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SmackDown RunDown Live (5/8/18): Rusev is Money!


The shitty lip-sync ad should’ve clued us in—co-branding every PPV is a terrible idea.

Because let’s face it, Roman Reigns will headline every PPV from now until he eventually retires, regardless of the angle he’s in. He headlined Backlash over the WWE Championship match because fuck you, and he’ll definitely headline Money in the Bank next month despite the fact that he won’t be part of the match the PPV was named after. What’s more confusing is that they had the chance to make this guy the champion at WrestleMania 34. Everything was set up perfectly. They were able to make Reigns a babyface worth of sympathy that even Roman haters were okay with it. The big event came, and the big red dog fell flat on his bloodied face. And now we’re supposed to believe he’s still the top guy of the company? Great job, asshats.

What the #NitPickRick side of my brain hated the most was that they broke the tradition of crowning a new WWE Champion at Backlash. 2016 was AJ Styles’ year and while 2017 rushed in and crowned an undeserved champion who will remain nameless, at least they actually had the guts to give the title to someone new. So why did they hesitate to give the title to Shinsuke Nakamura this year? There’s no excuse for stretching this rivalry out without any significant title changes. It makes Nakamura’s heel turn meaningless and it makes Styles a weak champion who can’t get the job done. Wrestling is stressful sometimes, you know?

MITB Hype: The Miz, Charlotte Flair, and Rusev Qualifies

It’s that time of the year again! Bones will be broken, bodies will be bruised, and careers may come to an end. But only one man and one woman will climb up the ladder and grab their unclaimed crowns. Who will become almost-guaranteed champions in six weeks' time? Watch Money in the Bank live FOR FREE when you subscri… wait, what am I doing?


Apologies to Rusev haters, but Rusev Day, mdfkas! The Lion of Bulgaria scored his biggest win yet after beating Daniel Bryan clean (Aiden English got involved earlier, but it didn’t affect the finish at all, so yeah, it still counts). This one really took me by surprise. They even showed vignettes of D-Bry winning the briefcase and cashing it in successfully so I thought there’s no way he’s going to lose. But damn, he did lose, and to Rusev of all people! Props to D-Bry for actually putting over someone who definitely needed the rub like Rusev, instead of beefing up his own revitalized career. That’s a class act if I ever saw one.


And it was a great main event match too! Rusev and Bryan fought valiantly as they targeted each other’s weak points, resulting in a match packed with action and storytelling. Both men left the match looking good, with Rusev qualifying for the MITB and D-Bry continuing his tried and tested role as everyone’s beloved underdog. While it still looks improbable that Rusev wins the entire thing, I hope this ends the break-up angle they were trying to start between Team Rusev Day. It’s way too early for these two to split up. Let them achieve more accolades first, at least.


Speaking of qualifying matches, Charlotte Flair just qualified for the women’s MITB by beating one half of the IIconics Peyton Royce. It’s a bold move to make Charlotte work for another opportunity instead of extending their bad blood. It allows Carmella to have a fresh new rival while keeping Charlotte in the championship chase. Meanwhile, the IIconics are still killing it with their promos. Royce may have lost this week, but she certainly didn’t walk out looking like a chump. Billie Kay will probably qualify and if she eventually win, the IIconics will be the first co-holders of the MITB briefcase. That sounds iconic to me.


The Miz is currently on fire, not because of his mic work, but because of his consistent in-ring performance. No, that’s not a sarcastic sentence you just read. Despite failing to regain the Intercontinental Championship at Backlash in a fun opener, Miz bounced back by picking up the surprise win over Jeff Hardy in this week’s first MITB qualifier. While it was another fun opener courtesy of the Miz, it just irked me that commentary kept on referring to him as a veteran. No, he ain’t. While Miz was busy being Mike Mizanin in the Real World, Jeff Hardy was out there earning American Badass Undertaker’s respect. Check your facts, bois.

I do hope those who lost their qualifying matches don’t get another chance. That will definitely add to the MITB’s overall prestige. Every superstar should really scrape and claw just to earn their spot for the famed ladder match. If they didn’t make it, they won’t make it. It also adds to the event’s unpredictability. Once again, MITB feels like it’s anyone’s ballgame, Braun Strowman’s involvement be damned. Basically, I don’t want Roman Reigns to be part of the damn match because you know he’ll just win the entire thing. WWE will literally give the moon and the stars to that guy, but apparently not the Universal title.


SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: What an action-packed episode! This week’s show did a great job priming up the MITB match as something to grind for. Even the matches that weren’t qualifying matches turned out great. It definitely feels like everything’s back on track, no more GRR or Backlash to think about. And we have six more weeks to craft compelling angles? Sign me up! For now, a steaming hot A is in order.

Some Blue Brand Thoughts That Didn’t Make It

  • Xavier Woods vs Cesaro didn’t have to be a good match, but it was anyway and I love them for it. Seriously, these guys are feuding over pancakes. But their match for next week is interesting af. I want to see New Day become co-champions, but I secretly want Cesaro to finally break free from the tag team scene and chase his destiny as the next world champion.
  • I feel sorry for Becky Lynch, homegirl can’t get a break. It’s good for Mandy Rose’s solo run post-Absolution, but it’s just sad to see Becky become the female equivalent of Dolph Ziggler. She’ll probably lose to Sonya Deville next week and she’ll be relevant again once WWE hosts another groundbreaking match for the women. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • I have expressed my disdain for smartphone promos countless times, but Carmella probably did the best one yet. I didn't think her promo would've felt awkward if it wasn't shot with a phone. Also, props to Asuka for not going with the flow and instead cutting a promo in front of a proper camera. 
  • “I’ll remind you how to speak English, ya dum bitch!” *plants Nakamura with Dirty Deeds*
  • That kid did NOT like pancakes.
  • Damn, I didn’t know the Bludgeon Brothers played with dolls… I mean, action figures. I’m shooketh. Also, where are the Usos?
*****

Ricky Jay Publico (@NitPickRick) is a wrestling fan who enjoys watching high flyers and brawlers battle it out in the ring. A frequent 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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