Red Vs Blue

Before and After WWE Backlash | Red vs. Blue (SmackDown 12/6/20 & Raw 15/6/20)

Benjamin Clem reviews the lastest episodes of SmackDown and Raw, deciding which brand is best.

Drug tests, the return of “Captain Charisma”, and…ninjas?! We cover all that and more in this week’s Red Versus Blue!

The business of professional wrestling has always included a certain level of ridiculousness.

For every phenomenally athletic performance, we’ve seen take place inside of a squared circle, there are at least three cringe-inducing “comedy” based segments we’d rather forget after the initial viewing. Yes, any fan can site the work of a Bret Hart or Kurt Angle as arguments for wrestling being considered legit, but inevitably they’ll find themselves answering for events like Mae Young’s live birth or the infamous hatching of a certain egg at Survivor Series ’90.

This is yet another example of wrestling’s entertainment aspect doing more to hurt the business than improve it. While the worlds of television and film have the luxury of well established genres that every show or movie fits into, wrestling instead has to attempt to cover a multitude of different fan tastes in the span of a two to three hour program.

The point I’m trying to make is that although your average horror movie fan may put up with a one liner from the blood drenched slasher character from time to time, said fan would have an entirely different reaction if the slasher suddenly broke into a tight ten minute stand-up routine mid-film before continuing on with their murderous ways.

Wrestling is one of the only forms of entertainment that is forced to appeal to every variety of person within it’s fanbase while also evolving over time to fit the modern day standard.

Since the dawn of the “PG” Era, WWE has become the proverbial kaleidoscope of everything that is professional wrestling and everything it could be. Never has this been more apparent than when watching this week’s WWE programming. Going from a live urine screening to one of the best singles matches we’ve seen in recent months, just to go to a ninja takeover of Raw is the type of off the wall content we’ve grown to expect from Vince and company.

But before we get into whether this roller coaster style of television hurt or helped either show, it seems the question we gather to answer each and every week is beginning to take form. So, in a week featuring literal piss slinging and giant shinobis, which show was better?!

You know the schtick by now, folks! Every week, I watch the shows, make the notes, and then deliver unto you fine readers my semi-informed opinion of which show was better overall. Once again, this edition of RvB will determine a winner by focusing purely on what both show did the best.

With the introduction and explanation out of the way, it’s time for us to jump right into this week’s highlights!

Kicking of this week’s Blue Brand highlights is the auspicious opening segment centered around Jeff Hardy and Sheamus.

Like the dark comedy antics Robert Englund employed to make Freddy Krueger a horror icon, this promo perfectly combined the lunacy of it’s premise with just enough seriousness to make it enjoyable. Sure, we all knew this was going to be a long build to someone eventually being assaulted with the implied contents of Hardy’s bladder, but Jeff’s desperation for redemption along with Sheamus’ over-the-top heel promo work made this whole spot feel plausible. Although the WWE doesn’t have the best track record with this style of “personal demons” angle, seeing the heel get what he deserves just to be told it was all in vain later made this one worth mentioning.

Next on Smackdown’s highlights is the outstanding match we saw take place between AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan.

It just doesn’t get much better than a near forty minute match involving two amazing talents! Styles and Bryan are undoubtably two of the best workers on Smackdown’s roster and matches of this caliber prove why either is worthy of holding the Intercontinental Championship. In a world where WWE itemizes every minute of their weekly shows, letting these two have the bulk of the program was the best decision Vince and company has made in months! My only complaint is that this easily could’ve been Friday night’s main event. Like Rock versus Hogan at Wrestlemania 18, anything that followed this match was destined to pale in comparison.

Wrapping up this week’s Blue Brand highlights is the announcement that the “King of Bros” will be making his Smackdown debut next week.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Matt Riddle has the perfect combination of natural charisma and undeniable talent it takes to be a huge star in the world of professional wrestling. Say what you will about former MMA stars making the jump to the squared circle, Riddle has proven in and out of the WWE that he absolutely understands wrestling. If Matt is given the usual “top tier” NXT talent treatment, it’s very possible that we’ve got a Styles versus Riddle feud in our near future and that fact alone earned this one a mention on the list!

Switching gears to the Red Brand’s highlight list, first up is the developing storyline centered around Lana and Natalya.

After weeks of me saying that Lana was all but out the same door we saw her husband leave through months ago, it seems the WWE has finally figured out a place for “Mrs. Rusev”. Although all we really saw was a very subtle tease from two seemingly misplaced talents, it can be assumed that Lana and Natalya may be on the verge of forming a new tag team. Honestly, teaming Lana with Nattie makes complete sense. If there is anyone capable of not only honing Lana’s in-ring work but also making her look great in the process, it has to be the granddaughter of Stu Hart.

If this is the direction we’re headed in, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Lana and Natalya holding the tag titles within the next two months.

Next on Raw’s highlights is the defiant showing we got from Dominik Mysterio.

Ahead of his inevitable in-ring debut, Dominik showed that he definitely possesses the same speed and agility of his father despite being the larger of the two. It speaks volumes concerning the faith WWE has in Seth Rollins that they would pair him with an untested rookie talent in the hope that he’ll get the young star over in short fashion. Personally, I think Dominik has the potential to carry on the legacy of the Mysterio name, and working with big names like Seth are going to give him plenty of opportunities to learn from the best WWE has to offer.

Finishing off this week’s highlights is Christian return angle we saw featured throughout the evening.

This was, by far, the most watchable part of the entirety of last night’s show. Sure, most diehard fans knew there was zero chance we’d actually get a true match, but the emotional resonance of Christian wanting to defend the honour of his fallen friend despite questioning his own abilities made this a great, slow-paced storyline to build a three-hour show around.

Although it still wasn’t a real return to the ring, and oddly included Ric Flair for some reason, I’m never going to complain about the chance to see the former two time NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion featured primarily on a primetime program.

The Verdict

This week’s offerings of flagship WWE content certainly were a bit of a step away from the recent rise in quality we’d been seeing in the past weeks. Intercontinental Tournament finals aside, the majority of this week’s programming featured extremely cringeworthy moments that all but negated most of the progress the company has made concerning their television product since the pandemic format change. That being said, I guess I’m going to have to call this week in favor of…

If you thought there was any way I was choosing the Big Show fighting ninjas over Styles and Bryan’s classic, you’re completely out of your mind! By way of having possibly the best thing WWE produced in a week’s time, Smackdown stole this week’s victory away from a less than stellar showing from it’s crimson counterpart. So, with this week’s winner determined, the time has come for me to bid you fine readers farewell the only way I know how…

Until next week, may all your kicks be super, and every frog splash five stars!

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