Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The SmackDown Files: The Blue Brand Blues Edition (7-26-2016)

By: Keila Cash 

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of The SmackDown Files. Tonight marks the official debut of SD Live! on the USA Network with a brand new roster. After last’s night hot episode of Raw, the blue brand has to bring the heat in order to compete. 

They do have a reason to brag as Dean Ambrose kept the WWE Championship on SD which gives the show a much needed boost in terms of excitement. However, the mid-card scene is shallower than a Kardashian which is a major cause for concern. Outside of the established main eventers, some wrestlers need to be built up ASAP. Who will answer the call and rise to the occasion? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live! in no particular order.

·         The new SmackDown Live opening intro is…Flashy.

·         A new number one contender for Dean Ambrose’s WWE World Heavyweight Championship will be decided via a Six Pack Challenge featuring John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt, Baron Corbin, and AJ Styles. The sixth spot will go to the winner of a battle royal featuring the rest of the SD roster.

·         This was a good way to counter Raw’s opening from last night. It was simple and straight to the point. I will say that the red brand’s visual presentation is a touch better than SD’s.

·         This Battle Royal is thin on believable threats and talent. It’s a little concerning.

·         Mauro Ranallo tried to make Zack Ryder look good by saying he nailed a dropkick to the back of Kalisto’s head only for JBL to undercut him by saying Ryder missed the mark. He’s 100% right, but there is a way to clean it up without making it look too bad for the viewers at home.

·         Moments later…

·         Ryder is having a bad night in the ring. At least JBL tried to save face this time around.

·         Apollo Crews eliminated Kane to clinch the final spot in the Six Pack Challenge scheduled for later tonight. The final four featuring Crews, Kane, Kalisto, and Ryder was okay. There was some sloppiness that detracted from the match a bit, but it was fine for the most part. The mid-card is lacking in depth right now. Several wrestlers need to be revamped in order for fans to take them seriously. Hopefully, the SD creative team will remedy this situation over the next few months because this Battle Royal was hard to invest in at times because there were no legit contenders that stood out from the pack.

·         Shelton Benjamin is coming back! That is something I can definitely get behind. He is super talented and can easily give the SD roster a boost in the credibility and experience department.

·         Becky Lynch and Natalya had a pretty good match that kept the crowd’s interest throughout. Lynch made Nattie tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her to pick up the win. It was nice to see Lynch pick up a quality win for a change.

·         Lynch’s moment was ruined as Alexa Bliss, Naomi, Carmella, and Eva Marie made their presence known. Carmella put a little too much stank on her promo which made her slightly annoying. Bliss was spunky and cocky. Naomi appeared to turn over a new leaf as a babyface which suits her much better in my opinion.

·         Eva Marie stole the damn show by having her own ring announcer read a bunch of bullshit superlatives to describe her awesomeness. I will say that her all-red everything outfit put everyone to shame. As a female, I have no problem saying that her body was banging from head to toe. Despite that fact, looks can only take her so far. She’s in the big leagues now. If this was 2007, she would be the hottest woman in the division. Times have changed and Eva needs to prove her worth by showing it in the ring as a competent wrestler. She has shown small flashes of what she can do when she’s not overthinking things in her head. Let’s see if she can step up to the plate and cement her place in the Women’s Division on SD.

·         Random question. Will the women be getting their own title since The Women’s Championship is exclusive to Raw? I need Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon to fill in the blanks for me. Same goes for the Tag Team Title situation as well. Fighting for pride is nice, but having some gold on the line adds incentive to show up and show out every week.

·         The Miz weaving in all of Randy Orton’s catchphrases only to introduce himself as the guest on his talk show was pretty funny.

·         Here comes The Viper!

·         I have no idea what has gotten into Orton, but I am digging his carefree attitude. He is having FUN as a babyface and that is something I have never seen outside of him completely destroying The Authority on the mic last year on Raw. He needs to stay this way permanently.

·          The good news for Miz: He looked like a badass for a grand total of three minutes.

·         The bad news for Miz: He got hit with an RKO out of nowhere. Twice. That was a nice warmup match for Orton. It was nothing special, but it was effective.

·         Heath Slater meet Rhyno. Rhyno meet Health Slater. Gore! Gore! Gore!

·         I will give Slater credit for showing great fire on the microphone. That might have been the best promo he has cut in his entire career. If WWE actually takes his character seriously, he might be a good hand for Raw or SD.

·         It looks like Rhyno is going to be on SD as a veteran mid-carder. He was revitalized on NXT and can add some major cred to the blue brand as well. It’s sorely needed at this point.

·         Wow. Dolph Ziggler is going to SummerSlam to face Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I am a little shocked.

·         The Six Pack Challenge was easily the best thing on the show and it’s not even close. The action was pretty good for the most part. Everyone had a chance to shine. John Cena got a chance to run wild by hitting everyone with an AA only to be drilled with the Phenomenal Forearm by Styles. Unfortunately, Styles got nailed with a sick Superkick from Ziggler which ended any chance he had at co-headlining the biggest party of the summer.

·         The process of elimination was in full effect as I removed Cena and Styles from championship contention before the main event started. They are still in a heated feud and it would have made no sense for either man to be chasing a title right now unless it was strictly a one-on-one affair against each other.

·         Therefore, it would come down to Wyatt, Crews, Corbin, and Ziggler to punch their ticket to SummerSlam. Wyatt would have been a bad choice because he and Ambrose have faced each other too many times for it to feel special right now. Crews had an outside shot, Corbin would have been a bland choice because he has more to prove as a wrestler and character, and Ziggler was the scraps left on the table.

·         The Showoff has been beaten down for well over a year. Some fans have lost confidence in him, but SD can be the place where he can start fresh. A heel turn would do him a world of good. Ziggler’s babyface turn from a few years ago has run its course and I think he has what it takes to be a villain if he doesn’t get too cheesy with it. SD is the land of opportunity and taking ballsy risks will make them stand out from Raw. They need a spark and a Ziggler heel turn might do the trick. Let’s put his Twitter handle to practical use, shall we.

·         Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was decent at best. There was not a marked difference in how the show was presented outside of a few nifty camera angles. The biggest issue SD is facing right now is the lack of mid-card talent. It is skimpy right now and it seemed as if WWE had to stretch out the show because of it.  As I mentioned earlier, several wrestlers need a serious reboot. The Battle Royal was an indictment on how thin the roster is right now. Outside of the top five draft picks and American Alpha, SD is borderline snooze worthy.

·         If the blue brand is being portrayed as the underdog, they are winning by a landslide right now. It’s like the tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s ugly, but a little love would help it grow and flourish. There are a few solutions to help SD Live forge its own identity. They can sign some free agents, see if Raw is willing to make a few trades in order to help both shows, or wait until after NXT Takeover: Brooklyn to see who they can get to shore up their roster. Until then, the creative team needs to get on the ball and shake things up. This is a live show now. The crowd will be more attentive, but they will sit on their hands if the in-ring action has no rhyme or reason to it. It’s going to take some patience, but I have to believe that SD Live! will become must-see television in due time. Daniel Bryan can rally the troops, but the follow-up is key. Let’s hope they can get the job done. Fingers crossed!

On that note this wraps up this week’s edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls! 

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