The Best And Worst Of Smackdown 1/2/15: Dropping The Kids Off At The Pool

Smirking, embarrassment and disgust — the only acceptable response to seeing a sign labeled “women” in WWE.

Pre-show Notes:

– Hey folks, make sure to slip “share the Smackdown report more often” into those resolutions. Here’s the buttons! Start the year out right!

– Join the cool kids’ wrestling club by following With Spandex on Twitter and Facebook. Follow yours truly on Twitter too!

Hit the next page to continue smacking down…

I didn’t do a Smackdown report last week, because I thought maybe spending time with family at Christmas might be more important than dissecting Usos matches, but here’s a recap.

On Last Week’s Episode of Smackdown

Brother brother, it’s a tag TEAM match brother! Holla brother!

Alicia Fox ended the year with yet another face-heel flip-flop.

Dean Ambrose managed to choke under pressure again, failing to beat Rusev for the Intercontinental title. Then Bray Wyatt attacked him while wearing a corn shirt.

WWE’s best active wrestler of the year lost to an Uso in 15-seconds.

Roman Reigns looked really strong.

And now, onto the first Smackdown of 2015…

Best: An Apology!

This week in the Main Event B&W I got pretty huffy about the fact that Edge and Christian were all smiles and jokes even though on Raw they basically ran out of Mount Doom with this ring some Hobbit dropped then gave it to the first guy in a loincloth they ran across. Also, Edge was almost murdered in front of a live audience, which is a thing that rarely happens if you’re doing your job right. By all rights these guys should feel pretty crummy about themselves, and lo and behold, they actually seemed to feel some remorse on Smackdown. They even said they were sorry for screwing over everyone on the roster not directly affiliated with The Authority. I’d like to think somebody read my oh so persuasive Main Event grumblings and decided Edge and Christian needed to be more repentant, but Main Event and Smackdown are taped on the same night. Eh, what the hell, I’m taking credit for it anyway.

Another minor Best goes to Edge for subtly endorsing guys like Sami Zayn and Cesaro by wearing their t-shirts all week long. Hell, I don’t know that I’ve ever even seen the King of Swing shirt Edge wore on Smackdown before. They certainly don’t let Cesaro wear it, so it’s nice that the non-wrestler that shows up a couple times a year gave it some airtime.

Best: Noble Leaders

Halfway through Edge and Christian’s spiel, we cut to a limo arriving and the most shlubby hump of a limo driver possible drags himself around, opens the door and Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury emerge. Hey, they’re as responsible for The Authority’s return as anybody (aside from Seth Rollins) so I’d say they’ve earned themselves a limo ride. Anyways, Mercury has a leather folder and, uh, for some reason the driver’s shoe is covered in dog poop? I dunno, but for some reason I want to see where this is going.

J&J Security come down to the ring, and they actually get lines and everything – Mercury, in his best official-sounding voice, reads an apology for the events of Raw, then declares himself and Noble official observers of Smackdown. I’m not entirely sure why I’m enjoying this, but dammit, I’m just going to go with it. Edge and Christian book J&J in a match with Ryback, but then, because they’re actually good decent Canadian folk, decide not to punish the stooges after all, although Christian does call them dorkchops. Heh. Don’t worry E&C, you’re still bulletproof in my eyes, so continue reeking. Uh, of awesomeness.

Worst: Lay Down, Rowan

Former leader/mentor/father figure Bray Wyatt faced his follower/student/son Erick Rowan in a random nothing match and Bray looked freakin’ depressed about it. This could have/should have been a real, juicy feud, but nope, here it is in the opener of Smackdown. Even though I’m sure the script didn’t say anything beyond “Bray vs. Sheep Mask Guy, Bray wins” Wyatt tried his damnedest to make this match at least marginally meaningful – asking Rowan throughout the match if he remembered him, telling him to lay down, then hitting him with the Sister Abigail after successfully guilting Rowan into apologizing. It all almost worked, but in the end this was still a not terribly good two-minute squash. Nice try though, Bray.

Worst: Whoomp There It Is

An Usos vs. Gold and Stardust match you say? Gee, way to get the new year off to a fresh start guys. Oh sorry, you also added Adam Rose and R-F*cking-Truth to the match. Ugh. Well, thanks for putting all these guys in one segment so I can ignore them en masse I guess.

Best: Random Rosebud Violence

Oh okay, I’m not made of stone – I’ll admit I enjoyed the Rosebuds suddenly getting 28 Days Later rage disease, rushing the ring and behind superkicked to death by the Usos. Was this the end of the Rosebuds? If so, they went out on a busty, Lara Croft cosplaying high note.

Worst: It’s Only an Inspiring Story if it Ends in Ryback Being Good

There’s been a lot of talk about whether Ryback’s weird ass promo from Raw was any good or not, and personally I lean towards not. Inspiring stories of hard work and triumphing over adversity only work if the protagonist actually, y’know, triumphs in the end. Ryback needs to end up getting good and accomplishing things if I’m going to be swept up in his journey and we haven’t turned that page yet.

Speaking of which, this match. Lots of clubbing and limp bumping by Ryback, then they hone in on Ryback’s scar and the bout becomes about Big Show bringing his technical game and dissecting Ryback’s leg. You know, the leg he’s never mentioned or sold before, but is now his crippling Zelda boss weak spot because he pointed to it on Raw. I’m not sure WWE understands how bones work – they do heal after you break them. In fact, they’re often even stronger afterwards (breaking the same bone twice is very rare) so unless Ryback’s all-meat diet has turned his bones to gelatin, his one leg shouldn’t be any more vulnerable than the other.

