.

Last time Charlotte Flair and Asuka locked horns, it was at WrestleMania, and The Queen escaped with a definitive win that snapped Asuka’s incredible undefeated streak. But that was a long time ago, and much has changed: The Empress of Tomorrow was all over Charlotte in a rematch of their WrestleMania contest that also served as a preview of Sunday, where both women will challenge Becky Lynch for the SmackDown Women’s Title in a Triple Threat TLC Match.

With Becky watching inscrutably from ringside, the preview was almost all Asuka. The former NXT Women’s Champion had been something of a dark horse in the title picture before tonight, but she dismantled The Queen in excruciating fashion, transitioning from submission to submission while the second-generation Superstar attempted to brawl her way back into the running.

Charlotte finally found separation with a sit-out powerbomb and followed up with a targeted assault of Asuka’s knee to tee up the Figure-Eight, though The Empress of Tomorrow kept pace through sheer force of will, eventually trapping her opponent in the Asuka Lock — at which point an overwhelmed Charlotte sent both women tumbling through the ropes and attacked Asuka with a Kendo stick to lose via disqualification. Her attempt to turn the weapon on Becky didn't go quite as well, as it prompted a ruthless retaliatory tattooing from The Man.

Asuka got the last word, however, seizing hold of the stick and pummeling both women with savage abandon, ending the show perched victoriously atop the announce desk with the weapon held above her head. As the last few months have shown, this isn’t the same Becky Lynch we saw during WrestleMania season, nor is it the same Charlotte Flair. But it ain’t the same Asuka either.

In other action … Shane McMahon & The Miz def. The Vegas Boys … Rey Mysterio attacked Randy Orton with a steel chair … and Rusev & Jeff Hardy def. U.S. Champion Shinsuke Nakamura & Samoa Joe.

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