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    Monday, August 16, 2021

    The SmackDown BreakDown (8/13/21): On Missionaries and Driving People Away

    Screw how we got here in the first place. Now that John Cena isn't dealing with the awkward Big Dog anymore, I'm all for the second Reigns vs. Cena verbal showdown. I'm Ricky Publico, and this is a late edition of the SmackDown BreakDown.

    It feels good to return to my SmackDown duties and review a wrestling show where the wrestling was the more underwhelming part of the show. If you're a laggard like me and you don't hate WWE yet for ruining NXT, or you chose to instead watch Rampage last weekend, do yourself a favor and seek the promos from this week's episode. And I'm not even talking about the Roman Reigns vs. John Cena face-off exclusively. Every big segment from last week's episode can be considered straight fire.

    But since I already mentioned them, let's talk about Roman Reigns and John Cena throwing down verbal assaults in the ring. I can't help but compare this to their initial encounter four years ago because the difference is just staggering. They even had the same blocking from their first promo—only this time, the man on the left is the best version of himself, and the man on the right is a man who's just a little bit past his prime. And they're booing Roman Reigns alright, but this time it's for all the right reasons.

    In short, this segment had everything: solid writing, clever callbacks, historical references, and personal jabs—all wrapped within 30 minutes of riveting TV. Apparently, both men reportedly avoided each other backstage to generate more tension, echoing the backstage rumors between The Rock and John Cena during their rivalry. Whether that's true or not, it definitely worked. Every insult cut deep, every verbal jab was barely pulled, and every personal attack made everyone react.

    They framed the segment to end in a draw, but if I had to pick the winner, I'll choose Roman Reigns. Finally, the Tribal Chief redeemed himself from his embarrassing outing back in 2017. He was far more confident and comfortable with his character. He also looked a million times cooler compared to his old vested self. I'm not even a sneakerhead, but I wanted to steal Roman Reigns' kicks because they just look awesome. I miss wearing cool shoes and going outside. Damn you, COVID-19!

    Meanwhile, John Cena's the same old guy beating the same old drum—not that it's a bad thing. But him sticking to his "Roman Reigns is protected" rhetoric just proves the Head of the Table's missionary metaphor. And his jab about almost ruining Seth Rollins didn't even make sense. When The Shield broke up, Seth Rollins became the company's biggest heel while Dean and Roman were left in the dust. Cena lost this one for lack of creativity and lame arguments, even if he had the last word.

    Did I mention that John Cena and Roman Reigns didn't even get the main event slot? That honor went to the contract signing of Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks. Finally, they're mixing it up when it comes to building up the SmackDown Women's Champion's first big rivalry in months by letting Bianca be in action more often. Sasha and Bianca may have great chemistry on the mic, but I would really prefer if Bianca walked the walk. She's supposed to be a fighting champion, after all. Let the evil challenger do the talking. 

    But back to the main event segment. It was great! They even used the dreaded B-word. Kidding aside, I love how they kept everything short and sweet. I certainly don't want to hear Sasha babble for hours, and I don't want to see the champion just stand there for hours taking it. And the inevitable brawl gave them the excuse to close the segment with yet another great visual: Sasha Banks applying the Banks Statement using Bianca Belair's braids. Not really sure why Carmella and Zelina Vega had to be there, though.

    I really thought back-to-back promos with barely any action is not a good way to build up a rivalry. We didn't need to see Edge and Seth Rollins hurl insults at one another every week. But now I'm convinced that this method will work as long as every single promo lands hard. If any rivalry wants to take this route in the future, make sure you have the following: an unfortunate encounter from several years ago, parallel careers, and the promo skills of either Edge or Seth Rollins. Mess up one promo in a week, and it's all over. 

    How come we're four weeks in, and Edge and Seth Rollins trading diatribes every week still doesn't feel old to me? Is it because Seth brilliantly pointed out the parallels between him and Edge in this awesome video package? Is it because Seth and Edge can go from goofy to diabolical seamlessly in a matter of seconds? Either way, both men have successfully crafted a storyline for the ages. I can't wait to see how they're going to escalate things this week because it's too late for them to screw everything up at this point. If they end up just brawling, I'll be fine with it.

    FINAL BREAKDOWN: Come for the promos, and then just leave. That's basically last week's episode in a nutshell. The good thing is the promos dominated most of the show, which means you only have to skip the matches to enjoy the show. I'm not saying the matches are bad; I'm saying you didn't really miss much because you've seen them before, probably more than once. Still, it was a solid show from top to bottom and a great way to continue hyping up all the SmackDown storylines for SummerSlam.

    Show Grade: A-

    BreakDown Thoughts that Also Need $100,000 to Maintain a Certain Lifestyle

    • I guess Shinsuke Nakamura winning his second Intercontinental Championship was notable, but the match felt more like a transaction than an actual match that was supposed to take you to the edge of your seat. They didn't even give Apollo Crews an entrance! That's how mundane everything felt. If anything, I'm more interested in the parallels between Nakamura and Apollo Crews, specifically, how to use a sidekick to push someone up the ranks. Spoiler: Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogz did it right.
    • And you know what, I'm still on board with Baron Corbin being the avatar for all of us broke people, even if a face turn isn't on the horizon. While I didn't really care about his match with Kevin Owens, Corbin stealing the MITB briefcase sparked my interest in the character. And hey, at least Big E gets to do something instead of just randomly creeping Paul Heyman out backstage.
    • Wait, did Dominik Mysterio just win despite getting distracted? That's illegal! 
    • So what's the plan with Otis and Chad Gable? Them being stuck in a feud with the Street Profits isn't doing anything for me. Like, are they gunning for tag team gold? Is Chad Gable going to exploit Otis to win some gold of his own? Or are they finally giving Otis the push he almost had? Just pick a lane already! Otherwise, this is just the Otis/Mandy Rose storyline waiting to happen: good until it just fades into obscurity.

    Header image taken from WWE.com


    Ricky Publico (@nyamnyamgarbage) is Smark Henry's seasoned veteran and resident main roster reviewer. He's a sucker for well-written promos and fast-paced matches. While he enjoys nitpicking shows, he now prefers enjoying wrestling for what it is instead of stressing himself over things he can't control. He's anxious about the future, now more than ever. His potential haunts him.

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    Item Reviewed: The SmackDown BreakDown (8/13/21): On Missionaries and Driving People Away Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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