Money in the Bank (double homicide), Raw (Becky becomes The Mum) and even NXT (a Bro-ken tag team), all had their big, great moments, and it feels like something good is in the WWE air. It’s almost as if they saw how zany the AEW “throw a block of ice at Matt Hardy” match was, and finally realized, “oh, we need to have big events in each episode of our TV show, or else they become meaningless gruel fed to the numbed masses”.
I say “almost as if” because tonight is SmackDown, which has become the worst part of the WWEek. How is a show with Otis somehow the least tolerable part of the WWE schedule? I don’t get it, but I know I’m not alone.
Each time the Cultaholic podcast starts their “Week in Wrestling” section, they all pretty much groan at the thought of recapping the boredom of SmackDown. I can’t believe this is what Fox wanted, but somehow Raw has become good (maybe it’s the Vega Boys, maybe?) or at least tolerable.
But I’m not going to demand without offering. So, here are three ideas for WWE to work with to make a SmackDown a memorable night of wrestling, and not just a thing I watch at the end of another depressing week of quarantine life. Bring on the quarantainment, Vince.
The hacker gimmick matters and makes sense
No, even I don’t think the SmackDown anonymous hacker is CM Punk, and I rooted for him in the UFC. That being said, we need a resolution and we need one that actually matters. With the exception of exposing Dolph Ziggler and Sonya Deville’s betrayal of Mandy Rose, this gimmick seems more about getting over some dude’s work-from-home setup than it is about telling a story.
For a while, I’ve worried that if the hacker is Mustafa Ali, that it wouldn’t really make sense or change anything. If Ali is the hacker, have him use it to change the show in a drastic way, such as getting him a title shot against Braun Strowman — a title shot that he wins.
Hell, if WWE is on the path to breaking up Heavy Machinery, the hacker could reveal Tucker’s resentment of Otis’ success. The hacker even teased their next reveal being tied to the women’s division, but we haven’t seen what that is yet, so they could be part of breaking up Sasha Banks and Bayley.
But that can’t be it. Whomever the hacker is, their un-hoodie-ing should make sense. Maybe they’re someone who has never had support, and they’re doing this to reveal the evil in all of us. I don’t know.
At the end of this tease, if it’s done right, we should all agree on one thing: WWE planned this out from the start. We so rarely actually think that, don’t we? How awful is that? Matthew Wiener didn’t write Mad Men on the fly, and neither should WWE.
Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak in the Intercontinental tournament finals
No, that matchup alone wouldn’t be cause for emotions and memories, so I’ll add the other half here: let them have the best match they possibly can.
Both men are more than capable of having excellent wrestling matches, and if the restrictions were taken off, they could annihilate our senses. But, yes, there’s a bit of complexity to be dealt with because they’re both faces.
Have the lead up to the match bring up Bryan considering retiring, as he’s publicly discussed. Drew’s victory could end his friend’s career. One could turn heel during the match, by manipulating the other using their bond. Both of these men know what to do to win over the audience. Trust them.
I swear, this could be a match that makes people tell their friends to change the channel to WWE for a change if done right.
Use the “Brand-to-Brand Invitation” for good
Whether you call it by its Vince McMahon-given branded name, or Wild Card 2K21, this new plot device to get people to visit other brands has a wildly strong potential ... to set of the big fun mystical feud we all need... Aleister Black vs The Fiend Bray Wyatt.
Right now, The Fiend is in Recovery Mode, after Bray got those proverbial betrayal hands from Braun Strowman. And to be blunt: that was the right call. The Fiend/Bray does not need a championship, because as we all saw, that just leads to nonsense like Goldberg taking it off of him for the kids.
This week, have SmackDown announce it’s invited the satanic kickboxing god from Raw, but have his arrival on SmackDown the following week be less of a match and more of a cinematic experience. He kills a Florida-based pro wrestler (are Leon Ruff and Denzel Dejournette the last two singles wrestlers that WWE has access to?) but when Renee goes to interview him, Mr. Black senses something is afoot.
Maybe he tracks down Bray, maybe he is confronted by The Fiend. But Black senses that something is wrong in the air of SmackDown, and decides he needs to stay. I say stay, because there is nothing good for him on Raw right now. He’s not going to end Drew’s reign at the top, and somehow I don’t think he needs the United States Championship, which would kinda look wrong on him.
Those are my ideas, Cageside. What ideas do you have gestating in those brains of yours?