Smackdown Wins The Superstar Shake-up

Smackdown to RAW:
Jinder Mahal, Singh Brothers, Ruby Riott – Liv Morgan – Sarah Logan (Riott Squad), Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Tyler Breeze & Fandango (Breezango), Natalya, Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin, Zack Ryder, Mojo Rawley, Mike Kanellis, Chad Gable, Bobby Roode, Konnor & Viktor (The Ascension)

RAW to Smackdown:
The Miz, Jeff Hardy, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, Samoa Joe, Big Cass, Asuka, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Sheamus, Cesaro, R-Truth

NXT to RAW:
Drew McIntyre

NXT to Smackdown:
Eric Young – Alexander Wolfe – Killian Dain (Sanity), Andrade “Cien” Almas (with Zelina Vega)

The RAW and Smackdown after Wrestlemania brought us another Superstar Shake-up and it looks like Smackdown came out on top. RAW got some good talent, and they’ll be fine, but Smackdown set up some great feuds/matches. The most exciting (my opinion) move is The Miz to Smackdown. This reunites him a newly cleared to wrestle, Daniel Bryan. We never did get that resolution to their verbal feud that started on Talking Smack. This should be fun. I just hope WWE doesn’t hot-shot it, but gives us a nice, slow burn. Damn, bring back Talking Smack while we’re at it. The Miz and Daniel Bryan should not touch each other for months. This should last until SummerSlam or, if we’re lucky and it’s done right, it should culminate at next year’s Wrestlemania. Please WWE, don’t mess this up. It could be something very special.

Samoa Joe joining Smackdown is huge. Along with The Miz, Joe elevates Smackdown’s promo game. He’s as good as anyone on the mic right now. Think of the possible feuds between Joe and Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev, Cesaro, Almas, or Jeff Hardy. Not to mention a match or two with Shelton Benjamin. Hell, think of the possible combination of matches between any of those guys. There should not be a Smackdown going forward where two of those guys aren’t in the ring together. The show should practically write itself.

Asuka going over to Smackdown makes the Women’s Division look pretty solid. Asuka could team up with with Charlotte for a while to keep The Iconic Duo and Absolution at bay before squaring off again. Charlotte eventually needs to be a heel because she’s such a natural at it. Asuka, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Naomi should be able to have some great matches.

On the tag team side, The Bludgeon Brothers, The Bar, The Usos, Sanity, The Club, and New Day also have the potential for some decent feuds. Sanity, specifically Killian Dane and Alexander Wolfe against The Bludgeon Brothers would be a lot of fun. Luke Harper and Killian Dane face-to-face? Yes, please.

It all looks good on paper. Now WWE needs to do the things that made Smackdown a must see show before last year’s Superstar Shake-up. Smackdown is set up to be the wrestling-centric show with RAW having more characters. There’s nothing wrong with that because RAW is three hours (one hour too long), so they need to build up characters and storylines deeper. Smackdown just needs to let the talent do what they do best, wrestle. I hope we don’t get bogged down with too many talking segments. It would be a shame to take away from so much wrestling potential.

Team Blue all the way!!!!

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Gargano v Ciampa – The Match of Wrestlemania Weekend

Apologies to Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles, but the Johnny Gargano – Tommaso Ciampa is the match that’s gonna steal the show Wrestlemania weekend. Don’t get me wrong, Nakamura – Styles should tear the house down if AJ is anywhere near 100%. It won’t, but that match should headline Wrestlemania instead of Roman Reigns – Brock Lesnar. Gargano and Ciampa have the opportunity to have the match of the year, anywhere.

How did we get to this point where these two best friends are now enemies? Ciampa and Gargano went through a war at NXT Takeover: Chicago in a loss to the Authors of Pain in May 2017. They practically killed themselves trying to get the titles back. That was the last straw for Ciampa. He turned on Gargano and #DIY were no more. We all saw it coming, but it was still a shock the way it went down.

Tommaso Ciampa went away for a while with a knee injury. In the meantime, Johnny Gargano went on to challenge for the NXT Title and had two awesome matches with Andrade “Cien” Almas. Their second match at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia in January 2018 was epic. The match had so many ups and downs. Just when you thought the match was over, it went on for another 20 minutes. After Gargano lost that match, Ciampa finally emerged and attacked Gargano again.

