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Smackdown: Paige GM, Iconic Debut, Carmella Cashes, Heel Nakamura

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The episode of Smackdown Live after Wrestlemania is always exciting, but this year’s edition of the Blue Brand post-Wrestlemania had fans cheering.

The episode kicked off with the announcement of Paige replacing Daniel Bryan as General Manager. It was only a day earlier she had announced her in-ring retirement due to injuries.

During the segment, she didn’t rule out a come back in the future and has recently thanked Bryan for giving her hope. Bryan was recently cleared to return to in-ring competition after a two-year brief retirement from competition due to concussion issues.

Having Paige become the Smackdown GM is a good day to have her appear in a prominent role on television. Fans love Paige and while they want to see her perform in the ring, people are happy to see her continue working in WWE.

While Raw had several NXT superstars make their debut, Smackdown Live had a couple of call-ups as well – specifically the Iconic Duo of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce. Now dubbed as the IIconics, Royce and Kay mocked Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair before proceeding to attack her.  

Royce’s and Kay’s call up to the main roster has been long overdue. The two have grown as performers and characters during their time in NXT.

WWE changing their team name from the Iconic Duo to IIconics is going to take some time to digest for fans. The name change is similar to how creative renamed Ruby Riott – or in some cases had superstars like Neville, Big E and Cesaro only use one name. While it was difficult for fans to like those names at first, now you can’t imagine them going by any other name.

After their attack on Flair, the IIconics put the women’s division on notice. It’s cool to see something like this from debuting talent – the IIconics aren’t just stopping with Flair, they’re going after everyone.

The IIconics’ attack on Flair set up the other big moment of the night when Carmella finally cashed in her Money in the Bank contract to pin the Queen and win the Smackdown Women’s Championship.

Carmella held her Money in the Bank contract for 287, longer than any previous MITB briefcase. She had previously attempted to cash in her contract on a couple of occasions, but the matches never started.

Fans who have watched Carmella since her NXT days are no doubt excited to see her win her first championship and take the next step in her career. Although Carmella hasn’t been in the wrestling business for long, she has paid her dues in life – which she goes into detail about on Lilian Garcia’s Chasing Glory podcast.

Carmella is also good at generating heel heat with her cheating and antics – and that will be a good foil to Flair and other babyfaces in the women’s division.

Putting the title on Carmella, as well as having the Iconics debut also gives the Smackdown women’s division a new chapter.

And of course came the biggest blow of the night. While fans were salivating for the dream match between Bryan and A.J. Styles – Shinsuke Nakamura took matters into his own hands and denied the crowd the finish of the match. The King of Strong Style kneed Bryan in the back of the head and attack Styles.

Nakamura’s heel turn came at Wrestlemania after he lost to Styles at Wrestlemania. The heel turn came at the height of Nakamura being one of the top babyfaces on Smackdown Live. The question would be how to generate more heel heat for Namakura – have him ruin the dream match between Styles and Bryan.

The Smackdown after Wrestlemania wasn’t perfect, but the debuts and major announcements outshined the low and mediocre moments. It also opened the doors for some big things on Smackdown in the months ahead.

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WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? February 4, 2019

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The Good

For Raw, the whole back and forth rivalry between Jeff Jarrett and Elias was entertaining. What started at the Royal Rumble and has carried over for the past few weeks, seeing Elias and Jarrett exchange guitar shots had a throwback feel to it. Along with that, Road Dogg being in the corner of Jarrett really brought times back. Lastly, Elias ended up winning the match, which helps give him momentum going into whoever his next rival will be. 

For Smackdown, Mustafa Ali and Randy Orton put on the best match during their show this week. Ali’s high flying against Randy Orton’s slow attacking pace was a great matchup of styles and it showed. Orton ended up winning after hitting an RKO from the top rope and gives him the upper hand towards the Elimination Chamber match.

The Bad

For Raw, the lack of featuring the tag team champions on their show this week was evident. While they did have a number one contenders match featured this week, the winners ended up being the Revival. This is a match that we have already seen one too many times and if there isn’t a different result this time around, then what is the point of the Revival facing off against the tag team champions.

For Smackdown, after R-Truth shocked the world last week by defeating Shinsuke Nakamura to win the United States championship, you would think that we would get a segment of him celebrating this victory the next week. Instead, he wasn’t even really on the show this week. As good as R-Truth is, at least a 30 second segment would’ve been better than nothing from him. 

