Don’t worry, The Shield uses every part of a midcarder.
– Hey guys, share this report! Those share numbers on the front page validate my existence. They make the semi-delirious late night writing sessions worth it! Here’s the share buttons right here — do it!
– Follow WithLeather on Twitter and like it on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter too! If you like this review, I also write stuff every darn weekday for GammaSquad — we’re under “Geek & Sci-fi” on the navigation bar at the top of this page!
Read on for the Best and Worst of Main Event: Friday Edition, er, I mean Smackdown…
Worst: The Great Debate
I like to love everyone who participated in Smackdown’s opening segment, but my goodness was this some horseshit. Last week I praised Triple H and Paul Heyman for saying nothing new in an entertaining manner, and this was the exact opposite — imparting zero information in the most grating manner possible. Colter and Heyman just spent the entire time yelling over each other and surprisingly neither had anything clever to say. Also, Heyman repeatedly shouting about Brock breaking the streak was amusing last week, but it was kind of a one-off thing. When I said I liked it, I didn’t mean that’s all I wanted Paul Heyman to do from now on.
Oh, and I’m still confused by this Cesaro thing. He wrestles like a face — he does all his flashy moves and gives the fans the swing, but outside of matches he’s still hanging around with Heyman and is, frankly, kind of a smug prick. Also, was I supposed to cheer for Zeb Colter during this segment? He got all the WHARS YOUR BALLS and WATCH YOUR WALLET AROUND THIS GUY lines they usually give good guys. Please, just make one of the talented men involved in this feud a non-butthole. Thanks.
Best: Not Ideal, But I Can Deal
I dunno, I’ve sort of been fantasy booking a Real Americans break-up in my head for a while now. In my ideal world Cesaro is a superpowered Swiss mega face and being upstaged lights a fire under Jack Swagger transforming him into the bloodthirsty bone crusher he always should have been. In reality Cesaro has gone for this weird face turn fake out, and Swagger is his usual good, but only a quarter as good as he could be, self.
So yeah, this wasn’t the beautiful Real Americans blowoff match I envisioned, but it was still pretty damn good. I’m never going to complain about a match that contains two Cesaro M. Bison spinning uppercuts (including one from the top rope). Also, man, if Swagger continues slapping on the ankle lock in awesome, unexpected ways, maybe he’ll actually get to win with the move someday! Whoops, lapsed into fantasy booking again.
Best: Paige is Different
What’s this? A five-minute, slickly produced video package hyping up the Divas Title match at the next PPV? Michael Cole doing his weekly sit-down interview, something usually reserved for The King of Kings Triple H, with Paige? Paige’s screams being overdubbed with roar sounds like she’s friggin’ Brock Lesnar? I gave Paige a hard time for over-emphasizing her differentness a couple weeks back, but she is different, and not because she doesn’t have a tan.
Worst: And Now, a Tamina Match
So, after that awesome Paige hype package, I get to watch a Tamina match. Kiss my arse.
This wasn’t a bad match, but it was completely counterproductive. The point, I assume, was to make Tamina look like a badass by beating a veteran, but Natalya was so obviously working for two and controlling every aspect of the match that Tamina just came off looking hapless even though she won. Honestly a bad match in which Tamina kicks Nikki Bella’s face off again would have done far more for Tamina than this. Also, Jesus, Tamina’s new red pants are the Mark Henry Kool-Aid Man singlet of 2014.
Worst: Hey WWE, You Actually Have A Tag Team Division Now
Just sayin’ WWE. You have, like, multiple credible tag teams now. You could have them jockeying for position and earning title shots via #1 contenders matches. You could even have more than one team in contention for the titles at a time! It doesn’t always have to be “the only viable challengers beat the champs, then lose (or sometimes win) at the PPV” anymore! It’s not 2011!
Worst: Can We Go Back To This Being About John Cena’s Legacy?
In the past I’ve singled out John Cena’s Legacy as the most tiresome thing a feud can possibly be about, but no, I was wrong. The dirt worst, most boring, most awful thing two men could possibly fight over is John Cena’s oh-so-complicated relationship with the audience, so of course that’s what this interminable Wyatt/Cena thing is now about.
