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The Smark Henry Midyear Report: SmackDown Live


The Smark Henry Midyear Report is a new series where we take a look at the wrestling we watch around the world and assess each show/brand/company's performance in the first six months of 2017.

Ever since the WWE Draft a year ago, SmackDown Live slowly became WWE’s A-show. Forgive the fact that the quality has started to decline over the past few weeks, SmackDown Live is still a great show to tune in to week after week. Here’s what the Blue Brand has to offer for the midyear, chosen by your resident SmackDown Live nitpicker and handsome nose-picker. Why aren’t you guys following me on Twitter at @NitPickRick? I thought we’re friends. Anyway, here are your midyear winners.

Superstar of the Midyear: AJ Styles


Honorable Mentions: John Cena, Randy Orton, Naomi, The Miz

Is anyone going to fight me with my choice? Why should I pick the others, though? No one has consistently delivered great matches with almost anyone he faces other than the Phenomenal One. He’s pretty much the face of SmackDown Live. Try and contradict me, please. I will fight you with every fragile bone of my fat, unhealthy body.

Rookie of the Midyear: Shinsuke Nakamura


Another easy choice for this one. Man, this report is going to be easy. It’s not like I’m going to pick Tye Dillinger or Mike Bennett. He debuted on SmackDown Live just by doing his eccentric entrance and the crowd greeted him with the loudest of cheers. Although I have to say, I think we’ll be seeing him at the end of the year in The Struggle category judging by the way he’s being booked right now. Just place him in a program with Sami Zayn or AJ Styles already. SummerSlam is coming up and since the WWE Championship picture is pure shit right now, they need huge stars like Nakamura to elevate the integrity of the Blue Brand. So please, let him be the great “artist” he was destined to be. And stop kicking him in the balls.

Most Improved Wrestler of the Midyear: Naomi


Honorable Mentions: Breezango, Carmella, Jinder Mahal, Aiden English, Luke Harper

2017 is Naomi’s midyear. After an awesome makeover last year that saw her bind herself to neon lights, Naomi snatched everyone’s attention… bald, yeah, that works. She started the year right by snatching her first major title against Alexa Bliss. She did vacate the title two weeks after that, but she would regain it a few weeks later at WrestleMania Pendulum Ride in an awesome Six-Pack Match. Since then, she has become the brand’s top female star and the face of its women’s division. And for God’s sake, her title finally glows! That alone is an awesome improvement. I’m suddenly in the mood to snatch someone bald.

The Struggle of the Midyear: Luke Harper


Honorable Mentions: Tye Dillinger, Sami Zayn, Mojo Rawley, Dolph Ziggler

It’s too easy to award this honor to Dolph Ziggler, so I thought I’d mix it up a little bit. Can you think of a man who has wowed us with his recent performances, only to be written off TV like he didn’t even exist? Luke Harper is the guy that first popped to mind. Tye and Mojo are close candidates, but at least Tye is always featured in kickoff matches, while Mojo was placed back in the tag team division until his eventual heel turn. Those gigs are way better than not appearing on screen at all. Luke Harper was freaking great though! Remember his match with Randy Orton at this year’s Elimination Chamber? How about his encounters with AJ Styles? They should give Harper another shot at proving his worth, because he can definitely go toe-to-toe with the great ones.

OMG Moment of the Midyear: Randy Orton burning Sister Abigail


Honorable Mentions: Styles and Nakamura face off, Ziggler superkicks Lawler in the fucking chest, that infamous rap battle, Styles winning the U.S. Title at a house show

SmackDown Live has definitely produced great moments since its rebranding last year, and this year’s no different. So many moments to choose from! In the end, I’ll have to go with this awesome segment from Randy Orton as he made the Wyatt compound and Sister Abigail’s remains hella lit, literally. It was a rare moment of brilliance during a time when we thought the idea of Orton facing Bray Wyatt was a bad idea. Sure, the storyline really turned into shit, but this moment stood out because it reminded us how cunning and calculating the character of Orton really is, reminiscent of how despicable he was back in 2009. And he’s supposed to be the good guy now? That’s just crazy. I really wish they didn’t fuck this storyline up.

WTF Moment of the Midyear: Jinder Mahal winning his first WWE Championship


Honorable Mentions: First-ever women’s MITB ladder match, that stupid House of Horrors match

Basically, any Jinder Mahal moment that happened after his initial win is a WTF moment.  The first female MITB ladder match was equally blood-boiling, but at least it was immediately fixed and I’ve already forgiven them for that blunder. As for Jinder, he’s still the champion and he has done nothing with it. “Oh, it’s new and it’s a breath of fresh air,” Jinder fans would always say, but they fail to realize that new is not always better. Jinder winning the WWE title made me question the entire land of opportunity system because apparently, anyone can be the top guy of SmackDown Live, even undeserving and underdeveloped wrestlers in the roster. I’m all for equal opportunity, but can we at least spread the opportunity to people who actually deserve one? It doesn’t sit well with me that a guy who has no charisma and poor public speaking skills has to share equal opportunities with a guy who’s an excellent wrestler and has a strong fan base to back him up. Hell, a broom can be the fucking champion one day and idiots would still claim it’s a bold and innovative move. I’m literally crapping on Jinder on a weekly basis. Is this my life now?

Wrestler to Watch Out For: Chad Gable


Honorable Mentions: Baron Corbin, Tye Dillinger, Mike Bennett

I know the general populace would pick Baron Corbin because his future is pretty much set at this point, but I just can’t leave Chad Gable behind. He has produced great matches with the likes of Kevin Owens and AJ Styles in under a month and now that his partner left him to be Kurt Angle’s son, Gable can continue being a great solo act. I will sing Corbin his well-deserved praises once he reaches the top, but for now, I want all of you to recognize Chad freakin’ Gable as the future of WWE.

*****

What do you think of my picks? Who do you think should get the aforementioned awards? Convert Duterte’s SONA speech into a CM Punk-like wrestling promo down at the comments.


Ricky Jay Publico (@NitPickRick) 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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