In case Smackdown is the only wrestling show you’ve watched for the last twelve years, Brock Lesnar is an MMA fighter like The Undertaker, he’s a former IWGP Champion, which is the same belt AJ Styles once wore, and he wears a T-shirt with his favorite sandwich shop on it. The last time Brock Lesnar appeared on Smackdown was March 11, 2004, on Smackdown Episode 238. Tonight’s episode is 861. Has any character in the history of television gone more than 400 episodes without appearing? The last time Brock was on Smackdown, Eddie Guerrero was the World Champion, Ronald Reagan was still alive, and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton hadn’t been released in theaters yet. That’s so long ago that you don’t even know what Win a Date with Tad Hamilton is. Tonight’s probably not going to end with him brawling with Steve Austin like his last Smackdown appearance did.
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And now without further ado, here is The Best and Worst of Smackdown for February 18, 2016.
Best: Commentate Owens Commentate
This week’s Smackdown opens with the newly crowned Intercontinental Champion, Kevin Owens, coming down to ringside to join the team on commentary. Speaking of the commentary team, Mauro Ranallo is out sick this week and filling in for him is Michael Cole. Nothing makes me appreciate Ranallo more than the sound of Michael Cole asking me to join the conversation on social media. There was no need for Cole with Owens out there. Kevin should have just stayed out there all night. The first match is a six man tag between the three healthiest members of The League of Nations, Alberto Del Rio, Rusev, and Sheamus vs. The Lucha Dragons and Dolph Ziggler, because you can’t have a six or eight man tag on Smackdown without Dolph Ziggler. If you don’t have a partner for your six man match, Ziggler is issued to you, presumably by Smackdown Commissioner Chris Jericho.
The League of Nations is not looking good. On the scale of WWE Factions, they’ve gone from Camp Cornette to Los Boricuas. It’s pretty unbelievable to think that just two months ago one of these guys was the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Now only one of them has even made it onto the Fastlane card, and that match is on the preshow. We’ve seen some great six man tag team matches on Smackdown this year, but this one falls a little short of those. It’s not bad, but nowhere near as fun as a New Day trios or any of Ziggler’s other recent Smackdown tag matches. You can always count on Alberto Del Rio to be the opposite of fun. With the Lucha Dragons down on the outside, Dolph Ziggler is left alone to take out all three members of The League of Nations, which he seems to handle with the ease of Roman Reigns. That is, until Kevin Owens gets up from behind the commentary desk and distracts Ziggler by jumping up on the ring apron, allowing Sheamus to hit the Brogue Kick on a distracted Ziggler. Sheamus gets the three count and The League of Nations gets the win in their Fastlane Kickoff Show Go Home match. Kevin Owens’ distraction helps The League win and his commentary helps me get through this segment. We all thank you.
Worst: Too B.A.D.
Tamina vs. Sasha Banks is up next, presented by Rosa Parks. And Geico. Like most of you, I was pretty upset in the early days of the Divas Revolution when Sasha was saddled with Naomi and Tamina. But I grew to love their quirky chemistry, especially on YouTube and social media. I wish the three of them could have stayed a team a little bit longer. I love the refocus on Sasha, but it’s a shame they couldn’t have kept Tamina and Naomi as her lackeys. Tamina/Sasha is a perfectly fine match. Sasha continues to look good, and this is possibly the most competent that I’ve seen Tamina look. But still, I’m giving the segment a Worst. I really got spoiled by the great Charlotte/Becky feud; matches, storyline, and promos that all made sense and had purpose. I haven’t had a problem with the matches in this Sasha/Becky and Team B.A.D. feud, and the tag match on Sunday should be good, but I’ve already grown tired of the weird relationship between Sasha and Becky. It just makes no sense.
