Monday, November 29, 2021

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SmackDown Redux (March 21st, 2017): The Belle of the brawl

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like ‘Mania!

With just two more SmackDowns left until the big night, the women of the blue team are gearing up. With the Women’s title on the line and a heated battle of the couples on the horizon, ‘Mania could be a pretty big one for our Tuesday night gang.

The night for the women starts off when Maryse and The Miz release never-before-seen footage of ‘Total Bellas’. The duo claim to have gotten ahold of the clips through their “Hollywood connections”, but it becomes pretty clear as to how they obtained them.

Two clips are shown throughout the night, emphasizing on  Nikki Bella and John Cena’s relationship in a satirical manner. John Cena, as played by The Miz, is seen being overly protective of his rules in a monotonous manner, whilst Maryse plays both Nikki and her twin sister Brie Bella.

Throughout both clips Maryse constantly jokes about Nikki’s desperation to get married whilst Brie is constantly shouting “Brie mode” at the top of her lungs.

We also see a “house tour” where the duo rip into Cena and Bella’s conceited attitude whilst overly praising The Miz and Maryse’s professions. At one point, fake Nikki even boasts about “burying” all of the young female talent – yikes.

An intriguing match between John Cena and Fandango takes place during the night, and as Fandango enters, it appears that his tag partner is Nikki Bella! Well, Tyler Breeze dressed as Nikki, but still!

As the match is about to begin, Fandango puts on his best British accent, and gives John Cena three tickets for being “a lousy boyfriend,” “wearing jorts in the 2017,” and for being a “lousy wrestler.”

Fandango then brings up his “muscle” and “tall drink of water” that is standing right next to him: Breezy Bella. If you weren’t in tears already you are now.

Before the match can begin, Nikki Bella walks out and shows Breezy how her entrance is really done. She then stands outside the ring to manager Cena during his match.

After Cena knocks Fandango out with the Five-Knuckle-Shuffle, Breezy gets into the ring to save the day. Unfortunately for the tall drink of water, Nikki also gets in and spears him to the ground! Cena then performs the AA on Fandango whilst Nikki puts Breezy into the Rack Attack 2.0. Both Breezy and Fandango are then forced to tap out as Cena and Nikki enforce the STF/Fearless Lock, allowing them the win.

On Talking Smack, Cena and Bella had the chance to speak with Daniel Bryan and Renee Young. Nikki said that she would never tear down another woman, and that regardless of whether or not Cena gives her a ring, the only ring she cares about is the wrestling kind.

John took a slightly less kind approach as he referred to Miz and Maryse as the “sh*t couple”. He then dug into them further by saying that if you’re great, you don’t need to tell people, people tell you – using tonight’s antics as an example. He also said that once again, Miz’s best work comes from mimicking others, and Maryse finally actually did something. Yikes.

We also saw a hilarious clip of Nikki and Tyler Breeze on the Bella Twins YouTube page. Check it out!

Women’s division action takes the form of a pretty quick match as Becky Lynch faces Carmella (with James Ellsworth by her side). After getting a bit of a beating during the match, ‘Mella retreats to the outside. Lynch, not afraid of hurting anyone, chases her. Ellsworth attempts to get in the way but Becky spins past him – literally – and punches Carmella in the face.

The Princess of Staten Island then runs into the ring with the Lass Kicker close behind. Fortunately for Carmella, Ellsworth grabs Becky’s leg long enough to distract her. As soon as Lynch releases herself she is booted to the face by her opponent. ‘Mella manages to mess up terribly however as she takes the time to boast to the crowd. And as soon as she turns around, Natalya – whom was on commentary – knocks her out with the Nattie by Nature and therefore causing a disqualification.

Natalya then continues to beat on Carmella until Mickie James attacks her with a Lou Thesz Press, followed by punches.

James then gets tossed into the corner by Carmella as the champion Alexa Bliss storms into the ring. Natalya manages to knock her to the ground and continues to punch her. Meanwhile, Carmella is being catered to by James, and as soon as ‘Mella notices Becky jumping in the air, she moves out of the way and allows James to take on the receiving end of Becky’s drop kick.

