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    Thursday, June 21, 2018

    SmackDown RunDown Live (6/18/18): It’s Rusev Day, Yes It Is!

    I guess I’m too late to join the intertextuality party, but let me throw in my two cents anyway.

    No one is arguing that you can't be intellectual with your wrestling. You have the freedom to break down a match to bits if that’s your thing. But every time you decide to share your thoughts and comments, you also place yourself on the pedestal and you should also be prepared to eloquently defend your position. Why? Because you're the fool who wants to be all academic in a sport where people without pants fight for a belt.

    So don't cry about your opinions not being respected. Your opinion—no matter how much production went to it—will always be open to criticism from the people you're criticizing, their fans, and literally anyone else who wants to chime in. Just like you have the right to express your opinion about the country's pro wrestling scene, the pro wrestling scene also has the right to correct you, especially when you weren’t even there in the first place. It's that simple.

    Criticize to make something better, not to belittle. Alright, let’s start the damn column. 

    Rusev Day Dominates the Gauntlet

    The Blue Brand is already a master at producing quality main events at this point, and this week was no exception. Aren’t you glad it wasn’t a Fatal 5-Way like they always do when they’re looking for a new #1 contender? Every matchup from the gauntlet was great, but my favorite was obviously Daniel Bryan vs. Samoa Joe since this is the closest thing we have to a legitimate one-on-one encounter between the two. It was as hard-hitting and vicious as I imagined. D-Bry vs. Big E was a banger, too. You know E meant business when he had no qualms with sacrificing his body just to spear you through the ropes.

    Speaking of D-Bry, I didn’t really get how he was able to push the Bludgeon Brothers’ buttons. They attacked Bryan simply because he interrupted their exit? It’s not even his fault then, blame the sound guy! But I’ll be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by this. Let’s just hope they can justify another excuse to delay The Miz/Daniel Bryan storyline. I’m pretty sure everyone will already lose interest come WrestleMania, except maybe for a few faithful followers. At least Miz got to pin Bryan in the gauntlet so that’s one seed planted. SmackDown Live is such a tease.

    And finally, Rusev received the biggest opportunity of his career! I was actually hoping for Samoa Joe to win this one because if I can’t have a proper Bryan/Joe storyline, I might as well get my fix with a surefire classic Styles vs. Joe. But hey, Rusev’s one hell of a choice! I am so relieved Creative finally listened. Hopefully, Rusev can prove to everyone that he’s more than just a meme. I also hope this isn’t happening just because he threatened to leave or something.

    I personally believe he’s cut for the main event; all he needed was a chance. This week, on a glorious Rusev Day of course, he finally got one. It was an exciting final match, too. Who knew Miz and Rusev had an enjoyable chemistry? Miz was all tactics and experience but Rusev’s machka mentality allowed him to beat the former champ and grab the #1 contendership. Styles vs. Rusev should be a fun program and with Aiden English in tow, who knows what’s going to happen? Brace yourself for more awfully awesome songs!

    Becky’s on Fire, Ellsworth Returns

    SmackDown Women’s Champion Carmella survived Asuka at MITB thanks to her trusty sidekick James Ellsworth and this week, ‘Mella made sure you knew about it. Did I mention James Ellsworth is back? Because he totally is. I can’t help but wonder why they let him go in the first place. I guess we’re just going to forget how the entire women’s division kicked the living shit out of him last year before his release. I guess they had to bring him back to help Carmella get more heel heat since everyone actually likes her too much.

    Speaking of MITB, anyone else felt like Becky Lynch should’ve won the briefcase instead? I’m not hating on Alexa Bliss, but it seems like Creative can’t convince everyone Alexa’s a legitimate threat when she’s not carrying a belt. Becky definitely needed a win, so I’m glad they gave her one this week in a good rebound match against Billie Kay. It would’ve been better if Becky adopted a more aggressive moveset to sell her growing frustrations, or if they’re planning to do something about it.

    SAnitY Invades SmackDown Live... Kinda

    SAnitY finally made their debut after smarks kept asking where they were, and it was okay, I guess. That’s really all I could say about it. We now have two monster tag teams on the roster. Other than a third man, what exactly separates SAnitY from the Bludgeons? They both ramble about chaos and destruction, they both cut promos in the darkest part of the arena somewhere, and they both have vague origins.

    The fact that both teams had back-to-back segments this week certainly didn’t help SAnitY stand out. But I guess I’m being too unfair to Eric Young and company. Maybe they’ll flesh out SAnitY’s characters in the coming weeks—something they didn’t do with Harper and Rowan—and I’m always open to be proven wrong. Until then, consider me neutral towards the Bludgeon Extended Family.

    The Fall of Shinsuke Nakamura

    Let me just dedicate a few paragraphs for Shinsuke Nakamura because I just can’t take him seriously now. I get that he just had a classic Last Man Standing match with AJ Styles at MITBtheir best match ever—but still, he lost in a match he himself picked. He can’t win high-profile matches, even after turning heel! And him gunning for the United States Championship is supposed to fix that? He couldn't even get the job done back when Kevin Owens was champion. 

    And if by some miracle he ends up dethroning Jeff Hardy, so what? They invested so much in Nakamura—top guys like Orton and Cena put him over, he had countless opportunities to be the WWE Champion, and he’s a Royal Rumble Winner for crying out loud—and all he’ll have to show for it is a measly United States Championship? I’m not necessarily saying the U.S. title is a downgrade, but consider his accolades, accomplishments, and the overall hype they generated for him as context. Tell me it’s not a downgrade for him.

    Creative should write Nakamura off TV for a while, even for a few months. They have to regroup and make everyone care for this man again. Turn him back into a babyface if they have to. Because he can be creepy and chilling all he wants, but he’s basically another Bray Wyatt at this point—all talk (or in his case, all mannerisms) and no bite. On a lighter note, Hardy’s patented rambling-with-face-paint-on type of promos is making a comeback and I love it!

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: SmackDown Live once again sent everyone home happy with an awesome main event. That’s all I really need to justify giving this episode a high grade. A whole lot of new possibilities and storylines unfolded in a span of two hours and except from seeing one of the biggest wrestling stars in the world lose his credibility, everything seems to be on the right track. And let’s not forget about Rusev finally getting a fair shot at a world title! Obviously, this show scored another A.

    Some Blue Brand Blues That Didn’t Make It

    • So the Usos are just gatekeepers now? Cool, cool. They’re just too over to be jobbers and that’s a total damn shame. I get that the goal is to put SAnitY over and needlessly beating nameless jobbers won’t really help in distinguishing themselves from the Bludgeons. I just can’t help but be sad for ma boys.

    • So tell me, what happened to the mini-rivalry between Andrade “Cien” Almas and Sin Cara? What, you didn’t know they were feuding? Exactly.
    • So I guess everyone on commentary’s still calling D-Bry’s finisher “The Knee.” C’mon, Phillips. Don’t be a Michael Cole clone. Do better. 
    • “I’ll show you what loss means!” *plants Nakamura with Dirty Deeds*
    Photos from WWE.com


    Ricky Jay Publico (@NitPickRick) is a wrestling fan who enjoys watching high flyers and brawlers battle it out in the ring. A frequent 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 (6/18/18): It’s Rusev Day, Yes It Is! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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