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    Thursday, September 8, 2016

    SmackDown RunDown Live (9/7/16): Anybody’s Ball Game

    You think this is funny? SmackDown RunDown Live, your boy Ricky, you know the drill. This week was the Blue Brand’s last chance to hype up the first brand-exclusive PPV in years—Backlash. How well did they pique your interest? Let’s get down to it.

    Styles Sends Ambrose a Ballsy Statement

    The final confrontation between the WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles took place in this week’s main event and it ended with someone writhing in pain—this time it was Dean Ambrose’s crown jewels. Throughout the episode, we saw both men being dicks to people. Ambrose pulled it off nicely, continuing the trend of being the unstable champ, while Styles’ segments felt a little forced. His empty threats to the backstage crew guy was awkward to begin with.

    The main event came and the two finally went face to face. Both men traded verbal blows as Ambrose gave Styles a participation trophy—the only trophy Styles will ever win. Styles brought up John Cena taking him very seriously and said that Ambrose shouldn’t be joking around against the Phenomenal One. Ambrose rapped back with the cool “the face that is always second place” speech before Styles kicked his crotch, a payback from last week’s embarrassment.

    The promo was decent, at best. I’ll cut them some slack because they didn’t have enough time to develop this story. Ambrose’s treatment of Styles—making fun of Styles and calling him a loser—is similar to the way he treated Ziggler and I was about to criticize it, but that actually goes well with his immature, asshole character. Creative is getting too liberal with Ambrose's rockstar attitude and eventually, they have to pick a street: make Ambrose completely turn or make him do more good guy antics to establish him clearly as a good guy with a wacky facade.

    So we have two heelish yet beloved wrestlers squaring off for the WWE World Championship. Ambrose is the face who is letting his championship status get to his head while AJ Stlyes is your top heel who is gunning for the top gold. It’s a good twist on the face vs heel trope. Maybe if Styles wins on Sunday, Ambrose will have to rethink some stuff and take matters more seriously. That would be a nice story arc.

    Some Blue Brand Vibes and Blues—Live!

    Are you sick of this game yet? Well, tough luck! It’s another round of Vibes and Blues and if anyone is keeping score from the very beginning, I’d like to see it, please. Anyway, let’s begin.

    Blue: SmackDown Live opened this week with an awkward women’s division open forum moderated by D-Bry. Becky Lynch first came out and cut a good promo followed by Natalya. Alexa Bliss and Carmella came out without warning and just when they were about to gang up on Becky, Naomi and Nikki Bella came for the save. Well, that was fun. Later in the episode, these women faced each other in another 6-women tag match. I will say this again, we’re back in the Divas age where all the women gets shoved in messy segments and hope for the best. At least Carmella got to shine by making Nikki Bella tap out. That one I like.

    Vibe: The Usos turned heel this week in amazing fashion. It’s the semi-finals of the Piso Tag Titles tournament and American Alpha vs The Usos is shaping up to be a good match… and Uso Crazy lost in a flash. Well, that sucks. After the match, the Usos offered a handshake to the Alphas only to assault Jordan and break Gable’s leg. Probably the coolest tag team heel turn I’ve seen in a while. By taking out the most obvious team to win at Backlash, the SmackDown tag tournament just became a little intriguing.

    Blue: Another semi-finals match took place this week and this time, I was expecting a good match from the Hype Bros and Slayno, and while they did deliver one, it was just too short for my tastes. Heath Slater and Rhyno are advancing to the finals and now that American Alpha won’t make it to Backlash, the SmackDown tag team tournament better have a satisfying ending. On a side note, Heath Slater’s family is adorable. Uncle Rhyno!

    Vibe: The Miz was in action this week against Apollo Crews and thank heavens, Crews isn’t spelling words. Dolph Ziggler was on commentary scouting his rival and as you can predict, Ziggler got involved and The Miz capitalized by finishing off the dazed Crews with a Skull-Crushing Finale. After the match, Miz left his belt in the ring and Ziggler challenged him to come get it, but he ordered his wife to go get it instead. That was a classic heel move and I loved it. This rivalry was poorly built but man, I’m still excited to see them fight.

    Vibe: Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt had limited time this week but they still delivered good promos during the episode. Wyatt masterfully rambled about being the top predator while Orton told a story about a very calculating snake. Why Orton is present backstage and didn’t appear on the show itself is beyond me.

    Blue: Fandango danced with a random fan in the ring. He then challenged anyone who has enough fire on them. Kane came out, chokeslammed the dancing superstar, did a little Fandango-ing, and then left. Is Kane trying to be SmackDown Live’s Braun Strowman? Someone book Kane vs Braun already!

    Backstage Segment of the Night: This week’s fun edition of Talking Smack

    For the second week in a row, no backstage segment really stood out, so I’ll turn my attention to Talking Smack. It’s a tough call, really. D-Bry and Ziggler teasing Renee was fun, while Shane McMahon announced the status of Chad Gable and quickly fixed the tag team finals on Sunday. The Blue Brand duo also denied rumors about SmackDown Live adding another hour (“Quiet your face!”). We didn’t need another Ziggler rant but we got it anyway and that’s fine. Talking Smack is definitely a good show, whether we get a heated promo or simply just wrestlers casually teasing the host.

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: It was a valiant effort for the Blue Brand. They had little time to build up their storylines for Backlash but they still managed to produce an interesting card. I’m still excited for Backlash—we’ll be crowning new champs, just so you know—and I hope the SmackDown Live crew pull out all their aces on their first PPV. For now, this week’s episode will get another B.

    Did you enjoy this week’s SmackDown Live? Do you have other snake and rabbit stories? Share them below at the comments.

    Photos from WWE.com


    Ricky Jay Publico is a wrestling fan who enjoys watching high flyers and brawlers battle it out in the ring. A known 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 (9/7/16): Anybody’s Ball Game Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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