Fast forward and Johnny Gargano loses another match to Almas and is forced to leave NXT. Bye Johnny Wrestling, for now. With Gargano out of the NXT picture, Tommaso Ciampa re-emerged on TV to tell his side of the story. Gargano tried to get his hands on Ciampa outside the Performance Center and even at Ciampa’s home. Good build, NXT. Why can’t the writers on the two main shows do the same thing?

Now we have an unsanctioned match between the two at NXT Takeover: New Orleans. Johnny Gargano is a madman. All he wants is to make Tommaso Ciampa pay for what he did, and all Ciampa wants is to finish what he started. This promises to be a war. These guys know each other very well. I can see this being as good or better than Gargano – Almas in Philadelphia. Johnny Gargano sells as good as anyone in the biz. You want to root for the guy. He’s got heart. He’s not big, but there’s nothing he won’t do in the ring to win. He’s got a Daniel Bryan vibe, and you know how much people love him.

Tommaso Ciampa is talented as hell. He can do pretty much anything Gargano can do, but he’s more physical. These guys are going to beat the hell out of each other and we’re going along for the ride. I don’t imagine these guys will have anything left at the end of this. Get ready for a ton of false finishes. My prediction is that these guys put on the best WWE match of the year. Gargano has to win. He didn’t win the NXT Title, but the fans will be willing him to win this.

In the end, they’ll shake hands out of respect and the past will be the past. They’ll realize that they bring out the best in each other. I don’t think this means #DIY gets back together. Johnny Gargano has done all he can in NXT. It’s time for him to move up. Smackdown would be a good place for him. I can see some nice matches between him and Nakamura/AJ Styles/Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens. If there is another shakeup, maybe Gargano could wrestle Finn Balor/Seth Rollins. My fear is that Johnny Gargano will end up in 205 Live. I know it’s a better show now, but Johnny Wrestling deserves to be on one of the main shows. Ciampa should continue in NXT, and he can be in the mix for the new NXT North American Title.

Let’s not worry too much about what happens after the match. Let’s get ready to see one crazy, emotional match. This is gonna be so much fun. Fight Forever..clap…clap…clap…clap…clap.

Welcome Back Daniel Bryan

Smackdown 3-20-2018

In February 2016, Daniel Bryan went on RAW and told us what we didn’t want to hear. Years and years of concussions had taken a toll on him and doctors told him that he shouldn’t and couldn’t wrestle anymore. It was a huge blow for wrestling as a whole. Who didn’t like Daniel Bryan?

Daniel Bryan was a wrestler, a real wrestler. It was his life and it was hard for him to be around the business but not in the ring giving us everything he had. You could see that he appreciated having a job in WWE, but he didn’t look like he was totally into it. Eight months later on an episode of Total Bellas, we saw Daniel Bryan break down in tears at the realization that he wouldn’t be allowed to wrestle ever again. There were stories of him being understandably depressed and now it was confirmed.

Fast forward to 2017 and there were signs that Daniel Bryan might actually be cleared to wrestle. The verbal feud between Bryan and The Miz on Smackdown and Talking Smack was gold. The Miz got real with Daniel Bryan and said things that hit close to home. It seemed as though a match was the only way this could end. At the same time, Daniel Bryan was talking about going to specialists and getting good news. Could this be true? Unexpectedly, The Miz was shipped over to RAW and the whole angle was dropped.

Three weeks before Wrestlemania, WWE and Daniel Bryan announced that he has been cleared to wrestle. Yes! Yes! Yes! Just when it looked like he would go elsewhere when his WWE deal expired, he’s back. The wrestling world lost their minds. What’s next? His first order of business was to fire Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn only to get beat down by them. They didn’t take it easy on him. He took some nice shots and even a powerbomb on the edge of the ring. Way to get thrown right back into the fire. This is gonna be fun. I expect Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon to take on Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens at Wrestlemania. A tag team match allows Bryan to not be the focal point and allows him to work his way back into ring shape. Knowing Daniel Bryan, he probably wants to go all out in that match. Stay healthy Daniel Bryan, wrestling needs you in it.

