The Best And Worst Of Smackdown 1/31/14: I Don’t Think You Understand Hunter…

Damn kiss cam. 

Watch out Roman, stand that close and Hunter might notice how beautiful your hair is, which can only mean bad things for you.

Pre-show Notes:

Likes, shares, tweets, comments, pins, I’ll take ’em all. Speaking of which, look at this nifty sharing button! Why don’t you give it a try?

– Follow WithLeather on Twitter and like it on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter too! If you like this review, I also write stuff every darn weekday for GammaSquad — we’re under “Geek & Sci-fi” on the navigation bar at the top of this page!

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

Best: The Unstoppable Force Meets The Very Moveable Object

Have Ziggler and Cesaro ever had a match before? A non-Main Event match that actually counts? I don’t seem to recall one. I guess that last time Ziggler was doing anything of note Cesaro was too busy losing to Randy Orton every week. Well anyways, obviously these two are made for each other — Cesaro has some of the most impactful, believable offense in the WWE, and Ziggler can make a Zack Ryder monkey flip look like a potential finisher.

The match wasn’t quite as good as it could have been — Ziggler doesn’t really give a s–t anymore and Cesaro never got to hit the Swiss Death and splatter the audience in Ziggler brains and spaghetti hair. Buuut it was still pretty darn good, and this is now the second or third show in a row where Cesaro just straight up beat a guy. Like he’s a big, strong, competent wrestler they’re planning to do something with or something! Obviously that’s not the case (nobody could buy a World Champ with such obscenely large nipples) but it’s fun to pretend.

Best: The Shield Are Now Dominating Talky Segments Too

The Shield have, of course, been dominating the WWE from a wrestling standpoint for over a year, but they haven’t really been given a chance to do much talking. Oh sure, they have their under the bleachers rap sessions, but aside from the occasional amusing Ambrose gangster-ism, those are rarely meaningful.

On Smackdown they got to say more words uninterrupted than I think they ever have on WWE TV. They weren’t just standing behind someone important or saying nothing in particular until Cena’s trumpet flatulence hits, they were the stars of a showcase segment and they totally carried it. Turning The Shield face is going to be the easiest damn thing in the world — aside from regularly besting guys WWE has designated “good” they’ve never really done anything “bad”. So far WWE has managed to keep people from cheering them by keeping their personalities tamped down, but that isn’t going to hold long if they give them more showcases like this. How could you not want to cheer for the tough, cool winners bravely challenging the evil swamp-dwellers to a battle of honor?

As for the Triple H showdown at the end, well, there was some spark there, but I’m not sure if a Triple H feud is the best way to kick off Roman’s big singles run. Then again, when Triple H decides to make a guy, that guy gets made, whether he deserves it or not…I’m sideways glancing at you Batista.

Best: Oh No, Emma’s Being Pulled Into The Boogieverse!

Argh! No! In all the excitement over Emma showing up in the mainline WWE Universe, nobody noticed she only appears when Fandango, Truth and/or Truth Jr. are on TV. She’s being drawn into the pocket Boogieverse, where nothing happens, nobody achieves anything and nothing matters because everyone’s too busy DANCIN’ and HAVIN’ FUN.

Oh well, it’s our fault for allowing the Boogieverse to exist in the first place. Forget booing Randy Orton and Batista — they’re good! Well, okay, Randy’s good. This is the crap we should be booing out of the building. Unless the Boogieverse is destroyed all your favorite goofy NXT characters will be pulled into its funky miasma. A solid two-thirds of the NXT roster is cartoony enough to be at risk! Think Tyler Breeze is going to be brought in to do anything but tag with Fandango against Truth and Woods? It’s time to go Footloose city council on the Boogieverse guys.

Minor best for Emma having a back up sign. Obviously.

Best: The Prime Time Players’ Break-up Was Surprisingly Decent

While a break-up of the Prime Time Players was the absolute last thing I expected or wanted to see on this week’s Smackdown, I have to admit it was actually pretty well done. Unlike most WWE tag team break-ups, this one had some weight because the PTPs are an actual team. They’ve never been anything but a team in the WWE — this wasn’t a, “Why are Kofi Kingston and The Miz teaming? They have nothing in comm–OH MY GOD THEY TURNED ON EACH OTHER!” situation. It also helped that Darren got his mouth busted open in the match, because blood makes everything better.

