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    Thursday, April 12, 2018

    SmackDown RunDown Live (4/10/18): SmackDown of Honor

    Well, WrestleMania came and went. I feel bad about expecting too much from the biggest disappointment of a PPV from the WWE calendar. Can you really blame me, though? I was even excited for a Roman Reigns win, and I’m not the biggest fan of the Big (and Bloody) Dog. That’s how high my hopes for this year’s WrestleMania were. They literally had the best 'Mania card in years and they still blew it. How's that even possible?

    I’m not saying the show was all bad. Seth Rollins kicked things off with an IC Title win, Daniel Bryan’s in-ring return was superb, Charlotte and Asuka stole the show, Shinsuke Nakamura’s heel turn was unexpected, and Ronda Rousey had one hell of a debut. Other than those great matches, everything else ranged from “meh” to “seriously, who booked this shit?” Basically, I didn't hate it. I’m just salty about waking up early on a Monday.

    Changes, Changes, and an A-Grade A-Hole

    Post-Mania shows have always been the must-see episodes, and this year was no exception. While RAW wowed everyone with numerous NXT call-ups and returns, SmackDown Live focused on quality over quantity. So to make it easier for me, let’s start tackling the changes in order of their occurrence.

    The new chapter for the Blue Brand began with a managerial promotion as Paige just found a new house on SmackDown Live as the replacement for Daniel Bryan, who is now understandably a full-time wrestler. Man, that was a fulfilling sentence to type. Paige quickly went down to business by booking a main event of epic proportions: AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan. I hope she continues booking more mind-blowing matches, effectively distinguishing herself from past GMs as a manager who isn’t afraid to crank the lever of excitement up to eleven.

    Meanwhile, Charlotte Flair’s celebration got cut short by the debut of the IICONICS, the only NXT call-up the Blue Brand received. If you don’t know who they are, think of them as the modern-day Lay-Cool with Aussie accents. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce quickly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, beating up Charlotte just for the lulz. They basically had a more impressive debut compared to the Riott Squad, and they’re only two people. It’s such a convenient scenario, I won’t be surprised if someone took advantage of it.

    And you know what, a fabulous MITB holder just did. Carmella rushed to the ring, screamed her lungs out to the reluctant referee, and one swift kick to the face later, Carmella became the new SmackDown Women’s Champion. While I have no complaints about how everything transpired, I feel like this moment would be ten times better if it happened at WrestleMania. But screw it, we got a new champ and I’m just glad they didn’t do a Baron Corbin for the first female MITB cash-in. I’m excited to see what the Carmella Era has in store for us.

    Finally, let’s talk about this week’s unbelievable main event. To further grasp my reaction to this match, allow me to get personal for a bit. I used to be one of those weirdos who spent hours tweaking and modding the N64 game WWF No Mercy to simulate an alternate wrestling universe of my own. And on the first PPV of my fantasy federation, the main event featured AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship. Yup, I was a loser. 

    But you know what, this loser got to see his fantasy match-up in a WWE ring on free TV, so suck it. The match itself is everything you can expect from a match of this caliber. Even when D-Bry made some slight changes to his wrestling style to make it safer for his body, you'd still think he's the same fiery dragon we've come to know and love. I wanted to see a definite winner, but one asshole ruined it for everyone, and that asshole was Shinsuke Nakamura.

    Nakamura is a dick. That’s Nakamura’s heel turn in a nutshell and I’m loving it. He managed to be more charismatic by using the language barrier as his main arsenal. “Sorry, no speak English” might be seen as a stereotypical remark, but in the context of Nakamura, it’s the ultimate dick move. And who ruins a much-anticipated dream match, anyway? That’s heel Nakamura for you. After the interference, he walked out wearing a weird smirk and his normal mannerisms got a little bit creepier. He looked like a crazed maniac. I’m scared and thrilled at the same time. Please don’t trade these three men to RAW.

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: I’m completely blown away by this week’s episode. Major changes, great matches, iconic moments—not a dull moment passed by. It’s easily the best episode of SmackDown Live to date just for the main event alone. Sure, we could’ve had more call-ups or returns, but nah, that’s not how we roll here on the Blue Brand. We’ll have the Superstar Shake-Up next week anyway. There’s no question, SmackDown Live deserves an A+.  

    Some Blue Brand Blues That Didn’t Make It

    • Is it really that hard to listen to the fans and just give Rusev some goddamn recognition already? You could’ve done it at 'Mania and you could’ve done it this week. I guess it’s really that hard, since they opted to go with another Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal program than to, you know, give in to what the crowd wanted. Gee, however did they know what I really want in life?
    • I didn’t really get why The Usos had to fight for a tag championship rematch, but in the end I didn’t really mind because they produced another great encounter with the New Day. I will never get tired of seeing these two teams clash. I especially enjoyed the spot where Jey Uso and Xavier Woods were basically slugging it out by throwing stiff elbows to each other. Classic stuff.
    • Let’s speculate some shake-ups. I think Naomi and Natalya will be shipped to RAW and we’ll get Absolution in exchange. Finn Bálor to SmackDown Live, anyone? Also, do you think they’ll move New Day back to RAW to avoid the awkwardness?
    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 frequent 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 (4/10/18): SmackDown of Honor Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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