Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The SmackDown Files: The One Where The Riott Squad Copied Off Absolution's Homework (11-28-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. After sparing Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s jobs last week, did Daniel Bryan face disciplinary action from Shane McMahon? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        SD Live kicked off with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan working through their managerial differences when it came to Bryan not firing Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn last week. Bryan believed in second chances and didn’t want to send their two top stars to Monday Night Raw. McMahon disagreed and listed their various crimes and misdemeanors over the past few weeks.

·        Bryan wanted Shane to trust his judgment when it came to Owens and Zayn because he knows what it’s like to be fired. Shane-O-Mac agreed and co-signed Daniel’s decision to book KO vs. Randy Orton for later tonight. However, Shane raised the stakes by barring Zayn from ringside and making the match no disqualification as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was an okay way to start the show. Seeing Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan playing out a backstage skit in front of the live crowd was a bit tedious, but the message of them being on the same page clicked for the most part. However, I have a feeling that their business relationship is still on shaky ground.

·        The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) defeated Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable when Woods pinned Benjamin with the UpUpDownDown in a good match. The action was fast-paced and crisp throughout which kept the crowd hyped from start to finish.

·        The Usos were entertaining on guest commentary as they put over both teams before reminding the audience that they still had the tag team division on lock. The win puts The New Day back in title contention, but Benjamin and Gable will have something to say about that because they are due a SmackDown Tag Team Title rematch against The Usos due to their first match ending via count out a few weeks ago in Manchester, England.

·        The Bludgeon Brothers defeated The Hype Bros when Rowan pinned Zack Ryder with a Double Chokeslam. Harper and Rowan looked impressive once again as they handled their business in two minutes or less. They have the potential to get over as a top tag team if they are booked properly.

·        Meanwhile, the Hype Bros are finished as Mojo Rawley attacked Zack Ryder from behind during a post-match interview with Dasha Fuentes. It appeared that Ryder was primed to turn heel when he returned to in-ring competition earlier this year, but Rawley is now positioned as the bad guy. This might be for the best because Rawley’s hype persona is very annoying which might’ve turned him heel by default.

·        AJ Styles defeated the Singh Brothers when Styles hit Samir Singh with a Styles Clash from the second rope while landing on his brother Sunil to somewhat soften the blow. It wasn’t enough as The Phenomenal One squeaked out the win after Jinder Mahal jumped him from behind before the 2-on-1 handicap match got underway.

·        Incensed, Mahal hit both Singh Brothers with the Khallas which might come back to bite him in the ass in the not too distant future. Just a hunch…

·        Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan are now known as The Riott Squad. The name is meh at best…

·        The Riot Squad defeated Charlotte, Natalya, and & Naomi when Ruby Riott pinned Charlotte with the Riot Kick in a one-sided match.  Natalya bailed early on while Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan took out Naomi when they slammed her into the barricade and steel steps. The upped the violence by slamming her head against the steps while she was trapped underneath them for good measure.

·        Charlotte tried to make a comeback, but the numbers game caught up to her down the stretch. Riott, Morgan, and Logan were impressive in the ring, but their attack on Naomi didn’t generate a lick of heel heat. This faction is too similar to Paige’s crew on Raw which makes this version come off as low rent which sucks considering the talent involved. Here’s hoping both groups differentiate themselves from each other because fans shouldn’t be catching a case of déjà vu every week.

·        I have a sad announcement to make. The Fashion Files has officially jumped the shark. As I mentioned a couple of months ago, season two was in danger of falling into the dreaded sophomore slump and that theory was proven right based on tonight’s weak parody of Saw. At least The Ascension still makes me laugh from time to time.

·        Kevin Owens defeated Randy Orton with a Frogsplash thanks to an assist from Sami Zayn. Despite being banned from ringside, Zayn took full advantage of the no disqualification stipulation as he hit Orton in the leg with a steel chair towards the end of the match.

·        The referee was powerless to stop Zayn because of the DQ rule as he continued to attack Orton with the steel chair. Owens’ guardian angel made a hasty exit as Owens took advantage of the situation. Orton made a brief comeback as he nailed KO with a Draping DDT. He went for the RKO, but Owens delivered a chop block to Orton’s injured leg which set up the finish moments later.