Becky then inserts the Bex-Plex on Carmella to knock her out and is then taken to the ground by James’ Mick Kick. Natalya is then thrown into the ring post, leaving just Bliss and James standing. Alexa quickly inserts a punch to Mickie’s face, knocking her down and allowing the champ to stand tall.

JBL made a note that we don’t even know the rules for the match, possibly indicating a stipulation to be added.

Thoughts: After the drought in decent episodes of SmackDown, tonight surely quenched our thirst! Although it isn’t the ideal episode – what, with such a short women’s segment – but it did its job – and that is to hype up the big night!

The intergender storyline is probably one of the best things WWE is producing right now. It has comedy compiled with good chemistry, exciting tension, a dash of reality and most importantly, a fantastic story. It’s the tale of a bitter couple that believes that they have what it takes to become the “it couple” of the business. So what they believe is the right thing to do is to mock and humiliate the actual “it couple” of the company. As exemplified through Cena and Bella’s words on Talking Smack, the Mizanins are desperate for the top spot. They know they don’t have what it takes, but want to convince others that they do. They’re the perfect villains to face the perfect heroes in what is a somewhat dream feud.

And what makes this work is the fact that the people playing Miz and Maryse do have what it takes. They’re talented enough and have the right charisma and appeal to be top stars. They can convey the story well enough to make us hate them – or in some cases, love them and hate their enemies. But either way, they’re allowing us to feel something about either couple. Cena, Nikki, Miz and Maryse are all offering incredible storytelling. Some are on the side of the empowered, secure couple in Cena and Nikki, standing behind their good ways and disapproving of. And on the other hand, we have those standing behind the conceited, spiteful villains in Miz and Maryse. They love their sly ways and are always invested in the bad guys getting the upper hand. And that’s the beauty of it.

All four members of the storyline are offering us something to enjoy. Through blurring the kayfabe lines by bringing up topics like “burying” talent and making satirical digs, to proving themselves in the ring and speaking true words, we get a really interesting story.

The other women on SmackDown are also doing a pretty good job. Although this feud comes with some lows, there are some great points showcased this week.

Something interesting is the character development in Becky Lynch. As seen last week, she isn’t falling for the same tricks that she used to. After avoiding Neidhart’s hand shake in the previous episode, she’s now thinking before making more typical babyface errors. This week she sees Ellsworth trying to block her, so thinks ahead and overcomes it. This may be small, but it’s great to see Lynch grow – now hopefully this will expand into her becoming a dominant force.

The feud itself is a pretty decent one, but my issue is the lack of buildup surround it. I’m not talking about how the segment was so short – it was, but that’s not the point. I’m talking about how it feels as though there’s not a lot of prestige surrounding the SmackDown Women’s title.

Over on RAW, every woman in the match had to earn her spot – or at least, they were prominently involved in the title picture. Here we have literally every available woman given a shot – and it’s all because Daniel Bryan is petty and doesn’t like Alexa Bliss. At first I wanted to give the story a chance, because with the way the women of SmackDown have been treated since July, I did have some faith. But now, it doesn’t feel as good as I’d hoped.

Over the past few months there is only a handful of women that have actually earned the right to be in the match – and one of them isn’t even in it.

Natalya pulled through in a hectic and impressive Falls Count Anywhere match against one of the most prestigious women in the division. So she deserves it.

Nikki Bella has only lost one pay-per-view match since returning to SmackDown, with one of her wins being SummerSlam and another being a stipulation match. So she deserves it.

And Mickie James beat the women’s champion last week. So she deserves it.

Other than that, the rest of the women competing for the title haven’t really earned their spot. Becky constantly loses and even lost her previous title match (which she didn’t earn) was unsuccessful.

Carmella has yet to be successful at a single pay-per-view (after competing in five) and has done nothing but walk around with Ellsworth for the past few months.

And with the rumors of Emma and Summer Rae possibly joining the match, it will be even more unnecessarily clustered.

The Women’s title needs to feel prestigious. And as much as I adore every woman on the roster, allowing all of them to compete purely because they’re “available” has proven to be pretty ridiculous as no one has truly earned it. But that being said, the women did prove to be very entertaining this week, and the brawl could be an indication of a pretty sweet ‘Mania match. Who knows?

Are you excited for ‘Mania? Are you team Miz/Maryse or Nikki/Cena? Who do you want to be included in the the Women’s match? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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