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On we go!
Worst: This is Not The Beginning. It's The End.
It's not looking good for those of you clinging to some hope that this Daniel Bryan vs. Wyatt Family thing is heading anywhere interesting. Despite WWE's best efforts Daniel Bryan was the most important person in the world on Raw Monday, and the most important person in the world isn't about to become a Bray Wyatt lackey.
They more or less blew off the feud here on Smackdown -- not only did Bryan outwit and escape all three Wyatts, but he knocked Bray out of his rocking chair. That damn chair is Bray's urn or gold medals -- messing with is the ultimate offense and Bryan just sort of casually did it as he was making his way up the ramp. WWE is clearly done with this storyline, which is a shame, at least in theory -- like all things Bray Wyatt, reality was never going to live up to the storyline you fantasy booked in your head.
Best: Zeb, Bigg Hoss & Toni vs. Santa Claus
I don't believe we've discussed Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro's ring jackets in these Smackdown reviews before, so let's rectify that. Bigg Hoss and Toni -- I don't know where these giant screaming men with the xenophobic gimmick get off being so loveable.
Zeb Colter ranting against the menace of immigrants from the north pole and calling Santa Claus, Señor Claus because all immigrants are secretly Mexican is the kind of silliness I'm fine with WWE deploying. It's an established character being taken to a ridiculous extreme as opposed to random stupidity. It's the difference between the Daniel Bryan anger management skits and R-Truth in a Sherlock Holmes hat. It's actual comedy writing vs. the lazy s--t we get in its place 95% of the time. I have a feeling Colter comes up with most of his promos himself, in which case, take some notes from Yosemite Sam WWE writing team.
Best: Some Combination of Rhodeses and Real Americans Will Never Not Be Good
I was a bit down on the Rhodes brothers (particularly Cody) last week, but they rebounded nicely this Friday. Of course the quality of this match can be largely attributed to Bigg Hoss and Toni (hee hee, adorable) but Goldust and Cody were on their game too. Goldust was extra fired up, throwing out one-liners left and right, and Cody wisely cut back on the high-flying stuff during the hot tag, opting instead for hard clotheslines, high knees and Alabama slams. The highflying thing isn't your calling Cody -- the Rhodes family are brawlers son.
Speaking of which, it's time for Cody to retire the Disaster Kick. I recall it used to look okay, but lately Rhodes bounces off the ropes, sort of floats through the air with bent legs like he's sitting on an invisible chair then lightly brushes his opponent with his shin while wildly slapping his thighs. It's no good. Here's an idea -- take a page from daddy's handbook and just f--king elbow dudes in the skull until they don't get up.
Worst: "I'm Bad News Barrett! Here's Some Good News!"
This week Bad News Barrett came out to deliver the devastating news that the Slammys were so successful and popular they breathed fresh life into the locker room, so yes, we've graduated from Bad News Barrett's bad news merely being lazy and uninspired, to it not even being bad news. They had Bad News Barrett come out and deliver good news. Sure, he still said YOU'RE DUMB after it, but 90% of his message was positive.
Are the guys on the WWE creative team the worst writers in the world? Not like, bad by TV writing standards, but literally the worst people who have ever put pen-to-paper or fingers-to-keyboard? I think they might be. They don't even know the difference between bad and good. I just, I don't, I ja blah gah blah pfffbhtht...
Worst: Damien Sandow, Saddest Man in Wrestling
Sorry, sorry, the Bad News Barrett segment forced my brain into temporary shutdown. Just give me a second.
Okay, where were we? Oh God, the Damien Sandow segment -- out of the frying pan, into the fire.
Man, the despair is just thick around Damien Sandow these days, innit? When was the last time they let the poor guy say anything clever? Or wear his bathrobe? Mark Henry kicks Sandow once and he rolls outside grabbing his face and eats the count out. This isn't a smug Fandango intentional count out either -- "nuts to this whole f--king wrestling thing" is etched across Sandow's face the whole time.
Just...just quit dude. TNA or the indies couldn't be worse than this. Hell, being a waiter at Red Lobster would be a step up.
