The Best And Worst Of Smackdown 2/5/15: Welcome To The Deep End

Looks like Roman’s already been in the pool.

Pre-show Notes:

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Best: That’s Not Funny At All, By the Way

This Miz and Mizdow pairing keeps giving me things I didn’t know I wanted. Miz forcing Mizdow to stop mimicking him sounds like a total buzzkill, but it was the right thing at the right time, and has totally revived my slightly flagging interest in the team. One of the problems with modern, corporate, PG WWE is that you rarely believe any two guys really have it in for each other. Usually it’s all smirking and jokes or artificial feeling stare-downs, but you can really feel Miz’s contempt for Sandow – Mizdow is sitting still in a chair and Miz can still barely restrain himself from blasting him. That’s real, deep-seated, I can’t stand the sight of your stupid face hatred. And hate begets hate – the crowd was absolutely all over Miz tonight. This isn’t just some midcard nonsense I’m obsessing over because I like midcard nonsense, it’s really working.

Bonus Best for Byron Saxton’s withering response to Lawler’s 50 Shades of Miz joke. Does Lawler actually know what 50 Shades of Grey is about? Who am I kidding? Of course he does, which makes it all the worse.

Best: Welp, Saw That Coming

Points for efficiency for just having Roman Reigns punch Miz in the face seconds after entering the ring I guess.

In my opinion Monday’s Raw was the best written WWE show in months. Maybe years. Some complained that the opening talky segment was long, but I’m okay with long segments if they achieve something important, and Raw’s opening segment drew on believable character motivations and emotions to completely recast the WWE main event scene. Roman Reigns went into that segment the golden boy who’s been handed everything on a finely polished platter and came out a wronged man forced to choose how he’s going to respond to the first real obstacle that’s been thrown his way, which is infinitely more compelling than what he’s been doing the past few months. It’s a lot easier to get into One vs. All when All is actually putting up some resistance.

Even better, the force that’s screwing Reigns over isn’t some one-note evil authority, it’s the fans. It’s the plucky underdog babyface. It’s obvious Roman is a fundamentally decent guy, but he’s being forced into the bad guy position, which is so much more complicated, more real, than your average WWE storyline. Ironically, Roman being forced into a situation where he looks like kind of a dick has made him far more relatable and sympathetic. So yeah, kudos to WWE to getting themselves out of a booking hole with real writing instead of retcons and loopholes for once.

Anyways, yeah, Roman is all, “I’m not letting your underdog story run roughshod over my dreams”, then Rollins comes out and rightfully points out that Reigns screwing him in his match with Bryan on Raw was kind of a petty, shitty thing to do. Roman smirks about it, but he’s basically a tweener now, so that’s okay. Rollins then booked himself and J&J Security vs. Bryan, and I immediately got way too excited at the prospect of Bryan wrestling Noble and Mercury. Y’know, I’m suddenly pretty damn into the WWE main event scene – might have something to do with a certain teal clad individual no longer being involved in it.

Best: Have I Mentioned I Love The Miz?

A solid 90% of all Miz TVs end in The Miz being punched in the face, and usually he just slinks off and does nothing about it, but Miz is on fire right now. He’s angry, he’s motivated and he’s challenging Roman Reigns for randomly assaulting him like a dick. Raargh! Go friggin’ Marine 4: Moving Target on his ass!

Best: The Lil’est Big Guys

Man, I’m not entirely sure why, but I’m immediately into the idea of Dolph Ziggler and Ryback as a team. I suppose they compensate well for each other’s shortcomings – Dolph provides the athleticism and charisma, and Ryback brings the credible offense. Aside from all that, it just felt like these two guys like each other and are happy to be teaming.

The match itself against Gold and Stardust was no five-star classic, but it was super watchable, fun stuff. For instance, this was a thing that happened…

Unfortunately the ending hinged on Rhodes miscommunication, which I’m still not into at all, but I am into seeing more from team That Damn Hungry. Or, uh, The Meat Stealers?

We’ll come up with something.

Best: #Axelmania

Guys, don’t change the channel, change the course of history. I kind of like Axel as a parody of guys impotently trying to change their lot in life through social media. At least they’re not spitefully crapping on somebody with a legitimate online following.

Alex’s match with Dean Ambrose was also surprisingly competitive and actually pretty decent. Axel got in some creative stuff, like the bit where he tied Dean up in the ropes and clotheslined him on the back of the neck, and Ambrose hit 20 rebound clotheslines and won (aka his usual). Perfectly acceptable, which is about the best Curtis Axel can hope to aspire to.

Worst: The Bad News Zone

After Ambrose beat Axel, Bad News Barrett popped up on the big screen, and oh dear, he’s now has the Bad News Zone, or BNZ. Like TMZ! Get it? Get it? Weirdly, even though he’s broadcasting from the Bad News Zone, Barrett doesn’t do bad news anymore, he does breaking news and in fact had to painfully avoid using the word “bad” even though, again, he’s in the BAD NEWS ZONE.

