Jeez, Tyson Kidd’s really let himself go.
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Worst: True Sh*t
Okay, I’m officially done with John Cena’s broken nose. I’m particularly over hearing about how tough and gritty Cena was for finishing his match after having his nasal cavity compacted. This is supposed to be real, remember? The dozens of haymakers and kicks guys throw every match are all supposed to be connecting. If we’re buying into the illusion, like, 50 percent of matches should result in broken noses. John Cena did nothing special. I mean, he really didn’t. Even ignoring the kayfabe stuff, gutting it out when injured is part of the pro wrestling code. Candice goddamn Michelle finished a match with a broken nose, so kindly, shut the f*ck up about brave John Cena doing the thing that was expected of him. I mean, I suppose he could have pulled a Sin Cara and called things off as soon as things got real, but are we really celebrating John Cena for being tougher than the original Sin Cara? That’s a perilously low bar.
Worst: So What?
Seth Rollins’ Smackdown-opening spiel started on a solid note. He didn’t do an excessive amount of recapping, and he rightfully questioned why he should feel bad about his failures, when nobody seems to care about his accomplishments either. If the result, win or lose, is boos, Justin Bieber chants and John Cena condescension, then what’s the point of getting upset? Sorry, buddy. Don’t have an answer for that one.
Unfortunately, the promo then turned to more fetishizing of John Cena’s broken nose. I get that a heel like Rollins would want to gloat about breaking the mighty Cena’s face, and some of his lines (“I was like Michelangelo sculpting on psychedelic mushrooms”) were charmingly dweeby, but again, Rollins is supposed to be a tough guy. He’s old finisher was a friggin’ curb stomp. Breaking a guy’s nose shouldn’t be making him cream his rubber pants to such an embarrassing degree. WWE just can’t let anything be. Brock Lesnar shouting some nonsense about Suplex City can’t just be a funny little moment, it has to be made into a t-shirt-selling catchphrase. Cena’s face exploding can’t just be a sudden bit of bracing violence, it has to be a viral moment everybody on the show can’t stop talking about. I understand this is what WWE has always done. Their most profitable era sprung from milking some random funny thing some midcarder named Steve Austin spat out, but man, jumping on and exploiting every little thing makes even the unexpected, spontaneous parts of the show feel like just part of the script.
Anyways, eventually Cesaro interrupted facial artiste Seth Rollins, and an impromptu match broke out.
Best: Talk, Owens, Talk
Rollins vs. Cesaro was fine, but nothing particularly special, as it was clear they were just filling time. Cesaro still managed to fit in a few cool spots, because basically everything that guy does is amazing, but the match didn’t really build to anything.
The real highlight of the segment was Kevin Owens showing the passive-aggressive asshole commentators how it’s really done. When Tom Phillips asks Owens to recap a video from WWE.com, he’s, “No, the viewers can go watch it themselves and give the website some hits.” Later, when the commentators are waxing rhapsodic about the heroic John Cena’s busted beak, Owens is rightfully, “Hey, remember the time I broke my nose on NXT, finished my match and nobody really gave a sh*t?”
Sadly, Owens’ parade of precision put-downs ended prematurely when he hit the ring to attack Cesaro. After a brief face-off between Owens and Rollins, they teamed up to beat down Cesaro, which led the invisible general manager that now runs Smackdown to make a tag match for the main-event.
Best: The Doctor Of Defenestration
The poor, poor Ascension. Before the match, The New Day cut a promo about how Lucha Dragons and Los Matadores are winners (DEBATABLE), so if they beat them, they’re in line to be No. 1 contenders. That’d be fine if this was a three-way match, but The Ascension were there, too, hanging their heads in the corner like assholes while everybody else talked about titles. That is rough f*cking chuckles. Also of note, Big E is now the Minister of Mass and Xavier Woods is the Doctor of Defenestration. I think Xavier meant to use a different word, but whatever, he’ll now forever be a Doctor of throwing dudes out windows to me.
The match itself was a bit of a gooberfest. Despite being the unmentionable ones, The Ascension worked the majority of the bout, which is never a good thing. That said, Kalisto looked good off the hot tag as always, Titus O’Neil was on commentary and Xavier Woods got ringpost 619-ed by Torito, so on the whole I enjoyed myself.
Rich Brennan tries to chase Kevin Owens down for an interview, and he’s just, “Nope, f*ck off, go away,” which is what everybody in WWE should do. It’s not even an egotistical thing. If some sweaty guy came running up to you on the street with a microphone, would you do any different? Nobody should ever talk to any of the backstage interviewers (unless they’re Renee Young, for obvious reasons).
Worst: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (On Smackdown)
On Smackdown we get a pretty good Becky Lynch into/hype package, and, unfortunately, no actual Becky Lynch match. I realize “WWE women get time off when their spouse gets hurt” is now a thing, but couldn’t Becky have wrestled somebody other than Nikki? Actually she did wrestle Brie, but they put that on Main-Event. I just want to actually watch this new thing we’re supposed to be excited about.