·        The match itself was very good as Orton went after Owens once the bell rang. He hit KO with some stiff Kendo Stick shots, but Owens returned the favor as he got back on offense before the obligatory commercial break.

·        Orton regained control when he dropped Owens with a Superplex from the top rope followed by a Belly-to-Back Suplex on the announce table. He went for his finisher, but Owens rolled out of the ring and escaped through the crowd. Orton chased him down and brought the fight to the main entrance ramp which gave Zayn the opening he needed in order to save his best friend.

·        How will Daniel Bryan respond to Zayn’s latest act of defiance? Will Shane McMahon step in to make another unilateral decision that creates more friction between him and Bryan? Most importantly, how will Zayn and Owen take advantage of the situation as they pit their bosses against each other? So many questions, so little time!

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was solid for the most part. The Lexington crowd was hot early on, but their enthusiasm tapered off during the second hour despite the in-ring action being up to par most of the night.

·        Clash of Champions is a little over three weeks away and one match has been officially announced for the PPV so far. AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship is set, but WWE needs to flesh out the rest of the card between now and next week’s show in San Diego, California.

·        Bobby Roode vs. Baron Corbin for the United States Championship appears to be a lock while the Tag Team and Women’s Title bouts are in a state of flux due to a lot of moving parts wreaking havoc over the past couple of weeks. Here’s hoping the creative team can sift through the chaos and finish the year strong by putting on an entertaining PPV. We don’t need another Battleground on our hands…

On that note, this wraps up another 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!

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Raw Exposé: Absolution Is A Mystery... (11-27-2017)

By: Keila Cash 

Location: The University of Tennessee (AKA Citizen Kane Country) 

·        The Roman Reigns Intercontinental Championship Invitational kicks off with Reigns defending his newly won title against Elias later tonight. It’s not the sexiest match in the world, but it should be solid.

·        Seth Rollins defeated Cesaro with a knee to the face in a good match. Cesaro dominated the action early on, but Rollins picked his spot as he got back on offense down the stretch. The announcers emphasized that there would be no outside interference due to Dean Ambrose being on his honeymoon in Hawaii while Sheamus was on sabbatical in Ireland.

·        Sheamus’ absence didn’t stop Cesaro from cheating as he poked Rollins in the eye behind the referee’s back. This allowed Cesaro to deliver the Big Swing to Rollins before locking in the Sharpshooter. Rollins managed to grab the bottom rope to break the hold, but Cesaro kept the pressure on as he attempted to nail Rollins with a Springboard European Uppercut. Rollins countered with a kick in midair which set up the finish moments later.

·        After the match was over, Charly Caruso interviewed Rollins in the ring and tried to stir up trouble by claiming that The Shield was on the verge of breaking up due to each member flying solo this week. Rollins shot the rumor down and announced that he and Ambrose will face The Bar for the Raw Tag Team Championship next week in Los Angeles as he bid “Charles” adieu.

·        Kurt Angle announced that there would be a pair of Fatal Four Way matches taking place tonight and next week with the winners facing off the following week to determine the number one contender for Enzo Amore’s Cruiserweight Championship. It’s shocking to see WWE book three weeks of television in advance with a semblance of forethought and care. Talk about a Christmas miracle!

·        Samoa Joe defeated Titus O’Neil with the Coquina Clutch in a quick match. O’Neil put up a good fight, but the outcome was never in doubt. Apollo Crews came to his manager’s aid, but Joe choked him out to send the message that no one is safe from his wrath.

·        The six-woman tag team match featuring Paige, Sonya Deville, and Mandy Rose vs. Sasha Banks, Mickie James, and Bayley never got underway as Paige & Company attacked James and Bayley backstage.

·        Paige reminded the crowd that she planted the flag when it came to abolishing the word Diva from the WWE Lexicon. She was at the forefront of the Women’s Evolution and wanted credit for breaking the proverbial glass ceiling.

·        Deville and Rose pledged their allegiance to Paige while Banks was strongly encouraged to do the same.

·        Banks attacked Paige which led to a three-on-one beatdown as Deville nailed Banks with a Step-up Enzuigiri while Rose and Paige finished her off with the Sitout Facebuster and Ram-Paige respectively.

·        The group known as Absolution stood tall in the ring as the segment came to a close.

