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Best: Daniel Bryan Keeps it Brief
Smackdown kicked off with Miz TV featuring The Big Show, and Miz was surprisingly understanding about Show’s chronic flip-flopping (probably because Miz is the second worst flip-flopper in WWE). Hell, I was getting all geared up for a ShowMiz reunion, when out came Daniel Bryan. Thanks for sticking around for the B-show, buddy! You could have maybe worn a different plaid shirt, but hey, who am I to judge on that front? I’m a glutton for struttin’ plaid with buttons. What?
Thankfully Bryan regained strength in his brevity muscle since Raw, and announced his matches without a lot of fussing around. They were pretty good matches too! Granted, the booking bar isn’t set particularly high on Smackdown – as long as you don’t make The Dusts vs. Usos part 800 or put Hornswoggle in a match, you’re doing better than average for this show. Hell, he even remembered things that happened on Monday and followed up on them. Sure, the whole “recite the pledge of allegiance or get put in a battle royal” thing was kind of dickish, but I was totally expecting it to be dropped cold because, I dunno, Jack Swagger ran in the ring or whatever. But nope, we got our Rusev battle royal on Smackdown!
Say what you will, but an ability to be brief and a functional memory pretty much makes Daniel Bryan the most qualified GM WWE has ever had.
Best: Damien Mizdow Steals 19 Spotlights at Once
Battle royal time! Battle royal time! Admittedly, this didn’t start off as the world’s best battle royal. Things moved at a decent pace, with the chaff being eliminated quickly, but there just wasn’t a lot of drama. They tried to do a “big guys face off” spot with Show and Erick Rowan, but it wasn’t terribly electrifying, and it feels like Show’s elimination was botched – Rowan just sort of gave Show a light forearm and he flew over the ropes to his doom. I think Show was supposed to hold on or save himself, but his feet ended up accidentally touching.
So yeah, kind of a so-so battle royal, or at least it was until Miz got eliminated and Sandow did this…
One of these days somebody’s going to gorilla press Miz and Sandow is going to defy gravity itself to make this goofy act work.
Anyways, things eventually boiled down to a pretty damn solid final four – Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, Jack Swagger and Rusev. Two-thirds of the amazing IC title match from a couple weeks ago, plus Swagger and Rusev, neither of whom I’d kick out of the ring for eating crackers. Also, since Swagger was, technically, the only face left, we were treated to the unusual sight of Jack Swagger getting to be a super-competent wrestler. Swagger fought valiantly, and we even got a super dramatic, one foot on the floor near-elimination of Rusev, but eventually the Russian won, because he is the hard-working badass no American (or, apparently, Canadian or Swiss guy) can defeat. I am going to be so bummed when John Cena finally beats him.
Worst: Crap-Selling Kane
Anyone else find how seriously Kane takes his humiliating concessions/merchandise jobs kind of charming? Everything’s organized, he’s handing out shirts and hot dogs to kids politely without any issue – all you folks who grumble about CM Punk “leaving and taking his ball with him” should be applauding Kane’s work ethic! It’s only when turdy fellow wrestlers show up and start hassling him that things go bad. For shame Santino. For shame The Ryback. Not even demons deserve to be bullied.
Worst: Tables, Ladder and Chairs, Oh My!
Well guys, it’s official, Bray Wyatt has permanently descended into self-parody.
“As you started to climb to that ladder at Survivor Series, Dean, you looked just like an angel ascending to the heavens and for a moment, just a moment, you almost put a smile on my face. But it’s just like I told you before Dean, they ain’t got much room for people like us up there…”
Oh Lordy Jebus, make it stop. Sorry guys, you can’t come back from a line that hackneyed. I can never take anything Bray Wyatt says seriously again after he told me Dean Ambrose climbing a Home Depot ladder looked just like an angel. Then Bray ended on a line (“tables, ladders and chairs, oh my!”) that was pretty funny when Edge used it 10-years-ago, but which I think Bray meant to be serious/creepy. Oh my indeed.
Best: A Nikki Bella Pipeboob, er, Bomb
So, this entire segment lasted, like, three minutes, but all three of those minutes were devoted to Nikki Bella being a badass, and that ain’t ever gonna get a Worst from me. Hell, even Emma looked a little less sad than she has lately, waylaying Nikki with a nice slap.
Of course that slap forced Nikki to murder Emma, laying her out with a rebound kick (that, frankly, looked better than Stardust’s stupid Disaster Kick) then Rack Attack-ing her already unconscious corpse. By the by, is “Rack Attack” the best/stupidest finisher name in WWE today? I vote yes.
