The Best And Worst Of SmackDown 3/5/15: The Bellas Standard

Poor Brie thinks she actually measures up to the Bellas standard.

Pre-show Notes:

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Worst: This Is All So Unnecessary

In this week’s Raw report, Brandon made the case that turning the Intercontinental title into the Hardcore title isn’t such a bad thing because at least it means something’s happening with the belt. There’s merit to that argument, as this is better than the usual non-title loses setting up title shots treadmill, but this is still the absolute worst way to create interest in the belt. Bad News Barrett could be a strong champion, with multiple challengers jockeying for a shot. He should be. Instead Barrett’s a clown and all his challengers are thieving dickheads who treat this thing they supposedly value like a toy.

Case in point, Dolph Ziggler comes out to discuss returning honor to the IC title, and how much his title reign last year meant to him (which one was that again?) while wearing the IC belt he secondhand stole from R-Truth or, uh, Hornswoggle or whoever. Barrett then came out, and at least he showed a little more fire than usual. He actually seems to be angry about his title being stolen now as opposed to mildly put out. Then a bunch of guys end up fighting and R-Truth steals the belt again because sure, let’s just do that every show.

Best: Renee Not Abiding R-Truth’s Bullsh*t

Thankfully Renee Young is here to provide a sober second opinion on the IC title scene, and clearly she’s not having any of this madness. Just look at that face.

That should always be everyone’s response to R-Truth. Then Truth tries to give Renee the title and asks where Jeans Ambrose is because she now must know where he is at all times, and Renee is just like, “Eeeeff off, go away.” Hopefully Honest Reactions Renee is a new regular character.

Worst: Stooged Off By El Torito

What the f*ck kind of color scheme is Los Matadores sporting? Lime green, mustard yellow and fuchsia? I’m pretty sure Los Matadores looked as bad as two generally in shape human beings can look here.

This was a match. Cesaro and Kidd did way too much selling for the Matador’s floppy flipping, but at least the match did include Natalya dumping El Torito on his face. Also, the spin into a dropkick spot won The Swinging Cats a match, which is cool because it should win them matches all the time.

Best: Giant Envy

Big Show is of course in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal again, and this year his stated goal is to put his head (just his head for some reason) on the Andre trophy and rename it the Big Show Memorial Battle Royal. Well, maybe he’d leave the “Memorial” out. This is perfect. Big Show should hate Andre. Show’s a better wrestler than Andre was, a better talker, he’s held more championships, but he’ll still always be in Andre’s shadow. That should be the point of the Andre Battle Royal each year – 19 other men doing everything they can to stop an evil giant from destroying the precious golden Andre idol.

Also, Big Show made fun of Kane’s suit, which is fully justified because I think the dude only has one and it’s starting to look seriously washed out.

Worst: I’m Going To Hate The Way You Wrestle, I Guarantee It

The highlight of Ryback vs. Kane was Big Show shouting smack at the Andre trophy at ringside. The lowlight was Ryback vs. Kane.

This managed to dip below my already perilously low expectations. Kane was moving quarter-speed at best, and Ryback managed to f*ck up a belly-to-belly, then hit a weak spinebuster and clothesline for the win. It’s a night of guys getting pinned by transitional moves I guess.

Worst: Don’t Punish Me For Your Failures, Kane

After getting his ass pinned, Kane rolled to the outside and decided to prove he hasn’t lost his evil edge by booking a second Ryback match. Against Big Show. Oh come on.

Well, thankfully after a slightly rough warm-up bout with Kane, Ryback/Show was an unexpected technical classic. Haha, no, just killing. It was more clumsy bullshit. After a bit of sloppy brawling, Ryback hit another weak spinebuster, but couldn’t follow up with anything because he got distracted and KO punched like a chump. Thanks WWE, but I really didn’t need two Ryback matches to remind he’s a dweeb. You probably could have done it in one.

Worst: One Does Not Simply Appear With The Undertaker’s Urn

As often cited around here, one of the biggest ongoing issues with WWE is their tendency to skip the set-up when telling stories, and this might be the most egregious example yet. On SmackDown Bray Wyatt just showed up in a backstage promo with Undertaker’s urn. No word on how he go it. Did he steal it? Did Michelle McCool accidentally put it out with the recycling?

Bad guys stealing Undertaker’s urn is one of the most cherished reoccurring angles in WWE history. If Taker is going to show up on Raw, Bray should have stolen the urn then, and WrestleMania match should be about getting it back. Instead we’ve jumped a step and Bray already has the urn, Taker will get his vengeance on Raw and WrestleMania will be about, uh, something? Who has the cooler entrance?

Best: Nikki Bella Is Back

Thank goodness, having to give Nikki Worsts was starting to make me sad. Around the time Nikki started to transform into an in-ring hoss late last year, she also started to pull it together on the mic. Sure, she was still fairly stilted, but she had her flashes of intensity and sincerity, and she knew how to be a heel. Okay, maybe some of the hubris and self-deception wasn’t acting, but check out Growing Up Bella or her censored response to A.J. again. She knew what she was doing. Sadly, they stuck Nikki and Brie together again, and Nikki’s promos reverted to “hitting on Toby Keith and the stars of Psych backstage” level robotic.

