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SmackDown RunDown Live (3/6/18): Helluva Betrayal


I was watching this week’s episode on a lazy afternoon when Shane McMahon came out and said he and Daniel Bryan have this mantra of bringing us the best SmackDown Live. Bitch, if you want to bring the best SmackDown Live on a weekly basis, you can start by maximizing the potential of your roster, writing compelling storylines like you used to, and firing the idiot who suggested adding graphics on every goddamn promo. Seriously, fuck that guy.


Fastlane Hype: Compelling Storylines Make Everything Great

To be fair to Shane O’Mac, the Blue Brand’s actually starting to focus more on fleshing out storylines, so their mantra isn’t entirely false. Granted, they still have to work on some stuff, but the past couple of weeks can be considered progress. They’re slowly finding the balance between producing great wrestling and telling better stories. Just look at this week’s monster main event—the original Fastlane main event on free TV. If you thought this was awesome, imagine if Cena was added to the mix on Monday (Manila Time).


Props to Creative for adding more meat to the Fastlane main event. It took them long enough to let AJ Styles address the chip on his shoulder and it should’ve been earlier during the build, but I’m still glad we got it. They even used this promo to try and present Dolph Ziggler’s motivations coming into the match. Now every participant has a clear goal going into Fastlane: Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens clearly have issues to resolve; Ziggler and Cena have seemingly identical goals; Baron Corbin thinks Cena owes him one; and Styles wants to give fans the dream match we deserve. Now these six men aren’t just random participants gunning for the gold. See how storylines make matches more enthralling?


And how about that main event finish, you guys? Just when you thought Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were setting up for suicide dives, Sami stabs Owens in the face with a Helluva Kick no one was prepared for. We all knew the betrayal will happen, I just thought it would happen at Fastlane. I initially thought they jumped the gun by having running with this angle now, but then I realized it was actually the right call. For one, the moment will have less impact if Sami ended up not winning, and we all know AJ Styles will retain. And second, it was a satisfying end to a great main event. We practically begged for Sami Zayn to be moved to SmackDown Live to realize his full potential and this main event gave us a sneak preview of what it looks like. This move could also lead up to a baybface turn for Owens at WrestleMania. I’m not even sure how will that work but I’m still excited to see these two slug it out more time, this time their roles reversed.


The undercard hype wasn’t too shabby, either. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev had a fun backstage interaction to set up their Fastlane match, proving yet again that less is so much more. Their first one-on-one encounter may have been rushed, but it can easily be saved by well-written segments like this. Meanwhile, the build between Randy Orton and Bobby Roode continues to escalate...and give my man Jinder Mahal momentum in the process. Looks like the Blue Brand will also host a triple threat for its own midcard title at WrestleMania. To spice things up, I would suggest they highlight Orton’s desire to win the title he has never won and have Roode show some dimension by actually being a ruthless son of a gun. Jinder can stay being the conniving beast that he is. Hell, give him a WrestleMania moment and let him win the United States Championship. That would freak people out.


And guess what, the women’s division actually kept things fresh by letting other Superstars not named Charlotte Flair and Ruby Riott go at it. We got to see Carmella again, people. Remember, she’s Ms. MITB. Becky Lynch is also a welcome change in my wrestling as she once again made someone tap with her badass finisher. I miss random TV matches like this. Not every match should focus on building a PPV, you know. Let’s get more TV feuds going. We haven’t seen Mojo Rawley for months now. And where’s Tye Dillinger? This is a great way to maximize your roster, Shane. Let's give everyone the best SmackDown Live.


It was also a welcome change to have Charlotte and Riott open the show by explaining their actions. Again, this should’ve been produced earlier in their build instead of giving us a string of meaningless matches, but it’s better late than never, amirite? Riott’s mic work still needs a lot of work though. For one, she’s trying so hard not to forget her lines which in turn makes her promos exhausting to listen to. Her "beach-blonde failure" burn flopped hard because of her unnecessarily slow delivery, and it was a good burn at that. If only she could just calm down every time she’s cutting a promo, she’ll be the complete top heel package.

Are you hyped for Fastlane yet? You bet your ass I am! Despite my usual gripes on what the Blue Brand has become, the card for Fastlane looks good! And this week’s episode did a great job hyping us up by giving us the main event we could’ve had and a glimpse of what a Sami Zayn-led title picture would look like. In the last two weeks, they managed to build Fastlane as an exciting last stop before WrestleMania. They wasted like three weeks, sure, but let’s just focus on the positive stuff they did at the last minute. So yeah, call me optimistic because I’m pretty sure SmackDown Live earned another A.

Some Blue Brand Thoughts That Didn’t Make It
  • I like how they didn’t bother producing a segment between the Usos and New Day this week because it would be a disservice to last week’s already heated and epic promo.
  • Why are they recapping previous SmackDown Live episodes with still images like they’re PPVs? Replay the damn clip from a few weeks ago like a true SmackDown recap should: with moving pictures.
  • Joke of the Night: Probably the entire Shinsuke Nakamura-Rusev segment. “You can’t just make up a holiday, bro.”
  • Hey, y’all got any more of them RKO frjsduejwndsuawers?
Photos from WWE.com

*****

Ricky Jay Publico 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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