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SmackDown RunDown Live (8/8/17): Why Now?!


Take you respect and shove it! That’s right, it’s that time of the week again. Are you ready to go through another dumpster fire of a column? The build for SummerSlam Salbakuta continues with a grudge match and a bunch of great segments for good measure. Let’s get down to it. I just hope you like long rants.


Wait, did Jinder Mahal just score his first loss since his monster push?


Needless to say, this week’s episode is a gold mine for all the #NitPickRick kind of guys out there. Except for two matches, the show was great! But I don’t know, let’s start picking these two matches apart, starting with the main event: WWE Champion Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton in a “grudge match.”


For starters, why are they very specific with calling it a grudge match like it’s a stipulation match or something? It annoyed the crap out of me. I hate it when they do stuff like this. I remember a few years ago on an episode of RAW when they billed one match as a “rubber match” like it’s a gimmick match featuring rubber bands. What are the rules of a grudge match? How do you win a grudge match? That’s right, my nitpicking tendencies are in full force this week.




Let’s move on to things that actually matter. Don’t get me wrong, the match was actually great. It’s clear that they want to counter this week’s RAW main event and in their own way, Orton and Mahal produced an action-packed encounter—probably their best one yet. What I didn’t appreciate was how the match ended. They picked Jinder Mahal up from the jobber factory, pushed this guy straight to the main event, gave him the WWE Championship, spent months rewiring our brains to take him seriously by awarding him a winning streak to die for, only to eat a clean loss in his low-key home turf to the guy he outsmarted for three consecutive PPVs. Why stop now?


The new make-shift team of Sami Zayn and Tye Dillinger lost their match in their home country, which is okay, I guess. They don’t really have anything going on and they’re popular enough to lose from time to time anyway. I’m guessing the same mentality was applied to this week’s main event and it has to be the stupidest application of the “hometown hero loses” tradition. It was already stupid to begin with, but this has got to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.




If there’s someone who needs the hometown rub, it’s none other than Jinder Mahal, the guy WWE handpicked as the next top heel of the Blue Brand and the guy they’re trying to shove into our faces as the next big thing. There are still a large amount of fans who are hindering the Jinder because they feel like he didn’t deserve it, and that includes me. But one thing I can respect is the consistent presentation of the Maharajah as a powerful, conniving, and intelligent heel champion who knows how to use his resources to win. By giving him a respectable string of victories, the fans are slowly getting on board with the Jinder train, and I hate to admit it, but that includes me as well (at a very slow rate, but dammit, his gimmick is consistent). All they needed to do is to continue treating him like a legitimate threat.


Let’s delve deeper into the weirder part. Compared to his portrayal at last month’s Battleground as a man with a plan kind of guy, this week, he came out with barely a plan at all. The Great Khali, his life insurance, was nowhere to be seen (which, in hindsight, is probably the right call, but still) and the Singh Brothers didn’t even make an appearance. You know they can still distract Orton even if they’re taped up, right? It’s so inconsistent with everything they’ve done to make this guy look good. Why stop now? We can’t really say Jinder got cocky—he didn’t have a backstage segment to let us know his motivations—so it was fine for us to expect he had something cooked up.




Besides, I don’t think Orton needed the moral win anyway. It’s not like Jinder beat Orton to a pulp with his own bare hands through the entirety of their feud. Everyone knows Jinder beat Orton via a slew of clever shenanigans. I don’t need to see Orton get a victory over Jinder, that’s not what we need right now.  Orton just needs to play his role as the stepping stone for Jinder Mahal’s road to legitimacy if they genuinely want him to be their top Indian hero. The fans will be behind Orton no matter what, a luxury the Maharajah can’t really afford. This week’s main event didn’t add anything to the WWE Championship match build-up and just dented Jinder’s near-perfect re-branding. Hey, look at me defending Jinder.


After Orton won, Rusev came out and kicked his head off, effectively wasting another opportunity to tell a better story. If I was Rusev, I’d cost Orton another match against the guy who stole his WWE title, attacked his father in his hometown, and beat him in high-profile matches. So I will come out during the closing moments of the match, let Jinder capitalize, and beat him to a pulp afterwards. This allows Jinder to go over yet again—this time to a crowd that actually likes him—and gives Rusev much-needed heel heat to fuel their seemingly random feud. I know it’s a midcard feud and all, but still, there’s nothing wrong with making narratives a little bit better.


Carmella pretty much wasted an opportunity to cash in her briefcase


Another head-scratcher, this one. Are you still with me? I told you this column’s going to be a long one. My problem with this one is that they revealed Carmella's master plan way too early. Why bring James Ellsworth back now when we all know he’s going to be instrumental once she cashes in on Naomi at SummerSlam Graffiti? You could say this is part of Carmella’s mind games, a reminder that she will always have an ace up her sleeve. If that’s the case, it's a terrible way of playing mind games because why would you reveal the ace up your sleeve before you execute your plan? Imagine if the Great Khali made his presence felt just weeks before that infamous Punjabi Prison Match last month.




