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    Thursday, August 25, 2016

    SmackDown RunDown Live (8/23/16): Make All The Titles Blue!

    I am a god! As much as you despise my guts week after week, here I am again with another edition of SmackDown RunDown Live! This week, new titles have been unveiled and a new challenger emerged. Let’s get down to it.

    Introducing The Brand New SmackDown Belts

    Shane O'Mac and D-Bry opened the show this week to introduce the new belts for the Blue Brand. I'm not sure if the titles are official yet but as of right now, we'll refer to the belts as the SmackDown Tag Team Championship and the SmackDown Women's Championship. I really hope they will change the names of the belts eventually. And please, don't even get me started about the design of the belts. Just a quick warning: get ready for an unnecessary rant.

    Don't get me wrong. I will never disrespect any hardworking wrestler who will step into the ring to fight for the said belts. I actually enjoyed the Balor vs. Rollins match last Sunday at SummerSlam. However, you can't tell me not to care about the belts because it's a huge part of the show. It's really hard to get behind a champion when his belt has a childish and lazy design. I'm not the biggest fan of the current design of the WWE World Championship but it gets a pass because it already has the prestige around it. I also see the point of the Women's Championship being the white version of the men's title. But now, we have four pallette-swapped (world?) titles and two tag titles modeled after coins. I will always cheer for the good title matches. Of course I will. It's just that there is a part of me that will always be disappointed about the prize. Rant over.

    After the introduction of the new belts, the duo announced a huge Six-Pack Challenge to crown the first Blue Women's Champion and a tag team tournament to crown the first Blue Tag Champions, all culminating at Backlash. Heath Slater interrupted the announcements and laid out his plans to win the Wome… I mean, the blue tag titles. Shane O'Bryan gave him yet another chance to be part of the roster but he and a partner must win the entire tournament, thus starting Slater's hilarious quest for a partner.

    AJ Styles Continues His Rise To The Top

    After his huge win over John Cena at SummerSlam, the Phenomenal One is on a major roll and this week, he just became the new contender for the WWE World Championship by defeating Dolph Ziggler.

    Their beef started at the start of the show when AJ Styles walked into the locker room and gloated about his recent victory to the boys, particularly to the obviously depressed Dolph Ziggler. Styles focused his attention to the Z-Man and the two had a scuffle before being separated by the people in the locker room. It's just odd to see Erick Rowan, in his lamb mask, casually talking to Baron Corbin who is apparently not beating up Kalisto this week. Someone repackage the guy already.

    Styles and Ziggler had another brawl after the introduction of the new belts, and finally they had another segment. This time D-Bry broke up the fight and announced a huge main event for the night: it will be AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler and if Ziggler wins, he will be added to the WWE World Championship match at Backlash. The way D-Bryan announced the stipulation was a bit confusing so I assumed AJ Styles is in the title match at Backlash even if he loses. I guess that’s what you get when you successfully #BeatUpJohnCena.

    Main event time and the two had a great match, no doubt about it. They really pushed the idea that Ziggler is in desperate mode, that his moves have become more aggressive ever since he lost to Ambrose. I like the direction they are going with here. Ziggler's heel turn is just around the corner and it will be a sweet payoff once he finally turns. But for now, he was on the receiving end of a Styles Clash as AJ Styles picks up the win. This is probably the only logical step after his SummerSlam victory. Now that he's done proving his worth, let's start giving him some gold.

    Some Blue Brand Vibes and Blues—Live!

    This week was kind of a big deal, actually. New titles were introduced, a tournament kicked off, and a snake talked to a god; this week's episode was kind of packed. As always, Vibe = Up and Blue = Down. Let's begin!

    Vibe: The tag team tournament began this week with two very predictable matches. The Usos were the first to advance by defeating the Ascension. American Alpha followed suit by defeating Breezango. In all fairness, Breezango didn't look like complete chumps while the Ascension—well, they always lose—how you doin'? It's safe to say that American Alpha will win the blue tag titles, unless of course Heath Slater pulls off an upset.

    Vibe: Meanwhile, two participants of the Six Pack Women's Challenge made their presence felt as Becky Lynch avenged her loss against Alexa Bliss via the Disarm-Her and Carmella attacked Nikki's neck from behind. I didn’t really expect a double turn but hey, we got it. Carmella is now heel and Nikki is now face after two days of being heel. Anyway, I'd like Becky to be the first Blue Women's Champion, unless of course Nikki pulls off an upset.

    Blue: It's actually a relief to see Randy Orton back up again. Wait, that's not the Blue part yet. Their match last Sunday was hard to watch, not because of the blood, but because it was basically a glorified squash match. Orton addressed what happened last Sunday before he was interrupted by Bray Wyatt. The Eater of Worlds exposed Orton's humanity and he proclaimed himself a god. I smell a rivalry coming. Wyatt should've stuck with Ziggler though. Wyatt would be the perfect guy to extract Ziggler's heel persona. With Orton, Wyatt will definitely lose again. I’m not sure if Orton would put Bray over, but I’m pretty sure they would like to raise Orton stocks after what happened on SummerSlam. There, that's the Blue part.

    Backstage Segment of the Night: Heath Slater finds a tag team partner

    For the second straight week, Heath Slater wins the segment of the night. Slater tried asking AJ Styles, The Miz, and even Arn Anderson to be his partner, but in the end, Rhyno volunteered himself to be Slater's partner. It may or may not end well, but I'm okay with the Slater-Rhyno pair. Besides, they already share a connection through above ground pools. It's something.

    Although if my jurisdiction as a SmackDown reviewer can stretch to Talking Smack, segment of the night—and possibly segment of the year—goes to the heated confrontation between Daniel Bryan and The Miz. This segment blurred the lines between work and shoot and it probably sparked a debate about being a soft and hard wrestler. Personally, both men have valid points, I just think Daniel Bryan had no right to disrespect The Miz like that. Their styles differ, sure, but that doesn’t mean one is more coward than the other. Miz has improved a lot over the years and he may not be a high-risk wrestler, but that clearly gives him the ability to perform every week. So yeah, I’m on Miz’ side. Let’s start the debate. I have my popcorn ready.

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: This week's episode was certainly a big deal. It introduced us to the new belts exclusive to the Blue Brand (they suck, but whatever, new gold!), we have a new challenger for Dean Ambrose's WWE World title in the form of the Phenomenal One, and we have great promos here and there. For their great effort this week, SmackDown Live gets a well-deserved A.

    Did you enjoy this week's SmackDown Live? Who's your pick for the first Blue Women's Champion? Sound off at the comments below and please, don't walk out. Thanks.

    Photos from WWE.com


    Ricky Jay Publico 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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    Item Reviewed: SmackDown RunDown Live (8/23/16): Make All The Titles Blue! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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