The Best And Worst Of SmackDown 5/21/15: Nifty Exit Strategies

She may not be a great wrestler, but Tamina is a hell of a smirker.

Pre-show Notes:

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Worst: Roman Reignses Just Wanna Have Fun

Sometimes, it feels like memorably awful Roman Reigns promos are the only thing of note that happens on SmackDown, and boy howdy did he drop a notable one this week. Honestly, I’m starting to feel sorry for Roman. Dude’s gone from “I can, I will” to “I almost did, and will next time” to “Well, I lost, but gosh-darnit I had fun”.

Seriously, that was his response to coming up short yet again at Payback. He failed, but he enjoyed punching Seth Rollins, so he’s still a winner! A winner who, thus far, has nothing to do at Elimination Chamber, so he’s already looking ahead to the next pay-per-view and entering himself in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Of course you’ll be in it. The Miz and R-Truth will probably be in it. Come on, dude.

Ambrose then came out and boasted a bit about the fact that he’s the guy with the title shot at the least important PPV of the year. Roman congratulated Ambrose on his “nifty” outsmarting of the Authority, wished him luck, then went off on a weird tangent about him needing an exit strategy. What’s that even mean? An exit strategy from what? Dean is doing just fine, Roman. You, on the other hand, probably should have had an WrestleMania exit strategy other than “beat Brock Lesnar.”

Finally, Kane came out because Kane always comes out and started listing off Roman’s many failures, so add “emasculated by friggin’ Kane” to his recent lowlights. Ambrose started in on the usual “You used to be a Brother of Destruction, but now you’re a corporate lapdog” spiel, and Kane got all enraged because he mentioned his family. Dude, you don’t get to play the “My family’s off-limits!” card when your family is the friggin’ Undertaker and Paul Bearer, both of whom you’ve tried to murder multiple times. For most of your career your only defining character trait was “I’m related to Undertaker,” so get the f*ck over yourself. Anyways, Kane books another Ambrose/Bray Wyatt match, because come on, we don’t need anything new on this televised house show.

Worst: Indiscriminate Dancing

Okay, this was kind of weird. As part of his new “legitimately cool dad” gimmick, they had Titus and Darren Young dance with a little kid who looks just like one of Titus’ actual sons. Jerry Lawler briefly mentioned it wasn’t his son, but the resemblance makes me think they might have been planning to give Titus an on-screen stunt son, but he realized at the last moment that would be completely insane and pulled the plug.

After that strangeness, the Prime Time Players made their way to the commentary booth, and this happened…

Come on, guys. Stop trying to confuse Grandpa Lawler. Are Titus O’Neil’s Dad of the Year powers canceled now that he’s come into direct contact with the Sh*ttiest Dad of the Year?

Best: Slinging ‘Em Like Hotcakes

Meanwhile some dorks (and Cesaro and Tyson Kidd) were standing around in the ring preparing to have a four-corners tag team match. Considering two 1/2 of the four corners (Los Matadores, The Ascension and Sin Cara) kind of suck, the match didn’t really add up to much or fill me with great anticipation for the Elimination Chamber tag match, but it certainly wasn’t bad. Tyson and Sin Cara did some okay chain wrestling, and Cesaro did his best to drag The Ascension through the basics of a decent tag match (Viktor not being able to keep up during Cesaro’s multiple corner whips/uppercuts spot was pretty sad).

The real highlight of this segment was the Prime Time Players vs. New Day battle being waged on commentary. Xavier offering Byron Saxton a pair of clap-enhancing gloves, Titus with a Pancake Patterson callback, Xavier with the Street Fighter reference… these guys were throwing bombs. Titus ultimately won when he got all concerned about Torito, because he’s small and thus might be a child in need of protection from Titus O’Neil, Greatest Dad in all the World. WWE needs to get somebody working on a Funny Guest Commentary title.

Worst: Dolph Likes Smooching Ladies!

On Raw, a pretty lady gave Dolph a chaste, closed-mouth smooch, which he knows all about because he’s been around the block and smooched a lotta ladies. Sexy, sexy ladies. And yeah, he realizes Lana was just trying to make her psychotic Russian tank ex jealous, but that’s okay because maybe if he sticks it out, he’ll get another smooch! What? No, he’s doesn’t regret breaking up with Amy Schumer right before she blew up. We’re not talking about that, we’re talking’ about smoochin’! Mmmm, you can smell the desperation right through the Axe body spray.

Worst: Smooch Me Eyes

I think they may have broke Dolph again because, after a run where he was really improving earlier this year, his matches have become pretty forgettable again. Barrett was just going through his regular paces, and Dolph’s offense was the kind of wimpy, jumpy stuff I was hoping he’d left behind. And, of course, Barrett lost. How long do you suppose before R-Truth steals his crown and scepter?

After the match, Lana showed up on the stage, her face frozen in a forced smile rictus and Dolph raised his eyebrows to the crowd as if to say “Yeah guys, I totally grandma kissed that.” Can WWE get the remake rights to Pretty Woman? Because we’ve got some lightning in a bottle that needs capturing here.

Best: Cleaning House

Wow, this was quite the little tête–à–tête. It’s a rare segment that contains both somebody’s worst-ever promo and somebody else’s best.

