The Best And Worst Of Smackdown 5/23/14: Si-Bo-Ling Rivalry

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WWE

Bo Dallas (re)debuts this week! Yeah, on Smackdown. I was surprised too!

Pre-show Notes:

Hey, make my dreams come true and share this report! I Bolieve in you guys. Here’s the buttons!

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Worst: Hulkacatatonia

Who would have thought returning to the WWE would be the thing to finally snuff out Hulk Hogan’s mystique? At least he, you know, did things in TNA. He was an important part of a nationally televised wrestling program.

Now all he does is occasionally wander out to shout about how psyched he is for awesome WWE products brother, and he doesn’t even do that very well. The dude’s a giant, orange Scott Stanford at this point. I mean, just look at the audience during this segment — yeah, they cheer when Hulk points at them, because cheering when Hulk Hogan points at you paragraph one of the “Being a WWE Fan” contract, but man, the looks on their faces. They couldn’t be any more bored if the opening segment was nothing but Alberto Del Rio silently holding a headlock on Kofi Kingston for 10-minutes.

Best: 500-Pounds of Men on Top of Me

And for the third match in this Batista/Dolph Ziggler series, an actual finish!

I’ve really been enjoying these matches, as Batista has been at his apathetic dickface best and Dolph Ziggler is getting to do something other than wrestle Damien Sandow, so he’s working his sparkly Underoos off. This match in particular was a great example of the physically superior specimen with zero heart vs. the guy with nothing but heart. Batista kept teasing finishers and Ziggler would reverse them time and time again, but none of the reversals could quite get him the pin. Finally Ziggler lost his mind, attempted a running fameasser on the stairs, failed, then ate one big move and lost.

You don’t see matches like this often because now everyone’s a video game wrestler who can only lose once their lifebar is depleted and they’re hit with a special move. Of course in real life sometimes one character has five lifebars and barely functional controls and the other is Viewtiful Joe, but dies in one hit. Oh, and I know you don’t want to hear it Batista haters, but this match was mostly good because of Big Dave. Ziggler is physically gifted, but his matches rarely have any sort of narrative — this match’s depth was likely the doing of the clumsy, sweaty, tattooed dude.

Supplemental Best for Michael Cole being wiped out by Batista, then curling into a ball like a Brylcreemed baby while Batista and Ziggler continued to brawl on top of him.

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Worst: Why Is This House Show Match on TV?

Guys, if you’re in England, haven’t brought the full Divas roster with you and can’t put together anything that makes sense, it’s okay to just give the ladies a break for the night. Or use the random Nikki Bella & Eva Marie vs. Funkadactyls w/ Summer Rae as guest referee thing as a dark match. Cameron and Naomi haven’t been doing tag matches for months, and I don’t really keep abreast (heh) of Total Divas, but haven’t the Bellas and Eva Marie been enemies since more or less scene one?

Randomness aside, the match was just plain rotten with Summer Rae forgetting who’s supposed to be on the receiving end of her heel reffing on a second-to-second basis, Cameron throwing codebreakers that do less damage than punches and Eva Marie screwing up the roll-up finish, because of course.

Best: Bolieve

Okay, I know I’m not the first, and I definitely won’t be the last to say this, but Bo Dallas’ new life guru character is basically a happy version of Bray Wyatt, right? It doesn’t help that Bray and Bo pretty much have the same voice, especially when they’re doing the lilting spirited delivery.

Not that the similarities are a bad thing — in fact, I think Bo’s character, done right, could have better legs than Bray’s. There’s that grain of realism to Bo that Bray has long since chewed up and spit out. In the real world most cult leaders aren’t filth-encrusted swamp monsters. They certainly don’t outright admit they’re evil. The clean-cut, just a little bit too friendly, aphorism-spouting dude is who you really need to be afraid of. The folks down at your local Scientology test center are more Bo Dallas than Bray Wyatt.

For this to really work though, Bo needs to cut down on some of the more overtly goofy aspects of the character. The running around with the thumbs up has to go. I know WWE doesn’t really understand dry humor, but the joke shouldn’t be “Look at this stupid clown!” Bo needs to play this role straight-faced to the point of absurdity. Have him deliver his cheesy truisms with absolute conviction. If Jim Carrey or Will Ferrell had jumped up on Oprah’s couch it would have been forgotten the next day — it was Tom Cruise’s weird, fervent sincerity that made the couch thing a cringe comedy moment for the ages. If Bo can tap into some of that, he can escape the cartoon character mire his brother is probably permanently stuck in.

