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On we go! If the skyyyyy turns blaaaack it don't matter...
Worst: The WWE's Biggest Stupid Diaper Baby
Man, you thought it was insulting when they used to call Rey Mysterio "The WWE's Biggest Little Man" at every opportunity? Well, apparently the company decided they needed to freshen up Rey's condescending nickname, because now he's "The WWE's Biggest Little Underdog". Biggest little underdog. Jesus.
Being the biggest something shouldn't be a source of pride of if that thing is, you know, bad. So no, "The WWE's Biggest Stumpy Fatso" won't work either. "The WWE's Biggest Not Sin Cara" would be acceptable I suppose.
Worst: JBL The Contrarian
I go back and forth on JBL constantly arguing with Michael Cole -- on the one hand Cole's frequently in need of a good shutting up, but on the other, you don't need to fly off the handle about every little thing John. That s--t can't be good for your blood pressure.
During the early parts of the Rhodes/Real Americans Tag Title match Cole was going on a pretty reasonable spiel about how hard Cody and Goldust worked to win the belts, and JBL just had to harangue him about how, yes, the Rhodeses have worked hard throughout their careers, but the actual title chase was quick and relatively easy, which is true, but come on. Thank goodness JBL will never be invited to the Oscars -- him leaping up to bellow, "ALL YOU DID IS WALK FROM YOUR SEAT TO THE STAGE!" every time someone mentioned how long and difficult their journey had been would get old fast.
Best: So Good
But yeah, JBL's issues with aphorisms aside, the match between Cody & Goldust and The Real Americans was pretty ballin'. Uh, and not MVP ballin' -- the good kind.
I particularly liked the final moments when the tension ratcheted up, but everyone was still going for their signature moves, so we had Cesaro leaping into the ring, grabbing Cody Rhodes and immediately going into a ridiculous giant swing without teasing or milking it beforehand. That's what wrestling should be more often -- guys doing absurd things with earnestness and intensity. Bring back Scotty 2 Hotty, have him storm the ring, do a no-theatrics worm as quickly as possible then just chop his opponent in the throat. Have Rikishi deliver the Stink Face with the intensity of Umaga's corner ass-to-the-face. Okay okay, so those are probably both terrible ideas, but Cesaro's swing was still cool.
Worst: Feed Me Morons? Well, Line Up The Writing Team...
Hey, you'll never guess what -- the WWE has bailed on what they were doing with Ryback again! He's not a faux-Goldberg or a Heyman guy or a bully who claims to hate bullies anymore -- now he's a proud bully who issues open challenges! I'm sure this new direction will continue for some time and build to a--
What? They already screwed it up? Are you kidding me?
The point of open challenge storylines is for a guy to get heat by beating up a succession of hopeful shmoes before a jelled-hair John Cena comes out to give him a scare and set up a feud. It's a very easy storyline to do, so of course WWE had The Great Khali respond to Ryback's first ever challenge. The writing team has to be doing this on purpose, right? I'm pretty sure they're collecting all their worst ideas and using them all on Ryback so they can compile them into a cautionary pamphlet called "Don't Do What Donny Don't Did To Ryback" for future WWE writers.
Worst: Poor Evil AJ
WWE continued on with their new favorite thing on Smackdown -- challenging heels to defy the odds in handicap matches then having them fail so the faces look like jerks for teaming up on somebody and the heels look like chumps. Oh, and in this case the heel was AJ Lee -- you know, just for an extra dash of absurdity. Why am I supposed to hate the tiny adorable girl who spends all her time beating women larger than herself, defying authority and saying reality shows are stupid? Because she writhes around making devilish faces? That's not a bad thing WWE -- why do you think that's a bad thing?
Minor best for Naomi once again beating a girl by hurling her ass into her face. My inner child will never not find that hilarious (and confusingly stimulating).
