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WWE SmackDown Top 10: What’s The Point?

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We here at The Chairshot aren’t the only people that love putting wrestling-related lists together! Daniel Bryan loves lists so much that he enlisted the SmackDown Live Superstars to rank themselves in a Top 10. Criteria included most talented, most athletic skill, and locker room leadership. Bryan & Shane McMahon will use the list to make matches.

Here’s the results of the first list:

10. Tye Dillinger
9. Randy Orton
8. Becky Lynch
7. The Usos
6. The New Day
5. Bobby Roode
4. Naomi
3. Shinsuke Nakamura
2. Charlotte Flair
1. AJ Styles

One thing that stands out right away is the lack of rulebreakers. No Kevin Owens. Sami Zayn’s nowhere to be found. Not Jinder Mahal or even a Rusev. Obviously the SD locker room cares more about the third part of the criteria than the first two.

The second thing: It seems to me like it would make more sense to list male competitors, female competitors & tag teams separate. I know it’s uncouth to argue “Separate But Equal” in 2018, but how am I supposed to decide who’s better between Becky Lynch & Randy Orton? It’s not like WWE is going to let them have a match.

The third thing: New Day over Usos? Who won that feud again?

Oh, and Tye Dillinger at 10 is really cute and hilarious. But the dude is never on TV & hasn’t won a match on SD Live since October 3, 2017. Right when Bryan revealed him as number ten was when the list lost any sense of credibility.

You know what else doesn’t help it? Dolph Ziggler or Baron Corbin getting a chance to be in the WWE Championship Match at Fastlane when neither is anywhere to be seen in the Top 10. Rolling out this list and ignoring it for the purpose of ranking contenders in the same night isn’t a good look.

Remember when WCW had a Top 10? You could pick holes through the logic of who was rated where, and sometimes guys that weren’t number one got title shots, but at least they tried to have it make a little bit of sense. It certainly had a purpose, which was to rank the top contenders for the World Championship.

We’re not sure what the purpose of SmackDown’s Top 10 is. It has nothing to do with merit & everything with who you know. Which might be an accurate representation of how some people get their push.

To be fair, SmackDown’s Top 10 may end up being an interesting story device. The babyfaces can get jealous of each other over their spots. It may even facilitate a heel turn. Maybe eventually it will be used to determine who gets a title shot. Right now, it looks like a waste of time & resources. It seems pointless. Unfortunately, these same words can be used to describe SmackDown Live for much of the past year.

When I watch Monday Night Raw lately, I notice the sense of urgency the show has. It’s WrestleMania Season, after all. It’s time to build towards the biggest show of the year. Superstars are jockeying for position in the Elimination Chamber. You’ve got the Lesnars, Cenas & Reigns of the world staking their claim to the top of the card. There’s also guys like Braun Strowman & Elias busting their butts to get there someday.

Not everything on Raw is a hit. They have their fair share of misses. But even the misses have a purpose. The goal is to get talent over & build towards Elimination Chamber & WrestleMania.

SmackDown doesn’t have that same sense of urgency. It’s been missing for awhile now. The brand used to be the Land of Opportunity, and now half of the roster is lucky if they get on TV every couple of weeks. We said at the time of the Superstar Shakeup that SD got the bad end of it, and they haven’t been able to overcome their losses.

Getting Charlotte Flair in exchange for Alexa Bliss was an upgrade in a lot of ways, but a downgrade in some as well. Charlotte is better in the ring & has more credibility. Bliss is better on the microphone and does a better job of building up her opponents. People think Alexa can lose. Charlotte is nearly unbeatable. She isn’t the division-killer Asuka is, but it’s tough to buy the likes of the Riott Squad as legitimate threats.

The Miz was a huge loss for SmackDown on multiple levels. Not only did SmackDown lose their most effective heel talker, but General Manager Daniel Bryan lost a lot of his purpose on the show. He’s been reduced to passive-aggressive melodrama with Shane McMahon that’s either going nowhere or has drug out way too long to be properly effective.

Don’t get me wrong, Bryan is still tremendously over. If or when he does return to active competition, it’ll be a big deal. I’m not convinced that WWE can convince us that Shane McMahon is the proper opponent for Bryan’s comeback. Miz was perfect for the spot. Shane, not so much.

