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    Monday, April 13, 2020

    Breaking Down SmackDown (4/10/20): Moving Past Mania

    After realizing his old format could use some work, Jacob Tambunting prayed to the wrestling gods for inspiration to break down Breaking Down Smackdown into a condensed and portable package. This is the product of his prayers.

    Who is this kid anyway? Jacob Tambunting? I'll tell you who he is. He's the kid who never really followed the "Don't Do This At Home" warning by WWE in the third grade. He's the kid who, in tenth grade, bet money that Kevin Owens would win the Univeral title and ended up winning said money. Finally, he's the kid who still loves pro wrestling enough to talk about it openly with his non-believer friends.

    Pretentious intro aside, at the core of who I am, I'm a storyteller and I love stories. Wrestling is a medium that I believe can tell unique and diverse stories if done right. That's why I find it fitting I am beginning this new narrative format at the beginning of WWE's story. The week after WrestleMania. I am honored that you have decided to go on this journey with me.

    Let's get it out of the way: WWE still deciding to broadcast live shows is questionable and changes the whole conversation. Instead of taping all the segments in one go to minimize the amount of exposure and travel wrestlers and production need to do, they decided to have them go in and out of their homes multiple times in a month.

    Vince and the upper brass may want to do it to create a sense of solidarity for his stockholders and investors, but the reality is that this false sense of solidarity comes at the price of endangering the lives of their talent and production crew. And because of that, for the second week in the row: Shame on you, WWE.

    WWE's business ethics aside, let's transition to something way more reliable—their creative decisions. The theme this week: old is new. From this episode of SmackDown, WWE seems to be relying mostly on older storylines to drive their new material. However, this effort has produced varied results quality-wise.

    A shining example of this is everything that happened with our Universal Champion this week. After rekindling a feud with Shinsuke Nakamura in a short yet fun match, the solid promo work with Bray Wyatt after the match makes it apparent that they'll be relying heavily on their history from the old Wyatt Family days. I commend WWE on continuing the Fiend's arc of exorcising his old demons and hope this is how they bring him back to the top of the card. This is how you use the past right.

    However, something they did not do right—and I might get some flak for saying this—is with their tag team division. Listen, I love The New Day and The Usos and I've given their historic rivalry praise in the past but after over five years of running the tag division, it's on the brink of getting repetitive. I am talking Cena-Orton levels of repetitive. Miz and Morrison's presence does help a little to add a new flavor to a feud going bland but it doesn't change the fact that the tag division needs a major facelift and not another singles triple threat match next week.

    Speaking about new faces in the tag division, The Forgotten Sons debuted this week in what I call a semi-squash match against Lucha House Party. Still mourning the hope of Lucha House Party getting a push after their performance at Elimination Chamber, I am hopeful that The Forgotten Sons will play a prominent role in the tag division as they looked promising in this match.

    At least they had this squash match and not one with someone like Sheamus, who's had 10 years to build his character and... oh wait they did? Never mind. Moving on.

    In the women's division, I see how they're giving them the old is new treatment as well. I am happy that WWE agreed with me in making Tamina, a nearly 10-year vet, the next contender for the SmackDown Women's Championship by positioning her as a bad-ass anti-hero. I am also intrigued in seeing how they seem to be reviving one of the greatest feuds of all time (fight me) in the form of Bayley vs. Banks II. If they don't screw this up, we could be entering a golden age for the SmackDown's women's division.

    Something in the women's division I am hesitant about is Bliss and Cross. I hope their back-to-back wins against the Kabuki Warriors—neither of which I was really impressed with—pay off with a great run. I'm not entirely sold on the contrasting dynamic, even after their first title reign, yet I am willing to get on the train as I think both competitors are fantastic individually. I think that their need to gel as a team is something they could use in future storylines. Hey, at least it's something relatively still fresh.

    On a related note, I'm hesitant with SmackDown still continuing the fallout from OtisMania. Listen, WWE. Otis already got the girl. All of us at home are happy and content. We don't want you to drag this on for so long. Although I do see the opportunity to add more twists to the soap opera which is this feud, I'm afraid that what was once the hottest feud of WrestleMania 36 turns into another Rusev/Lana/Lashley situation.

    SmackDown Wrap-Up:

    What's obvious with WWE is that they are heavily focused on past feuds and characters to drive their present storylines. Whether it works or not is highly debatable. In my opinion, it's a hit-or-miss but I believe if done right, it could work wonders. The show itself was a decent start of the cycle with entertaining matches throughout but a few creative decisions left a sour taste in my mouth.

    Show Grade: B-

    Breakdown Bites:

    • According to Miz and Morrison, the Graveyard match at WrestleMania induces nightmares in talent. Wrestlers be warned.
    • I do hope the Kabuki Warriors have a break-up feud down the line. Imagine the matches. Bah gahd!
    • Anyone else want Blake and Murphy to face each other at Survivor Series with Alexa Bliss as a special guest referee? No? Just me? Alright.
    • Elias plans to turn the Money in the Bank briefcase into a guitar case. The game has changed.
    Photos from WWE


    Jacob Tambunting is a freshman at Ateneo de Manila University currently studying BS Psychology. In his high school years, he authored plays for competitions, essays for projects, and fan fiction for fun. In college, he’s active in theater and debate organizations. He currently lives with his two parents, his two siblings, and his two dogs, and is probably writing something angsty on his 10-year-old laptop.
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    Item Reviewed: Breaking Down SmackDown (4/10/20): Moving Past Mania Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jacob Tambunting
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