Smackdown reset: Ciampa, Gargano, Dream

WWE Smackdown needs a reset, and I have the solution: build around Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano and Velveteen Dream.

The trio are currently in NXT, WWE’s development arm, Ciampa as the NXT champion, Gargano as Ciampa’s friend, sometime foe, and Dream as the guy oozing charisma as he learns his way around the ring.

They’re ready, and Smackdown needs them, badly.

The Daniel Bryan-AJ Styles WWE title match at Sunday’s Royal Rumble was surprisingly bad, or, was it surprising?

Both have been coasting on their reputations for months now. Styles, you may remember, had the dream match with Shinsuke Nakamura at last year’s WrestleMania, that turned into a dud.

Bryan, since returning from his two-year forced retirement due to the lingering effect of head injuries, has had to scale down his style, and at 5’8”, 210, it’s just not working, in terms of believability.

It showed for both in their match at the Rumble, which barely registered a response from fans.

A night earlier, Gargano tore down the house at the NXT Takeover event in his match with Ricochet, an early contender for match of the year in 2019.

And Ciampa, defending his NXT title against Aleister Black, once again demonstrated why he is pro wrestling’s top villain.

And then, the Dream, who wasn’t even on the card, and yet still received the biggest pop from the live crowd when the cameras panned to him on the front row.

Ciampa’s run as NXT champion demonstrates that he can carry a company with his villainy. Whenever he gets the call to the main roster, he should get the call to the top of the card, and honestly, if the writers have any smarts, they put the WWE title on him and let him run with it.

Bring along Gargano, Ciampa’s former tag partner, and better main-event challenger, then, and you can play out their feud on the much bigger stage.

Their matches last year were the best in the U.S. in 2018, and it’s only time before they recreate their magic for a wider audience in 2019 and beyond.

Velveteen Dream is a work in progress in the ring, but on the mic, the kid is gold. He has a “Macho Man” Randy Savage air to his work; he doesn’t need a belt to be over, and when it’s finally his turn, he can be another Rock, assuming he gets just a little better in the ring.

The future is bright, if WWE realizes what it has working down on the farm at Full Sail.

Column by Chris Graham


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