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On Last Week’s Exciting Episode of WWE SmackDown!
Hey, folks. I’m back from my honeymoon! I’m like, a legit adult now, and the tropical sun has given me this weird pigment stuff in my skin. It’s crazy, but I think I like it. Anyways, last week, Rollins pushed the SmackDown Special to a new level, by literally recapping the entire last year-and-a-half of storylines for no reason.
Titus and Darren Young became the #1 contenders to the tag team titles, when Titus destroyed the Ascension, because FATHERHOOD MAKES YOU STRONG.
The Bellas are selfish plastic heels again (as opposed to selfish plastic faces) and Paige tried her damnedest to squeeze into the Daisy Dukes and cut an AJ Lee promo.
Roman Reigns looked strong. I think that’s all you desperately need to know. On with this week’s show.
Best: It Still Feels Like It’s Tuesday To Me
The opening to this week’s SmackDown was as formulaic as they come. Dean Ambrose comes out and cuts a SmackDown special, recapping the events from Raw, Seth Rollins comes out and shouts loud, angry words, then Kane wanders out to make a tag match or something. I still found myself enjoying the segment though, since it seems like they may finally be loosening Ambrose’s leash and letting him cut his own promos.
When left to his own devices on, say, an unsuspecting local news morning show, Ambrose is legitimately hilarious and unpredictable, and there was some of that spirit in this opening promo. Him running down all the guys in his New Orleans Twitter pics, admitting his clearly-marked “COMP” ticket wasn’t real, his clever “It still feels like Tuesday” bit. This was a guy having fun, and that’s what makes the difference; 99 percent of pro wrestling is formula. Most of those old ’80s and ’90s promos we loved could just be boiled down to “I’m mad at you, I’m better than you and I’m going to beat you up!” The delivery and personality is what made them. Let guys like Dean Ambrose distract us from the formula, WWE.
Best: My Favorite Jobber
I love watching The Miz lose. Nobody in WWE is better at it. He may never get within a 100 miles of the WWE Championship again, but the fact that he held it once still gives him that little bit of credibility. He’s not going to beat Ryback, but he could. Miz is also great at getting in just enough offense to make it look like a fight, while still making his opponent look great. Miz desperately pulling Ryback into the announce table, the out-of-nowhere Skull-Crushing Finale, the ridiculous hubris of trying to go for his own Meathook clothesline. Losing is an art, and Miz is a master at it.
After the match, ain’t give a damn, dickhead Big Show comes out, which is one of the best brands of Big Show. He claims he’s hard to impress because he’s always been a giant and has had a license to do what he wants from day one. Are you a biologist? No? Then you’re in no position to question. Big Show was BIG DOG in that hospital nursery. Ryback responds by shouting some slogans, and you know what? On paper this is the least exciting feud in the world, but this was just dumb enough to work for me. Don’t sing it, bring it, baby.
Best: APA In Tha House
King Barrett faced off against a shockingly still employed Jack Swagger, but the real story was of course R-Truth on commentary. Dude’s back on a full-on roll, and him confusing all the white guys on the commentary team for JBL and being confused about whether being on Money in the Bank meant being in the Money in the Bank match was funny stuff. This is actually smart comedy, not just random wackiness. There’s something ticking behind those crazy eyes.
As for the match itself, Barrett actually won! Despite a lengthy and elaborate distraction by R-Truth. I felt like I wanted give Barrett a reassuring hug. Your first step in your battle against distraction losses starts here buddy. Just don’t fall off the wagon.
Best: It’s Over
This segment actually first showed up on YouTube, but I felt I had to Best it because it was so damn good. Who knew Rusev had this in him? Anybody? This is a guy who started his career communicating via magic marker on wooden boards, and now the dude’s ready for a Cameron Crowe movie. I’m guessing Lana introduced Rusev to some of her acting coaches, so take note rest of the locker room, literally anybody can do real acting if they try.
Michael Cole is talking to Lana about her relationship with Dolph, and it seems like she may be legitimately falling for him, although she acknowledges his reputation. Depression beard Rusev storms the set on crutches and is, “Dolph’s been with all these other girls, I’ve always been with you. I’ve never needed anybody else.” Damn. That might be the realest line I’ve ever seen on WWE TV. Rusev is the classic guy, grasping onto the things he did right, while trying to ignore the ways he’s ruining the relationship. Also, how refreshing is it to have a guy called on his “reputation” on WWE TV for once?
I’m not sure where this is going, as Rusev’s ankle is busted and he’s not getting back in the ring for a while, but whatever, let’s make this a journey. I’m with you depression beard Rusev.
