Previously on the Best and Worst of Friday Night Smackdown: I took a rare week off to move across the country during a global pandemic, The Stand-style. All you missed was Shinsuke Nakamura being a loser, Wayne Bloom’s son being kicked in the face by Sheamus, and THE FORGOTTEN SONS. Someone was like, “what would improve Smackdown,” and someone else was like, “how about the Forgotten Sons?”
One more thing: Hit those share buttons! Spread the word about the column on Facebook, Twitter and whatever else you use. Be sure to leave us a comment in our comment section below as well. I know we always ask this, and that this part is copy and pasted in every week, but we appreciate it every week.
Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Friday Night Smackdown for April 17, 2020.
Don’t It Make My Braun Eyes Blue?
Bray Wyatt threatened his old henchman, Braun Strowman, directly. Braun was like, “NAW, GET THESE HANDS.” Alexa Bliss brings Braun on her talk show segment and is like, “What about Bray Wyatt? You used to be his henchman.” Braun is like, “NAW, GET THESE HANDS.” But then a mysterious gift is delivered in the middle of the conversation which turns out to be Braun’s black sheep mask from when he was Bray Wyatt’s henchman, and Braun’s suddenly like, “oh no, something I WORE, this is getting TOO REAL.” I hope Wyatt fished that out of Matt Hardy’s Lake of Reincarnation.
That’s the whole segment, but I liked it for two reasons; it advanced the plot, simple as it is, and it continued Team Little Big’s friendship from the Mixed Match Challenge. The only thing I like more than friendship in pro wrestling is CONSISTENT friendship that REMEMBERS THINGS. Babyfaces especially never get to have friends or remember things. I hope Bray manages to successfully turn Braun back to the Dark Side, and Blake and Murphy have to run out to make the save for Alexa.
Worst: The Snuka Lounge
I’m honestly kind of concerned about Tamina. Is she okay? She’s only 42 years old — the same age as John Cena, Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles, Sheamus, Bobby Roode, and others — but she moves like a late 50s/early 60s WWE Legend who’s come out of retirement for a special match. She’s like Jimmy Snuka at WrestleMania 25. WWE’s releasing dozens of people and she’s out here not only getting built up for a WrestleMania appearance, but for a post-WrestleMania at the Smackdown Women’s Championship? I mean … all right?
Tamina wins thanks to an assist from Lacey Evans, who has Sasha Banks’ name with a Ghosbusters-style No Symbol around it drawn on the back of her hand like she’s the Demon Bálor at a debutante ball. Fun fact, honey, Lacey’s from the south. In the south, writing someone’s name on the back of your hand and drawing a line through it is a term of endearment. The assist is very WWE Creative Team, by the way, as Tamina was attacking Evans like two weeks before WrestleMania but now they’re suddenly celebrating together. Tell, don’t show, it’s fine.
Banks corpsing in the ring while Bayley gets laid out by Lacey Evans’ big-ass John Cena shoulder block off the steps was pretty good, at least. Sasha Banks should be able to beat Tamina 100 out of 100 times.
Best, But Also LOL: Money In The Bank Goes Full Donkey Kong
In case you missed the announcement, this year’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view originally scheduled for the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore but canceled due to “unique circumstances,” is now happening at WWE Headquarters in Stamford, CT. If you read that and were like, “isn’t that just a normal office building,” yes, you’re correct. They’re putting a ring on the roof like in the old Raw intro and attaching the Money in the Bank briefcase to a tower, so to win you have to fight from the ground floor to the top of the building. The sound you just heard is a millions of E-Feds crying out in terror, and being suddenly silenced.
I think they might have asked an actual child to help them design this match. This is straight out of every 6-year old’s action figure wrestling promotion. What’s next, a match where the winner is the first person to get to the top of the couch? Are we going to start having “the floor is lava” matches? I just hope that when they get to the top of the building, Brock Lesnar’s up there throwing barrels at them.