·        Paige made some valid points about being the one who built the foundation for the Women’s Revolution. However, Rose and Deville struggled on the mic as they were trying their best to remember their lines. The crowd showered them with the dreaded “What?” chant, but their attack on Banks ending things on a high note.

·        As I mentioned last week, I don’t think Rose and Deville are ready for primetime. It’s imperative that Paige does the talking for her team while her minions dish out punishment to those that refuse to kiss the ring. Minor criticism aside, the group continues to impress and I dig their name. It has a nice ring to it. It sure as hell beats the Submission Sorority from a couple of years ago…

·        Bray Wyatt defeated Matt Hardy with Sister Abigail in a decent match. The more important development was Hardy leading the crowd in a “Delete!” chant after the match was over. Is this the first sign of Broken Matt Hardy rising from the ashes? We shall see.

·        Wyatt’s rambling promo prior to the match annoyed me to no end. He is too talented on the mic to be saddled with such nonsensical bullshit. It was painful to watch.

·        Fatal Four Way Match #1 featuring Rich Swann, Noam Dar, Akira Tozawa, and Ariya Daivari ended with Swann defeating Dar with the Phoenix Splash in a solid match. The action was fast paced and hard hitting throughout, but the crowd heat was so-so at best.

·        It’s imperative that the creative team give the Cruiserweights distinct personalities which allow fans to care about them on an emotional level. Flashy aerial acrobatics can only go so far when there’s no substance to balance things out.

·        Roman Reigns retained the Intercontinental Championship when he pinned Elias with the Spear in a surprisingly good match. Elias put in that work and looked impressive throughout. Outside of his series of matches against Finn Bálor earlier this year, this was The Drifter’s best showing to date. He gave Reigns a fight as The Big Dog had to come from behind in order to squeak out the win.

·        The Miztourage got involved, but Reigns laid them out at ringside. However, the diversion allowed Elias to slam Reigns into the ring post which led to a beautiful elbow drop from the top rope followed by an equally impressive Sitout Powerbomb. However, it wasn’t enough to put away Reigns as the announcers heaped Elias with praise in order to give the impresario cover for coming up short. It speaks to his future as a star if he’s given more opportunities to shine in the ring like he did against the biggest star in WWE.

·        Reigns was heading up the ramp when Samoa Joe put him in the Coquina Clutch from behind. WWE officials broke things up, but Joe went on the attack once again as it appears that the Black Sheep of the Samoan Dynasty is next line for a shot at the Intercontinental Title. Let the Battle of the Badass Samoans begin!

·        Asuka made Dana Brooke tap out to an Armbar in the quickest match of 2017. Asuka’s dominance was on full display as Brooke’s game plan to attack out of the gate blew up in her face.

·        After the match was over, Absolution made their way to the ring to confront Asuka. However, the trio backed down and let The Empress of Tomorrow walk away unscathed. Was this a sign of mutual respect or did they realize that Asuka could annihilate them without blinking? Hmm…

·        Kane defeated Jason Jordan via count-out after Jordan failed to get back in the ring before the count of ten. Jordan came out blazing against The Big Red Machine, but Kane quickly overpowered him by tossing Jordan out of the ring. Jordan reinjured his right knee which led to the count out finish. Kane continued to attack Jordan as he tossed him against the barricade before going after the injured knee. Finn Bàlor made the save which led to Bàlor vs. Kane which took place after the commercial break.

·        Finn Bálor vs. Kane ended via Disqualification when Kane hit Bàlor with a steel chair at ringside which drew the automatic DQ. Kane continued his assault as a small section of fans chanted “One More Time.”

·        Kane wrapped the chair around Bálor’s neck and was about to end his career by stomping on the chair from the top rope when Braun Strowman made the save.

·        Strowman went after Kane and cashed his receipt from last week as he kicked the Big Red Machine’s ass from pillar to post. Strowman attacked Kane with the steel chair before taking the fight to ringside. Strowman picked up the steel steps and hit Kane in the head before tossing the steps in the ring.

·        He dropped Kane with a Running Powerslam onto the steps before slamming Kane throat first against the steel chair while using the steps as leverage. Strowman gave the crowd an encore as Kane gasped for air. He stumbled out of the ring as Raw went off the air with Strowman standing tall.

