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SmackDown RunDown Live (7/26/16): Let The Brand Wars Begin!


Buffalo… I’m here! Hold on to your tighty whities because another awesome edition of SmackDown RunDown Live is coming your way, with your bae Ricky in the driver’s seat. If you think this eventful week in WWE is over, think again. After Sunday’s exciting triple threat match and Finn Balor winning the right to face Seth Rollins for the first-ever WWE Universal Championship by the end of RAW, how will SmackDown respond? Enough with the babbling, let’s get down to it!

Is #TheStruggle Finally Over?


SmackDown Live kicked off its sophomore episode by announcing a massive 6-pack challenge to determine the next contender for the WWE Championship. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan handpicked John Cena, Bray Wyatt, Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin, and AJ Styles while the last spot was taken later by Apollo Crews after winning a rather underwhelming battle royal. I have no complaints about the picks. I just wish they made the announcement without the SmackDown roster surrounding the ring so we won’t be reminded how thin the current roster is in terms of star power.


Then came the main event and it was as fun as you’d expect it would be. Chaos engulfed the ring that featured a fun one-upmanship between Wyatt and Styles, Cena’s AA party, Corbin and Crews’ displays of power, and the shocker of the night: Dolph Ziggler kicking AJ Styles in half to win the match. Woah. That came out of nowhere at all.


After the match, WWE Champion Dean Ambrose came down to the ring to stare down his new challenger. That would’ve been enough to close out the show, but Bryan and Shane had to come down to steal some of the spotlight. Didn’t you guys say at the start of the show that this isn’t about you guys? Jeez. Anyway, Dolph Ziggler actually won a big match and that’s exciting!


I was expecting either Styles or Cena to win so they can add a new chapter to their historic rivalry, but a Ziggler win makes sense, too. I already gave up on Ziggler months ago, but I have to admit, this is one hell of a comeback. My attention is definitely on the Show Off once more. I’m positive he won’t win at SummerSlam, but this should definitely place him back in the upper midcard. Ziggler wouldn’t hurt his face image if he channels bits of his #HEEL persona to give this rivalry with Ambrose some spice, or maybe turn him heel altogether. Give Ziggler an edge to keep his stock high once this rivalry ends.


Some Blue Brand Vibes and Blues

  • The first match of the night came in the form of a battle royal, right after the 6-pack challenge announcement. The match started awkwardly until we narrowed it down the final four men. Surprisingly, Alberto del Rio was eliminated earlier than expected and the final four featured Zack Ryder, Kane, Kalisto, and the eventual winner, Apollo Crews. I see this as a good move as SmackDown is betting on new faces to carry the show. I have to say, though, Kalisto really stands out now that’s he’s the only luchador in the roster.


  • Randy Orton made his in-ring return this week against the Intercontinental Champion, The Miz, in a very anti-climactic match. First of all, Mike immediately targeted Orton’s shoulder which gave the match a rushed feel. Second, I get that they are making #OuttaNowhere a thing, but Orton hit the RKO too soon and it just came off weird. Orton hit another RKO to seal the deal and shake off his ring rust. I’m not sure if this sets up a future storyline with the Miz or even a run with the Intercontinental Title, but one thing’s for sure: Randy Orton’s still got it.


  • Heath Slater stole the show this week by pleading to Shane O’Mac to #SignHeathSlater on SmackDown. The hottest free magnet’s mic work is on fire and this current gimmick is interesting to say the least. For his efforts, he was gored in half by a returning Rhyno. Speaking of returning stars, Shelton Benjamin will also return on SmackDown! I think he will lead the American Alpha and form a patriotic stable of some sort. Ain’t no stopping his debut when it comes.


  • Speaking of new faces, the women of SmackDown made their presence known after Becky Lynch’s victory over Natalya. This should’ve been the outcome of their match last Sunday, no? Despite being an awesome moment, Becky’s first win in months didn’t feel like a big deal because it was immediately followed by the introduction of SmackDown’s women division. If you girls could stop interrupting each other for one second and let each other finish? That would be great. And somehow, no one interrupted Eva Marie’s tacky voiceover. We’re still watching women’s wrestling, right? Anyways, are we getting a WWE Women’s Universal Championship for our Blue Brand ladies?


  • Urgh. The commentary. Don’t even get me started. I want to say Mauro Ranallo was enough to counter how bad David Otunga and JBL were on commentary, but sadly, our Lord Mauro wasn’t enough. I think this will stifle SmackDown’s success. RAW will always get the upper hand when it comes to the quality of commentary, all because of David Otunga’s ‘read-the-script-exactly-as-it-says’ delivery alone. Is there a mute button but only for Otunga’s mic?

SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: The Blue Brand’s contribution to this historic week included the resurgence of Dolph Ziggler and the in-ring return of Randy Orton. Compared to RAW’s efforts last Monday, SmackDown fell a little short. It was a good effort though and the Blue Brand is relaying the message that the status quo needs to be shattered to pieces. For failing to match RAW yet giving us some shockers, the sophomore effort of SmackDown deserves a resounding B.

Did you enjoy this week’s SmackDown RunDown Live? Are you ecstatic about Dolph Ziggler’s main event victory? Let me know at 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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