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SmackDown RunDown Live (11/13/18): Bryan Breaks Bad


With everything that transpired this week on SmackDown Live, I find it fitting to talk about why we tend to classify wrestlers as babyfaces and heels. This particular Twitter thread inspired me to do so. Give it a read if you could, it’s very insightful.
While I do agree with the sentiment, I also have a few counterarguments. For one, there’s a reason why we categorize wrestlers as babyfaces and heels. Think of it in the context of comic books. We classify comic book characters into two groups: heroes and villains. It makes it easier for readers—who are primarily children—to make sense out of the violence they read on the pages.

Sure, you can make the heroes edgy, but they should still do the right thing at the end of the day. Superheroes like Iron Man, Deadpool, and Oliver Queen are not clean-cut heroes who could do no wrong, but we still regard them as heroes of their own respective universe. Their gray areas actually make them cooler and more relatable. This is also true with villains. Not all of them were born evil, you know.

But if Batman suddenly killed Joker and started rampaging his villains with murderous intent, will you still treat him as a hero? If Captain America started siding with the Nazis, will you still look up to him? If Thanos finally realized that killing half of the universe is the wrong way to go, will you still want to see him dead? You can’t really use the gray area argument in these cases. Sometimes we really need to call a spade a spade.

Thus, we have heroes and villains, heels and babyfaces. In order to achieve balance, we need both extremes at the opposite sides. We can’t have a gray area without the black and white.

Did Becky Lynch turn face after her awesome promo this week? Not necessarily. If anything, her unexpected gesture added more depth to her character’s gray area. Did Daniel Bryan turn heel this week? Yes, a resounding yes. His actions can’t be excused by his “drive and motivation” as a competitor. He’s just being an asshole at this point.

Making Sense Out of Daniel Bryan’s Heel Turn

Sometimes, certain moments are so mind-boggling, you can’t help but make a new column segment about it. What, is it just me? Anyway, let’s try to make sense with this madness by asking these vital questions.



What’s the deal with Daniel Bryan? This paragraph was going to be way different. But after knowing that D-Bry supposedly wanted to turn heel for some time and given Becky Lynch’s unfortunate injury, I get why this had to happen this quick. 

I guess what irked me was the way it all started. How can you be insulted by hearing your own name on a random conversation? That’s not really a “man” thing, is it? He could’ve just said he wants the WWE Championship so bad he’s willing to kick AJ’s nuts for it. Even if he was still hung up about his loss two weeks ago, why didn’t he address this last week? The heel turn felt way too forced is what I’m saying.

Why was the title randomly placed on the line? I don’t really see why AJ Styles had to defend his title because of all this ruckus. The commentators tried to save it by saying Styles demanded it to be this way, but we all saw how Shane McMahon angrily booked the main event as a title match. If he’s really dead set in protecting his prizefighter for the Survivor Series main event, why would Shane book Styles in a title match mere days before the PPV?



What happens to Daniel Bryan’s legacy? Even if this is what D-Bry wanted, we can’t really ignore the legacy WWE spent years building around the fact that he’s the ultimate underdog. It’s not like he needed to refresh his character, right? What will happen now to those iconic moments? What will happen to the Yes Movement? What will happen to his younger fans, to the Connor Michalek’s out there looking up to their hero? Isn’t this the main reason why they won’t turn John Cena heel even if he wanted to?

What happens to AJ Styles now? I’m actually not mad about Bryan winning the title. It’s great. Daniel Bryan’s champion again and he’s not too injured to keep it. But where does this leave Styles? Isn’t he supposed to be immune to low blows by now? Shinsuke Nakamura’s probably shaking right now. He should’ve been the champion, dammit! And besides, I really wanted to see Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles II. Why can’t Bryan’s heel turn wait for the next PPV when WWE can actually profit off the shocking moment?



Was this Paul Heyman’s game plan? It was so random for Heyman to mention D-Bry out of nowhere, even naming him as the top performer in WWE. Did Lesnar tell him to poke the goat because he doesn’t want to deal with Styles again? That’s a bit of a stretch. Lesnar is a heel but he’s not a chicken shit heel. And even if that’s the game plan, how did Heyman predict that this would be Bryan’s reaction? And while we’re on the subject of Paul Heyman, why was he not given a mic when D-Bry got one willy-nilly? That’s just rude.

The Legend of Becky Lynch Lives On Despite Injury


Even a freak accident couldn't stop the continuing legend of the one and only Becky Lynch. You can blame Nia Jax all you want, but I strongly believe that the stiff shot easily made Lynch’s invasion of RAW more iconic. The closing image of Becky’s bloodied face will be remembered years from now as one of the most epic endings in WWE history, and it’s not even her brand. I know I sound like a village idiot tooting my horns for the champion, but c’mon, you’d be tooting too because Becky Lynch is definitely the top champion in all of WWE right now.



But the fact remains—she’s still out of Survivor Series. The good thing is that her injury isn’t that severe that she’ll have to relinquish the SmackDown Women’s Championship. So I guess it could be worse. This week’s replacement selection segment also made the bitter pill a lot easier to swallow, thanks to an emphatic promo from a battered Becky Lynch and an emotional reconciliation between two former rivals. Ninjas actually started cutting onions near me after seeing Becky and Charlotte hugging it out like old chums. Damn those ninjas.



I also enjoyed how Becky Lynch came face-to-face with the entire SmackDown Live women’s division one by one despite having a clear candidate in mind. It’s fun seeing the others trying to convince Becky to pick them. I was also relieved that the crowd still views Asuka as a viable opponent for someone like Ronda Rousey. There’s still hope to build up the Empress of Tomorrow as an unstoppable wrecking machine. I just hope they don’t wait too long.

SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: What a hot mess, and I mean that in a positive way. It sounds negative, I know, but somehow that's the best word I could think of to describe the insanity that is SmackDown Live. For better or worse, the changes that the Blue Brand made for Survivor Series definitely had me at the edge of my seat. I could easily give this show a bad grade, but it’s not like a SmackDown Live episode can take you on a ride like this on a regular basis. So yeah, despite my gripes about it, I can’t deny that this week’s show was topnotch. Here’s a reluctant A for ya.

Some Blue Brand Blues That Didn’t Make It

  • It’s weird how Rey Mysterio had to defend his Survivor Series spot twice. He better be one of the sole survivors. Also, Mysterio and Miz have great chemistry together. I hope to see Miz counter one of Mysterio’s patented bulldogs with a Skull-Crushing Finale. That would be sick.

  • Also, Jeff Hardy eventually earned his spot for the Survivor Series team. Why would Miz pick him and kick Mysterio out despite both men being D-Bry’s choices? Isn’t it a no-brainer to pick Randy Orton, the ultimate sole survivor? Or why not Andrade “Cien” Almas?

  • That moment when Big Show struggled to get on his feet after pinning Kofi Kingston triggered my anxiety. I could imagine myself being in that scary position where my knees would give up on me in the most inconvenient time possible. I hope Big Show’s okay.

  • Billie Kaye and Peyton Royce just ding kayfabe things.
  • Can the tag teams with three members compete with all their members at the Kickoff Show? That would be epic. I don’t want Xavier Woods, Alexander Wolfe, or Lince Dorado awkwardly standing at ringside. Let them fight, dammit!
Photos from WWE.com

*****

Ricky 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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