The Fantasy Book on The Presence of Presents – part 2 (WWE Smackdown Live!, James Ellsworth, Daniel Bryan)

Columns, Top Story

Good day. Continuing in the holiday spirit, we shall be delivering presents to all the good boys and girls on Smackdown Live! today. Where shall we begin?

  • AJ Styles – Why not start off with the main man on Smackdown Live! right now, the World Heavyweight Champion, AJ Styles? Styles has what he is supposed to have, the World Heavyweight title. It is the title that everyone always thought he should have for many, many years. So what could we possibly get Styles that he doesn’t already have? How about a nice long reign as champion and a main event slot at Wrestlemania? Let him tear the house down in the main event. But I think it needs to be against someone not too active right now. Maybe The Undertaker or even The Rock…
  • Aiden English and Simon Gotch – Ever since the WWE brought these guys up to the main roster, they have been burying them. I liked their gimmick at first, but now the gimmick is all that defines them. So switch it up. Let’s gift the Vaudevillians with a new gimmick, new tights, and a new sense of energy. Maybe start them off by feuding with another team stuck in the muck lately, Fandango and Tyler Breeze.
  • Apollo Crews – Hi there, Apollo Crews. Long time, no see. Let’s get you a little TV time each week. Even if it is just squashing a local jobber once in a while. Let’s get you out there to work.
  • Baron Corbin – Everyone hates on Baron Corbin, and I understand why. However, I don’t mind him nearly as much as other people do. I hate the “big guy against small guy” logic they are trying to push with him now though. Let’s lose that and have him go back to his lone wolf focus. That no one matters to him but him. Or, if you want to be even more crazy, let’s have him change gimmicks completely and make him a defensive stalwart. His biggest moves are based on using his opponents’ momentum against them, so why not make that his thing. No one can beat him because he can counter whatever is thrown at him. Granted, Corbin may not be the right guy for a gimmick like that, but it’s the holidays, you grinch.
  • Bray Wyatt – This one is so very simple. My one wish for Bray Wyatt is for him to not have his legs cut out from under him again going into Wrestlemania. Please do not set up this Randy Orton angle just for Orton to turn and those two fight at Wrestlemania. I am not interested in that. Let Wyatt continue to show himself as a charismatic leader and prophet of doom.
  • Chad Gable and Jason Jordan – I think everyone knows that American Alpha will be tag team champions eventually. But before they do that, I would like them to alter their image a little bit. Not a lot, but just a little. I appreciate the Steiner Brothers callbacks, but could we update it a bit? I don’t want to think ’90s retro when I am watching these guys.
  • Curt Hawkins – Continued employment, even if it is simply to serve as jobber fodder. Maybe even let Hawkins take a tour through NXT to give some guys down there a bit of a rub and/or start a feud to carry up with them.
  • Dean Ambrose – Keep doing what you’re doing, dude. The fans seem to like it. While I would like to keep you away from the World Title picture for a little bit, I still think a long upper-card run is deserved. Maybe a run against a newly heel Dolph Ziggler or something?
  • Dolph Ziggler – Well, speak of the devil. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, turn Ziggler now. To me, Ziggler seemed to be just going through the motions a while back. But after a couple solid PPV matches against The Miz, I think that Ziggler might have enough of a spark at the moment to make a heel turn work effectively. Have him jump Ambrose for “stealing his spot” or something and let those two battle it out for a while.
  • Erick Rowan – A speedy recovery. And then an unceremonious dump from the Wyatt Family. Have the Wyatts turn on him and send him off on his own in the wild. Rowan could even start a Braun Strowman type run on Smackdown by killing off all the local villagers/indy wrestlers. Maybe even build to a Strowman versus Rowan battle on the Wrestlemania pre-show.
  • Fandango and Tyler Breeze – Whatever the rent-a-cop/stripper thing is has to stop. Maybe give them a little love triangle thing to keep us interested in the team. Introduce a girlfriend character. Introduce flirtation, jealousy, paranoia, understanding, misunderstanding, forgiveness, loyalty, deception, betrayal, surprise, etc. This could go on and on while still allowing this team to fight together in the ring. It could be fun, you never know. Bah Humbug.
  • Heath Slater – I think the pairing with Rhyno has run its course, but the two could still be friends and keep an eye out for each other. But they both would do well as singles wrestlers for a bit. I think Slater would be a fun little feud for The Miz’s Intercontinental title and maybe even stretch a PPV match or two out of it.
