Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Friday Night Smackdown: The main roster were stuck in Saudi Arabia and NXT invaded, creating one of the most exciting and unpredictable episodes of Smackdown in years. This week: Baron Corbin!
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Friday Night Smackdown for November 9, 2019.
Manchester, By The E
I was worried when I first read the pre-taped Smackdown spoilers from Manchester. It sounded pretty bad. But then Raw taped right after it and was such a steaming pile of creative horseshit that now Smackdown reads like WrestleMania 17. So I’m gonna approach this episode with all the cautious optimism I can muster for a (1) pre-taped (2) England edition of (3) Friday Night Smackdown in the middle of the (4) build to Survivor Series.
King Baron Corbin, first of his name and protector of the realm, opens the show with a “royal address” about how Roman Reigns sucks. It actually starts off with some promising content, as Corbin mentions last week’s NXT invasion as an example of Roman’s failings as a locker room leader and gives him one of those weird John Cena vs. The Rock declarations of malicious intent because he cares about something other than WWE. Nothing makes WWE happier than when someone who works there gets too interested in other things to care about them, or madder than when the audience does the same.
Unfortunately, the promo falls off a cliff when we get to the part Vince McMahon added in at the last second (I’m assuming), where Corbin says Roman Reigns has marble-sized balls. If that’s not enough, we get the post-cursor to WWE photoshop gags: ANIMATED photoshop gags. Uh oh, one of the interns knows how to use flash! Corbin makes Roman Reigns’ dog logo yelp a bunch, and yadda yadda yadda, we’ve got our main event.
It’s fine. Reigns doesn’t lose anything by losing because it took interference from two guys, and Corbin doesn’t really gain anything because he couldn’t get the win by himself. It’s like, 50/50 booking on a molecular level. DNA research to make sure the performers gain as little as possible from the 10 hour flight to England a week after that 16 hour flight to and 16 hour flight from Saudi Arabia and their 12 minutes in the ring. You’ve seen this on Raw a million times. It’s fine.
More Cheap Finishes
There are only five matches on the episode, and three of them end with some kind of distraction or interference. The most egregious of these is probably the four minute long (fuck you) tag match teaming Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura against Mustafa “Ali” Ali and Chad “Shorty G” Gable. I would be abjectly ashamed of myself if I put these four guys in the ring, only gave them four minutes, dumbed them down to the point of audience indifference, and then had the match end with Sami Zayn — one of the best performers in the world, who got literally and figuratively thrown into a dumpster — causing a referee distraction on the apron. Total waste of time, talent, and resources. You could pull up four guys with no training from a local independent show in a rural armory and run this same match with the same finish. It was like an emotional fatal six-way (counting Daniel Bryan, watching from the stage) to see who gets to lose to Mansoor at next year’s Greatest Elimination Chamber in Saudi Arabia.
Quick note: Did WWE team up Ali and Shorty G in England so they could call them “Ali G” and have people get the joke?
Sasha Banks vs. Nikki Cross also features interference, this time from 16-year old goth Women’s Champion Bayley. At least this one doesn’t lead directly to the finish, and is sorta justified, in that Nikki attacked Bayley first. It wasn’t a bad match, necessarily, but again, imagine how much better ALL of this would be if they actually leaned into the talents of their performers and let their strengths shine, instead of trying to hammer a bunch of square pegs into round holes? To phrase it more like a dork on the Internet, imagine how good of an NXT TakeOver you’d be watching if the first two matches were Cesaro and Nakamura vs. Gable and Ali, and Sasha Banks vs. Nikki Cross? The fact that you can imagine that with such a marked difference and contrast in match quality (and audience satisfaction) makes it weird that they can’t, or even worse, that they can, and choose to do slight variations on the same shit you were bored by 15 years ago every single week.
There were good things here, though.
The Good Things
Sasha Banks has a new twist on her entrance, officially eschewing the too-peppy ‘Sky’s The Limit’ in favor of the Snoop Dogg remix from WrestleMania 32 with a reworked beat. I love it. The fact that wrestling-loving-ass Snoop Dogg hasn’t done the entrance theme for his wrestling-loving-ass WWE Superstar cousin since the first second she stepped foot on WWE television is a mystery, and I’m glad they finally solved it.
After the match, Bayley tries to get in the ring and bully Nikki Cross, which summons NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler to once again materialize from the crowd and kick her ass. It’s a real “small fish gets eaten by a medium-sized fish, and then a large fish eats the medium fish” scenario, and I could watch the Queen of Spades wander in and gutwrench suplex the soul out of people all day. Honestly, the Women’s Champions triple threat match at Survivor Series should be about three minutes long and end with Shayna Kirifuda Clutching Bayley and Becky Lynch at the same time like she’s Scott Steiner murdering cruiserweights on Nitro.