·        This was a fine way to end the show. Kane got his comeuppance, but it was at the expense of Finn Bálor. Bálor is already treading water due to Vince McMahon reportedly canceling his Universal Championship against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble because he’s not getting over with the crowd. That is such a load of bullshit because WWE controls their own narrative.

·        Bàlor has charisma oozing out of his pores. His in-ring ability is next level as he can go toe-to-toe with anyone on any given night. However, getting bitched out every week by the future Mayor of Knox County is doing him no favors when it comes to winning over casual fans.

·        They are the group that the company needs to reach out to in order to garner television ratings and network subscriptions. Therefore, Bálor needs to be presented as a star at all times. If the creative team can bolster Roman Reigns’ stock by orchestrating a Shield reunion in order to get him over as a babyface heading into his presumed Universal Championship match at WrestleMania, I’m pretty damn sure they have the capability to give Bàlor the same courtesy.

·        Sadly, they have to serve multiple masters as Bálor has to make Kane look strong during his feud against Braun Strowman. There a number of wrestlers who are low on the food chain who can do the honors, but the founding father of the Bàlor Club has to bite the bullet because he’s not “over” enough. WWE Logic for the win! *Insert Sarcasm Here*

·        In other news, Kane and Strowman continue their twisted game of one-upmanship as they try to destroy each other in the most violent way possible. Their brawls have improved, but I am still leery of them having an actual match unless it’s contested under hardcore rules. Here’s hoping both men deliver the goods because Bàlor is paying the price in more ways than one.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was decent at best. The in-ring action was solid, but nothing jumped off the page as must-see television.

·        Paige, Sonya Deville, and Mandy Rose continued to assert themselves as badasses while showing a modicum of respect to Asuka in the process. They know what hill not to die on…

·        Next week’s show should be livelier as Raw emanates from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. If I’m not mistaken, this is WWE’s FOURTH time in LA this year which has to be some kind of record. The company goes out of their way to make Raw feel special every time they visit La La Land.

·        However, running multiple shows in the same market can water down the product which is a lesson they learned in September when their west coast swing led to low attendance across the board. Here’s hoping history doesn’t repeat itself as the year winds down. Fingers crossed!

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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Top 5 Takeaways from WWE Survivor Series 2017

Top 5 Takeaways from WWE Survivor Series 2017
By Anton Ware

Hello Geektified family! It's time for another monthly review as we cover the latest WWE offering, Survivor Series. The Toyota Center in Houston, TX played home to the event and is the 31st edition of the show. Last year’s event featured Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg and two RAW vs. Smackdown 5-on-5 elimination matches from the men and women’s division. This year’s show featured another pair of 5-on-5 elimination matches and Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles in a Champion vs. Champion match. Who rises to the top you ask? Well, let's get into it!

#5: The Hounds Decimate the Unicorns

In the opening contest, The Shield took on the New Day in a dream matchup to determine the best trio in WWE history. This event marks the 5th year that the Hounds of Justice have been in WWE. At Survivor Series 2012, Rollins, Ambrose, and Reigns came through the crowd and interfered in the main event match on CM Punk’s behalf. Since then, they’ve have been running roughshod over WWE with title wins, Money in the Bank, and Royal Rumble victories. The New Day were also looking to leave their mark in history as well. Accomplished tag specialists in their own right, The New Day came into this as the underdog because they’ve had been criticized for being too “playful” and not having the aggression and intensity to match The Shield. New Day lost the SmackDown Tag Team Championship to The Usos inside Hell in a Cell last month and were out to prove that they can deliver in a big match setting.  The match itself was a damn fine contest. The match simply boiled down to who was the more cohesive unit.  Both teams showed signs of that throughout the match. The New Day would bust out some creative triple team moves while The Shield relied on their traditional offense of every member using their separate strengths for the better. In the end, it would be The Shield gaining the victory with a Super Triple Powerbomb from the second rope onto Kofi Kingston.

#4: No One Is Ready For Asuka

In the Traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series Women’s matchup for the Raw vs. Smackdown themed show, Asuka was the sole survivor of TEAM RAW as she eliminated Tamina and Natalya during the last five minutes of the match. The Empress of Tomorrow continues her dominance on the main roster. By picking up the win for her team and keeping her undefeated streak intact, one would think that a title opportunity is right around the corner. Stars like Bayley and Sasha Banks may take issue with her being next in line, but we shall see in the coming weeks what transpires.

