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It's the last Smackdown report of the year! Let's make it count...
Best: 2013 Really Was A Pretty Good Year
Smackdown begun with Randy Orton saying nothing of import as slowly as possible, then uncle John Cena came down to rap with Orton about what it means to be a man (it involves HAVING BALLS it turns out) annnd then Daniel Bryan wandered out and said something sarcastic and needless to say I was all ready to kick this report off with big, red, flaming Worst, but then The Shield's music hit.
So, Bryan and Cena have their back up against the wall, and who runs out to rapturous applause to even the odds but CM Punk! Think about that. That's big. WWE is now sending CM Punk out to give John Cena segments some extra heat and star power. Put aside all the title stupidity, Bad News Barrett and everything that the Miz did this year -- at the end of 2013 Cena, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan can stand in the ring as equals. No ass-backward respect storylines, no Cole yelling about goats on commentary, just three legit main eventers in the ring. It actually happened! Some guys we like broke through, and next year Big E. Langston, Roman Reigns (and if we're lucky, Antonio Cesaro) will join them. The changing of the guard is happening, and this is the year the glass ceiling broke, so hey, you were awright 2013.
Ah, well now! I'm just feeling magnanimous and full of holiday cheer! Speaking of the holidays...
Best: Zeb Still Believes
I guess Zeb is supposed to be the bad guy for wanting to deport Santa Claus, but honestly how can you hate a 64-year-old who still believes in Santa? The heel of the segment was Michael Cole for insisting over and over that Santa is a "mythical character". Kids watch this show, you dick. I mean, I know your Mexican brethren (by marriage) aren't necessarily that into the Santa thing, but us gringos would appreciate a little discretion.
Best: I Will Never Not Be Entertained By Tamina Kicking Bellas in the Face
Looks like Tamina's finally found her calling -- kicking the spouses of two of the company's top employees in the face! Since this is wrestling, this is a good thing.
Aside from Tamina kicking Brie Bella's face's ass, this match wasn't very good. The real highlight was AJ killing it on commentary. Ever since that time a couple months back when JBL and Cole bullied the s--t out of AJ about her neck tattoo, they keep putting her out there on commentary hoping it will happen again because, I dunno, maybe Triple H gets an exotic thrill out of seeing a woman with long brown hair not control a conversation. Anyways, AJ has turned the tables on them, upping her game every time they send her out to do commentary, and this week she talked rings around JBL and Cole.
AJ's, "Wow, that should make her #1 contender...because she's engaged" was wrestling sarcasm done right, and she perfectly encapsulated what the entire audience was thinking with an "Oh, come on Tamina!" when she plummeted off the top rope onto her knees, fell on her face and was immediately pinned. AJ needs to get away with cursing out more sports reporters -- apparently it's a nice confidence booster.
Worst: Sin-Hunico Has To Go
I don't care how many times JBL yells WOW, IT'S LIKE IT'S A NEW SIN CARA, this Sin-Hunico thing isn't working. I wasn't that into WWE Sin Cara to begin with, and the last thing I need is a faded, slightly chubby copy. It's like someone bragging that they know all of Dane Cook's bits by memory -- even if you can recite them perfectly, the question remains, why?
Sin Cara was not a compelling character WWE. People in Europe weren't buying Sin Cara masks because they loved Sin Cara -- people just like lucha masks. Just find another, hopefully sturdier, lucha guy who can speak a bit of English and try again with a new character. Mexico is right there guys. Get Cole's wife to show you around.
Worst: The Mega Plumpers Explode In Two Minutes On Smackdown
Okay, I know it's just Brodus and Tensai, and I know I shouldn't complain about important things (uh, in theory) happening on Smackdown, but Jesus, the Funkasaurus has had a five minute segment on practically every WWE show I've watched for the past two years. I've sunk hundreds if not thousands of minutes into watching Brodus and the Funkadactyls -- don't mock the value of my free time by having their big split take place in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it segment in the middle of Smackdown.
I don't care if you think Brodus is fat and can't dance (uh, wasn't that the point originally?), end the dino dance troupe right for those of us who have invested our time, then crate him up and send him back to Florida if you want.
Best: Rhodes vs. Wyatts
This match initially felt like a re-run, with Rowan and Goldust having a face-off identical to the one they had a few weeks ago, but things quickly and predictably picked up since The Wyatts are pretty much the best possible opponents for the Rhodeses. They're of course huge monsters that give Goldust an opportunity to do his amazing babyface-in-peril thing, but they're also brick s--thouses who are willing to take a beating, and under the paint Goldie's a weathered piece of leather who can throw some bombs. Hell, Cody's moonsault even looked good/non-terrifying this week. So yeah, fine tag team action. Speaking of which...
