Thursday, July 29, 2021

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SmackDown Redux (July 4th, 2017): A clear finish with a blurry future

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It’s the fourth of July so patriotism is in the air! With a women’s title match coming up, as well as the fallout of the Money In The Bank Ladder match, SmackDown’s women’s division has some things to get through. So let’s get down to business!

Before the show airs, our favourite announcer Lilian Garcia sings a beautiful rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner”.

Following this, though there are no official clips, a dark match between Charlotte Flair and Natalya takes place. Though the match didn’t make it to television, it was highly praised and Flair was ruled victorious after inserting the Figure Eight Leglock!

So now that that’s out of the way, let the show begin!

After the return of John Cena is put aside, the F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S Carmella skips to the ring, with James Ellsworth by her side. Ellsworth takes to the mic first, announcing that he is “cancelling” Independence Day. And instead of celebrating America, we’re all going to celebrate something “way more important,” which is a “Carmellabration” – fine by me!

‘Mella then speaks and immediately laughs at the thought of the audience thinking anyone but her would take home the briefcase. And, in the words of the Rolling Stones, “you can’t always get what you want, unless your name is Carmella.” Somehow I don’t quite remember the quote going that way. She then brags about how she is going to take down the champion Naomi, and before you know it, out comes the SmackDown Women’s champion herself – with a new, special lit up version of her title!

Naomi states that even though Carmella can cash in her briefcase at “any time and any place” she isn’t “shook or scared” because her glow “will always be on.”

The champ then switches her attention to James “Ellsworthless,” stating that somebody else has some business to deal with here… So out comes Mr SmackDown Live General Manager himself, Daniel Bryan!

After having a bit of fun with Carmella’s buddy, Bryan announces that due to his interference in last week’s match – the one in which he was supposed to be banned from the arena – James is being fined a whopping $10,000! Aaaand… he’s suspended for the next thirty days. To top that off, if he doesn’t abide by the rules, then Carmella will be stripped off of her Money In The Bank contract – delightful! Struck by the news, ‘Mella drags Ellsworth out of the ring, making sure her contract isn’t taken away from her.

So now that that is out of the way, cue Lana and let’s begin the Women’s championship match!

…And then end it.

As soon as Lana enters and the bell is rung, Naomi inserts the same submission she did at Money In The Bank, and causes Lana to tap straight away. It’s as if Naomi is trying to break a record with these matches, huh?

As the champ celebrates her victory, Tamina quickly runs to the ring and a long, awkward pause takes place. She stares the champ down and then forces the hurting Ravishing Russian to walk out with her. Weird.

On Talking Smack, Naomi discusses her win with Daniel Bryan and Renee Young. She says that she’s ready for more competition, and if she got to choose her opponent at Battleground, it’d be Charlotte. The champ believes that as their latest title match was ruined by the Welcoming Committee, they didn’t get to see which of the two was the better competitor. And as Charlotte is one of the “best of the best,” Naomi wants to fight fairly against her.

She also states how she was a little bewildered by Tamina’s showing. Naomi reminds us of how the two used to be close during their Team B.A.D. days, but since then they grew apart. And whilst Naomi took on a more “positive” outlook, Tamina has remained a little bitter. So is it because of jealousy? The champ doesn’t know, and she definitely does not care.

Naomi discusses the struggle of having to get the special title, and how she feels like a star. And, if you have a title like the one below, could you even blame her?

At another point in the night, the First Lady of SmackDown Live Maria Kanellis and her husband Mike Kanellis are interviewed by Renee. They’re asked about their message of love, and the two reiterate how love is “powerful” and “timeless”, but not everybody can get it. And whilst they talk, a bang is heard – and a wild Sami Zayn appears to be stretching his legs! Zayn, as his adorably dorky self, quickly apologizes and compliments the message that the Kanelliss’ are trying to spread. He rambles on and on, and it’s only once his music hits that he has to rush away!

The couple are however, not impressed by his antics, as he has “ruined” their moment. Also, the camera backstage ended up cutting off, all because of the power of love…

We do catch up with the two on Talking Smack, and they have some more words to say – you know, other than “love”.

Whilst the two seem more interested in staring at one another, we do get some kind of answers from them. Mike states that before he found Maria, he was doing the same thing over and over again, which is the “definition of insanity.” So because of her impact on him, he wanted to take her last name. Also, as they’re so “ahead of the curb,” they wanted to start some form of revolution – so that’s another reason behind the surname taking.

