Breathe deep, it's time for another Smackdown report.
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Proceed for my thoughts on World Wrestling Entertainment's weekly Friday professional wrestling product...
Worst: Listening to People Who Don't Like Wrestling Talk About Wrestling
Shuuuuut up Michael Cole. Shut your stupid face hole. Sorry to start the report off on this note guys, but arrrggghguuuuuuuhhhh.
You know, it finally dawned on me why Michael Cole is so awful. Most people think Michael Cole is bad because, well, because he's bad -- he doesn't understand basic storytelling, parrots the same pat lines over-and-over and so on, but that's not it. Jim Ross said the same things over and over. JBL's a moron who spends 70% of every broadcast he's on screaming pure unfiltered nonsense, but he isn't nearly as grating as Cole.
Cole is a bad announcer and will continue to be a bad announcer until he dies because he doesn't like wrestling. He doesn't like wrestling and doesn't respect the people who do it and that will always come out in his commentary. Seth Rollins was on guest commentary during the opening match, and Cole just treated the guy like trash, hectoring him, talking over him and generally doing everything he could to broadcast the message that "I, Michael Cole am more important than this stupid pretend fighter". This s--tty attitude permeates everything the guy says and does. It also probably explains why Vince McMahon has kept him in constant employment for 20-years.
Best: Tag Hijinks
That said, I like wrestling and wrestlers, and when I wasn't being driven to distraction by Cole waving his dick in Seth Rollins' face, I quite enjoyed the Kofi & Ziggler vs. Reigns & Ambrose match.
The ending was particularly good, as it played off the ending of The Shield's Raw six man perfectly. Ambrose tries to tag himself in and steal the pin again, but Reigns is, "Yeah, not this time", puts Ziggler away with ease and then is all, "Okay, you want in? Fine, I don't even want the pin" and Ambrose is, "Woo, yeah, a pin! I'm great!"
Without expressly spelling everything out, the last few seconds of the match do a great job of setting Ambrose up as a slimy delusional opportunist and Roman Reigns as the COOLEST DUDE OF DUDES.
Best: The Monster Behind His Eyes
Man, whoever they have writing the Bray Wyatt promos now deserves a raise, because this is like, three in a row I've liked. They've let Bray start writing his own promos, haven't they? Well, give him a raise.
I'm not sure what's changed exactly -- the promos are more pointed now, with less "Oh my STARS AND GARTERS" southern dandy futzing around. Probably because this feud is about the two biggest, toughest teams in the WWE wanting to beat each other to death. Easier to make your apocalyptic promos sound cool when the match you're heading to might actually set off the apocalypse.
Best: The Latest Accidentally Good Daniel Bryan/Kane Storyline
Okay, this is getting freaky -- Daniel Bryan and Kane have some sort of weird magnetism that keeps drawing them together into random, unplanned (yet great) storylines. Let's examine their recent history...
a) During the summer of 2012 Bryan and CM Punk are feuding over the WWE Title. WWE adds Kane to the mix (because he's tall you see) then they write a Kane/Bryan anger management skit because they were desperate to get Charlie Sheen on the show (don't ask, 2012 was a different time man). To everyone's shock Daniel Bryan and freakin' Kane have the best comic chemistry since classic-era Edge and Christian, and suddenly the audience is crapping their official Cenation brand jorts over hug-offs and mental health evaluations. WWE absolutely didn't plan any of this s--t.
b) Kane has a movie to promote, so he ditches the bumbleberry-flavored Leatherface mask and becomes corporate Kane and then just stands around backstage doing nothing because WWE isn't sure what to do with him.
Meanwhile, Bryan has joined Bray Wyatt's cult because they happen to have similar looking beards, but some people do Bryan's chant at a basketball game, so WWE rushes to break Bryan away from the Wyatts. Bryan turns on Bray following a cage match that Kane made, the crowd goes bonkers and the whole thing feels super satisfying because Kane totally went corporate on purpose so he could look out for his old buddy, right? Friends 4eva! WWE absolutely didn't plan any of this s--t.
c) WWE ignores the whole "Kane is helping Bryan from the inside" angle, because remembering history is for geeks, so they just keep Kane heel and shove him into a feud with CM Punk. The prospect of a Kane/Punk feud is so boring CM Punk quits, so WWE scrambles and puts Bryan in Punk's spot, because one little indie guy Triple H hates is the same as the next little indie guy Triple H hates, right? Ever since Bryan and Kane stopped teaming, WWE has been trying to keep them as far apart as possible, but whoops, they kind of accidentally stuck them together again, and guess what? Turns out they have chemistry as adversaries too! WWE absolutely didn't plan any of this s--t.
But yeah, I was afraid they weren't even going to acknowledge Team Hell No during this Kane/Bryan feud, but I suppose that's a tad too much history for even WWE to sweep under their already bulging rug. Fans of friendship wrestling might not enjoy this segment since the point of it was, "Okay, forget Team Hell No, these guys hate each other now", but there were lots of good moments. Daniel Bryan admitting that he didn't want the old Kane back because he was cooler or whatever, but because that Kane was secretly a great guy who made him a better person was touching, and Kane saying he and Bryan's friendship was never real in his best David Puddy voice was downright heartbreaking. Hopefully this is all winding around to the most epic surprise hug-out of all time (or Bryan kicking Kane into retirement, either or).
