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    Thursday, January 11, 2018

    SmackDown RunDown Live (1/9/18): The One with the Sarcasm-Hating GM

    Shooosh! Another week of SmackDown Live came and went. As always, your boy #NitPickRick has to sit down and crack some crappy insights for you people. Look what my passion for pro-wrestling is making me do. Anyway, business is picking up for the Blue Brand and the card for Royal Rumble keeps stacking up, so let’s start picking apart this episode, shall we?

    Daniel Bryan ushers in an interesting take on the heel GM

    I finally figured out why Daniel Bryan turning heel bothered me. Considering how D-Bry worked hard to get to the WWE, how he fought the brass to become a world champion, and how he gathered a massive fanbase from his legendary career both in WWE and in the indies, here’s a question I think anyone, including Creative, can’t answer: how do we convince the crowd to boo Daniel Bryan?

    As I pointed out last week in my review, Bryan’s controversial booking for the WWE Championship can’t be explained by a babyface GM. That’s a clear heel GM move if I ever saw one. I was expecting he’ll get more boos the next time he appears, but no. He was still as celebrated as he was when he was still active. Just look at his segment with Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin. He was clearly acting like a heel by siding with management, but the crowd cheered him on anyway. Although to be fair, maybe it’s because American Alpha 2.0 are heels. His treatment of the heel team was a bit confusing, given that he himself is also heel now.

    Or maybe Bryan’s trying to develop a unique, heel-ish, no-nonsense GM character who firmly believes he’s advocating the vision of fairness in the Land of Opportunity, but just like any other delusional heels before him, he’ll be way above his head and start making questionable decisions. Giving in to AJ Styles’s sarcasm was a good example, and this week, he awarded Gable’s snarky remark with a 2-out-of-3 Falls match at the Royal Rumble. It’ll be a slow burn, and he definitely won’t choose a side. He’ll be a dick towards anyone who tries to be a wise-ass or undermine his authority. I’m not sure if this was intentional or just born out of coincidence, or maybe I’m just reading into something that’s likely not there. 

    Pick your poison, but I’m definitely on board with this character progression. It may not garner Bryan the boos that he (or WWE, if you believe the theory that they want the people to boo Bryan on his way out of the company) expects from the crowd, but this character is a great send-off for D-Bry if he decides to not re-sign. His last contribution to the WWE mythos, if you will. If my assessment is correct, Bryan will definitely use this week’s main event as leverage in justifying his WWE Championship booking at the Royal Rumble. This will be an evidence of Shane’s impulsiveness and abusive tendencies that will probably lead to his suspension, allowing Bryan to take over as acting commissioner. That’s a bit of a stretch on my part, but I’ll be damned if it did happen.

    U.S. Title Tourney: Mojo Rawley tramples Zack Ryder to advance

    Basically, all Mojo Rawley needed to do to advance was show up on TV. Think about it, it’s been two months since both Mojo and Zack Ryder appeared inside a SmackDown Live ring. That’s depressing if you ask me, considering how Mojo had been uploading TV-worthy promos on social media like they're nothing. His lack of TV exposure really slowed down his momentum as a heel, so there was no doubt he’s advancing to the semi-finals. My guess is that Ryder will cost Mojo his match with Bobby Roode next week, continuing their feud for another three weeks.

    Also, the camera should always zoom in on Jinder Mahal’s face every time he cuts a backstage promo. The camera should zoom in until it reaches the space between his eyebrows. That’s some innovative cinematography right there.

    Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin actually delivered an effective heel promo

    And lastly, let me just commend Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin for their #FreeTheTagTitles promo this week. I know I’m not alone in this, but I was a bit nervous when they announced a talking segment featuring both men. I expected a sea of silence as they try to demand their justice. Thank heavens they did this promo justice. They used every strategy in the heel playbook, and the trick that got them over was when they insulted the sports team of Alabama that I’m not familiar with. Good job, American Alpha 2.0!

    Now what they should do next is find their own style of delivering promos, because it’s hard to see them cut this week’s promo without wondering if the Usos wrote it for them. The pattern was really obvious (Question? Answer. Same question? Different answer), it annoyed me a bit. Maybe make it a lot less obvious next time? Gable has a good mocking voice, I think he should do that more often. I’m going to let this one slide because they got the reaction they wanted, but I really hope American Alpha 2.0 dial it down a notch. For the sake of their branding, of course.

    Some Blue Brand Vibes and Blues—Live!

    Blue: Becky Lynch returned to in-ring action this week with a victory over Ruby Riott. It was a good match but that’s about it. So I guess Becky’s beef with the Riott Squad is over now since she already got some retribution? Now we’re back to square one. No one in the women’s division has an active storyline to work on and that kinda sucks. I wish they figure out a way to get everyone in, or at least hype them up in other ways. I think Creative is already forgetting that we’re going to have a female Royal Rumble in two weeks and making the women matches the most boring part of the show isn’t really helping.

    Blue: Speaking of not helping, what exactly are they doing with Rusev Day? They have this incredibly over duo at their disposal, but they keep on wasting their potential by making them lose all the time. Fine, Rusev Day didn’t get the tag title shot, and fine, they were eliminated from the U.S. Title Tournament, but letting Breezango score a win over them? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Breezango got a win, but at the expense of Rusev? Remember when Triple H told CM Punk that all they needed to do to ge a push is when they connect with the fans? Yeah, not on Road Dogg’s SmackDown Live, apparently.

    Vibe: I know I should be mad about the lack of backstory or motivation from the Bludgeon Brothers, but watching them beat people up is just fun. At least they added a small wrinkle of character to the duo by gauding Konor before planting him with a Hammer Time. Still, it would’ve been great if the Ascension scored a surprise win, even via a quick roll-up. Something to give these guys a little hope, you know?

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: I feel like there’s an uneven distribution of effort in booking the entire show. Creative spared no expense building up the tension between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan while cultivating an interesting storyline for the WWE Championship. Meanwhile, the women of SmackDown Live are just there, wrestling the same trio over and over while wasting guys like Rusev and Aiden English. 'Member when every storyline on SmackDown Live was compelling or entertaining at the very least? I surely member. Here’s another B-. Do whatever you want with it.

    Did you enjoy this week’s SmackDown Live? Is Rusev Rumble just 30 Rusevs impersonating other superstars? I’d pay to see that. Insert your own wacky request 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 (1/9/18): The One with the Sarcasm-Hating GM Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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