Yup, I'm still here! Am I allowed to join the "How long Nate survives reviewing Smackdown" pool? Hmmm, no, I suppose that wouldn't be fair. Well, anwyays...
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On we go! If the skyyyyy turns blaaaack it don't matter...
Best: The Perfect 500-pound Punching Bag
So, Smackdown started out with Triple H being hilariously evil to the Big Show. First he made him read an incredibly phony pre-written apology, then threatened to fire him anyways, then suspended him without pay for the show, and then, finally, had the Shield beat him up for good measure.
Against, say, a Daniel Bryan, this would have been ridiculous overkill, but there's really no limit to what you can do to the Big Show. Partly because he's very good at being big and sad, but also because as good as he is sometimes, he's been involved in so much garbage that I'm never going to fully sympathize with the guy. Yeah, he's in a bad way now, but in a couple months he'll be punching out five guys you like at once or doing Hulk Hogan impressions in his underwear, so don't feel too sorry for the guy.
Worst: A Well-Deserved Triple Powerbomb
Speaking of not feeling sorry for the Big Show -- it's bad enough when everyone hunkers down into their FIGHTIN' STANCE while the Shield take their customary two minutes to saunter down the ring, but Big Show was already halfway out of the ring when their music hit. Come on man, if your balls are already resting on the top rope when the bad guys start their entrance, nobody's going to question your fighting spirit if you just sling that other leg over the ropes and keep on going.
Worst: At Least It's Not Axel vs. Kofi III, But Ugh...
I was almost certain I was going to have to watch Axel vs. Kofi for a third time on Smackdown, but instead got the only re-run that could have been worse -- a painstakingly faithful recreation of the Divas segment from Raw! The announcers being amazingly condescending and not letting AJ speak more than five words uninterrupted, AJ coming off as a parody of guys (and girls) who haven't quite figured out it isn't real yet and all the Divas just sort of rag-dolling into a heap in the ring -- this segment had it all! Then as a bonus, AJ runs in at a completely random point in the match for a bulls--t DQ and the Total Divas beat her down for a solid 30-seconds before Layla and company remember they're supposed to be AJ's lackeys and make the save.
Worst: A Fandango/R-Truth Dance-Off is Happening
What? Why is this...
Worst: Miz Is Out In An Afro Wig
Oh, f--k off.
Worst: He's Calling Himself "Mizco Inferno"
Nnnnnnggh. Rrrrrgh...make it...make it stop...
Worst: Now Here's The Great Kali
Worst: The Miz Is Twerking
Worst: What's Your Favorite Deli Salad And Orifice?
I don't mind a bit of stupid in my wrestling sometimes, but Ryback as a backstage interviewer? No, too stupid. I mean, I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to review Smackdown, but I refuse to accept a world where Brandon gets 3 or 4 Renee Young segments per NXT and I get Ryback as a "broadcast colleague". I mean, yeah, we did get Ryback slapping Robert Evans this week, but he can't do that every week. Hmmm, or can he? No, probably too much to hope for.
So yeah, aside from Evans showing up again next week in full marching band regalia, the only way I'll accept "Ryback backstage interviewer" as a regular thing is if all his interviews just so happen to take place in catering and each week consist entirely of him smashing a different deli salad into a different human orifice. They can save couscous up the butt for pay-per-view.
Best: Damien Sandow vs. Santino for Match of the Year
No, not really, but Christ was I glad to see Sandow after the proceeding 40-minutes of programming. Ha ha! He called Canadians slack-jawed mouthbreathers! He said "eh"! Thank you for not being terrible Mr. Sandow, now call me some more funny names!
Of course Sandow did have to lose in decisive fashion to Santino, but what the hell, eh? If Santino continues beating guys who should mean something next week, I'll probably be annoyed, but for now it's still fun to have the guy back.
Best: I'll Miss You Mr. Axel
Well, it looks like the twist may be there is no twist and Punk might just PG-beat Heyman into oblivion at Night of Champions, which means, sadly, that Curtis Axel will have to disappear in a puff of smoke like a stray bat left on screen after you beat Dracula in a Castlevania game. Curtis Axel just doesn't exist with Paul Heyman. He can't.
