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    Thursday, June 22, 2017

    SmackDown RunDown Live (6/20/17): Damage Control Done Right

    It appears we are in uncharted territory. It’s another edition of SmackDown RunDown Live and good heavens, what a week. Money in the Bank happened and this week, the Blue Brand started to pick up the pieces. Were they able to redeem themselves? Let’s get down to it.

    Daniel Bryan places his foot down by taking Carmella’s MITB briefcase

    Ah yes, the first-ever women’s MITB ladder match. I love it when WWE screws up big time because it gives me a valid reason to unleash my #NitPickRick persona. At the same time, I hate it when WWE screws up big time because, well, they’re frustrating me as a wrestling fan with their stupid antics. Case in point, James Ellsworth grabbing the MITB briefcase last Monday (Manila Time). Do I still need to explain why that sparked some real-life controversy? I’m pretty sure you’ve read hundreds of opinions on social media and online forums so I’ll just give the gist of my problem: a woman should’ve been the one grabbing that briefcase on top of that ladder. Seriously, was that really hard? Is that asking for too much? This was a match that should’ve focused on the moment above any other storyline. As a company that successfully gave us great moments over the years, it’s puzzling how they screwed this one up.

    It’s what heels do. Yes, I’m not being a mark here. I know that heels cheat to win matches. Some of the biggest stars in the WWE are known to cheat, Eddie Guerrero and Edge immediately come to mind. I even understand that the female MITB ladder match was supposed to be Carmella’s golden ticket on her journey to become the top heel of the women’s division. If they want her to use the easy way out, every one of us will understand and will boo in cooperation, as long as we see Carmella on top of that ladder raising the briefcase she “rightfully” won. We will know she didn’t, but at least the prestige and the glamour of the historic moment wasn’t tarnished because she will be the sole responsible for doing the dirty work.

    People who hated the finish, and include me on top of that list, aren’t mad because the heel cheated. We’re mad because we could’ve elevated women’s wrestling to new heights. Instead, we advanced a storyline that’s not really worth it. Really? We’re ruining an awesome moment just to advance James Ellsworth’s storyline as the hopeless romantic village idiot? It even negates the reverse patriarchy they’re trying to portray because in the end, the man did all the work instead of the woman manipulating the man so the woman can do the work easily. Am I making sense?

    Carmella addressed the issue in this week’s opening segment and it solidified my theory that Carmella was really the choice to win the historic match. Her promo explaining the controversial method she used to win was also superb. She was showered with boos, but it’s not the kind of boos that affirmed her skill as a heel. The boos came from fans who were offended by the finish. I believe this was their plan from the start—create controversy and tease everyone that D-Bry will reverse the result but he will instead stick to the decision, garnering more heat for the new top heel of SmackDown Live. Again, this would’ve only worked if Carmella was the one who grabbed the briefcase on top of that ladder. But due to the public backlash, Creative had to scratch those plans and restart the match, which is the right freaking call.

    Don’t get me wrong. Any type of rematch won’t change the fact that a chinless dude won the first-ever women’s MITB ladder match. It’s forever set in stone and even if they don’t mention it ever again, that moment will still appear on tacky top 10 lists online or trivia games or whatnot. But look on the bright side, at least Creative avoided a major PR disaster. Letting Carmella keep the briefcase is like a refusal to apologize over the controversy they created. Because again, and I can't stress this enough, the first-ever women's MITB ladder match transcended storylines and gimmicks. The build-up prior to the match screamed "Girl Power!" so not giving the crowd that girl power moment is a huge personal blow for all women who watched the show.

    I feel like they would still have Ellsworth do something for Carmella that will allow her to regain her briefcase and honestly, I won’t care. All they have to do is get this one right. On a side note, Becky Lynch’s backstage segment with Daniel Bryan stuck with me. I guess they were planning to use this controversy to make her snap and turn heel. The Land of Handouts bit really stung.

    Some Blue Brand Vibes and Blues—Live!

    Vibe: The finish to the first-ever women MITB ladder match was so bad, it made me appreciate Jinder Mahal’s idiotic rise to the main event scene all of a sudden. He even made this seemingly boring storyline personal by involving Randy Orton’s dad, which saw the return of a more aggressive Orton. He’s now back to that I-will-RKO-my-own-grandma phase from years past and I love it! Now I genuinely want to see Orton beat the crap out of Jinder and his family in India. This week’s main event was a glimpse of that as we saw Orton take out the Singh brothers and Jinder himself. How the hell did they hook me into this rivalry? F*ck.

    Vibe: After taking way too many bumps at Monday’s MITB ladder match, I’m surprised Owens is healthy enough to be hosting open challenges, jeez. Anyway, the Face of America Open Challenge is back! This week, Dayton’s one-night resident Chad Gable answered the call and it was a thing of beauty watching Gable planting Owens with multiple German suplexes like he’s nothing. I don’t really get why we’re not seeing the American Alpha lately so this was a nice surprise for me. The FoAOC should be a regular thing and Owens can add stipulations on it to stack the odds in his favor. It’s like Cena’s open challenge but a bit dickish.

    Vibe: Nakamura soundly defeated Dolph Ziggler in their first encounter on free TV and it’s easily their best match together. It was even better than their debut match at Backlash. I don’t understand why Nakamura isn’t gunning for Owens, though. He pinned Owens thrice as we speak, so why is AJ Styles still chasing the U.S. Championship? I think the storylines for these men got lost in the shuffle after MITB. But fine, let’s see where these men go from here, especially Ziggler. We’re still waiting for Styles vs. Ziggler III.

    Blue: The Deput-E who has a big nightstick and is not afraid to use it scored a win over Jimmy Uso, one half of the Uso Penitentiary. While there was nothing wrong with this match in particular, I will still give Creative a hard time for not giving the Usos some legs in this rivalry. Their MITB tag match stole the show on Monday, so why not advance this storyline further by giving the Usos a bone and score a big one over Big E? They better give the twins some momentum next week, or they’ll just end up as a heel tag team for the New Day to beat.

    Blue: The only time we’ll see Tye Dillinger on the main show is during a freaking commercial? Seriously? And the only time we’ll ever see Luke Harper on the main show is during the main event against the WWE Champion? Okay, that sounds way better than a commercial, but still. They need to find something for both men fast, especially Tye Dillinger.

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: What I have to praise about this week’s episode was the way they handled the MITB controversy. Part of me is telling me they should’ve stuck with the decision. I get that restarting the MITB ladder match will devalue the first one and will waste Carmella’s heat, but honestly, I think the more important thing to focus on is to not offend women altogether, so I still think this is the right call. The prestige is definitely gone, but hey, at least we’re getting a monster main event next week. And if you think about it, if Carmella won next week and she cheated in one way or another, she’ll get her heat back. It’s their second chance to get things right and I really hope they’re not dumb enough to repeat them. There were great matches here and there, but I will always remember this as an episode where the spotlight was on the fate of the Women’s Division. That's some good quality breath of fresh air right there. Overall, this week’s episode will receive a strong B.

    Did you enjoy this week’s SmackDown Live? Did you enjoy that cringey moment when Tamina repeated Charlotte’s line? Write me a word-by-word analysis of “Despacito” at the comments below.

    Ricky Jay 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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    Item Reviewed: SmackDown RunDown Live (6/20/17): Damage Control Done Right Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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