And if you’re going to pull that stunt anyway, why not cash your briefcase in right then and there? You obviously know your plan’s going to work, so why not execute it now and become the champion before the PPV even begins? This was a really weird and nonsensical booking. Carmella basically gave Naomi a head’s up on how she will cash it in when there’s an opportunity to rearrange everything that will benefit everyone involved in the storyline. They better have something big planned if they continue with this route because I certainly don’t want to see an uninspired cash-in moment.


So here’s how I’d book this week’s match because things don’t make sense anymore. I’d book the same match, but I won’t let Carmella win because she doesn’t need to. She can just slide out of the ring and walk off while she taunts Naomi with the briefcase. Naomi gets the count-out victory but not the satisfaction of beating her. As Naomi celebrates, Natalya attacks her from behind, continuing their SummerSlam 2Pac build because in case you already forgot, she’s the #1 Contender. Seriously, the best you could do is have Natalya watch backstage? You can’t even give her a spot at commentary? Why the fuck should I even care about their match then?


Some Blue Brand Vibes and Blues—Live!


Vibe: I took way too much time talking about my nitpicks, so I’ll just gloss over the good parts of the show, starting with the opening segment between John Cena and Baron Corbin. Cena was great as usual with his dumpster fire promo while Corbin was a bit nervous in delivering his lines. I guess it can be pretty nerve-racking exchanging verbal fire with Mr. Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect so yeah, Corbin gets a pass. On a side note, I’m not really into Corbin’s new theme. It sounds too generic. If it ain’t broke, amirite?


Vibe: Sandwiched in the middle of the show was another great promo from Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, and their SummerSlam Crips and Bloods referee, Shane McMahon. It was a fun one that featured Owens playing the puppet master (and master WWE Network marketer, because we’re tired of the $9.99 crap) planting doubt on everyone’s minds that involved digging into the very shady past of Shane O’Mac himself. It makes the build even more interesting instead of focusing on the Styles-Owens rivalry as it is. Now that their issues with each other are well established, Shane isn’t just an accessory to the story anymore. The ensuing brawl also added to the drama. It will be exciting to see how Shane can improve/ruin the final saga of the Styles-Owens saga.


Vibe: As mentioned in my awfully long rant, Sami Zayn and Tye Dillinger became the latest members of the Fuck Hometown Heroes Club in their loss against the red hot Usos (day one ish!). It was a short match and it’s good for what it is, except for that troubling moment when Jimmy Uso (day one ish!) almost forgot how to lock the Tequila Sunrise. The intense sneak attack from the New Day was the icing on top of the cake. I love me some New Day intensity. Do you remember the time when they were the most unstoppable heel stable in the entire WWE?


Vibe: Whoever thought to superimpose clips of Shinsuke Nakamura in action during his sit-down interview should get a raise. They could’ve just aired the interview as it is, but I’m glad they added extra effort to produce this segment. It’s a convenient way to hide his imperfections on the mic. Also, I’m all in on Nakamura Dynasty. Someone trademark it, quick! I can see it now: The Jinder Kingdom vs. The Nakamura Dynasty. Has a nice ring to it.


Vibe: Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy Lana’s shtick right now. She's just too adorable to hate. The crowd can chant “You can’t wrestle!” all they want, but you can’t deny that she’s using her inexperience to her advantage. This week, she suffered another embarrassing loss against Charlotte Flair and forged a partnership with Tamina. Good for you, Lana. Never stop trying. As for the endgame of this angle, I’m willing to wait and see how this one develops. Let’s let Lana continue her ravishing quest.


Vibe: I almost forgot about this week’s Fashion Peaks, which was another goofy segment with a special cameo by Arn Anderson. So he’s the one who destroyed Tully the horse. Yey? I appreciate that they are doing their best to craft a story here. I just wish ‘Dango stayed missing and let Tyler Breeze continue the search. But who knows, maybe they have something big planned for SummerSlam Low Rider.


SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: I really thought this week’s SmackDown Live was smooth-sailing until Naomi vs. Carmella happened. I guess technically, the entire show had a good amount of action, some storyline advancements happened, and great segments were produced. I just can’t help but nitpick and aim for a better show all around, especially when the opportunities to do so are just around the corner. For a rather disappointing final half hour, this show deserves a B+.


Did you enjoy this week’s SmackDown Live? What will you name your fake horse buddy? Accidentally punch your immediate supervisor at the comments below.

*****

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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