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SmackDown RunDown Live (11/7/17): Execute Plan B


Okay, okay. Give me a second to process everything that’s been going on. Hi, I’m Ricky, #NitPickRick, self-deprecating intro, you know the drill. This week’s gonna be a long one because holy jabroni, where do I even begin? WWE can’t just throw a bunch of info at me in a week. I am but one man! So let’s just begin before I enter a self-induced coma over these huge Survivor Series changes. What exactly do they want?

AJ Styles wins the WWE Championship and I can’t even

Well, WWE backed themselves into a corner with this one, didn’t they? It doesn’t really matter if WWE just realized this now or whether Brock Lesnar used his creative power to change their minds, I’m just glad they were smart enough to avoid the train wreck they were about to create. Imagine if they didn’t take the easy way out and actually built Jinder Mahal from the ground up. They won’t need to shake the card up weeks before the PPV. Everyone would’ve been excited to see the Beast face off against the Beastmaster. I hope WWE learned their lesson to not just hand out world titles to superstars who clearly don’t deserve it yet. Land of Opportunity, my ass.  


AJ Styles dethroning Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship seemed to be WWE’s Plan B for this exact situation. The fact that this wasn’t the main plan to begin with is so ridiculous, but whatever, AJ is the champ again and that’s the only thing that matters. It’s also the right move to make, both in terms of business and the overall Survivor Series storyline. Before SmackDown Live was the Land of Opportunity, it was the Land of the Underdogs where “smaller” guys made the show exciting af. So who better to represent the Blue Brand at Survivor Series than their best underdog, AJ Styles? Likewise, RAW was known for signing big and prominent guys, so it’s only proper that Brock Lesnar be the RAW flag bearer. Where else can you find a more thematic match-up?


And if you still feel like Styles shouldn’t have won, rewatch the episode and listen to the crowd reaction. It was electric. It’s as if the crowd was more happy Jinder isn’t the champion anymore than to see Styles as the champ. I only have two gripes about their match though. First, would it really hurt if they both got proper televised entrances? And second, the match was way too short! It could’ve gone for a few more minutes to at least keep Jinder strong and give AJ a hard-fought victory. Besides that, this was probably Jinder’s best main event match in his entire run as champ. Styles obviously did his part to make Jinder look strong, but the Maharajah held his own against one of WWE’s top-tier stars. That I can respect.


This is probably the first match where Jinder’s strength was a main highlight. Why didn’t they use it in the first place? Jinder could easily pass as a powerhouse, he definitely looks the part. Now that the burden of being the top guy of the brand is gone, he can now flesh out this side of his character more. If you don’t want him to be a crafty heel, then maybe have him be a total brute in the ring. He can still be a Maharajah or something, you just need to minimize his chickenshit tendencies and focus more on his prowess. Or how about a Maharajah version of the Booker’s Court stable? Not only will this boost Jinder’s stock, it will also utilize the Singh Brothers as capable fighters rather than useless buffoons.


So where does Jinder Mahal go from here? This is the perfect opportunity to go back to square one and actually do it right this time. Give Jinder a workable storyline with anyone and have them deliver well-written promos and action-packed matches week after week. He can even chase the United States Championship and generate more heel heat as the foreigner champ. Screw the Indian tour. He doesn’t need to be a champion in his home country. Just endear him to his people by giving him a credible win over, let’s say, John Cena (if schedule permits). Jinder’s been asking Creative to give him Cena, right?

Survivor Series Update: Rusev is out, Cena is in, WTF?

Rusev got a chance after all to qualify for the Survivor Series team but fell short to the team’s vice captain, Randy Orton. Okay, I guess? I just don’t see why we can’t give Rusev the last spot. Who else is there? Styles won the WWE Championship so he’s gone, Dolph Ziggler already failed to qualify, and I guess Tye Dillinger or Sin Cara would do, but fine. I’ll just have to wait for next week for the identity of the last member. Maybe they’ll have a battle royale or something. Oh wait, nvm. John Cena just took the last spot.