Well, good at being bad Nikki was back on SmackDown. She gave #GiveDivasAChance a catty twist, rightfully dumped on the “frenemies” thing, then boasted about how there was only one voice that matters in the Divas division, while splitting a promo with her doppelganger. That’s some quality delusional heel shit right there. Like I said, she knows what she’s doing.

Best: This Is More Like It

This was the first time since the #GiveDivasAChance thing started that I really felt like something had changed. There’s two kinds of segments on WWE shows – ones just designed to fill time, and ones meant to actually entertain and engage the audience. Divas segments are almost always the former. Even when they get more than a couple minutes, the matches or promos aren’t treated as important. It’s just a few minutes of pretty girls running around while they set up the next thing that actually matters. It’s the piss break. That’s not a knock against women’s wrestling, but it’s how WWE presents Divas segments in a million little ways.

A.J. vs. Brie wasn’t filler. It was meant to be a legitimate highlight of the show. The announcers called it seriously, pushed both performers and put it over as a great match. The message was clear: “Piss later. This is something you want to watch.” This is what main roster women’s matches have been missing. Nikki Bella and Paige can wrestle every bit as well as Charlotte and Sasha Banks, it’s the presentation that’s lacking on the main roster.

The match itself mostly lived up to the improved presentation. It was good, with Brie dealing out some surprisingly rough offense. Her knee against the ropes looked particularly nasty tonight. A.J. looked just a little off. She was throwing a lot of punches instead of kicks, and it’s pretty hard to buy A.J. forearms as particularly dangerous. I know it’s CM Punk chant bait, but A.J. should focus on kicking the shit out of girls because 50 percent of her body weight is in her thigh muscles. Speaking of which, an A.J. Lee chant briefly got going during the match, which was nice to hear. Maybe WWE just piped it in, but either way, at least somebody has the right idea.

Worst: The World Title? What’s That?

Daniel Bryan just straight up doesn’t give a fudge any more. After nearly two-years of doggedly chasing the world title, he’s given up and is all, “Wouldn’t it be REAL COOL if I won the Intercontinental title, guys?” No, not really, but if you’re over the world title thing, I guess I can let it go too.

Best: The Miz Redeems Five Minutes Of Jerry Lawler Viagra Jokes

Why do people keep doing the “haha, your cock’s thiiiis small” thing with their fingers to Miz? Viagra doesn’t make your dick bigger, it just makes it work. It also makes you want to take a bath in a wheat field, but I guess it’s hard (heh!) to express that with a sassy hand gesture.

Anyways, I knew this segment would be hard (heh!) to watch, and it certainly started out that way, with the skeevy old man comedy duo of Cole and Lawler unleashing a torrent of boner jokes on the kid’s wrestling show, but somehow Miracle Worker Mike Mizanin still managed to save things. Miz screaming “I’LL END YOU” in Mizdow’s face could erase a million limp (heh!) Jerry Lawler wiener laffs. The bit where Sandow allows a smile to creep onto his face as Miz gets beat was magical. Get his shit booked for WrestleMania right now, WWE.

Worst: Poor Big Hoss

Aw man, Jack Swagger’s wearing his Big Hoss jacket from his Real American days. I can’t be angry at the poor guy now. I mean, obviously I’m still going to worst his match, but I’ll do it in a nice way.

Jack Swagger and Rusev wasn’t the most exciting match, but not every match can be a classic! Sometimes even when you try you best things don’t work out! Swagger also lost quickly, but I prefer to think of it as working efficiently. If everybody had 20-minute classics there wouldn’t be time for everybody to wrestle! Very considerate. You keep being you, Big Hoss.

Best: Step Aside, Cena

Welp, Curtis Axel got to cut a full-on green screen Hulk Hogan promo on SmackDown, and it’s official, I now have zero desire to see Cena/Rusev again at WrestleMania. Axel/Rusev is where it’s at, brother. Undefeated streak vs. Royal Rumble undefeated streak! Often imitated, never eliminated, dude!

Worst: Most Of Our Women Are Still Garbage!

This was literally the entire message here. They had Cameron say #GiveDivasAChance then Summer Rae and Eva Marie also walked out, and then they cut away. “You want us to give these Divas a chance? Lololol.”

Hey guys, if you think Cameron and company are useless, why are they still employed? If they’re just there to make the shows more visually appealing, and fill out the Total Divas cast, that’s fine. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Present them as that in a respectful way.

Best: You Win, WWE

Okay, fine. I’m excited for the Intercontinental ladder match thing.

No show should ever be main evented by a match so unimportant that it plays second fiddle to R-Truth on commentary, but at least said commentary wasn’t totally maddening this week. Instead of a bunch of queasy black folk all look alike jokes, Truth was mostly riffing on ladders (he’s afraid of them, you see). I’ll admit, I chuckled when Truth pitched a footstool match, and accused Byron of discrimination against ladders.

The in-ring action wasn’t bad either. Harper and Ambrose had some nice sequences, and things picked up nicely towards the end. We even got a clean finish, with Dolph straight-up hitting his move and pinning Harper. That was refreshing.

After the match Truth snuck off with the title again, then gave it to Daniel Bryan (which I guess I’m resigned to), then Stardust came out of nowhere, waylaid Bryan and stole the belt. Congrats, WWE. You’ve officially broken me. I’m into the IC ladder match. Now, get to work on the rest of those WrestleMania matches.