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    Sunday, October 3, 2021

    SmackDown BreakDown (10/1/21): Will the Real A-Show Please Stand Up?

    WWE is pretty much in hot-shotting mode, and I love every second of it. Call it desperate, call it defensive, call it whatever you want. I'm just glad we're getting must-see TV out of it. I'm Ricky Publico, and this is the SmackDown BreakDown.

    It's that time of the year again: the WWE Draft! It would've helped if they announced the actual pool for both Day 1 and Day 2, but other than that, I actually loved this year's draft format! This is mainly because they treated SmackDown as the A-show that it genuinely is by giving them the first draft pick. They even removed the rule that gives RAW three draft picks every round. I know that's just a slight tweak, and it probably won't matter that much, but it still recognizes SmackDown's superiority. 

    Also, they were very specific about this one rule: this year's Draft will take effect after the Crown Jewel PPV on October 21, 2021. It's actually a genius move to give the writers more time to tie loose ends while also giving us the excitement of the Draft this early. Now that we'll know where all of them are headed, we are guaranteed fresh storylines we probably have never seen before. For a promotion supposedly hot-shotting their booking plans, this is pretty well-thought-out. Good job, WWE!

    So without further ado, here are my raw, initial, and unedited thoughts on every televised SmackDown draft pick:


    • Roman Reigns. Number one draft pick, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I expected the Bloodline to be drafted as a group, but this gives them more material for the brewing Paul Heyman storyline. I can't wait to see if Heyman succeeds in bringing The Usos back to Friday Nights. Will they actually separate the Bloodline just to advance a storyline?
    • Charlotte Flair. Now, this is an interesting pick. This might imply that FOX doesn't like this version of Becky Lynch, and I can't say I blame them. Tweener Becky is far more interesting and bankable than heel Becky, so yeah, I guess that's that. Charlotte Flair will be a great anchor for the women's division. Let's just hope Charlotte and Becky won't do a title swap after Crown Jewel. Maybe Charlotte should drop the belt to Shayna Baszler?
    • Drew McIntyre. Urgh, this guy again. One of the main reasons I rage-quitted the RAW reviews is that I'm forced to root for this sword-wielding idiot as the brand's top protagonist. I can't believe this guy will follow me to SmackDown, which means we're in for cringy, nonsensical, cookie-cutter promos from this corporate creation. The main event picture on SmackDown's not looking good right now. 
    • New Day. Now, this I don't understand. Why do we have to separate Big E from The New Day? They already achieved their goal of making Big E a top champion everyone can root for. Him having Kofi and Xavier by his side won't take away from Big E's edge one bit. And what exactly will the New Day do on the Blue Brand? This is just frustrating, really.
    • Happy Corbin & Madcap Moss. Really? Happy Corbin getting the top pick treatment? Okay, I guess. Seems like big things are really on Corbin's horizon after making a gimmick work and ruining it before it even got good. And hey, Madcap Moss is here, too. Guess they'll be laughing their way to the top. You guys excited? I'm not, but good on them.
    • Hit Row. Now here's a massive pick for SmackDown. The casuals are about to know something they didn't know before. I do find it weird that Isaiah "Swerve" Scott barely defended his North American Championship since winning it last June, and now he's being called up. Can't wait to see him win the Intercontinental Championship and have him not defend it for five more months. Kidding aside, Hit Row's future is bright on Friday Nights, plus we get an addition to the women's division in B-Fab.
    • Naomi. Can we get Naomi vs. Sonya Deville out of the way already so Naomi can join The Bloodline and dominate the women's division? It would be interesting to see her tap into her ruthless side with husband Jimmy, brother-in-law Jey, and cousin-in-law Roman. Imagine all four of them hoarding all the gold on SmackDown? That would be pretty epic.
    • Jeff Hardy. Hey, I didn't know Jeff Hardy is still a name worth fighting over, but I'm glad he's getting the respect he deserves. He's a tag team legend, after all, and seeing him being treated like a 24/7 goon on RAW just didn't sit right with me. I really hope that with this move, SmackDown can give Jeff Hardy more high-profile matches and storylines that won't involve his battle with alcoholism. Just use him to build younger talent or something along those lines.
    • Brock Lesnar*. Well, he wasn't technically drafted to any brand, but it was revealed in this week's episode that Paul Heyman apparently pulled some strings to make Brock Lesnar a free agent a la John Cena in 2019. That's freaking awesome! And guess what, Lesnar even gave us a cheeky wink. I love farmer tan Brock Lesnar! It's like they combined the viciousness of Beast Incarnate Lesnar and the comedic chops of Next Big Thing Lesnar.