Best: The Super Athlete
So, Alexander Rusev is just Santino Marella on Bane venom, right?
Worst: There Isn't an Alligator Moat Around The Ring, Calm Down
Hmmm, so Nikki Bella and AJ had a match. Nothing much to say about it really -- Tamina managed to not decapitate Nikki with a boot, and AJ didn't do anything inappropriately sexy on the PG show or make any funny faces. I guess the highlight of the match was Brie taking a minor bump off the apron to the floor, which caused Nikki to outstretch her arms and start yelling "Brie!! BRIIEEE!!" like her sister had just been Hans Grubered or something.
Hmmm, I wonder if anyone has started a "women falling off things in slow motion" fetish site yet. Wait here everyone, I...have to go register a domain name.
Best: Aruuh Aruuh Aruuh!
Man, I take back what I said about Titus O'Neil last week -- I'm excited for the singles career of this funny, charismatic, upbeat, well-dressed...wait, I'm supposed to boo him? And cheer the guy that launched a flailing sneak attack on him backstage? Huh. Okay.
Oh, and hey Renee, cool it on the clenched teeth and eye rolls. I know it's hard to continue being excited about these goofs once you get to know them, but the fact that you used to be excited for them is what made you good. Don't give into Cole-ian cynicism. You're good at your job, but your job is still to hold a microphone and ask two or three questions per television program -- keep things in perspective and don't start looking down on the guys who are throwing themselves around on a hard mat every night.
Best: Cesaro Getting To Wrestle Real Matches
I, like all right-minded people, consider Cesaro one of my favorite WWE in-ring performers, which is actually kind of surprising, since he's rarely given the opportunity to have real, substantial matches. He comes in for a minute and does some power stuff during a tag match, or fills some time before eating an RKO, but the guy almost never gets to have a seriously competitive singles match (outside of NXT). Seems like that might be changing, because his match with Bryan on Smackdown was a legit back and forth affair with near falls and everything, and it was great! Hopefully the great wrestler gets to have more great matches!
Best: So, Ryback's Doing Frog Splashes Now
He is! I don't know why Ryback's doing frog splashes, but then I don't understand most of what Ryback does. Anyways, it's nice to see Sheamus didn't lose a step in his months away -- this is probably in my top 3 favorite Ryback matches ever. Not that my Ryback top 3 is terribly competitive or well curated, but still, I'm glad you're back to make clubbering fun again Sheamus.
Best: Unexpected Treats
There aren't a lot of unexpected matches in the WWE -- guys mostly wrestle guys they're feuding with, and if we do get a "random" match, it's something like John Cena vs. Damien Sandow, and there's nothing unexpected about how that's going to turn out. So, sometimes it's fun when two guys at a roughly competitive level get unexpectedly smashed together, like Bray Wyatt and Goldust did on Smackdown. There was no reason for them to be wrestling really, but they have compatible styles, and I'd never really matched Goldie and Bray up in my head, so I wasn't exactly sure how things were going to go. Also, I'm totally in favor of Bray just regularly wrestling and beating guys -- I dare say it might get him over faster than having him do nothing but sit in a rocking chair.
Best: Randy Orton vs. Mother Nature
So, out of nowhere, while in the middle of a match, Randy Orton decided to grab a microphone and cut a spirited promo on the snow falling on Des Moines, and how it's going to keep him from getting back home, which sucks just like Des Moines. It was weird, but I kind of liked it -- guys should take match breaks to express TRAVEL FRUSTRATIONS more often.
Like, I dunno, the Miz should roll out of the ring and be, "So, I hit a rest stop today and tried out the Wendy's ciabatta bacon burger and it was pretty disappointing, just like you Cedar Rapids."
Your Cenas and Kofi Kingstons can put a more positive spin on things -- "Hey folks, I always love coming back to Bridgeport, because lemme tell you, the Super 8 out on I-95 has the best hotel porn in the world!"
Best: Also, Randy Orton vs. Christian
The parts of Orton vs. Christian where Orton wasn't ranting about the weather were also very good. Up until Daniel Bryan came along and forced Orton to up his game, nobody worked better with Orton than Christian, and they're still a good pairing. Not as awesome as Orton/Bryan, but pretty damn good. That said, the I did cringe a bit during the match as Christian seemed to intent on hurling himself off every high thing in the arena. Come on, I know you want back on the injured list so you can get back to work on your model trains or whatever it is you do, but let's not rush things Christian.
Worst: The Build To Multi-Man Title Matches
Next week on Raw Orton wrestles Cena, and Cesaro will probably wrestle Christian, and Bryan will wrestle Sheamus, then Orton will fight Sheamus on Smackdown and on and on. In theory multi-man gimmick title matches like the Elimination Chamber should be an opportunity to elevate guys like Cesaro and Christian -- you can put them in a world title match and have them rub shoulders with major stars without them having to carry half a PPV main event.
But no, in most cases WWE obsessively pairs Chamber competitors up in singles matches until a rigid hierarchy is established. I guarantee you, by the time the Chamber rolls around, you'll be able to precisely rank each of match's six competitors on the "Star to Geek" scale. Can't we just make all the guys who are supposed to be good enough to get a world title shot look good?
But hey, I can't complain too bitterly. Even if they don't make them all look good, all the guys in this year's Chamber are very good, so what the hell, keep the mix-and-match wheel spinning, WWE.