Worst: Tone Down The Canadian Nattie
Even though I've never met her personally, I'm pretty sure Natalya is one of the nicest, most levelheaded people on the WWE roster. She has to be -- politeness and general decency is pounded into every western Canadian's skull from birth. When you live on the barely populated surface of the friggin' snow planet Hoth, you can't afford to piss off or freak out your neighbours. Locking yourself out of your house in winter up here means you die -- you have to be able to rely on the kindness of your fellow man.
That said, Natalya comes off terribly whenever she opens her mouth on TV. Even Brandon "STOP S--TTING ON WOMEN'S WRESTLING" Stroud can't abide her. I think the issue is that there's basically only one female character in the WWE -- a catty lady with a penchant for slapping people in the face.
I don't think Natalya is terribly catty or into unprovoked slapping in real life, and wants the world to know that, so she's driven to explain the actions that have been written for her in a very careful, very pedantic, ultimately annoying way.
While a Bella twin or Eva Marie might be YOU GOT NOTHING GIRL, NUH-UH, LUH-OOSER, SLAP, Natalya has to be all, "Well Michael, my opponent is a very talented girl and a fine champion, but frankly I don't care for her attitude and I was born a champion, which is why I believe I, Natalya, am justified in thinking I should be Divas champion." She's so polite about s--t you just want her to shut up.
There's a reason Natalya comes off much better on NXT when she's allowed to just be veteran wrestler and regular human being Nattie Neidhart. Either just be yourself, or stop trying to Canadian-it-up and hoist those L-fingers up on your forehead and start slappin' some face. This halfway approach isn't working.
Best: Go To Spear
Rollins and Reigns vs. The Usos was good, because of course it was, but the real highlight of the match was Ambrose shutting the Michael Cole stupidity train down cold on commentary. Throughout the match Cole was burying what little subtlety The Shield break-up storyline had six-feet under and pestering Ambrose with an endless stream of "What if the Shield loses on Sunday? You could! What if? What if, what if?!"
Ambrose's response? "F--k off, we're not going to lose. You're 'what ifs' are stupid. What if pigs fly? Are we going to discuss that? Shut up." It's what needed to be said, but not many guys in Ambrose's position on the card would've had the balls to say it. Dean Ambrose for permanent commentator/Cole shutter-upper.
Meanwhile in the ring, Rollins and Reigns ended the Usos with a rad GTS-into-a-spear combo. Well, actually the timing could have been tightened up a bit, but still, I'm excited to see the Shield launching guys with the Go To Spear on a regular basis.
Worst: Ryback and Axel Are Out of the Title Match Now, Right?
And the runner up for saddest guy in wrestling -- Ryback! Trust me, Sandow just edged him out by that much.
Ryback and Axel being beaten and humiliated in around a minute by the Big Show means they're chopped from four-way tag title match at TLC, right? In any sport pretending to be real in any way, one team in a scheduled title match definitively proving their superiority over another team in the match, means the losing team is out.
Then again, maybe the match wasn't fair. Big Show was HUG POWERED after all.
Worst: Why Did This Happen Instead Of Like, Literally Anything Else?
Del Rio and Kofi Kingston were supposed to have a match on Smackdown, but then The Miz came out to interrupt annnnd no...can't do it. I'd take a second Bad News Barrett segment over this. Moving on.
Best: The Randy Sanders Show
Did Randy Orton binge-watch the British version of The Office recently or something? Because the dude has suddenly become a master of cringe comedy.
Orton perfectly captured "Guy who knows it's over but desperately wants to keep up appearances" last week on Smackdown, and this week he nailed "Guy who's caught somebody in a betrayal, but actually ends up apologizing to them because the relationship is just that f--ked up."
On Raw Randy caught Triple H dead-to-rights with his hand in the John Cena cookie jar, but there was no snake pantomime of RKOs on Smackdown. Just a hangdog Orton insisting he's still Triple H's man and angling for any sign of approval. It was awkward, uncomfortable and probably made a lot of slashfic writers happy.
So yes, the WWE finally starts acknowledging Randy Orton's bland soullessness in storyline and suddenly the guy becomes this nuanced, emotionally complex actor. Where the f--k was this the last 10-years? Given the Batista/Eve precedent, Randy Orton's quitting/getting that third strike any day, isn't he? Dammit.