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    Sunday, May 23, 2021

    The SmackDown BreakDown (5/21/21): R-E-C-Y-C-L-E Recycle

    As much as I want to call the Blue Brand the best-performing brand in all of WWE, they're still prone to main-roster Vince McMahonisms. It's ya boy Ro tagging in for Ricky this weekend, and this is the SmackDown BreakDown.

    In the lead-up to WrestleMania Backlash, I made the observation that the SmackDown side of the card skewed toward newer matchups (save for the Mysterios vs. the Dirty Dawgz) that hadn't been done at WrestleMania, whereas RAW featured all rematches. (Which made sense, considering the Backlash PPV had historically been a show to run WrestleMania matches back and extend those feuds a little more.) I gave props to SmackDown for moving forward in its greater creative direction.

    What I didn't really touch on is that even though the bigger picture looked different for SmackDown, the macro level wasn't really too promising. With the exception of Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro, every match they were doing was being served to us over and over in the weeks leading up to the show. That means they're still not fully utilizing the roster's depth, expecting us to take weekly iterations of the same matchup as proper feud-building—when it really isn't.

    When you're building up to a big PPV, that's kind of forgivable. But when you're done with that event, we kinda need to see something else.

    This recycling booking is super exposed on this week's episode of SmackDown, where three of the four actual matches were bouts we've been getting over the past few weeks. The fatal four-way main event gets a pass because it's the natural conclusion of two separate midcard stories merged together, though I wouldn't put it past them to keep Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens going after this week.

    It's just more than a little disheartening to tune in to the show and see the exact same things happening from the week before, like nothing was really moving forward. The worst part is you can expect SmackDown to do better than this—and it has. Sadly, this somehow proves that Vince McMahon is still booking the show even during its streaks of brilliance; it's just that he apparently knows what to do with two hours of SmackDown more than three hours of RAW.

    If there's anything positive to take away, however, it's that next week seems like we'll be seeing some real new stories (or other stories moving forward). They were just closing some chapters this week, but after seeing the way they write their feuds, I think we could've just gotten the next chapters started already. (At least Aleister Black is finally back.) Even if Hell in a Cell is five weeks away, you do not want to be wasting any time—SmackDown already learned that lesson in the buildup to WrestleMania Backlash. Every week matters.

    FINAL BREAKDOWN: After some solid momentum heading out of WrestleMania Backlash, the brand threw a wet blanket to stop all of that with a largely skippable episode. The fatal four-way match didn't even get a big fight feel. They're lucky they finally trotted out Aleister Black to get his comeback going. B-

    SmackDown Thoughts That Faded to Black

    • My biggest worry about the Aleister Black comeback is that he's going to keep spouting kooky shit that isn't going to connect with anybody. I've played in e-feds that reveled in stuff like that, the early-Bray Wyatt type of character, but growing up you realize that you need something you can easily grasp. Something concrete. Bray eventually figured that out, but I'm afraid that whoever is writing Aleister hasn't yet.
    • Until the Usos get on the same page and challenge for the tag titles, what else are the Mysterios gonna do?
    • The women's tag team division is super lazy now that it's just Natalya and Tamina vs. ShayNia. Bring the Riott Squad back up. Have the other tag teams on RAW challenge for the titles.
    Photo from WWE
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    Item Reviewed: The SmackDown BreakDown (5/21/21): R-E-C-Y-C-L-E Recycle Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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