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    Thursday, February 21, 2019

    SmackDown RunDown Live (2/19/18): NXT in Line

    We’re months away from the next NXT TakeOver, but NXT literally did a takeover this week on the main roster. Ricochet, Aleister Black, Tommaso Ciampa, and Johnny Gargano delivered impressive performances on their first night out as main roster talents. While I initially thought they were exclusive to RAW, they also made their presence known here on SmackDown Live and I couldn’t be more excited. Plus, we have #KofiMania running wild and it’s awesome!

    But let’s single out our newest call-ups one by one. I’d like to start with Aleister Black because he’s just awesome. I really wish he stays on SmackDown Live and takes Undertaker’s place as the Blue Brand’s newest supernatural being. Because really, Bray Wyatt didn’t live up to the hype. Black got the NXT callback spot of the night when he faced Andrade, the man he beat for the NXT Championship at TakeOver: New Orleans. Everything about his main roster debut was perfect. Someone add him to the SmackDown Live roster already, stat!

    I don’t really get why Ricochet had to go through NXT. I was sure he would get the AJ Styles treatment when he signed with WWE last year. His match with Eric Young was proof enough that Ricochet is main roster material. Just look at them flips and tricks! And hey, he brought SAnitY back on TV. That’s a neat bonus. I’m sure NXT won’t run out of reliable babyfaces once the One and Only graduates from the Yellow Brand. I’m sure he’ll be sucked into RAW and he’ll hover around the midcard like Finn Bálor did last year. Is that mean?

    And while Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano impressed everyone with another great tag team match against The Bar, I still have mixed feelings about these two getting called up. For one, they are currently NXT’s top stars. They’re pretty much a big deal down there. But now that they’re up here, they’re just another tag team. Forget that these two had legendary matches in NXT, amirite? But yes, they were impressive against The Bar, no doubt. I just wish they held back on calling up these guys. At least close their storied rivalry first?

    These debuts were great, but what about the other callups? Nikki Cross, Lacey Evans, EC3, and Heavy Machinery are still pretty much brandless. If the plan was to eventually call up NXT’s big four, shouldn’t they give the first batch of callups a home first? It’s not really that hard to choose a brand for these guys. Look, I’ll do it for you. Lacey Evans and EC3 on RAW, Nikki Cross and Heavy Machinery on SmackDown Live. Or just give us Nikki Cross and we good.

    And finally, how about we dedicate another paragraph to Kofi Kingston, the hero we didn’t know we needed. Who knew two solid performances were all it took to give Kofi the biggest push of his career? I am so glad Creative chose to run with the gold they already have instead of ignoring it in favor of someone else, like they tend to do. No offense to Mustafa Ali, Kevin Owens, or any other possible contender out there, but as of this writing, Kofi’s the only one with momentum to headline WrestleMania as a champion or as a contender at least.

    So please, please, please make #KofiMania happen. I have a feeling he’ll lose at Fastlane anyway via some Rowan shenanigans. But pull the trigger at WrestleMania, you cowards. I dare y’all.

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: This week’s episode was almost a proxy NXT episode because of our esteemed guests, but we had #KofiMania and the return of Asuka to keep the show grounded. And while they ended the show with a humdrum six-man tag, the announcement of Fastlane’s main event brought the show to a satisfying close. For delivering stellar matches and storyline advancements and not oversaturating Becky Lynch situation, the mini TakeOver episode deserves another strong A.

    The RunDown Cutting Board

    • I’m not even mad that Asuka lost her first match back on TV. It’s not like she got obliterated by Mandy Rose or something. And Asuka was selling her head during the match, so that could explain why she didn’t have the strength to kick out. Now, all we need is for Sonya Deville to somehow pin Asuka next week so the women of SmackDown Live can have a triple threat of their own. I’d rather have this than nothing at all.

    • I like how Shane McMahon’s always goaded into doing things. I think this will be crucial to the eventual falling out between him and The Miz. Although wrestling logic dictates that they’ll break up eventually, I really hope they don’t. Let’s hope they go their separate ways with mutual respect or something. I know I’m reaching here, but that’s really what I want.
    • I know they’re all professionals, but I just find it funny that Aleister Black was pitted against his wife’s client, Andrade. It’s a clever rib if I ever saw one.
    • Completely unrelated to this episode, but I just read that Chris Hemsworth will play Hulk Hogan in a new biopic. Is Hogan even worthy to lift Mjolnir?
    Photos from WWE.com


    Ricky Jay Publico (@NitPickRick) 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 (2/19/18): NXT in Line Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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