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    Thursday, August 16, 2018

    SmackDown RunDown Live (8/14/18): Well, They Were Professional

    I thoroughly enjoyed SmackDown Live’s four-week build for this year’s SummerSlam. It was a master class of balancing the right amount of storytelling and wrestling to produce solid episodes while hyping an upcoming PPV. Every storyline was well taken care of. Even the kick-off rivalry was given enough airtime to develop. I mean, why bother, right?

    But they still did because that’s what SmackDown Live does best—they freaking care. I know I sound like a broken record, but whatever, it’s the truth anyway.

    SummerSlam Hype: Build, Build, Build

    The highest praise obviously has to go to their treatment of the AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe storyline. It’s a huge dream match anyway, so they chose to keep it simple by keeping them away from each other and letting them trade verbal jabs at each other’s families. It’s a genius setup because it advanced their storyline without needing any physicality from the two, so all hell can break loose come SummerSlam.

    And finally, their storyline got a main event treatment! Styles and Joe had another excellent exchange as Joe continued to get under Styles’ skin via a fake letter from Styles’ wife. First of all, who still writes a letter by hand? Joe should’ve read it from his phone or something. But still, it was a nice wrinkle to their back and forth about family and being a champion. When you've got a great story that writes itself, almost any creative idea will work. And the fact that the show just ended after Joe read the letter was great. It put me at the edge of my seat.

    SmackDown Live
    earned more points for their three-part documentary series on the storied rivalry between The Miz and Daniel Bryan. Man, I didn’t realize they’ve been going at it for eight years now. I feel old! I’m a sucker for dual morality storylines and the documentary did a great job illustrating their differences, but does this mean they’re going to play the entire documentary as their pre-match video package? I hope not. Let’s just get to the fighting already.

    Meanwhile, the Blue Brand’s tag team division provided the exciting parts of the show as The Bludgeon Brothers had another fun squash match, while The New Day once again took home match of the night—this time against SAnitY. Screw storylines with this one, I guess. Their strategy is to go bonkers at SummerSlam and hopefully steal the show like they always do.

    Then there’s the brewing drama between future former BFFs (tea-mates?) Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. I’m still on the fence about a Becky Lynch heel turn, but it seems that’s where this whole thing is going so I’ll just buckle up and hope for the best. Carmella, on the other hand, continues to be a pristine heel champion. Her clapback on the savage “diva in a women’s era” burn was just solid heel work. I kinda hope she retains on Monday (Manila Time).

    And I get that Becky and Charlotte had to beat random women's tag teams to advance their storyline, but I do hope they start fleshing out the women’s tag team division, if the rumors about introducing the Women’s Tag Team Championships at Evolution are true. They should start building up The IIconics, Absolution Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose, and possibly Naomi and Lana as legit contenders. The last thing I want is for a makeshift team to win the whole thing. Give me The IIconics as tag champs, dammit!

    Jeff Hardy looked healthy this week as he pinned Shelton Benjamin with a new finisher combo. Someone tell Hardy he can just hit the Twist of Fate and not make it look awkward with a random splash. He also gained the upper hand against Shinsuke Nakamura this week, which was a welcome change. I’m sick of seeing Hardy getting beat up so I’m glad they threw him a bone for the go-home show. Randy Orton was there, too, because fuck subtlety.

    And finally, how about some love for Aiden English? I guess he’s still loyal to Rusev Day so forget what I said about him turning on Rusev. This storyline still has a chance as long as it will conclude with the reconciliation of the Rusev Day family. Aren’t we all tired of seeing another variation of English costing his friends a match? There has to be a payoff somehow.

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: The Blue Brand is locked and loaded for SummerSlam, simple as that. While this episode didn’t have a surprise like a Dean Ambrose return, it still delivered the goods in terms of storytelling. Come for the fun tag matches, stay for the stellar promos and storyline progressions. I will award the Blue Brand another well-deserved A for their full-force effort in hyping up WWE's second biggest event of the year.

    Some Blue Brand Blues That Didn’t Make It

    • It’s one thing that they booked SAnitY horribly, but did they really have to strip away Big Damo’s cool gear for a generic one?
    • I nominate “The Handshake” as Randy Orton’s new finisher. I can see it now. “A handshake from aragrhshandwer! Vintage Orton!”
    • AJ Styles is now the longest-reigning WWE Champion in SmackDown history. Just want you guys to know that.
    • Hey Lana, lose the Russian accent already. Jeez.


    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 (8/14/18): Well, They Were Professional Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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