Best: 500 Days Of Hot Summer
Rusev and Hot Summer are currently my “can do no wrong” WWE act. They didn’t do anything particularly remarkable here. Really, they just repeated their jokes from Raw, but these two merely existing is enough for me. I mean, how can you not be smitten by Rusev talking about how he and Summer are going to take Dog Ziggler for a walk, then do it on a blanket? Are you made of stone?
Also, I’ve held off on choosing sides, but I’m ready to make the call – Summer pulls off the Lana look better than Lana. Come at be, bros.
Worst: The Jack Swagger Match That Never Ends
Oh, wait, sorry, Jerry Lawler and Jimmy Uso just informed me that Summer touched seafood on Raw, so she’s forever a tainted, trout-smelling woman deserving of all our scorn. Way to ruin Rusev tossing a fish, guys.
So, yeah, Rusev and Summer being adorable unfortunately led to 10 minutes-plus of “GIRLS STINK” commentary and competitive Jack Swagger action. Actually, competitive isn’t the proper word, as Swagger just slumped around looking sad and not really getting any offense in. It just took Rusev forever to put him away. After the match, Swagger even got to put Rusev in the ankle lock and end the segment standing tall. I didn’t even clue into the fact that Smackdown was in Swagger’s home state until the very end of the segment, because it’s not like the crowd actually cared about him or anything. I’m usually against wrestlers getting squashed in their hometown, but when WWE’s in Oklahoma (or wherever Fandango lives), I’ll make an exception.
Best: This Cesaro Is A Swell Guy
Cesaro’s in that sweet spot where the company hasn’t got around to giving him a WWE Main-Event Character yet, and apparently doesn’t care all that much about what he says, so he just gets to be a pleasant, admirable guy for a while. This occasionally happens to Dolph Ziggler when WWE isn’t paying attention.
Brennan asks Cesaro what he’s going to do about a tag partner, and Cesaro’s just, “Nobody owes me anything. Sacrifice got me where I am today, so if I can’t find anybody, that’s cool, I can tough it out.” That Cesaro’s a stand-up fella, I’ll tell ya what.
Worst: The Man Boredom Remembered
Okay, sure, let’s follow up 10 minutes of Jack Swagger with an R-Truth match. At least Stardust got a solid, decisive win, which he’s been needing since he returned. After the match, Cody went back to the paper bag well, and tried to put a plastic Stardust mask on R-Truth, which caused him to flip out. Why would wackypants R-Truth care about having a Halloween mask put on him? Dude spent the last month in a king costume.
Anyways, Neville ran out to make the save, and man, even Neville running wild bores me now. I should not be itching the hit the fast-forward when a guy’s throwing diving, twisting planchas. I hate how much WWE has made me hate seeing Neville.
Best: He Only Looks Stupid
Yup, I’m giving a Sheamus backstage interview segment a Best. Hey, come back here, and hear me out. WWE feuds are mostly stupid, illogical things. Two guys get mad at each other for vaguely defined reasons, then forget all their other goals for a few months as they try to best each other in a series of matches with increasingly wacky stips. Here though, Sheamus explained why he’s up in Randy Orton’s business in a logical way, that actually ties back to his greater goal of winning the WWE World Title.
Sheamus, secret coward that he is, wants to eliminate all possible complications before cashing in his Money in the Bank contract. He can’t have an unpredictable guy with a grudge against him hanging around, so Randy Orton must be eliminated. Just like that, this randomly thrown-together feud has purpose, and Sheamus looks like a clever schemer rather than a dope who stumbled onto a gold briefcase. This should be Sheamus’ full-time character – the dude who’s making plans when everybody else is jerking around, and ends up winning important matches and titles even though he’s not actually that good, and nobody likes him.
Best: Smackdown Is Cesaro’s Show
So, after 90 minutes of tense speculation about who Cesaro’s tag team partner will be, it turns out it’s Dean Ambrose. Uh, okay? I’m not sure that Cesaro and Dean have ever even interacted on TV, but whatevs, all Smackdown main-events must contain at least two former Shield members, I guess.
The main-event was pretty good stuff, and Ambrose was surprisingly the highlight. I guess Ambrose realized the same old would look particularly uninspired when in there with Cesaro and Kevin Owens, so he was moving fast, blasting guys off the apron and delivering some nice, high-energy hot tags. The finish was a good little sequence with Ambrose slipping out of the pop-up powerbomb, and Cesaro quickly running in to roll up Owens in his moment of shock.
After the match, Cesaro leapt across the announce table and onto the barricade like a mountain goat, because even this guy’s post-match celebrations are physically impressive. On Raw, Cesaro looks good, before losing, but on Smackdown, he looks good and then actually wins. Sometimes (often) not a lot sets Raw and Smackdown apart, but the little things can make a difference.