Thursday, September 16, 2021

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SmackDown Redux (October 25th, 2016): Who has the Hart of a captain?

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The road to Survivor Series has begun and SmackDown are beginning to build their army. This week the women have their very first qualifying match whilst the Women’s championship bout is prominently addressed. And with both endgame results being only a few weeks away, the ladies of the blue brand are all out to prove their worth.

The women start their night off as Renee Young introduces a returning Becky Lynch to the Tuesday night crowd. Just as Lynch begins to boast about how happy she is to return however, a spiteful Alexa Bliss comes out to rain on her parade. The number one contender pretends that Becky had back surgery and reminds us the champion was also too scared of her to compete at No Mercy. Becky however, disagrees and insinuates that she’s ready for a battle. Following this, Bliss anchors in the idea that Lynch’s “fairytale” is going to come crashing down. And before she can attack her, the champ immediately fights back and leaves the challenger fending for mercy outside. As Becky chases Alexa down she is immediately shoved into the ring post and thrown inside the squared circle. Bliss then takes some yellow spray that was conveniently placed near the timekeeper area, and sprays it down Lynch’s back, emphasising her weak point.

Shortly after, Natalya confronts Daniel Bryan backstage and discusses her feelings regarding the 5 on 5 Elimination match at Survivor Series. She states that with RAW having a historic Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on the horizon, SmackDown need to move the focus back on them. So, in Natalya’s mind, putting her as the team captain would do exactly that!

Bryan seems to agree, slightly, so he reminds her that the winner of the following match, which will include her, will end up being the captain of the SmackDown women’s team. However, before the Queen of Black Harts can get too excited, he mentions that the loser will unfortunately not be in the match at all. Gulp.

Cut back to ringside and out comes the Fearless one, Nikki Bella! The Singles contest between Bella and Natalya gets off to a great start as both ladies equally dominate. Natalya soon gets a hold of Nikki by keeping her down with various holds and submissions. However, with the help of the Bella Army cheering her on, Nikki manages to get out of all of them. There are various moments where it looks as though the match could go either way, however once Nikki takes ahold of the contest and places her opponent in her new submission – the Fearless Lock – the Queen of Harts is given no choice than to tap.

As Nikki celebrates her win as the new captain for the SmackDown women’s team, Carmella pops into the ring to knock her down and enforce a beating on her. And with shades of her initial heel turn, the Princess of Staten Island takes the Fearless one to the middle of the ring, and knocks her out with the Bella Mella Buster!

Thoughts: I have varied feelings about this week’s programming.

Whilst I’m extremely happy that Nikki will be captaining the blue brand at Survivor Series, why did it have to come at the cost of Natalya? With the 30th anniversary taking place in the hometown of the Queen of Harts, it’s a shame that she is now not even going to be in what will probably be the biggest 5 on 5 Elimination match for the women.

Natalya is definitely one of the best in-ring competitors on SmackDown. And whilst Nikki does need to remain as the top woman on the brand, it’s unfortunate that Natalya has to be taken down a few pegs for this to happen.

However, there could potentially be a silver lining in this. With the Queen of Black Harts being constantly disrespected, this may be the start of her finally receiving a serious gimmick. Natalya works best when she’s a face and treated as a legitimate fighter. So with the embarrassment of not being included in this match after gunning so badly for it, her mindset may change and her seriousness could be turned up a few notches, insinuating that she’ll rally to get herself to the top spot that she has desired for so long.

Or we could just see her being the go-to loser needed to make other women come across stronger. It’s probably the latter.

On the flip side, I’m glad that Nikki may be potentially involved in multiple feuds. With Carmella on her case week to week, tonight’s win could indicate that the Canadian born submission specialist may be gunning for her too.

Having more eyes on Nikki gives her opponents extended heat as well as make the fans stand by her side when she receives unfair beatdowns. More fans will be convinced that Nikki is the ultimate protagonist whilst Carmella and Natalya can emphasise how conniving they are. Really, this could work out for the best for every woman involved, we just need to see SmackDown take charge of it.

In terms of the next four spots, this could go to multiple women. Alexa and Naomi are probably most likely in the match, whilst Carmella could easily fill up the third slot. Now the fourth spot could go to the champ Becky, or maybe even a returning Eva Marie.

In regards to the Bliss and Lynch segment, I loved it. I really appreciate how much work is being in to make Alexa come across as the destructive antagonist whilst Becky remains as the underdog we all root for. The fairytale gimmick that Bliss keeps hammering in is perfect for the pairing to anchor the good vs evil aura that this feud requires.

The Women’s title picture is finally picking up after weeks of being held back, and if the next two weeks go swimmingly, then it’ll be great for both women as well as the title itself.

Overall, it’s a pretty good week for the ladies of the blue brand! I have hope for the Queen of Black Harts, and it’s nice to see SmackDown build the pay-per-view so early.

What do you think of this week’s show? Who do you think will fill up the next four slots? Are you happy that Nikki beat Natalya? How do you feel about Alexa and Becky’s segment? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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