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So let me get this straight. The reason Shane McMahon didn’t take volunteers is to gauge the rosters’ brand loyalty, right? He basically said it during this week’s opening promo. That’s the whole point of the qualifying matches. So why would the commish give out the last spot to someone who we last saw on a RAW PPV and without undergoing a match whatsoever? Does that make sense to you? I get that Shane’s supposed to be reckless and all, but I didn’t think he’ll be inconsistent with his own words and actions. I think Rusev nailed it with this tweet. Someone protect that tweet and preserve it for the children of tomorrow.

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Does this move make Survivor Series exciting and unpredictable? Of course! But I'm not the type of wrestling fan who will set aside storyline consistency over cheap thrills. Tell me, if SmackDown Live ended up winning the match, where will John Cena go from here? It's not like he'll continue to appear weekly on SmackDown Live since he's shooting a goddamn movie. So instead of using this spot to elevate someone, we're giving it to a part-timer who had no business with the company prior to the event. At least Rusev was part of the fucking #UnderSiege ruckus. If Cena's referee gig fell apart, shouldn't we just exclude him entirely? Do we really need another big name on an already stacked card?


But seriously, I’m just glad the fifth member wasn’t Jake de Leon. That man will never break our hearts again.  

Some Blue Brand Vibes and Blues—Live!

Blue: This week’s opening segment dragged too long, and the payout match was equally bizarre. Don’t get me wrong, New Day and Shane McMahon shaking their booties and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn interrupting the fun was fine, it even earned Sami a “paper boy” chant. The match that followed after was weird because it just ended abruptly. The match was getting good! Kofi Kingston displayed some unique offensive moves and right after a crossbody, the match ended just like that. I’m not even sure what exactly happened.

And to make things even weirder, the Canadian duo was removed from the entire European tour because of their alleged “scripted” promo. Apparently, mentioning Ring of Honor even subliminally is a big no-no for the WWE. I’m not really buying it, I feel like this will further fuel the Owens/Sami vs. Shane storyline. I’m not falling for their tricks.

Blue: What in the blue hell is this Battle of the Sexes nonsense? They clearly explained the origins of this match with a series of tweets and based on my very basic analysis, James Ellsworth was campaigning for Carmella to replace Becky Lynch as the new captain for the female SmackDown team. So how did this become a gender-driven match where Ellsworth suddenly became a cocky sexist? The last time I saw this guy, he literally had a dog collar indicating that he’s a submissive pet to Carmella. So how, why, what just happened here?

And let’s say this match made sense and we suddenly all agree that Ellsworth is a pig. What exactly does this achieve? Is this a showcase of the captain’s strength? Is this the catalyst that will bond the women of SmackDown Live to work as a unit come Survivor Series? Is this the end of the Carmellsworth love team? You see how nonsensical this match was? It didn’t do shit to the overall build of their upcoming war against the women of RAW. Why can’t this be a straight-up Styles vs. Singh Bro match where the heel throws her scared lackey to the babyface?

Blue: The Usos vs. American Alpha was another match hindered by an abrupt end but this time, it’s because of an apparent injury. I believe this one’s legit, because it doesn’t make sense for *whispher* Shelton, Benjamin *whisper* to kayfabe-ly wait for the 10 count instead of bringing him back to the ring. It’s also possible that Gable maybe turning heel without Benjamin knowing it and that would turn into a future rift between the two, but that’s a bit of a stretch. I hope this isn’t a serious one and the Usos won’t have to relinquish the titles. It’s only appropriate for the Uso Penitentiary to get behind the Bar. Get it?

SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: I could easily give this episode an A+ for ending the Jinder Experiment alone, but man, the entire show didn’t really wow me. Except for the stellar main event, all matches ended abruptly or didn’t make sense at all. Survivor Series is looking to be an exciting mess, and they didn’t even establish a stake yet! Why exactly are these men fighting each other? Forgive me for giving this one a B, I just didn’t like it at all. But hooray for AJ Styles! Let’s return the prestige to the WWE Championship from here on out.

Did you enjoy this week’s SmackDown Pre-Taped? Did you mark out on AJ Styles’ huge win? Let’s just take a break at the comments below because man, this week’s total cray-cray. Pete Dunne on RAW? The UK Division on 205 Live? Somebody call my momma.

*****

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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