It’s only fitting that I am drinking BLUE Moon tonight because WWE Smackdown has been on my mind.
It has been no secret that I have NOT been a fan of the blue brand the past few months. Heck, the red brand (WWE Raw) has not been too rosey either, but that is another column for another day. I didn’t even watch some episodes during the Braun Strowman/Universal Championship run. I would miss the show due to work or early to bed or whatever and make a plan to watch the next day…but didn’t care enough. I’d read the results and move on. This went on for a good portion of the summer, truth be told. However, there has been a change in the air recently. You could feel it two days before Summerslam, but it has been riding high ever since. Why the shift? Easy.
ThunderDome – Look, it is not perfect. We can all agree to that. The screens are kinda ‘meh’ after the initial cool factor disappears. The noise is hit or miss with all the piped in crap. I am not even sure this is an improvement over the Performance Center phony cheering. Still, the big arena feel and lights make all the difference in the world. It feels like “WWE.” Make all the jokes you want, but the near empty PC just hasn’t felt like a can’t miss wrestling show. No matter what they tried. Legend after legend came and went, and it didn’t matter. You were still at the PC without fans and near silence. Since the ThunderDome began, the smoke and mirrors at least give off the vibe that things are going back to normal, even if we are still far away from that reality.
Roman Reigns – If you were following me on Twitter, you knew that The Big Dog was coming back at Summerslam. However, it does not matter who you are following on Twitter because NOBODY saw the heel turn coming. Much less the reveal that he was now a Paul Heyman Guy. To take things one step further, he was soon the brand new Universal Champion. The title he never lost is now his again. A great story to be told and has many real life elements behind it, except you can’t enjoy it because he is with the slime ball Paul Heyman and took the cheap way out. No different than Stone Cold defeating The Rock at WrestleMania X-7. He could have beat him fair and square without Vince McMahon’s help. He COULD have…however, he also could have lost. With Vince McMahon by his side and a wicked steel chair in his hands, there left no doubt. Stone Cold was defeating The Rock. Same here. Reigns very likely could have grinded his way back to the top, but he said screw that and is simply guaranteeing his path. The easy path. It has been a breath of fresh air to see his new persona, his new demeanor, his new attitude, his new walk, his new pose, his new aura. Roman Reigns has been THE top star in the business for years now, and he is proving it again.
Out With The Old – We tried Kofi Kingston as WWE Champion – due to the fans. It stunk, and the company moved on to Brock Lesnar in dramatic fashion. We tried Braun Strowman as Universal Champion – due to many reasons but due to the fans and the situation forcing WWE. It stunk, and the company quickly moved on. They have the stench of being the stars of the “Pandemic Era.” Same with Otis as Mr. Money In The Bank. I dig the Otis act (when he was with Mandy Rose). However, he represented a pretty difficult time period to be watching. Notice he has been off television as of late, down played BIG TIME compared to WrestleMania season and the aftermath. The Fiend and Bray Wyatt – same thing. Sheamus, same thing. Shorty G, same thing. Lacey Evans, same thing. King Corbin, same thing. No doubt those guys are still on TV every week but just not as focused on as before. They were simply the face of a failed time. Now, we have moved on to the “ThunderDome Era.” New faces to be front and center.
In With The New – Jey Uso is in a headlining position for Smackdown. He is going to be the top face battling for the top belt at a WWE pay-per-view. Whether he closes the show or not is irrelevant. He’s in there with Roman Reigns come PPV time. Amazing. Big E is getting another shot at being a serious single’s wrestler. He had a good run a million years ago, but nobody remembers that because of all The New Day nonsense. AJ Styles has jumped over to the blue brand and is mixing it up with the returning Jeff Hardy and Sami Zayn. Fresh guys in the IC Title scene. Nikki Cross has been a delight as of late. Alexa Bliss has always been great but is now adding another new twist to her blissfulness. Matt Riddle is there…doing stuff. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura are actually getting a spotlight for a change. Plenty to like here.
The Role Models – Finally, let’s discuss the most valuable players of the dreaded “Pandemic Era.” You could argue The Stud Drew McIntyre has carried the company. You could argue Asuka has carried the company. You could argue Adam Cole, Randy Orton and a few others. None of those mentioned jumped all over the three brands, competed for multiple titles, told great stories as heels and faces, held together different feuds at the same time, wrestled multiple matches in such a short time frame, got pay-per-view time and STILL somehow made Smackdown their brand in the end. Ladies and gentlemen, Sasha Banks and Bayley have just finished quite the summer. Absolutely incredible when you go back and rewind their journeys. Last week, it was officially capped off with the impending breakup. Bayley attacked Sasha Banks, and here we go! Like most, I hope this thing drags out until fans are back in the stands. Will it happen by Survivor Series in November? Maybe early 2021 in January at the big Royal Rumble? Perhaps WrestleMania 37? As long as Sasha comes out to a thunderous (get it?) ovation and attacks Bayley, I will be satisfied. Bayley can hold the title for the next 27,485 days or whatever…and Banks ends it. Now that is laying the smack down!
The bottom line is this, From early July 2020 to last night’s episode in early September 2020, Smackdown has GAINED 500,000 viewers. That is not just by luck or coincidence. WWE is currently doing a lot right. We have to give them kudos for it. Are YOU ready for a good time? I am, by watching Smackdown on FOX every Friday night.
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