I don’t know what Paige learned while filming her Christmas movie, but she needs to unlearn it, because she was absolutely insufferable here. Sing-songy delivery, non-stop sarcasm, burying Naomi for “not being relevant” (Then why are you even bothering with her her?), taking shots at Tamina for supposedly looking like a man, imitating her opponent in a baby voice. This was a non-stop parade of appalling WWE babyface behavior. It’s particularly frustrating, because I’m pretty sure Paige knows this kind of stuff is shit, but she does it anyway because she thinks it’s what WWE wants. At least John Cena genuinely believes in his poopy jokes.

Naomi on the other hand came out in ludicrous(ly hot) jeans that were so high-waisted they could have doubled as a bra, and spit hot f*cking fire. She rightfully demolished Paige’s entitled, “this is my ring” bullshit and god-damn, “This is your house? Well, I’m about to clean house!” was the best one-liner I’ve heard in WWE so far this year.

Things broke down, and Naomi and Tamina started double-teaming Paige, but then Nikki hit the ring and ran them off, falling on her face in the process. Thankfully, Nikki recovered her cool nicely by forearming everybody (including Paige) to death. I was split on whether I should give this segment a Best or Worst, but Nikki killing girls is usually a pretty good tie-breaker.

Worst: Get This Promo Out Of My Way

Hey, Bra. You actually have to be heading somewhere for somebody to be in your way. I’m pretty sure it isn’t Ryback and Dean Ambrose’s fault you’ve been running in place for a year.

Worst: The Glove Comes Off

So, R-Truth is in the IC title match at Elimination Chamber because, sure, why not? I mean, who else could they have put in the match? Is there another talented, underappreciated guy they could have put in the spot? Somebody tough, but with some high-flying ability, who could have taken advantage of the cage? Hmmm, probably not. Anyway, R-Truth wrestled Stardust, who took off his glove to unleash the power of his BARE FIST, but then got distracted by his own glove and lost.

Best: High Protein Vegan Recipes

Welp, Renee Young officially announced she’s thinking of going vegan on SmackDown. Nobody tell Brandon. We don’t want the guy ascending to heaven on a cloud of pure joy just yet.

Now, personally, I would have had Ryback respond to Renee’s vegan announcement by slowly lifting a giant turkey leg into frame and taking a huge greasy bite while maintaining intense eye contact, but the revelation that The Big Guy is “quite the cook” with a basket of high-protein vegan recipes at the ready is also a good direction. Ryback should open a hipster butcher shop that never has anything but a couple steaks and a box of veggie patties in the case. The Rybutcher. Hey, it’s better than whatever’s happening now.

Worst: An Endless Abyss Of Sadness

I feel terrible for saying this, I don’t like to kick a dude when he’s down, but Sandow does a terrible Macho Man impersonation. I’ve loved some of the guy’s characters and his stint as the stunt double is the stuff of legend, but the dude cannot do Randy Savage to save his life. He’s skinnier and whiter than ever, can only sort of do the voice and aside from sort of hunching over a bit, barely bothers to do the mannerisms. Curtis Axel also does a shitty Hulk Hogan, but that’s less surprising. With guys who could actually pull off these characters this might feel like a fun tribute, but instead it comes off as an intentional humiliation.

And that’s just one of the teams in this match! The dynamic duo of Adam Rose and Heath Slater were on the other side of the ring. Yeesh. The match itself was what it was, although I admit, I do like that Curtis Axel can now pin guys with a basic leg drop just because he’s wearing a Hulk Hogan Halloween costume. Dude should put on a John Cena shirt and take the WWE by storm.

Best: Overcoming Bird Adversity

I am so happy Bo Dallas managed to pull it together and shave his depression goatee. He was fantastic here, telling Renee how he’s going mend Neville like a baby bird with a broken wing. I’m not terribly looking forward to the vignettes where Bo barfs food in Neville’s mouth, but I support whatever Bo thinks Neville has to do to heal.

Best: Freddy Krueger vs. Evel Knievel

This was a pretty solid match. Maybe one of Ambrose and Wyatt’s best, although it’s hard to judge since so many of their matches have been brawling plunder-fests. Apparently, Ambrose finally got the memo that maybe, just maybe, he should put in a little effort in now that he’s getting a main-event push, so this match was definitely faster than your average Ambrose affair and didn’t over-rely on hacky spots. I think I only counted two or three rebound clotheslines (yes, that’s something to be lauded at this point) and none of that jab, chop, jab, chop, jab, chop crap.

Things got off to a solid start with some good chain wrestling, and working over of the leg by Ambrose, and the middle of the match saw some good spots, including a pretty nice tornado DDT to the floor by Ambrose. Eventually J&J Security ran out to interfere in the exact same way they did on Raw, but this time around Ambrose was too clever for them. This brought out Rollins, which in turn brought out Reigns, who Superman punched Wyatt, giving Ambrose the opportunity to hit Dirty Deeds for the win. So yeah, he’s a cheater who backdoored into his title shot, but at least Ambrose won something on the road to Elimination Chamber. I look forward to Bray Wyatt getting his win back on Raw.