Worst: But Seriously, This Isn’t Heading Anywhere Good

That said, I don’t look forward to the solo careers of Titus O’Neil and Darren Young. JBL may think Titus is a future World Champion, but absolutely nobody else does, and the WWE is incapable of taking Darren Young seriously for reasons I won’t speculate on.

We’ll get one blow-off match on Smackdown (or Raw if these guys are lucky) which Titus will probably win because he’s taller, and then it’s straight to jobbing on Main Event for the both of them. They’ll get back together within a couple months, but not before the message is sent loud and clear that neither one is capable of making it on their own. Fans are willing to support two guys who are good on their own, but better as a team — two losers who can only win by teaming, not so much.

Best: Cherish These Christian Moments

I’m on record as saying the Usos are my favorite WWE good guys, but perhaps it would be more accurate to say they’re my favorite good guy tag team. Or favorite faces who aren’t injured 95% of the time. Anyways, the point I’m slowly winding around to is Christian is actually my favorite good guy in the WWE.

Yeah, Christian looks like he’s made of tree bark and beef jerky, and you’re constantly on tenterhooks that he’s going to tear his everything from his everything, but that’s part of the charm. He’s a self-interested jerk like all WWE faces, but he never pretends he’s anything but, and since he has no pull or influence and nobody outside of hardcore wrestling fans know who he is, his only route to success is to try really hard to beat guys he by all measures shouldn’t be beating. Somehow when you put the typical WWE main event a-hole in this weathered, 150-pound, pickle-faced vessel he becomes a fantastically likeable scrappy underdog. So yeah, I doubt Christian will last longer than a couple weeks before his arms are torn from his body like a weightlifter in a Monty Python sketch, but until that time, I’m in a happy “CM Punk-who?” bubble here.

By the way, I’m officially shipping Christian and Renee Young. I want them to get married and give birth to tiny, leathery-skinned twins who go on compete as a tag team called Christian Youth.

Worst: Forced Method Acting

Man, that was some quality acting by Damien Sandow after his match! You really believed him as a man who had been demeaned and humiliated so thoroughly he’d lost all confidence and/or the will to live. Keep it up Sandow! Fine performances like this are bound to get you noticed eventually!

Best: Road Dogg Is Kind of Growing On Me?

I’ve never liked the New Age Outlaws. Even back in the thick of the Attitude era, I never quite understood why Triple H hung around with these two dorks. Why X-Pac hung around with them on the other hand — well, that made a lot more sense.

So yeah, I wasn’t too excited too see them back as regulars, but god-dammit — I’m starting to genuinely enjoy the Road Dogg. Maybe more than I ever have. A good wrestling company should have all types of performers, and Road Dogg is actually pretty damn good as “guy who hasn’t done this regularly for 14-years and doesn’t really like moving fast of getting hit any more, but still hasn’t forgotten all his tricks”. Also, I don’t really mind that he still does the introductions even though he’s a heel — it’s just nice to occasionally hear a well-done introduction on modern WWE television, ya know?

Don’t worry though, I still think Billy Gunn is hot garbage.

Best: A Beautiful Hill To Die On

This might have been my favorite shadowy room backstage promo thing Bray’s done since hitting the main roster. I know a lot of folks like the southern accent, but I dunno — it can be a little hammy. I sort of liked the nasally, quavery tone he went with here more. I hope The Shield vs. Wyatts goes all night. I hope they try to lower the Elimination chamber and they dismantle it and continue beating each to death with the pieces.

Best: Cherish These Shield Moments

I’ve been on board with The Shield breaking up since tease one, but that said, man, some of these Smackdown reviews are going to be rough once the Smackdown Shield six-man is no longer a regular thing.

It’s matches like this one that remind me that, yes, Daniel Bryan is great, but a lot of the credit for Daniel Bryan THE PHENOMENON has to go to the Shield. Daniel Bryan has always been popular amongst us crusty hardened fans, but the wider audience didn’t really get the memo until he started wrestling The Shield two or three times a week this past summer. Daniel Bryan looks good against anyone, but he looks friggin’ amazing against The Shield — nobody can throw themselves in front of Daniel Bryan dropkicks like Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns.

So, savor these last few six-mans. You’ll wish you had when the main events of Raw and Smackdown are lousy with contract signings and Cena arm-wrestling matches again.