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    Thursday, March 1, 2018

    SmackDown RunDown Live (2/27/18): Super Cena Saves The Day

    Do you still hate/dislike/mildly abhor John Cena? This isn’t a trick question or anything. I’m just genuinely curious. I understand why we used to hate on the guy; it’s actually the same reason we hate Roman Reigns nowadays. And no, the “polarizing” chants he gets doesn’t count as hate because I’m pretty sure that’s just tradition at this point, just like the respectful “You Suck!” chants Kurt Angle. I actually sang along to a “John Cena sucks!” chant when WWE came here, but not because I hate him. It just felt right, you know?

    What I’m asking is that do you still hate Cena in 2018, the same way you hated him when he was still the shovel-carrying Super Cena? Cena was still part of the first two main events of the year and now that he’s going to be part of yet another PPV main event, does that bother you the same way it bothers you that Reigns will be headlining WrestleMania for the fourth year in a row? I won’t judge you if you still do. I’m just checking because he’s going to dominate this column and I don’t want to turn you off or anything. So, we good?

    John Cena provides the quick fix SmackDown Live needed

    John Cena’s return to the Land of Opportunity is booking genius. Think about it, SmackDown Live’s in a bit of a slump, right? Since cooking up a new storyline will take weeks to develop, they went ahead and and fixed the Blue Brand’s other problem—the lack of marquee names. And voila, we got John Cena, and everything actually made sense! It’s as if Cena was the missing piece of the puzzle in making the Fastlane event bigger than it already is.

    Before you chalk this up as another classic Super Cena move, consider this: Out of all the contenders for the WWE Championship, Cena has the most dynamic storyline going into Fastlane. This is probably the first in a long time Cena had to work this hard just to secure a match for WrestleMania. His place in the card used to be a shoe-in, but now, he’s treated like everyone else below him. After failing hard on RAW, he now sets his sights on SmackDown Live and it’s only a matter of time before he realizes how the business he once ruled over has moved on without him. He’ll probably get a match, but he’ll have to provoke someone like the Undertaker out of frustration. And to be honest, this is also the first in a long time I’ve actually enjoyed a John Cena story arc. 

    In a twist no one saw coming, Cena made SmackDown Live great again. His return actually brought us a PPV-worthy main event! When’s the last time we ever saw one? Cena and AJ Styles produced yet another instant classic, a match that featured great storytelling and exciting action. Cena’s desperation made him pull out all the stops—even attempting a shitty Tornado DDT just for the lulz and unnecessarily putting AJ Styles through the announcer’s table—to show what he’s willing to do for a WrestleMania spotlight. And we all got to see it on free TV. How awesome was that?

    Cena’s exciting energy somehow rubbed off on everyone. Just look at this week’s version of Dolph Ziggler. For the first time in months, Ziggler actually looked formidable, sneak-attacking everyone and standing tall in the end. And imagine how Cena’s addition will benefit AJ Styles. Beating five of the best Superstars the Blue Brand has to offer will give him a truckload of momentum when he enters WrestleMania as the WWE Champion. And the one who will benefit the most? Shinsuke Nakamura. If he beats Styles after a 5-star match at WrestleMania, who knows how high Nakamura will soar. And who will we thank for all these scenarios? John Cena, the guy who refused to put over Wade Barrett and a lot of red-hot newbies during his prime.

    This week’s episode also hosted a contender for the best promo of the week. And it came from the tag division, of all places. It doesn’t matter that we’ve seen this match before. The Usos and the New Day did a fantastic job reigniting the flame of their classic rivalry. If they’re going to burn each other with verbal firepower every week, let them fight forever, damn it! Also I love how menacing the Bludgeon Brothers were. That promo was so damn perfect for me and I can’t help but notice how this all happened when Cena returned this week. He probably had nothing to do with it, but screw it, I’ll still give him credit.

    And look at the changes Cena’s return brought this week. He actually prompted Shinsuke Nakamura to be in action! And thanks to him, the Shane McMahon-Daniel Bryan storyline actually progressed, if only by an inch or two. Bryan finally reacted to Shane’s hirits by walking out on him. That’s something, right? And how about that pseudo-Fashion Files segment? They actually had to wait for someone like John Cena to make all these things happen? I’m pretty sure they could’ve done these without anyone’s help, but fine.

    Love him or hate him, you just have to give it up for the man. He is indeed the OG franchise player, able to boost a show’s overall quality to a T. Thanks for saving SmackDown Live from falling off the radar. I wish he’d stay longer even after WrestleMania, but that’s probably asking for too much.

    So how did the Blue Brand do this week? I’m so relieved I didn’t have to wait for the go-home show to witness an exciting episode of SmackDown Live. Who knew all the Blue Brand needed to keep things going was a visit from our old pal John Cena? It’s the first time in months since I gave SmackDown Live a high grade, and by all means, everyone deserved it this week. Enjoy the A, everyone!

    Some Blue Brand Thoughts That Didn’t Make It

    • The one division Cena failed to improve was the women’s. I mean, at least their storyline is making a little sense. Now Ruby Riott and Charlotte Flair each have two victories over each other’s squads. Good for them, I guess, but I can’t find any other reason to be invested further. Becky Lynch challenged Carmella to a match next week, so that’s something to look forward to. 
    • Joke of the Night: "Hey Corbin, if you're looking for your hairline, it's right on top of your head." - Kevin Owens
    • Rusev Day is so over, the crowd cheered even after Aiden trashed their city.
    • I'm still fascinated by Cena's Code Red, not because of the move itself but the man doing it. How can a muscle-bound man like Cena execute a Code Red like he’s Rey Mysterio?
    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 (2/27/18): Super Cena Saves The Day Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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