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    Thursday, October 18, 2018

    SmackDown RunDown Live (10/16/18): Setting The Dial to 1000

    I guess Triple H said it best. If you want to achieve something monumental, you have to evolve. SmackDown—and WWE as a whole—did just that and nothing less. Over the years, SmackDown has seen countless Superstars come and go, stables form and crumble, and power figures rise and fall. The show changed timeslots a bunch of times as they jumped from Thursday to Friday, and now Tuesday. And this week marked the 1000th time they’ve done all of it while staying as relevant as they were 19 years ago. That’s a milestone if I’ve ever seen one.

    While SmackDown has lots of things to celebrate, they’re not the only ones with a milestone to brag about. October 2018 also marks my third year in Smark Henry as the Blue Brand’s weekly columnist. You can check out the first edition of SmackDown RunDown way back in 2015 and see how I evolved from that cringefest of a first impression. Granted, I’m still cringey as hell, but now I do it in style. Wrap your head around that.

    And if you’ve been doing something for three years straight, you tend to get attached to it. I’ve made this column my very own weekly diary over the years, injecting it with as much personality as possible. If at some point I made you smile because of a corny joke or a date reference, that’s fuel enough for me to write the next one. I’d like to thank Smark Henry for giving this boring wrestling nerd a chance to speak his mind on their awesome website because really, where else can you find someone who writes nonsensical stuff about pro wrestling?

    So if you’re not yet sick of my forced monikers and self-deprecating humor, I’d like to keep writing stuff for you, my 100+ average weekly readers, for years to come. Alright, enough about me, jeez. Let’s get down to this loaded episode.

    Ranking The Moments of SmackDown 1000

    I can’t condense everything that happened this week into my usual three headings because I physically can’t. So I’ll just rank the 10 best moments of the night, just like we did when the stupid SmackDown Live Top 10 was first announced. You guys cool with that?

    1. Rey Mysterio Makes a Triumphant Homecoming

    What better way to close the show than to feature the return of Rey Mysterio, the personification of the SmackDown brand? There’s no better fit for Mysterio than on SmackDown, the show that has always had to be overshadowed by its Monday night counterpart. And as one of the only two only active competitors from the original SmackDown Six, Mysterio doesn’t even need to beg to be on the show, he has to headline it.

    And judging by his match with Shinsuke Nakamura, he’s far from hanging his boots like most pessimists would assume. He didn’t miss a single beat! This guy is in his 40s and has had his share of serious injuries. He shouldn't be able to move as quick as he did this week, but he did in the victory over Shinsuke Nakamura. Finally, SmackDown Live feels complete again thanks to the return of one of the brand’s most important cornerstones.

    2. The Usos Just Beat Two World Champions in One Night

    It wasn’t all nostalgia this week as AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan, the respectful rivals, took on The Usos in tag team action. Hey Uce, where you been? It’s great to see my favorite tag team getting a well-deserved piece of the spotlight. And not just that, they were able to beat Bryan and Styles as clean as a whistle? The Usos have to at least earn a shot at the SmackDown Tag Team Championships just for that. Meanwhile, Styles and Bryan continue building tension for their upcoming Crown Jewel match, which is still proceeding as planned, apparently. Go figure.

    3. Evolution Changed The Molecules on SmackDown Live

    I’m still trying to figure out why Evolution dropped by on SmackDown 1000 like they owned the place. As far as I can remember, these four were full-blooded RAW guys since their formation in 2003. They even won all the titles on RAW at one point. But then I thought, screw it. They’re Evolution, for frick’s sake. They have earned the right to do whatever they want and appear on whichever show whenever they feel like it. And it’s not like they were terrible.

    All four of them cut great promos back-to-back-to-back-to-back, which goes to show how talented this stable really is. Triple H started it off with some great pandering, followed by the Nature Boy’s random yet tireless WOOOOOOs. Randy Orton, who cleaned his face to achieve the ultimate Evolution throwback look, went the other way and threw some backhanded shade to his Evolution-mates. And lastly, Batista… well, he took the mic and just went to town with it.

    Batista received the longest airtime for some reason as he listed the reasons why he decided to come back for SmackDown 1000. It was a heartfelt promo that showed us how much he cared about the three people in the ring before he pulled a fast one and turned his emotional promo into a challenge against Triple H. I loved every minute of this segment and I can’t wait to see Batista return to the WWE, hopefully as a full-time member of the roster once again.

    4. We Have New Champions Because Nani The Fuck?

    The New Day defending their SmackDown Tag Team Championships against The Bar seems a bit random to me. But fine, it’s going to be a great match anyway, I thought to myself. Little did I know that we’d be getting new tag champs thanks to Big Show’s almost comical cycle of switching between the good side and the bad side. It’s the most appropriate tribute to Big Show’s time on SmackDown and if they make him the official bouncer of The Bar, that would be even better. If anyone’s keeping count, please let me know if this marked Show's 84,726th turn. I would know it myself but after his 2,000th, I already lost count.

    5. The Throwback Slideshows Made Us Miss Eddie Guerrero More

    The way SmackDown 1000 paid tribute to the moments that made the show what it is today was just lovely. It’s really hard to ignore how Eddie Guerrero always turned up on the mini-slideshow they had after every segment; and I don’t know about you, but it made me wish Eddie got to be part of the current SmackDown Live landscape. How awesome would it be to see him slug it out with AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan. In a perfect world (or in WWE 2K19, plug plug plug), this is all possible. I want to buy a console so bad just to sim all my fantasy matches. Yes, I’m that type of gamer, bite me.

