After the roaring success of Backlash, Smack Down LIVE returned with a new man, reaching for the gold, and that man is none other than John Cena himself. Although the 15-times World Champion needs no reasons to want in on the title chase, his involvement in the main event goes against everything that SmackDown stands for and everything that makes the Blue Brand better than the Red Brand.
The New Era is a time of change of guards. It’s a time of opportunities. That spirit SmackDown captures very well. The tag team champs are Heath Slater and Rhyno –a misfit team of an old guy and a dude, who had been nothing but a jobber ever since he set foot in the WWE. In the old days, they would have never stood a chance. On RAW they probably wouldn’t have stood a chance even now, but SmackDown proved to be the show that listens to the people. The fans’ admiration of Heath Slater not only got rewarded with a title reign for the crowd favourite, but it also seems like the champs are going to have an actual reign. Based on old habits, many, myself included, expected Slater and Rhyno to drop the titles on the first possible SmackDown to the Usos because, normally, in the WWE, only a certain few get a chance. However, the Blue Brand proved us all wrong by not only allowing Slater and Rhyno to retain, but also giving the Ascension the time to step into the spotlight.
Another example of the great work of the SmackDown team is the way the Women’s Division is handled on the Blue Brand. The matches that show off all the female talent on the roster are far more entertaining than the lengthy, repetitive promos on RAW. At least, on SmackDown all women get a chance. It was a pleasant surprise to see Alexa Bliss become the #1 contender for Becky’s title. Alexa probably won’t win the rivalry but she’ll grow. People will have the chance to see that she is much better in the ring that most realize. That’s what SmackDown stands for – allowing the underdogs to get the attention they actually deserve.
From the very beginning, SmackDown was the underdog show. To have Dean Ambrose snatch the WWE World Championship away from RAW was a great vote of confidence for both the Lunatic Fringe and the future of the Blue Brand. Booking AJ Styles to win clean over John Cena was monumental. It was a sign that on SmackDown preconceptions don’t matter, skills do. The Phenomenal One – a champion in the WWE, was simply a dream come true, regardless of the way it happened. SmackDown was making the impossible possible, or so it seemed. And then came John Cena. He just walked right into the main event and claimed the spot as his own, with no objections. If that’s not a slap in the face to all the fans, who believed in the change, I don’t know what is.
Dean Ambrose seems to be turning heel as a result of this story and I think it’s nonsense. Don’t get me wrong, Ambrose is a terrific heel, no doubt about it. However, the story made no sense. Cena came out, telling Ambrose off for being upset over having been cheated and Cena was wrong. When Styles landed on the ropes in a very unfortunate position, it was because he was trying to ambush Ambrose after a match. When Ambrose got kicked in the nuts, it was because AJ Styles wanted to cheat. Cena was wrong and Ambrose had the full right to be annoyed with him. Any sane person would have. However, the official position of the WWE on this situation is “Ambrose Betrays the Cenation with Dirty Deeds”. Somehow, in this situation, John Cena came out as the all-righteous martyr. It couldn’t be more obvious that the WWE is planning to have him tie Ric Flair’s record.
Realistically, Cena’s 16th title reign is bound to happen at one point. Yet, it feels like this storyline is a direct hit at the foundation of what makes SmackDown great. The Blue Brand cannot afford to have the ultimate WWE superstar – John Cena, as its face. SmackDown should be the heart and soul of the New Era and John Cena is about to ruin that.
What do you think about John Cena’s position on SmackDown? Leave a comment and let us know!