    Speaking of Brock Lesnar, SmackDown made the Draft episode must-watch TV by opening the show with a Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns segment because why the hell not? These two behemoths instantly kept everyone at the edge of their seats just by staring down at each other, and I can't believe I'll be watching a Saudi-based PPV just to see them destroy each other. And since Brock can literally show up anywhere, I have more incentive to actually watch both RAW and SmackDown every week.

    And for the main event, we got a WrestleMania rematch in Bianca Belair vs. Sasha Banks, and it was awesome! This is Bianca Belair's first TV match since earning her title shot in that Fatal 4-Way right after SummerSlam. Isn't that crazy? The fighting babyface should really fight more often because cutting promos isn't exactly Bianca's strong suit. Instead of her having her go on and on about how she's the E.S.T. of WWE, why not let her show it? But fine, at least she won't be part of SmackDown for long.

    Anyway, the match lasted longer than ten minutes, and that alone made the match feel special. Then they stuck the landing with that finish featuring Becky's sneaky interference and Sasha's clever cradle pin. They should really exploit Bianca's hair more often! And barely a second later, Charlotte Flair marked her new territory by leaving her footprint on Bianca and Sasha's faces. Now that's how you close a show! Also, aren't you glad it didn't end with a disqualification? I love me some definitive finishes.

    Aside from being a great addition to the women's division, Charlotte Flair being drafted to SmackDown means that technically, every member of the Four Horsewomen is now under one brand. That's pretty neat. But moving forward, I really hope that Charlotte can help elevate the quality of women's wrestling on Friday nights.  I also hope that the Queen's Crown Tournament will finally give the women of SmackDown more opportunities to wrestle competitively. Enough with the pee-break matches!

    FINAL BREAKDOWN: For some reason, Pat McAfee was extra jumpy this week, and that alone earned this episode a high grade. After two consecutive weeks of mediocrity, SmackDown finally delivered a solid show that can confidently exist in the current wrestling landscape. And we're getting the King of the Ring and Queen's Crown Tournaments next week as well? The Blue Brand is on a roll, and I love it! Hopefully, SmackDown won't need to rely on special occasions in the coming months to pop a good one. Just keep giving us great matches and compelling storylines. This ain't rocket science!

    Show Grade: A

    BreakDown Thoughts That Are Also Not Good Friends with Brock Lesnar

    • Yo, can we talk about Crown Jewel real quick? It's actually interesting how they're now treating it as a canon PPV headlined by blockbuster matches everyone actually wants to see. No more old men awkwardly lifting each other in the main event. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar? Becky Lynch vs. Bianca Belair vs. Sasha Banks? What about possibly having the finals of King of the Ring and Queen's Crown Tournaments? That's already a solid card in and of itself! Sure, Goldberg is rumored to face Bobby Lashley in Saudi Arabia, too, but at least it's not for a world title. Guys, I think Crown Jewel is finally legit.
    • While SmackDown and RAW got equal picks in the televised Draft, RAW pretty much gutted SmackDown in the Supplemental Draft. In exchange for Toni Storm, Mansoor, and Mustafa Ali, RAW got the Alpha Academy, Apollo Crews & Commander Azeez, and Zelina Vega. I get that RAW needs more people to fill three hours, but this was still a huge haul for the Red Brand. They could've at least given us John Morrison so we can see JoMo vs. Jeff Hardy again, no?
    • Also, they split up T-Bar and Mace? I really hope they take this opportunity to drop their Retribution personas and just be their own goddamn selves.
    • Carmella wearing a stupid mask to wrestle wasn't that bad of an idea. I just wish they actually wrestled a competitive match so Carmella and Liv Morgan could at least put each other over. That was a waste of a segment, and I can't wait for either one of them to get shipped to RAW so they can at least start fresh. Do you even know anyone who's invested in this storyline?
    • Imagine fucking everyone's names up when you're already holding a goddamn cue card. What, did Sonya Deville really fail to learn Hit Row's names? Or did an intern fuck up printing the cue card itself?

    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 BreakDown (10/1/21): Will the Real A-Show Please Stand Up? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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