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    Monday, July 19, 2021

    The SmackDown BreakDown (7/16/21): Where The Hell Have You Been?

    Where the hell have we been? We've been here the whole time, Vince! Did you really have to wait for a live crowd to make things better? I'm Ricky Publico, and this is the SmackDown BreakDown. 

    I totally didn't expect the return of live audiences to improve the show drastically, but here we are. Everything's back to normal, guys! The pandemic is gone! At this point, any type of normalcy excites the hell out of me. I also loved how the opening video package highlighted the best crowd reactions in WWE history—even the most negative reactions. Elias dissing Seattle made sense being there, but I never thought they'd revisit Roman Reigns getting showered in glorious boos. That's pretty epic. 

    And there's really no other way to start this crucial episode than to grace it with the presence of the ThunderDome Era's biggest star, Roman goddamn Reigns. You could argue that Edge should've come out first to get the crowd thumping, but I Jeez Louise, did you hear that monstrous roar of appreciative boos the second his music played? His hideous animated 3D graphic almost ruined it for me, but I'm really glad everyone's acknowledging the Tribal Chief the way they should. 

    Of course Edge and Rey Mysterio will receive great fanfare, but this one I didn't expect: Dominik Mysterio is hella over! The months of abuse he suffered from the biggest names in WWE really paid off, huh? It's just amazing to witness it firsthand. This six-man tag was the perfect opener and while it wasn't a mind-blowing match, it did enough to get the crowd buzzing. And while the good guys lost, Edge was able to make Roman Reigns tap out in the post-match beatdown. That's pretty huge. 

    And don't even get me started on the main event. Finally, SmackDown got their shit together and re-learned how to book a solid show from top to bottom. See, the world title picture doesn't have to headline every goddamn weekly show. If there's a more exciting match in the card, put that shit in the main event. This week, they did exactly that by giving us a high-octane four-way match to hype up Money in the Bank. I didn't even realize that this was a go-home show until this chaotic main event.

    I'm pretty sure they didn't need to go all out in this match, but what can you do, you have a live crowd to please. It even started with three dives to the outside like it's the usual spot to start a match. If anything, I wish this match had more time but the fact that it was rather quick was part of its charm. And as if Kevin Owen dropping an elbow to Shinsuke Nakamura from a ten-feet ladder wasn't enough, Seth Rollins capped off the match by stomping Big E's freaking head to a steel ladder. Now that's what I call a delicious finish. 

    But this show is without its flaws. For one, did we really need to drag Finn Balor back to the main roster? They didn't just bring Finn Balor back, they brought back the boring version of Finn Balor. You know, the guy who's gimmick is just looking cool? Goddamnit, Balor got his edge back when he returned to NXT. Are they really undoing all that hard work just for a cheap pop? And just like clockwork, they placed him back to the midcard where he apparently belongs. Do you really think he's going to break his jaw for Sami Zayn? I doubt that. Welcome back, I guess. 

    FINAL BREAKDOWN: Well, they weren't lying when they said they were just waiting for the crowd—this week's episode was excellent! Sure, it still had a couple of duds here and there, but it still felt like the SmackDown we all know and love. The show was well-structured, the matches were amazing, and the crowd's energy rounded it all up into one hell of a night. The ThunderDome Era may have been a great alternative during the pandemic, but nothing will ever beat a live audience.

    Show Grade: A+

    BreakDown Thoughts That Also Want to Get Hair-Whipped

    • Bianca Belair vs. Carmella was great and all, but what's this I'm hearing that they'll do it again next week? I'm so sick of this! How many times does Bianca Belair have to beat her rivals clean as a baby's bottom for her to prove her worth as the SmackDown Women's Champion? Are we really going to treat her as a rookie her entire reign? What's the use of having a long reign if Bianca Belair only has like three names under her belt? Let her dominate fresh new faces!  

    • Did we really need to see Natalya & Tamina vs. Shotzi & Nox? At least it's actually for a future title shot, but shouldn't they get that title shot already after pinning the tag champs last week? Is the women's division really that short-staffed? Then how exactly are they going to keep the women's tag team division afloat? Also, it's weird how Natalya's now the one getting the rollup losses. I guess the Shayna Baszler curse lives on. Or maybe it's the Women's Tag Team Championship curse? 

    • I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer, but I'm not sure why they're pitting Cesaro against Otis at this point in their careers. If both men can't afford to lose, then maybe you shouldn't start a rivalry between them in the first place. Let's just hope this is just a detour for Cesaro and not a one-way ticket back to midcard limbo. He still has a Rumble match to win next year. 

    • If Sami Zayn's conspiracy gimmick solidified his heel run, mark my words: Baron Corbin's financial downward spiral will be a highlight of his career. And this week, they tweaked his gimmick a bit to make it okay to boo him again, which is something the gimmick lacked. If this is part of the slow burn towards a face turn, they're doing it right. More of this, please!

    • Whoever convinced the set designer that bigger is better should be ashamed because the new SmackDown set looks ugly as hell. It's like they weren't trying anymore. I hope this was just them repurposing the ThunderDome screens before they bring back proper sets because if this is really the creative direction they're going with, then we'll have to endure months of bland entrances. 

    *****

    Ricky Publico (@nyamnyamgarbage) is Smark Henry's seasoned veteran and resident main roster reviewer. He's a sucker for well-written promos and fast-paced matches. While he enjoys nitpicking shows, he now prefers enjoying wrestling for what it is instead of stressing himself over things he can't control. He's anxious about the future, now more than ever. His potential haunts him. 

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    Item Reviewed: The SmackDown BreakDown (7/16/21): Where The Hell Have You Been? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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