  • Jack Swagger – Let’s just go all in on Jack Swagger. The WWE already tried the half-hearted alt-right of Jack Swagger with the “We the People” crap. Let’s just make him a full-on racist and fight with Apollo Crews. I am sure that Linda McMahon can take enough notes at her political meetings to make the writers’ work easy. Does Swagger deserve better? Maybe, but at least this is a direction for him and he doesn’t have one at the moment.
  • James Ellsworth – After everything with AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose ends, let’s make James Ellsworth the new ring announcer. If there was ever a modern-day Howard Finkelman, this dude is it.
  • Jay and Jimmy Uso – I must applaud their heel turn. They have done a fantastic job with it and have a renewed sense of energy. Their Survivor Series match was one of the best of the night. Now that the tag titles are on the Wyatts though, I wouldn’t rush the Usos into a title chase. While a heel versus heel dynamic can work, especially with a title on the line, it just doesn’t seem fitting right now. There are enough other tag teams around at the moment, let the Usos run against some of them. They can establish themselves as always right there, just waiting for the moment to challenge and take the belts. They can even call themselves the uncrowned champs or something, leading to an eventual showdown for the titles.
  • John Cena – Continued success outside of his WWE commitments. Honestly, less John Cena on WWE Tv is making WWE TV better. It gives time to other superstars to hone their skills and become engaged with the audience. When Cena comes back, let’s give him a program with Dean Ambrose or Baron Corbin. Either one could help make those wrestlers more over and won’t hurt Cena at all.
  • Kalisto – I am not quite sure what to do with Kalisto. Without a tag partner, he is sort of lost in the trees of the WWE giants. Even regular-sized wrestlers make Kalisto look tiny. And while Kalisto is fast and they are doing a good job of hyping his heart and such, the optics still do not look good. Let’s back the Kalisto train up for a little bit and have him do battle with the remnants of the Spirit Squad. They could probably provide some decent in-ring action for the middle of a TV episode.
  • Kane – One of two presents we could give Kane. 1) We could take away the mask and have him become a full-time member of Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan’s authority team on Smackdown Live! Or, 2) Have him keep the mask but rarely wrestle. In fact, just have him stand menacingly behind Shane or Daniel whenever one of the wrestlers gets out of hand. In order to make this effective, Kane will have to be pretty dominant whenever he comes out to wrestle. Have him go out and deliver chokeslams through tables or something and very little else.
  • Kenny and Mikey – The remnants of the Spirit Squad can probably still give some of the current tag teams a good match and look effective doing so. But they could also help hold spots for people like Kalisto (see above). Regardless, continued employment and maybe a megaphone would be a nice gift.
  • Konnor and Victor – I know the WWE says they are trying to revitalize the tag teams on Smackdown Live! And I appreciate that. But it is going to take more than an insert promo to make anyone care about The Ascension again. They failed with the Road Warriors-esque thing. Why not have them completely go off the deep end? My present to The Ascension is a long decent into insanity. Instead of just doing face paint, let’s have their face paint start smearing and running down their necks and bodies. They can promo crazier and crazier as they get more and more unruly and unkempt. It will be almost like a de-evolution of the team members, but think about all the old Stardust promos they could recycle.
  • Luke Harper – Later this year, let’s give it a little time, but maybe summer or so, I would like to see Luke Harper have a run with the Intercontinental Title as a member of the Wyatt Family. Give him a chance to step to the forefront of the group. The Four Horsemen had belts on Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson at times and that never took away from the Nature Boy.
  • The Miz – I think people are finally giving The Miz his due. I still don’t see a clear endgame for his endless battle with Daniel Bryan, but he is doing outstanding work with the Intercontinental title. He needs a new challenger, and I know I mentioned Heath Slater before. I still think that could work for a while. I also think Kalisto could take a couple shots at the belt. This might also be a good spot for Rhyno to stick for a bit. Maybe a small feud with Rhyno to continue to boost Miz’s value would fit nicely under the tree.
  • Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder – Let’s give the Hype Bros. a number one contendership to the tag team titles. I am not suggesting they beat the Wyatt Family for the belts, but let’s build them up as strong contenders. Give them some wins over middling teams and drifting partnerships and see what they can do with the ball.