It’s so f–king dumb you guys. We’re supposed to care that John Cena, the man the fans have been booing for a decade, the man who’s given more, “Ya likes me or ya hates me” speeches than I can count is, gasp, losing the support of the audience. And this is somehow the doing of Bray Wyatt because he has a song-and-dance chant-along thing going that’s about a .1 on the Fandango scale. At least Fandango never begged as hard for the dancing as Bray begs for the singing. Sister Abigail take the wheel, because somebody needs to guide Bray the hell out of this feud.
Best: Rhodes vs. Wyatts
Don’t worry Luke and Erick, I may be disappointed in your daddy, but I still love and appreciate you guys. It’s not your fault he’s got mixed up in the wrong, jorts-wearing crowd. Anytime you and the Rhodes boys want to beat the shit out each other for my entertainment, you just go right ahead.
Best: Random Ultraviolence
I’m starting to feel as though WWE and wrestling fans have become a bit too fixated on the idea that the good guys have to always be in the clear moral right. That any time a guy the crowd cheers for cheats, double-teams or sneak attacks somebody there’s something terribly awry happening on their wrestling television program. That any “good” character who’s overtly demanding, aggressive or violent is an asshole who’s doing things wrong.
Of course good guys eliciting cheers by being socially regressive and/or unprovoked dicks is problematic. Stone Cold stunning Stacy Kiebler or Sheamus filling Alberto Del Rio’s car with diarrhea is f–ked up and shouldn’t be a part of the show. That said, the current mentality leads to characters like Daniel Bryan, a guy who’s screwed with and dumped on constantly but who just shrugs and goes with the program most of the time. Or good ol’ John Cena, a guy who’s so morally pure that he needs to be fighting against the odds 110-percent of the time.
Wrestlers aspire to be action heroes, right? Well, action heroes don’t have to be untarnished saints as long they’re basically decent and have some justification for what they’re doing. Somebody kidnaps Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daughter so he kills an entire island of dudes in increasingly horrifying ways, and we’re fine with that. Well okay, I was fine with that — perhaps Commando was an affront to your scruples, in which case maybe you oughta move along ’cause I don’t think we’re going to see eye to eye on much.
I say all this, because The Shield Commando-ed the shit out of half the locker room on Smackdown, and it was great. They curb-stomped the heck out of 3MB, ragdolled Brad Maddox into a wall in hilarious fashion then moseyed out and triple powerbombed Fandango off the stage. It was intense, it was violent and it was the first time something like this has happened in a long time. Sure, WWE still does these heavily telegraphed beatdown segments where guys get taken out on stretchers while the announcers do Owen voice, but this kind of random, explosive violence is rare. It was this kind of stuff that made the Attitude Era exciting and popular, not the middle fingers and Mae Young sex scenes.
Ever since The Shield turned face I’ve had this little guilty voice gnawing at the back of my mind being all, “ohhhh dear, maybe you shouldn’t enjoy this” whenever they triple powerbomb somebody, but nope, I’ve decided I’m not listening. The Shield are awesome shitkickers who respond to being manipulated by murdering half the roster, and that’s rad. I like Daniel Bryan a lot, but I’d like him twice as much as I already do if he forgot the YESing and earnestly petitioning the authority for opportunities and just ran out and started dragon suplexing Randy Orton through tables more often.
Best: Welp, Roman Reigns Has Teleportation Powers Now
After systematically destroying half the guys in Vickie Guerrero’s proposed 11-on-3 handicap match, The Shield was left with Titus, Damien Sandow, Ryback, Alberto and Bad News Barrett to deal with, and well, they f–king dealt with ’em. The Shield was never really at a disadvantage at any point, they just continued their show-long mauling, which was A-OK with me.
Eventually Alberto and BNB were all like, “Hey, wait, we’re at least upper mid-carders, what they hell are we doing out here?” and hit the bricks, at which point things got really ugly for the bad guys. For starters, Roman Reigns unveiled his new mutant powers, teleporting from the ring to the stage like Nightcrawler to Superman punch Alberto right in his damn face, then it was back down to the ring to hand out spears and powerbombs to his royal heart’s content.
I know a certain Samoan prince who’s going to sleep well tonight.