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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.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Opinion

What Is The Future Of Tommaso Ciampa?

What does the future hold for everyone’s favorite bad guy?

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Tommaso Ciampa

Scott Mcleod takes a look into the crystal ball to see what the future holds for Tommaso Ciampa.

This weeks NXT opened with Triple H officially announcing that Tommaso Ciampa had vacated the NXT Championship. The rest of the show was centered around a spectacular fatal 5 way won by Adam Cole. Cole now earns the right to face Johnny Gargano in a 2 out of 3 falls match at Takeover New York to crown a new champion. While Gargano’s future looks set what about Ciampa?

A short video on this weeks episode showed he was in Birmingham Alabama and he’d had the neck surgery. Surgery that is said will cause him to be out from 6 to 14 months. We’ve seen Ciampa come back from injuries before but after such a long time off he showed return to NXT or is it time to call him up.

There is a story to be told with him returning to NXT to reclaim Goldie. Coming to take the very thing he was obsessed with and never lost. Part of the reason I’m not sure if should return to NXT is the fact it’s been almost 4 years that he’s been with the brand. He & Gargano debuted on the October 2015 episode of NXT despite not officially being signed.

Ever since he’s been a big part of NXT always tied to Gargano is one way or another. There’s only so much anyone can do in NXT before people start clamoring for them to be called up. Given the time frame he could be out I like the idea of him returning by appearing on the Raw or SmackDown after next years WrestleMania. Just imagine the pop that would get. The kind he should of got when he & Gargano appeared on Raw.

This was my initial idea. However as with anyone who comes up from NXT there is the fear that they won’t know what to do with Ciampa. Also after such a serious injury it’s likely they will keep in him NXT at least for a few months to be sure he’s good to go. I know Ciampa despite getting a hero’s return could easily turn the crowd against him again in a heartbeat.

It would be interesting to have in NXT for few months to show he can be booked in storylines that don’t involve Gargano since they’ve been linked for so long. I wouldn’t object to him regaining the title for a few months before actually being beat for it this time. When he does go up hopefully he can finally finish his story with Gargano. Gargano looks to be gaining momentum when Ciampa appears like a ghost from his past.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s Quarterfinals & Semifinals New Japan Cup 2019 Ratings & Analysis

Andrew’s combines the New Japan Cup Quarters and Semis out of necessity. Who made the finals? How were the matches leading up?

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Andrew’s combines the New Japan Cup Quarters and Semis out of necessity. Who made the finals? How were the matches leading up?

Due to personal plans, I figured it would be best to group these two and cover the Finals show in full on Sunday. So this way no article looks awkwardly short.

Now after an interesting first 2 rounds, we saw some upsets and some favorites pushed harder than expected.

Many of the usual suspects made the Quarters, so let’s see who gets out alive!

Quarterfinals Ratings:

  • Tomohiro Ishii vs YOSHI-HASHI: Ishii wins via Vertical Drop Brainbuster @20:25 – ****
  • Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay: Okada wins via Rainmaker @20:10 – *** 3/4
  • Colt Cabana vs SANADA: SANADA wins via Skull End @14:55 – ** 1/4
  • Zack Sabre Jr vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: Tanahashi wins via Leg Clutch @21:10 – *** 1/2

 

Quarterfinals Analysis:

YOSHI had something to prove, and being that he and Ishii are stablemates, it felt almost personal. YOSHI came out with more fire and resiliency than we’re accustomed to expect from him and had a few nice near falls. Never really being able to hit Karma, and trying to go toe to toe with Ishii on strikes was his undoing. You don’t trying to go blow for blow with the Stone Pitbull.

Okada and Ospreay are great together. As much as I was previously against Ospreay, after his neck injury he seems to actually be doing more than just a plethora of pointless flips. Ospreay has started to become more calculated and Okada keeps getting pushed harder and harder each time these two get together. Though I feel their 46th Anniversary was better, this was still a damn good match. New Ospreay is best Ospreay.

Colt and SANADA. What can I really say. Colt tried to outsmart SANADA on multiple occasions but seemingly gassed himself out being quirky. He overshot the Superman Pin once allowing SANADA to roll out of it and then he just missed, leaving himself wide open for the Skull End. Hopefully we see SANADA get over the hump in the semis, but he’s in some pretty elite company.

Sabre and Tanahashi was a deliberately paced match with Tanahashi trying to keep Zack away from his legs. I’m surprised that Zack didn’t immediately go after the legs when we all know Tanahshi has two bad wheels. So something about Zack seemed to not be nearly as sharp and calculated as usual, so Tanahashi was able to land an Inverted Slingblade and squeak out the pinfall with a Leg Clutch, much to Zack’s chagrin.

 

Quarterfinals Overall Score: 6.75/10

After a first day of two great matches, the second was bound to not live up to the bar that was set because of well, Colt Cabana. No knock on Colt because he is a well rounded wrestler, but because he was basically Gaijin Yano in this tour, he wasn’t going to put on  a classic. Honestly, even Tanahashi and Sabre was a little underwhelming. When YOSHI-HASHI is a participant in the best match of this section, some soul searching might be in order.

 

Semifinals Ratings:

  • Kazuchika Okada vs Tomohiro Ishii: Okada wins via Rainmaker @21:10 – **** 1/4
  • SANADA vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: SANADA wins via Skull End @24:10 – ****

 

Semifinals Analysis:

Okada and Ishii was a hell of a slobber knocker. Ishii does have a G1 victory over Okada, so it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Okada was going to win, and there were plenty of callbacks to the match where Ishii won. Okada saved the match for himself a few times with desperation Dropkicks, as Ishii just kept coming at him and avoiding the Rainmaker attempts for the most part. A multitude of headbutts and attempted Tombstones is where the match swayed to Okada. Ishii kept trying to hit the Tombstone to weaken the neck for the Vertical Drop Brainbuster, but Okada was wise to it and hit a Jumping Tombstone of his own, to set up the Rainmaker finish. Solid match, with the type of aggression you’d expect from two men who really wanted the chance to beat the hell out of Jay White.

Tanahashi and SANADA is interesting. They have similar teachers and harken back to both for their distinctive style. Tanahashi has been referencing Fujinami a lot to avoid knee damage and SANADA loves himself some Mutoh. We saw this match be a little more of a mat based chess game, with both finding ways to work over the other. Tanahashi went through the litany of the moves he used in the tournament thus far, only to have SANADA either break out, or outright counter. Tanahashi tried to use the Leg Clutch he used against Zack Sabre, but SANADA blocked it and sunk in the Skull End. Which marked the end for Tanahashi.

 

Semifinals Overall Score: 7.5/10

These matches were great and lead to a rematch between Okada and SANADA. In what was one of Okada’s better title defenses last year, SANADA is a year older and hopefully with a new trick. The excessive attempts at the Moonsault, are what spelled SANADA’s doom last year.

See you tomorrow for the New Japan Cup Finals! Does SANADA or Okada face Jay White in MSG?


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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