“I have some UNFORTUNATE news that ISN’T LOOKING GOOD for you Dean Ambrose! Yes, this news is very DISATISFACTORY indeed! Your chances of getting a title shot against me are downright DREADFUL. Now, I’m going to go watch Breaking, uh, Poor.”

Best: Adam Rose Beats His Wiener

This was a weird segment featuring two guys I usually hate, and yet, oddly, I didn’t hate it. I was kind of into Rose just straight up blasting Rosebuds in the face. Also, hello to the Lady Thor Rosebud – those are some godlike thighs you have there.

So, apparently Fandango is a face now? Which is fine with me – he makes more sense as a good guy. He’s a goofy dude who likes to dance and hang out with pretty ladies, what’s there to hate about that? The match itself was short, but fairly hard-hitting and fun while it lasted. Am I just in a good mood? I should bookmark this report for the “Do you even LIKE wrestling?” crew.

Best: Miziracle Worker

This was Roman Reigns’ best match since returning from injury, and most of that has to be attributed to The Miz. The longstanding gripe against Miz was that he wasn’t credible in the ring, but he dealt Reigns a perfectly believable beating tonight. Granted, Reigns is more John Cena than Brock Lesnar, but still, the Miz of a year or two ago wouldn’t have been able to hang in there with Reigns. Miz is really stepping it up in all areas – if only he got to look like a competent former world champion more often than every six months.

Roman wasn’t slacking either – his offense looked much tighter than in his last few matches, and he generally did a good job of keeping the momentum going throughout the entire match, which has been one of his weak suits. Maybe WWE did a little editing to help Roman out (they certainly added a lot of pretty egregiously fake crowd noise), but whatever, so long as a match works it doesn’t matter too much to me why it worked.

Best: Rowan vs. Rusev

I’ll admit, Rowan is growing on me now that they’ve dropped the Master of the Rubik’s Cube gimmick. Dude is just a big lovable lug, and WWE could use more lovable lugs. The match itself was solid, with Rowan moving well and hitting some nice solid blows. Also Rusev smushed Rowan’s beard all up while he had him in the Accolade – that dastard.

Worst: Take a Shower, Paige

One of my least favorite WWE tropes is the bit where somebody gets into a food fight backstage, then comes out to wrestle minutes later with food still all over their face. Paige took this to extreme lengths on Smackdown by showing up to wrestle with a big spray tan blotch still on her stomach. I get that spray tan can be hard to get off, but if somebody assaulted and forcibly spray tanned me, I dunno, I’d probably make a pretty serious effort to get the stuff off. Or, you know, wear a shirt to work.

Paige also cut a straight-up AJ Lee promo, exact same cadence, flow and everything, and well, it wasn’t great. AJ promos sound fine coming out of AJ, but not so much coming out of Paige. I guess I just find it hard to buy the super pretty, second generation wrestler as a rebellious outsider just because she’s super, extra Caucasian. AJ Lee was an actual outsider, Paige just wears a lot of eyeliner.

Worst: Kicks ‘n’ Catfights

Jeez, Paige vs. Alicia Fox was pretty weak too. Lots of garbagey catfighting and lazy kicks by Paige, then after a couple minutes of not-so-hot action, the match just sort of…ended. Paige dragged Alicia into the middle of the ring, put her in the PTO and Alicia immediately tapped without providing any resistance. I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed – you’re capable of better than this, young lady.

Worst: Bray Wyatt, Lantern Cup Champion

So, Bray Wyatt now has has a jacket with a cute little lantern ‘n’ buzzard-themed emblem on it. Thing looks like a Mario Kart trophy. Hey, if Undertaker can’t pull it together physically for Wrestlemania, I’d totally be into a Bray Wyatt/Undertaker best of three Rainbow Road battle.

Best: Custom Tailored Odds

I have to say, this was some pretty weak odds stacking by Seth Rollins. Bryan is all about winning three-on-one matches, beating The Shield is what made his career, and having two super wimpy dudes on your team of three is just bad strategy. Basically, this match was specifically engineered for a Daniel Bryan victory.

But hey, the obviousness of the finish didn’t make the match any less fun. Noble and Mercury are such wonderful hapless heels, and seeing Bryan and Noble face off again in a vastly different context than their old ROH battles was certainly interesting. After some early J&J comedy, Rollins came in and got down to business – Bryan is about the only guy in WWE Rollins can play the big man against, and he took advantage, nailing him with German suplexes, generally mimicking Brock Lesnar and unleashing some pretty choice smack talk. Bryan, for his part, continues to sell the neck way too well. Come on buddy, just give us a wink or something to let us know you’re actually okay.

Of course Bryan eventually got all three guys bonking into each other and eked out a victory, because that’s kind of his thing. All was right in the world, and it looked like a WWE program might have a happy ending for once, until…

Worst: So, Crematorium Match on Raw?

What. NO. Go away Kane. Does Bryan literally have to bury Kane alive to end this feud? Because I’m willing to watch a pay-per-view snuff film if it means no more Kane/Bryan matches.