SmackDown Redux (October 3rd, 2017): The babyface curse

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We’re on the go-home show for Hell In A Cell – yet it feels anything but. Could tonight’s events turn things around for the women of SmackDown Live? Let’s check it out!

In a backstage segment, Natalya and Carmella (feat. a chained James Ellsworth) are having a confrontation. Carmella, conniving as always, manages to get inside the champ’s head, without saying anything. And the Queen of Black Harts is showing nothing but cowardice as she tells her that she better not try to cash in this Sunday. Oh, Natalya, you’re so easy to rile up. The champ says that if she does cash in, then both ‘Mella and her dog will be feeling really sorry. Somehow, James sees this as an opportunity to woof, but Carmella quickly says “down, boy.” It’s just as awkward as it sounds. Neidhart, realizing that Ellsworth is a boy dog, makes the correlation, and calls Carmella a female dog… “and you know what means.” Feisty.

Following this conversation, we check in at ringside to see the pair (feat. Ellsworth) compete in a two on two tag match against Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch – oh hey, Becky!

Lynch rules the match in the beginning, and with help from Charlotte the two deliver a baseball slide to knock down their opponents. When we return from break however, it appears that Neidhart has now tagged in and taken control as a distraction from the champ allowed Carmella to boot Lynch in the face and tag out. Flair, noticing her friend is in danger attempts to help, but this only causes the referee to push her back. And meanwhile, Carmella holds Becky in the corner as Natalya inserts some kicks. Oh, and a really, really loud “you’re pathetic!” to her opponent. She’s really angry, huh?

Once the champ has suplexed Becky onto the ground, she takes the opportunity to gloat to Charlotte. Flair, angered by the mistreatment of her friend and smug look on her rival’s face, screams to Natalya saying that she is going to “slap [her] in the face!” – well, fighting words, I suppose.

As Natalya is distracted, Becky quickly rolls her up but doesn’t get the full count. However, as she’s pushed forward she tags in Charlotte and the crowd goes wild! Flair storms into the ring, shoves Natalya to the ground and forces Carmella to fall outside of the ring. She then forces a few whips – woo! woo! woo! – onto the champ before kneeing her in the back of her head. Ouch… Now cue the Nature Girl Strut! A suplex from Flair sends Neidhart to the ground but a quick attempt at rolling away leaves her near the ropes. And although Charlotte gets on top of her for the pin in time, the movement allows Carmella to quickly break it up before it’s too late. Nice veteran tactic there, Natalya.

Becky then tosses Carmella out of the ring, but a pull and drag from Miss Money In The Bank leaves the Lass Kicker on the ground. Back inside the ring, the champ receives a ruthless spear, but then stops an attempted Figure Eight before it can be locked in. Natalya quickly runs to the ropes to avoid any more damage, and despite it being a dirty tactic, the referee is forced to pull Charlotte away. Flair then looks behind her and sees Lynch being smacked on the back with the briefcase by Carmella. This distraction then leads to Flair being punched in the back of the head and placed into the Sharpshooter. And much like Natalya’s previous title opponent, Charlotte is forced to tap.

The winners then celebrate together as if they got along the whole time. Is Carmella planning something we’re not sure about? Well, only time will tell!

Following the match, Dasha Fuentes confronts the losing pair. Flair insists that the loss doesn’t hinder her momentum going into Hell In A Cell this Sunday as both of her opponents were “opportunists.” She explains how strange it is that Natalya can only attack Charlotte when she isn’t looking, so Sunday isn’t going to be much easier for the champ. Lynch then explains how much of an “embarrassment” it is that Carmella is the woman holding the “second highest accomplishment” one can win in wrestling. She shares how both Carmella and Natalya’s ways are “disgraceful” and “disgusting.”

We return to ringside later in the evening to join Dana Warrior and the women of SmackDown Live as they honor three breast cancer survivors.

“Live strong, act bold, always believe,” she announces proudly to the crowd. “They have exemplified strength, personified being bold, and no matter the obstacles that have come their way, have always, always believed.” The three women are given pink WWE championship belts, and all get a moment to hold it up for the crowd. The three women and Dana then move towards the ropes to shape them in true Warrior style!

After the group get backstage to take some photographs, Natalya rewards Dana – on behalf of everyone at WWE – with her own Susan G. Komen championship. Warrior is then overcome with emotion and receives her very own “you deserve it” chant from the women of SmackDown Live and the three breast cancer survivors. She then gives a speech, thanking the women around her as she expresses her love for them and the industry.

This would be cute if Susan G. Komen wasn’t such a scam, though.

Thoughts: Whilst the women of SmackDown Live are doing a good job at developing their characters and giving decent matches, the current feud is far too generic to keep any interest. Currently, there’s no heat being presented in the feud. Charlotte’s only motivation is to do it for her father and the fact that she’s pinned on the go-home show. And even then, she hasn’t done enough to really anchor in the true feeling of doing it for Flair. A little strut in the ring and a point to the ceiling isn’t a lot. We’re seeing Charlotte play the role of the completely typical babyface, and for someone of her calibre, and the fact that the two have a strong history together, it feels far too flat.

The idea that Charlotte isn’t on her A-game is pretty clear, but this week SmackDown takes it a little too far, and it feels pretty lazy. Flair has missed out on a few weeks of action, but is it so bad that she’s now suddenly falling for rookie errors? The former 4x RAW Women’s champion manages to get distracted – and even cost herself the match – by looking over at a distraction from the outside. Is this really believable? She may not have been wrestling as long as Natalya but with her accolades taken into account you’d think she’d be experienced enough to not fall for these conventional errors. SmackDown has a habit of making their baby faces lose to simple mistakes, and at this point, it just feels lazy. There are more creative ways to make Flair lose, and I doubt the former RAW, Divas and NXT Women’s champion would fall for a simple distraction. But I guess Natalya had to win by cheating, and this is the obvious way to do it without thinking too hard.

Charlotte deserves the SmackDown Women’s championship, but not in a generic feud like this. When she becomes a Grand Slam champion, it needs to feel special. Although Alexa Bliss was the first to hold both current main roster championships, Flair will be the first to hold the RAW, SmackDown, Divas and NXT Women’s belts. And a win from a quick feud isn’t going to make the moment feel that special.

On the other side of the feud, Carmella is somewhat becoming irrelevant, in a good way. ‘Mella doesn’t bring up her briefcase to Natalya, as it’s really the champ’s paranoia that talks about it. The Princess of Staten Island doesn’t talk about how she’s going to ruin Natalya’s moment, nor does she try to get inside her head about it. In fact, she uses the briefcase as a weapon to get herself the win. So is she in the right state to be cashing it in? Would losing the briefcase be useful as if she doesn’t have a successful cash-in, she has no weapon to help her? Maybe so.

Overall the women’s work this week is pretty missable. Charlotte is falling for basic tricks that Becky has been falling for for a long time, whilst the feud doesn’t have a lot of heat prior to the pay-per-view event. Natalya is a good champ, and Flair is a wonderful challenger, it’s just the writing is so lacklustre that neither are really gaining an awful lot from it.

What do you think of the show? Are you excited for Sunday? Who’s gonna walk out as champ? Let us know your views in the comments below!