Tuesday, September 28, 2021

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SmackDown Redux (July 26th, 2016): It’s time to take over

[media-credit id=762116 align=”alignnone” width=”620″]SmackDown-Women-26-07-2016[/media-credit]

After a tremendous episode of Monday Night RAW, SmackDown had a lot to live up to. Though it was practically guaranteed to never outdo its predecessor, it’s still hard to not be disappointed.

The women of the blue brand are first seen standing on the ring apron at the start of the show, alongside every other competitor. They watch the likes of Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan discuss the future of SmackDown by announcing things for the men. Though this is very male oriented, news that the first SmackDown only pay-per-view, Backlash, is announced to take place on September 11th on the WWE Network. So the women aren’t 100% ignored, just 99%.

After just over half an hour, the women become the focus as Natalya and Becky Lynch extend their rivarly. Here we see a good competition that results in the Queen of Harts tapping to the Dis-Arm-Her.

However, before the Lass Kicker can celebrate her victory, Alexa Bliss comes out as she makes her statement as being “the personification of what the new era looks like.”

Following Miss Bliss is the returning Naomi as she attempts to put down the SmackDown rookie. The fabulous Carmella soon makes her name heard but is quickly outshone as Eva Marie walks out (to the tune of a hilarious new entrance) without saying a word.

And then the segment ends.

In a SmackDown Live Fallout video, Alexa states that the other women of the roster shouldn’t be “worried,” they should be “terrified” and must never “bliss [her] off.”

Carmella also spoke in a Fallout video but takes a kinder approach than her former NXT rival. The Princess of Staten Island shares how excited she is to have been drafted and claims that she will “keep working hard” to prove that she is “the most fabulous chick on SmackDown Live.”

Maryse also made an appearance during Miz TV as her husband The Miz interviewed Randy Orton and then lost against in a singles match.

Thoughts: Prior to the very first edition of Tuesday Night SmackDown (with a brand split, that is) we’re made to believe that change will be apparent. On the weeks of build-up the words “change” and “new era” are practically the slogan for this new brand. But with that being the case, why does this feel like every other SmackDown we’ve seen before?

When RAW began, the elephants in the room were quickly addressed. We found out what the main title picture would look like, and the women’s division received a huge push. But when SmackDown starts, the women receive nothing. They’re made to stand outside of the ring to hear about the future of their male co-workers and then sent to the back before their presence is even acknowledged.

The huge issue with this is the fact that “change” was the word used to describe this new era. We were supposed to see things we hadn’t seen before, and things we clearly wanted to see. And with the women of the blue brand, the most “change” they get is that each woman is given a microphone – for about twenty seconds each.

It’s understandable as this is the first show and pretty much no rivalries exist, but what we do get feels almost pointless. Besides introducing the two women from NXT, there is no real addition to the women’s storyline here. This is literally a way for the women to say “hi, I exist,” and “hey, I exist too”, and then be done.

Although I really didn’t want to compare this to the inevitably superior RAW, it’s a real shame when you remember the huge change the red brand received after witnessing this. Despite the effort of the actual women being good, creative (once again) lets them down by not making them seem important.

Once RAW lost their main male title, it was instantaneously replaced, therefore making that division important.  However when the same happened to SmackDown’s women’s division, nothing followed it… not even a proper storyline.

In professional wrestling the main aim is to be champion. Though there are other storylines that take place, each separate division’s main story is always about a title belt. Yet, with all of the women on SmackDown they’re just aiming to be “the best” with no credentials to their name. We don’t hear a mention of a title, or even any history of each woman, and the lack of effort is evident.

Whilst I don’t doubt that a new championship will be on the way, not announcing it (or any actual story) on the first episode is a huge mistake. RAW has made its competitors in the Heavyweight and women’s divisions seem important, whereas SmackDown ignored the latter (as well as the large set of tag teams).

However, the one thing I want to praise SmackDown for is its utilization of all of its women. By having more NXT call-ups and underrated talent, this episode needed to focus on them – we even see the only valet being used in a segment! Each woman is given a microphone and, at the very least, this gives them a spotlight (despite it being so short).

SmackDown can easily shine bright with its women’s division. It has all the talent necessary to stand out and make an impact… we just need to see the women being given the chance to do so.

What are your thoughts on this episode? Do you think the future is bright for these women? How do you predict things will go down in the next few weeks? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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