“You’re stepping on my cookies, bro.”
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Worst: The New Face of Cheesy Video Effects
Man, this show is giving me some serious mixed emotions before the intro is even done. One the one hand, I’m all for Smackdown’s current terrible theme song being interrupted, but I cannot deal with Bray Wyatt promos within the first 15-seconds of a show. Particularly Bray Wyatt promos with used car dealership graphics at the bottom of the screen. Come on down to Crazy Bray’s Used Car and Swamp Buggy Emporium and make a no-interest deal with the devil!
Best: The Chickenweasel Troll and His Lolli-Pip-Peel Goon Squad
The Smackdown opening gabfest was the usual nothing happening segment. They teased dissension between Ambrose and Reigns for about five seconds, before they made up, then Kane stumbled out to make some tag matches or whatever it is Kane does. Thankfully, Ambrose kind of elevated the segment in a weird way by just really, really not giving a f*ck.
Ambrose strolled out of the gate with a shrug, calling Rollins a chickenweasel troll before briefly forgetting how to speak. The showdown between Reigns and Ambrose may as well have been about who ate the last Hot Pocket for all Dean seemed to care. Later he’d interrupt Kane as he was about to announce Ambrose vs. Sheamus for RIGHT NOW, because duh, RIGHT NOW is the only time Kane knows how to make a match. I’m not sure if Ambrose totally tuning out is Best for Business or whatever, but I can certainly relate to the guy.
Worst: Punch, Chop, Punch, Chop, Clothesline
Dean Ambrose not giving a damn during useless talky segments is funny. Him not giving a damn during matches is less charming. There just wasn’t much to this match. It started with some very slow, kind of clumsy technical wrestling, then it segued into Dean Ambrose formula. Lots of cartoony punches, chops and rebound clotheslines inside, outside, under and on top of the ring. The finish was clean at least, although a roll-up was not how this already dull match should have ended.
Best: The Anti-Big Show
Next up, another backstage segment featuring Rollins and Kane sniping at each other, which I could have done without, although I did like that Kane’s response to possibly being fired was, “Eh, whatever, I’ll be fine.”
WWE loves to depict their “superstars” as helpless babies who would immediately be reduced to dancing for pennies without the company, regardless of past success. Stephanie McMahon threatens to fire the Big Show, who’s been one or wrestling’s top stars for 20-years, and he breaks down crying like he’s a single teenage mother who lost her job at Arby’s. A decade ago I definitely wouldn’t have predicted Kane’s gimmick would become “the one sensible guy in WWE”, and yet here we are.
Best: The Woman Wants to Talk
This is more like it. I’ve complained in the past that the Lana that’s about to turn face feels completely disconnected from the Lana of the past year and a half. Suddenly she’s this meek woman who barely speaks and is all-too-willing to Fandango with anybody who pays attention to her. That’s not the Lana I know.
Thankfully, the real Lana was back tonight. Well, sort of. She apologized to Rusev and MOTHER RUSSIA for indulging in our perverse western customs and false ideologies. The statement was obviously given to her by Rusev (she was reading it out of a leather folder for cripes’ sake) but “Lana begins to object to delivering statements secretly prepared by Rusev” is a much better storyline than “Rusev is suddenly jealous about nothing in particular, and Lana doesn’t know what to do because she’s now five-years-old.”
They should play up the Russian stuff as much as possible. It felt off for Lana to be cowed by Rusev, but it makes sense that she’d be reluctant to cross the entire nation of Russia. Reveal that these statements are being written by Vladimir Putin himself, and have them get more and more ridiculous, until she finally throws down the folder in rebellion. There’s still a chance to do this right.
Worst: Flying Fat Man!
Hey, remember when Bray Wyatt made a bunch of ominous threats at the top of the show? About how he was going to come forth tonight and turn Ryback’s dreams into nightmares? Well, it turns out Bray’s terrifying plan was to run up to Ryback as he was making his ring entrance and give him a sort of half-assed shoulder tackle. That was it. He didn’t hit a follow-up move or anything. Bray just sort of bumped into Ryback, laughed about it, then left. THE NEW FACE OF MILD DICKISHNESS.
Worst: What’s Wrong With Ryback?
Even worse, Ryback was forced to sell Bray’s attack like he’d just been piledriven on the steel steps. Again, Bray gave Ryback a light shoulder tackle that caused him to fall on the floor. He didn’t even hit the crowd barrier. Ryback, buddy, is there something we should know about? A single bump shouldn’t have your reeling like the loser at the end of a Mortal Kombat match for 10-minutes.
Even if Ryback wasn’t suddenly the frailest guy in wrestling, this match wouldn’t have been great. Ryback’s offense looked clumsy as hell, and Rollins is suffering badly without a finisher. It seems like the wacky DDT has (rightfully) been mothballed, so Rollins just hit Ryback with three or four transitional moves in a row to get the win. I actually kind of like when matches occasionally end with something other than a finisher or roll-up, but still, Rollins is the WWE Champion. He should have a thing he can win matches with.
Best: Getting Things Done
“I’ve gotten this, and I’ve gotten this. What’s that Renee? Nothing, that’s what.”
