Sure, it’s all romance and hand kissing until Rusev shows you his back yard.
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Worst: Uncle Jamie’s Porn Watch
Hey, I hope you enjoyed the wacky Price Is Right opening to Raw, because here’s Seth Rollins to recap how he gave J&J security Apple Watches while J&J Security continue to fawn over said Apple Watches. It’s bad enough that SmackDown opens with a lengthy recap of Raw’s storylines most weeks, now we’re recapping Raw’s awkward product placement.
Granted, Rollins was in a goofy enough mood that he almost saved things. One day, the children of the future will want Grandpa Joey to tell them about the time Seth Rollins beat up Roman Reigns. They’ll also want Uncle Jamie to recount the time Seth Rollins burnt Suplex City to the ground. Not sure why Joey got to be a grandpa, while Jamie was just an uncle. I guess Rollins isn’t optimistic about Jamie Noble’s chances of reproducing. Walking around looking at porn on your Apple Watch probably won’t help, Jamie.
After 10 minutes of shilling the Apple Watch like a somewhat less smug Justin Long, Rollins finally got down to business, announcing Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt and himself vs. Roman Reigns, which he was fine with because Roman totally wasn’t going to show up tonight. Nope, absolutely not. Finally, Ambrose showed up and chased everybody around with a pointed stick for a minute. Hey, have you heard about the new Apple Watch? Jamie Noble tells me you can look at butts on it.
Best: THIS IS OH-KAY *CLAP-CLAP, CLAP-CLAP-SHRUG*
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt was a perfectly fine pro wrestling match. Ambrose was mostly sticking to his formula, going for as many rebound clotheslines as possible, but the intensity level just naturally goes up a level when Bray Wyatt is in there. Still, I was kind of on the fence about this match. It was Bray pulling out a surprise clean win that pushed it into Best territory. Not that I was necessarily rooting for Bray, but these days any semi-high profile TV match having a clean finish is pretty novel.
That said, yeesh, poor Dean Ambrose. I’ve seen Bray Wyatt have less decisive matches against R-Truth.
Worst: I’m Independencing Myself From This Segment
Speaking of R-Truth, he’s in this next segment! So, do I have to watch it? Come on. Really?
Okay, fine. Adam Rose’s new gimmick is that he comes out before his matches and says the audience is “jelly” of him, because jelly is kind of a funny word I guess. R-Truth is out next because he’s dedicated himself to annoying anybody with a British accent.
The match was an R-Truth match, although I’ll admit I actually liked the finish. Rose goes for two punches, both of which Truth blocks, which leaves Rose open for Truth’s downward spiral finisher. Wrestling needs more of that kind of basic physical logic. Literally everything Randy Orton does should be designed to make his opponent bend over and stick his neck out a bit. Anyways, this segment still sucked butts.
Best: Get Mark Henry’s Name Out Of Your Mouth
You don’t know where the name’s been! Mark Henry was a face just three days ago on Raw, but I won’t complain about Mark Henry showing up to bellow threats and promise Hall of Pain inductions. Ryback’s gonna get his hairline pushed back! I dunno Mark, I think Mother Nature might have beat you to that one.
Best: That’s A Regular Body Slam!
Ryback vs. Mark Henry turned out to be a bit of a pleasant surprise. Things started out as plodding and awkward as you’d expect, but shock of shocks, the commentators actually brought up Ryback and Henry’s match from WrestleMania 29, and it soon became clear this was basically a sequel to that match. It was teased multiple times that Ryback wouldn’t be able to lift Henry, or that Henry might just fall and squash him again, but the Ryback of today is just a little bit stronger and smarter than he was in 2013, so he managed to not get crushed, hit a spinebuster and Shellshock and get the win. A nice little redemption story that made Ryback look like a decent, competent wrestler.
Also, Mark Henry decided to shout “That’s a regular body slam!” at one point after doing a body slam that was, in fact, pretty damn regular. I have no idea why. His trash-talking circuit shorted out? Hopefully somebody checks the big guy’s wiring.
Best: Grandpa Joey’s Email Watch
And now, more guys just a little too old for Apple Watches trying to make Apple Watches sound cool! Joey proudly announces that he just got an EMAIL on his Apple Watch. Do Apple Watches even do email? Then Jamie gets a text on his Apple Watch, and everybody is ASTOUNDED. Finally, Joey, not being able to think of a thing computers do other than email, just sort of gestures in the general direction of his Apple Watch, and everybody’s all, “That’s crazy! Apple Watch! So awesome!” I wish this could go on forever.
Best: A Bella Wrestling Somebody Other Than Paige!
Praise the sexy, smart and powerful gods, Brie Bella wrestled somebody on SmackDown and it wasn’t Paige. Granted, Brie Bella vs. Naomi has also been done, but it’s still a breath of funky fresh air compared to another Bellas/Paige match.
The match itself wasn’t bad at all, but I was mostly distracted by how intensely awkward Jimmy Uso was having to announce one of his wife’s matches. Jimmy’s commentary was a bit better than it was last week (he occasionally used a real name instead of just calling everybody “Uce”), but man could you feel him squirming in his seat during this match. Tom Phillips asks some innocuous question about the state of the Divas division, and Jimmy is all, “I don’t keep up with my wife’s business! Why are you asking me about a bunch of GIRLS anyways? I WILL FIGHT YOU RIGHT NOW, UCE.”
Anyways, the match. It featured Naomi basically stealing Gail Kim’s finisher (replace the Rear View with this immediately) and Brie Bella hitting a pretty wicked clothesline on the outside. I also like the finish. Alicia Fox tripped Naomi up, but it wasn’t this big, dramatic distraction. Naomi was just hobbled for half a second, which allowed Brie to take advantage. If more distraction finishes were like this, I might not be so infuriated by them.
