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SmackDown RunDown Live (12/5/17): *Stipulating Intensifies*


Every day is Rusev Day! It’s the first Christmas edition of SmackDown RunDown Live and I’m still yo boy, #NitPickRick, bringing you some dated and crooked analysis of our favorite Tuesday night/Wednesday morning habit. Sadly, I’m not in a great holiday mood. You’ll probably know why in the next few paragraphs so let’s just get on with it already. Jeez.

The odds are way too stacked against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn


...and I’m loving it! I was initially going to complain about Sami Zayn losing to Randy Orton and the duo getting beat up by the team of Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura (tag team name pending). Wouldn’t it be better if Zayn won via shenanigans so they can hammer the point that Owens and Zayn keep slithering away from these stacked stipulation matches, frustrating the hell out of the commish even further? But then it totally made sense. Shane adding more stipulations to their Clash of Champions match despite seeing the two get their comeuppance just made Daniel Bryan’s defection from Shane imminent.




The complexity of this storyline is the main reason why I’m loving this main storyline. Bryan will definitely stand up for fairness, but will that make him a heel for protecting two dubious Superstars? And how will Shane react? Will he morph into an unstable commissioner hell bent on destroying his regime? This can go so many ways and my only hope is that they maintain the complexity of it until maybe WrestleMania. We don’t have to turn either one of them immediately, let the story burn slowly and gracefully. Who knows, this storyline could also result in Daniel Bryan officially making a comeback in the ring. That is a huge, huge stretch, of course, but a man can dream.



But let’s talk about the main event real quick. Orton is pretty much the MVP of this week and last week as he wrestled his butt off to put over Owens and Zayn. His match with Zayn wasn’t as physical compared to last week, but it was still a fun watch. I’m loving Orton’s new hairdo. It’s like he fused with John Cena, making him SmackDown Live’s ultimate top guy. And for a second week in a row, Orton busted out another impressive superplex! Also, Shinsuke Nakamura was the only logical choice for Orton’s tag partner. I hope they make the duo an official tag team and have them chase the tag championships. We’re looking for legit challengers for the Usos, yes?

The women’s segments were a total riott—pun intended


Before I start this mini-rant, I’d like to ask everyone to please recite in chorus one of the established mantras of this humble column: “Triads of women ruin wrestling.” Thank you. And now, my thoughts on this week’s women division segments.



*inhales*

What the fuck happened? What the fuck were those cringey backstage segments? It’s bad enough Carmella and Lana had terrible arguments against Natalya facing Charlotte for the title again (it’s Natalya’s rematch clause, duh), but then the Riott Squad came and offered their own terrible and nonsensical arguments. Showing your intimidating tattoos is your best negotiation tactic? Blaming the lack of opportunities from being blonde? And what the fuck does tasting game meat have anything to do with whatever’s happening here? The guy who wrote this segment should be fired. I bet he also wrote those terrible Jinder Mahal promos.




Don’t even get me started on that awful match. Charlotte and Tamina had no chemistry together and Tamina barely did anything to make her look more threatening. I guess Creative gave up on portraying her as a powerhouse, a Nia Jax counterpart, if you will. And as if the lackluster match wasn’t enough, the Riott Squad came out and teased a brawl with the rest of the women’s division. Why? Liv Morgan said it herself, no one can stop a riot when it breaks out. So the next sequence was a riot being stopped. Let them fight! Why are they stopping these women? Let the squad dominate! That should be their thing, right? It’s so frustrating, I can’t even.

Is it too early to say the Riott Squad should be disbanded at this point? It’s been three weeks, you gals. Either you make it work or go back to the drawing board. They clearly have no chemistry together, their personalities don’t match, and they don’t really have anything to justify their existence as a group.

Some Holiday Blue Brand Vibes and Blues—Live!


Vibe: I know I’m part of a minority here, but I really hope Dolph Ziggler wins the US Championship at Clash of Champions. Hell, let’s give him one more run as a world champion. He clearly deserves it. Sure, his character is currently trapped in some sort of limbo and no one knows where he’s going or what exactly his gimmick is, but all he needs is one great storyline. I just want him to be relevant again. Him standing tall this week should be a good step forward.

Vibe: Everyone’s feeling the Rusev Day fever this week as the Bulgarian Brute and his loyal bard picked up a huge win over the New Day. I know, I’m shocked as you are. They were even added to the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match at Clash, so good for them. I was kinda hoping Rusev will be the enforcer for the Uso Penitentiary, but seeing as the Usos are now faces, I wonder if they’re going to give Rusev and English a tag team title run in the future. If they get cold feet on the Orton/Nakamura team, why not Rusev and English instead?

Vibe: I’m just gonna lump these last items since I’m an efficient (see: lazy) writer. Mojo Rawley’s heel run is off to a good start with his rather intense backstage interview. He was really intense and his explanation was on point. Meanwhile, the Bludgeon Bros are beating up jobbers left and right. While I think this week’s jobber bludgeoning was okay, I hope they start fleshing out their backstory and their motivations on reuniting, possibly starting next week. Also, they’re still struggling with their double crucifix powerbomb finisher. I’m still pissed they’re not calling it Hammer Time, or at least Clobberin’ Time. Wait...

SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: I was almost going to give this episode an A, a grade I haven’t given in a long time. To think they were able to produce a solid show without the presence of AJ Styles and *gasp* Jinder Mahal is commendable as hell. I am head over heels for the Shane/Bryan/Owens/Zayn storyline, Rusev and English being added to the SmackDown Tag Team Championship chase, and Ziggler looking strong for once. The women’s division just had to ruin it somehow. So sorry, SmackDown Live, you’ll have to settle for another B.

Did you enjoy this week’s SmackDown Live? Do you think I used way too much asterisks for this column? Let’s all taste some game meat in 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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