Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: Kofi Kingston became a cult hero by spending almost an hour in a gauntlet match, pinning the WWE Champion, and then almost winning the WWE Championship inside the Elimination Chamber.
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And now, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for February 19, 2019.
Best/Worst: The Same Thing As Raw, But Better
If you read this week’s Raw report (and it’s highly recommended that you do, especially if you hate yourself), you read my reactions to WWE bringing the “four best guys” from NXT on a throw-everything-at-the-wall whim, putting them over Raw stars with little to no explanation, and compromising the past year of NXT stories and TV by not paying any real attention to character motivation or consistency. It’s hard for me to even recap it in a paragraph like this without typing AND FURTHERMORE~.
Smackdown did the same thing, but the situation was greatly improved by a few factors:
- the New Orleans crowd was much, much better than the Lafayette crowd, due in part to the fact that NXT has actually run a big show there, and the local fans are presumably more familiar with the talent (and/or they’re just enjoying themselves and not sitting on their hands like the small town crowd)
- Smackdown paired at least two of the four with opponents they know from NXT, which allows us to actually integrate these appearances into their character histories
- they didn’t put these new, unexplained-to-the-WWE-Universe stars over their show’s champions
- we’d already seen all four on Raw, so the “wait, what are we doing” shock/surprise was lessened and, at least to me, the whole thing was easier to swallow
The truth, though, is that no matter how good Smackdown is — especially in comparison to Raw — it’s still just kinda throwing these guys out there without a lot of reason, not making it clear if they’re just guest stars or sticking around, not clarifying how this affects NXT television (if it’s supposed to at all, and/or if we’re supposed to treat it like an Elseworlds comic), and not making it clear if watching a bunch of NXT guys trounce a bunch of Smackdown guys is supposed to make us want to watch NXT or not want to watch Smackdown.
Let’s go through these, since they’re cool, but don’t even really matter to the promotion booking them.
The first and best of the matches is Dutch Satanist cat-blogger Aleister Black vs. Andrade. These two know each other very well, as Black won the NXT Championship from Andrade back when he had a last name at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, so this is the perfect time and place to do a main roster version of a rematch. I’m excited to see it again in a year or two, when it’s just “Aleister” vs. Andrade.
As you probably guessed, the introductory main roster throwaway rematch at the beginning of an episode of Smackdown doesn’t have the epic stakes, context, or pathos of the NXT Championship match near the top of a WrestleMania TakeOver show, but it’s good. These two couldn’t have a bad match if they tried. They could be in there doing the Ebessan vs. Kuishinbo Kamen slow motion spots and it’d be exciting. Black wins again, because they will ever be e-qual.
You know, if you read my NXT column you’re aware that I think Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano are like the #1 and #2 best non-Daniel Bryan wrestlers employed by WWE right now. They’re absolutely incredible, and Gargano’s on such an artistic hot streak that he hasn’t had a match under 3.75-ish Meltzer stars since 2017.
Having said that, it’s wild to me that not only are Smackdown and Raw teaming up Ciampa and Gargano like they’re still forever-buddies and not acknowledging the very real, very ongoing “will they won’t they” battle over Johnny’s soul, and that they’ve paired up DIY — a team that even at their peak would lose as much as they won, because they were scrappy underdog babyfaces — and not only put them over the Raw Tag Team Champions clean, but have them come out on top against Cesaro and Sheamus. You could fit an entire Tommaso Ciampa and an entire Johnny Gargano inside Sheamus. If I’m booking this, no matter how good these guys are, The Bar should murder them. But then again, I think The Bar should be murdering everybody. It’s a former multiple-time WWE Champion who has done everything you possibly can in the company teaming up with the most underrated performer of the past 20 years, who is also strong enough to pick up the Big Show in a bodyslam, calmly walk him across a wrestling ring, and toss him to the floor. The only teams that should beat The Bar in kayfabe are ones that are allowed to bring swords to the ring.
But I get it. Wrestling’s not real, and Gargachomp are the shit, so all we really need to observe here is, “was the match good?” Yeah, it was. It would’ve been better if it was happening for a reason or had any kind of story or build beyond two guys running into two other guys backstage and clicking X.
Finally there’s Ricochet vs. Eric Young, which establishes two important things for the Smackdown crowd:
- Ricochet is great
- Sanity still exists
I think Ricochet is the guy who is going to benefit most from this weird Guest Star week, because he’s the one that worst best without context. You don’t really need to know who he is or why he’s doing what he’s doing, you just need to see him wrestle like a goddamn video game man in real life. He was the biggest star in his former promotion for two full seasons without saying a word. That’s a skill.
Let Necky Pleh
And speaking of Sanity …
“They’re coming here?” Aren’t you on Raw, too?