IMPERIUM (see: The Best and Worst of NXT UK) shows up to beat down Heavy Machinery for lowering the average IQ of their continent, and get r-u-n-n-o-f-t by not-very-important people from the Smackdown roster. I should be extremely hype for this, but again, I read the Raw spoilers. If you’re a fan of Imperium, and WALTER specifically, please do not watch Raw. Just trust me on this.
Tag Team Matches With Consequence, Whether I Like Them Or Not!
The more important of the two is the show opening Smackdown Tag Team Championship match, that sees the Xavier Woods-less New Day defeat The Revival to become the [gestures] time tag team champs. I was looking forward to the Viking Raiders vs. Undisputed Era vs. Revival at Survivor Series, but it is what it is.
It’s a good idea to maybe kinda sorta give Kofi Kingston something to do after losing the WWE Championship to Brock Lesnar in two seconds and being completely unfazed by it for a month, and I like that assisted, Hart Attack-style Trouble in Paradise they pulled off. The “Midnight Hour” is kinda dumb, and Big E holding a guy in place like that keeps them from dodging the kick. It’d be even better if Big E would pin their arms to their sides when he’s holding them so they couldn’t block it.
Let the Revival go be good wrestlers again somewhere else, please. Nobody’s gonna lose a ratings war because Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder get 15 minutes against a team that’s excited to wrestle them instead of eight against one that doesn’t.
The other tag match of note is Bianca Belair food Dana Brooke and Carmella defeating Fuego y Deseo to earn a spot on the Smackdown women’s Survivor Series team. The most interesting bits here are the lucha libre stylings of Dana Brooke, who makes the most of her TV time to hit a nice looking but badly timed apron feint — she’s supposed to be flipping over an attack from Sonya Deville, but Sonya’s already past her by the time she starts flipping … Sonya’s going for the Running Nothing there — and a Swanton Bomb, of all things. Jeff Hardy’s not coming back this time?
Let’s hope Dana doesn’t misjudge the distance on that at some point, land ass-first full force on somebody’s stomach, and make them vomit their guts up all over the place.
Revenge Of The Shadow Clown
If you’re wondering where that Daniel Bryan storyline from earlier went, the offer from Sami Zayn for Bryan to join his and Nakamura’s team celebrating the art of pro wrestling and the followup where he watches Nakamura and considers it were leading to …
… Daniel Bryan being attacked by The Fiend. All right. Am I alone in thinking The Fiend shouldn’t be showing up every week and interacting with everybody? The more you see a guy in a clown mask and pajama pants showing up in brothel lighting and putting his fingers in people’s mouths, the less intimidating it becomes. Especially when we know 9+ Seth Rollins finishers and a pratfall into literal explosions don’t beat The Fiend — they don’t even hurt him — so what’s Daniel Bryan gonna do? Pin him with a small package?
A Monster Among Anti-Semites
Finally, Tyson Fury and Braun Strowman decided that their eight minute match for the benefit of the Saudi royal family that ended in a count-out was the blowoff to their rivalry, and that they should be tag team partners. I mean, if it keeps us from having to see Tyson Fury wrestle an entire match again, I’m in. It’s fun to badly pretend-fight for 10 minutes and make more money than the entire staff of this website combined will ever see in our entire lives!
They’re interrupted by the B-Team, and … you know how this ends. Forget it, Jake, it’s Smackdown.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
It’s so quiet you can almost hear the ratings drop.
Shinksuke: So how did trying to turn Daniel Bryan evil work?
Sami: It was going fine right up until The Fiend showed up and choked him out
Shinsuke: So you teamed up with Daniel Bryan to take out Fiend and get him to trust you?
Sami: No, I ran away like a little girl.
Sami: THAT DUDE IS SCARY!
“Hey Roman you dropped your contact in the locker room we just came out here to return—HEY WHAT ARE YOU DO—*thud*”
I have no doubt that Ziggler and Roode will be slipping a strip club DJ a copy of Sasha’s new entrance theme once they’re back in the states.
I wonder if Corbin is the server at Olive Garden that brings out the bread sticks like Chris Jericho’s talent (unlimited).
Graves: “Sometimes you got to get out the chapstick.”
Accidentally shoot commentary.
Graves: “Reigns is losing the locker room because he didn’t tell them to shut up when they were stra… I mean, gleefully taking a bonus sabbatical in Saudi Arabia.”
Wait, white guys that love to have fun? I’m confused.
It feels like they literally hit reset buttons on the New Day to before Kofi’s run to the title but if you looked deep in their eyes you could see them screaming away from somewhere deep within their bodies.
Friday night’s from 8pm to 10pm is the perfect time slot for me to re-watch my favorite moments from Wednesday night wrestling.
That’s it for this week’s Smackdown. Thanks for reading. Raw is gonna be a doozy.
Drop down into our comments section to let us know what you liked or didn’t like about the show, share the column on your various social media things to help keep us going, and make sure you’re here on Saturday night for [redacted] pay-per-view. And on Monday to watch what’s left of my soul slowly leave my body! See you then!