We’re far from shallow now.
Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: The same thing as last week’s Monday Night Raw, but better.
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And now, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for February 26, 2019.
Best: When The Cancellation Of Kofimania Sets Up Kofi At Mania
I read a lot of angry, visceral reactions to Vince McMahon randomly wandering out and replacing Kofi Kingston with Kevin Owens in the WWE Championship match at Fastlane, but that’s good; because I also read a lot of reactions that mirrored my own. By replacing Kofi in the match at Fastlane, you’re allowing Kofi — a guy who should logically get a title shot before April — to hold off a little and get his big match, and presumably his big win, at the biggest and most important show of the year. By cancelling Kofimania, you’re ensured Kofi at Mania. And that is so much better.
Not only that, but it gives Kingston an actual problem to rage against for the next couple of months to build his story. I don’t love “blank has pinned the WWE Champion” as a story (more on that in a bit, sadly) and I like general manager meddling even less, and while I loved what Kingston and Bryan were able to do at Elimination Chamber and on the past two Smackdowns, I can also realize that it happened by accident. It was lucky. This was supposed to be Mustafa Ali’s spot, and WWE got handed a big sack of gold it wasn’t expecting. A lot of it was being carried by our hypothetical idea of how exciting a rivalry like this would be, and by putting it on pause for the placeholder midseason B-show we can elevate it to the moment both of these guys truly deserve. I mean, even if it ends up opening the show because of the Smackdown Women’s Championship match and Triple H and Batista and Brock Lesnar or whatever.
Plus, how great would it be if Sami Zayn showed up to join Daniel Bryan and Erick Rowan as a Social Justice Warrior and cost Owens the match at Fastlane? Then we’d head into WrestleMania with Bryan vs. Kingston and Owens vs. Zayn with their alignments flipped. That hypothetical WrestleMania card is popping.
Best: Crazy Brains Mr. McMahon
You know, in the vintage Raw reports we’re up to the part in 1998 where Mr. McMahon gets smashed in the face with a chair a couple of times and goes crazy, and that got me thinking … maybe the same thing happened when Kevin Owens headbutted him in the face in Vegas in 2017. I assume the explosion limo death reset Vince’s brain, and then Owens jacked it up again. It’d explain why Mr. McMahon wasn’t really a presence for a while, and is now on TV meandering out to change matches and scripts on the fly all the time. Yes, I’m assuming a billionaire in charge of a globally traded company is both shoot and kayfabe one of those cartoon characters who can get and un-get amnesia by being bonked on the head.
I joked about this on Twitter during the show, but Vince needs a time machine so he can randomly replace people in big matches throughout history. “Hulk Hogan, we need someone better to wrestle Andre the Giant at WrestleMania 3 … allow me to introduce his new opponent, TITO, SANTANA!” Imagine being at The Wrestling Classic live in 1985 and seeing a 2015 Biff Tannen-ass Vince McMahon show up and replace the Junk Yard Dog with Corporal Kirchner in the finals because of his weird booking preferences and prejudices.
Best/Worst: The Boyz Are Back In Town
First, the good: the return of Hardy Boyz Classic was a super unexpected way to start the in-ring portion of the night, and it’s good to see Matt Hardy (1) looking like a new man out there again, and (2) not holding out his arms and laughing at Bray Wyatt. I probably backed the Impact Wrestling version of the Hardys as much as anybody, but yeah, aside from the amazing House Hardy Halloween Network special and a few other exceptions, the Cargo Pants Bros are probably the way to go for a while.
The bad: You don’t need another WrestleMania season of me being frustrated at watching WWE build characters and stories all year just to shuffle them off into oblivion so a bunch of part-timers and semi-retired guys can main event WrestleMania, do you? The Hardyz aren’t ancient and still have some good work left in their respective tanks, but it’s (as you’d expect) kind of a bummer to see them show up in late February and squash what’s supposed to be a top level tag team in like three minutes. Not that I want to see Cesaro go to WrestleMania and lose to another 10-year old, but you know, it’d be nice to see The Bar having good matches or doing anything of interest.
If I can criticize one ongoing aspect of Smackdown’s booking, it’s that they just straight-up forget people sometimes. When they’re paying attention, they know how to book you into a great story full of fun matches. When you aren’t in their direct line of sight, you, I don’t know, end up like Sanity and get completely abandoned. Or you win the United States Championship to fix some booking plans and don’t show up for a month. The Bar could be the Vegas Boys right now and it wouldn’t really make a difference. The only thing they’ve done for like a year is put their arms around each other’s shoulders.
Also The Worst
What happened to that Johnny Gargano vs. Cesaro match they were advertising? I need my 8-years ago Chikara fix, dammit.
Best: Damn, He Brave
Speaking of the United States Champion, he showed up again last night (hooray!) with a new character quirk: he’s idolized John Cena since he was little, and wants to make him proud by defending the United States Championship in an open challenge and asking himself, “what would John Cena do?” It’s especially funny because Truth is six years older than Cena. When he asked Carmella what Cena would do when faced with two challengers and Carmella said he’d take them both on — the correct answer, because Cena overcomes the odds more than he breathes — Truth’s reaction of, “damn, he brave,” might’ve been the actual funniest WWE moment of the year.
