Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: Money in the Bank happened. People had no opinions!
Remember that With Spandex is on Twitter, so follow it. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter. Also, make sure you’re reading the vintage Best and Worst reports.
Hit those share buttons! Leave us comments, spread the word about the column on Facebook and Twitter, and tell everyone in the office you’re not working because you’re busy reading jokes about pro wrestling. This is the good show, so let’s get some conversation going and spark some interest, and, best case scenario, get people to click on a column about something other than Raw.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for June 20, 2017.
Best: Ladder Day Saints
On Sunday, the historic, first-ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match ended with a guy pulling down the briefcase and handing it to a woman. Between Sunday and Tuesday, everyone on the Smackdown creative team was handed a note card and asked to write what they think about The Internet on it. All of those cards were put into a suggestion box, and that’s the promo that opens Smackdown. Road Dogg got five cards.
And while the promo is, let’s face it, WWE Creative mansplaining a match finish to an audience it hates, the actual delivery of that promo was stellar. Carmella came out of the box sounding believably heated, citing precedent (!) and history (!!) to form a logical argument (!!!) for why yeah, the match finish wasn’t what we wanted, but fuck us, she’s Mrs. Money in the Bank. It’s a promo so good that I manage to agree and disagree with it at the same time, and my opinion doesn’t matter.
The other positive is that hey, the crowd’s reacting to Carmella. I don’t think a wrestler should have to be able to transfer heat against the company onto themselves, especially when the company would never do that in reverse, but it is what it is. Carmella finally, officially became an effective heel by sounding like she means what she’s saying, making perfect logical sense — the calling card of the WWE heel — and, perhaps most importantly, realizing that “sorry, WWE makes horrible decisions and doesn’t give a shit what you want, deal with it” is 2017’s most effective avenue for heat.
Best: Poor Becky Lynch
The most affecting moment of Smackdown for me is this backstage conversation between Becky Lynch and Daniel Bryan. Throughout the show, the women who were in the Money in the Bank ladder match find Bryan backstage and cut WWE promos on him about how this was supposed to be historic and now is the time for you to act. When he runs into Becky, her promo isn’t, “I’m the best, I should’ve won the match.” It’s the more believable and incredibly identifiable, “oh my God, what is WWE, why is this all so stupid and bad, I don’t even know what to do.”
I don’t think I’ve seen anyone in WWE cut a promo exactly like this. It’s a perfect wavelength for a lot of fans, myself included. Becky is starting to realize that no matter how hard she trains, no matter how good she tries to be at wrestling, somebody with no conscience and no backbone is just going to saunter in and take her opportunity. Because that’s how WWE works. And she’s prepared for it, she knows it’s going to happen, and she feels helpless to stop it. “Is doing the right thing really that complicated?” Chilling.
The next time the angle is, “you have to have a MEAN STREAK and CHEAT and TAKE SHORTCUTS to get that KILLER INSTINCT and RUTHLESS AGGRESSION if you want to succeed,” the response should be, “we should change that.” I know WWE’s run by Vince McMahon and the free world’s run by Donald Trump, but I’d like one escapist thing where the answer isn’t, “you might as well be terrible, because everyone else is.”
And Speaking Of Line-Cutters …
Before Money in the Bank, Lana returned with a lifetime 0-0 record in singles competition and demanded to be put into the Money in the Bank ladder match. When everyone laughed at her, she interfered in one match and ended up getting a Smackdown Women’s Championship match on pay-per-view. She lost.
Now, with a lifetime 0-1 record in singles competition, Lana is getting her SECOND Smackdown Women’s Championship match because she was rude to Naomi about it backstage. Lifetime she has lost one (1) match and is getting her SECOND Championship match.
The bummer about how WWE writes babyfaces is that they have to be “fighting champions,” and WWE thinks that means “taking on all comers” and fighting anyone who challenges you anywhere for any reason. I don’t think that’s really what it’s about. Is Naomi less of an admirable person if she doesn’t give Lana a second championship match because she felt entitled to one? Or is she just not an idiot? This shit is why the heels seem like the only smart and together people on the shows sometimes. And seriously, Lana has gotten two championship matches in the time it’s taken five women to argue with each other about a ladder match and the ladder match’s finish. Literally any of you could step in front of Lana and say, ALSO I AM IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH, and Naomi would say “sure, yes.” And you wouldn’t be able to like, jump her from behind and steal the championship, but shit, you’ve got unlimited title shots with no effort until she loses it.
Worst: As The Halliburton Turns
To end Laddergate, Daniel Bryan makes the worst possible decision by stripping Carmella of the Money in the Bank briefcase. She opened the show making cogent points. The match had no rules, so even if what she did is viewed as shitty, she won the match under the match’s rules. She cited precedent. Daniel Bryan heard those points and agreed with them, even telling the other women that Carmella was correct and did nothing wrong. But because COMPLAINING, he’s taking the briefcase away from her and re-doing the match next week.
