The Best And Worst Of Smackdown 7/4/14: Do It For Little Daniel

Wrong little person, Bo.

Pre-show Notes:

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Best: Fake Fight Club

All episodes of Smackdown must now begin with the formerly all-action Shield members yakking about, well, not much, which I haven’t been a big fan of, but this opening segment actually wasn’t bad. Rollins managed to work in the classic, “On a long enough timeline…” quote from Fight Club, which raises some interesting possibilities. Is Dean Ambrose just a projection created by a delusional Rollins? Maybe Reigns isn’t real either? The whole “Rollins is the architect of The Shield” thing would finally make sense if it were the case. Here’s hoping for a blowoff where Rollins realizes he was holding the steel chair all along.

Anywho, I like that the former Shield guys continue to be the smartest guys in WWE even after the break-up. Rollins realizes that 90% of the champions over the past decade have got the belts via either Money in the Bank or being Triple H’s friend, so he covered his bases on both counts, and Ambrose realizes that WWE doesn’t really have a mechanism for stopping or punishing guys who interfere in matches, so why not interfere in literally everything Ambrose does? This kind of awareness of WWE’s inner workings separates the champs from the Kingstons and Zigglers forever spin-kicking and gyrating in place in the midcard.

And then Roman Reigns came out and punched guys. So yeah, I’m totally okay with these Shield show-opening segments if they actually do stuff in them. Let’s try it again next week! Or, you know, kick off with a 15-minute Stardust promo. Either or.

Worst: Sheamus vs. Alberto

I think maybe this was a good match. Maybe. I can’t remember Alberto challenging for many secondary titles before (even John Cena won a few US titles before being crowned Forever Champion) so this was mildly novel in that sense (I guess).

That said, context can’t help Sheamus/Alberto matches at this point. They could be dogfighting each other in the trenches of the Death Star and I wouldn’t care.Maybe if Alberto had won this might have been more memorable, but nope, it was a 2014 Sheamus match so it ended in a desultory flash Brogue Kick. Let’s talk about something else.

Best: Children of Dust

Something else like Stardust! Apparently Stardust stole Bray Wyatt’s shadowy promo cave this week — or maybe Bray’s renting it out to other aspiring weirdos. Speaking of Bray and Stardust, last week some commenters thought they got me good when they pointed out the glaring inconsistency of me liking Stardust’s weird spacey promos, while not liking Bray’s. The two are different though…

a) I’m not supposed to take Stardust seriously.

b) This is more of a personal thing I suppose, but I like a certain level of realism in my wrestling characters. They should at least believably exist within the context of the travelling carnival that is WWE. Stardust is a flamboyant character, but he’s an entertainer. He’s riffing on David Bowie who was a real guy, who actually did this stuff like this — painting your face and blowing glitter at people isn’t really that odd when you’re part of the circus.

On the other hand, we have Bray Wyatt, a guy we’re supposed to believe is a legit swamp-dwelling cult leader. A guy who says he’s pure evil with a straight face and claims he’s here to steal souls and corrupt your child’s mind. That doesn’t make sense. If you’re suspending your disbelief, how did Bray Wyatt end up in the WWE? I don’t see Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn sitting down with chubby Charlie Manson and saying, “We’d really like you and your inbred ilk to perform for our publicly traded pro-grappling organization”. It’s the same reason I’ve never liked hell spawn Kane, or, for most of his career, zombie Undertaker. None of Bray’s feuds really work, because how is Bray Wyatt supposed to believably interact with anybody? How is child entertainer John Cena supposed to react to Bray’s Eater Of Worlds nonsense? An eye roll and a “whatever, dude” really is his only recourse.

c) Stardust looks like Starman from Pro Wrestling on the NES. Is this not still the Internet? Is that not enough?

Best: A Pretty Special Little Fella

On the Money in the Bank pre-show, Bo Dallas interrupted Daniel Bryan, Bryan called him a boner (hey, he’s a dick, but he’s a functional one I guess) and I kind of assumed that would be all she wrote. That WWE just wanted to do a wiener joke because they thought it would help cut the sadness of the Bryan situation.

But wait, on Raw Bo came out and did the minute of silence, and then on Smackdown he dropped more hilarious smarm bombs, calling Bryan a pretty special little fella. Oh man, I like where this is going — WWE is always trying to recreate the Honky Tonk Man, but few guys are willing to totally swallow their pride and do it right. Bo is going to do it right. Bryan returning to annihilate Bo (who should be around 100-and-Bo by then) will be glorious. Kind of too bad this all had to start with an awkwardly delivered boner joke, but the end goal is what matters, and it’s going to be something pretty special.