If Tamina going over Sasha Banks felt like a bad decision, wait until you see Dana Brooke defeating Naomi to qualify for the women’s Money in the Bank match! I’m hoping Naomi just didn’t want to have to fly to Connecticut. At least we got some Dana Brooke promo time with her thick-ass Cleveland accent, and there’s a chance Money in the Bank will end with Dana falling off the roof of Titan Towers and dying, only to return a few segments later alongside a mummy and win.
Serious note: If they have Big Show running secret pay-per-view main events and are running a pay-per-view on the roof of a tall building and don’t do a bit where he falls off and dies, what are we even doing?
In the men’s qualifying match, Daniel Bryan defeats Cesaro. There’s been a running bit in these columns where I type out “Daniel Bryan defeated Cesaro with a roll-up, and then the next week Daniel Bryan defeated Cesaro with a roll-up, and then for three more weeks Cesaro’s team lost everything BUT WHOOPS THEY WON AT WRESTLEMANIA ON A LARK and now it’s back to losing.” I’m not sure I’ve got the strength to keep that going for the entire quarantine, but don’t be surprised if three months from now I’m still typing “Daniel Bryan pinned Cesaro with a roll-up,” followed by some ridiculous modifier like, oh, I don’t know, “to set up an Elimination Chamber match at WWF New York.”
In the interest of positivity, this was the best thing on the show by a wide margin, and while I’m sad Daniel Bryan and Cesaro have to keep doing this one match in an abandoned laser warehouse, they’re as good at it as anyone could hope to be. At least we’ll get to watch Daniel Bryan try to win a cinematic ladder match where he has to battle through Dunder Mifflin.
Worst: Hardcore Hack
The mysterious hacker who is not Mustafa Ali is back, interrupting the Money in the Bank ladder match to remind us that the truth will be heard, and is also out there. My favorite part of this is that the hacker’s footage is all HD Smackdown footage from TV. Does he “hack the planet” by setting his DVR? Is he dramatically pressing a button to make Y2Mate.com download whatever clips WWE put on YouTube?
Anyway, I love that Vince McMahon finally got to write his own self-insert dream character: “guy who ruins tag team wrestling for everybody.”
Worst/Best: Mandy, You’re A Fine Girl, What A Good Wife You Would Be; But My Life, My Love And My Lady Is DZ
♫ doo doodoo doodoo, doooo doodoo doodoo ♫
On the topics of n00b teams ruined by The 1337, here’s Sonya Deville doing the best work of her career to try to get over that one goddamn promo they give every tag team when they break up. One of them is jealous! Actually THEY are the best person from the tag team! They carried the other person! But now they only care about THEMSELVES, and they’re going to make their old partner’s life a living hell, and so on. Sonya’s KILLING it here, but even Raul Julia can only do so much with the Street Fighter script.
Dolph Ziggler shows up in a Zack Ryder shirt (aww) to do that evil romantic comedy villain thing where he tries to appeal to Mandy’s empathy and belief that deep down everyone’s a good person (or whatever) after spending weeks manipulating and trying to hurt her. Not that Mandy’s ever been that kind of character before, but in WWE, love either turns you into Miss Elizabeth or an anime super villain and nothing in-between. Sonya attacks Mandy, Dolph’s mad at Sonya for ruining his swerve, Otis shows up to make the save, Sonya attacks Otis, Mandy attacks Sonya, and then Dolph attacks Otis, so Otis beats up Dolph. I don’t have a lot of faith that they know where they’re going with the story since they fired the lady who was writing it, but hey, mixed tag team match ahoy. Do it in the Boneyard, you cowards.
Best, But Extremely WCW: Big E Is Tag Team Champion Of The Singles Triple Threat Division
At WrestleMania, John Morrison defended the Smackdown Tag Team Championship by himself in a 1-on-1-on-1 ladder match because his partner, The Miz, showed up to the WrestleMania taping sick. This week we get a “rematch” of sorts featuring the three people from the teams who didn’t compete at Mania, including The Miz, and Miz not only loses the Tag Team Championship, he’s the one who gets pinned. Lesson learned: don’t get sick during a plague and make work mad at you. America dot GIF.
