No! Paige! The eye makeup is a target! This is gonna get ugly.
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Okay, on we go…
Best: You’ve Come a Long Way, Tripsy
Tripsy — that’s totally going to catch on, right?
A lot has been said about how much better the Triple H of the past year is than “classic” Triple H, but better doesn’t really cover it. Current Triple H isn’t just an improved version of Triple H from the mid-2000s, he’s his total Bizarro world counterpart. Old Triple H was all about being the coolest dude in the arena while passive-aggressively tearing his opponents down within inside comments, and barbs that hit a little too close to home. Meanwhile, the Triple H that came out on this week’s Smackdown praised his opponents to high heaven. He did everything he could to communicate that The Shield are legitimate, awesome guys, and when he did lay into them, all Triple H’s barbs stemmed from his own ego and insecurities. The result? I actually look forward to say-nothing 10-minute show opening Triple H promos now. It took 15-years of hanging around with the guy, but I guess some Ric Flair finally wore off on Triple H. Or maybe it’s something to do with the ponytail — I bet that thing was haunted.Subscribe to UPROXX
Best: Tournaments Make Everything Better
Even directionless, Wade Barrett-esque Intercontinental Championship reigns! I guess Big E’s still wet enough behind the ears that he thinks multiple former world champs coming after his title is something to get excited about, because dude was keyed up for his match with Alberto. The match was actually shaping up to be one of the best Big E bouts in quite some time, until…
Worst: What the F–k?
…Alberto put Big E in the armbreaker, Big E got the ropes, the ref counted to five, Alberto released the hold and the ref threw the match out anyways. Now honestly, I’m not entirely sure whether the rule is “you get to a count of five and then the match is thrown out if you don’t break” or “if the ref gets to five the match is immediately thrown out” because matches don’t end like this. The rare times a ref disqualifies a guy for leaving a hold on too long, he usually counts to five, gives the guy a sternly worded lecture then tries to pull the guy off before finally chucking the match.
Aw crap, somebody on the writing team dusted off Ye Olde Professional Catch-As-Catch-Can Rulebooke again, didn’t they? This is the new “match is called on account of guy getting hit too much in the corner” isn’t it? God-dammit.
Best: Now This Is How You Waste Time
Don’t get me wrong, Paul Heyman is one of the best talkers of all time, but sometimes, particularly recently, the guy can be a bit too fustian. A little stilted. I realize he talks slowly and emphasizes weird SYLlaBLES to annoy the crowd, but I kind of miss Paul’s passionate side and wish he’d drop the affected delivery sometimes. So I heartily enjoyed Paul just screaming MY CLIENT BROCK LESNAR CONQUERED THE STREAK for five minutes straight. Sure, it was pure filler that, much like the opening Triple H promo, imparted zero new information, but hey, I’m fine with entertaining asshole filler. I mean, entertaining filler from an asshole. Uh…well, you get what I mean.
Best: Mean Girl Match
A Paige/Aksana match? That’s proceeded by an Aksana promo? Whaaat? Welp, barring any disasters, this is the clear frontrunner for best Smackdown I’ve ever reviewed.
This match was surprisingly good. Maybe the best main roster women’s match I’ve seen this year. Paige is a badass of course, and Aksana is secretly the orbital bone crushing most dangerous girl on the roster and these two just belted the s–t out of one another.
Also, they’ve quietly sanded out the inconsistencies in Paige’s character. The crying and mass hugging from Raw has been forgotten — now Paige is a deadly submission wrestler all the other girls are jealous of. So basically an AJ we’re supposed to like because of, um, reasons. Hey, I never stopped liking AJ, so that’s cool with me.