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    Friday, March 29, 2019

    SmackDown RunDown Live (3/26/19): Fresh Afternoon Rules!

    I decided to submit this column late to listen and read every opinion I could possibly get (and not because I forgot to watch the show because I was feeling lazy). I just knew I’ll end up writing an incoherent rant that will barely make any sense. Now that I’ve organized my thoughts, let’s try to process this polarizing episode of SmackDown Live.

    I think you already know where the confusion is coming from. Instead of the previously advertised four-way match to determine who will face the SmackDown Women’s Champion at WrestleMania 35, Asuka defended her title against Charlotte Flair this week. No setup, no explanation. Charlotte Flair received a title shot without moving a muscle yet again. Obviously, the majority of fans and even the rest of the division were outraged.

    I was too, initially. It felt like a terrible swerve and a completely unnecessary wrinkle to the already historic Mania main event. Was it really necessary to throw Asuka to the curb just to give Charlotte Flair a new toy? Was it really necessary to bury the entire women’s division of SmackDown Live in exchange for the first-ever women’s Mania main event? Is WWE really that clueless when it comes to booking their Asian talents?

    But once I calmed myself down and considered all possibilities, I feel like the move wasn’t as bad as we think it is. Yeah, it still sucks that Asuka got screwed. There’s no changing that. What I’m saying is Charlotte Flair winning a title this late in the Mania build up could lead to a bigger victory for Becky Lynch down the line and the unification of the women's division. Those two things don’t sound bad at all.

    Becky Lynch actually foreshadowed this in her backstage promo before the match. Ronda Rousey is bringing the title, Becky is bringing the people. What does Charlotte Flair bring to the table? The other title, of course! It actually makes Becky’s eventual win more historic and memorable. She will beat two of the best women WWE and UFC ever produced to become the first-ever Undisputed Women’s Champion. Now tell me you don’t want to see that.

    And as for Charlotte Flair receiving a random title shot? That actually works on the narrative that she gets handed opportunities like it’s nothing. She’s become the female Roman Reigns, the Reigns that we should’ve seen during the time when he’s being shoved down our throats. This is how you should book a Golden Boy/Girl character in wrestling. Just shower him/her with lots of favors and make the character unapologetically smug about it. Cue the outrage.

    This means WWE will probably combine the RAW and SmackDown Live women’s divisions into one brand. That’s awesome! Women’s Tag Champs Sasha and Bayley are already floating on all the shows anyway, so why not give the women their own weekly show with their own proper champions? It seems like a no-brainer to me. And if that’s too much of a stretch, the fact that certain NXT call-ups still don’t have a brand makes me think they’re getting rid of the brand split once again. So I think no matter what, we’re getting a unified women’s division.

    It also bodes well for Asuka if this ends up happening. Creative should play their cards right and use this angle to fuel a future Asuka heel turn. Under a unified roster, Asuka can easily thrive by not having her face the same women on a weekly basis. After all, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair can’t hold the fort forever. So the Empress of Tomorrow may be down on the dumps now, but I’m sure there are far bigger things in her tomorrow. Evil Asuka masks, anyone?

    Then I saw this rumor that the SmackDown Women’s Championship won’t be at stake at WrestleMania because Creative wanted to end the show with the Four Horsewomen holding all the women’s titles. Seriously? You risk burying a brand’s entire women’s division just for a photo op? Why not have Charlotte vs. Asuka then? Someone stop me, my mouth is foaming.

    But hey, this episode wasn’t all bad. It actually ended on a skyrocket-high note with Kofi Kingston finally punching his ticket to WrestleMania, all thanks to his New Day brothers, Xavier Woods and Big E. Kofi’s biggest supporters actually pulled off what he couldn’t, and that is to successfully run through a gauntlet with double the difficulty. No swerves here, folks. Kofi Kingston is really getting the most important match of his entire career. KofiMania all the way, baybeeeeeee!

    Now you might think it’s a disservice to Kofi Kingston that he himself didn’t earn his Mania spot, but that’s exactly what’s clever about this whole event. On one hand, Xavier Woods and Big E already pointed out that Kofi has already earned everyone’s respect. On the other hand, Daniel Bryan reminded everyone that Kofi failed to earn the opportunity himself. Vince McMahon acknowledged all that and found a compromise: he challenged X and E to put their money where their mouths were. How far can New Day’s power of positivity crap bring them?

    Far enough to bring Kofi Kingston to Wrestlemania, that’s how. Xavier Woods and Big E fought their way through five tag teams, the last one being Daniel Bryan himself and Rowan. New Day are obviously the MVPs, but the standout had to be The Usos for forfeiting the match out of respect. That’s a goddamn class act right there. Also, Becky Lynch at Kofi Kingston’s fan club backstage was adorable as hell. So yeah, KofiMania is official and that’s all I need.

    SMACKDOWN RUNDOWN: Regardless of whether you agree with whatever’s happening or not, we can all agree that this week’s show jolted everyone awake in anticipation for WrestleMania 35. The biggest WrestleMania main event in history just got bigger while SmackDown Live finalized their Mania main event in the best way possible. That’s all you ever need to earn an A+ from me. They’ll probably throw in another gauntlet match next week for old time’s sake and you know what? I wouldn’t even complain... maybe.

    The RunDown CutDown

    • This week’s episode also featured all of SmackDown Live tag teams. Yes, even SAnitY made some TV money this week. Isn’t that awesome?
    • I was also initially disappointed that AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle did not go as planned. But on second thought, I think it’s fine. At least we got a great sequence out of it. Angle is clearly not the same Angle he was years ago. Suddenly, Angle vs. Corbin isn’t that bad of a concept anymore.
    • So Miz can take on a bunch of security, Primo Colon, and SAnitY all at once just because his father got beat up? Damn, now I like The Miz more. Where has this guy been all these years?
    Photos from WWE.com


    Ricky Publico (@NitPickRick) 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 (3/26/19): Fresh Afternoon Rules! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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