For example, after tonight’s match that saw Sasha Banks get a quick easy win, Naomi and Tamina give Sasha a double team beat down until Becky hits the ring to make the save. Becky runs off Team B.A.D., but as Becky helps Sasha to her feet, she’s pushed away and told by Sasha that she doesn’t need any help. Why would Sasha be upset about Becky trying to help her? First off, Sasha did the exact same thing on Monday that Becky did tonight in coming down to the ring to save her, so why wouldn’t she expect Becky to return the favor? Plus Sasha kind of did ask for Becky’s help. They agreed to enter into a partnership to help each other against Team B.A.D. Was Sasha only expecting Becky to help her during sanctioned tag team matches? This is all followed up with a backstage segment where Becky and Sasha once again agree to put their differences aside to team up. Though in classic WWE storytelling fashion, we’re not told what those differences are.
Worst: So WWE
Our next Smackdown segment opens up with Chris Jericho’s Titantron video counting down the seconds of fame he has left. Jericho’s here to answer AJ Styles’ challenge for a rematch at Fastlane. But before he can do so, The Miz’ music hits. The Miz says he’s sick and tired of watching Jericho and Styles play footsie, and he’s here to make a much more important announcement. Which turns out to be just reminding Jericho that they have scheduled match. Is Jericho forgetting what matches he’s scheduled for in his old age?
After a commercial break, it’s time for Chris Jericho vs. The Miz in a match to determine who thinks AJ Styles is a redneck more. Instead of a match, it really should have just been Jericho and The Miz in a battle of Jeff Foxworthy-style jokes about AJ Styles (“If you defeated Tetsuya Naito at Wrestle Kingdom 9, you might be a redneck”). They have an extremely textbook WWE style match; it’s fine, but completely uninteresting, especially coming from two guys who have main-evented WrestleMania. We get slowed down versions of all Jericho’s greatest hits, the Lionsault, the Walls of Jericho, etc… you know the drill. If you didn’t see this match, you still know exactly what it was even without me having to tell you. Jericho wins and gives props to Miz for being a great performer before getting back to calling out AJ Styles. Now we’re back to how the segment started before Jericho was inconvenienced by a wrestling match. Jericho tell AJ that while he respects him, he doesn’t really like him and he’s not doing him any favors. After really beating around the bush for a while, Jericho tells Styles that no, there won’t be a match. Styles responds by hitting Jericho in the face with a forearm. It didn’t take AJ long to realize that the key to being a face in WWE is unprovoked violence. With the crowd squarely behind him, AJ clotheslines Jericho over the top rope. And that’s enough for Jericho to change his mind and agree to the match. WHAT? How does this make any sense? The reasons behind Jericho not giving Styles the rematch didn’t change. All he did was hit him. They’re wrestlers, that’s what they do. It’s like one of those Geico ads; if you’re wrestlers, you hit each other.
Best: A Dose Of Reality
The New Day are backstage with JoJo to do an interview to promote the interview they’re doing at Fastlane to promote Edge and Christian’s new WWE Network show. New Day would like to be honest for a moment. Kofi says Edge and Christian have kind of gone out of style, then Big E follows up by saying this ain’t the 90’s and that people don’t say things totally reek of awesomeness. And they couldn’t be more right. There’s nothing on WWE television even close to being as progressive as The New Day. Their segments really shine a light on how the rest of WWE is living in the past. WWE keeps using New Day as foils for all of these supposedly cool Superstars, like Edge and Christian, Jericho, and The Rock, which is so weird because New Day makes all of those guys seem like relics. Like The New Day is here to show Grandpa how to download music from the internet, but Grandpa keeps asking them to help him program his VCR. I can always count on The New Day to reengage me in a Smackdown that was going down fast, even if just for a quick interview segment.
Worst: Remember Daniel Bryan?
