The Best And Worst Of Smackdown 1/24/14: Trapped In A Prison Of Madness

I believe this look is AJ’s new finisher. 

This week’s Smackdown is trapped in a prison of madness! Or maybe a glass case of emotion! I dunno — it’s trapped in something.

Pre-show Notes:

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Proceed for my thoughts on World Wrestling Entertainment’s weekly Friday professional wrestling product…

Worst: Extreme Confidence

Serious question — is the Big Show supposed to be strong? I mean, he’s big obviously, but the guy just has average middle-aged dad arms, and yet in the build-up to this Brock Lesnar match they have him doing these “feats of strength” that mostly just involve him standing in the middle of the ring while guys flip around him. I’m sorry, a double-biel does not impress me. A hundred-person biel would not impress me.

Also, what made them think that The Big Show not sweating the BEAST INCARNATE and making Brock look like a doofus nightly was a compelling build to their match? It’s a classic everyone loses scenario — Brock Lesnar is made to look like a dork leading up to the match, and Big Show looks like an over-confident dork once Brock beats him. Also the Real Americans look like dorks for getting double-bieled, but that’s nothing new.

Worst: A Bad News Barrett Even Brandon Couldn’t Best?

I’ve never exactly been on-board with this Bad News Barrett thing, but at least up until now he’s just been inoffensively dumb. The giant lectern was even kind of funny! But now he’s apparently the guy who comes out to shout BORING S–TTY GARBAGE while guys the WWE has some passive-aggressive issue with are trying to do their jobs. Whether it’s Stone Cold calling Lance Storm boring, or Michael Cole barfing hate on half the roster, this is one of the absolute worst things WWE does. If you think something sucks, don’t make me watch it, and if you are going to make me watch it, put some glitter on that turd, don’t lay an even bigger, stinkier turd on top of it just to emphasize how turdy the whole situation is.

And you know what? A part of me was actually looking forward to Brodus vs. The Miz. It was a fresh match at least, and such a weird mismatch that it had “memorable train wreck” written all over it. I guess it was only a matter of time before WWE decided “guy who makes people feel bad” should be used to make the home audience feel bad.

Best: When AJ Lee Thinks You’re Taking This S–t Too Seriously…

Oof, that look. I’m pretty sure the ref had to throw up the X for himself after this match on account of his dick shrivelling up and snapping off like a twig.

Worst: Why Do Los Matadores Still Exist?

I know this makes me sound like a jerk, but these days whenever Los Matadores resurface all I can think is, “Ah, darn — these guys haven’t been cut yet?”

At least as Primo & Epico these guys had a role — WWE needs more jobber tag teams! 3MB can’t carry the burden all on their own. But now they’re just guys who usually win, but are anchored to a gimmick that ensures they can’t go anywhere. There’s no potential for momentum in either direction, they’re just guys who exist to “entertain” and “be fun”, which are always the least entertaining, fun guys on the roster (see also Clay, Brodus and Woods, Xavier). At least they lost, but then Curtis Axel had to be sent flying 20-feet by a little person hurricanrana, so Los Matadores aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Sigh.

Modern families take all forms. 

Best: Delightful

How delightful was this backstage Real Americans segment? Let me count the ways…

Antonio Cesaro laying down a spiel in one of this five languages like some sort of Swiss newscaster instead of doing that annoying Alberto Del Rio thing where you say five words in a foreign language then take a break to sneer, because “I’m not from around here! I have my own customs!” and whatnot.

– “What’s up Bigg Hoss?”

– Up until now, Bigg Hoss and Toni mostly been depicted as partners of convenience, but here they came off as real friends, and nothing guarantees you a Best around here like wrestlers being pals.

– ” I always have a microphone.”

– Colter’s new sign is just “sneaking fingers” with a no-smoking cross over it.

– Swagger and Cesaro’s adorable hangdog expressions when Colter catches them in a lie.

During this single, one-minute segment Swagger got to show more personality than he has at any time since the Soaring Eagle era, and Cesaro, well, Cesaro’s never been allowed to show this much personality in WWE.

Worst: CM Punk’s Mic Skills Bottom Out

I’m usually willing to give CM Punk the benefit of the doubt (too willing sometimes) but woof, this promo. I think sometimes people go overboard with the “‘Summer of Punk’ CM Punk would be ashamed of current-day CM Punk!” stuff, but man, how was this promo any different than a John Cena promo?

