I wish I was brave enough to go out of the house looking like this.
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Remember when Miz had pointy hair and made kissy lips all the time? Yeah.
Best: I’m Trying to Teach You
Smackdown kicked off with Miz vs. Daniel Bryan, and since The Miz is operating on a different level right now, he actually went out of his way to provide some historical context for the match. In a pre-match backstage bit, Miz talked about how he used to be Daniel Bryan’s mentor on NXT, which gave this random match an interesting extra dimension. It was The Miz wrestling his old, abused protege who didn’t really need his help, while simultaneously abusing a new protege who doesn’t really need his help. By mentioning his history with Bryan before the match, the Miz has given himself an interesting new character trait – he now has an acknowledged history of mistreating people under the guise of mentorship. Man, imagine if John Cena used all his 20-minute talky segments to actually build character like this.
Miz’s dickery hot streak continued, as he insisted Sandow go fetch him an Egyptian cotton towel to dab his sweat with, yelled at him to walk faster as he was getting it, then dropped a choice “Bye Felicia” on him. Well, actually, there was a better Bye Felicia moment later in the show, but we’ll get to that in due time.
Minor Worst to Michael Cole for having the unbelievable, hilarious gall to say he had the “pleasure and honor” to call season one of NXT. No really, he actually said those words…
Best: A Good Squash
Squash matches get a bad rap, mainly because WWE usually does them wrong. Typically they involve the squasher sauntering about and beating on his opponent in a disinterested sort of way, while the squashee grovels and lays around like a sad sack. This match was basically a squash, The Miz got very little legit offense, but it was fast paced, Bryan’s offense was exciting, and Miz always seemed like he was fighting back, even if not much was panning out for him tonight. Also, props to Miz for continuing to tap even after Bryan released the Yes Lock. That’s some fine chickenshit heel work.
Worst: The Big Guy vs. The Big Red Guy
Well, this was some old garbage, but then of course it was. Most of the match was Ryback being outsmarted and outmaneuvered by that agile trickster Corporate Kane, then Kane “injured” Ryback’s leg and literally 10-seconds later, he hit the Shell Shock and won anyways. Eh, whatcha gonna do?
Worst: The Most Distracted Man in Wrestling
Bad News Barrett wrestled R-Truth with Dean Ambrose on commentary, and as you might expect, this whole segment was a carnival of apathy and sadness. The commentators needled Ambrose about the legality of tying Barrett up and forcing to him to sign a contract, and his response was that he went to WWE.com and saw the match had been made, so it must be legal. The line between clever and meta and lazy and stupid is a fine one.
At some point, Ambrose started turning his back on the ring, which somehow distracted Barrett leading to a roll-up loss. Against R-Truth. Ambrose couldn’t possibly have been less involved in the match – he wasn’t even engaged with it as a passive viewer. The chairs sitting at ringside and the popcorn guy counting out change in the stands had as much to do with Barrett’s loss as Dean Ambrose.
And then we got the real Bye Felicia moment of the night, as Dean Ambrose just strolled out as cool as Ice, leaving Barrett standing in the ring like the asshole of the century…
Pictured: Clean living.
Worst: Living A Clean Lifestyle
The commentators were given some amazing bullshit to say this week, like when they were forced to talk about how inspiring Vince McMahon’s Muscle & Fitness cover was and how it was Vince’s clean lifestyle that got him looking like an oak statue carved by Rob Liefeld. Maybe they were being tongue in cheek, but I kind of hope they weren’t. “The owner of WWE is crazy and on so many drugs” isn’t really a great punchline.
Bray Wyatt sung a song, talked about angels and putting down pets and, sadly, wasn’t stricken with a bout of projectile vomiting. That’s where me and Bray are at – the faint possibility that he may start randomly barfing is pretty much the only thing I find interesting about him at the moment.
Worst: Beat the Drum Slowly
And play the death march as Kofi Kingston comes dancin’ along…
The New Day wrestled The Ascension, and it was about as captivating as you might expect. The Ascension are technically okay, but there’s no highs and lows or storytelling to be found in their matches. They’re just a bunch of moves done at roughly the same speed and intensity until they hit their designated finisher. The end. The New Day didn’t help matters, as Kofi Kingston spent the whole match banging out a droning drumbeat on the apron. He wouldn’t speed up or slow down based on what was happening in the ring or anything, it was just a steady thump, thump-thump, thump, thump-thump. I need an Advil.
Best: Another Good Squash
Don’t look now, but I think Roman Reigns may actually be figuring this shit out.
He had a nice little match with The Miz a couple weeks back, and this match against Harper was also solid. While a little more competitive than tonight’s opener, this was also pretty much a squash, but once again, it was a good squash. Reigns never backed up, he never let the intensity go slack, which has been his problem. The final moments of his matches are good, but there’s always this long, listless stretch in the middle.
