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SmackDown RunDown Live (4/16/19): The Colossal Canine Experience


Let’s just get this out of the way: the Superstar Shake-Up format is terrible. I miss the WWE Draft days where GMs earn draft picks after their representatives win a match. The lottery format was dope too because the lottery graphic made things more exciting. Now they just walk out and be there and the commentary team aren’t even sure if they’re now part of the brand or not. The WWE Draft format was more official and more compelling.

With that being said, this year’s roster reshuffling was probably the most satisfying in years. RAW’s tag team division got a much-needed adrenaline shot, the NXT call-ups were well-deserved, and the changes felt significant. I guess there’s no better way to start this by talking about the elephant in the room, or should I say the big dog in the room. 


Roman Reigns is now on SmackDown Live. One of Vince McMahon’s many pet projects, one of the most polarizing Superstars (as the commentary teams would love to remind everyone), and the leukemia survivor, Roman Reigns, now bleeds blue.

 
But this also means SmackDown Live just became the new Roman Reigns show. The thing that made SmackDown Live better than RAW was that literally anyone could make it big in the Land of Opportunity, as they lovingly called it back in 2016. With Reigns around, that clout is now gone. We now know who’s going to be the top guy. We know who’s going to win the championship next. The personification of the glass ceiling is here and I doubt we’ll ever see guys like Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan break it again. I’ll bet my bottom dollar he’ll be announced as the next contender for Kofi at Money in the Bank. He won't even earn it in a match or something. 



Am I overthinking this? Maybe, but the fact that he is framed as “the biggest acquisition in SmackDown history” already says a lot. He got to punch the boss in the face for fuck’s sake! They already began placing him as SmackDown Live’s centerpiece. And now that he’s beaten cancer, there’s no way he won’t be WWE’s top guy. Reigns will probably get twice the push he got pre-cancer. Just look at how he beat Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania 35. They didn’t change the game plan at all. The old Roman Reigns is back and he’s going to wreak havoc on SmackDown Live. Cue the boos and the cheers and the "the WWE Universe loves to have fun" spiel.


If there's a positive we can take from this, it's that WWE is trying to make SmackDown Live on par with RAW, what with the FOX deal and all. Ronda Rousey will probably follow suit so I guess we can expect a bigger and better show starting in October. But I really, really hope they don't make it all about Roman Reigns. Please don't make me review a 2-hour RAW clone. 



Aside from Roman Reigns, SmackDown Live pretty much hauled some big names from the Shake-Up. Fortunately, one of those names is Kairi Sane. I’ve always wanted her to be drafted to the Blue Brand and now she’s here. See kids, dreams do come true. The downside is that she’ll be saddled with Asuka in a tag team managed by Paige. Yeah, that didn’t track at all. Both women deserve so much more that this, especially Asuka. This woman had an undefeated streak, won the Royal Rumble, and held the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Why will she take orders from Paige and babysit Kairi Sane? Oh, how the Empress has fallen.



I guess if you step back and calm yourself down, Kairi Sane’s call-up isn’t that terrible. NXT can’t afford to lose someone like Io Shirai now that they lost some of their top guys. You could say Sane didn’t need to be called up now, but next year’s WrestleMania is pirate-themed. We can’t have a pirate show without the Pirate Princess, duh. And that actually made me speculate that Sane is in for a major push and in order to prime Sane up, she has to be called up now. And maybe, just maybe, this tag team with Asuka could lead to a rivalry between these two joshi legends. Evil Asuka vs. Babyface Kairi at WrestleMania Arrr!, anyone?

 
Other folks we got include Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor, Lars Sullivan, Buddy Murphy, Ember Moon, and Bayley. My only problem with Bálor moving to SmackDown is we now have two midcard champions on the Blue Brand. That’s kinda weird. Lars Sullivan and Buddy Murphy are welcome additions to SmackDown Live, which is great because Murphy is lowkey one of my favorite cruiserweights in 205 Live. And during the Supplemental Shake-Up, we got Chad Gable, Apollo Crews, Heavy Machinery, Mickie James, and Liv Morgan. Out of all of them, I’m more hyped to see Gable come back as a singles guy and Morgan as a solo competitor. And hey, how could I forget Elias?

SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: Say what you will about the Superstar Shake-Up format, this year’s edition really did a number on WWE’s status quo. This ain’t the same old draft episodes where they just scrambled the midcard. And for the first time in years, I actually want to watch RAW again. As for the Blue Brand, let’s just try to stay positive for now. And hey, it’s not like this week’s show was terrible. It’s actually good that I’d probably give it a strong A.

RunDown CutDown

  • Who knew we needed Kevin Owe… er, Big O as an honorary member of The New Day? He definitely stole the show this week, his crappy Snapmare finisher that closed their six-man tag match be damned. Still not convinced that the good guy Owens act is working, though. I’ll give it a few more weeks. 
  • We got three solid matches this week, the best one being Charlotte Flair vs. Carmella. I’m so glad we didn’t lose both women. Interestingly, Carmella—who was the last overall draft pick in 2016—is the only remaining SmackDown Live original since the revival of the brand split. Now that’s dope.
  • And since we’re talking statistics, The Miz is the only Superstar to get drafted to different brands every year. He’s like a ping pong ball being bounced around between the two shows. Neat.
  • I swear I will unconditionally hate whoever’s behind those creepy doll vignettes. If that’s Bray Wyatt, I hate him now.
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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