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SmackDown RunDown Live (7/19/16): The Draft of The New Era


Drumroll please! Welcome to the first edition of SmackDown RunDown Live! It’s like the old RunDown, but with Live attached to it. Isn’t that awesome? The newest column here at Smark Henry unfortunately comes with an old, familiar face in the form of your narcoleptic Blue Brand guy, Ricky “The Manboob” Publico. Did you really think I’ll just go away that easily?

All right, new week, new start, and this isn’t just an ordinary week. This week is set to shake the foundations of the WWE to its very core as they set to divide the roster into two equally powerful brands in RAW and SmackDown on the first episode of SmackDown Live. What happened at this year’s WWE Draft? Let’s get down to it.

Meet Your New Blue Brand Buddies

I think it’s safe to say that SmackDown will never be the same again after this historic draft. WWE wants SmackDown to be as good as the flagship show and with the picks made in this episode, it will be hard to dispute that fact. Now for starters, let’s make this clear: the order of picks matters. Your position in the draft is a strong indication of how the higher-ups value you as WWE Superstar, or maybe that’s just me. With that, let’s meet the Top 12 of the brand new SmackDown roster!

#1: WWE Champion Dean Ambrose


It actually makes sense to have Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose as the number one picks for both brands. WWE is giving both men the seal of approval to headline both shows and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a shame we won’t be able to witness the Shield Triple Threat storyline flourish on one show, but I’m sure Ambrose will have lots of Superstars to dance with on SmackDown.

#2: AJ Styles


The Phenomenal One is coming to Tuesday nights! Hooray! I wouldn’t really care honestly if he goes to RAW, so I guess you could say this is just self-indulgence. The downside with this pick is he got separated from the Club, a move my girlfriend didn’t really like. She said it’s too early for them to separate, and I have to agree with that sentiment. Styles looks legit evil when surrounded by his Club cronies. Hopefully, his heel persona can still shine without The Club backing him up.

#3: John Cena


Nope, this is not a drill. He wasn’t drafted back to RAW towards the end of the show, either. John Cena, the face who runs the place, is set to run amok on the Blue Brand exclusively. It would be really hard to dispute SmackDown’s legitimacy now that Tuesday nights will be the stage for the dream rivalry of the year: Styles vs. Cena. This pick also magnifies the fact that the New Era is definitely taking over. Give him the IC title at some point and poof, magic. My body is ready for some open challenges.

#4: Randy Orton


The Viper wouldn’t really feel lost under the blue banner. Remember his feuds with Christian and Sheamus? Orton definitely is a good pick for SmackDown. The question is, will he come back as a face or a heel? Orton’s future still looks bright and it’s exciting where the Viper will slither into the architecture of the New Era, as long as he stays healthy. Maybe he’ll be Ambrose’s new villain or Wyatt’s new target? Play your cards right, Creative.

#5: Bray Wyatt


Speaking of Bray, the Eater of Worlds comes to SmackDown...alone. Uhm. Okay? I don’t see the point of separating the Wyatt Family. Shouldn’t they be considered a faction or a tag team? Sure, Rowan eventually got drafted to SmackDown and Luke Harper will probably return to complete the trio, but what about Strowman? How the hell is he going to get over without the family? Love the pick, though. Wyatt will take the spot SmackDown had for the Undertaker over the years.

#6: Becky Lynch


Becky Lynch is set to headline the women’s division on SmackDown and I love it. Finally, the Lasskicker will get the spotlight she truly deserves. I hope she gets more wins as well. I wonder if they’ll call up Bayley to SmackDown? I know, she’s the rumored partner of Sasha Banks come Battleground but come on, RAW would be OP in that case. Show some love to the Blue Brand and let us have half of the Horsewomen.

#7: The Miz (w/ Maryse)


This pick didn’t surprise me at all. The Miz is a bonafide SmackDown guy and he has proven in the past few weeks that he can headline a SmackDown event with ease. The Miz will certainly continue delivering great moments to Tuesday nights. Let’s just hope Darren Young won’t make Mike tap come Sunday, seeing how strongly Young is being built the past few weeks.

#8: Baron Corbin


Now this one got me really intrigued. I like Baron Corbin. His finisher looks cool and his character resonates with me, but what exactly did he deserve to get picked this early in the Draft? Sure, he won the battle royal back at WrestleMania and had a monster streak that lasted for weeks, but then he got caught in a pre-show rivalry with a certain someone and lost a battle royal (ironic?) two weeks ago. Creative better have something big for this guy.

#9: American Alpha


As the first televised pick from NXT by Shane and Bryan, the American Alpha is finally coming to SmackDown! Monday nights may have gotten the New Day, but that’s nothing to cry about. We got two guys who are ready, willing, and (G)able to legitimize the tag team division on SmackDown. The old blue tag team belts would look glorious on them, assuming the current tag belts won’t float.