Don’t Too Sweet Me, bro

RAW 1-29-2018

The weekend was so full of great wrestling with NXT TakeOver and the Royal Rumble that it was hard getting excited for RAW this week. Luckily, WWE didn’t make this week’s show a chore to watch. I was a bit disappointed that there were no call-ups from NXT, but the show delivered like it hasn’t in a while.

Of course, the show starts off with Stephanie telling us how historic the Women’s Royal Rumble was; in case you didn’t pick up on the vibe the night before. Asuka comes out, but doesn’t specify who she’s going to face at Wrestlemania. Sasha comes out to interrupt. The slow Sasha heel turn continues. Honestly, Sasha needs to be off TV for a while. I know it’s the right time for it now with Wrestlemania around the corner, but her shtick is tired. I get it, you’re “The Boss”.

Asuka vs Sasha Banks happened later in the show. Of course, Asuka won in a pretty good match. Both women got a chance to look strong. Sasha nearly killed herself with a botched dive outside the ring. Her legs hit the top rope as she was diving out and she spiked herself on the ground just as Asuka was about to kick her. It could have ended up very badly for Sasha. The only problem I had with this match is that Bayley was nowhere to be found. Sasha eliminates her in the Royal Rumble, but there is no fallout the next day. Bayley should have at least confronted her at some point during the show, or come out to distract Sasha and cost her the match. Just goes to show you how far Bayley has fallen. WWE is doing this angle and Sasha and Bayley are wrestling at Wrestlemania, but they should have started it from this episode of RAW. Lazy booking.

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The Miz beat Roman Reigns in another IC Title match. Good stuff from these guys. WWE is making The Miz look strong. The rumor is that he’ll be feuding with Braun Strowman at Wrestlemania. Speaking of Braun, he again tried to murder Kane. They had a Last Man Standing match as an Elimination Chamber qualifier. Strowman tipped the announcer’s table/stage over on to Kane and the match was over. How many times does Braun have to almost kill someone before the police charge him with attempted murder? The funny thing is that, for some reason, the announcers had to set up a new table near the ring because of what Braun did when someone could have very easily just tipped it back and things would have been fine. Maybe the area was a crime scene that couldn’t be disturbed.

In the two other Elimination Chamber qualifiers, Elias beak Woken Matt when Matt was distracted by Bray Wyatt, and John Cena beat Finn Balor. Two very good matches. WWE is making Elias look strong and I’m curious to see how he’ll do in the chamber. I know people are probably wondering where Woken Matt is headed. It looks like he now has full control of all the Broken Matt related trademarks. Hopefully this is a sign that he is ready to move forward with this gimmick. I see a Bray Wyatt – Woken Matt goofy tag team coming. It could be fun.

RAW closed out with John Cena and Finn Balor. I don’t know why John Cena had to win this? Maybe Finn Balor still finds a way into the chamber match. He deserves to be in it. That being said, this match delivered. Both guys got in some big spots, and the finish was in doubt until the end. Sure, maybe you thought Cena was going over, but it wasn’t a slam dunk. There were a few times when I thought Finn was taking it. Cena heeled it up a bit with his Too Sweet and the fans booed. Finish came from a Super AA from the second rope. Balor lost, but looked good.

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There were some other matches, but they didn’t move anything along. No surprises on this show, no Ronda Rousey, no Seth Rollins, no Jason Jordan, and no 205 Live guys. Speaking of 205 Live, Drake Maverick (Rockstar Spud) was named the new GM on Tuesday night and a new 16-man tournament started. Looks like they’re getting a reboot after the whole Enzo thing. 205 needed it, whether or not Enzo was gone. I like 205 Live, but they haven’t done it any favors by having the same guys on every week for most of the year when they had so many other talented guys (Gran Metalik) sitting around doing nothing.

RAW delivered this week. Let’s hope they can keep this up on the road to Wrestlemania.

