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SmackDown RunDown Live (1/3/17): New Year, New Champ


Journalize! Welcome to the first edition of SmackDown RunDown Live of 2017! Can you believe I’ve been writing these bad boys for over a year now? Holy crap. I’m surprised you’re still not sick of me. Since you still enjoy reading my ramblings on the internet, let’s get down to it because this week’s episode is a doozy.

AJ Styles and John Cena sure love them contract signing segments


These boys are it again, this time for the WWE Championship. AJ Styles and John Cena is going to be another instant classic—no doubt about that—but let’s talk about this epic segment. Styles dropped some truths on Cena as he pointed out how Cena is a has been and I loved very bit of it. Styles really improved his mic skills last year and while he certainly won’t be the CM Punk of today, a pipebomb-dropping Styles is a welcome development for his heel persona. He should keep doing that, you know? Don’t give Cena exclusive rights to see this cool side of you.

As much as I loved this segment, it came with a crushing realization: they probably won’t turn Cena heel. Alas, despite the “has-been” and “part-timer” arguments, this week’s segment proved that Super Cena is alive and well. Sure, his attitude has become edgier compared to his former glory days, but he’s still the bubblegum hero smarks loved to hate. So yeah, the heel turn won’t happen, not by a long shot. Kids still love the guy, as evident by the loud “Cena” chants during the segment. Next week, Cena better not beat Baron Corbin like a punk because the last thing he needs is to look stronger. Jeez.

Dean Ambrose kicks off 2017 by winning the Intercontinental title


The Intercontinental Championship match between The Miz and Dean Ambrose took the main event spot this week and it was amazing. They hyped the match throughout the night, including a slap to Renee Young’s face courtesy of Maryse. That one was brutal in case you forgot that Maryse used to be a full-time wrestler. I worry about the involvement of Renee Young in this storyline. It’s nice to give her some personality from time to time, but I’m afraid Creative will hurt her journalistic integrity in the process, and that one slap didn’t really help Renee that cause. Renee Young is the only good wrestling journalist we have right now on SmackDown Live. I don’t want her brawling around with the rest of the Superstars.

After this week’s episode, the Miz now has more reasons to hate Dean Ambrose after the Lunatic Fringe bested him for his cherished Intercontinental Championship. We can expect this rivalry to be more about Miz and Ambrose now, minus the wives. This is also a chance for Ambrose reestablish himself as a hero because we all know his character shifts to being a dick when he has gold on his shoulders. Hopefully, Creative learned their lesson not to overdo the Lunatic part in Ambrose’s Lunatic Fringe gimmick. Expect more fiery rants from the Miz because the meltdown he had this week on Talking Smack didn’t really look cool.

Dolph Ziggler FINALLY snaps and Corbin boldly steps up


You heard that right. After a very slow burn, Ziggler finally realized he can be a badass by beating up everyone who looks at him funny. After a huge loss to Baron Corbin this week, Ziggler is now one step away from turning heel. I don’t really want him to completely turn, though. I just want him to become more aggressive in the ring and to be pissed off. Because we all know only a few can be pissed off and look good while doing it, and Ziggler is one of them. So go at it, Ziggie. Keep kicking the heads off luchadors and flippy big guys.

Speaking of big guys, Baron Corbin sure is unstoppable. After an excellent performance last week in that awesome triple threat match, Corbin continued his rise as he soundly beat Ziggler and boldly declared his mission statement in front of two top stars of the company. He’s still a bit off on the mic and he seemingly can’t stop wiping his face off, but you can bet Corbin is next in line for a main event push. He definitely should go over Cena next week, because at this point, Creative should be wise enough not to derail a guy’s momentum just to put the part-timer golden boy over.

Some Blue Brand Vibes and Blues—Live!

Hey, you missed playing the Vibes and Blues game, didn’t ya? Just a quick refresher for the uninitiated. Vibe means “This some good sh*t”, while Blue means “Eww, I stepped on some sh*t.” Comprende?

Vibe: I’m really digging this Chinella/CarmEllsworth storyline! Maybe it’s because Ellsworth isn’t ruining the main event and because he is no longer in title matches. I guess we can also thank Carmella for making this storyline interesting. Wrestling logic will dictate that Carmella will one day turn on Ellsworth but I don’t see it with this one. Why would you want to have someone like Ellsworth as a bodyguard? I think Creative is gunning for a romance angle, which also doesn’t make any sense. The ambiguity excites me.

Blue: The rest of the women’s division didn’t really shine this week. Let’s start with Alexa Bliss donning the La Luchadora mask to mess with Becky Lynch’s head but still managed to lose via a Disarm-Her. The beating Becky received from Alexa and La Luchadora didn’t redeem Alexa one bit. The SD Women’s Champ still looked like a chump. Meanwhile, Nikki Bella and Natalya’s segment could’ve been decent at best if it didn’t start awkwardly with both women just standing in the ring. It’s a shame, too, because both were given good scripts to work with. The segment ended with Natalya eating an elbow from Nikki and that was it. You’d think these two would brawl it out after those personal jabs. Well, we can always try to make the people care again next week.

Vibe: The freshly-crowned SmackDown Tag Team Champions were live this week as American Alpha disposed of Breezango before you could even say “fashion police.” Man, the Alphas can’t work a long match, can they? I get that it’s a squash match, but it wouldn’t hurt if the match lasted for a few more minutes so we can watch Chad Gable hand out more suplexes. Since we’re out of legit heel teams anyway, giving teams like Breezango and The Ascension a little bit of credibility won’t be the worst idea ever. Anyway, this segment was immediately saved by Randy Orton’s sapaw moment. For all the crap I’ve been saying about the imminent Orton vs. Harper storyline, that was a funny moment. I can respect that.

Blue: By the way, can we get better backstage interviewers? Do I really need to explain why? Thanks.

SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: If you’re worried that the quality of SmackDown Live will expire after 2016, you can take a breath of relief right about now. In fact, you’d be stupid to think like that in the first place. The Blue Brand is far from missing a beat and although some storylines need a bit of tweaking in terms of execution, all storylines in the program have enough material to keep you from changing the channel. Let’s start the year of SmackDown Live by awarding this episode a solid A.

Did you enjoy this week’s SmackDown Live? Did you notice Bray dyed every hair in his face black? Write down your new year’s resolutions at the comments below. If you put ‘lose weight’, get ready to become fatter by 2018.
*****


Ricky Jay Publico (@HarambeMustLive) 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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