The Best And Worst Of SmackDown 4/23/15: Lay Down For Me


Pre-show Notes:

Hey, folks. Don’t forget to lay down some Twitter and Facebook share for me! Here are the buttons…

– 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…

Worst: Where’s Angry Kane?

SmackDown kicked off as most SmackDowns do, with Seth Rollins recapping the events of Raw (I say “most” because Randy Orton sometimes does it). Rollins just can’t help but sneak in a jab at Kane, which brings him out, but unfortunately it isn’t angry, redder-faced than usual, truth dropping Kane from Raw. No, he was sadly back to his normal stilted, vaguely bored delivery. Kane’s main point was that Rollins should be nice to him because he’s the official cage door watcher at Extreme Rules. Oh, if only there wasn’t, like, three other ways to win a WWE cage match!

Worst: The Big Red Prankster

After a bit more jibber-jabber, things kind of took a left turn to a weird place. Out of nowhere, Kane brings up that he wants some reciprocal laying down action in return for giving it up two weeks ago on Raw. Now this is when Rollins should have been “nuts to you” and walked out, but he didn’t, for some reason. He was like a Diva getting stuck in the corner. I guess Kane has that effect on people.

Kane said Rollins had no choice because he randomly happened to be in charge tonight. So, wait, if Triple H and Kane decided to blow off SmackDown, could Brad Maddox have forced Seth Rollins to lay down? Why isn’t Vickie Guerrero, like, a 20-time world champion? You’ll never guess what happened next: Rollins just f*cking did it. He laid down because Kane was “in charge” and told him to. I know Rollins is a wussy heel, but I gave my childhood babysitters more guff than the supposedly badass superstars of WWE give the Authority. I fear for the future of the kids who are growing up on this stuff. It’s okay to say no if a giant sweaty guy filling in for your boss says he wants to lay on you, kids.

So, Rollins lays down, but Kane is all, “psyche, just messin’ with you, bro” so Rollins looks both wimpy and gullible. Need I remind you, WWE’s kneecapping their new champion they crowned at one of the biggest WrestleManias of all-time for the benefit of friggin’ Kane.

Best: Believe In Two-Thirds Of The Shield

Kane then announced Rollins would be wrestling Dean Ambrose RIGHT NOW, and I’ll admit, I got a jolt of excitement out of that, so of course, it didn’t actually happen. Luke Harper ran out, J&J Security got involved and the match was immediately thrown out. It looked like an Ambrose beatdown was imminent, but then Roman Reigns ran out for the save. Y’know, It doesn’t matter how badly they fumble Roman, I’ll always be right back in my happy place whenever he remembers it doesn’t have to be One vs. All and does something nice for one of his former Shield brethren.

Best: The New Sensation

Dolph Ziggler and Neville teamed up to wrestle Sheamus and Bad News Barrett, and it was okay. Not as good as it sounds on paper, a bit formulaic, really, but it did contain a couple important Neville milestones.

First, Neville was actually allowed to say words during a pre-match inset promo. Secondly, he actually got to win a match because I suppose even WWE realizes you can’t call a guy who loses every week a sensation for long. One question, though: Did they take the lifts out of Neville and Dolph’s boots? To really play up the big guys/little guys dynamic? Because both Neville and Dolph looked like tiny baby men here.

Worst: A Bray Wyatt With No Point

Hmmm, Bray mentioned a butterfly here. Soooo, he’s going after the Divas title? I’ll admit, that may be one of the few things that could actually get me into a new Bray Wyatt feud.

Best: Toning It Down A Notch

Naomi took on Natalya, and thank all that is holy, they’ve finally fixed Naomi’s move-set. Well, mostly. WWE has this annoying habit of singling out athletic girls like Naomi and Alexa Bliss, giving them these flippy, gymnastic moves that are supposed to showcase their abilities, but actually do anything but. Just because a girl has some legit sports background doesn’t mean you have to give her a dozen moves that would trip Kalisto up.

Thankfully, it seems like they’re just going to let heel Naomi do regular ol’ pro wrestling moves. Kicks, punches, leg drops, and guess what? It turns out Naomi actually was good all along! She knows what to do, she knows where to be, she’s got that physical credibility, she was always just too busy preparing to grind her butthole on somebody’s head. Speaking of which, she is still doing the stupid Rear View, but I dunno, it almost works as a heel move and I have no objections to the booty shake she’s added to it. This is what you need to be keeping on a roll, Naomi.

Best: Harts And Farts

This Prime Time Players segment was bit of a tightrope. A lot of it fell flat (Cesaro hasn’t been the beret wearing, purse-carrying Eurotrash dude for years) but Darren Young wrote a poem that rhymed “trained by the Harts” with “church farts.” I’m not made of stone.