Whether it’s the death of Eddie Guerrero or a five-year-old with cancer, there’s nothing WWE loves more than profiting off of tragedy, and the Charlotte/Brie Bella feud has quickly moved into that territory. I was fully prepared to give Charlotte vs. Natalya a Best. It’s another solid match between the two, I’m really enjoying the new heel stuff Charlotte keeps adding to her repertoire, and Nattie even pulled out a German Suplex in honor of it being Brock Lesnar Night on Smackdown. But the post match stuff left me with a real bad taste in my mouth. Charlotte wins with a Figure Eight and immediately starts doing a mocking version of the “Yes” chant. This of course brings out Brie Bella. She attempts to do Bryan’s kicks, and then gets a “Yes” chant going of her own. I didn’t think it was possible to make me more sad about Daniel Bryan’s retirement, but somehow this manages to do it. Outside of WWE’s horrid attempts to pull at my heartstrings, this is just another step in the long history of Brie Bella not being able to have an identity of her own. For years, she’s just been Nikki’s sister and now she’s just Daniel Bryan’s wife. She will probably beat Charlotte in the opening match at WrestleMania this year and then go on to beat Sasha and Becky in a Triple Threat later that night.
Worst: Freaky Thursday
Much like Freaky Friday (or 17 Again for you millennials out there), this week the end of Smackdown and the end of RAW switched places. RAW came to a close with the end of Smackdown; a Big Show/Braun Strowman match that featured Kane coming up from the pits of hell. And Smackdown concluded with RAW’s ending; Ambrose and Reigns vs. The Dudley Boyz with interference from Brock Lesnar. They pulled out all the RAW stops and also included a Triple H appearance and Michael Cole on commentary. Much like the majority of tonight’s matches, not a bad match but nothing new, nothing interesting, nothing exciting. It was nice to get a glimpse of how the new heel version of The Dudleys are going to work in the ring, but just as the match was starting to get exciting, Lesnar’s music hits. From that point forward it’s just a series of tired WWE tropes. Ambrose and Reigns are distracted by the appearance of Brock Lesnar and get jumped from behind by The Dudleys. They set up Reigns for 3D but Roman takes out D-Von with a Superman Punch, and Ambrose takes out Bubba with an elbow off the top rope. Dean quickly follows this up with a dive to the outside onto D-Von, where Ambrose is met by Lesnar who throws him into the barricade. Reigns slides out to make the save, then throws Lesnar into the ring where Brock quickly recovers to give Roman a German Suplex. Dean follows them into the ring and is met with a German Suplex from Brock as well. Reigns gets back up and lands a Superman Punch that brings Lesnar down on one knee. That’s when Reigns attempts a spear on Lesnar but Brock sidesteps him, throwing Roman into Ambrose. In response, Ambrose goes to hit Reigns with Dirty Deeds, but Roman counters and drops Dean with a Samoan Drop instead. This was supposed to be a big moment, but it was just as boring as the rest of Smackdown. Lesnar picks up Roman Reigns and hits him with the F5, and after twelve years, that’s the extent of Brock Lesnar’s big appearance on Smackdown. We got just about four minutes of Brock Lesnar; we typically get more of him on Smackdown in the RAW Rewind. The best part of this whole thing is WWE released a t-shirt to commemorate Brock Lesnar’s appearance. It says Suplex City, Ontario, which if you’ve ever been to Ontario, California, you know it’s barely a city and not deserving of its own Brock Lesnar shirt. And instead of the typical red, it’s blue because it was a Smackdown. Isn’t that cute? What do you think WWE is going to do with all their unsold Suplex City, Ontario shirts?
Lesnar’s interference also brings back the tradition of Smackdown’s main event ending without a pinfall or submission. Because nothing matters and why are we watching this. Smackdown, stop trying to be RAW. The February Pay-Per-View is typically the most uneventful Pay-Per-View of the year, so it’s fitting that this was it’s Go Home Smackdown. Next week better feature an eight man tag with The Social Outcasts and something involving Stardust and The Ascension.
Until next week, I’m Justin Donaldson and I’ll see you in another twelve years, Brock.