Bray cut a promo on Bryan and Punk on Smackdown, and like so many of his promos it danced a fine line between compellingly creepy and "just saying scary sounding things to fill space". It was definitely veering in the direction of the latter towards the end, but Luke Harper saved the whole thing by just randomly saying WALKING UPRIGHT at one point. What did it mean? I don't know, but it was great! More on Luke Harper later...
Best: Yeah, But It's a Nice Fat Shirt
Okay, so, Rey Mysterio is back and he's still in his fat shirt, but you know what? I don't care. First off, at least his new fat shirt matches his pants -- it's a whole fat guy ensemble now. Second, I just like Rey Mysterio, okay? Yeah, even my blogger ass could probably do a decent 619 without much practice, but for whatever reason watching him hit that thing is still fun, and really, if you can't have fun watching little Rey Mysterio beat guys, then who are you? You're the guys who write AJ Lee to be a heel, that's who. Don't be those guys.
Best: Bringing Every Chokeslam
So, Big Show and Randy Orton had a Smackdown Special "recap our storyline for the few Friday viewers who missed Raw" talking segment, and it was mostly boring. Mostly. There was enough amusing stuff that I'm giving it a narrow thumbs up -- stuff like Big Show claiming he's going to be brining all the chokeslams to Survivor Series. Now I want to see the guy pull out like, half a dozen different chokeslam variations on the PPV. Top rope chokeslam, running chokeslam, spinning chokeslam, inverted chokeslam, tombstone chokeslam and uh...the chokeslam choke?
Props also go to Randy Orton for responding to Big Show's accusations of immaturity by stomping his feet and being all NO WAY AM NOT. Randy Orton has never struck me as a terribly self-aware guy, but here and there he has shown the ability to poke fun at himself. Now he just needs to bust this out again...
Worst: Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston Teamed Up Again and it was a Satisfying Moment of Growth and Reconciliation For Both Men, Which The Announcers Totally Acknowledged...
...and also this match happened in Happy Land in a gumdrop house on lollipop laaaa-aaa-aane. Have I reached my Simpsons jokes quota yet?
For some reason when WWE decides to do something new with a guy all other things that guy ever did before are scrubbed from existence. I just don't get it. Nobody in WWE is allowed to have a journey or a story -- what they are right now is all they've ever been. So when Big E. comes out to tag with Ziggler, it isn't a protégé reconciling with the teacher he's since surpassed, it's just THE POWERHOUSE BIG E. LANGSTON teaming with THE SHOWOFF DOLPH ZIGGLER.
The fact that your good guy used to be a bad guy or your bad guy used to be a good guy is what makes their current alignment matter, because it's a choice, not just something bestowed upon them by the omnipotent writing team Gods. Also if you stopped giving guys' basic history the Voldemort treatment fans would stop thinking it was transgressive and fun to chant Goldberg and Husky Harris at guys you're trying to do something with. Just sayin'.
Best: YeahYeahYeah Cont.
So uh, yeah, back to Luke Harper being very good. I was a little shaky on the guy at first, but he's rapidly winning me over. Bray Wyatt plays his character well, but it always feels like he's doing just that -- playing a character. I imagine most nights the real Windham Rotunda goes through that curtain, takes off his Hawaiian shirt, washes his hair and spends the rest of the evening playing Pokemon X. Luke Harper on the other hand -- I'm not so sure. Dude seems legitimately weird. I'm sure he's not! I'm sure he's nice! That's why he's better than Bray Wyatt.
Harper's also pretty damn good in the ring. Yeah, I threw some shade at his selling a couple weeks ago, but it's not that bad, and really he's a nice well-balanced hoss -- not so flashy that he doesn't fit into his heel role like Cesaro, but not a clubbering bore either. Plus he knows how to make small guys like Bryan look good without going overboard with the bumping like a Mark Henry might.
Honestly I'm about ready to call for a Wyatt Family rebranding -- who else thinks the Harper Family has a nice ring to it?