Christmas Wish #1: Make Smackdown The Tag-Team Show
I've been a good WWE fan this year. Yeah, I never Touted a single thing out, but I've bought pay-per-views and I've reminded people week-after-week that Smackdown still exists. I deserve a something from the mythical characters running the WWE, don't I?
So yeah, let's get a real tag team division going 2013. Not what we had for most of 2012, with the champions sort of sitting apart from everyone else, while a bunch of other teams trade meaningless wins leading to nothing. I want a bunch of teams that are depicted as equals, fighting tooth and nail and trading the titles frequently. Let's Edge/Christian, Hardyz and Dudleyz this s--t up. And where should most of this tag team action happen? Why, Smackdown of course! Two-thirds of the matches on Smackdown are tag matches anyways -- you'd barely have to touch the infamous dry erase board.
Worst: Stop Making S--t Up Cole
One complaint about the Rhodes/Wyatts match -- Cole has graduated from killing The Wyatts' mystique by reciting Bray Wyatt quotes in the driest, most unaffected manner possible, to just straight up making up back stories for the family members off the top of his pointy head. Really, really boring back stories. Like, did you know Luke Harper was a trucker? And that he met Bray Wyatt at a truck stop, then something something, and now he's part of the Wyatt family? How scintillating! How chilling!
Christmas Wish #2: Fix The Announce Team
While I'm asking for things, can I have a new announce team? Pleeeeease? Seemingly half of every (non-NXT) WWE report on this site is devoted to how awful the current announcing situation is. Something has to change. Right now you have Michael Cole, a guy with fewer natural instincts for the wrestling business than any man alive, JBL, a bully who's more concerned with shouting down anyone who shares the announcing desk with him than doing his job, and Lawler, who still hasn't recovered from the Kat being fired.
Worse, WWE wants to be this young, hip product, yet Vince can't conceive of an announcer who's not an old white guy, so you have an announce team with a mean age of 60 incessantly shrieking about LADY GAGA TWERKING TWITTER SELFIES. It's a worst of both worlds situation. WWE needs to pick a single direction. It needs to either...
a) Go the dignified route. Fill the booth with guys like Regal and Dusty Rhodes who can intelligently discuss wrestling and not force them to work in references to Miley Cyrus' ass every five minutes.
b) Collect some of the talented, knowledgeable younger people you're doing nothing with and let them talk social media, the latest memes (and maybe, occasionally, wrestling) in a way that doesn't make me want to barf. Put Maddox and Sandow in there. Let poor Mark Henry take a break from injuring himself to be charming. Give Renee Young a permanent spot -- "smart, sexy and powerful" should include "being allowed to have opinions about men's wrestling".
Or hell, do both. Have the young crew around for most of the show to talk hashtags, then have team respectable come out to announce the important matches. Anything other than "YaknowJohnMAGGLEmywifeisMexicanTWERKIN'HoseAandHoseBhehehBLACKHELICOPTERSWAHWAHWAH!"
Worst: Okay, Screw It, Cancel Christmas
So, Damien Sandow comes out to badmouth Christmas and who should come to the holiday's defense but The Miz, who by my count has turned from face to heel and back again around one billion times in the last month. This is who's stepping up to save Christmas this year? Rudolph's spinning in his adorable paper maché and felt grave.
Worst: You Can't Half-Ass These Wyatt Segments
As anyone who's been reading these Smackdown reports for a while knows, I'm very up on down on Bray Wyatt, and I think I've identified the issue. Bray Wyatt segments can't be half-assed and, unfortunately, WWE is a company that rarely employs its whole ass. A CM Punk, Daniel Bryan or Rock can muscle through a tossed together segment with a smirk, YES or hilarious sass talk -- Wyatt can't.
If you don't write a Bray Wyatt promo carefully, it just comes off like a bunch of empty, scary sounding words. If you don't pay attention to how Wyatt segments are filmed, they come off cartoonish, sub-Kane crap.
So, Renee approaches Bryan for an interview, but her Wyatts sense immediately goes off, and it's revealed the Wyatts are standing all around Bryan in plain view, then the lights inexplicably dim and Harper and Rowan throw Bryan off a three-foot-high ledge while Bray sings the most obvious nursery rhyme possible. Super silly. Sorry WWE, it's a double-edged sword -- good characters demand good material. Try harder.
Best: One Last Present From The Shield
This year my gift to myself is probably going to be not watching WWE for a week, so this might be the last Shield match I see this year. If so, it was a fine send-off to 2013. It was full of great Shield moments, like a particularly awesome Roman Reigns superman punch and even Cena stepped up and delivered some memorable spots, including a shockingly competent tornado DDT. So, like I said up top, I can't really complain about this year. I'm happy. Just one more thing on my Christmas list really...
Christmas Wish #3: Don't F--k These Guys Up WWE
Happy holidays folks. See you in 2014.