The Best And Worst Of Smackdown 2/12/15: Cousin Lovin’

“You’ve got some Hot Pocket crumbs in your beard, riiiiiight there.”

Pre-show Notes:

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Worst: What The Hell is Going On?

Listen, I’m all for more shows skipping the opening 20-minute, in-ring gabfest, but you still need to have things make some sort of basic sense. This episode of Smackdown jumped over a whole lot of setup.

Kane and Big Show are backstage with all the tag teams, and they announce a Tag Team Turmoil match for tonight (aka a tag-team gauntlet match) in which Bryan and Reigns will be the starting team, and everyone’s all excited, because, uh…why? I suppose Slater Gator or Los Matadores might see it as an opportunity, but why would The Usos be excited? Aren’t they supposed to be good guys? Why do they want to be party to Kane and Big Show’s obvious deck stacking against Bryan and their own cousin? What does anybody have to gain from this match? Kane spouts a bunch of stuff about how this match will be an opportunity to achieve greatness, but it’s not like there’s a tag tile shot or trophy on the line or anything.

This will not be a good night for the WWE tag team division, but possibly more shameful than anything to come is fact friggin’ Corporate Kane managed to manipulate all these guys with seemingly little effort. Shameful.

Worst: Curtain Jerk-Off

After setting up the show with a disorganized, 90-second backstage segment, WWE kicked off Smackdown proper with an R-Truth match. Oh dear, this show is going to be baaaaaad.

This match went forever. Well, okay, not forever, but way, way longer than a R-Truth/Bray Wyatt match has any right going. Bray should be finishing Truth quicker than you can say “whoomp, there it is”. Instead Bray spent five minutes missing sentons and doing wacky comedy ass selling. But hey, at least we don’t have to worry about the Undertaker – I don’t care how old and crumbly his knees are, Taker could beat this Bray Wyatt.

Worst: “Unique Offense”

Hey look, Summer Rae is on TV again! And she’s forgotten how to wrestle, apparently! Summer Rae/Paige started out harmless enough with your standard arm drags and lazy Paige kicks, then Summer Rae decided to take it to mat and bring the innovative submissions. Hmmm, maybe innovative is the wrong word. What would you call this exactly?

How is any of this supposed to hurt anyone? I suppose it looks like Summer Rae is kind of twisting her own knee a bit, but Paige looks downright comfy in that position. Also, you don’t have to throw your legs in the air and do a slow backroll every single time you bump, Summer. You make me miss AJ’s goofy flippy bumps.

The match was exactly enhanced by the Bellas on commentary. Nikki made a decent point on Raw about how all the “different” Divas who criticize them aren’t really that different, but it was only a decent point and doesn’t need to be shouted over every Divas match until Fastlane.

Worst: Not Everything Has To An All The Time Thing

As I’ve mentioned before, Adam Rose seems to apply a “Party Time, All the Time” ethos to everything he does. He can’t do anything once, everything must be iterated on ad nauseam. He spent the first six months of his main roster career having the exact same match, then spent three months breaking up with his bunny mascot on every show, and now his thing is losing to Fandango and punching the Rosebuds.

So yeah, on Smackdown Adam Rose lost to Fandango and punched the Rosebuds. Look forward to more on the next Raw, Smackdown and in your haunted dreams.

Worst: Blind Tags

The last 70-minutes of this show was basically one long tag match, which was unique I suppose, but I’m not giving WWE any originality brownie points, since it’s pretty clear they did it because they needed to cover for half the roster being in Abu Dhabi, and didn’t have time to write anything better because they were distracted by Seth Rollins’ schlong and scraping Darren Young’s freedom of speech off their shoe. Speaking of which, Darren Young gets left at home because WWE is busy entertaining a segment of the Universe that think he should be in prison for something he has no control over, and he still can’t get on a show so short-staffed it has to open with R-Truth rapping. That’s so depressing I’m getting the sympathy sads.

Anywho, the match starts and immediately Bryan and Reigns are blind-tagging themselves in and making grumpy faces at each other, and of course Miz and Mizdow have been doing this gimmick for weeks now. Why is “stealing” the tag from your own tag partner the ultimate crime in WWE? It seems to be the only way they know how to communicate that two people don’t like each other, to the point they have to put guys like Bryan and Reigns in tossed together teams just so they can have disputes over tags. Tagging your partner is a good thing – it means you’re trying to help them. Only in very, very specific situations should anybody be upset that their partner tagged in without their permission. WWE Superstars need to stop being such huffy dickheads.

Oh, and yeah, Bryan and Reigns quickly beat Miz and Mizdow like a couple goobers. Get used to that.

Best: A Pretty Okay House Show Match

Tag Team Turmoil was mostly a graphic, hour+ bed shitting, but the Usos segment of it was pretty good. Or at least the first two-thirds or so of the Usos segment was good. They actually sort of tried to make the tag champs seem important and like a legit challenge to Bryan and Reigns, which I certainly didn’t expect.