After the match, Nikki surprised me by going straight for AJ’s jugular on the mic and scoring a pretty lethal hit. Is it true that Nikki has worked harder than AJ to get where she is? Maybe over the past year-or-so she has, but long-term, probably not. Even if it’s not true, you can tell part of Nikki really believes it, and it’s an accusation that strikes right to the core of AJ’s underdog persona. That’s how a good heel does their business – Nikki’s 10-second promo here was more effective than any of the frenemy bullshit we got from Paige for the last couple months. Yeah, that’s right — I’m FEARLESS about my Nikki Bella fandom, motherf*ckers.
Best: Seth Rollins vs. Ryback
Man, did somebody tip Ryback off about CM Punk’s podcastbomb ahead of time? Because the dude was working his airbrushed ass off. I seriously think this may have been Ryback’s best match ever – not really terribly high praise, but still.
Things were moving at a nice pace to start, and Ryback was throwing some mean-ass chops. Eventually Jamie Noble literally distracted Ryback with a loud noise like he was a bear, letting Rollins took over and lo and behold, Ryback was even doing a pretty decent job selling. Unfortunately the match ended in DQ, but I’m sure you probably saw that coming.
Kane then proceeded to beat Ryback down with a chair, which he totally deserved. Concessions Kane was just trying to do his job on Monday – he didn’t have time for prop-assisted nuts jokes. So, can we just call this even now? Can we skip the actual Kane/Ryback matches? Pleeeease?
Worst: A New Day, Same as the Old Day
A New Day debuted on Smackdown and, well, if you were hoping there was going to be some sort of subversive twist to them, uh, keep hoping. They’re three black dudes in powder blue tights who like to dance around, have fun and never stop yammering to each other. Big E has a washrag he pulls out of his singlet and wipes his head with. They entered to the most piped-in cheers I’ve ever heard, and throughout their match they kept cutting to what I’m pretty sure was just stock footage of fans clapping. Maybe there’s some long con being played here, but no, I don’t think so – I think this is all there is.
The match itself against Slater Gator and Curtis Axel was…eh. There was lots of dropkicks and jumpin’. Basically it was three guys splitting a Kofi Kingston match between them. It all culminated in a double-team finisher I didn’t really get – Big E goes for the Big Ending on Heath Slater and Xavier jumps off the ropes and lands roughly beside them on his butt. I’m not sure how Xavier aided or amplified the move at all. Honestly, it looks like it was botched and they didn’t bother to re-tape it, even though this was these guys’ debut. That ain’t a good sign.
After the match the guys invaded the commentary both and harassed everyone in a fun-lovin’ sort of way. Micheal Cole danced around with his fingers in the air because old white guys aren’t supposed to like black people and their crazy antics! Hilarious! So, I guess what I’m saying is A New Day has some room to improve. Let’s try to kick it up from “embarassing garbage” on Raw.
Worst: Chairs Matches
Is there any match worse than a chairs match? They only ever happen at TLC, and they’re always the stip used for the most boring match on the card. If Mark Henry or Randy Orton are having a filler match on the show, it’s a chairs match, guaranteed. So it came as absolutely zero surprise when Bryan revealed Kane and Ryback will be having a chairs match at this year’s show. Tables, Ladders and Chairs, the PPV where every match features tables, ladders and chairs, except this one dumb match that only features chairs. Shrug.
Best: Yes! Yes! Yes!
But hey, I’m not going to rag on the entirety of this segment, because Renee asked Bryan if he was coming back soon and he said yes! Granted, yes is about all Bryan ever says, but whatever – I’m taking it to mean he’s coming back next week and you can’t stop me. Yes, yes, yes!
Worst: Not Ready to Leave the Swamp
I hate to say it, but Luke Harper has been kind of…not great since winning the IC title. I loved a lot of his tag-team work with Rowan, and some of his occasional singles stuff while still part of the Wyatt Family, but most of his recent matches have been kind of sloppy and boring. His offense doesn’t look as good as it used to and he appears to be even chunkier than usual. Is the dude working through an injury? Just missing the healing influence of Sister Abigail?
Thankfully Ziggler has been on a different level lately, and was working double-time to make this match good, which he mostly succeeded at. Things got cooking nicely towards the end, with Ziggler getting a few good near-falls and Harper hitting a nice powerbomb, but then things ended up culminating in a rather lame count-out finish, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to give the match as a whole a mild thumbs down. And so Luke Harper officially begins his Intercontinental Title losing streak – y’know given those eyes promos, you’d think Harper would have seen this coming.