Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: Goldberg and The Undertaker had a face-to-face confrontation to set up what I assume was a really good and universally beloved old man fight. Plus, Dolph Ziggler is still a thing!
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Anyway, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for June 11, 2019.
Worst: Another Half Hour Of Shane McMahon
To give you a quick grasp on how fundamentally broken this entire company is right now, Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor vs. Shinsuke Nakamura was relegated to being a dark match so Smackdown Live could run Raw’s Drew McIntyre vs. Raw’s The Miz as part of a 30 minute segment devoted to putting over Shane McMahon. Read that a few times until it really sinks in.
It’s terribly, violently broken, and nobody seems in much of a hurry to fix it. You’re breaking the hearts and killing the professional drive and artistic ambitions of the best talent of a generation so you can do the year’s 24th 15-minute show-opening promo and regurgitate a somehow worse version of the thing you literally did the night before. Raw had Miz TV get interrupted to set up a match, and a long, pointless segment glorifying Shane McMahon. Smackdown has a Shane McMahon appearance on Miz TV set up a long, pointless match glorifying Shane McMahon. It’s insane. It’s literally insanity. I feel like Tyrion Lannister, wondering why my dense cousin Orson keeps smashing beetles with a rock.
One of the reasons it feels so frustrating to be a fan right now is … well, everything, but what I’m specifically talking about is Shane’s weird invulnerability to everything. If you boo him, he pretends you’re booing someone else. If you chant, “this is boring,” he blows it off and pretends it’s about somebody else. If you make no noise, it’s “hushed silence.” It’s a weird, sweaty child trying to fill his dad’s shoes without knowing how to tie them, or why he SHOULD tie them, or why people wear shoes in the first place.
I just don’t understand what the end game is supposed to be here. What’s the end goal of this Shane McMahon superman push? The blowoff should’ve been The Miz kicking his ass and putting him away at WrestleMania, but it didn’t happen. So then the blowoff became The Miz kicking his ass in a steel cage at Money in the Bank, but it didn’t happen. Shane won both matches. Then you’re like, “okay, maybe Roman Reigns will just Superman punch him to death and that’ll be it,” but nope, Shane won that, too. This non-wrestler has won three straight marquee singles matches against top competitors and is dancing on their graves, so what’s left? What’s the goal? There isn’t anyone bigger than Roman Reigns on the regular roster to step up and give him his comeuppance, and it’s not even like they’re playing Shane up as that much of a master manipulator like Vince. He’s just going in there and winning matches, and everyone’s treating him like he’s amazing. He won that “Best in the World” trophy as a face, if you’ll remember.
If Miz couldn’t win the feud built around the guy turning heel on him and assaulting his father, and if Roman Reigns can’t win the feud beyond beating up Shane’s much bigger and younger and stronger and better henchman multiple times, what gives? Who’s the ultimate hero? Triple H? This is some straight-up Vince Russo booking himself to win the World Heavyweight Championship and shaving Ric Flair’s head shit, and I’m blown away that nobody seems to realize it.
What’s especially painful for me is that I was watching WCW while it was falling apart, and I was writing about this exact same shit on wrestling op boards. Why is any of this happening? What does any of this mean? And the sentiment at the time was, “wait and see where it goes!” Well, I waited, and I saw where it went, and I’d honestly prefer it if the biggest wrestling company in the world, the same company that put every other wrestling company out of business and turned the “sport” I love more than anything in the world into a globalized monopoly, to not circle the same hopeless drain I lost WCW in almost 20 fucking years ago.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Smackdown opens with Shane McMahon and His Amazing Friends as guests on Miz TV. Miz tries to get them to, you know, react to stimulus, but it’s hopeless. Shane just squints and makes faces about things until it’s his time to talk, and he uses that time to assure us that (1) he’s not intending to ever face any kind of consequences, and that (2) he barely cares enough to interact with or entertain the crowd, much less LISTEN to what they’re saying and REACT to it. If his dad has spent every segment on Raw in 1996-1998 playing off boos like they were for Stone Cold Steve Austin, it wouldn’t have been fun to boo him. The back-and-forth is what makes action storytelling, and if shit’s just one-sided forever you start losing interest. Ratings go down. People stop watching. They watch something else and wait for dumb assholes like me to tell them what happened the next day on the Internet. I did the same thing with comic books back in the day. Everything started feeling meaningless, so I stopped buying comics and kept up with the stories by reading Wizard magazine.