#10: Dolph Ziggler


Can you believe Dolph Ziggler was picked earlier than Cesaro? Freaking Cesaro? I’d take this as a good sign then. They still value Ziggler’s star power and that’s a reassuring fact because the past couple of months, well, let’s just say the Show-Off wasn’t really much of a show, if that even makes sense. I’ll definitely check out how this pick can make Dolph Ziggler great again. Wait...

#11: Natalya


Every good hero needs a bad villain, and Becky Lynch won’t feel lonely because Natalya is joining her on SmackDown. Now it finally makes sense that she’s heel now. It’ll be the battle of hairstyles as Becky with the good hair will definitely clash with Natalya with the stupid bun in some classic women’s matches. I can’t wait.

#12: Alberto Del Rio


Rounding up our top SmackDown picks is Alberto Del Rio. This guy and Cesaro share the same spot in the final round of the televised Draft and it kind of sucks. Don’t get me wrong, ADR is a good catch, but come on. Cesaro definitely deserved better. Yup, I’ll be salty about that for the rest of this column. Hold onto your asses.

Overall, this was a very fun Draft, arguably the best one we’ve ever had. It’s not just because it’s the most recent one (and I barely remember what happened to the previous ones) but because the pool of draftable Superstars is just so diverse. There may have been wasted televised picks (Big Show? Really?) and when the dust settled, it seems that RAW obviously got more stars, but compare that to Finn B├ílor’s place in the draft, Seth Rollins being the 1st overall pick, Cena and Orton coming to SmackDown, Charlotte being RAW’s 2nd pick, and sure, even Ziggler’s reaffirming spot in the pool, this year’s Draft has been one hell of a blast. This will also incentivize the Blue Brand to do better week after week. Their lack of bankable stars will force them to create stars out of everyone they have on the roster.

The banter between the commissioners was also fun to watch, with Steph singing some of the entrance music and Shane fumbling his lines a bit. There seems to be a looming rivalry between Mick and Daniel and I’m anxious to see how this one plays out. The game has truly begun.

Ambrose Brings the WWE Championship to Tuesday Nights


Capping off the 2016 Draft was an awesome main event that will determine which brand will house WWE’s ultimate prize. The #2 overall pick, Dean Ambrose, defended his WWE Championship against the #1 overall pick, Seth Rollins. Rollins attacked Ambrose before the match even began but Ambrose was able to bounce back and fight Rollins with everything he’s got.


Unlike their controversial match last Monday, this one had a decisive end as Ambrose planted Rollins with a vicious Dirty Deeds to retain the title and officially make the WWE Championship exclusive to SmackDown. It was a feel-good sight to end the show as Ambrose celebrated his win with both SmackDown heads and a SmackDown t-shirt to boot. Don’t worry, Seth, you still have a chance on Sunday.

Some Blue Brand Blues… Live!

  • Speaking of great matches, this week also featured Cesaro vs. Chris Jericho and this match will make the higher-ups regret they didn’t pick Cesaro earlier in the Draft. The final sequence of the match was beautiful, with Chris Jericho catching Cesaro’s corkscrew European uppercut with the Codebreaker. No wonder Cesaro’s pissed.

  • John Cena made quick work of Luke Gallows this week in the opening match of the night. Finally, the team of Cena, Enzo, and Cass got some much-needed momentum before their huge match-up at Battleground. I can see Team Cena getting the win on Sunday, but I hope the Club won’t turn on AJ Styles. Or maybe they will, then Finn will come out to attack Styles. Hmmm...

  • Bray Wyatt planted the still-terrified Xavier Woods with the Sister Abigail to grab the victory. Woods was even hypnotized at the start of the match and I loved every second of it. I’m really curious what will happen on Sunday between the two teams. Maybe another Final Deletion rip-off? Hey, I’m all in.

  • The team of Darren Young and Zack Ryder were victorious against the team of The Miz and Rusev in a champions vs. challengers tag match. We see the first glimpse of Young’s version of the Crossface Chickenwing and guess what, Miz actually tapped out. Wow. I have no words.

SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: What a way to kickstart a brand new chapter for SmackDown! Sure, the Draft may be divisive at best, but we still got an awesome WWE Championship match and Y2J vs. Cesaro to back this show up. For setting up a new chapter in the WWE landscape, the first episode of SmackDown Live deserves the biggest of A's.

Did you enjoy the first episode of SmackDown Live? Do you think Billie Kay should’ve been drafted? Let me know in the comments below.

Photos from WWE.com

*****


Ricky Jay Publico is a wrestling fan who enjoys watching high flyers and brawlers battle it out in the ring. A known Botchamania binge-watcher, he claims to have memorized the chronological order of Royal Rumble winners, but fails to remember who won in 2004. He writes stories about life and nonsense.



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