Best: I Missed You, Evil Russian Lady

WWE programming has been missing something lately, I now I realize what it’s been. WELCOME BACK, LANA. We have seen her briefly since Mania, but we haven’t got a honest-to-badness Lana promo in a while, and she didn’t waste the opportunity.

See, it turns out that a Russian chain isn’t just a chain that happens to belong to a Russian (or Bulgarian pretending to be Russian). No, it’s an actual thing that’s been used to protect Russia’s treasure and lock up their most dangerous criminals. Holy cow-ski. That is so stupid, and I totally love it. THE RUSSIAN CHAIN WILL DESTROY YOU, AMERICA! IT WAS USED TO DRAG RASPUTIN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER AND CHAIN UP THE SHED WHERE THE RUSSIAN NUCLEAR STOCKPILE IS KEPT.

Rusev also got on the mic, and it was amusing as it always was. In the middle of a Russian rant, he just blurted out AWESOME RUSSIAN HERO, and he re-affirmed that we’re all living in RUSEV WORD. I realize I’ve used a lot of caps to describe this segment, but it deserved it.

Best: Rusev vs. Ryback
This match was surprisingly good. Like, one of the better matches I can recall seeing Ryback in. People have been telling me he’s improved for a while, and I haven’t really seen it, but I’ll admit, Ryback looked downright competent here. He was moving quickly and relatively fluidly, and hitting a nice variety of power stuff. A delayed vertical suplex, a nice belly-to-belly overhead, I’ve always thought Ryback would benefit from a little more Kurt Angle influence and a little less Goldberg.

The match ended in DQ, but I wasn’t terribly upset because it meant Rusev was going break out THE RUSSIAN CHAIN. Unfortunately, the beatdown wasn’t all it could be…

Worst: The Chainstache

I realize WWE’s kind of between a rock and a hard place with the chain-assisted Accolade. They can’t have Rusev choke a guy with a chain on the PG show, and putting the chain in somebody’s mouth would take things in a weird S&M-ish direction, so their solution is for him to carefully place the chain over his opponent’s upper lip like a steel mustache. I don’t even really know why it annoys me, but it does. I mean, of all the things you could do to a person with a chain, this is what you keep coming back to?

Best: Kinfolk

This segment was completely stupid, but it was stupid in a charming sort of way only pro wrestling can be. Seth Rollins and J&J Security are searching the depths of the arena (does every arena have a “shadowy bowels” section?) because, as it turns out, Jamie Noble and Luke Harper are cousins. Cuz all southern people are related I guess (even if one of them isn’t actually southern).

They find Harper staring off into space, and Joey Mercury, communicating entirely via the French Art of Mime now, tried to explain the plan for tonight. This caused Harper to flip out because he was busy thinking of the ways he’s going to hurt Ambrose and Rollins. Spoilers, Harper didn’t get past “hit them with wrestling moves” in his planning.

Best: Yo, Let’s Clap It Out

Evil New Day are the new Miz and Mizdow from 2014, in that they somehow manage to make the act better each and every time out. The fact that they don’t give away that they’re upset anymore, and just smile through it all? Big E bemoaning the lack of clapping plaguing the WWE? Kofi Kingston upgrading his pigtails from last week to twin man buns? Yes, yes and yes.

The match between Kofi and Cesaro was brief, and ended in a distraction finish, but it served to prove a point. The New Day have three men, while The Swinging Cats only have two, so they have the clap-vantage going into Extreme Rules. Hopefully this is the rare tag team title match not relegated to the pre-show, because I may be more into this match than anything else on the Extreme Rules card.

Best: Oh Right, That’s Why We Loved These Guys

All three former Shield members have kind of fallen into formulaic patterns since breaking up, which is unfortunate since their unpredictability is what made them so satisfying to watch in the first place. Well, all three former Shield members (and Luke Harper) were involved in tonight’s main event tag, and being back together seemed to get their mojo working again.

Shockingly, the entire match wasn’t dedicated to making Roman Reigns look strong. There were frequent tags, and both Reigns and Ambrose were pulling out stuff they don’t normally do. Reigns was hitting crazy pump-handle suplexes, and Ambrose only went for the rebound clothesline once (and, admittedly, it was a pretty good one). Tons of credit also has to go to Harper, who was killing it tonight. It’ll never happen since the dude looks like a Gorg from Fraggle Rock, but Harper is World Champion-level talented.

Of course, Roman Reigns won with the Spear, and then this happened…

Best: You Can’t Shield Your Heart

Awww, Shield huggles. Shluggles. Cock both fists, circle them around Dean Ambrose and make it rain affection in this bitch, Roman. Ba dump, ba dump, ba dump, ba-da-dum.