You know what would’ve been totally reasonable? Realizing that the Ellsworth Maneuver was shitty when it actually happened, and having your Land of Opportunity General Managers show up, get the referees to rehang the briefcase and restart the match. That would’ve given the match some heat, and, you know, we could’ve had the rest of it instead of bailing on it halfway through for a finish everyone hated. You would’ve accomplished the same thing without devoting a second 2-hour show to it and throwing logic out the window.
The only reasonable solution now is for Carmella to win the match on her own merit, and for WWE to edit together all the “historic first!” stuff from Money in the Bank with the image of her on the top of a ladder pulling down a briefcase so we can forget the last three days forever. Or, I don’t know, Big Cass showing up, climbing the ladder and handing Carmella the briefcase. Because they didn’t actually fix the loophole, they’re just redoing the match. Ellsworth should pull it down again and spend the rest of the show crotch-chopping.
Worst: Tamina With The Sick Burn
Charlotte: “If you don’t shut up, I’m gonna make you LOOK like Ellsworth!”
Crowd: [loud cheers]
Tamina: “Charlotte! Charlotte! You need to be quiet or you gonna start LOOKING like Ellsworth!”
Daniel: “All right, everyone, calm down.”
Worst: Damn, Daniel
1. Mojo didn’t make his fist ‘splode. Turn telegraphed.
2. As a lot of people in the open thread (and social media) have pointed out, man, what a dick move from Daniel Bryan to make the Hype Bros have to wrestle another match for a title opportunity when Zack Ryder originally got injured during a match where they won a title opportunity. Just give it to them. What, you can’t live without New Day vs. the Usos for one week? It’s especially heinous when you remember Daniel gave his brother-in-law a title opportunity just for showing up. You’ve become what you hated most, Daniel.
I hope Carmella starts a grassroots campaign to oust him for power and calls it the YAS Movement.
Worst: You Had The Kanellis Segment During The Commercial Break?
I guess all Smackdown had booked for Mike and Maria Kanellis was, “walk out onto the stage and say you’re in love,” because that’s all that happens again. And you probably didn’t see it on Smackdown because it wasn’t on Smackdown. It’s a “WWE.com Exclusive.” The only possible reason I can see for this is somebody said, “okay, what’s next?” and creative was like, “what do you mean next?”
Fun note: There’s an old saying that when you kiss someone, you’re kissing everyone else they’ve ever kissed. In the WWE Universe, that means Mike Bennett just kissed Dolph Ziggler, Snoop Dogg, Candice Michelle, John Cena and Ric Flair. That’s a real mixed bag.
Best/Worst: Ziggler Vs. Nakamura II, For The First Time Ever
Speaking of Dolph Ziggler,
He gets another match with Shinsuke Nakamura, annoying (and repeatedly) called a “first time ever” dot dot dot “on Smackdown” match. Guys, Nakamura had his main roster debut less than a month ago. And he wrestled Dolph Ziggler. Is it so important to note this as a first time ever match with a qualifier when he’s had two (2) singles matches in his entire Smackdown career, and one of them was against this guy? The other one was against a guy he’d wrestled before, too. If Nakamura takes on Viktor of the Ascension, is Tom Phillips gonna lose his mind over this FIRST TIME EVER MATCH?
Anyway, on the positive tip, I enjoyed this version of Nak/Ziggler a lot more than the Backlash match. I’ve been told you don’t want to book a first-time ever match on an indie show, you want the SECOND time ever. That way they can work a better match knowing what didn’t play out like they’d planned in the first one. This one still gives Ziggler way too much offense, but both guys brought a lot of energy this time around and felt motivated. Plus, more of an emphasis on Nakamura’s knee removing Ziggler’s face from his head.
Nakamura continues his momentum heading into (I’m guessing) a Survivor Series showdown with Baron Corbin and a Sometime After That match with AJ Styles. For the first time ever! Dolph Ziggler continues to both Dolph and Ziggler.
Shrug: The Opener
I don’t really have any strong opinions about this match, which is weird, because I have strong opinions about everything. I cut 12-minute promos on my kitchen cabinets when they don’t close properly.
I get why it’s here, though, to prove that New Day can beat The Usos in a fair fight, and that Uce and Other Uce can’t just keep running away. It’s also good to see Big E win something on his own, which happens way too rarely. That guy should be the Roman Reigns of the New Day, the guy who comes in at the end of matches and just trucks everybody to win. He shouldn’t be Xavier Woods in shoulder pads. And hey, New Day’s pre-match promo about the Uso Penitentiary was corny, but at least they avoided the “drop the soap” joke for the first time in three tries.
