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SmackDown RunDown Live (7/16/18): Back And Better Than Ever


As many clever fans have pointed out, we're back to where we were two years ago. Brock Lesnar's the champ again, The Club got reunited, Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon are feuding again, you get the idea. If I were actively hating on WWE, I'd probably agree. Alas, I am not. And after seeing their efforts this week to deliver a fresh-off-the-oven show, I'm inclined to support the current direction the WWE is taking. And with Bischoff in charge, I'm confident things are going to be a-okay.


For instance, Bischoff pretty much solved the problem plaguing the Blue Brand right now. How do you give everyone on the roster some air time? Lump them all up in one segment, of course! I enjoyed the hell out of that town hall segment, partly because I enjoy looking around and seeing fun interactions among the Superstars. Where else can you find gems like these:

  • Carmella standing next to Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville because they're apparently okay now
  • Drew McIntyre and Samoa Joe (both RAW Superstars because of the brand split) chilling at the back
  • Buddy Murphy debuting on SmackDown Live in a rather throwaway segment, giving a whole new meaning to his moniker "The Best Kept Secret"
  • Otis gyrating in the background, as you would expect him to
  • Roman Reigns nailing a perfectly short and badass promo
  • Liv Morgan finally getting some love
And sure, Shane McMahon botched Kevin Owens' Stunner, effectively ruining what was an already great segment, but I'll be the bigger man and look past that. Compared to what they accomplished this week, this was a small, forgivable blemish. But because of that annoying botch, let me focus on the people who finally got to compete on SmackDown Live instead. That storyline is doing fine anyway. I don't really care about them for now.


Right off the bat, we got Aleister Black vs. Cesaro in an Extreme Rules rematch. You know Bischoff and Co. are serious with revitalizing SmackDown Live when they're already bringing out the big guns early on in the show. And congrats to Black on a dominant SmackDown Live debut. I can't wait for him to have a best of seven series with Cesaro that eventually ends up in a draw. Then Shane McMahon rewards them with a tag team title opportunity or something. So fresh.


And hey, did I mention Liv Morgan was here, too? Not only did she stand up to Charlotte Flair, she got to wrestle the Queen herself. It really sucks that they haven't used her on TV in months because she's such a delight to watch. The sad part is that this is the first and probably the last time we'll ever see bubblegum Morgan. Pretty bold of her to announce a gimmick change when we barely saw the current one on SmackDown Live. But hey, I'm still intrigued.


I never thought I'd miss the trope of a babyface champion choosing her own contender, but here we are. I'm really digging Bayley as the SmackDown Women's Champion right now. And sure, Ember Moon probably didn't deserve it, but it's a fresh rivalry, on-brand with the current initiative of WWE. Just take this as a Bayley vehicle. She's being painted as a badass champion picking fights with whomever she wants. Even Becky Lynch doesn't do that.


And hey, is that Asuka and Kairi Sane competing in a SmackDown Live ring? And against the IIconics too, who have been MIA for the past few weeks? Damn, Bischoff is really firing on all cylinders. Remember this week because we actually got three women's matches and they didn't feel forced at all!


And while they're not necessarily new faces, I'm hyped to see Randy Orton chasing the WWE Championship again. Finally, we're getting a proper Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston for the top prize. I'm not even sure if their first rivalry years ago was for the title, but they now have a chance to make things right. Forget Samoa Joe and Elias for a second. Orton and Kofi have lots of history to work on. And yes, I just want to see more RKO frardsfsdfnawers again. Is that too much to ask?

SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: While I did appreciate how they were able to give most of the roster a piece spotlight, I hope the uber-short matches will not become the norm. But enough about that, this week's show was awesome! Tell me you weren't excited to see the guys who rarely get airtime in the past few months finally make their presence known. So yes, keep doing you, Uncle Eric. I'll revive my grading system just for you.

Show Grade: B+

The RunDown CutDown


  • Finally, we get a proper tag team name and entrance for Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville.
  • Someone tell Big E that rematch clauses are now obsolete. I really thought I'd miss it, but I totally don't. New challengers every month, please!
  • I hate how most advertised matches and segments on SmackDown Live don't really happen. But I did enjoy Daniel Bryan's refusal to announce his career-altering venture. Such a power move.
*****


Ricky Publico (@Peepomania) is Smark Henry's resident SmackDown Live reviewer... for better or worse. He also nitpicks PWR shows when no one's available to do so. A known lover of wrestling tournaments, he's a sucker for well-executed promos and fast-paced matches. He has yet to learn how to operate a microwave. Don't judge him.

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