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SmackDown RunDown Live (11/27/18): A Night of Too Many Comebacks




Do you remember the first time you realized you’ve matured as a wrestling fan? I can’t remember mine, but I was reminded this week about how I viewed wrestling when I was a kid. When I first discovered that matches are predetermined, I had an extremely idealistic perspective when it comes to fantasy booking.

I always put guys like Rob Van Dam, John Morrison, and Booker T high in my hierarchy just because I liked them as wrestlers. Why are they not in the main event more often? Why do they lose all the time? Damn, I was naive. Then I started to delve deeper into the business and realize that wrestling isn’t about who has a cool entrance or who has the flashiest moves.

I started learning about how everything worked, from recruiting new talent to marketing an entire show. I started caring about who can draw the most money or who can generate the most reactions. I started noticing how a storyline is developed for better or worse. I started dissecting storylines and criticizing how promos were written and delivered.

I started hating some of the wrestlers I loved (basically, John Cena was a major dick) and loving the ones I hated (Who knew I would eventually be a big fan of Edge?). It’s just fun to look back at those moments when you honestly wanted someone to just reach the top, business technicalities be damned.

Naomi and Mandy Rose said it best: any one of them can be the champion. The kid in me would definitely agree, but the hardened adult in me most definitely knows that only Asuka could make that Triple Threat TLC match more interesting.

A Women’s Division Showcase Outta Nowhere

I had high hopes for this episode because Becky Lynch was coming back, but I didn’t expect SmackDown Live would make her share the spotlight with the entire women’s division. I’m not even sure where to begin because there’s a lot I could talk about.



Becky Lynch was back and she’s as badass as she was when she left. The Blue Brand wasted no time and let Becky pump the crowd up for the rest of the show. Good strategy. She then called out Charlotte Flair to give her a lecture on how to give a proper ass-whooping. These two women are basically the same now but surprisingly, it’s not that confusing.

If anything, Lynch and Flair now reached that level where they don’t really need a label to define their characters. Call them heels, call them faces, but they’re just badass wrestlers to me now and I’m loving it. No one booed Flair simply because she’s a lot more compelling when she’s the one bringing the pain. If anything, Charlotte Flair also made a much-needed comeback to her true form—The Queen of SmackDown Live.



Seeing Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch together was indeed cool, but seeing them with the rest of the women’s division just highlights the difference in star power. Other than Asuka, no one from the roster could give Flair and Lynch a run for their money. Once their rivalry ends, I wonder who’s going to chase for the SmackDown Women’s Championship next. We can’t have these three fighting all the time, you know.

But back to Asuka. She finally made a comeback to the title scene and I couldn’t be more excited for her. Considering how her year started and then plateaued since, no one else needed this win more than the Empress of Tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave her the title at TLC, just to establish her as one of SmackDown Live’s top stars. Sure, it would suck to see Becky lose the title, but WrestleMania 35’s just around the corner. I’d rather have Asuka’s moment now.




But was it really necessary to add Asuka to the red-hot Charlotte/Becky storyline? I wouldn’t say Asuka’s absolutely necessary, but I do think she was added to take the physical load off Becky Lynch. We can't have The Man gettting injured again, so the match needed someone like Asuka who can take more bumps for Becky. 
Asuka may be the compromise, but she made this already great matchup into something that only WWE 2K19 simulators could come up with. It could even main-event TLC if WWE wants it to. What does RAW have anyway, Baron Corbin? No thanks. 

And I also appreciate how Sonya Deville was the last one to be eliminated. I told you they’re priming her up for something big! It’s a good first step in building up other women not named Becky or Charlotte. Also, why did they give up on Naomi all of a sudden? She could be great too if WWE just gives her a nudge or two. Needless to say, I’m glad to see SmackDown Live is pushing their women’s division in the right direction.

The B-Storylines Aren’t That Bad, Either

Sorry, I was too focused on the women that I almost forgot about the other storylines. They’re pretty good, too. This episode was filled to the brim with great promos so let’s talk about them. 



First up is AJ Styles’ response to the New Daniel Bryan’s monologue last week. His promo was solid and passionate as always, but in the midst of his speech, I couldn't help but wonder why his reactions are getting weaker week by week. Is it because we’re done with clean-cut heroes? We all know we’re pretty sick of the John Cena prototype. But it’s AJ Styles we’re talking about.

Or maybe he’s just overshadowed by Becky Lynch’s meteoric rise? That we expect our heroes to be more layered and filled with gray areas? I’m not really sure, but I think some of the fans are beginning to sour on his character. One dickhead was chanting “AJ Styles sucks!” during his promo. Maybe in the coming weeks, a few people will join him. I’m not sure why I pointed this one out, to be honest.




We also had this lovely segment for Jeff Hardy’s 20th anniversary in the business. It just made me want to watch a playlist of Jeff Hardy’s best matches, really. It’s a totally wholesome segment overall and it also set up a rivalry between Hardy and Samoa Joe, with the latter exploiting Hardy’s demons. At least Joe’s being consistent as this cerebral assassin type of fella. It’s interesting to note that these two were former TNA wrestlers.


Over here in the Mariners section, we have The Miz taking on Kofi Kingston. This match was okay and it was a nice continuation of Miz’s one-sided partnership with his co-bestie, Shane McMahon. The only thing missing in their backstage segment was Shane-O cradling the trophy like a baby. Other than that, Miz and Shane still has the most curious storyline currently going on.

SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: The women of SmackDown Live took this episode and made it their own. This week’s show was a perfect blend of storytelling and wrestling action, but that’s just a usual week for the Blue Brand anyway. While all of the segments didn’t really have anything to offer, it’s a whole lot better than having another heel faction steamrolling half of the roster. Yawn. So yeah, Becky Lynch is back, Charlotte Flair is The Queen again, and Asuka’s relevant again. For a solid female-driven episode, SmackDown Live earns another A.

Some Blue Brand Thoughts That Didn’t Make It

  • The Usos beat The Bar this week, effectively putting them back in the title hunt. Finally, something good came from their victory at Survivor Series. I just couldn't help but laugh at how The Bar and Big Show’s breakup went down. I guess the SmackDown 1000 joke has finally ran its course.

  • Randy Orton really phoned a promo in this week. We’ve seen him execute better promos than this, which was too generic and uninspired. Thank goodness Rey Mysterio came out to save the segment by getting beat up once again. They’re clearly setting up a Chairs match for TLC, one of the most stupid stipulations there is. Yeah, I think my interest just faded.

  • I think it’s time to give the United States Championship to somebody else, keep Shinsuke Nakamura off TV for a while, and have him return as the babyface he truly is. Nothing’s working with this guy. Nothing’s working with Rusev, either. What’s the point, then?


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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