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    Monday, September 20, 2021

    SmackDown RunDown (9/17/21): Welcome to the Big E-ra!

    Last week, WWE managed to steal the spotlight from AEW for a few minutes when Big E successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to become the new WWE Champion. The moment was so great that I can't help but just talk about it because this past weekend's episode of SmackDown wasn't that good. I'm Ricky Publico, and this is yet another late edition of SmackDown RunDown. 

    WWE Champion Big E. Now that's a phrase that puts a smile on my face. Not since Dolph Ziggler (who was also Big E's former partner-in-crime, mind you) cashed in his briefcase in 2013 have I heard a louder ovation than what we got on last week's RAW. It's also historic because this was the first time a Black wrestler took the WWE Championship from another Black wrestler. I didn't even realize until someone pointed it out. It made Big E's win even more significant—and we have AEW to thank for it.

    Because as much as I loved every single minute of Big E's win, you can't deny that this was a Hail Mary move to pop a rating or two. This was clearly a direct response to Dynamite beating RAW in the 18-49 demographic. C'mon, the man spent weeks torturing Paul Heyman with entertaining mind games, and without notice, he suddenly chose to take out Bobby Lashley instead? Doesn't really add up, does it? And while it ultimately failed to overtake AEW in the ratings, it was still a great effort by WWE. 

    On the other hand, it's actually impressive to see how Vince McMahon trusted Big E's drawing power. I'm really glad Vince didn't try to shock everyone by having Big E lose the briefcase to other wrestlers he has traditionally relied on. Despite rushing it, I also loved how he chose the honorable route of cashing in by making his intentions clear throughout RAW, and yet he was still smart about it by not waiting for the next week for Bobby Lashley to recover from his injury. See, babyfaces can be smart, too. Be like Big E, people. 

    And Big E's first act as WWE Champion? Picking a fight with the Universal Champion, Roman Reigns. After all, there's a loose end that needs tying, and they found a justification for it through the upcoming Survivor Series brand warfare. Weirdly, they're starting to build it this early, but at this point, who cares? Any form of variety and excitement in every show is very much welcome. We're even getting a New Day vs. Bloodline match on this week's RAW. Screw the brand split—this is good shit! 

    For the first time in years, I'm actually excited to watch an episode of RAW! I'm still glad I'm not reviewing it, mainly because I can just kick back and relax as Big E and Roman Reigns destroy each other, this time with their family members. Speaking of Roman Reigns, isn't it crazy how he's involved in three separate rivalries simultaneously? They should do this more often! Imagine if Shinsuke Nakamura is feuding with four other people for the Intercontinental Championship. Or how about Happy Corbin feuding with all the people that wronged him and not just Kevin Owens?

    Sadly, other than Big E vs. Roman Reigns, I couldn't think of other segments that hyped me up like the MSG show did. Big E and Finn Bálor opened the show by beating The Usos in a surprisingly competitive match, so that's nice. I did enjoy Seth Rollins' latest tirade against Edge where he blamed the people for what happened because, of course, he fucking would've. It was logical and menacing all at the same time, and I'm glad his disgust from last week didn't lead to a forced face turn. Instead, it made his hatred for Edge even more compelling. I love it! 

    FINAL BREAKDOWN: For the first time in months, RAW was actually the better watch compared to last week's lukewarm episode of SmackDown. I really thought they would step it up after knocking the MSG show out of the park, but I guess that's asking for too much. The top storylines are doing great, but the ones below them just don't match up. Repetitive matches, forgettable storylines, and uninteresting rivalries still plague the bottom half of SmackDown.

    Show Grade: C

    BreakDown Thoughts That Were Cut For Time Last Week

    • So that was the tag team match they cut last week from the MSG show? Now I'm even more puzzled. Why they couldn't spare a few minutes for this short segment advancing Liv Morgan and Carmella's storyline? What is even happening to SmackDown women's division? Why is Naomi begging for a match instead of just challenging anyone? When will Nox and Shotzi get the tag title shot they earned a few weeks ago twice? Is this really the best they can do?
    • It's great that Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair got to close the show, but SmackDown's main event segment fell flat for the second consecutive week. Not that it was terrible or anything. It's just too basic and uneventful. It also looked like Bianca was the asshole because Becky just wanted a handshake. Bianca was the one who didn't let go. Again, not saying it's bad. It was just a bit meh. She really needs to adopt a striking finisher or something quick and easy to execute because setting up the K.O.D. looks like a chore. 

    • What took Apollo Crews so long to demand his rematch for the Intercontinental Championship? What was he doing these past few weeks when Shinsuke Nakamura was hanging around while his sidekick Rick Boogs picked up wins? And that's another weird thing: unless he's nursing a minor injury, why is Nakamura letting Boogs hog the spotlight? He should be the one kicking the heads off Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. I don't even know anymore. 
    • How many times do we have to see Sami Zayn vs. Dominik Mysterio until we get the battle of the Mysterios? At least let Dominik face somebody else before he inevitably feuds with his father. Is it really that hard to not copy the same booking from the past weeks? 

    Header image taken from WWE.com

    *****

    Ricky Publico (@nyamnyamgarbage) is Smark Henry's seasoned veteran and resident SmackDown 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: SmackDown RunDown (9/17/21): Welcome to the Big E-ra! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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