Red Vs Blue

Money In The Bank & Becky Lynch’s Big Announcement | Red vs. Blue (SmackDown 8/5/20 & Raw 11/5/20)

Benjamin Clem looks at the go-home SmackDown and the Raw after Money In The Bank to decide what brand is better.

King Corbin makes a premature claim to the Money in the Bank and “The Man” becomes “The Mom” in this week’s go home against rebound edition of Red Versus Blue!

The term “sports entertainment” is a label that’s been commonly affixed to Vince McMahon’s variation of professional wrestling since the late 80’s. While first used as a clever method for avoiding taxation from athletic commissions, this polarizing combination of words has evolved into the umbrella explanation for wrestling’s unique blend of competitive sport and theater.

Although calling wrestling anything but what it is will quickly earn you a dirty look from most diehard fans, content produced by promotions like Lucha Underground and modern-day WWE absolutely prove that product that leans more towards the entertainment side of the scale can be just as well-received as that of the “glory days”.

Since the rapid spread of the novel Coronavirus, WWE has been forced to embrace a more “cinematic” style in an effort to continue supplying fans with weekly wrestling despite roster and audience restrictions. Serving as the latest example of this new trend, Sunday’s Money in the Bank saw events ranging from “Doink” and Brother Love cameos to the implied murder of two talents.

The current global pandemic has given fans the opportunity to see exactly what happens when Vince and company are forced to throw ideas at the wall until one sticks, with the end results being mixed at best. This edition of RvB is slotted to compare the before and after Sunday’s offering of overly produced, pretaped madness.

Once again, this week’s RvB will determine a winner by focusing purely on what both show did the best. As I’ve previously said, there’s enough negativity currently enveloping the world without me throwing shade at a company that’s obviously doing it’s best. So, with all of us focusing more on the “entertainment” aspect of sports entertainment, we finally arrive at the question we gather to answer each and every week. When it comes to this week’s offerings of primetime WWE programming, 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. With the introduction and explanation out of the way, it’s time for us to jump right into this week’s highlights!

Kicking off this week’s Blue Brand highlights is the growing rivalry between Sheamus and the returning Jeff Hardy. It definitely seems as though WWE is set on giving Jeff Hardy the singles run a talent of his calibre truly deserves. Both the weeks of personal history centric vignettes and fact that Jeff didn’t really re-debut until Sunday night prove that the Charismatic Enigma’s return arc is going to be a slow burn. Jeff has more than established himself as a living legend in wrestling, so not being immediately thrown into title contention in no way hurts his status as a major name on the roster.

Hardy is the key to building up Smackdown’s current mid-card talent. Another month or so of matches against guys the likes of Cesaro and Sheamus will not only make Jeff’s inevitable challenge for a single’s title seem earned, but it will also build a rouge’s gallery of potential opponents after he’s captured a strap. If this truly ends up being Jeff’s last run with the company that put him and his older brother on the map, then it’s safe to say it’s starting off exactly how it should.

Next on Smackdown’s highlight list is the latest appearance of the Blue Brand’s “Hacker”. This spot earned a mention this week based solely off how often I’ve been asked about this angle since it’s debut. It’s become a near forgone conclusion that every conversation I take part in concerning pro wrestling eventually lands on the subject of the Smackdown mystery figure. Anything that lingers that much in the minds of fans absolutely deserves to be called a highlight.

Although this week’s vignette did little to further the storyline, it still served the purpose of keeping the question fresh in people’s heads. Hopefully, this slow pace is another case of WWE knowing what they have similar to what we saw with the early segments centred around The Fiend. At this point there’s only one thing we can be certain of, there is ZERO chance that the “Hacker” is CM Punk!

Wrapping up this week’s Blue Brand highlights is the in-ring, face to face segment featuring Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman.

This was the perfect precursor to the Bluniversal Championship match we saw take place at Money in the Bank. Bray and Braun’s confrontation made it clear that Strowman wouldn’t be facing Wyatt’s Fiend persona come Sunday night. This was Bray trying to appeal to his old friend. The Fiend is a weapon that Bray knows shouldn’t be used needlessly. Now that Braun has overcome his former mentor, the door is open for Bray to challenge as The Fiend under the guise of Braun not beating that version of him. This storyline is continuing to be the most watchable thing taking place on Friday nights.

Switching over to Raw’s highlights, this week’s list has to start off with the huge announcement that opened last night’s show. After spending over a year as Raw Women’s champion, Becky Lynch started the night relinquishing her title to Money in the Bank winner Asuka before subtly announcing her pregnancy. Although this moment seemed somewhat bittersweet for “The Man”, I think that it may be the best ending to the fantastic run Becky’s had over the past year.

After well establishing herself as the top female talent, the only thing that was able to dethrone the “Lass Kicker” was motherhood. Now when she makes her eventual return to the ring, she will already have a legitimate claim for a title. All storyline implications aside, my congratulations definitely go out to Becky and Seth!

Next on the Raw highlight list is the developing storyline involving Bobby Lashley. Now, I have to assume this angle is a result of Lana possibly following her husband out of the company, but I personally think this could be the best thing Lashley’s been given since his return to the WWE. MVP and Bobby are familiar enough to be able to play off each other expertly well. Similar to when he was paired with Lio Rush, Lashley works best as the silent, overbearing heel who’s accompanied by an over the top mouth piece. Bobby has never been able to quite find his footing while working for the WWE, but hopefully this will be the beginning of that stigma changing for the better.

Finishing off this week’s highlights is the confrontation between Randy Orton and Edge that closed last night’s show. Now, normally another over-played segment based around Randy and Edge would find itself mentioned on a certain other list that hasn’t been a part of this series in a while, but I thought the heavy emphasis on the term “wrestling” earned this one a spot.

For years we’ve been told that the WWE product is not wrestling despite the third word in “WWE” being “wrestling”. As mind numbing as that sounds, most of us have come to terms with the unconfirmed fact that Vince McMahon apparently dislikes his product being referred to as wrestling. So you have to imagine the shock most of us felt when Randy made it unquestionably clear that he was challenging Edge to a “wrestling” match. Of course, with the current trend of pre-taped matches taking place, it’s entirely possible that Edge and Orton could end up in a collegiate wrestling match before all is said and done.

Either way, WWE acknowledging the fact that they’re professional wrestling on live television will always end up on the highlight list.

The Verdict

Although social distancing has resulted in wrestling weekends being a pale comparison of what they once were, the lead up to and night after Money in the Bank perfectly served as book ends to one of the more unique shows we’ve seen. It’s clear that the WWE are adopting the “Attitude Era” style of weekly teasing leading to a big pay per view payoff, and it’s working for them! But when it comes to the matter of which show was better overall, I’m going to have to call this week in favor of…

There is no possible way that Smackdown was going to match up to Becky Lynch proclaiming she’s pregnant live on Monday Night Raw! Lynch’s announcement is the best news the fans have gotten since the events of “Black Wednesday” took place, and it’s safe to say it’s overdue. So, with “The Man’s” heartwarming moment earning Raw this week’s win, the time comes once again 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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