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WWE

Worst: Never Stop Trying

So, I like Bo Dallas’ character, but man, as a physical performer he still has some issues. Bo’s not bad looking compared to his brother, but not really in comparison to almost anyone else on the roster. He’s what you’d get if you took a regular, passably handsome guy from the mall food court and poured an entire bottle of baby oil on his head, which is not a good look.

He definitely hasn’t figured out how to play his character between the bells like his brother. He should be all handshakes and friendly pats on his opponent’s back before winning via some underhanded means. Or maybe he should be the guy who turns on a dime and becomes an unexpectedly brutal brawler once the bell rings. Instead, he spends most of the match doing arm-drags and roll-ups, then surprises with a stiff clothesline before finishing with an Acid Drop? It’s all over the place, but then the match is over and he’s back to being great again, shaking Sin Cara’s hand and ensuring him that if he never stops trying, one day he could be like Bo. He wishes.

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Best: Speaking in Tongues

I just spent several parapraphs comparing Bo Dallas favorably to his brother, but don’t get it twisted — I have problems with Bray’s character, but he’s still the superior performer. Having little brother on the show seemingly lit a fire under Bray’s ass, because he was pulling out all the stops, even busting out the Latin for the first time on the main roster (I think). I half expected Bray to end the promo with a spirited bout of projectile vomiting, but I guess he couldn’t get his pea soup rig together in time.

Worst: English!

In case you had any doubt about what the upcoming Sheamus/Cesaro feud will hinge on, Michael Cole gave us a preview by spending this entire match shouting “Speak English!” at Cesaro every 15-seconds. Yup, this feud is probably going to be about Irish speaking Sheamus being appalled that Cesaro won’t speak American.

As for the match itself, it involved Alberto Del Rio so you already know what happened. Dude’s so boring and by the numbers Sheamus may as well have been wrestling a six-foot-tall stack of math textbooks.

Best: What a Sportsman

Smackdown

WWE

Love Sheamus flopping around like a Stretch Armstrong that’s been in the microwave for a few seconds. Be careful Cesaro, you don’t want Sheamus’ red goo to leak out.

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Worst: Great Personal Skills

I think Vickie meant to say she has great interpersonal skills — “Personal Skills” is a heading on a resume, not a thing in and of itself. Still, I’d love to see Vickie’s personal skill tree. I imagine she’s pretty much maxed out the Verbal Combat branch, while leaving her Outfit Crafting skills sorely neglected.

Also, why was Adam Rose trying to shove his sucked on lollipop in Vickie’s mouth? I get that you’re a hedonistic party deity and all, but that’s just gross.

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WWE

Worst: Is an Uso Going to Have a Rubber Dick Hanging Out of His Shorts on Raw?

So, at this point John Cena isn’t merely unafraid of the Wyatts — the more their threats escalate, the more fun Cena seems to be having. I haven’t seen Cena this goofy and pumped up since that time he restarted Santa’s heart by hurling a bowling ball into Alberto Del Rio’s junk. Does…does Cena think Bray Wyatt is Santa Claus? If so, Cena being so dead-set against people believing in Bray just took a dark turn.

Oh, and this Wolf of Wall Street chest thumping thing has to stop. WWE does realize Matthew McConaughey’s character in the movie was the devil incarnate leading Leonardo DiCaprio down the path of temptation, right? No, of course they don’t. And what’s with the amused, knowing looks from Renee whenever Cena and the Usos start up with this horrible douchiness? Did they just get done snorting coke off her butthole?

That said, that was quite the uncanny Rock impression by the Usos. Not only were the voices and cadence identical, but I swear their faces temporarily morphed into the Rock’s Black or White style. I’m pretty sure the secret lab in Stamford is preparing to fuse both the Usos’ heads to Roman Reigns’ body as we speak.

Best: Usos vs. Wyatts

The Cena/Wyatts feud may be a nightmare from which I fear I may never wake, but I’m not going to take that out on a match between WWE’s two best tag teams. The Usos in particular were on another level tonight, taking crazy face-first bumps into the ropes and casually going for over the turnbuckle splashes like it was nothing. Maybe that chest thumping actually works.

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WWE

Worst: John Cena’s Back with a Vengeance!

You actually have to go somewhere or have been diminished in some small way to be back with a vengeance Cole. But yeah, don’t worry everyone, you can now enjoy your long weekend secure in the knowledge that John Cena is still 100-times tougher and smarter than the Wyatts. Phew!

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