Truth ends up in a triple threat match with Andrade (!) and Rey Mysterio (!), and it was a hot fire six minutes featuring amazing moments like this:
If I’m booking the next month and a quarter of WWE television, I’m doing three things:
- having Truth drop the belt to either Rey or Andrade at Fastlane
- giving Rey and Andrade a 15-20 minute United States Championship match at WrestleMania
- letting Truth win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, mostly so he can spend the next year wrestling in that one-strap black Andre caveman singlet
Best: A Flair For The Gold
Or “A Flair For The Gold Lining Of A Big Red Pentagon?” Not enough of the WWE championship belts involve gold these days. When people refer to the Tag Team Championship as “gold” I’m like, “are you looking at the same giant nickel on a blue Band-Aid I am?”
Anyway, if Bobby Roode didn’t continue to exist, the decision to write Charlotte Flair as a sympathetic good guy last year is one of the worst creative decisions WWE’s made, even if it ended up pushing Becky Lynch into the stratosphere in revolt. Charlotte is such a natural heel, because her last name is FLAIR, and you’d be hard-pressed to find any genealogy that lends itself to pro wrestling excellence and entitlement more. She’s doing great promo work right now, and last night’s Smackdown was no exception. I really do hope Stephanie McMahon just hands her the Raw Women’s Championship on Monday. That’s what you guys get for having passion and integrity. You should just try being related to somebody Triple H loves!
Best, Mostly: Blackochet
I’m still not sure what WWE’s plan is for these randomly occurring NXT stars on main roster shows, but they’re going over everybody, so I hope they have SOMETHING in mind. Ricochet and Aleister Black are pretty much made for the main roster anyway; one’s a peak-level acrobat who spent enough time under a mask on a TV set to learn how to express himself to a large crowd with his body, and the other’s basically The Undertaker if he was a foot shorter and loved karate. Those guys should’ve had action figures before they were even born.
Their latest victims are Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev, who feel like they’ve gotten slotted into that NXT Kassius Ohno role of “skilled worker who gets a good crowd reaction but we aren’t gonna do anything with them, so let’s just have them lose to the new guys a bunch.” I wish they could to that with, like, Primo and Epico and let Rusev and Nakamura be big deals, but I guess everyone on the show can’t get a push and be champion at once.
The Snake Community??
I don’t normally side with AJ Styles in situations like this, but come on, Randy … we’ve seen the house you built.
Worst: Kevin Owens Has Pinned The WWE Champion!
Don’t get me wrong, the match was good. Kevin Owens looks awesome right now, and appears to be in the best shape of his WWE career. Daniel Bryan is Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston’s being a total classic babyface by competing like a professional and going along with the promotion’s booking despite them openly shitting on him in the open, and Erick Rowan is in a good role as an outlying enforcer who sometimes wrestles in tag team matches.
But yo, this is three weeks in a row that someone has “pinned the WWE Champion” on Smackdown. In a row. There’s got to be something else you can do to build these challengers and matches. Every time you do a big spotlight booking trope like this, you should take it off the table for at least the rest of the cycle. That’d even feel lazy if we weren’t doing it every single week. It’s even worse when Raw’s out there doing it multiple times in the same show the day before.
To properly sandwich this criticism, again, the match was pretty fun. Owens using the Stunner to get the fall does the same thing I said about Bayley winning with the top rope elbow drop on Raw; by showing that the unexpected signature moves can beat top-level talent sometimes, you add some validity to the nearfalls you’re gonna use it for in the future. Otherwise you’re out there like Sami Zayn, throwing Blue Thunder Bombs that look like solid gold every time and never get more than two. That one time a Blue Thunder Bomb got a pin felt like a miracle. Same with Rollins’ superplex Falcon Arrow.
And anyway, it’s good to see a WWE main-eventer paying tribute to one of the best to ever do it.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
This should open up with Batista dragging Ric into the arena
Charly: Charlotte, do you feel bad about what happened to your dad at his birthday last night?
Charlotte: What, did he fall in the cake or something? I’ve learned a long time ago when I was a little girl to just avoid my dad’s birthday parties. We agreed it was for my own good. Tired of fighting strippers.
Savage Charly: So are you the worst daughter ever or just scared of Batista?
VINCE: Kofi, I’m replacing you with a wrestler that some call “KO.”
*Kassius Ohno’s ears perk up*
VINCE: A great Canadian star…
*Kyle O’Reilly’s ears perk up*
VINCE: A truly Elite athlete…
*The Internet’s ears perk up*
VINCE: KEVIN OWENS!
I will give WWE all my money if they show Kevin Owens being attacked in the parking lot later, followed by Kofi walking past, saying, “that’s a shame.”
No, John Cena would wait ’til Rey is exhausted then beat him.
Pictured: Aleister & Ricochet
Truth attempting to channel John Cena’s essence is further proof that he’s actually the smartest character on the show
It’s too bad Smackdown doesn’t have their own women’s championship. If someone was holding such a thing, they may take umbrage with this promo and show up to seek retribution.
FINALLY the SteenCold Stunner gets a win! It’s entered The Bayley Elbow Drop & Calf Crusher level
TRUTH: In times like these I gotta ask myself…self what would John Cena do?
SELF: BURY THEM BOTH
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 if you’re gonna drop down into the comments to say, “NO MENTION OF LACEY EVANS??” just know I take the Vinnie Massaro stance that she’s just walking out into the arena to fart where no one will notice.