#3: Less is more with Commentary

Throughout the show, we were treated with commentary from all five active members of the WWE announce team. What we also got was constant bickering over who works for the better brand and confusion as to who works for what brand. It really took away from the viewing experience because they were not on the same page when it came to storytelling which probably confused viewers throughout the show. WWE should’ve stuck with a three-man booth with alternating announcers for certain matches. Five men trying to speak and be the voice behind the in-ring action is too much and hopefully WWE will learn from this mistake come Royal Rumble time.

#2: Smackdown Dominates the Midcard While RAW Wins “The Big Ones”

The Young Lions of Smackdown put on a show by winning their respective matches for the blue brand. The Smackdown Women’s, United States, and Tag Title holders all prevailed in their Champion vs. Champion matches which painted RAW in a corner to turn up the volume against Shane McMahon and company and boy, did they ever. Brock Lesnar would go on defeat AJ Styles in a Champion vs. Champion match in a hard fought contest and Team Raw would defeat Team Smackdown in the main 5-on-5 elimination match which gave RAW bragging right for then night. Arguably the most star studded Survivor Series match in the event’s history, it featured the past, present, and future of the company being showcased in one monumental contest. The match wasn’t without controversy as Smackdown stars Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens attacked Shane McMahon to get revenge for not being put on the SD Live team. Owens and Zayn had been disgruntled over their position on the roster and wanted to make it clear they weren’t fans of not only Shane McMahon, but Smackdown in general. Speaking of the main event, that leads us to…

#1: The Ending

During the final moments of the main event, it came down to Shane McMahon (representing Smackdown) vs. Braun Strowman, HHH, and Kurt Angle (representing RAW) in a 3-on-1 situation. Each man wanted a piece of the Smackdown Commissioner by tagging one another to end the match once and for all. Kurt Angle won the tag game and put Shane in the Ankle Lock. As Shane was about to tap out, HHH broke the hold and dropped Angle with a Pedigree. HHH draped Shane over Angle for the pin as Strowman looked on in shock. Hunter signified his allegiance to Shane by helping him to his feet only to nail him with the Pedigree that clinched the win for Team Raw. Afterwards, HHH tried to get Strowman to celebrate, but he only infuriated the Monster of Among Men. Strowman accused Triple H of trying to betray him and delivered two Powerslams to HHH and walked up the ramp to end the show. The end of the show was flat and uneventful. Why did Triple H temporarily turn on his team by putting the screws to Kurt Angle for no apparent reason?  It cooled off the crowd as they were confused for the rest of the main event. What will the fallout be between Angle and HHH? Will there be any repercussions for Strowman’s attack on HHH? It all remains to be seen.

What did you guys think of the show? Was it a hit or miss? Let me know in the comments section. Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The SmackDown Files: WWE Presents - Revenge Of The Angry Unicorns (A New Day Story)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. WWE’s four-night stand in H-Town comes to an end as SD Live eats a slice of humble pie because Raw beat them at Survivor Series in head-to-head competition by a narrow margin.

The blue brand didn’t get punked out, but their egos were bruised after Shane McMahon’s Guerrilla Warfare tactics backfired. Did Shane-O-Mac offer a mea culpa or did he have a taste for revenge instead? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        Daniel Bryan spared the careers of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, but he didn’t let the outcasts off the hook after they tried to screw over Team SmackDown at Survivor Series. Since the entire locker room hated their guts, Bryan booked Owens and Zayn against The New Day in a Lumberjack Match as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was a fine way to start the show. Shane McMahon put over the SD Live roster for busting their asses on Sunday, but he singled out Owens and Zayn for being selfish megalomaniacs who only cared about their own self-interests. He was about to fire them when Daniel Bryan came out and gave them a reprieve before handing out their punishment.

·        Zayn being an over joyous asshole kept the segment afloat from an entertainment standpoint.  Outside of that, this was a blah way to start the show.

·        Shelton Benjamin defeated Jey Uso with Pay Dirt in a solid match. Chad Gable ran interference at ringside which enabled Benjamin to pick up the tainted win. The heel-babyface dynamic has been flipped as American Alpha 2.0 have used heelish tactics in order to outsmart The Usos in recent weeks. The role surprisingly suits them while Jimmy and Jey are getting over as badass babyfaces. Their eventual rematch for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles should be very good if both teams are given enough time to do their thing in the ring.