When asked about their game plan, they say that it is to prove that “love can defeat the evil that is within WWE.” Mike discusses how much “anger” and “tension” he can feel in the locker room, so therefore he wants to end that. As he used to be the same, he wants to wake everyone else up from this feeling he once shared.

Thoughts: So there wasn’t a lot of wrestling content this week for the women. And whilst on a normal week I’d be livid, it did end up being pretty entertaining.

The Lana and Naomi saga has felt like a never ending nightmare of WWE not knowing what to do with either party so just sticking them together. But in fact, it’s worked well for both sides. Naomi needs to be presented as a tough champion. She had a rough few weeks of being taken down by the Welcoming Committee, and needs to be looking tough. And the perfect way to make her look great without ruining the credibility of a woman that also needs it is to pair her with Lana.

And this isn’t me saying that Lana doesn’t deserve credibility, but that just isn’t her character. Clearly she’s the spoilt jobber that isn’t near anyone’s level, yet deems that she is. And seeing her getting taken down by Naomi during three matches in a row – two of which were a squash – aided both of their characters perfectly. Now we know that Naomi is pretty good at what she does, whilst Lana is all hype.

And then we have Tamina.

Tamina has gone through years of playing the “bodyguard” role. From standing behind AJ Lee for her time as Divas champion, to being the muscle that always takes the losses for Team B.A.D., she’s had it pretty rough. And it feels as though we’re going back to square one… or maybe we aren’t.

This time round, it wasn’t AJ screaming at Tamina to grab her title. Nor was it Tamina carrying a beaten up Team B.A.D. member. This time, she enforced her rules. She yelled at Lana to get up. She ran into the ring and controlled the scene. This time it feels different. This time it feels as though Tamina will be the leader, and her ally will be the one helping her – sort of like Carmellsworth, except with someone that can legally fight. It’ll be interesting to see what SmackDown do with Tamina. And after being the best member of both Money In The Bank Ladder matches, it’ll be a shame if her talent goes to waste yet again.

The other segment of the night was a pretty interesting one. Filled with comedy and pantomime-esque actions, it was a great way to start for the women. And it definitely opened doors for the 2x Miss Money In The Bank. Since winning the briefcase, Carmella’s heat has come from multiple directions. Part of it has come form her own actions, but a (somewhat) larger amount seems to come from James Ellsworth. Ellsworth is a funnily annoying character whom we all love to see lose. But his involvement with the first ever female Money In The Bank winner has lead to him receiving more of the attention. Crowds do care for the both of them, but whenever something happens to him the reaction seems to be louder. So seeing him being taken away will be a great thing as Carmella will now be generating her own heat. She’s done well so far, but now that’s going solo we’ll get to see much more of just her, rather than seeing her share the spotlight.

Unfortunately for the fans at home, we didn’t get to witness Charlotte Flair take on Natalya. Whilst the pair tend to have great matches against one another, this was probably for the best. As mentioned last week, I would love for the two to feud. It felt right and we left off at the correct point. So if we can get some more build up that isn’t revolved around on-screen match after match, we may see something fresh from the pair. However, seeing the Flair vs Hart saga take place at SummerSlam may be the better stage, as last year’s antics proved to be worthy of such.

To end the review, let’s discuss the Power Couple themselves, Mike and Maria!

What’s blossoming here feels very natural. The pair aren’t joining WWE to win titles just yet, they’re here to simply boast about their love. The Kanellis’ are so in love that championship gold isn’t on their mind – instead they just want to spread their message. And with their connection to Sami Zayn… a feud is on the horizon.

Sami is an adorably innocent character that just wants to be the best wrestler he can be. He’s constantly being taken down by the evil characters that exist around him, and he’s hardly ever allowed to get his shining moment. And could the Kanellis’ continue that streak? And will they do it to just Sami?

Well, if we take our minds back to a few weeks ago when Sami Zayn had a little moment with another female Superstar… could a budding partnership be in the air? Seeing Sami Zayn and Becky Lynch teaming up would be a fantastic way of getting the two most easy-to-root for talents against upcoming heels. So why not? And it’ll give us a chance to see Maria in the ring again… So, why not?

What did you think of this week’s show? What feuds shall blossom now?

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