Japanese Invasion

Royal Rumble
1-28-2018

It was a history making night; at least that’s what they kept telling me throughout the Royal Rumble. I witnessed history! Ok, it felt more like I watched a pretty good Royal Rumble. The Men’s Rumble match was pretty awesome, the Women’s Rumble match was good (better than I thought it would be), and the other matched were average.

Let’s talk about the four non-Rumble matches to get them out of the way. Two of these matches had the potential to steal the show and the others should’ve been very good. Not so much! WWE found a way to squander the AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn WWE Title match and the Usos vs Gable & Benjamin Smackdown Tag Team Title match. The Bar vs Rollins & Jordan RAW Tag Team Title match was fine, just as I expected. I’ll talk about the three-way later.

The thought of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens beating AJ Styles and being co-champions sounds like a whole lot of fun. At minimum, if AJ Styles won, it should at least be a great match because of the three participants involved. AJ Styles won by pinning Kevin Owens in an ok match. The big thing here is that Kevin Owens wasn’t the legal man, so AJ pinning him shouldn’t have been allowed to stand. Too bad it did. I thought Daniel Bryan was gonna come out to make things right and restart the match. In doing so, this would allow KO and Sami to win. You know Shane would’ve lost it and his tensions with Daniel Bryan could’ve gone to another level. With Nakamura winning the Royal Rumble, I can see why they kept the belt on AJ, but that doesn’t make it right.

The Smackdown Tag Team Title match was a letdown. You had The Usos, arguably the best tag team around, against Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin, who aren’t too shabby themselves. Chad Gable is so exciting to watch. He can have a great match with anyone, or anyone can have a great match with him. This was a three falls match. Somehow, for the first time in history, the same team won the first two falls. I didn’t even know that was possible. Usos retained, but this should’ve been so much better.

The RAW Tag Team Title match came on after the men’s Royal Rumble. Bad place to be. The crowd was coming down from the Rumble, so they weren’t too into this match. Jason Jordan sold an injury for most of the match which left Seth Rollins to fend for himself. The Bar wins and take back the title. Without The Shield and with Roman Reigns being groomed to kick out of Brock Lesnar’s F-5, Seth Rollins doesn’t have much to do. I think the Jason Jordan turn will end up in Rollins fighting Jordan at Wrestlemania. Poor Seth!

Brock Lesnar pinned Kane in a three-way with Braun Strowman. Strowman did much of the heavy lifting. This match was quite physical, and maybe it was by accident. Earlier in the match, Lesnar took a knee from Braun. A legit knee but it might have been Lesnar’s fault for not taking it right. He never turned his head. Later, Brock shoot punches Braun in the side of the head. Looked solid. What a jerk! I hope Brock loses the title soon, even to Roman. I’m tired of the Universal Champion being absent most of the time.

The men’s Royal Rumble was third on the card. I was surprised when they started hyping it up. I was sure the women would go first, but Stephanie had to have her night. I’m not going to run down the list of entrants and eliminations. What you need to know is that is was probably one of the best Rumbles in a while.

Rusev came out at #1 and the crowd lost their mind and kept up their love for him throughout his run in the Rumble. A chorus of boos rang out when he was finally eliminated. Baron Corbin was not in the match very long, and I wonder if this is the beginning of the end for him. Dolph Ziggler came in at #30 and nobody cared. Andrade Cien Almas and Adam Cole (bay bay), who shouldn’t have even been able to walk, were the NXT entrants and they both put on a show, especially Almas. The biggest surprise of the night was Rey Mysterio who came in at #27. Rey looked to be in the best shape of his life. No word on if it was a one-time only deal.

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The final four was Finn Balor, Nakamura, Reigns, and John Cena. For a second I thought WWE was actually stupid enough to have Roman Reigns win in Philly again. They might have burned the place down if Reigns had won. The right guy won and an AJ Styles – Shinsuke Nakamura match at Wrestlemania should tear the house down. It should be the main event, but WWE will give Roman Reigns his Wrestlemania moment instead.

The Women’s Royal Rumble closed out the show. While it was better than I expected, Stephanie McMahon on commentary was horrendous. She didn’t seem comfortable, and all she talked about was what a historic night it was for the women in the match and all women in general in the history of time.

