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    Thursday, August 23, 2018

    SmackDown RunDown Live (08/21/18) Becky Balboa Breaks Bad

    I’m starting this verbal smackdown of a column with a hot take: WWE doesn’t know how to make true Superstars anymore.

    They can’t do it with Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, or literally anyone else. Whenever they get an opportunity to make a star out of someone, they pass up the opportunity and instead stick to their ironclad plans. All they care about is following their shitty vision, regardless of whether or not the crowd is giving the appropriate reaction.

    “They’re booing Roman Reigns? That’s fine, he’s still the hero. Reform The Shield!”
    “They’re cheering for Becky Lynch? That’s it, she’s the bad guy.”

    WWE is so stubborn that they were able to convince themselves that it doesn’t matter if the crowd hates the product. All that matters is how loud the reactions are. So booing them won’t even change anything, they’ll just chalk it off as “the WWE Universe having fun.” They used it to justify John Cena and now they’re using it to his successor, Roman Reigns. Genius.

    And get this. Even if they somehow managed to create a star, they can’t even decide what to with the guy. Sure, Braun Strowman’s hella over now, but they’re not letting him reach his full potential because they’re too busy kissing Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns’ egos. Strowman should’ve won the Universal Championship a long time ago with how much effort they exerted just to build him up as an unstoppable monster but no, he was easily beaten by Lesnar.

    And how many Roman Reigns spears did it take to pin Lesnar at SummerSlam? Just one. So... 

    Becky Lynch Officially Turns Heel and I Can’t Even ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    As expected, Creative didn’t bother studying the complexities of the gold mine they currently have and just went with whatever’s convenient. They made Becky Lynch the bad guy because she attacked Charlotte Flair, the good guy. Great. Makes sense. Job done. Let’s all go home.

    Except I don’t want to go home because what the fuck is this bullshit? How can you fuck up the best storyline in the entire women’s division? You were doing good when you had Charlotte pin Becky for the win. That was good! Why did you stop there? You know what, don’t answer. I already know WWE isn’t creative enough to execute such storylines. So let’s start dissecting this tragedy of a wasted opportunity.

    The story’s pretty simple. Becky Lynch earned a string of victories and eventually defeated the champion herself to earn her title shot. Charlotte Flair did a lot of media stuff while nursing an injury and the moment she returned, she was handed a title opportunity by Paige and she took it by beating Carmella as well. Becky was visibly pissed, but decided to keep her frustrations at bay until her best friend pinned her to win the title at SummerSlam.

    Reacting to injustice shouldn’t make anyone a villain. If anything, that’s how you build a compelling, down-to-earth babyface anyone can root for. Babyfaces shouldn’t be perfect model citizens incapable of feeling negative emotions. What’s so wrong about adding layers of personality to your cookie-cutter heroes? If you think complicated characters won’t get over, just listen to how the people reacted when Becky slapped the blonde out of Charlotte.

    Everyone loved what Becky Lynch did at SummerSlam. It was probably the biggest pop she ever received. Everyone knew what Becky just went through and they were all behind the protagonist. Creative could’ve used this moment to build her better as a woman of the people, a representative of the oppressed, a symbol of hope that it’s okay to rise up and complain when your right is denied. Instead, they made her out as the sore loser.

    Weren’t you disgusted by Becky Lynch's heel promo? I sure was. The classic heel argument “the people didn’t support me” certainly fell flat when there are fans screaming for joy at the sight of your presence alone. As passionate as the promo Becky wants it to be, her arguments were weak, full of holes, and just plain wrong. It felt so forced and unnatural, she could’ve just said “Please boo for me, I’m the bad guy! Please, I have to be booed or I will get fired.” It’s like asking the crowd to boo world peace.

    You know who else used that excuse? Stone Cold Steve Austin. And now we all know him as one of the greatest heels of all time. What’s that? He totally failed to convince the people that he’s a bad guy because he’s already established as the man of the people and that his heel turn didn’t make any sense in any way you slice it? Huh.

    And spare me the “she agreed to be professional about it so she shouldn’t react that way” argument. It’s not like Becky had a fucking choice. What, is she going to complain to Paige and beg her not to include Charlotte? Of course she won’t! So the best thing she could do was to be professional about it and keep her friendship with Charlotte intact. It doesn’t change the fact that she got screwed over and she has all the right to be pissed about it.

    Since neither one of them were morally wrong, how about we just have them feud as former friends who had a falling out? How about no one turns bad and we just get an intense face vs. face rivalry? Is it really that hard to pull that off? Was it really necessary for Becky to turn against the people just to guide everyone who they should boo? Good luck expecting the crowd to boo their hero.