The payoff to another large, disinterested Shane McMahon promo flagellation is a gauntlet match, wherein Miz can get his “dream match” with Shane (which he’s already had, and lost, twice) if he can defeat Elias and Drew McIntyre. He defeats Elias in like two minutes, because in theory we might actually like and be entertained by Elias, and we can’t have that shit.
That gives way to Miz vs. Drew McIntyre, wherein this is the big spot.
He clearly did that on purpose, especially considering they left it in the highlight video, so what, is the story that he was “exhausted” after wrestling a two minute match and getting four minutes into match two?
Anyway, now that we’ve established that The Miz is a complete geek who can’t even properly execute his own moves, we get to watch him lose to Drew McIntyre. That’s fine, because it’s Drew McIntyre, but that immediately sets up Miz losing via TAP OUT SUBMISSION to Shane McMahon’s strip mall jiu-jitsu in 40 seconds. So that’s the third time Miz has lost a match to Shane, and what’s the payoff? Miz maybe winning a match in the future, bringing the former WrestleMania main-eventing WWE Champion to a 1-3 record against one of his three evil non-wrestling bosses?
Independent of my opinions as a wordy, annoying “smark” on the Internet, this is just boring, lifeless, bad television. Can we start pretending NXT and 205 Live are the main roster, and that Raw and Smackdown are developmental? At least that’d explain why they keep writing and re-writing the same bad episode over and over and expecting the talent to magically salvage something from it. And I guess also maybe it can explain why they did a brand split and a “Superstar Shake-Up” only to feature the same 20 people on every episode anyway. How many wrestlers are rotting from the inside right now so we can give the boss’ son another half hour to depressively jack it on live television?
More Promo Parades
After that, it’s time to do a brand new segment: someone comes to the ring with a microphone and talks for a while, but is interrupted by someone, until 2-6 wrestlers have argued their way into a match. Maybe you saw it twice on Raw, twice on the Raw before that, and in every segment Dolph Ziggler’s had since returning.
The best news of the entire episode is that Big E is back, having quickly recovered from his meniscectomy. He looks great. Unfortunately, the most creative thing they have for the reformed New Day is a six-man tag team match against three heels who constantly lose, thereby making them about as threatening as the Smackdown announce team. Honestly I think Corey Graves and Byron Saxton would have a better chance of winning matches right now than Sami Zayn. That guy’s been literally and figuratively thrown in the garbage so many times he should start wrestling in a Hefty bag.
The resulting match is fine. It’s the only match in two hours that goes more than 5 1/2 minutes and approaches “good.” I’m super happy Big E is back, as Big E has always been my favorite New Day guy by a wide margin.
I feel like I need to take a second here to address those of you who might’ve already scrolled down into the comments to talk about how I obviously “hate” the show and how I should stop watching it, and for what feels like the thousandth time I need to shake you by the shoulders and say I do hate these shows, but I don’t hate the performers, the medium, or the idea of popular WWE television shows, and the only reason I’m on this tube of Internet every week running my mouth is because of a desperate, never-ending want for the most visible and available promotion of the thing I love to not make me feel like a stupid idiot for sticking around and watching it. There’s got to be a better way to urge the creatives in charge of a thing to put some effort into it beyond completely giving up and walking away.
Let’s talk about the positives, what do you say?
Jobbers Of The Week
Remember how weird it was on Raw that the IIconics just restarted the angle they abandoned in April where they said there were no good tag teams to defend against, so they set themselves up for an easy match against jobbers? Well, Smackdown does that exact same thing a day later with Daniel Bryan and Rowan. So now they’ve got the Women’s Tag Team Champions, the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, and Aleister Black all doing bits where they never wrestle because there’s “no competition,” in a universe where the only reason they don’t have competition is because nobody’s putting in the effort to create it. How many characters are gonna complain about talent not magically rising up to face them?