Miz & Alexa’s departure, along with their inability to be replaced, highlights the cancellation of Talking Smack, a tool that was used to give SD talent like them, Baron Corbin, the Usos & countless others more interview time & more chance to get over. Corbin especially benefitted from the extra exposure, and he hasn’t been the same since Talking Smack disappeared. Less opportunity = less success.

This time last year, Corbin seemed destined for big things on SD. Technically he still could be, as he & Dolph Ziggler are facing off this week for a slot in the WWE Championship Fatal 4-Way at Fastlane. It’s unclear what either man did to deserve a chance at the Championship. Especially Ziggler, who’s fresh off of vacating the US Championship. Remember when we thought that could lead to something with Bobby Roode? Nope, apparently throwing belts down and taking vacations gets you opportunities on SmackDown.

If SmackDown management doesn’t care that Dolph Ziggler made them look like fools, why should we? It comes back to a lack of urgency. Nothing on the show matters because nobody acts like it matters.

SmackDown’s Top 10 could create urgency.

Theoretically, rankings systems add legitimacy to sports. College football & basketball largely revolve around rankings. Boxing & UFC championship contenders are decided based on rankings. Heck, even golf has a rankings system that increases importance of events.

Give your rankings some legitimacy. Don’t leave your top contenders out because they aren’t popular in the locker room. If they aren’t seen as worthy of being ranked, why are they getting title shots all the time? It makes management look stupid for booking the matches. Have different rankings for the different championships.

Don’t rank Tye Dillinger #10 just to be cute. Get the guy on TV if you actually want to push him. Don’t present stuff just for the sake of filling time.

It’s really not rocket science. SmackDown Live will matter when the writers present things as if they matter. As long as they don’t, I’m happy the Nashville Predators have games most Tuesday nights.


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Levin’s SmackDown Live Review (10/16/18)

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After watching parts (thank you Comcast) of SmackDown Live’s 1,000th show, it is clear to me the company may not be done promoting matches in the future that feature stars of the past.

While I was not able to witness the entire show, the parts I did see left me thinking (out loud) whether WWE’s commitment to showcasing part-time performers is truly worth the battle? Does the fan base gain anything from seeing older rivalries renewed? Do the current stars on the roster feel slighted in the least by having to share time with restructured programming?

The reunion of Evolution may be the reopening of Pandora’s Box. The confrontation between Batista and Triple H could once again lead to a confrontation in the ring potentially at the Royal Rumble or as an addition to the card at WrestleMania 35. The back and forth between “The Animal” and the “King of Kings” was expected once Randy Orton spewed his venom about Batista leaving the company to pursue acting.

That’s part of the script we all expected. The confrontation and vibe given off as Batista and Triple H “hugged it out” may have been part of the spot, but there are some undertones the company might want to save for another time and date. The use of veterans who have reemerged of late – with Undertaker and Trips in Australia and a tag team match between ‘Taker and Kane and DX (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) may be great on paper, but it is also a hard sell since the announcers have downplayed Michaels’ return to the ring.

Does a Batista-Triple H return match do anything for you? Are you entertained enough to think it is worth a long storyline? Batista has teased a return to the ring, much like The Rock has commented on social media how he cannot wait to get back to the company that made him a millionaire many times over. History tells us certain feuds stand the test of generational gaps.

Triple H and Undertaker is one. The Rock and Steve Austin – if it ever happened – is another. Given that both performers are still in amazing shape this advanced in their careers, is there any reason to think a match wouldn’t sell? Probably not. Finding the right place and time to sell it is the key to its success. SmackDown Live has done such a phenomenal job of using two hours of “wrestling” effectively and has clearly become the “go to” program on WWE’s circuit. Making sure this match gets the proper attention without sacrificing other wrestlers or programs is key.

I suspect the talk of a WWE “reunion” with Batista and Triple H will heat up in the next few weeks. A match looming in the coming year is almost as easy to predict as The Rock and Roman Reigns in a “match for the ages.” The problem is the heat each wrestler brings must match the in-ring performance. We all know Triple H can carry his end of the deal. It remains to be seen if Batista, who has been off in Hollywood making movies, can do the same thing.

As a fan, I sure hope he can.

 


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WWE Evolution and Crown Jewel: Two Sides Of The Same Coin

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Juan Carlos Reneo takes a look at the differences–and also the similarities–of WWE Crown Jewel and WWE Evolution.

