New tag champs, an impassioned “Peep Show”, and Otis in a crown?! All this, and more in this week’s Red Versus Blue!
Since the mid 70’s, the concept of a “Television Championship” has been a sleeper staple of professional wrestling. The idea of a guaranteed title match whenever a promotion holds a televised event creates a buzz amongst fans prior to every program.
Who will the champion face this week? Will the belt change hands? What happens if there’s a draw? The hype power of a Television Championship is absolutely undeniable! Although the golden era of TV titles can easily be affixed to the fledgeling years of broadcasted wrestling, recent events like John Cena’s “United States Open Challenge” and the creation of AEW’s TNT Championship prove that the nearly forgotten conceptualization of a telecast champion is still completely viable in modern-day wrestling.
The point I’m trying to make with this minor history lesson is that television championships stimulate viewership by providing anticipation fueled entertainment. In the current era of pre-taped pay per views and “performance center recruit” filled audiences, the WWE has found themselves with a success rate that can best be described as “hit or miss”.
Now, in no way am I saying a television title is the “cure-all” for every problem the global pandemic has presented Vince and company, but it certainly would guarantee an increase in viewership numbers that have obviously dropped due to the format changes brought on by the spread of COVID-19. That being said, it certainly seems as though WWE has figured out that even the possibility of a weekly title match intrigues a majority of the fans still watching.
This week’s Smackdown saw not only next week’s Intercontinental Tournament finals heavily pushed but also the tease of Daniel Bryan defending the belt on a weekly basis if he wins, resulting in many of our ears perking up with excitement. So, with that extreme stretch of a segueway made, the question we gather each and every week to answer awkwardly begins taking form! In a week that saw what may be the best WWE has had to offer in the year 2020, 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 list of Blue Brand highlights is the latest chapter in the saga of “Mr. Money in the Bank” and his “peach”.
Mandy and Otis continue to be the most watchable part of Smackdown’s weekly product. Even Baron Corbin’s terrible acting wasn’t enough to takeaway from the smile inducing antics of the current Money in the Bank briefcase holder. Whether it was Otis’ not so subtle reference to Randy Savage’s “Macho King” days, or Mandy’s new denim gear, everything about this segment was perfect.
Although the resulting match would see a “dusty finish” conclusion, this was the latest shining example of why Otis is the most organically over wrestler currently signed with WWE.
Next on Smackdown’s highlights is the emotionally driven promo we saw between AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan.
As far as rivalries go, they don’t get much more black and white than Bryan versus Styles. Both men have fully encompassed their roles in this angle, and that may be the reason this storyline works so well. Factions like Bullet Club, Degeneration X, and the New World Order blurred the lines between heel and face so much that they’re still not clearly defined in the modern era. In a world full of “anti-heroes”, Daniel and AJ are on completely opposite ends of the heel/face spectrum.
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the classic “good versus evil” troupe used so well, and coupling that with the amazing in-ring abilities both these guys possess all but guarantees next week’s title match won’t be something to miss!
Wrapping up this week’s Blue Brand highlights is the Women’s Tag Team Championship match that saw the team of Sasha Banks and Bayley take on champions, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross.
It’s one thing to be a capable wrestler, but being able to visually tell a story while also being a capable wrestler is truly an artistic quality. While the tag titles were on the line, the true focal point of this match was the growing rift between Bayley and Banks. Yes, the conclusion saw the conflicted duo come out victorious, but the continued feud for the spotlight heavily implied that a transitional championship reign is just the latest pitstop on our road to Bayley versus Banks.
This Sunday’s pay per view will most likely see the “Boss and Role Model” team dropping their tag belts in dubious fashion with plenty of blame to be thrown around after the fact.
Switching over to this week’s Red Brand highlight list, it seems the Women’s Tag Team Champions have earned a mention on both lists.
After successfully capturing the twin, white leather straps, Bayley and Sasha Banks took part in a show opener reminiscent of the classic WCW “Flair for the Gold” segments. I absolutely love the troupe of a talent interrupting their oppositions promo, just to be interrupted, themselves moments later.
Not only was this a perfect example of Jim Cornette’s old adage of starting a great show with a great tag match, but factoring in that Asuka and Charlotte would go on to face one another in a fantastic second match later in the night made this the segment of the night for your’s truly. Great in-ring work, expertly delivered promos, and zero lack of arrogance! This was exactly what it should have been and more!
Next on Raw’s highlight list is the latest edition of MVP’s “VIP Lounge”.
Can I just take a moment to applaud the overwhelming amount of charisma Drew McIntyre has at his disposal?! If ever there was an undisputed argument for honing your craft on the independent circuits, it would have to be the former “Scottish Psychopath”. Last night saw the current WWE Champion go from playing off the comedic shenanigans of the Viking Raiders, to believably defending himself against two other men, only to finish this segment seconding the Raiders in a losing effort against MVP and Bobby Lashley.
There aren’t many wrestlers you could expect that versatility out of on a night that doesn’t involve them actually being in a match, which is exactly why Drew completely deserves the championship currently around his waist.
Finishing off this week’s highlights is the return of Christian’s “Peep Show”.
No, this wasn’t the first time we’ve ever seen former tag partners working the “naysaying inspiration” schtick, but there’s something to be said about the level of emotional resonance you get when the two involved truly are best friends. With Edge working a part-time in-ring schedule, his current rivalry with Randy Orton has become a clinic in how to deliver excellent promos. Adding Christian in the mix as the conviction testing friend turned this segment into the real “anything you can do, I can do better” spot of the night. Unfortunately, we may never see the in-ring return of “Captain Charisma”, but as far as guest spots go, this was one of best.
Shows like these make me hesitant to go back to covering negatives out of the fear of a lack of content. Yes, there are still a few minor hiccups happening from time to time, but every week since the development of COVID-19 has seen the WWE slowly improve their television presence. Hopefully this new trend will continue moving forward, but with that remaining to be seen, I’m going to have to call this week for…
After weeks of Smackdown’s entertainment heavy programming taking the RvB crown, Raw finally wins one with an incredible mixture of fantastic in-ring work and promos that hit us right in the feels. Backlash taking place this Sunday means that next week’s RvB will be yet another edition of Smackdown’s “go home” show facing off against Raw’s “rebound”. So, with the Red Brand scoring this week’s victory, 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!
You can find me on Twitter @DirtSheetDandy