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SmackDown RunDown Live (12/25/18): 365 Rusev Days Too Late


It’s been a week since the hostile takeover of WWE by the McMahon family took place. They fired all the GMs and brought new faces and matchups to both shows, promising that they will finally listen to the WWE Universe. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but is the takeover successful? The short answer is yes, surprisingly. Here’s the long answer.

SmackDown Live’s future is brighter than ever


No matter how awesome you think your Christmas was, you’ll never beat the one Rusev just had. For starters, it’s Rusev Day, thank you very much. It’s also his birthday, so he clearly won the birthday lottery here. And you know what he got for Rusev Day/Christmas/his birthday? Main event treatment and a newly-minted United States Championship for good measure. That’s right, Rusev finally unseated Shinsuke Nakamura as the new midcard champion.

But is the title win too late for Rusev Day? Of course it is! Are you kidding me? He could’ve been a former WWE Champion by now if they capitalized on his popularity early on. This guy gathered more reactions than anyone every time he stepped in the ring. How did he get some sort of a push just now? But fine, no need to cry over spilled matcha. Hopefully, 2019 will be the year when Rusev will outgrow the meme and become a legitimate main event star.



Speaking of main event star, how about Daniel Bryan closing off the year by being the Blue Brand’s big bad? And the cool thing is that D-Bry isn’t focused on one man. He’s out there beating up the R-Truth’s and the Mustafa Ali’s of SmackDown Live like he’s hovering above everyone. Heel Bryan will definitely open a lot of doors for the ones who barely get to the entrance in 2019. Andrade “Cien” Almas or Tye Dillinger or even Aiden English might cross Bryan’s path one day and the rest will be history.

But for now, let’s focus on Mustafa Ali and R-Truth. Ali pinned the champ last week, putting him first in line for a title opportunity. He’ll probably lose, but at least we can give Bryan something to chew on for Royal Rumble. Meanwhile, R-Truth will be the last man to enter the Royal Rumble match. This is me reaching hard, but I think there’s a slight possibility that Truth will shock the world come January by backing up his words this week. Maybe Truth will have the last laugh after all. You guys ready for the first-ever dance break led by a world champ?  



While we’re talking about backing up words, The Miz provided Shane McMahon with a strong case to team up with him. And wouldn’t you know it, it actually worked! Shane finally agreed to form a formidable team with his co-bestie. MizTV scored another home run of a segment like that we should just accept that it’s the best talk show currently right now after Talking Smack. This storyline is just ticking all the right boxes right now and I’m loving it.

When’s the last time we saw a tag team formation segment as compelling as this one? Miz is still technically a heel and Shane only agreed because he listened to the WWE Universe. How’s that gonna work? Is this leading to a double turn at some point? I don’t want to know—I’d rather experience this storyline blind. And to think this all started at a terrible PPV? Who knew the Crown Jewel World Cup trophy would be more relevant than the Saudi Arabia Championship. Braun Strowman won what title?


And since we’re on the subject of Shane McMahon, let’s talk about what his old man did this week. Damn, I’m good at transitions. Vince McMahon himself randomly called out AJ Styles and tried to release the animal in him. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. But rather than take this as a random backstage promo, I predict that this segment will be the catalyst of a brand new AJ Styles in 2019. That’s right, he might even win next year’s Royal Rumble because of it.

But Styles won’t turn heel. We’ve already seen that and it didn’t work out. He’ll be the next Superstar to get the “badass” treatment, if you will. You know, the same treatment Becky Lynch got? For the life of me, I can’t really picture how it will work, but I’m up for it. Anyone who hit Vince McMahon over the years became huge stars so we can interpret this segment as Vinnie Mac’s way of giving his stamp of approval to the Phenomenal One. 2019 is going to be epic, you guys.

SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: If this episode aired on a normal date, this show would’ve been fine by itself. Daniel Bryan was good, Rusev Day got validated, and the show overall felt fresh. Too bad it aired on December 25. This show had the same feeling as opening a gift from a coworker you’re not that close with. It’s a mug, isn’t it? Worst of all, the show didn’t even feature a promo from SmackDown Live’s top stars: Asuka, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch. I want me the gift of Becky, dammit! So here’s hoping that 2019 will be a better year for the Blue Brand. Here’s a B- to close off the year.

Some Blue Brand Thoughts That Didn’t Make It


  • Say what you want about the McMahons taking over, but they’re doing a great job bringing us fresh faces and matchups. Did you expect that The Good Brothers would actually score a pinfall victory against The Bar in a non-title match before the year ends? I don’t think so. So yes, more of this, please. Let’s keep the tag team division on SmackDown Live heated. 
  • Don’t mind me, I’m just preparing my embargo for the highly anticipated rivalry between Naomi and Mandy Rose. 
  • The only acceptable outcome of Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Hardy is Joe coming out on top. He definitely needs the momentum more than Hardy who’s already a beloved figure in WWE. Joe’s domination this week is a good first step. Let’s build Joe up once again, shall we?
  • So now that some of the cruiserweights made an appearance on SmackDown Live, does that mean they’re now part of the Blue Brand? It makes a lot of sense since they poached Ali out of the Purple Brand. Can’t wait to see TJP make his SmackDown Live debut. 
  • Triple H and Stephanie McMahon didn’t even show up this week. I miss Paige already. And hey, where’s Rey Mysterio?
Photos from WWE.com

*****


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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