    Oh well. I guess when you’re in the right and you stood up for yourself, you’re the bad guy. In the end, WWE itself pretty much proved Becky Lynch right. SmackDown Live has indeed become a Land of Handouts. So hooray for Charlotte for being a champion of the masses.

    Samoa Joe Wants To Be A Daddy, I Guess

    Angles revolving around families, wives, and kids always contain within them a slippery slope that can instantly ruin a great rivalry. Using them is okay, I guess, but moderation is always key. Creative should be careful not to get too crazy with it because it only takes one wrong line or two to convert a cool mind game story to a cheap, bestiality sex kind of crap.

    Case in point - Samoa Joe applying to be Wendy Styles’ new daddy. I will admit that I got carried away by the excitement of seeing two of my favorite wrestlers of all time finally square off for a championship worth giving a damn. I didn’t even consider the fact that they might go down this route.

    Since when did Samoa Joe become a master manipulator anyway? I’m pretty sure he never turned face since coming to the main roster. Where was this version of Joe when he was feuding with Brock Lesnar? “Hey Sable! I choked your daddy to sleep, but I can be your daddy!” Like, why is he devastatingly evil all of a sudden? But fine, I guess he’s the new bestiality sex Kurt Angle coated with the sexualized meaning of the word “daddy.” Tsk, millennials.

    And I still don’t get why he wants to be Wendy Styles’ new husband. The fuck is he gonna do, raise four kids? It’s just nonsensical to fight over each other’s wives. I get the appeal though, the psychology behind it and all. I’m just not a big fan of these types of angles, even if they involve two of the greatest wrestlers alive. At least the pacing of the entire storyline is good. Their segment this week is a great example of keeping it short and simple.

    SummerSlam Rematches and Redemptions!

    Aside from my caveats, the rest of the show was great! Let’s talk first about the main event featuring another high-octane performance from The New Day and The Bludgeon Brothers. Even if you knew about Erick Rowan’s injury, you’ll barely notice it because the two big dudes barely held anything back. Rowan even ran injured-arm first through the barricade. Both teams took enough crazy bumps just so they can justify a title change and I love them more for that. Have a speedy recovery, Rowan.

    Speaking of crazy bumps, how about Jeff Hardy hitting Randy Orton with a massive Swanton Bomb? Hardy wasn’t crazy enough to recreate the 20-feet dive he did in 2008, but it’s still a fun callback to their classic rivalry for the WWE Championship. Also, Jeff Hardy is totally a heel now, right? He low-blowed Orton, which is a no-no for babyfaces and then proceeded to viciously attack his opponent. Becky Lynch would be proud.

    And in another SummerSlam rematch, Rusev Day finally avenged their string of losses at the hands of Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega. This time, Aiden English didn’t screw things up, so hooray? I feel like this was their SummerSlam match but for some reason, they decided to change the outcome and have Almas and Vega win on the kick-off. But then they went ahead and did the match anyway, so what’s the point? But fine, I’m just glad the feud within the Rusev Day family is over now.

    Naomi vs. Peyton Royce was supposed to be a filler match, but even that was entertaining enough for the show. The IIconics are always gold on the mic and this week was no exception. And finally, one of them picked up their first win on SmackDown Live! It took them long enough. What I’m worried about is Naomi. Is she in the doghouse or something? Because they barely feature her on the show and when they finally do, it'll be on a losing effort. I don’t get why Creative is trying to bury her.

    And I almost forgot about that explosive opener featuring another masterful parody from The Miz and the bombshell of a match dropped by Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella. This marks the second time the Mizanins are feuding with the Bella clan and their first legitimate rivalry that wasn’t built primarily for a publicity stunt. I’m loving this curveball so far but I’m worried about Maryse and Brie Bella’s ring rust. They have to shake a lot of it and I hope they make it in time for Hell in a Cell. I hope those hilarious Total Bellas skits will make a comeback.

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: Don’t get me wrong, this was a great episode of SmackDown Live. It was packed with a lot of great matches, off-the-wall moments, and a lot of storyline progressions. I just can’t let the negative parts of the show go because I’m #NitPickRick and dammit, I can’t have nice things. Despite my complaints, this was easily the most well-balanced offering SmackDown Live has ever produced. They easily earn an A from me, but man I so want to give them a low grade for screwing Becky Lynch up.

    Some Blue Brand Blues That Didn’t Make it

    • The Good Brothers did a great job channeling their inner Edge and Christian once again. They should really do that more often. 
    • R-Truth for SmackDown Women’s Champion, gender issues be damned! #GiveTruthAChance
    • Nakamerica is the new Mexamerica, but in a good way. 
    • One kid: “I love you Samoa!”
    • Other kid (probably the same kid): “I hate you Samoa!”

    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 (08/21/18) Becky Balboa Breaks Bad Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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