Best: A Good Ol’ Fashioned Pro Wrestling Match
Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler was just a nice, solid, fast-paced, hotly contested pro wrestling match. There weren’t any crazy spots, and didn’t break any new ground, it was just good and entertaining throughout. Dolph saw Rollins lose to his own security guys on Raw and knew he was at his most vulnerable, and Seth had extra pressure on him to pull off a win, and it felt like both guys were fighting for every inch. Every second of this match felt like a real contest.
As the match wore on, both guys broke from their formula a little bit, with Seth Rollins pulling out an electric chair and Dolph bringing some harder hitting than usual offense. Towards the end, we got some very nice, crisp reversal segments, and then Rollins won with a roll-up, which I’m fine with. Within the right context a roll-up can be the perfect finish, and this was one of those times. A good match that made both guys look better; you can’t ask for more than that.
Best: Celine Dion vs. Marilyn Manson
I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Paige vs. a tired-looking, once again heel Alicia Fox, but this actually turned into an entertaining little scrap of a match. Both girls put each other in some nice, mildly innovative holds, adding little extra knees and strikes to up the intensity a bit. Paige even slapped Alicia into an STF at one point. Thank goodness John Cena almost certainly doesn’t watch SmackDown.
Things got even better as the match went along, with Alicia hitting a nasty kick, clothesline combo and Paige nailing a freakin’ flipping senton off the apron. You could argue the finish was a little wonky, with Paige falling on her butt during the PTO, but it actually sort of worked for me. There’s no particular reason Paige’s opponent needs to be elevated for the move to hurt. The fact that Paige just continued to hold onto the PTO after she fell showed some good instincts. There’s been a lot of good, basic, energetic pro wrestling on this show, and this match definitely continued that theme.
Best: Prime Time Players Give Renee The Clap
WWE needs to lay off the “Darren’s GAY” wink-wink, nudge-nudge jokes in these segments, but I’m not about to Worst Titus and Darren dragging Renee into a Prime Time Players-themed version of The New Day’s clapping. That’s everything I love wrapped up into one beautiful package. A hamburger, taco and ice cream sandwich, except not disgusting.
Best: Money In The Bank Six-Man
Unsurprisingly, this WWE six-man main event was a lot of fun. They didn’t get a huge amount of time, so the pace never really slowed, and everybody had their proverbial working boots on. Neville in particular was rocketing around a pace I haven’t seen from him in a while. As a major bonus, the rest of The New Day were at ringside, and they weren’t just cheering on Kofi, but everybody on their team. Xavier Woods shouting “Do better, Sheamus!” was fantastic. I can’t count the number of times I’ve yelled that at my own TV or computer.
Roman eventually got the hot tag and was clearly having the time of his life being back in his six-man element murdering Kofi Kingston. Of course, things eventually broke down into a parade of finishers, but just as Kofi was about to eat a pin, The New Day ran in for the DQ. So, that was a bit disappointing, but everything that led up to the finish was fun enough that I’m willing to let it slide, and the show definitely redeemed itself before it went off the air.
Best: Roman Not Looking Strong
Hmmm, the main-event is over, we still have a few minutes to go, and Roman Reigns is being beat down in the ring. Well, we know where this is going. Fist cocks, hooo-ahs, ect. Or failing that, everybody will team up to put Roman down, and the camera will peer into his hurt, soulful eyes in our final shot. Either way, he’s the one and only guy who matters.
Mind-blowingly, that didn’t happen. The New Day hit their double-team finisher on Roman, and that was it. He was a non-factor for the rest of the show. Instead, it looked like The New Day were going to be the focus of the go-home show, but then Dolph Ziggler reappeared with a ladder of his own. A brawl broke out on the floor, and Neville used the distraction to get in position and hit a huge splash from the top of a ladder in the ring onto everybody outside. It wasn’t quite a Red Arrow off a ladder (saving that for the PPV I suspect) but it was a pretty spectacular dive nonetheless. After wiping everybody out, Neville climbs the ladder and poses with the Money in the Bank briefcase, and I’m filled with a feeling of well-being. Minor tweaks to the formula. Sometimes changing which guys are stuck in which slots. This is all I ask.
I don’t know if I’m still high and giggly on Puerto Rican sun or what, but for the first time ever we have an all-Bests edition of SmackDown! This is an easily repeatable thing, WWE. Good matches and allowing your employees to perform to the best of their abilities. That’s all you have to do. It’s good to be back.