Best, Except For Shane McMahon Saying ‘Ya Dig’: The Rematch
You’re probably tired of me and/or the entire Internet turning every Shane McMahon and Miz segment into a fantasy booked heel turn, but can you blame us? Unless there’s some truly Dorian Gray shit going on with Miz and Daniel Bryan’s D&D alignments, The Miz’s natural state is “epic scumbag.” The end result of any Miz action is The Miz going into business for himself. He’s going to swerve Shane at some point, whether it’s planned or reactionary, and the set-up of a rematch for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship a month before WrestleMania in Cleveland is it. That’s it. If he doesn’t turn there, holy shit, we’re in uncharted waters.
Plus, look at the story. Miz wants a rematch. He knows there are no “automatic rematches” and that Shane McMahon has the power to grant them anyway. He also knows that if he talks too much about the Smackdown Tag Team Championship and how they’re the best team in the world, it’s going to bring out the Usos for a confrontation and facilitate his rematch. So he does all these things, gets what he wants, and here we are. Miz is forever the most logical dude in WWE.
It’s Time For Another Good Idea, Bad Idea
“Kofi Kingston has pinned the WWE Champion! Again!”
Like a lot of you, I feel like WWE could do something better with their main event scene than “challenger has pinned the champion, what does this mean for Upcoming Pay-per-view,” and yeah, I would’ve booked Daniel Bryan to take out Big E and Woods at Fastlane so Kofi Kingston has to go into a WrestleMania championship match without his friends (while Bryan still has Giant Vintner in his corner), but we’re not gonna get that. We’re getting Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan at Fastlane, though, and maybe if that match gets the same kind of reaction as the gauntlet and Elimination Chamber, they’ll at least figure out a way to work Kofi into another multi-man championship thing at Mania. I don’t think Kofi vs. Bryan happening a pay-per-view too early completely disqualifies it from also happening where we want it to happen. And who knows? Maybe Kofi will win. It’s an easy way to work Randy Orton onto the WrestleMania card, and you know we aren’t lucky enough to get through a Mania without having to watch that lanky snakey motherfucker slowly stomp on the Grandest Stage Of Them All.
As a bonus, Kofi won the match with the rarest of all moves: a Trouble in Paradise with theatrics from the corner that DOESN’T get ducked. Daniel Bryan hits the final Yes Kick about a hundred times more often than Kofi claps his hands in the corner and hits Trouble in Paradise. That’s progress.
“Mandy Rose has pinned the Smackdown Women’s Champion!”
Mandy vs. Asuka? That’s the program we’re going with? And we’re starting it by having Mandy pin Asuka with a roll-up? It’s pretty hard to see which segments Vince McMahon wedged into the show, isn’t it?
I don’t think Mandy’s bad — she’s quite good, in fact — but the booking of Asuka continues to be straight-up depressing, and I guess those few months where she felt like herself again were just a stop-gap between insanities. Plus, two “challenger has pinned the champion” builds on the same 2-hour show? I’m surprised they didn’t set up Shane and Miz vs. The Usos by having The Usos get pinned. Boo to all of this.
Is Lacey Evans still a wrestler, or is she just lost? Is her gimmick that she can’t read a call sheet?
Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Kofi should bring back his Jamaican accent and call himself The Mon
Nikki Cross: “Aye no wah you deeeaaad!”
Black: “This ain’t NXT no more”
Cross: “I….I know”
Triple H: Ethan? What are you doing in the trunk of my car?
EC3: Don’t ask any questions, just drive us back to Florida before Vince finds out where we snuck off to.
HHH: Wait, us?
*The entirety of Sanity sticks their hands out to wave hello*
Baron Von Raschke
Shane’s music plays…
Graves: What better way to start?
Everyone: Kofi already in the ring and ready to challenge Daniel Bryan…But what do we know…we just complain.
Now I don’t always pretend I’m a wrestler…but when I do…I pretend I’m Ricochet.
So Becky is going to show up to Ric’s birthday and beat him half to death with crutches right? Therefore Beating the Man, solidfying her status AS THE MAN.
Charly: So Tommaso Ciampa, game recognizes game. I have no questions.
If Zelina slaps Aleister, is it considered Black on Black crime?
I would have liked R Truth to have interacted with DIY just to see if he could get them to renovate his bathroom.
Remember when we used to mock SDL for just redoing Raw’s everything.
This isn’t really appropriate to the column, but I put a lot of work into it and wanted to share.
That’s it for this week’s Smackdown. Make sure to drop a comment below to let us know what you thought of the show, and if you’d like to support the site and its very tired writing staff, hit us with a share on social. Thanks for reading, as always, and join us next week for two more Lacey Evans walking out and doing nothing segments!