Anyway, Daniel Bryan and Rowan try to have a match for the “YOLO County Tag Team Championship” against AJ Kirsch and Dave Dutra. All you need to know about Dutra is that his nickname is “The Futra,” which is hilarious. You might know Kirsch better as the guy who plays “Buzz” in the WWE 2K19 career mode, which is perfect considering the belts they gave him to hold on Smackdown work just like those ill-fitting championships in the video games. Between Buzz showing up on Smackdown and Mansoor (the voice of “Cole Quinn” in career mode) winning a battle royal in Saudi Arabia, it’s been a great week for WWE video game characters. Maybe Stomping Grounds will end with Barron Blade putting on a smiley face mask and attacking Seth Rollins in the parking lot.
They end up losing a quick match to Heavy Machinery instead of the tag champs, and now I guess Otis and Tucky are Yolo County champs. Given the way they treat tag team wrestling, WWE should just make all the tag belts out of cardboard.
Worst: First World Problems
In women’s division news, the Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross friendship is suddenly about Bliss manipulating Cross’ emotions by claiming Bayley “liked” negative tweets about her without even taking the time to fake it, and Sonya Deville made Ember Moon mad by knocking her Switch out of her hands. NOW what’s she going to do for two hours during a live wrestling show? WRESTLE? Come on.
Additionally, the IIconics appeared. During a commercial break.
Can’t find room on the program for the Women’s Tag Team Champions if you’ve taken 30 minutes out of your afternoon to make funny cardboard belts for characters who are never showing up again!
The Best Thing On The Show Is A Guy Accidentally Getting Locked In A Box
R-Truth, Carmella, and WWE’s underest under-card guys continue to turn lemons into lemonade by making the 24/7 Championship segments fun to watch. The 24/7 Championship is still a dirt poor idea, especially in a world where they can’t do anything “hardcore” and can only schoolboy each other until the end of time, but the focus on underutilized talent is FANTASTIC. They can feud over the Butthole Championship For Jerks for all I care, as long as it gets guys like EC3 and Drake Maverick and Cedric Alexander more TV time. You know, assuming they can’t ever wrestle on the wrestling show.
Here, Truth tries to avoid literally nobody by accidentally getting locked in a production crate. Jinder Mahal briefly tries to impersonate Carmella and I guess pin the box (?), but loses track of him. Truth gets loaded onto a semi-truck headed for Raw, so … maybe Truth is dead, and Jinder will have to pin his corpse on Monday? It wouldn’t be the first time Truth has died on Raw, and incredibly that’s not a joke about the show quality.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Dolph’s gimmick is really speaking to every white person who writes off a minority’s promotion as “affirmative action” even when they’re not qualified for the position the other person earned.
That pin was Sonya’s pride month bonus
Sadly, I’d love a stable of McIntyre, Elias, and the Revival if Shane was their manager not their muscle.
Those Taco Bell commercials have way better character consistency, plot, and pacing than any WWE programming.
Aleister: “Okay, guys please. I’m trapped here, someone please save me!”
Shouldn’t Mandy and Sonya as one of the 3 tag teams in WWE be more interested in going after The Iiconics than bullying nerds in the hallway?
Roman couldn’t beat Shane. It’s official: Shane is worse than cancer.
Chad Gable Acronym Comments Of The Week
The Real Birdman
The G.A.B.L.E. System
Get mini push
Abandoned by creative immediately
Become enhancement talent
Linger around backstage for weeks
Enter segment randomly
Go to AEW
Bucks of Youth
Aflame as in the
But when I arrive at the gleam’s origin I see that it has been
“Dear Mr. McMahon,
You don’t know me, but my name is Chad Gable. I work for you. My gimmick for the past several years has been, ‘owned a towel,’ but has recently turned into, ‘can spell his own last name.’ I’m writing to you because Raw and Smackdown are the worst, and I will throw myself off a bridge if I have to wear another sparkling bath robe. Can I wrestle? Maybe on one of the shows about wrestling? I thought that’s what all the shows were about, but lol
Anywayz, get back to me when you can. Kurt Angle’s abandoned son says hi!
Hey, it worked!
That’s it for this week’s Best and Worst of Smackdown. Sorry I didn’t have any extremely dense, angry thoughts about it. You can help us out by sharing the column on social media, and by dropping down into our comments section to let us know what you thought of the Shane. Sorry, the “show.” Don’t know why I typed Shane.
Shane you next week!