Best: GABLE, GABLE GABLE, GABLE GABLE, GABLE GABLE GABLE
The best news of the week is that at least ONE member of American Alpha isn’t dead! Kevin Owens makes an open challenge to “anyone from Dayton, Ohio” — was really worried this was gonna be Kassius Ohno an ill-fitting onesie that would make him look like a Cincinnati Reds Build-a-Bear — and AJ Styles shows up. Owens points out that he’s not from Dayton, so CHAD GABLE (YEAH) shows up to accept. Gable’s not from Dayton either, he’s from Minnesota, but they playfully joke that he moved to Dayton (and the address of the arena) earlier in the day. I don’t care how we get to it, because WELCOME THE HELL BACK, CHAD GABLE.
The match isn’t very long, but nobody does AAH, AAH sudden hope spots quite like Gable. Also, nobody is able to pull off a Chaos Theory this beautiful on a dude twice their size:
Assumedly next week we’ll do the same thing with Jason Jordan, and maybe after that we’ll have American Alpha back in the tag team division. Or, better yet, we find an excuse to send them to Raw. Raw desperately needs another face team, Smackdown never figured out how to love Alpha, and who better to hold the audience by the hand than a couple of Top Guys?
Worst: Randy Orton Is Not Self-Aware
Randy Orton has been driven to furious madness by Jinder Mahal doing the unthinkable, “crossing the line” by attacking Orton’s dad and making things about family. Now he’s going to fly to India and beat up Jinder’s whole family as a response. First of all, please video tape that. Second of all, that isn’t going to make you WWE Champion again any time soon, so go crazy. Third of all, I hope John Cena starts his July 4 return promo with, “HEY RANDY, DOESN’T IT SUCK WHEN SOMEBODY BEATS UP YOUR DAD IN THE MIDDLE OF A WRESTLING MATCH? WHAT KIND OF ASSHOLE WOULD DO THAT, AM I RIGHT?”
In all seriousness, I want Orton to take a year off from wrestling in a Sting-style exile devoted to stalking and assaulting Jinder Mahal’s entire family. I want like 20 minutes of Jinder’s Dādī serenely whipping up a batch of dal makhni, and just as she garnishes it with green chilies this crazy 37-year old white man in underpants covered in skull tattoos comes screaming down the hallway and throws her face at the ground.
The main event of the show is Jinder vs. Luke Harper, and man is it a shame to see Harper completely forgotten and abandoned in this role of jobber to the stars. He really had something going there for a few weeks. He also looks like Dean Ambrose fell asleep under a tree and woke up 100 years later knowing how to wrestle.
The match ends with Jinder utilizes his finisher, “losing the match until one of the Singh Brothers interferes, allowing me to hit one slam and win somehow.” After the match, Randy Orton attacks. Jinder avoids the RKO by utilizing his special move, “losing until both of the Singh Brothers interfere, allowing me to run away.” I’m telling you, the Singhs should cut the WWE Championship in half like LayCool and be co-champions.
Once Jinder’s gone, Orton is left with his weekly reward, “hurting some cruiserweights for real.” The show goes off the air with the promise of more Mahal vs. Orton, which … is a thing. I’d much rather see Orton vs. Singh 1 and Singh 2 in the SummerSlam Kickoff than another Orton/Mahal match. Make it a tables match. Give Jinder a program with literally anyone else so we can see if Jinder’s still the drizzling shits in the ring because he’s stuck working with Petulant Snakeman.
Best: Top Comments Of The Week
Jinder Mahal: What kind of sick person attacks children?
daniel bryan talking to earth 2 daniel bryan is weird
You can’t have a Daniel Bryan storyline without an authority figure making a capricious and unjustifiable decision to hold down a plucky competitor.
Way to drop kayfabe, Randy. Snakes can’t see colors, idiot.
Perky redhead and athletic blonde double team stuck up princess
Is this the day of Bryan’s daughter’s wedding? Because everyone seems to be asking him for a favor.
Dave M J
“All you have to do is beat the Usos”
“…in a non-title match?”
“Well…yeah, that’s how you get your shot, you have to beat the champs”
“WOO WOO WOO WE’RE GETTING A TITLE SHOT”
My feed froze during Randy’s interview and I just now noticed.
A WWE face threatening to slap a foreigner back to her home country? Does Naomi think she’s John Cena on 4th of July?
That’s it for this week. Overall a pretty enjoyable show with a good (if not completely predictable and not First Time Ever at all) match stuck in the middle, but ultimately the Money in the Bank nonsense means I’ve got to give it a:
The horse shirt really makes it.
Join us next week for Once In A Lifetime: The First Ever Women’s Money In The Bank Match (On Smackdown) and WWE hopefully not putting the final nail in the coffin of the concept of friendship by having the Usos beat the Hype Bros and split them apart. And maybe Becky Lynch painting her face like a skeleton and breaking James Ellsworth’s arm.