On the bright side, I always like seeing Big E win and do well. I was really hoping there’d be a story for the tag team division other than, “you’re the champions, now we’re the champions, oh no now you’re the champions again,” but it’s quarantine, man. Free and healthy Smackdown pretends a promo with an interruption to set up a tag team match is Shakespeare, we’re lucky the global pandemic version isn’t just two hours of Michael Cole sobbing in a janitor’s closet while side two of ‘The Razor’s Edge’ plays softly in the background.
Also On This Episode:
Whether they go back to taped shows or stay live, they should let Sheamus tape a bunch of these jobber squashes at once and give him a few months off. Somebody’s calling him up like, “hey fella, sorry to bother you, but we’re gonna need you to drive that hour and 15 minutes from Tampa to Orlando every Friday because if you don’t spend 55 seconds hitting Denzel DeJournette with forearms, it throws off our entire narrative.”
Finally, King Corbin attacks Elias backstage to keep that feud going, because God is dead, or he’s alive and hates us.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
It’s always bothered me how, Michael Cole – a non-wrestling character – talks so much shit to the wrestlers.
Me: “Oh this might be a good time for them to tell a strong LGBTQ+ friendly storyline. They won’t have to worry about juvenile crowd reactions, they’ll be able to treat it seriously and with some dignity and can plan out a beginning, middle and an end.”
Sonya: “You’re not even pretty!”
Me: “Never mind.”
Me: “Oh cool. They’re building a slow burn for a feud between Gulak and Bryan and eventually the hacker will show that Gulak has been working with Sami Zayn to help ruin Daniel’s confidence”
Gulak: “You’re not even pretty!”
Did Sonya just imply that Otis is packing?
The Real Birdman
For consistency, the women’s corporate money ladder will only be 80% of the men’s
Strowman: “Yeah, I was a part of Bray’s Family”
Alexa: “Kinda weird your family was only two people huh?”
Nikki: “I definitely only counted two”
Strowman: “Correct. Just the two”
– a triple h appreciation night
– cole pointing out he’s never won MITB
i swear to god this better not be foreshadowing
Big E and the tag titles were not on the board for who would recreate the Edge/Lita live sex celebration, but here we are.
I wanna see Sonya beat Mandy with her Gadzooks wallet chain.
Baron Von Raschke
That they didn’t have Elias as a heel troubadour in King Corbin’s Court at the very start of this is a real missed opportunity.
To close us out, here’s the tribute video for Howard Finkel, which reminds us that he’s the greatest ring announcer of all time in a walk, and that any longtime employee’s In Memoriam video package is going to contain a montage of all the times WWE embarrassed them, set to Bulk and Skull high jinks music. When Jim Ross dies it’s gonna be him getting set on fire, kissing Michael Cole’s foot, kissing Mr. McMahon’s ass, and getting slathered in barbecue sauce followed by some SOARING MUSIC and some slow pans across still photos because we MISS HIM. They’ll be like, “Jim always liked to have fun,” because you can’t say, “a crazy old lonely rich man runs this company and has a cruel sense of humor about controlling the people below him, and folks need to work.”
Seriously though, the loss of The Fink is a big one. I only go to meet him once, but he was so gracious and kind. Rest in peace, Howard. Heaven needed someone to announce a title change.
That’s it for this week’s Best and Worst of Smackdown. As always, thanks for getting through this with us and checking out the column, especially during this pandemic. It’s hard to keep a lot of this in context, especially with what’s going on with the company in the real world. We appreciate you, as well as your comments in our comments section below, and your social media shares. It’s hard to stay employed and paid in new media when you write about sports, and then all the sports just stop.
Join us here next week for Dana Brooke’s run at the Women’s Tag Team Championship, Money in the Bank qualifying matches involving Lacey Evans and Baron Corbin, and TRIPLE H APPRECIATION WEEK. Get that Bulk and Skull music ready.