It was the exact same blueprint — come out, reiterate plot points, make the case for how against you the odds are, but then get red in the face and shouty and assure the audience that you’re going to fight, fight, fight and overcome! Season with “you’ve lost your balls” jokes to taste. The only difference between this Punk promo and your prototypical Cena promo is Punk didn’t do it in a weird southern accent.

Also, I’m no mathematician Kane, but considering two guys have won the Rumble from the #1 position, I’d say Punk’s chances are a hair better than 1 in 500 million. Hell, if we’re using standard WWE “A fatal four-way means the champion only has a 25% chance of retaining the title!” stupid person logic, placement or ability shouldn’t matter at all, and everyone has an equal 1 in 30 chance.

Worst: Daniel Bryan’s Mic Skills Bottom Out

Speaking of somebody cutting somebody else’s promos, yeesh, Daniel Bryan definitely make me appreciate the skill it takes to deliver Bray Wyatt lines without having them sounding like the stupidest s–t ever. Did the writers legitimately confuse one crazy bearded character with another? No more Daniel Bryan screaming about saints and reapers and prisons of the mind, thank you very much.

Best: It’s Emma!

Last week I caught some flak for not mentioning Emma showing up in the crowd again, but I dunno — sometimes I just don’t have much to say about a thing! It was the exact same thing that happened on Raw. Shrug.

That said, the alternative this week is recapping a Kofi Kingston/Fandango battle, which I’ll be f–king f–ked if I’m doing, so congrats, you’re getting all the Emma coverage you can handle this week!

Uhhh, “Emmalution” sounds a little too much like “immolation” for me. I really hope this doesn’t end with Emma rushing the ring and setting herself on fire. 

She’s made it all the way to ringside now! I like that she gets a little closer each show, like she thinks nobody notices her inching towards the ring even though the announcers spotted her right from the start when she was up in the nosebleed seats.

Man, is this Kofi/Fandango thing still going on? Jesus. Uhhhh, Emma GIF with bonus Summer Rae, “Oh god, this bitch” face!

Minor Worst — they’ve really missed the boat by not having the audience inexplicably fill with bubbles whenever Emma shows up.

Worst: Don’t You Dare Compare Billy Gunn To Goldust

I haven’t mentioned it yet, but this episode featured JBL and Josh Matthews on commentary, and as you’d expect it was pretty bad. Hey Josh, you’re in your mid-30s, you don’t get to do “Gosh, I’m too young to know what you’re talking about!” jokes anymore. You don’t think Douglas MacArthur is a rapper, go to hell.

Anyways, the Josh Matthews line that really wedged itself in my craw was when he compared the return of the New Age Outlaws to Goldust’s 2013 career resurgence. No. Goldust overcame personal demons, came back better than ever and has consistently been one of the best things on the show for the past few months. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn called up Triple H and have produced more boring s–t in the past couple weeks than Goldust has in his entire career.

Case in point, Smackdown’s main event, which up until the very end was the dullest Shield match I can recall watching. WWE 10-mans are never bad. Shield matches are never bad. It takes some impressive anti-talent to sink a double sure thing.

Best: The Pre-Rumble Brawl

That said, I’ll admit the match picked up once it turned into a parade of finishers near the end. Hell, I’ll even admit to cracking a smile when Road Dogg got SO EXCITED about hitting a pump-handle slam on TV for the first time in years.

Annnd then the big pre-Royal Rumble brawl broke out. It wasn’t even a particularly star-studded pre-Rumble brawl, but whatever, I’ll always enjoy the pre-Rumble brawl, because that means the Rumble is almost here and the Rumble is my favorite WWE thing. Always will be. It’s one of the few times this fake sport actually feels like a sport. One of the few times WWE’s wacky cast of characters get to mingle in a spontaneous, natural way instead of being restricted to specific feuds and rigid tiers. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s exciting, it’s unpredictable, it’s the Rumble and it’ll be great riiight up until to the end when, I dunno, Sheamus comes back and wins it again or something (they really haven’t been great about picking winners lately).

Have fun Sunday folks. Three, two, one…