    6. Edge Still Got It, Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair Barely Does

    Tony Chimel’s favorite Suuuuuuuperstar Edge also graced SmackDown 1000 with his awesome presence as he failed to convince Becky Lynch to come back to the good side. While Rey Mysterio still has it wrestling-wise, Edge is still as hot on the mic as ever with his compelling tone and delivery. His promo did traverse into the corny territory, but c’mon, we’re talking about Edge here. He can make any material work in his favor, even if he’s trying to be the Dr. Phil of WWE.

    But I’m afraid I can’t say the same thing about the Becky Lynch/Charlotte Flair storyline. The edge it once had (heh, puns) has now dissolved into a generic story about a good girl gone bad compared to its more complex origins. I don’t really care about it that much anymore, but I’m glad the crowd still does. Although they’re basically cheering for the wrong person now because this segment legitimized Becky’s heel turn as canon to the storyline. The lines are drawn, the labels are clear, and my interest is gone. I’d still watch the heck out of their Last Woman Standing match, though.

    7. TruthTV is Back and Better Than Before

    There’s still good in the world because our favorite talk show is back on air! TruthTV came back from the dead to kick off SmackDown 1000 and introduce us to the McMahon family. Mind you, this is just TruthTV’s second episode and they already scored heavyweight guests in the form of wrestling’s first family. Good job, R-Truth and Carmella! And while Shane and Stephanie bickered as always, Vinnie Mac came for the save and gave TruthTV the ultimate seal of approval—a corporate-mandated dance break!!! Long live TruthTV!

    8. Other Notable Cameos, Throwbacks, and Absentees

    Since this is a nostalgia-driven episode, we’re going to have some cameos here and there. Former GMs Teddy Long and Vickie Guerrero were present and unfortunately, so was Mr. People Power himself, John Laurinaitis. I like the dynamics of these three former authority figures. Long was the beloved one, Vickie bordered the lines between beloved and hated, and Laurinaitis was just the worst. I don’t mean that in a loving, chanting-You-Suck-to-Kurt-Angle kind of way. He has no redeeming qualities other than the fact that he’s insufferable.

    And if you want to get technical about things, The Undertaker was this week’s main event as he gave DX his three famous words. Hey Taker, one of them was just there; you should've dropped by much earlier and told him face-to-face, no? 

    From the via satellite category, we got John Cena and his stupid-ass hair. But the most eyebrow-raising of all was the absence of The Rock. All you got for us was a tweet? The show was created because of you. At least cut some sick video message promo for us, ya big movie star.

    9. The Miz Qualified in The Shittiest Way Possible

    So much for bringing prestige to the already questionable World Cup Tournament. The Miz earned his spot in the tourney by rolling Rusev up in what was a quick clusterfuck of a segment. First of all, Kurt Angle was on commentary for some reason. He barely got two lines in before he was forgotten entirely. This guy was also a cornerstone of SmackDown, for crying out loud. That’s the best spot you could give him? He’s Kurt freakin’ Angle, damnit!

    And you’d think they couldn’t fuck up what was supposed to be a fluke match but surprise, surprise. Aiden English missed his cue and tripped Rusev a little too late than expected, ruining the already shitty match. Why not cut the part where Rusev beat up English and give that time to develop the actual match? So is this the big payoff of their Milwaukee drama? We won’t even get a Kickoff match from these two? I guess Jofer was right. Rusev Day is long dead.

    10. Crown Jewel is Still On and Still Shady as Hell

    But nothing’s worse than the fact that Crown Jewel is still happening in three weeks and WWE seemed poised to continue despite the media backlash. You’d think they would relent easily considering how they quickly removed Fabulous Moolah’s name from that WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal we had last April. If they’re that afraid of avoiding backlash, what’s taking the WWE so long to cancel or at least relocate Crown Jewel? Is the money that big that Vince would ignore a journalist’s gruesome presumed death at the (alleged) hands of the KSA government?

    I get that the logistics of relocating a huge event can be tough, but if it will save your company’s overall image, it’s a relatively small price to pay. Cancelling Crown Jewel entirely is a waste of a great card so why not just find a new place to host it? That’s a solution where the company ultimately wins. They will avoid a major clusterfuck of a PR disaster, prevent their talent from performing in a place they may not be comfortable being in, and ultimately entertain the WWE Universe with a solid show. Just my two cents, of course, but let me know what your take on this is.

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: I pretty much called it—SmackDown Live delivered the goods on their 1000th episode. Sure, some segments felt rushed and a few personalities failed to make their presence known, but I choose to focus on what we got and not be a greedy little bitch. SmackDown 1000 did a great job celebrating the Blue Brand’s impact in the WWE, while balancing it with as much wrestling as possible. And seriously, how can your heart not melt after seeing pictures of Eddie Guerrero in his prime? So yeah, an A grade for everyone. Here’s to a thousand more episodes and beyond!

    Some Blue Brand Blues That Didn’t Make It

    • You’d think they’d spare a few bucks to give Edge a proper entrance, complete with his signature pyro. Money’s tight in the WWE, I guess. 
    • They actually acknowledge Chyna’s presence! That has to be a first in years, right?

    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 (10/16/18): Setting The Dial to 1000 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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