The next two PPVs that WWE will produce are very interesting by themselves. Crown Jewel has become a PR nightmare of WWE because of the latest news related to Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile Evolution, a show a lot of people are hopping to see, has become in a way ‘’celebration’’ of women’s wrestling. Interesting enough these two shows are close to one another, making it bizarre for WWE by having praise for making evolution and a lot of bad publicity because of Crown Jewel.

In paper the WWE-Saudi Arabia deal, receiving from 450 to 500 million dollars for a 10-year deal look great but the deal had its main problem which was Saudi Arabia’s treatment on women and LGBTQ community, two communities in which WWE represents with campaigns and events. Crown Jewel as of this moment will still be celebrated despite the media and even senators of the United Stated pressuring WWE to cancel the show because of recent events. Vince McMahon who is known as stubborn man has his plan to go to Saudi Arabia and do Crown Jewel even if people and wrestlers of WWE like it or not.

Evolution at first looked like an apology PPV given to the female roster for not being able to compete in Saudi Arabia because of the laws of the country. When we first heard of Evolution people (I include myself) were excited for the concept of this PPV and a way to give the spotlight to the great female roster WWE has right now. But all the excitement and focus of Evolution went away when WWE announced the show Crown Jewel that would be celebrated only 5 days later and making Evolution into ‘’look we are progressive now but in 5 days we are not progressive anymore’’. Evolution now has become a bad apology for WWE making a deal with a country that is not fan to put it in nice words of the LGBTQ community and women despite they stating they are making cultural changes which in most cases is not true.

Timing has not been a friend of WWE lately, with first the idea of Evolution and Crown Jewel being only a few days apart and seeing the current events that happened. The hashtag #CancelCrownJewel has become very popular in the last coupe of days, but will this pressure cancel the show? When fans pointed out to WWE and Snickers why WWE shouldn’t name a battle royal after the wrestling legend Moolah, it was the right thing to do so there is a record of WWE doing the right thing in recent history.

We also must see the legal nightmare for WWE if they decide to cancel the Crown Jewel show. WWE and Saudi Arabia would enter a tenacious legal battle that most likely would see Saudi Arabia standing tall over WWE. The promotion of Vince McMahon is a corner right now that they were destined to be in from the moment they decided to accept the deal with Saudi Arabia.

Will WWE do the right thing? The best answer I could give to anyone who asked me this question is most likely not, in WWE money speaks over moral integrity, which for all of us fans and followers of the product of WWE should not be a surprised.


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Opinion

Top 5: Old Wrestlers

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Terry Funk

A couple of weeks ago, I suggested that WWE could use this time of year, where business is traditionally down anyway, to try some things they hadn’t done before. They’ve gone a different direction. WWE is bringing back every legend & part-timer they can find to try & get some attention from a public more interested in the NFL, NBA rumors, the new TV season, Kanye West & almost anything else going on.

We’ve got Shawn Michaels coming back to team with Triple H against Undertaker & Kane for that sweet Saudi blood money. Trish Stratus & Lita have come back to take on their old rival Mickie James & her good friend Alexa Bliss, who honestly is just lucky she has the promo ability to be involved at this point. Brock Lesnar is hanging around because the price is right, along with John Cena finishing people off with the SIXTH MOVE OF DOOM.

I mean, it’s a strategy. It’s not one that I find particularly entertaining, but WWE has found success with it in the past. And let’s be honest, it’s one that the fans endorse every year with their money, their cheers & their chants. Every year at the Hall of Fame ceremony, there’s thousands of fans breaking into speeches with “ONE MORE MATCH”. Why wouldn’t WWE listen to these people that paid way too much money to sit in an arena & watch speeches? It makes perfect sense. People don’t care about the current WWE Superstars. They want to see the guys & gals from their childhood. WWE will bring the ones that are available.

But let’s not single WWE out here. Every wrestling promoter that has ever run a show has attempted to draw money from nostalgia at some point. Most indie feds book old WWE guys to draw a house. Once somebody appears on that television, there’s a certain recognizability factor that can get them booked for years after Vince lets them go.

Here are the Top 5 Old Wrestlers.