Asuka won the whole thing which was exactly the right decision. To be honest, I thought Nikki Bella or Stephanie McMahon were going to win. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought that. There was sloppy action in the ring, but I think lots of people expected it. This match was full of nostalgia. Except for Asuka, the stars of yesteryear got the most pops. The crowd went nuts for Lita, Trish Stratus, Torrie Wilson, Kelly Kelly, and Vickie Guerrero. If they don’t bring back the older stars, how are they gonna have a 30-women Royal Rumble in the future?

The match came down to Nikkie Bella vs Asuka. Of course, Nikki took Asuka to the limit like no ever has in the WWE because she’s Nikki Bella. What a joke. Asuka wins and while she was basking in the glow of being the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble champion, Ronda Rousey comes out to make her WWE debut. Great job, WWE. Way to ruin the moment. Rousey comes out and stinks up the joint with her bad acting and inability to naturally point at the Wrestlemania sign. Reports are that she signed a full-time deal with WWE. We’ll see how it goes.

  • Match of the night: Men’s Royal Rumble
  • Pop of the night: Rey Mysterio
  • No reaction of the night: Tamina and her white jeans and white jean jacket

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Physical X 1000

NXT TakeOver Philly
1-27-2018

Fact, there has never been a bad TakeOver. NXT TakeOver Philly didn’t disappoint. I was sad when this ended. What a physical PPV!

The Tag Team Titles start off the show. I liked this match, but I didn’t love it. The tag titles are usually at the top of the list of best matches for TakeOver shows. This one, not so much. Good back and forth, both sides get a chance to show off, but where was the big spot? The Undisputed Era wins with a roll-up. This match and the titles deserved better than a typical roll-up we see on RAW and Smackdown every week.

Velveteen Dream is probably one of the best NXT stars right now. He has a huge upside. He’s got the look, the attitude, and he can deliver in the ring. Please WWE, don’t mess this up. Dream guaranteed that he’d beat Kassius Ohno in thirty seconds. He didn’t, but he did win. This was a fun match. These guys beat the hell out of each other. So many big shots from both men. Huge top rope elbow from Velveteen Dream for the win.

I don’t know where Kassius Ohno is headed. He has no momentum. He looks destined to be an NXT lifer, and that would be a shame. He’s great a putting people over. Maybe that’s his role.

Ember Moon vs Shayna Baszler next. Baszler didn’t need to win this match, but she didn’t need to get pinned either. A DQ loss does her no damage while a pin makes her look weak because she lost both big matches she’s been in. Of course Ember Moon pins Baszler in the middle of the ring. They couldn’t help themselves. The match was mostly Shayna Baszler doing MMA things to Moon. Baszler took a great Eclipse from Moon. I thought she had her there. The last few minutes were Baszler trying to break Ember Moon’s arm, but the champ persevered and reversed it into a roll-up. Moon is still your NXT Women’s champ. Post-match, Shayna Baszler choked out Moon several times on the ramp while not one other women’s wrestler came out to help. Hello!!!! Where is everyone?

Aleister Black and Adam Cole spent the next match trying to mame and murder each other. An Extreme Rules stipulation is exactly what this match and PPV needed. Great spots by both men. The used everything they could find; chairs, kendo sticks, trash cans, ladders, tables, and the announcer’s table. How Adam Cole didn’t break his back on a sick double chair spot is beyond me. I winced in pain when Black delivered it. Like Velveteen Dream and Kassius Ohno, these guys beat the hell out of each other and it was great. Undisputed Era came out to save Cole, but Sanity took care of them. Black won, as he should have.

Aleister Black is so money. The sky’s the limit for this guy on the main roster if WWE doesn’t mess it up. Can you imagine Black vs Nakamura, Black vs Balor, Black vs Owens, Black vs AJ Styles, Black vs Rollins????? All of those, yes please.

Can’t believe the NXT Title match had to follow that, but that’s life. Another physical battle. Andrade Cien Almas and Johnny Gargano put on a hell of a show. So many near falls. Often, WWE does one near fall too many, but here they all worked. Zelina Vega tried to get involved only to have Johnny Wrestling’s real-life wife, Candice LeRae beat the crap out of her and have her running for the hills. Almas pinned Gargano and all the air went out of the crowd. Gargano went through a lot and the crowd went along with him. Johnny Gargano needs to eventually win this title.

