The July 9 edition of WWE SmackDown saw several recently underutilized superstars get some much-needed TV time, a trend that needs to continue moving forward under new pending executive producer Eric Bischoff.
Last night’s WWE SmackDown was a better show than the brand has been having lately thanks, in large part, to a few familiar faces finally getting TV time after being held off of TV for far too long to help give other angles and storylines TV time that a lot of fans don’t want to see.
The Intercontinental Championship has been basically as nonexistent as possible over the past month-plus. Despite Finn Balor being a popular WWE superstar and one that fans look forward to seeing, he has not been focused on nearly enough since becoming the Intercontinental Champion. That has started to change over the past couple of weeks when another forgotten superstar finally got TV time to step up and challenge Balor.
Shinsuke Nakamura approached Balor backstage a couple of weeks ago and it led to the two squaring off last night for the first time ever on the blue brand. This match was a stellar one that had a lot of great action involved, but it really impressed in terms of Nakamura, who was downright ruthless in his attempts to defeat the Intercontinental Champion.
He tried taking Balor out numerous times for a count-out victory, but Balor wouldn’t stay down. That was until Nakamura hit him with a Kinshasa to get the win and all but solidify an Intercontinental Championship opportunity in the very near future. It could even come at Extreme Rules on Sunday, but regardless of that, it’s nice to see both of these superstars back on TV competing in a match.
Last night also saw the tag team of Asuka and Kairi Sane back on TV after many weeks of being out of the picture. In a backstage segment alongside the also-underutilized WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions The IIconics, Asuka and Sane’s manager Paige laid out the challenge to The IIconics for a tag team title match. The Intercontinental Championship and Women’s Tag Team Championship scenes are just two examples of superstars needing more TV time.
Just think about it, there are countless superstars on the blue brand that haven’t gotten a sniff of TV time lately. The WWE has been working on other storylines and giving them time to shine, but you shouldn’t leave other superstars off of TV altogether to make your point, especially when two championships are being basically ignored. In fact, Kevin Owens touched on this issue during his rant promo at the top of last night’s show.
Owens said Shane McMahon is taking up far too much TV time and taking it away from the superstars that deserve it. Fans have been saying this for a while and the WWE decided to bring it into a storyline of sorts. Just look at the amount of talent SmackDown has, it’s a staggering amount. However, many of them aren’t getting a fair chance to make a name for themselves.
Names like Apollo Crews, Buddy Murphy, The B-Team, Lana, Rusev, Liv Morgan, Rusev, and even Randy Orton haven’t been involved in quite a long time. Injuries and time off could be a factor for some, but that’s a lot of talent that is just sitting around a healthy scratch. With the Eric Bischoff era looming, this needs to be a key issue that is taken care of. Last night was a step in the right direction, but it has to go farther than just addressing the issue in a storyline form.
The wild card rule is also a big reason for certain superstars not getting TV time. When several superstars from both brands can go on the other brand on any given night, that’s less time for underutilized superstars to get their shot. Hopefully, the wild card rule is phased out in the future because, in all honesty, it has done more harm than good. That’s a whole other issue for another time, but it does affect how much TV time superstars get.
It’s easy to forget what you have and take it for granted sometimes, so the WWE needs to remember how much talent the blue brand has that deserves to be primary members of SmackDown each and every week.