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    Thursday, March 22, 2018

    SmackDown RunDown Live (3/20/18): Fight For Your Dreams

    Daniel Bryan is now medically cleared for in-ring action once again. This is not a dream, not a drill, and April Fool’s is like one week away. This is really happening, people! For years, I’ve disguised my desires for him to come back under silly jokes of him beating up The Miz at last year’s Mania or taking a surprise spot at this year’s Royal Rumble. And last week, when I suggested he team up with Shane McMahon against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, I didn't think too much of it, you know? I threw a wish in the air and hot damn, I actually got it. So just in case I do have mystical powers or something, let me predict that I’ll win the lottery next week and become a millionaire. Fingers crossed, you guys.

    And before we start dissecting this week’s episode, let me just throw in a quick PSA to the smarks who would rather have Daniel Bryan stay in retirement. Unless you’re a family member or a really close friend, how about you just shthfckup and just support Daniel Bryan’s dream? His wife and family support him. WWE doctors examined him and they said he’s good to go. He’s certainly eager to get back and wrestle again. Who the fuck are you to stop him? Believe me, I too have my concerns, but I certainly won’t tell this passionate man to stop what he’s doing because it’s his goddamn life. Guys, we don’t own him. We’re just fans. Know your goddamn place, will ya?

    Daniel Bryan's Return: A Million Times YES!!1!

    I’m not going to bother asking you if Daniel Bryan’s opening segment gave you goosebumps or made you tear up a little. Of course it did. Every fan who watched their wrestling heroes retire right in front of their eyes will experience this whirlwind of emotions when their hero revokes his or her retirement to fight once more. And heck, I’m not even the biggest Daniel Bryan fan around but I still felt the euphoria of witnessing something you thought would never see again. Some of you may be skeptical about the move, that maybe his contract is expiring and WWE wants to squeeze in one more match from him or something. I’m not going to blame you, but at this point, does it even matter? We got Daniel Bryan back!

    And please, reserve your complaints about him taking a beating on his first day back as an active wrestler. I understand that most of you are smart enough to understand the implications of this week’s main event segment, but damn it, I still feel the need to explain to the others who surely have an opinion about it. That awesome segment accomplished two huge goals—give Shane and Bryan a common target, effectively ending their terrible management tension; and establishing Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens as ungrateful assholes, supplying them with nuclear, radioactive heat in the process. Now their storyline isn’t vague and confusing. It’s now simple and powerful. They got every one of us worked up. Isn’t that the good storytelling we’ve been clamoring for these past few months? SmackDown Live’s back, baby!

    I know I said last week that I didn’t want any other storyline to overshadow the world title scene, but c’mon. It’s hard not to ignore such a solid story arc. So I apologize to AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. I’m sure both men will tear the house down, but in terms of storytelling, the impending tag team match between the wronged bosses and the disgruntled employees has my entire attention come WrestleMania.

    WrestleMania Hype: Temporarily Taking a Backseat 

    Don’t think for one second that this week’s episode was all about Daniel Bryan. I appreciate the fact that Creative didn’t slack off in producing a solid show. Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles continued their subtle version of mind games this week and I guess they’re not going to elevate this storyline any further. This is as good as it can get. At least they’re giving them a program with Rusev so that’s a good thing, I guess. Next week, they’ll probably have a tag match between Styles and Nakamura against Team Rusev Day. I hope they let Rusev win this one via roll-up or something. Let’s throw Rusev a bone in this mini-feud.

    And how about the women’s division getting some much needed spotlight? I didn’t really expect much from the Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya match, but it was easily the match of the night, complete with an MITB cash-in tease courtesy of Carmella. Later during the show, Naomi and Becky Lynch defeated Riott Squad in a quick tag match. See how they seamlessly featured the entire women’s division in just one episode? The excuse “you can’t fit everyone in one show” doesn’t sound too valid now, does it? They better give something to guys like Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder next week. I still believe WWE is missing out on Mojo.

    The midcard scene is also looking good as Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, and Jinder Mahal ended their segment with a pretty neat stand-off. They didn’t do much, but I’m liking their build-up so far. Meanwhile, the Bludgeon Brothers continue to terrorize the Usos, this time in singles action. They’re doing a great job setting up their WrestleMania match, although I’m not sure if the New Day will be involved. I suggest we let the Usos and the Bludgeons slug it out at Mania, then they can add the New Day on the next PPV. Sounds good?

    How did Daniel Bryan affect this week’s show? Simply put, the return of Daniel Bryan gave SmackDown Live a chance to successfully reclaim its former glory. This episode was stacked with compelling storylines, hard-hitting action, and hey, we even got Tye Dillinger! See, they’re slowly maximizing the roster already. They didn’t waste a single second and for that, the Blue Brand gets a well-deserved A+. We didn’t just bring Bryan back, we brought SmackDown Live’s old swagger back. I can’t wait for next week’s thrilling episode.

    Some Blue Brand Thoughts That Didn't Make It

    • Here are the matches I’m excited for now that Daniel Bryan’s wrestling again. I'm shooting from the top of my head so please bear with me.
              Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles (duh)
              Daniel Bryan vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (double duh)
              Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz (I don’t care how, just make this happen!)
              Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena (awkward)
              Daniel Bryan vs. Chad Gable (oh yeah)
              Daniel Bryan vs. Any 205 Live Superstar 

    • Am I crazy to think that Carmella will cash her MITB briefcase on Asuka at WrestleMania? I just though since WWE wants her to be some kind of a heat magnet, what better way to generate heat by beating an impressive streak? And if you think that the idea’s a bit of a stretch, remember that we didn’t expect James Ellsworth to win the first female MITB match, either. Doesn’t sound too crazy now, does it?
    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 (3/20/18): Fight For Your Dreams Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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