5. Ric Flair

Ric Flair TNA Comeback

Ric was 40 years old during what many consider to be his peak in-ring performance year, 1989. He was a wily veteran throughout WCW’s entire existence. He was supposed to be the guy that passed the torch, and he did on multiple occasions. Somehow, it always ended up back in his hands. It wasn’t his fault that nobody could carry it the way he did.

The culture of WCW wore on Flair, and towards the end of the company’s existence it seemed like he was near the end of his in-ring career. WWE breathed new life into him, and he had many more years of wily veteran left in him. He was just under 60 when he had his last WWE match, and just over 60 when he had his last wrestling match. He’d still be wrestling today if somebody would let him.

4. Jerry Lawler

The King was never the best-looking athlete, but he was always a master of psychology. He knew what the people wanted to see, and the right time to give it to them. He knew the time & place where he needed to be the chickenshit heel, and where he needed to be the babyface that got beat up and then dropped the strap. He also threw one of the best punches in the business.

Even though Lawler is more remembered as a commentator than as a wrestler in WWE, he could always go into the ring when the time called for it. He was over the age of 60 when he was feuding with The Miz & challenging for the WWE Championship, and having the best matches of Miz’s title run. A heart attack ended Lawler’s WWE in-ring career, but he still competes on the indy circuit occasionally because it’s what he knows & loves. Asking him to retire would be lunacy.

3. Minoru Suzuki

Suzuki hasn’t been around as long as the other people on this list. He’s only 50 right now. But I feel like if you had the term “old wrestler” or “grizzled veteran” in an encyclopedia, this man’s picture would be next to it. He just looks like the kind of guy that represents the old school and would slap you if you didn’t respect the business.

Suzuki is known as a co-founder of Pancrase, where he met most of the old-school MMA legends in the ring. Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Frank Shamrock & Masakatsu Funaki were some of the names. He even met Jushin Thunder Liger in an MMA match. He eventually made his way to pro wrestling, first in All Japan & then in New Japan where he formed the Suzuki-gun faction. I figure if he asks you to join his faction, you pretty much have to out of fear.

2. Terry Funk

As the Funker got older, he got crazier. Funk was already a legend when he arrived in WCW in 1989 at the age of 45 to feud with Ric Flair. Once he got done with that legendary piece of business, he decided he needed to get hardcore in order to get with the times. He did deathmatches in Japan with some dude named Cactus Jack. He did moonsaults off the top rope. He became the patron saint of Extreme Championship Wrestling.

Terry & his brother Dory Funk Jr. were an interesting pair. Dory never changed through the years. He always worked the same style throughout his entire career, which I’m pretty sure is still ongoing. Terry constantly changed. He always wanted to fit in with what was going on at the time. He was middle aged & crazy, and despite announcers’ claims to the contrary, he was the toughest SOB in the business. When you’re tough, you can go on a lot longer than people expect.

Honorable Mention: Mae Young

Mae didn’t exactly have classic matches in her advanced years, but good luck finding a tougher old broad that ever set foot in the ring. Her willingness to take any bump & do any silly thing the writers could think of made her a staple of the WWF Attitude Era at an age where most wrestlers aren’t even alive.

1. Nick Bockwinkel

One of the criticisms of Verne Gagne’s AWA was the fact that he stuck with the same guys on top forever. Longtime stars like Crusher, Baron von Raschke & Verne himself were in top spots on the card years after they should have been. When fans were looking for something new during the 1980s, all the AWA had for most of the decade were the guys that stuck around.

Bockwinkel was a good example of the AWA’s tendency to push guys forever. When Verne didn’t have the AWA Championship, it was usually Nick that had it. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it led to backlashes that made Jeff Jarrett seem like a popular NWA Champion. However, the difference between Nicholas & the others previously listed was simple: the dude could still flat-out go in the ring into his 50s. Most of what people have seen of Bockwinkel’s work is from the 1980s, when he was in his late 40s & early 50s. His advanced ring psychology & technical wrestling skills made him seem ageless. His 60 minute draw with Curt Hennig in Las Vegas at the end of 1986, when Bockwinkel was 52 years old, is the best 60 minute draw I’ve ever seen. Hennig learned how to work on that night & others like it across the ring from Bockwinkel, and eventually became Perfect as a result.

Most of the people on this list evolved as they got older. Nick Bockwinkel was an evolved gentleman from the beginning.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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