Anyways, the match is interrupted mid-way through by international interference when the Russian flag falls down from the rafters. Big Show, who was openly weeping about flag-related matters six weeks ago, ain’t even give a shit and uses the flag distraction to land a knock-out punch and get a count-out victory. Even though Ryback got beat like a goob, the commentators try to sell the fact that he kind of got up faster than most people Show punches and maybe wasn’t entirely knocked out. Yeesh. Keep working on that inspiring ending to the Ryback story, WWE – maybe you’ll get it with a few more drafts.

Best: Keep Swingin’ Cats

First off, for the Nattie Neidhart Meaty Thighs Enthusiast Club, a big ol’ damn to her little black dress tonight.

Second, hooray for Cesaro and Tyson getting to look like competent pro wrestlers on this particular show. Los Matadores may be the only tandem they outrank in the tag team pecking order, so in a weird way I’ve almost become excited to see Los Matadores come out on the off chance they’re about to be killed by the Supercats. And boy howdy did they get killed. Cesaro shooting a flying Matador out of the sky without even looking was a thing of goddamn beauty…

…also, they hit the swing into a dropkick thing again, which I’ll never stop loving. If Cesaro and Tyson keep wrestling Los Matadores every second show, Cesaro’s going to get to uppercut Torito eventually, right? Riiiiight?

Worst: Happy New Year Hell

Woof, did they set up a cot for Dean Ambrose in Gorilla? Because I swear the dude just rolled straight out of bed for this segment. His match (Curtis Axel sighting!) was lazy as heck, and involved him finding a way to do his goddamn stupid rebound clothesline from the floor. Ambrose couldn’t even be bothered to pin Axel, because I guess Ambrose and his cool jeans are too rad for match finishes or something.

Dean then made his way to a conveniently placed ambulance and started cutting a promo, and man, am I the only one who’s getting really tired of Ambrose’s over-the-top threats of violence? What are we supposed to think when he says he’s going to smash Bray’s face through all the ambulance windows, break his fingers, run him over multiple times then drag his blood drenched corpse around the arena? This stuff doesn’t make Ambrose sound tough, it makes him sound like a little kid who’s wired on Pixy Stix and Ninja Turtles cartoons. If Ambrose continues down this lazy track I’m afraid I may have to do a full turn on the guy in 2015 – I mean, I’m almost starting to feel a little sorry for Bray, so I’m going to need somebody new to pick on.

Worst: We’re Breaking Out the Jobbers Already?

Welp, The Ascension are two matches into their official main roster career and already they’re carting out jobbers for them to beat. The endless string up local dweebs was sort of okay on NXT, because there weren’t any other tag teams in NXT – there was really no other choice. There are other choices on the main roster. I do enjoy the occasional jobber squash, and if I got the sense The Ascension were going to move on to a real feud in a couple weeks, then I’d be fine with this, but I’m pretty sure they’re still going to stomping on Stanskies and Rosenbergs in, like, June.

Worst: Oh Uncles E&C, You’re Incouragible

So, Edge and Christian responded to having their power usurped by J&J Security by basically shrugging, accepting defeat and playing the most gentle, harmless pranks possible on them. They got Noble and Mercury to do a five second pose, which made them look a little silly! Then tricked Noble into going into the ladies washroom! Ho ho!

I’ll admit, I did get a legit chuckle from the final wacky backstage segment, although not from E&C. Noble and Mercury inform Edge and Christian that they have to get the office ready for the Authority, even though the Authority isn’t there, and they of course have a new office on every show. So, how did they make the office all evil and heelish? They removed the John Cena video game poster and Canadian flag and replaced it with Steph’s Muscle and Fitness cover and Hunter’s DVD cover. It was an unusually honest admission that the only difference between good guy GMs and bad guy GMs is what they hang in their fake offices.

Worst: Headlocks ‘n’ Punches

Roman Reigns and Rusev have wrestled a couple times before and, on paper, it sounds like a fun, hard-hitting pairing, but the reality is usually pretty disappointing. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating – Reigns just has nothing until it’s time for the Superman punches and spear. When it’s his turn to go on offense in the middle of a match, all he ever does is hit a bunch of punches and grab a headlock. I dunno, if Reigns’ big signature spot is going to be a punch, maybe all his matches shouldn’t also include 200 regular punches. What makes the Superman punch so much better than all his other punches? Pulling back his arm foreskin shouldn’t make that much of a difference.

So yeah, a dull match that ended in DQ, because duh, of course it did. After the match, Big Show and Reigns brawled around a bit, and Reigns got revenge for having a table tipped over on him on Raw, by tipping a table over on Big Show. Guys, you break the announce table on every second show – we know it’s about as solidly constructed as a kid’s pillow fort and having it gently placed on top of you doesn’t hurt.

Best: You Majestic Creature

As much as a kvetch about Roman’s general greenness, there’s no denying he pretty regularly looks like the coolest dude ever. Such as in this bit where the guy gloriously blasts through through the Russian flag to punch a giant ogre in the face.

I can see what WWE sees in Roman Reigns. I just wish they also saw all the not-so-great stuff in between the highlight moments.