·        The NXT Invasion continued as Ruby Riot, Sarah Logan, and Liv Morgan attacked Naomi backstage. Becky Lynch tried to make the saved, but she got tripled teamed as well. This was an impressive debut for Riot, Logan, and Morgan as they’ve raised the stakes in the SD Live Women’s Division. It’s about damn time!

·        I think Shane McMahon is in for a rude awakening when he realizes that Daniel Bryan is not going to fire Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn after they are beaten to a pulp during the Lumberjack Match against The New Day later today. I smell a double-cross coming.

·        The Bludgeon Brothers defeated The Hype Bros when Harper and Rowan laid out Mojo Rawley with a Double Chokeslam for the win. This was a one-sided rout that showcased the twisted duo in the best possible way. This team has potential if they are booked properly.

·        The WWE Championship rematch between AJ Styles and Jinder Mahal will take place at the Clash of Champions PPV on December 17th. Here’s hoping this is the blow off match because Styles needs to hold the belt through WrestleMania. No offense to Mahal, but his title reign left a lot to be desired.

·        The Singh Brothers attacked Styles from behind, but The Phenomenal One made quick work of Singh One and Singh Two as he laid one of them out with the Styles Clash as the segment came to an end. This was a good way to build heat for their WWE title match next month despite Mahal cutting his promo from the Titantron.

·        The SmackDown Women’s Championship rematch between Charlotte and Natalya came to a halt when Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan attacked Natalya at ringside which caused the referee to ring the bell. Once Natalya was taken out, the trio set their sights on Charlotte as they triple teamed her as well.

·        Prior to the DQ, Charlotte and Natalya were having a solid match. It was a mirror copy of what they did last week, but it made sense in the grand scheme of things.

·        Riot, Logan, and Morgan made an impactful debut while Daniel Bryan remained mum about their actions. Very interesting…

·        Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn defeated The New Day when Zayn pinned Kofi Kingston with a roll-up after the BBFs took advantage of the lumberjacks fighting each other down the stretch. The match was solid, but it was nothing special.

·        Sensing that things were going downhill, Owens made a run for it while leaving his best friend behind. Rusev and Aiden English tried to intervene on Zayn’s behalf, but Kofi Kingston laid them out with a dive from the top rope onto the floor.

·        Xavier Woods threw Zayn back in the ring as the rest of The New Day pounced on him like a pack of angry unicorns. Kingston nailed Zayn with Trouble in Paradise before Woods and Big E finished him off with The Midnight Hour.

·        As The New Day celebrated in the ring, the camera cut backstage to Owens begging Daniel Bryan not to fire him. Bryan reassured Owens that he was never going to fire him. He recognized KO’s talent and decided to book him in a match against Randy Orton next week. Owens was about to pitch a fit, but he kept his cool as the show went off the air.

·        Shane McMahon’s reaction to Daniel Bryan’s decision not to fire Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn should be very interesting. Bryan is still salty that Shane invaded Raw without consulting him first. Hence the power struggle that has boiled over into tonight’s show. 

·        Can the brain trust of SD Live settle their differences before one of them decides to join the dark side of the force? Shane-O-Mac is susceptible to corruption based on his DNA alone. The same can’t be said for Bryan, but absolute power corrupts absolutely. Here’s hoping he can resist temptation because the blue brand doesn’t needed a bootleg version of The Authority wreaking havoc on Tuesday nights. 

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was decent at best. The in-ring was fine, but it was nothing to write home about. The fallout from Survivor Series felt muted as everything went back to business as usual after Raw and SD Live went to war with nothing on the line except pride. That’s the major drawback when it comes to Brand Wars (Insert Year Here). 

·        WWE needs to explore ways to up the ante next year when it comes to trades, future draft picks, and Royal Rumble positioning. Having something tangible to fight for will enable fans to care about both shows which should always be the ultimate goal. If not, it’s another frivolous battle for brand supremacy that rings hollow if nothing is gained in victory except bragging rights. Minus the bullshit trophy, of course. 

·        Based on what happened during the Lumberjack Match, it appears that Baron Corbin and Bobby Roode will be feuding over the United States Championship. Roode’s transition to the main roster has been disappointing thus far. I don’t think a series of middling matches against Corbin is going to get him on the right track, but we shall see.

