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Best: European Style Arsekicking
Now this is how you make the Intercontinental title mean something again. Bryan came out and basically just ran down the list of credible, badass guys who have been inflicting bloody violence on him since he won the belt. Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Bad News Barrett. Damn, that’s actually a pretty great core of guys for a new division. Badass wrestlers bloodying themselves is what makes titles, not R-Truth slapstick.
Sheamus and BNB then come out, and they’re now arsekicking buddies, which is perfect. Well, it doesn’t make a lot of historical or geopolitical sense, but these two guys are made for each other. Also I’ve officially come around on Sheamus’ new look. He looks like a Mad Max barbarian who ain’t give a f*ck. Before he looked like a walking unfortunate high school phase.
Ziggler then came out, and had to deliver some rough lines about Sheamus looking like the child of Jack Sparrow and Carrot Top, but he made them work okay by just delivering them in a LOUD ANGRY MANNER. Things took a bit of a dip when Big Show came out, but then Roman Reigns’ music hit, and I was actually surprisingly happy to see the guy?
It was hard to get behind Roman as the aloof chosen one, but I like this Roman who comes down to help friends in need, even if they aren’t main-event important. A couple months slugging it out in the suddenly fantastic Intercontinental division might do Roman a world of good.
Best: We’re Here For You
The “Even newer! Now with more sarcasm!” New Day is already killing it. Everything about their pre-match routine was great. Dallas don’t show us any malice? The intentionally doofy dance Kofi did when they came out? Big E briefly dropping his preacher voice when he said he’s here for us? There was a lot of interesting stuff going on here.
Best: The New Day (Doesn’t) Suck
It’s clear New Day are enjoying their new characters as much as I am because they were motivated here. They seemed vital for the first time in, well, ever. Kofi was doing a lot of subtle (and some not-so-subtle) heel stuff, and you know what? Xavier Woods is underrated. I said it. Some of his responses to the New Day Sucks chants were great. Of course Tyson and Cesaro were no slouches either. Cesaro was basically a highlight machine, gut-wrenching Big E all the way up from the mat, and later going for the swing on the huge dude.
The finish of the match was pretty much perfect. Kofi was setting up for Trouble in Paradise, the one thing about his act that’s always been reliably over, and the crowd still chanted he sucked. Kofi was so hurt by this, he couldn’t even do the move and quickly got destroyed by Cesaro and Kidd. Because this is WWE, this probably isn’t headed anywhere good, but for now New Day is suddenly one of my favorite acts in the company.
Best: The Road To Axtreme Rules
I’m eager to see Neville start working more substantial main roster matches (his battle with Rollins on Monday was a good start), but I’m okay with him doing a few more of these “Look at ‘im move!” showcases. Neville of course looked great as usual, and Axel was also pretty damn good as the guy who didn’t understand how everything this little guy did could be so fast and painful.
Worst: Back It Up
Yeah, back it up right into the dumpster.
I officially never want to see #GiveDivasAChance referenced on WWE TV again. The references are never positive. The only girls who get to bring it up are Nikki Bella and the absolute dregs of the division like Cameron, and it’s always in a dismissive or ironic way. The underlying message is almost always “You want us to give this crap a chance?”
Anyways, yeeeah, this was bad. Why is Natalya being roped into this? She should be the confident elder stateswoman of the division, but here she is trying to manipulate Naomi out of her title shot. Also, Nattie is apparently still resentful of that brash newcomer Alicia Fox, despite Alicia being with the company for nine freakin’ years. She’s been with WWE longer than you, Nattie.
Natalya and Alicia then get into it, and suddenly, Cameron, the most selfish, shit-stirrer in the division, is in between them trying to break up the fight. What in the f*ck does Cameron care if Alicia Fox and Natalya fight? This whole segment reeked of something being stealth filmed for the next season of Total Divas.
Worst: Back It Up Cont.
Ah, now I see why Cameron suddenly cared deeply about locker room etiquette; they needed an excuse to make her the guest referee in this random Natalya/Alicia Fox match. Yup, that makes total sense.
First off, a Best for Nattie’s new gear and the fact she actually wrestled in her disco ball bra. A big ol’ Worst to everything else. This match revolved entirely around Cameron because, again, this must have been some sort of Total Divas thing. Had to have been.