The Final Verdict

Both shows were average this week. They did help build the Elimination Chamber as well as still pushing Ronda Rousey versus Becky Lynch as the main event of Wrestlemania. But, there was lots missing from both brands this week. Both shows were missing champions this week and didn’t even bother mentioning them. As talented as the champions currently are, each one should get respective time. With that said though, I will have to say that Raw had the better show this week. A debuting EC3, a solid double match with Ronda Rousey, and a decent main event gave Raw a better show this time around. In conclusion, WWE still has some work to do when building up these next two PPV’s, hopefully, they can put on better efforts that they did this week.

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WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? January 28, 2019

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The Good

For Raw, the ending segment between Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar was an awesome way to close out the show and start the build for this match at Wrestlemania. After Rollins won the Royal Rumble on Sunday, he had to make a decision on which champion he would face. Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar told Rollins to choose Daniel Bryan over Lesnar because he didn’t want to fight with Lesnar, which led to Rollins responding by igniting a brawl. Overall, great way to help ramp up the intensity for what could be the main event of Wrestlemania. 

For Smackdown, we have a new United States champion and this moment really came out of nowhere. R-Truth went one on one against Shinsuke Nakamura for the championship and he won via roll up. Soon after Truth won, Rusev then came out and challenged Truth to defend his newly won belt. Truth won again via roll up, which led to both Nakamura and Rusev attacking him after. Its a fresh start with the US championship and somebody with as much charisma as Truth is a good way to hit the reset button for this belt.

The Bad

For Raw, who knows what they are trying to do with Kurt Angle. After losing to Baron Corbin in about five minutes, this leaves lots of questions on where Angle stands with WWE. Ever since he has came back to the ring, he has lost over and over again. This shouldn’t be happening with a hall of fame of his status. But, this could lead to an interesting story considering how good Angle is. 

For Smackdown, while it was a feel good moment to see the Miz and Shane McMahon win the tag team championship, their celebration on the show this week wasn’t that compelling. At the PPV, when they won the match, they celebrated with the Miz’s father. Then, during this celebration, it was the same thing as the Miz’s dad came out and celebrated with them along with a video package being played. This could’ve been done better and differently considering we already saw this type of celebration during the PPV.

The Final Verdict

Overall, both shows were really good this week. Not only are they starting to layout some of the big matches for Wrestlemania, but they are also starting to implement matches for their upcoming PPV, Elimination Chamber. Smackdown felt a little crammed though as they were trying to fit in promos during superstars entrances and having promos during commercials. While Raw, on the other hand, was able to announce two huge matches for Wrestlemania as well as help build up some rivalries going into Elimination Chamber. Raw had the better show this week for a few reasons. A solid ending, a great beginning for the Ronda Rousey versus Becky Lynch match, and an entertaining segment with Elias help Raw deliver this week. In conclusion, 2019 continues to be good for WWE so hopefully they can continue this pace going into their next big PPV of the year.

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WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? January 21, 2019

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The Good

For Raw, the match between Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre to help build up the Royal Rumble was a great match. It will be likely these two will be near the end of the Royal Rumble match so this was a great preview for what is to come. Rollins ended up winning after a surprise roll up, which is great for him having lots of momentum going into the Royal Rumble.

For Smackdown, the ending of their show was awesome. The main event was Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade again, but this time, it was a two out of three falls match. The innovation and chemistry these two have in the ring is incredible. The series was tied 1-1 and when it looked like Mysterio was going to win this bout, Samoa Joe interfered. He attacked both superstars to make a statement in regards to the Royal Rumble. What made this so great though was when Joe was on the mic, Randy Orton hit an RKO out of nowhere.

The Bad

For Raw, while Elias and Baron Corbin were able to put on a pretty good match this week, this is something we have seen for way too long. It was even mentioned by the announce team that this had been going on for months. While some rivalries are able to pull that off, these two can only do it for so long because it has felt like it has been going on since halfway through 2018. 

For Smackdown, the only downside that occurred on their show this week was the lack of build up to the United States Championship match. Smackdown seemed to have time to build up every match for the PPV as well as matches on their show. So, it doesn’t seem understandable on why they wouldn’t put time for that match too.

The Final Verdict

With these being the go home shows before the Royal Rumble, both brands were able to put on great shows. From start to finish, they were able to build the PPV as well as put on good matches. As far as who put on a better quality show, it feels like Smackdown had the better show this week. A great segment for the WWE Championship match, an incredible main event, and an even better ending is why they were able to have the better show. In conclusion, WWE  seemed to hit all the right notes for both brands in the build up for the Royal Rumble so hopefully we get to see more of this in 2019.

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