·        With three more live shows to go until Clash of Champions, the creative team has enough time to flesh out the PPV card. The major title bouts are seemingly locked in, but a lot can happen between now and then. Here’s hoping the Powers That Be can work their magic because the blue brand needs to end the year on a high note because the quality of the show has taken a nosedive Post-WrestleMania season. Fingers crossed!

On that note, this wraps up another 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. Happy Thanksgiving, boys and girls! 

Spoiler review of Justice League

By Jim Scroggs
JHScroggs on Twitter and Instagram
November 20, 2017

Edited by Katie Westbrooks

The DC Films franchise hasn’t had the best reputation overall, especially with what happened last year with BVS and Suicide Squad. Soon after those films release, there was a tonal shift within DC/WB to get the films on the right track. Wonder Woman surely started that upward momentum amongst the audience and now that the long-awaited Justice League is here, let’s see what happens when the league is finally united.

What I liked

Considering we’ve only seen half of the league’s backstory, they did a good job of diving into (pun intended) Aquaman’s, Cyborg’s and Flash’s origin right off the bat considering this is a 2-hour long movie. There is a great exchange between Victor and Silas that shows the tension in how Victor was really created and it shows how talented they both are as actors. When Diana asked Victor to talk and get to know more about him, he wasn’t up for it at all. Eventually, he did come around when Silas was kidnapped by some Parademons trying to get to a Mother Box.
It was a nice touch to see two characters instead of just the one to be reluctant to join the team. That other character, is Arthur Curry. He’s a loner and doesn’t really know his place in this world. He is even confronted by Mera about this in Atlantis when Steppenwolf gets one of the three Mother Box's in Atlantis. He had a great moment in the Batcave. He started to somewhat wax poetic on some things but come to find out, he was actually sitting on the lasso of truth. So, I’m glad to see that Momoa can play with a sense of humor.
Flash really stole the show for me. Ezra Miller as Barry Allen was a fanboy who really didn’t know how he could use his powers. Once he figured it out, he was just fine in dealing with whatever was thrown at him. He had a great moment when he zipped around the Batcave exploring everything then ended up in the Batmobile – his eyes were so big and dart around with pure joy that he was there.
Wonder Woman was clearly the leader and I wouldn’t have put it any other way. Bruce and Diana had a little disagreement and Bruce decided to use Steve Trevor to put it back in Diana’s face. She immediately responded by shoving him about 3 feet. Diana is clearly the star of this ensemble and that’s saying a lot when you look at the whole roster. 
Batman was a lighter, more hopeful dark knight in this go around but Affleck still portrayed him like the Bruce Wayne we know and love. He took a backseat to Wonder Woman and even Superman at one point – I’m glad that he seems to be playing well with others as Commissioner Gordon would say. He really seemed to finally be open to being a part of a team. In a montage of all our hero's at the end, he joins Diana and Alfred in Wayne Manor and they discuss a large table with 6 chairs. Diana adds that there could be room for more so I really hope they pay off Green Lantern or even a Martian Manhunter joining the team. 
Superman’s return was a tad surprising – I’ll get into that later. When he was brought back to life, they used a Mother Box and a spark from Flash to kick start his heart, in a way. I was worried that he would come back angry, much like the tone of BVS or MOS, but he was confused about being alive – I would compare it to someone waking you when you are asleep. Nobody is happy if someone wakes them up so that’s the closest thing I can describe it as. The rest of the team tried to contain Superman and even Aquaman pointed out early that he wasn’t OK. Flash tried to get behind him but Superman noticed and started to turn his head as fast as Flash was running. Miller’s reaction was so perfect in that situation which made me like him that much more.
The amount of comical moments was less than I was anticipating. Including Superman carrying an entire building as a response to Flash helping a family in a truck, Cyborg and Flash had a funny moment with a fist bump that paid off later in the movie, and when Superman saw Batman for the first time. Superman referenced “Do you bleed,” and knocked Batman to the ground followed by Batman on the ground in pain saying “Yeah, something is definitely bleeding.”