Cameron’s reffing class was a short one. They taught her how to do two things – shout “break it up” and count a pin. So, the early part of the match consisted of hardened vets Natalya and Alicia Fox doing sad catfighting, so Cameron could yell, “Break it up LAYDEEES!” repeatedly. Then they started going for pins every five seconds so Cameron could practice her counting. Her shrill, annoying counting. Eventually, somebody won, and Cameron outsmarted everybody and laid both Nattie and Alicia out. Cameron should not be laying anybody out, ever. Cameron can’t even lay out a decent outfit. But this should make for a great episode of Total Divas about Cameron’s sudden dominance in the ring making it hard to plan her wedding or whatever.
Worst: He’s Trying To Say He’s Sorry, Rowan
Okay, first off, you’re not the new face of fear, Bray. You lost at WrestleMania. I’d say you’re the new face of mild uneasiness at best.
Anyways, rather than just throw Bray and Erick Rowan into a random match together, they actually had Bray acknowledge their history. He brought up how he helped Rowan when nobody else would, and how Rowan has become lost again since. He makes a good point. Honestly, it kind of felt like Bray was, in a roundabout, unemotional manly way, trying to say he was sorry. Rowan should have run out, hugged Bray and begged him to take him back. But he just came out and had a wrestling match with him. Missed opportunities.
Best: Wyatt vs. Rowan
This match wasn’t a classic or anything, but at least it wasn’t another R-Truth match. There was some emotion here. Something more going on than an exchange of wrestling holds.
The match got some decent time and Rowan, who was moving pretty well, got to look competitive. He even got to, briefly, reverse Sister Abigail. Bray, for his part, pulled out a few decent spots, including a big fat guy running dropkick and a senton on the floor. After the match, Bray tenderly cradled Rowan’s head, and honestly I hope they put these guys back together. Both of them need something. Make Bull Dempsey grow a big beard, make him Bray’s inbred cousin and put together a new Wyatt Family.
Best: You Don’t Want Him Without Me
Somehow, even as his thing with Sandow crumbles, The Miz just keeps getting better. The dude was next-level fantastic here, almost saving the entire Mizdow storyline single-handedly.
Miz came down to hype his new terrible movie as only he can (“let’s watch the trailer again, together”). Summer Rae then came out, and in a pleasant surprise, was actually treated like somewhat of star. She got to say words and even throw a little shade at The Miz. She was a bit wooden, but it’s not like she’s a professional actress or… oh. The Miz was a colossally condescending, sexist prick to Summer, refusing to give her co-star status, but “colossally condescending prick” is Miz’s character, so I have zero complaints.
The subject of Damien Mizdow came up, and Miz laid into the dude, correctly pointing out that nobody really cares about Mizdow outside of the context of him being the guy who annoys The Miz. Some Miz’s stuff may have cut a little close to the bone, but I can’t argue with any of it. Miz’s ranting eventually brought out Sandow himself, who at least wasn’t wearing hand-me-down Miz trunks for this confrontation with The Miz. Still using his music though, which desperately has to change.
Miz presented Sandow with a choice, put your career in the hands of the WWE audience or hand it over to me, which is completely evil. Both options are terrible. Everything Miz is saying is true, he was the only one to give Sandow a chance, the audience probably will forget him, but he’s also omitting a lot of information. Eventually Sandow attacks Miz, but he isn’t just being a typical violent WWE “good guy.” Miz was being manipulative as f*ck, and this is still pro wrestling. A fist to the face is a legitimate rebuttal at a certain point. After Raw I was at my lowest point with this Miz/Mizdow storyline, but I have hope again. I’m also kind of into the idea of Summer Rae and Sandow becoming intellectual BFFs.
Best: Everybody Loves Roman
As you would expect, this was a good WWE main-event six-man. Not a blow-away match or anything. Sheamus didn’t split open any scalps on this night. But still, solid stuff.
This big story was that the audience was totally into Roman Reigns. Granted, this is SmackDown so there was probably some crowd sweetening, but I think most of those “We want Roman” chants were the real deal. They didn’t get Roman until the end of the match though. Things kicked off with Sheamus being a fantastic bully to Dolph Ziggler. Him slapping Ziggler around then being completely offended when Ziggler slapped him back was great. Eventually Bryan got the tag and barreled around without doing anything too dangerous (thankfully).
Then Roman got the tag and, I dunno, everything just felt right. Sure, it was just the standard Superman punches and spears, but I was totally into it. Maybe Roman turned a corner at WrestleMania. Or maybe he’s just at his best while bro-in’ out with some sweet six-man tag team action. Either way, let’s try to replicate this Roman Reigns.