Despite being on the defensive for most of the match, Harper picked his spots and made his offense count. Guys don’t have to split control 50-50. Reigns was in control for 90 percent of this match, but Harper still came off like he was fighting back, like he was in this thing. The finish in particular was great – Reigns goes for the Superman punch, but Harper interrupts it with a superkick, but Reigns shakes it off and hits a spear for the win. Both guys get to look good without any needless, momentum halting kicking and punching and selling. The way Roman wrestled in this match should be the template for all his future matches.
Worst: Poor Rowan
Okay, we’ve had a lot of good squashes on this show, now here’s an example of a bad one. Even though Rowan is almost as big as Show and should be able to fight back, he never does. He just takes a beating like a chump, then gets his ass pinned by a bored-looking Big Show. The most remarkable part of this match was Jerry Lawler making C-section jokes on commentary (have I mentioned commentary was straight rancid tonight?)
Worst: Cameron Has a New Mirror
And she already has a huge, disgusting fingerprint right in the middle of it. God-dammit.
Cameron wrestled Paige and, well, Cameron didn’t try to go for a pin on a face-down opponent this time, so there’s not a lot to say about the match itself. Really, the whole point of the segment was for the Bellas to sit at ringside wearing sunglasses. Because Paige is blindingly white, you see. At one point Nikki identified Eva Marie as the only Total Diva as classy as the Bellas, so she’s still doing some solid under-the-radar heel work.
Also, Nikki even wears glasses a million times better than Brie.
Best: Darkness Crept In
I miss the days mid-card feuds could have real depth – these days anything below the world title scene is just distraction finishes and non-title losses. That said, Goldust and Cody are doing the best with what little time they’re being allotted. Goldust’s line about the Stardust character being a cancer had some solid impact.
Goldust says he’s just looking out for his little brother, but at the same time he’s kind of full of shit. He’s delivering this promo about the dangers of getting too immersed in your character while still dressed as gold variant Darth Maul. There’s definitely some complexity here. I’m not sure how deep this story is going to be allowed to go, but consider me on board for the ride.
Best: The Power of Friendship
Tyson Kidd and Cesaro know which side their bread is buttered on, as they went hard after hipster wrestling fans here by fully committing themselves to FRIENDSHIP BASED WRESTLING. Hey, worked on me, and I don’t even watch Chikara.
Also, bonus Best to Byron Saxton for responding to Jerry Lawler’s “all men hate their wives” jokez with a heartfelt “that’s a sad state of affairs”. Get Byron Saxton on Raw. Get him on all the shows.
Sadly the friendship based wrestling and Lawler shutdowns weren’t to last…
Worst: A Wild Rusev Appears!
Is this a new Smackdown thing? Emasculating the tag team division? Last week Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns ran through six teams in a row, and this week Rusev beats up both the tag champs and their #1 contenders by himself. Kudos I suppose to Jimmy Uso for selling like he was literally dead when Rusev was beating on him, but still, ugh. The only message Rusev sent with this was, “Don’t take the tag division seriously, WWE fans. They’re a bunch of weak babies.”
Best: Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins
Why should I care if Mercury and Noble are banned from ringside? They were banned from ringside on Raw too and they just ran right back out. Also, who exactly banned them from ringside? Did Teddy Long just leave a stack of “One Free Babyface-Friendly Booking Decision” cards laying around backstage?
Well whatever, the stip was immediately rendered useless anyways, as Big Show and Kane just wandered out instead. This brought out Ryback and Rowan, and it was pretty clear Rollins and Ziggler were just killing time until the big run-in shmozz, or at least that’s what I thought. In the end Rollins just ended up curb-stomping and pinning Ziggler with minimal interference from Show and Kane. So again, why the obsession with who’s at ringside? None of it ended up mattering. Gawd.
Still, as dumb as the stips were, this was still Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins for 10-minutes with a finish, so I can’t complain too much. There wasn’t a lot of emotion to the match or anything, but it was fast-paced and fun.
Worst: High-Level Strategy
After the match, J&J ran back out to celebrate and Seth huddled everyone up and loudly explained that there were only two men standing in the ring, and there were five of them, so maybe these five guys should go beat up those two guys. Whoa, whoa, whoa Seth, slow down. Could you explain this plan to me again?
So The Authority beat up Rowan and Ryback for, like, five minutes to end the show, which was kind of weird. When John Cena gets beaten up at the end of the show, you know he’s going to get his redemption eventually, but it’s pretty much a guarantee that Rowan and Ryback won’t, so why should I be invested in this beatdown? I suppose the alternative was a show that doesn’t end in a beatdown, and obviously we can’t have that. Man, just once I’d like to have a WWE show in a dance party and blooper reel.