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    Thursday, July 13, 2017

    SmackDown RunDown Live (7/11/17): The Face that Runs the States

    Ghost aliens! We’re two weeks away from the Xenophobia-ridden PPV known as Battleground and things are certainly picking up for the Blue Brand. We had a title change at a house show last week and it had everyone buzzing for more. I kinda wish it was the WWE Championship though. Anyway, let’s get down to it.

    AJ Styles just made the U.S. Championship great again

    Yup, you heard it right. AJ Styles is the new United States Champion after pinning Kevin Owens at a house show at MSG. Did it bother me that Styles didn’t win the title at a PPV? Not really. I can understand the logic behind this move. We’ve been treating house shows as non-canon events that it’s easy to forget that anything can still happen in the WWE, televised or otherwise. Plus, it was a great way to create buzz. Twitter blew up when Styles was announced as the new U.S. Champion and it made everyone tune in to the next episode to see what was going to happen next. So yeah, don’t be too pissed about it. If you’re an AJ Styles fan, rejoice! This isn’t a form of demotion or a lack of faith from the company, it’s actually the opposite.

    And with that awesome victory and the buzz it created, Styles raised the value of the United States Championship to an upper midcard level. Hell, it’s even more important than the Intercontinental Championship currently stuck in a never-ending and already stale Miz-Ambrose rivalry. Styles even nailed it this week as he opened the show and reintroduced the U.S. Open Challenge. Now I’m hyped for the following weeks as he follows the John Cena route. If Cena produced great matches with the likes of Neville and Cesaro, how epic would the matches be now that Styles is the one hosting the open challenge? I definitely want to see a Styles vs. Gable rematch or the Styles vs. Ziggler III we never got. Hype!

    Speaking of Cena, he was the first guy to answer the call and it would’ve been a poetic way to start the phenomenal open challenge. But alas, it was too good to be true as Kevin Owens and Rusev crashed the match before it even began. No worries, though, as Styles and Cena got the last laugh by beating both guys in the tag team main event. It was a pretty standard match that teased a Styles/Cena clash coming, possibly at SummerSlam. While it’s a blockbuster rivalry, I still think both men don’t need each other right now. Cena needs to be part of another program while Styles can defend his title against Shinsuke Nakamura to make every smark on the planet explode with excitement and, sure, to elevate the United States Championship further.

    Some Blue Brand Vibes and Blues—Live!

    Vibe: Are you sick of the constant 5-way or 6-way matches from the women of SmackDown Live? I think it’s a good thing, really. I would prefer these types of matches over 6-man tags that clump all the women together. I like how the Blue Brand handles the challenge of providing every woman with enough exposure every episode, and this week’s no different. I guess there’s a brewing rivalry between Charlotte and Lana. Can the latter hang with the Queen of WWE? And is Lana the replacement of Carmella in that little committee of theirs? I sure hope not. Why is the committee even still a thing?

    Vibe: Jinder Mahal defeated Tye Dillinger in a quick exhibition match. I’m giving this a Vibe because I’m just relieved they’re not giving up on Tye just yet. He should be a constant presence on SmackDown Live, together with Chad Gable. Jinder continues to impress in the ring, but his promo skills still suck. It’s like listening to an old, asthmatic man ramble about his days in the war. Seriously, watch a Jinder promo, close your eyes, and try not to form that mental image as you hear him say he’s the Modern Day Maharaja.

    Vibe: Breezango is back at it again with their silly skits, this time with a Walker Texas Ranger theme. I like how they managed to keep themselves relevant by keeping their segments fresh and not rehashing their jokes too much. Who cares if they hit or miss, everyone seem to love their stuff anyway. I also appreciate the way they sneaked in the rift between Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder in this wacky segment. They should do this more often, interjecting two storylines into one nifty segment. It should be fine for guys like Luke Harper to receive some exposure, even for just a few minutes.

    Blue: The modern-day Rated-R Superstar bested Jey Uso in a match in which their counterparts were ejected from ringside. Don’t get me wrong, the match itself was fine. I just feel like Creative’s not giving the Usos a single win to make them a threat to the New Day. They couldn't even give Jey an easy victory this week. He could’ve at least cheated to beat Xavier or something. If the Usos somehow win at Battleground, I’d be really pissed. If you’re going to crap on the current tag champs, at least strip them of the belts before they drag the prestige of the titles down with them.

    Blue: I feel like the Baron Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura match should’ve happened tonight. They could've ended it with a double count-out or something, but at least give both men enough time to tell their story. I feel like we’re done with the sneak attacks, we can move ahead to unresolved rubber matches on free TV and then cap it off with a brutal PPV match. The way they are progressing this rivalry doesn’t really stand out compared to the main storylines we have right now. I even forgot to mention that they had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it backstage fight last week that’s a bit “meh” when we could easily have a star-making angle for both men.

    Blue: Why was the Sami Zayn-Kanellises (Kannellisi?) segment cringey? Everything felt forced. If you really want to attack the guy who’s been interrupting your canoodling for weeks, why decide to confront him a week after? Maria looking for Sami didn’t make any sense. And when Sami came to the couple’s presence, why wait for his explanation? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on this story. I’m actually interested how this one will play out. I just can’t help but be the #NitPickRick kind of guy and suggest a better way to produce this segment. They could’ve just made Sami interrupt the lovers in another coincidence, then have the lovers finally snap and attack him, logically setting the rivalry on course. Now the Kannellises have a logical reason to bash his head with a vase, painting the couple as the unreasonable yet dominant heels.

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: If you were compelled to watch this week’s episode just to see how AJ Styles will fare as the new U.S. Champion, then SmackDown Live didn’t disappoint at all. Styles took the title and brought it to the upper midcard scene. Also this week, we finally saw him as the top babyface he truly is by being paired with the former face of WWE. Other than the tag team main event, this show was a bit uneventful. It wasn’t entirely bad, but compared to last week’s riot of a show, this week’s show failed to deliver. Still, SmackDown Live deserves a good grade, a B, perhaps.

    Did you enjoy this week’s SmackDown Live? What do you think happened to Fandango’s beloved horse? Craft James Ellsworth a brand new demand letter 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 (7/11/17): The Face that Runs the States Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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