But hey, if this is Curtis Axel's last week of existence (or at least relevance) he went out with bang here on Smackdown, giving the deluded flunky performance to end all deluded flunky performances. From him barfing out the phrase "tantamount to hyperbole" with a straight face, to him mindlessly nodding and smiling as Heyman outright said, "Curtis Axel is garbage and we're definitely going to lose on Sunday" it was a towering display of goobery-ness. I'll miss you Curtis Axel, and eagerly await the next time WWE feeds your family's names into the anagram machine and you return as Mr. Larry X. Perfecto or whatever.
Worst: Hey, He Announces You Ever Week
The most uninspired build to a World Championship match in recent memory continued on Smackdown with Rob Van Dam managing to prove definitively he's not even as good as his chubby ring announcer.
First RVD neglected to announce Ricardo's name when he came out (Ricardo's rolling those Rs for you for free man, the least you an do is return the favor) and then Rodriguez got in the ring and managed to last at least twice as long against Alberto than RVD did in their first meeting. So yeah, Ricardo is better than RVD at ring announcing and wrestling, actually has a beef with Alberto and is a character you might actually know and care about if you started watching after 2007 (like a good portion of the audience). Of course I'm not saying Ricardo Rodriguez should be getting World Title shots, but I'd give him one over RVD at this point.
Best: You Never Forget Your First Tag TEAM Match
Wow, suddenly this whole Smackdown Best & Worst thing really feels, y'know, real. Ah, man. Just...I just need a minute.
Worst: A Not At All Well-Deserved Title Shot
So yes, Dolph Ziggler had a match against Dean Ambrose that got Teddy Long'd by Vickie into a six-man tag match between Ziggler, The Usos and The Shield, which sounds pretty good, right? And it might've been if it weren't for the choking smog cloud of apathy hanging around Ziggler at all times now. I just find it tough to get into anything the guy does these days, and it seems like Ziggler is having trouble too, because both matches were just kind of there until the Usos tagged in and things picked up. So Dolph getting both beaten up by and then losing to the Shield within the span of 20-minutes gets him a title shot against one of their members. All those mean things I said about RVD's title shot? I take them back.
A minor Best goes to the new picture they're using for Ziggler...
I still only have Photoshop CS5 -- did they add a "dork" filter to CS6 or did they actually pay somebody to de-spaghetti Ziggler's hair by 70% and manually smudge-tool out all his muscles?
Best: Bryan Breaks The Template
So, the end of the show was basically just the Cutting Edge segment from Monday without Triple H (because a less interesting version of the opening from Raw is good enough for the main event of Smackdown) but thankfully Daniel Bryan rescued the proceedings before I could drift off into a re-run coma. Not by flying into an ass-pummeling fury (although he did do that) but by finally breaking from the Daniel Bryan three-point promo plan.
I doubt Bryan will get to say the things he said on Smackdown on a show that "matters", so it's a good thing I'm here to document -- there was no sarcasm, no confusing claims about being a REAL WRESTLER, he just laid out in no uncertain terms what makes him different than the Ortons and Cenas of the world. Bryan doesn't want to be "face of the company", hug sick kids and star in The Marine 6 (or whatever number they're up to), he just wants to win the world's top wrestling title by virtue of being the world's best wrestler.
The powers that be aren't afraid of Bryan because he's short or pale or has a funny looking beard, they're afraid because he wants to make this fake sport as real as it can be, which runs contrary to everything the John Cena era is about. John Cena (and his stand-in Randy Orton) are about glibly accepting the artifice. They hold the championship because John Cena and Randy Orton action figures sell better when they come with little plastic title belts. Daniel Bryan legitimately threatens the way WWE has done business for over a decade, and if they could tap into that there's no telling how big this storyline could get, but again, on Monday Bryan will probably be back to yelling about his beard and calling Orton a twinkletoes or poltroon or whatever other old-timey insult WWE thinks they can slip by the Be a Star people. Oh well, for at least one Friday night, s--t got real.