  • Randy Orton – My present to Randy Orton would be to be able to show him that what he is currently doing is the best thing his character can do. He’s not a face and his offense is too boring to be an effective solo heel. However, being used as a weapon of destruction by the Wyatt Family is almost too perfect for his Viper persona. In fact, it works in theory so well, I find it hard to believe the WWE thought of it.
  • Rhyno – As mentioned above, take a few shots at The Miz. Then, I am not sure. Maybe a heel turn and you beat up John Cena for a while? And have a Candy Cane while you’re at it.
  • The Undertaker – Are you back? Since Smackdown Live won the main event of Survivor Series (I can’t call that Goldberg/Lesnar mess a main event), you don’t have to kill anyone, so that’s good. I do hope you are able to come back for one last run, if your body is up for it. You know I have great love for the Deadman. But my present to you would be the power to never say, “Takin’ souls and diggin’ holes” again. That is just about the worst attempted catchphrase I have heard in a long time.
  • Alexa Bliss – Even though you are sprite-sized, you’ve won me over. So I would like to get you a year’s supply of Manic Panic hair color for you to celebrate your title run.
  • Becky Lynch – I don’t think there is a doubt that Lynch is the best woman wrestler on the Smackdown roster. But, for some reason, I don’t feel like she has connected with the crowds as much as her Raw counterparts. Let’s give Becky a heavily-promoted sit-down interview with a special guest interviewer, maybe Jim Ross or someone.
  • Carmella – Stop holding back the Staten Island accent. Let it flow. Let’s make your promos full of that Staten Island attitude. Own it and be mean.
  • Eva Marie – Eva Marie. She can’t wrestle very well. No one likes her. But she’s hot. Seems like a perfect choice to do a little valet work or something. But I doubt they are going to do that. So, I would gift her a three-to-six month trip to NXT where she will live with their trainers in an attempt to help her in the ring. If she becomes even serviceable in the ring (like Alicia Fox), you can justify her keep.
  • Naomi – I really think it would be nice for Naomi to be involved in an actual storyline and possibly challenge for the title down the line. I think Nikki Bella would be a perfect opponent if they can make the crowd care.
  • Natalya – I’d like to see Natalya become a pain in the side of Shane and Bryan to the point that they make her the commissioner of the Woman’s division on Smackdown. I know that gimmick has never gone over very well in TNA, but as an active competitor, perhaps Natalya can make something of it.
  • Nikki Bella – Aside from the program with Naomi I suggested above, I would simply allow Nikki Bella time to concentrate on wrestling instead of reality TV product. I feel she is already a little overexposed, but if she has her husband’s verve for the sport, it wouldn’t be bad to have her focus in on the prize. She could even make it her mission to get the title and work up to it until SummerSlam or something.
  • Maryse – She needs to just keep being herself at The Miz’s side. My gift would be to avoid trying to turn her into a wrestler.
  • Daniel Bryan – Before he underestimates his injuries, I would like to give him the gift of an anatomy book. The book should have pages and chapters highlighted and tagged so he can read up on paralysis before he finds a dumb doctor to give him the okay to wrestle.
  • Shane McMahon – Listen, I know this is your family business and you’ve been around it forever. I know you treat it like your own little playground. I know you think the boys in the back respect you for the crazy shit you do. But listen, you are a multi-millionaire already and will still have this business for years and years to come. You can’t do anything with it if you kill yourself with any more of these dumb stunts. So, my gift for you is a little bit more common sense. Enjoy it.
  • Mauro Ranallo – I still love your play-by-play commentating, but maybe just tone it down a tad. Please don’t become Tony Schivione on us. Not every move is the most devastating or incredible thing you have ever seen.
  • JBL – Dude, what happened? You used to be so good on commentary. How about this? My present to you is that you can ignore the other commentators. Don’t even interact with them. Just do your thing.
  • David Otunga – You really suck at commentating. But you are smart and normally well-spoken. Why don’t you start managing? Take someone under your wing, be their mouthpiece, and stay in the spotlight. There are a lot of wrestlers on the roster you could manage. Either that, or revert to a backstage interviewer position. But get out of the booth as quickly as possible.

And there we have the gift list for the Smackdown Live! crew. Happy Holidays!

I’ll be back next week with gifts for Ring of Honor, I think. If not ROH, then maybe NXT. I haven’t really decided yet. Toodles.

Human. I think.