Best: This Jericho Run Is Already Better Than The Last One

I’m pretty happy to have Jericho back. Yeah, it’s not the Jericho of 2007 – 2010, but that Jericho is gone and he ain’t coming back. Jericho isn’t a living, dynamic personality any more, he’s a legend, an icon, a special attraction, and really, it’s pretty cool that a guy like Jericho gets to play that role. Jericho was my Daniel Bryan — the guy I really, desperately wanted to succeed for a long f-cking time. I’m happy for him. I’m happy that he can come back, get Hulk Hogan/Shawn Michaels-esque pops and have some fun for a few months.

His Smackdown promo wasn’t great — most of it was shallow, shouty HEEEY BABY! Y2J, but there were twinges of something better. The stuff where he thanked the Wyatts for making things a little dangerous was solid. Between the Wyatts and Miz, Jericho at least has something to do other than look sad and bored while trying to spin gold from a Fandango feud. Jericho isn’t radically different than John Cena these days, but he’s allowed to show vulnerability, so this is also a massive step up for Bray. I’ve got realistic expectations this time around — I’m in it for the Jericho/Bray matches, which will almost certainly be good to great, and any flashes of real character work is just gravy.

Also, Jericho Codebreaking the Miz then stealing his sunglasses was pretty cool. Not even Cool Dad cool — legit cool. Welcome back Y2J, and thanks in advance for keeping me sane through another John Cena world title reign.

Worst: Cesaro, Aggressive Loser

As I’ve mentioned before, maybe my least favorite overused WWE trope is the Aggressive Loser who’s so violent and out of control that he loses all his matches. It helps nobody — the guys he beats up look chumps, and the Aggressive Loser looks like an idiot who can’t figure out the rules. It’s bad enough when Titus O’Neil is doing it, but saddling Cesaro with the gimmick is a crime.

Worst: The AJ Reset

I’m an AJ fan, and I’m glad she’s back, but I’m also a Paige fan, and I can’t help but feel AJ returning and winning the title back immediately was WWE hitting the big red reset button on the Divas division, which is a shame, because the last few months really have been pretty solid. Better than the vast majority of AJ’s record-setting reign.

WWE really affirmed the “we’re back to square one” feeling on Smackdown by trotting out Eva Marie to be the first opponent of AJ’s second reign. Note that Eva Marie never wrestled Paige, the gulf in talent would have been too absurd, but they’re willing to put her out there with AJ, which says something. Not about AJ herself necessarily, but about how WWE sees her and the kind of champ they want her to be.

So yeah, this match was pretty bad. I mean, nobody died, so it could have been worse I supposed, but everything was happening at quarter-speed, and AJ and Eva Marie just generally looked like two kids pretending to wrestle on a trampoline the whole time. Well, a kid and an Eva Marie-shaped robot.

Robo Eva Marie, AJ and Bray? Sometimes the sketching muse is unpredictable.

After the match Paige smiled and applauded AJ, which may be a storyline development, or it may be a, “Heel turn? What heel turn?” situation. As long as it doesn’t turn into a “Paige? What Paige?” situation.

Best: Hooray for Long Weekends!

Maaaaan, I’ve got some things to say about face Zeb Colter. I liked him when he was a parody of blustering American right-wingers, but jeez, I have very little stomach for Zeb unironically shouting about how America INVENTED THE INTERNET and has a little thing called THE BILL OF RIGHTS. Hmmm, Canada invented the telephone and also has a Charter of Rights, so hey, I guess we’re at least equals. Thanks Zeb! France invented the combustion engine and modern democracy, so they’re probably even better than America! And Russia invented Tetris, so it’s kind of no contest.

Ahhhh haha, but come on guys and girls, put those muskets and fifes away. Put that tin drum back behind the couch. I won’t get into this on your birthday weekend. Barbecue! Fireworks! Abraham Lincoln’s beard! Happy thoughts. We’ll…we’ll talk about this later.

Worst: Don’t Be Silly, Kane Doesn’t Wear Watches

Guest commentary should not be allowed during main event matches. A guest commentator means a match is going to end in f-ckery 100% of the time, which is bad enough in some random match in the middle of the card, but when it’s the last match on the show you’re just asking me to hit the fast forward button. I managed to resist, but maybe I should have since this match was in slow motion to begin with.

Orton was clearly very aware this match was meaningless — I haven’t seen an unmotivated Randy Orton classic like this in quite some time. Eventually, as expected, the match broke down, then somehow, despite the entire show being focused squarely on Ambrose and Rollins, Roman Reigns killed everyone and Smackdown ended with his music playing.

Hey WWE, if you’re intent on making Reigns the star of every show you do, maybe you should have, I dunno, made him champion. And now you’ve got him in another championship match. Don’t Ryback Roman Reigns, WWE. Please?