Previously on the Best and Worst of Friday Night Smackdown: Bayley committed Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tube-Manslaughter and won the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Also, a draft allegedly happened!
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Friday Night Smackdown for October 19, 2019.
Am I *Ready* For A Good Time And Am I Going To *Receive* A Good Time Are Two Dramatically Different Things
Welcome to the first “real” episode of Friday Night Smackdown on Fox, now with exclusive post-Draft rosters and Bruce Prichard suddenly replacing Eric Bischoff as executive director. Question the first: did Bischoff actually DO anything? Was that the problem? I think MatRATS lasted longer than Easy E’s Smackdown Executive Director run.
Prichard being in charge installs someone who will very willingly just do whatever the hell Vince McMahon tells him to do, which is GREAT for WWE day-to-day operations, and not especially great for anyone wanting compelling television. What’s the new image for Smackdown? Every other episode of Smackdown. Want an example?
The show opens with Roman Reigns challenging Shinsuke Nakamura for the Intercontinental Championship, which on paper sounds about as good as pro wrestling can be. It’s a fresh match between two guys who can work (and can work SPECTACULARLY when properly motivated) in a match with a consequence, centered around the importance of your secondary championship. In practice, because Smackdown Classic, it’s 12 minutes of pointless wrestling building to a non-finish that’s just happening to set up a different match for later in the night. You know, the old, “singles match ends in interference, someone makes the save, IT’S GONNA BE A TAG TEAM MATCH, PLAYER,” gambit. I’m guessing it’s thrilling if you’ve never seen a single episode of WWE produced this century.
And then the main event goes like you’d expect. Roman Reigns gets randomly announced as the new captain for Team Hogan at Crown Jewel, Daniel Bryan wrestles a slowed-down Nakamura, and the faces win. It is what it is.
The most interesting thing here to me is that you just spend five hours drafting new, deep rosters of characters and performers to play with, and your first post-Draft show features two (2) Roman Reigns matches that take up 21 minutes of your 46 minutes of total wrestling, and everyone else gets tossed into multi-man matches. The tag teams end up jammed up together in an eight-man tag, and the women have a “six-pack challenge,” a la the unforgettable Unforgiven ’99. The two singles matches with “new talent” or whatever are either regressive, or straight-up insulting. Here, let me show you what I mean before you start thinking I’m just on my bullshit again …
“Shorty” Gable squashes Curtis Axel in about a minute and a half and then announces that Shorty Gable isn’t going to work for him. Instead, he would now like to be known as SHORTY G, somehow performing a weird nomenclative magic and making Shorty Gable exponentially worse. HOW. It reminds me of when Bud Bundy started making everyone call him Grandmaster B.
If this is the creative direction we’re headed in, Jesus Christ. Imagine if everybody had made fun of the name “The Viking Experience,” and the response had been to have Hanson and Rowe show up in sideways hats and Starter jackets to announce that they’re now Erik B and Ibars, The Vizzikings. Can’t you just hear Michael Cole (and JBL for some reason) forcing out chuckles about how the Vizzikings love to have “fizzle fo shizzle?”
You know all that great work Drew Gulak’s been doing for like a year to reinvent himself as a serious cruiserweight in the WWE, having all kinds of great matches with a variety of talent across nearly all the brands? Smackdown creative’s idea for him was, “wait, isn’t he the guy who did the Power Points? Have him do the Power Points again. And then Braun just squashes him completely because who gives a fuck about THIS guy?”
Long story short, anyone who isn’t already established or “made” by the company is expendable and completely interchangeable, because the only thing creative knows about them is the last thing they were doing when they were forced to pay attention. I’m honestly surprised Curtis Axel didn’t show up for that match with Shawty G dressed like Hulk Hogan.
Both of these guys deserved better. Strowman deserves better than to get fed to a non-wrestler who’s making 15 times the payday on a blood money pay-per-view. Everyone deserves better.
Hey, you know what won’t be happening at Crown Jewel? Nikki Cross vs. Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. They wouldn’t have time for it even if it WAS legal. We need extra time for Hulk Hogan posing, Mansoor Al-Shehail kicking Cesaro’s ass, and the Greatest Tag Team Turmoil.
Anyway, Bayley shows up to explain her actions to The Miz, and Miz is unsurprisingly in corporate shill babyface mode. This is the worst Miz ever is, when he’s clearly reading from a bad script about how someone “turned their back on the WWE Universe” or whatever, neglecting to remember that he’s the Miz and objectively the least chill and trustworthy person on the roster. Man, having those kids really softened him up, didn’t it? This leads directly into a revolving door promo parade, another Smackdown classic, and a six-woman number one contender match
Nikki Cross picks up the win here, giving her a title shot. At least she didn’t have to pin Bayley to get it. It’s not a bad match, but I hope going forward we can remember to treat these division as, you know, competitive divisions, and not as piles of random people we can pluck a challenger out of whenever we want. I feel like we’re dangerously close to returning to the dark ages of number one contender battle royals every Monday after pay-per-views.
Speaking of that, New Day has pinned the Smackdown Tag Team Champions! Corey, you’ve got to think that puts them in contention for a future Smackdown Tag Team Championship shot! It sure does, Cole! I hate to say it, but The New Day have proved they DESERVE a shot at The Revival and the Smackdown Tag Team Champions!
It’s … fine. It’s fine.
Like the women’s division, I hope those in charge remember that tag teams perform the coolest and most exciting form of American pro wrestling and can be a deeply valued part of your roster and program if you just remember they exist, remember that they have distinct personalities that are not necessarily interchangeable, and put them in good two-on-two matches for reasons.
Just shut up and enjoy licking gruel off the reset button, I know, I know.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Dave M J
Bayley went from step-daughter to step-mother so fast, I’d swear she lived in an Alabama trailer park.
WHAT ABOUT ME
WHAT ABOUT BAYVEN
Big E and Otis on the same team? There’s no way anyone is leaving the arena not pregnant.
The Real Birdman
Can Darryl Morey tweet about WWE in Saudi Arabia?
“Is Reigns gonna tap out?”
Is Kairi Sane gonna show up at my house & ask me on a date?
Carmella doesn’t get enough credit for how she can bust that odd submission move from out of nowhere
*puts on a headband*
*ties hair up in a sidepony*
Shayna: WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME
Jessamyn: oh hey Shayna i-GOOD GOD
Shayna: HELP ME
And that was a Smackdown. Saturday afternoon YouTube clips appointment viewing!
Thanks as always for reading. I really hope these shows will start feeling like shows again soon. Drop down into our comments section below and let us know what you thought, if you thought anything, and consider giving us a social media share if you like what we do. Make sure you’re here next week for the go-home show for Crown Jewel! You’ll love not watching it!