Best: The Ultimate Mercy
Hold onto your junk, everybody. I’m about to say something positive about a Bray Wyatt promo. I’m approaching this very cautiously, but I’m feeling twinges of optimism about this Bray/Roman “Anyone But You” thing.
The problem with Bray has always been that despite all the apocalyptic, meaningful-sounding promos, he’s never had any sort of overarching philosophy or goal other than “beat the guy I’m feuding with this month.” In this promo, though, Bray dropped most of the silliness and simply framed himself as a guy who’s been given nothing in life and will do anything he can to drag down golden boy Roman Reigns. If they’re not going to put the title on Roman soon, and it doesn’t seem like they are, there needs to be some sort of persistent thorn in his side keeping it from him. Roman can’t just keep dropping the ball. Bray playing Bobby Heenan to Roman’s Hulk Hogan is the perfect role for Bray, and it has the potential to sustain both guys for a long time. Possibly years. Maybe Bray will be back holding up YouTube screencaps of Roman’s daughter on Raw and I’ll hate this again, but, for now, they might just be onto something.
Best: Attackin’ That Sternum, Dogg.
This has been a show of matches defying my low expectations. Titus and Darren seem like lovely human beings, but I’ve never much cared for them in the ring, and The Ascension is The Ascension, but this match was perfectly enjoyable stuff. Well, okay, it was enjoyable when Konnor was in there. This match made it pretty blatantly clear that Konnor is much better than Viktor. Konnor is nothing flashy, but he’s got decent fundamentals, while Viktor spent most of his time in the match fumbling around in the wrong position, and throwing strikes that looked like they wouldn’t knock over a card tower.
Also, as Brandon mentioned in the Raw report, the new “leave Titus on the apron until the end of the match, then have him kill everybody” formula is working like gangbusters. I didn’t think it would ever happen, but Titus may finally be figuring this sh*t out. Dude might get those millions of dollars yet.
Best: A Better Lana
Show of hands, who predicted the eventual Lana/Rusev breakup and feud would feature Rusev completely blowing Lana away on the mic? I sure didn’t see this one coming.
So, Rusev and Summer Rae came out for a segment that was as awesome as Dolph and Lana’s thing from Raw was awkward and nauseating. Summer Rae was dressed as a knock-off Lana, although not so much so that it came off as a joke. She wasn’t wearing the business suit, but she was in a white miniskirt, heels and had a little baby Lana-esque knot in her hair. Hopefully that knot grows bigger each week.
Rusev pulling a Vertigo and trying to transform Summer Rae into a new Lana is the perfect direction for this to go. It takes something everybody was stuck with when the WWE brain trust decided to stick Rusev with the next available blonde, and creates something with real psychological depth. Rusev’s “I have a better Lana now!” line was so good. Again, what kind of world are we living in where Rusev has produced a solid percentage of WWE’s best lines since WrestleMania? Even Summer Rae did well. Her reaction to Rusev slipping in a line about her knowing her place was downright subtle by wrestling standards. The Dolph and Lana side of this feud is still a disaster, but Rusev and Summer have it locked down.
Then, it was time for Rusev to shout loud funny threats, and he did not disappoint. Is “I’m going to tear your intestines out and hang them to dry in my back yard” the best threat of all-time? It’s definitely on the short list.
Best: That’s Counting It Up
As mentioned, the show-long question was, “Will Roman Reigns show up after his beating on Raw?” Considering “guy who no-sells beatings and keeps comin’ atcha” is pretty much his entire character, I wasn’t exactly wracked with suspense.
Seth Rollins and J&J Security were pretty certain Roman wouldn’t be showing, though, because they’re not very smart people. Rollins came out to get himself a sweet forfeit victory, and had J&J do an Apple Watch-assisted countdown, which they promptly screwed up. Joey just sort of stared at his watch, while Jamie slowly counted up instead of down. Again, not terribly smart people.
THEN ROMAN REIGNS SHOWED UP! Wait, if Roman was fine all along, where the hell was he until the final 10 minutes of this show? Oh, never mind.
Worst: Spirited Filler
The main-event barely qualified as a match. The post-match brawl was the real main-event, but you can’t have a post-match brawl without having a “match” first, I guess, so Rollins and Reigns just kind of ran around hitting random moves for five minutes. It was high energy stuff, but it never really coalesced into anything. Eventually J&J hit the ring for the DQ so we could get to the real action…
Best: A Dish Best Served Cold, Right There
The Authority mobbed Reigns, and it looked like we were going to have another long, depressing beatdown on our hands, but, unlike on Raw, Ambrose actually made himself useful, running down with his stick to clear the ring. He even hit poor Jamie Noble with a cane shot because this is a cold, painful business. The Authority beat a hasty retreat, but Reigns and Ambrose managed to nab Joey Mercury, who they dragged back into the ring and proceeded to murder. Ambrose’s cane shot right across Mercury’s kidneys did not look pleasant.
I suppose I ought to complain about our heroes bullying a guy half their size two-on-one, but to hell with it, I enjoyed it. So much of WWE programming revolves around The Authority making everybody look like useless jerkwads, that it was fun to see the good guys assert themselves and get one over on the bad guys for once. I’m sure this will lead to a segment on Raw where Reigns and Ambrose are forced to apologize for breaking Joey Mercury’s Apple Watch, but, for tonight, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose got to look like tough, dangerous dudes. I would enjoy these shows more if there were more tough, dangerous dudes on them.