As the show went off the air, Tommaso Ciampa attacked Gargano at the top of the ramp. It was expected. Although, I thought Ciampa would cost Gargano the title. I hope a Ciampa-Gargano feud doesn’t take Johnny Wrestling away from the NXT Title picture. He deserves to win gold. That being said, Gargano and Ciampa should have a fantastic feud.

  • Match of the night: Cien Almas vs Johnny Gargano
  • Pop of the night: War Machine, Ricochet and EC3 in the crowd.
  • No reaction of the night: AOP, might be time to move these guys up.

Sami Zayn + Kevin Owens = Gold

Smackdown 1-23-2018

I sure hope the rumors are true and Shinsuke Nakamura wins the Royal Rumble because Smackdown could use some excitement. Smackdown isn’t a bad show. They have great talent and interesting storylines, but there’s something missing.

This episode was way better than last week’s and did what it was supposed to do as a go home show, advance storylines and make me want to get the PPV. To be honest, I was gonna watch the Royal Rumble anyway. Too bad RAW had to pack in so much nostalgia instead of actually working on getting people excited about the PPV.

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are the best thing on WWE TV right now. Snarky Sami Zayn is the best Sami Zayn. I love AJ Styles, but the idea of WWE co-champions KO and Sami sounds like pure gold. How would that even work? That’s what’s great about it, not to mention the eventual turn and match between these two. Go back and watch their feud on the WWE Network; it’s fantastic.

AJ takes the bait from Sami and KO and accepted their challenge to fight them both in one night. Daniel Bryan continues to give the illusion that he’s stacking the deck against AJ. I somehow think this storyline ends with a big swerve. There’s no way the fans want to boo Daniel Bryan. I see Shane McMahon somehow joining KO and Sami. A heel Shane is easy to boo, especially if he starts to morph into a milder version of Mr. McMahon. If Daniel Bryan does get cleared to wrestle, a Shane O Mac – Daniel Bryan feud could be interesting.

AJ beats Owens, but loses to Sami Zayn. Both matches delivered, and Shane tried to even the odds by trying to make sure AJ only had to worry about one competitor at at time. Great stuff and two storylines advanced at the same time. What a concept! Who knew WWE had it in them? There’s no way RAW and Smackdown have the same writers.

Chad Gable and Jey Uso had a great back and forth match. Gable can do so many things in the ring. I wonder if he’ll get a chance as a singles competitor because he deserves to do more than just be part of a tag team. Gable wins. I wonder if WWE would put the titles on Gable and Benjamin at the Royal Rumble? The Usos are probably the best tag team on the planet right now, but Jey Uso getting a DUI recently might give them a reason to switch the titles.

The rest of the show also delivered. Shinsuke Nakamura beat Baron Corbin by DQ when Randy Orton decided to show up and RKO everyone. Good, physical match prior to that. Earlier, Nakamura gave a backstage interview without his mouthpiece in. Finally! His English isn’t the greatest and that mouthpiece wasn’t helping. It made a huge difference.

Naomi beat Liv Morgan in a singles match that ended with all the Smackdown women in the ring after the match. Liv Morgan had some nice moves and looks to be improving in the ring. She certainly has life after the Riott Squad. Nice tension at the end of this segment when Becky Lynch went after Naomi and tried to put her over the top rope. Every woman for themself.

Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Bobby Roode vs Rudev Day and Jinder Mahal. Pretty good match. Everyone had a chance to look strong, especially Bobby Roode. Woods pins English, and the crowd is happy. Rusev did his thing here, but they need to do more with him. The fans love Rusev Day and this could go far if WWE let it. Rusev should be going for the US Title next. Jinder is done. Let Rusev chase, it’ll be a lot of fun.

Match of the night: AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn
Pop of the night: AJ Styles. The guy is money.
No reaction of the night: Naomi. Yes she glows in the dark, but I don’t feel any excitement when she comes out. Fans aren’t really feeling the glow.

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