Oh evil Naomi, you’re the best. Naomi continues to be the most realistically motivated character in WWE. Renee can give her the side-eye, and Jerry Lawler can complain about her “attitude” on commentary, but everything she says is completely true. Being the dancing good girl didn’t get her shit. Girls like her and Tamina aren’t given opportunities in WWE. You keep gettin’ things done, girl.
Best: Kofi, No!
Ah, The New Day. There are so many things about WWE that are an automatic Worst these days, so it’s nice to have something I can just mindlessly Best. That something used to be Miz and Damien Mizdow, but now it’s The New Day. Big E levels some serious charges to start, accusing Tyson and Cesaro of being non-recycling, double-dipping crumb bums who sneak into extra movies at the multiplex. Hey, that last one’s a Canadian summer tradition. We don’t all have air conditioning up here, okay?
The match itself was brief, but fun. I kind of love aggressive heel Kofi who still can’t help but go for his old goofy good guy spots. Of course Xavier was also a superstar shouting stuff at ringside. I hope he never stops giving the commentators instructions. They could certainly use the help, and how else would I know the Big E is great and Kofi’s the man? Kofi lost, but I can’t be sad about it, because I also really like Catsaro. Win, win! Automatic Best!
Best/Worst: Too Soon, But Also Too Good
Feeling a little down about Daniel Bryan? Well, good news, Bo Dallas is here with some handy tips to help us through the Five Stages of Grief. For instance, we should all get past the denial stage, because there’s no denying Daniel Bryan let all of us down. Also, you should be able to get some sweet deals on Daniel Bryan shirts during the bargaining stage.
This was one of Bo’s best promos in a long while, but honestly, it was probably too soon. I’m not yet in the mood to hear that Daniel Bryan is never coming back, even if it’s coming from a cartoonish heel. I think the audience was with me. They weren’t booing, they were just kind of silent. If Bo had cut this promo a month from now, it might have generated some good heel heat, but as it is, it just generated sads.
Best: The New Daniel Bryan, Neville!
Appropriately, the new little weird looking fella who blasts around like a maniac kicking the shit out of people showed up to give the dastardly Bo Dallas his comeuppance. Turn up the yellow tint on your TV and you could almost pretend you’re watching NXT! This was the kind of match Neville should be having more of – a short, convincing victory against a guy with some credibility. Bo didn’t immediately crumble, he tripped Neville up on the apron and got some tricky offense in, but Neville was clearly the better man. This is how you make a guy look like a sensation.
As a bonus, your ruler and mine, KING BARRETT was doing commentary. After the match Barrett cut a dorky promo about how he was going to exact corporal punishment on Neville as retribution for his frivolities, but I still liked it because Barrett was wearing a crown. Crowns make everything better. Like, half the guys in WWE should start wearing them.
Best: That Hot Dog Be Creepin’
And now, for no reason, Adam Rose and Rosa Mendes making out. Bleh. These two need a special content warning. Ah, I kid. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in favor of any segment that makes Rose look like a manipulative, sleazy turd, and this one certainly achieved that. Rose had to interrupt his make-out session when he noticed his hot dog was too interested (that wasn’t innuendo, believe it or not). The hot dog (who’s apparently named Carl) wanted to know when he was getting paid, confirming what we’ve all suspected all along about the Rosebuds. Of course Rose gently reminded Carl that the Exotic Express is art, warned him not to be like THE BUNNY then went back to sucking face with Rosa. Kane’s reaction says it all.
Best: Roman Reigns vs. Kane
There must be a winner? Well, we already know the winner won’t be THE AUDIENCE. Heh. Actually, this match was shockingly decent, but I didn’t want a good line to go to waste.
Yes, Kane and Roman Reigns had a pretty darn good match. Considering how often Reigns wrestles Kane, I suppose it had to happen eventually. Law of averages. Of course “There Must be a Winner” just meant this was a no-DQ match, so these guys had plenty of plunder to help them out. The point where the match went from surprisingly watchable to legitimately good was probably when Roman hit his apron dropckick thing on the announce table. That’s always been Reigns’ best move – he should have variations of it for every situation like Ambrose does with his stupid clothesline.
The final stretch of the match actually got pretty intense, with Roman unleashing a ton of hard shots and both guys taking the plunge through a table. Roman looking strong is somehow more palatable if tables are involved, y’know? Hell, maybe WWE should revive the Hardcore Title and give it to Roman. I’m pretty into his singles matches when they involve weapons and/or blood.
Best: Your Main Event Backstage Cookie Tray Fight
Hey, do you hate when they do in-ring talky segments in place of a real main event? Well, steel yourself, because Smackdown was main-evented by a backstage interview. Thankfully, Dean Ambrose managed to save both the beginning and end of this show.
Seth Rollins was blah blah blahing about the usual, when Dean Ambrose shows up with a bunch of cookies on a silver serving platter. Why? Shrug. Dean Ambrose sure doesn’t care, and neither do I. This of course leads to our MAIN EVENT COOKIE BRAWL, which Rollins and J&J Security get the better of. Thankfully Reigns hits the scene and runs everyone down with the production cart Bray Wyatt should have used on Ryback earlier.
Rollins turns tail, and Reigns and Ambrose have a surrious stare down. After a second, the camera pans down, revealing that Rollins dropped the title as he split. Ambrose and Reigns give each other knowing looks, although I’m not entirely sure if it’s the title they’re coveting. Personally, I’d go for the cookies.
The most coveted prize in this business.