Best: Fake Fight Club
All episodes of Smackdown must now begin with the formerly all-action Shield members yakking about, well, not much, which I haven’t been a big fan of, but this opening segment actually wasn’t bad. Rollins managed to work in the classic, “On a long enough timeline…” quote from Fight Club, which raises some interesting possibilities. Is Dean Ambrose just a projection created by a delusional Rollins? Maybe Reigns isn’t real either? The whole “Rollins is the architect of The Shield” thing would finally make sense if it were the case. Here’s hoping for a blowoff where Rollins realizes he was holding the steel chair all along.
Anywho, I like that the former Shield guys continue to be the smartest guys in WWE even after the break-up. Rollins realizes that 90% of the champions over the past decade have got the belts via either Money in the Bank or being Triple H’s friend, so he covered his bases on both counts, and Ambrose realizes that WWE doesn’t really have a mechanism for stopping or punishing guys who interfere in matches, so why not interfere in literally everything Ambrose does? This kind of awareness of WWE’s inner workings separates the champs from the Kingstons and Zigglers forever spin-kicking and gyrating in place in the midcard.
And then Roman Reigns came out and punched guys. So yeah, I’m totally okay with these Shield show-opening segments if they actually do stuff in them. Let’s try it again next week! Or, you know, kick off with a 15-minute Stardust promo. Either or.
Worst: Sheamus vs. Alberto
I think maybe this was a good match. Maybe. I can’t remember Alberto challenging for many secondary titles before (even John Cena won a few US titles before being crowned Forever Champion) so this was mildly novel in that sense (I guess).
That said, context can’t help Sheamus/Alberto matches at this point. They could be dogfighting each other in the trenches of the Death Star and I wouldn’t care.Maybe if Alberto had won this might have been more memorable, but nope, it was a 2014 Sheamus match so it ended in a desultory flash Brogue Kick. Let’s talk about something else.
Best: Children of Dust
Something else like Stardust! Apparently Stardust stole Bray Wyatt’s shadowy promo cave this week — or maybe Bray’s renting it out to other aspiring weirdos. Speaking of Bray and Stardust, last week some commenters thought they got me good when they pointed out the glaring inconsistency of me liking Stardust’s weird spacey promos, while not liking Bray’s. The two are different though…
a) I’m not supposed to take Stardust seriously.
b) This is more of a personal thing I suppose, but I like a certain level of realism in my wrestling characters. They should at least believably exist within the context of the travelling carnival that is WWE. Stardust is a flamboyant character, but he’s an entertainer. He’s riffing on David Bowie who was a real guy, who actually did this stuff like this — painting your face and blowing glitter at people isn’t really that odd when you’re part of the circus.
On the other hand, we have Bray Wyatt, a guy we’re supposed to believe is a legit swamp-dwelling cult leader. A guy who says he’s pure evil with a straight face and claims he’s here to steal souls and corrupt your child’s mind. That doesn’t make sense. If you’re suspending your disbelief, how did Bray Wyatt end up in the WWE? I don’t see Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn sitting down with chubby Charlie Manson and saying, “We’d really like you and your inbred ilk to perform for our publicly traded pro-grappling organization”. It’s the same reason I’ve never liked hell spawn Kane, or, for most of his career, zombie Undertaker. None of Bray’s feuds really work, because how is Bray Wyatt supposed to believably interact with anybody? How is child entertainer John Cena supposed to react to Bray’s Eater Of Worlds nonsense? An eye roll and a “whatever, dude” really is his only recourse.
c) Stardust looks like Starman from Pro Wrestling on the NES. Is this not still the Internet? Is that not enough?