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    Thursday, November 30, 2017

    SmackDown RunDown Live (11/28/17): On Changing Landscapes

    The answer is hell no! It’s another edition of SmackDown RunDown Live and since you’re probably reading this on Bonifacio Day, let’s all kick back and dissect what happened on this week’s episode of SmackDown Live. Let’s get down to it before they add another ‘T’ to Ruby Riott’s name.

    The tension between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan intensifies

    In place of a potential disgruntled employees storyline for Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, we seem to be getting a power dispute angle between SmackDown Live’s authority figures instead. And you know what, I kinda like it. I normally don’t enjoy managers and commissioners getting the spotlight—it’s all about the wrestlers, dammit!—but this one I can excuse, particularly due to its interesting implications. For one, we don’t really know who among the two will turn heel: the well-meaning but impulsive Commissioner or the level-headed yes man (you know what I mean) General Manager.

    Judging by D-Bry’s actions last week and his defiance this week, it’s safe to say that he’s the one turning heel, right? Bryan will probably instruct Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens to get rid of Shane, allowing D-Bry full control of the roster and simultaneously forming a pro-indie heel faction. Sounds bad-ass, I know. Or what if Shane has had enough of Bryan’s constant meandering and just fires and punishes anyone against him, making him a heel authority figure just like his father and sister? Pretty exciting stuff, right? These are the types of storylines I enjoy the most, the ones that will keep you guessing just when you thought you’ve seen it all.

    Also, this continuing management tension also brought us an awesome main event where Randy Orton beat the shit out of Kevin Owens, only for the latter to pick up the win. These two got physical real quick. The nasty headbutts Orton gave Owens, followed by a thunderous superplex made me worry for both men’s health. And then there’s the Orton backbreaker through the table with the monitors and cables still uncleared. Owens almost hit a monitor on his way down. Jeez. I didn’t know Orton cared so much about his Survivor Series winning streak. Sami Zayn’s technically-legal interference was the perfect way to cap off the match. It was stellar from start to finish.

    The Riott Squad’s in-ring debut report: They were okay, I guess...

    It was only a matter of time before these recent NXT call-ups step foot in the ring and it caught me off guard that this would be the week. I thought they would reserve it for the next PPV, but whatevs, the Riott Squad gained their first victory on SmackDown Live. So how did they do? As a heel group, they kinda sucked.

    Let me elaborate. Their pre-match backstage interview was terrible. Ruby Riott was okay. She has a natural heel swagger going on and was clearly the anchor of the segment. Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan, on the other hand, not so much. I’ll have to go back to my complaint last week. Why are these women heels? Liv Morgan was too cute and bubbly to be considered evil, while Sarah Logan’s adorable Southern accent failed to send shivers down my spine. But to be fair, the ladies of SmackDown Live didn’t really do well, either. The exchange between Naomi, Natalya, and Charlotte was probably the most unnatural dialogue I have ever heard in months. It’s like watching a goddamn school play.

    Anyway, we can probably excuse the Riott Squad’s mic work since it’s their second day as heels. What I can’t excuse is their lack of aggression in the ring. Their movesets were pretty much the same back when they were still babyfaces and you could actually sense the stage fright from Logan and Morgan. I guess being in the big leagues overwhelmed them a bit. All three of them need more combative and powerful moves, especially Riott, who clearly needs to ditch that overhead kick. If you can’t be mean or intimidating in the mic, at least be assertive and hostile in the ring. On the positive side, props for brutalizing Naomi at ringside. That right there is a great heel move.

    Some Blue Brand Vibes and Blues—Live!

    Vibe: I’m loving these AJ Styles and Jinder Mahal segments! This week was no different as the Phenomenal One faced the Singh Brothers in a weird tornado tag handicap match, but whatevs. Styles still won via an impressive Styles Clash from the second rope. This segment seamlessly highlighted both Jinder Mahal’s cunning and ruthless side and I’m just glad Creative now has a clear idea of what they want Jinder to be. And don’t worry, I’m pretty sure this isn’t a goodbye for the Singh Brothers. Jinder’s just throwing a massive tantrum and his loyal subjects were just at the unfortunate place, a perfect display of his ruthlessness. More consistent and solid promos like this, please!

    Vibe: My boy Mojo Rawley just turned heel, you guys! It took them a while, but they eventually got there and it’s a good thing Mojo was the one who turned. The energetic crowd also made the heel turn more impactful than it actually was. He’ll definitely get a bigger fanbase out of this turn and my prophecy of him being the next Cena will finally come true. Meanwhile, the Bludgeon Brothers are slowly becoming my second-favorite tag team on SmackDown Live, next to the Usos. I finally get what they want to achieve with their weird finisher. They just need to hoist their prey faster to make it look legit. I think they struggled last week because Mojo is heavier.

    Vibe: The New Day scored a win over American Alpha 2.0 in a fun little tag match. The Usos on commentary made the match better. I get that they’re faces now—tweeners if you’re still in denial—and you’ll hear no complaints from me since they are charismatic enough to play around their roles. The question now is who among the tag team division is credible enough to feud with them. I sure hope SmackDown Live sign more heel tag teams in the future.

    Meanwhile, I’m not sure where the New Day will go from here. They don’t seem to have a storyline for Night of Champions. Are they really going to break this team up? I hope not. I know they have nothing left to do, but I still want them to stick around and elevate new tag teams in the near future, you know?

    Blue: Another miss from the Fashion Files people. It was short and almost had nothing to offer. Corey Graves’ reaction before the segment would’ve been funny, but after watching this week’s skit, I can’t help but agree with Corey on this one. Sorry, Breezango.

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: This week’s episode was one of those shows where the crowd adds to the quality of the product. Everyone popped really hard for almost all the matches and segments—even Mojo’s very predictable heel turn looked like a bigger deal because of their reactions. And I’m glad SmackDown Live didn’t disappoint this energetic crowd that much. There are some things to improve but overall, SmackDown Live deserves a B+ from me.

    Did you enjoy this week’s SmackDown Live? How many outfit changes can Liv Morgan actually have per episode? Add more letters to your fave wrestlers’ names at the comments below. “SANDATTA” sounds really cool and lame at the same time. It’s fucking weird.


    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 (11/28/17): On Changing Landscapes Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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