The mid and end credit scenes were really good. The mid credit was pure fan service with Flash and Superman in a rural area talking about who’s faster. Some light chit chat follows then Barry lights a firecracker with his fingers and they start running. This is a nod to Superman 199 with the cover of Flash and Superman racing with the other members of the team cheering them on. I’m glad that a little piece of comics history was thrown in there. The post credit scene was something I wasn’t expecting, I’d heard that the Lex Luthor scenes were going to be left out so I didn’t think anything about him being in it. However, we finally got to see inside Arkham Asylum and someone with a bald head in a cell. Turns out, it wasn’t Lex  – he’s on a yacht somewhere waiting on someone. There’s a silhouette of someone with handles with tassels and I knew immediately that was Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke. He boards the yacht, instantly tells Lex that he better not be wasting his time and removes the mask to reveal a white haired Joe Manganiello. He looks perfect as Slade so I really hope this leads into The Batman (rumored title, of course). Lex monologues about God’s return and suggests that they should start a league of their own. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get the Legion of Doom as the villain but this is something that DC/WB can hang over Marvel Studios –  film with a team of heroes versus a team of villains. I really hope that we get the Legion of Doom or maybe The Injustice League.

I was OK with it

I would put these next points in an in between category. I don’t hate how Superman came back to the team but I wish there had been a little more fanfare to it. When Steppenwolf seems to have the team on the ropes, all we hear is Superman’s voice to get his attention. Maybe if he used a heat vision quick strike to stop Steppenwolf from attacking, see him levitate down and then start his lines, it might have been more effective.

The editing seemed tight but not as tight and somewhat disjointed as Suicide Squad. There really wasn’t much time to let things breathe and when it did, it was a bit of a surprise since it wasn’t a regular thing in this movie.

In the battle sequence between Steppenwolf and the combined forces of Amazon's, Atlanteans, and other forces in the universe (one of those other forces were the Lanterns), I’m glad that I got to see that part of the DC lore into this film but I wanted to see more. Maybe they aren't ready to tell that tale of John Stewart and Hal Jordan but I really hope we hear “In brightest day, In blackest night,” real soon.

Not so much

Many jokes were made about how Henry Cavill’s re shoot's taking place with a mustache since he was also shooting the latest Mission:Impossible film but I thought that since there were very talented VFX artists in Hollywood, this could be pulled off. (I actually saw a screenshot on Twitter of his face 5 minutes before the trailers started so I kind of blame myself for that) Sadly, it wasn’t pulled off very well. The very first scene are kids shooting cellphone video of Superman helping at an accident scene and it’s clear that was a re shoot. I’ve never seen the uncanny valley on half a human's face but I can now cross that off the list. I’ll make the same criticism with this film as I did with Thor:Ragnarok – the CGI backgrounds weren’t the best all the time but that’s forgivable in my opinion with how heavy CG’d this movie is at times. Maybe the effects artists ran out of time or maybe the budget didn’t allow them to go further. Who knows? But I hope this doesn’t become a trend or consistent in the future, regardless of movie. Little side note: In order to bring Clark back from the dead, they took him to the same place that Doomsday was born and you can tell it’s a “dummy” of Cavill. I wish they had actually used him for that scene.

This has nothing to do with the movie in itself but rather the marketing for the film. I really, and I do mean really, wish that Warner Brothers or whoever is cutting the trailers for this universe will stop putting out 3 or 4 fairly long trailers. Almost every part that I laughed at or enjoyed seeing in the movie, I saw it in a trailer that was a large portion of an entire scene. For instance, 70-80 percent of the scene or sequence with Bruce and Barry when they meet was in one of the trailers. That shouldn’t happen at all when you are trying to promote a film and I don’t want to see fairly large sequences in trailers.

Final Verdict

            I’m glad we got the tonal change with this movie instead of continuing with the tone that Man of Steel, BVS and Suicide Squad set. This movie isn’t perfect by any means but I think this is a good start to what could come from here on out (with or without Ben Affleck). It’s fun, it’s got heart, and shows the value of teamwork. I know that sounds like the synopsis of a Justice League cartoon but in a way, it felt like an episode of Justice League Unlimited put on the big screen. I know the reviews and box office dollars aren’t saying much but I really think this movie should be given a chance and the same goes with the future of the DC Films universe. I would put it at number two in the DC Films slate above Man of Steel and below Wonder Woman.

Justice League is in theaters now