SmackDown Live has become a show about the complexity of relationships.
Maybe it’s the inescapable “B-Show” vibe or the more efficient two-hour runtime, but SmackDown has long felt like a more intimate show. For all of Raw’s flash, it is a show currently headlined by the tale of “The Big Dog” who is protecting his yard from “The Monster” but their battle has been thrown off by the return of “The Beast.”
And their crews are fighting, too, largely stemming from a competitive rivalry between Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler.
There’s the evil general manager manipulating the landscape to try and get his way, the former Olympic medalist UFC champion and two icons of WWE women’s wrestling battling against the upstart bringers of chaos, Elias is singin’ and Bobby Lashley is forgettable.
But, over on SmackDown, the show has become about very personal relationships.
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair is a tale most of us have experienced. We love our friends, we wish them success, but when that success comes at the expense of ours, it’s painful. When they actively took the steps to ruin our achievements to get their opportunity, that one decision can destroy love built over years.
Lynch’s pain became anger and her focus is as much on Charlotte relinquishing the spotlight as keeping the belt. Charlotte raising Lynch’s hand, or placing the belt on her waist, or calling her “queen” would all be actions granting Lynch some power back in their relationship. Sure, Charlotte could have done it after the match when she seemingly wanted to, but Becky exists in a place where things need to be on her terms ... Charlotte no longer determines her fate.
It’s not far from the story of Rusev Day. Rusev had fallen from a man who riding to the ring at WrestleMania in a tank to little more than midcard fodder. Aiden English came along and gave him a spark and the duo turned a relatively dumb sing song entrance and phrase into a staple of how wrestling fans communicated with each other. English’s exuberance even helped Rusev’s wife’s career.
But, when English’s attempts to have his friend’s back backfired, he was disrespected. Still, he proved the lengths he was willing to go when he took a bullet for Rusev, earning their team a title shot at Hell in a Cell. Again, the effort and sacrifices of English did not matter once they lost and the man who earned the title shot to begin with was told to “pull his weight.”
No wonder English snapped last night.
Samoa Joe attacking A.J. Styles’ home life has drifted from intense and uncomfortable to cornball as all get out. But the larger point is Joe would not have attacked Styles’ absence in his family’s life if there weren’t a shred of truth to it.
Styles would not be so affected by Joe’s taunts if he didn’t accept the damage he has done to his closest relationships during his attempts to further his career and, in turn, better their lives.
Even the issues between Daniel Bryan and The Miz date back to their mentor / mentee relationship and, in its own way, Bryan’s relationship to his greatest love and Miz’s treatment of that same thing (I’m talking about wrestling, sorry, Brie).
Oh, and it was a stated focus of Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy that Orton was attacking Hardy’s relationship with the fans.
While Raw is still much larger than life, it’s SmackDown hitting closer to home.
I’ll leave it to you to decide which is better.
- Wednesday means SmackDown recap and reactions as well as the video highlights post.
- Should NXT be a destination, not a stop along the road to the main roster?
- Jeff Hardy is juuuust fine.
- I know I love to beat you over the head with stories about WWE going back to Saudi Arabia and the human rights issues in the country, and I certainly will many times again. But here’s one from Geno, instead.
- Speaking of, here’s a weird trophy thing for Crown Jewel.
- Viewers ran away from Baron Corbin vs. Roman Reigns on Raw.
- It sure is weird having matches announced and subsequently set up on TV.
That’s it for today, I’ll leave you with these wise words from Tommy Dreamer.
Actually, scratch the word “wise” from that sentence.