The match was kind of weird and disjointed in the early going, with a ton of stalling and a general house show-esque feel, but eventually it picked up nicely. Bryan and the Usos started laying down the leather, hitting some nice kicks, uppercuts and chops. The matched peaked when Daniel Bryan decided to commit some straight up televised homicide and unleashed this barrage of kicks on Jey Usos…

…it’s also where the match went wrong.

Worst: Doing It The Right Way

Just as Bryan is about the permanently liquefy Jey Uso’s organs, he’s interrupted by Roman Reigns who’s appalled by Bryan’s brutish behavior. You can’t win a match on the outside! Get the Usos back in the ring and win this thing the right way dammit! This coming from Roman Reigns, the guy who made his name as part of a unit that was entirely about sneak attacks, ringside mayhem and THE DAMN NUMBERS GAME. Hell, Roman’s still entirely about blindsiding dudes with Superman punches and spears at ringside. The commentators tried to explain that Roman was upset because the Usos are his cousins, but eff that noise. Up until this match Roman has spent his entire WWE career actively trying to avoid and dissociate himself from his dorky cousins.

It wasn’t just Roman who was acting completely against character. Reigns interrupting his Uso pulverizing transformed Bryan into a regular Surly McSurlington. Suddenly Bryan’s screaming “WE GOTTA WIN” and “DON’T YOU EVER GET IN MY FACE AGAIN” and it all just feels weird and off.

Admittedly the final minutes of the Usos segment of Tag Team Turmoil was pretty damn good, with some really nice sequences, but the overarching “Reigns is mad because he just loves the Usos so darn much, and Bryan is now a man of uncontrollable violence” storyline felt incredibly forced and dragged everything down.

Worst: Annnd Here Come The Stupid Bullfighters

The Usos stuff may have had its issues, but again, at least it was injected with a lot of faux drama and felt semi-important. So, the next tandem up in Tag Team Turmoil is…Los Matadores. I have a feeling the same folks who laid out this year’s Rumble laid out this match. While drunk.

Admittedly, it was kind of fun to watch Bryan completely dismantle whichever Matador it was, and force him to tap before Los Matadores could even get their first tag. Still, I don’t even really care about Los Matadores enough to take pleasure in their humiliation.

Worst: Keep Your Hoo-ahs To Yourself, You Beat Heath Slater

Slater Gator are up next, and it’s time to do that WWE thing where top guys make their lessers look like bags of crap in order to prove a vague point. Bryan beat Los Matadores without letting them tag, so Roman has to do the same to Slater Gator.

Of course Bryan was all business when he humiliated his tag team, but Reigns has to run around screaming and cocking his penis fist every five seconds. Dude, chill out – he may have less hair and money due to legal fees, but it’s still just the same old Heath Slater.

Best: The Ascension Escape With Their Dignity Semi-Intact

With the rest of the tag division lying in flaming taters, I totally expected Bryan and Reigns to purple nurple/pink belly the hell out of The Ascension, but to my surprise they were the one team to slink away with some modicum of dignity. The finish itself – The Ascension getting DQed for doing the double-team move they finish all their matches with – was crushingly stupid, but at least The Ascension wasn’t annihilated while JBL jerked off at ringside. Hey, I’m trying to find positives where I can, and this show isn’t making it easy.

Worst: Annnd Here Come Kane and Big Show

Yeah, this is what I needed after 60-minutes of so-so tag team action – Kane and Big Show. The big guys made an already overlong match feel even longer with plenty of dull clubbery and then, for no particular reason Kane and Big Show start stealing tags and doing the tag team dissension thing. Is that shit contagious? So, for the record, of the six teams in this match, three of them were doing the exact same petty sniping and tag stealing gimmick. This show. This goddamn show…

Then things got worse.

Worst: An Hour-Long Daniel Bryan Match I Mostly Hated

Big Show and Kane continued to argue over literally nothing, then out of nowhere Big Show hauled off and KO punched his tag partner. Yes, Big Show has turned AGAIN. What could this possibly, possibly achieve? Did WWE realize at the last second that they’d written a Smackdown that was literally just one long, boring tag match and decide to turn Big Show so at least something will have happened on the show?

The most frustrating thing about all this is that a show-long Daniel Bryan match could’ve have been GREAT. It should have been great. They could have told a satisfying, absorbing story of two men who have been turned against each other by circumstances outside their control learning to overcome their differences in the face of adversity. Instead they told the story of two bickering manchildren who fluked into a win via deus ex Big Show. This could have been something, but instead it was as bad as an hour-long Daniel Bryan match could possibly be. I suppose in a way that makes this Smackdown somewhat of an achievement. Congrats, February 12th Smackdown, you are the shit standard bearer.