SmackDown Redux (April 18th, 2017): The Queen’s City

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The Shakeup has taken place, and now it’s time for it to take its place. With Tamina Snuka and the “biggest acquisition” of the Shakeup, Charlotte Flair, now ready to make their first moves, this episode in an intriguing one. And one that seems to set the pace pretty well…

At the top of the show, The Queen graces us with her presence as she enters the ring. Pretty soon, after elegantly smiling, she gets into the zone, demanding a title shot. According to Miss Flair, seven days without a title opportunity is far too long. So she needs one now.

And to her luck, the SmackDown Women’s champ Naomi comes out to the ring. Naomi states that over on SmackDown Live, there are no kings or queens, but there are champions. And champions, according to Naomi, fight, so she’s willing to let the blue team newbie fight for the title. And thus, she attacks Charlotte, tossing her outside of the ring. Charlotte wants to continue the fight and even pushes the referee out of the way, but SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon comes out to settle the differences.

McMahon says that regardless of résumés, SmackDown Live is about opportunity. So Charlotte must earn hers. And in order to do that, she’ll have to defeat Naomi in a match that same night. Cue the intense grin of the Queen. Naomi is also feeling pretty confident, but Charlotte quickly attacks her as an attempt to knock some of that away.

Once Shane gets backstage, he’s greeted by Natalya as she complains about not being given an opportunity for the SmackDown title whilst Charlotte is handed one straight away. He then reminds her that she had one at Wrestlemania, and it fell through her fingers. Oops. And although she meant a one-on-one match, she is quickly interrupted by the Princess of Staten Island and James Ellsworth. Carmella states that she surprisingly agrees with Neidhart’s views on the “coattail riding, coach flying, opportunity stealing, unappealing, daddy’s little wannabe.” Ellsworth then says that they disagree with Natalya however, as the person that deserves the title shot is Carmella. Neidhart then threatens Chinderella but is interrupted by SmackDown Live newbie Tamina.

Snuka says that she deserves a title shot too, but as Ellsworth scoffs at this idea, she defends herself, leaving James a little bit scared. Carmella then defends her friend and the conversation becomes pretty inaudible as they all squabble. However, Natalya quickly gets the group together and says that as management have their own plans, she has her own too – so they leave the room to discuss it.

The group then bump into Flair backstage and nastily welcome her to the locker room. Despite their words however, Charlotte walks past, but not before Natalya bumps her shoulder…

Flair then heads out to the ring to face the champ – and it’s a good one. There are some great moves/combinations such as the whip to the chest combined with the kicks to the side. On top of that we see Naomi use moves that have previously won her matches, yet Charlotte overcomes them. The bout is very close but after Charlotte pushes Naomi mid Rear-View and inserts the Natural Selection, the newbie takes home the win. So now, Charlotte Flair is the number one contender for the SmackDown Women’s championship!

After getting backstage, Charlotte sees the ladies and then winks and woos at them before smugly walking off. Nice.

On Talking Smack, the new number one contender says that she will rise to the top, and no one will beat her. Fighting words.

A promo for Lana then shows up later on, and I think we’re supposed to care for it.

Thoughts: The inevitably push of Charlotte is here, but it doesn’t appear to be what it seems.

The idea that Flair is coming onto SmackDown Live demanding to be on top is interesting. It almost feels as though she’s going to go through a downward spiral when she crashes… and have a face turn?

Charlotte is joining SmackDown with high hopes, and with high demands. She’s putting herself on a pedestal and is going up against SmackDown’s toughest competitor. She will crash and burn as Naomi is in for a lengthy reign, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Miss Flair is already being targeted by the ladies backstage, something that only protagonists seem to find themselves receiving. And there seems to only be one woman missing too… Becky Lynch!

Lynch has a great history with Flair, one that includes them being both enemies and friends. So maybe she will get involved?

I see the trio of ‘Mella, Neidhart and Snuka costing Flair her title opportunity next week, and eventually (whether it be the same episode or another time) Lynch will come to the rescue, confirming Flair’s full face turn.

Do I want to see Charlotte as a face? I didn’t think I did, but I can definitely see it working now. People are growing to like her as she’s proven how talented she is. And with fans rooting for Flair, this can easily give the heel push the likes of Carmella, Natalya and Tamina need – especially with the ultimate babyface in Becky being apparent.

The loss for Naomi isn’t something to worry about. During her feud with Alexa, she came across as invincible – she even managed to overcome five other women in the span of five minutes! Naomi is the hot topic on SmackDown Live and has looked brilliant over the past month, so this loss is exactly what she needed. Fans enjoy her because she’s real. She’s relatable. Naomi encourages fans to “feel the glow” even when they’re down – so is there really a point of saying it if she’s constantly on top? She needs to lose, and Flair needs to look strong – for now – if she’s going to have a huge downward spiral. This is interesting to watch, and the change in dynamics is extremely engaging. I’m excited.

As for Lana… well, her clips look overly edited to the point where her bad dancing is way too obvious. It feels as though she raises her leg and we have to cut to a new shot because she has no consistency. I have no hope for this woman, and the sooner she realizes that she belongs in the 2011 division as a jobber, the better.

What do you think about this episode? What are your predictions for the coming week? Who will defeat Naomi for the title? Let us know your views in the comments below!