Monday, October 25, 2021

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SmackDown Redux (April 11th, 2017): A shakeup to remember

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The Superstar Shakeup came and left its impact. With two (and a half?) new wrestlers on SmackDown Live, the division already feels so different. And although we don’t see an awful lot of action, we do have quite a bit to discuss.

SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon comes out during the show to address the new state of the blue side women’s division. Mr McMahon first introduces each current woman to the ring, and then aims to get on with the show.

James Ellsworth however has other plans as he isn’t exactly fond of Shane’s praise of Naomi. Ellsworth says that the fans don’t tune in for the “horrible champion” Naomi, they tune in for himself and Carmella, whom he dubs as Carmellsworth. The champ thinks differently, though. Naomi grabs the mic out of James’ hand and address ‘Mella. She tells the Princess of Staten Island to make sure to collect her “side chick” before he gets his “chin checked” – which Natalya seems pretty fond of.

After the quarrel with Ellsworth and Naomi ends, Shane takes ahold of the situation again. He introduces the newest edition to the roster as a “second generation Superstar” with a father that is in the Hall of Fame. He boasts about her high level of talent and practically forces the “WOO”‘s we hear in the audience. But to the crowd’s dismay (and my pleasure) it is none other than the returning Tamina Snuka!

After Snuka enters the ring, McMahon introduces yet another name – someone he refers to as “the biggest acquisition” in the Superstar Shakeup. He openly notices that the fans wanted somebody else, but despite the “we want Sasha” chants, in comes Miss Charlotte Flair! Draped in her luxurious gown she makes her way to the ring to stand beside her new colleagues. And it’s all looking a little interesting here…

Following the segment, a quick advertisement for a new female Superstar shows up, and it’s… Lana? The Ravishing Russian is seen dancing on a chair, showing off her long legs, and is said to be debuting on SmackDown Live “soon”. We’ll see.

Thoughts: So, that was all for us on SmackDown Live. And although it’s not much, it’s very reminiscent of the first edition of the rebrand back in July last year. We all hated the female driven segment back then because it was so short and did almost nothing. Yet look what happened after. Each woman became developed into her own character, got involved in at least one memorable feud and had multiple good matches. So now with the fact that each woman (minus Tamina and Lana) has had a decent build, who knows what’s to come in the next few months?

We have so many possible feuds and matches to stay tuned for that I don’t even care that the segment was so short. This is the same division that started with pretty much nothing and became one of the best parts of WWE’s weekly television schedule. These women conquered before, and with this new “shakeup” I doubt things are going to go sour from here.

One of the most important aspects of the new roster is Charlotte Flair.

Charlotte is a very important addition to SmackDown as the division has lost two of its biggest stars in RAW’s (deep sigh) Alexa Bliss and the healing Nikki Bella. Flair has most definitely had the biggest build in either women’s division since her debut in 2015. She’s constantly being pushed as the female face of the company and holds more star power than any of the active competitors. She is what this division needs to go to even greater heights. Despite the constant criticism of her winning a lot, she can still help the ladies of team blue. Charlotte will refocus the eyes of every casual viewer that didn’t look at SmackDown’s women before onto these ladies now. This force that has been running RAW for the past year will allow the likes of Carmella, Naomi, Tamina and Natalya to be seen by those that wouldn’t look at them prior to this. Flair is what SmackDown needs and I cannot wait to see her make her mark.

The return of Tamina is also very interesting. If you’ve been to a SmackDown Live event in the past few months you’ve probably seen her work with the women from this show. And that can only be a positive thing. Tamina will utilize the likes of Natalya and Naomi – women she has great chemistry with – to reinvent herself. We’ll be seeing a more dominant and solo side to Snuka, something we haven’t seen in a few years. Maybe we’ll even get a Team B.A.D. feud with Naomi? Who knows?

The competition on SmackDown Live is looking intense, and the title picture seems brighter than ever. We have three women with huge family legacies in WWE with Natalya, Charlotte and Tamina. We also have Ellsworth teasing a title feud for Carmella after he tried to come for the champion. And on top of that, Becky Lynch is finally reunited with her wrestling soulmate – just think of the matches that will come out of this when we have Fatal-Four-Ways that included Lynch, Flair, Naomi and Natalya. The potential is immense!

The whole Lana gimmick however, isn’t something I want to witness.

Lana has proven to be a particularly disappointing talent over the years. Her in-ring debut on the Wrestlemania 32 Kickoff was quite literally a slap and a kick. She then didn’t do an awful lot after that as she had a lacklustre and forgetful time whilst managing Rusev. Her feud with Summer Rae in 2015 was off to a great start, but the self-leaked TMZ news destroyed that… and any potential those involved had as well. So will I hold out hope for this gimmick in a division full of stellar talents such as Charlotte, Natalya, Naomi and Becky? No, I won’t, but I’ll be waiting to see if she proves me wrong and stands tall for once. But we shall see…

I will admit: I don’t feel comfortable with the division yet. I got so used to the former ladies and their bond that literally any change would’ve bugged me out. But I have hope, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What do you think of the prospects for the SmackDown Live women’s division? Who do you want to see become Women’s champion? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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