Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: We got a New Boss Same As The Old Boss Ms. Money In The Bank winner and a Konnor flashing back to when he thought he was an off-brand TMNT villian. This week, Some Y’all Like Me, Some of Y’all Don’t.
Speaking of which, Hi! My name is Brian James O’Connell and the Uproxx powers that be have blessed me with the opportunity to review the Red, White and Blue Show. Brandon Stroud will be back next week, as normal.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for July 4, 2017.
Best: TEAM AMERICA: WORLD PUN-LICE
The opening hype video gets in all the Greatest Hits. American flag. Grand Canyon. White House. Bald Eagle. OCCUPY RAW Yes Chant. All the fixins.
As a comedian, I personally feel like puns are the lowest form of comedy, but American Alpha gets into the signature for the first time in a million years just so they can make that “Ready, Willing and Gable” pun. I guess that is at least “WWE Remembering Things” so I’ll allow it.
SOME OF Y’ALL BEST & SOME OF Y’ALL WORST: John Cena Returns
The horns hit and Phoenix goes straight to the JOHN CENA SUCKS singalong, but can’t really keep the energy going. It’s a dry heat.
I’m surprised John is wearing his Florida Gators colors and not his red/white/blue Hustle, Loyalty, Respect shirt, but who am I to say what merch the sales master should push on his return? Cena tosses his hat and runs the ropes like his match is about to start but keeps his shirt on, so it appears this is the Five Moves of Doom of John Cena entrances. He checks his watch to synchronize the T-minus 20-Minute Opening Promo and then grabs the mic.
Cena points out the jeers, calls for the crowd to hit ‘em up and he does the /shrug emoticon and makes Sandler faces while the audience does a half-hearted “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks.” Maybe we’re all mellowing in our wrestling fan statistic old age?
Cena cuts a simple promo about the USA where he still thinks he’s an Actual Marine but it works because we’ve all seen the kickass Love Has No Labels PSA so it gets the pop it deserves and he hits the “American Dream” note perfectly.
He segues into a “all you people” and “all these wrestlers come out here and work hard” and then into an even more awkward “rumors about my future” and “I’ve gone Hollywood” angle. The line “I’m not a part-timer mascot. I’m an all timer,” is slightly above “I’m not a good guy/I’m not a bad guy,” but this is Cena Promo 101, so it flows naturally out of him.
He then calls out every WWE Superstar on the roster that is worth a 7-11 cup and re-establishes his free agency for both Raw and Smackdown.
Best: RUSEV RETURNS
Rusev’s music hits and we’re back to where we should have never left. Crowd gets a half-hearted USA chant going. Are they tired or just bored? Are they saving up for the big USA chant when Jinder shows up?
Rusev says “You say I don’t work hard John Cena and while you were in Hollywood doing your movies and whatnot” and I want him to add “and whatnot” to the end of every sentence he ever says from now on. I LOVED when he rightly called out a little truth with “We’ve seen commercials for two months ‘John Cena coming back!’ and I’ve been rehabbing my shoulder and where is my commercials, Rusev?”
Now, that I’ve done this for the 1st time I completely understand why the “What?” chant should be superkicked into the heart of the sun. I feel you, Brandon Stroud.
Cena hits him with the “Bulge Area” kindergarten humor. Cena calls him a joke and punchline so that he can swing the “punch you in the mouth” button. We’re into hot dog insults now, and all I want is for Rusev to climb on top of his tank and shoot off the scribbled promo John Cena has written on his forearm.
Cena challenges him to a flag match. Rusev says, “nah. You can’t boss me around. On my time and my terms”. Cena calls him a coward (derp) and then gets the audience to sing him off with U-S-A chants, and this went from Best to Worst by the time I finished this sentence.
Best: Interesting Match-Ups
Daniel Bryan tells Chad Gable and AJ Styles that Kevin Owens is calling and complaining that neither should be in the U.S. Championship Battle Royal to determine the No. 1 contender, because Owens has beaten both Styles and Gable. Bryan says KO has a point. “Daniel Bryan as a GM who is fair minded and listens to all of his employees even the dicks” is fine, because I’m all in on anything that is not an Authority story.
DB proposes a Win and You’re In match between AJ and Gable to get into tonight’s battle royal. AJ isn’t afraid of a “little competition” and Gable claims he’s more than a “little competition” and both of these men deserve Emmys for pulling off with such aplomb what was clearly a Vince little person joke.
I’m legit interested in a Gable/AJ match because these dudes can go and it’s a fresh match-up. Obviously, AJ is going to win, but I do like the idea of him going into the battle royal tired.
We come back from a commercial right into AJ’s dope as shit entrance. His music is so good he could get away with entering the rap battle later just by playing the music and slouching in the ropes like a version of Raven who is super into Yelawolf. In fact, what do I have to do to get Yelawolf as a Guest Host on Smackdown and let me write that Best & Worst as well?
Gable gets a two-second intro, they go straight into greco-roman style mat wrestling and Old John O’Clock name drops Gable’s amateur wrestling win in Mongolia. I almost forget for a moment how much JBL sucks ass as a human. Blue Meanie should have sued.
Worst: Picture-In-Picture Commercials
I’m friendly with TJ and Pete so I’m happy every time I see a Sonic commercial, but f*ck me AJ and Gable are starting to do belly-to-belly suplexes and working the arm and I want to drop a cage on this ring and just do Blanchard/Magnum for the rest of the show.
These commercials during the screen-in-screen with the match is maddening and I hate it.
Best: Actual Wrestling
We’re back to the match for real and these guys have pretty good natural chemistry. All thes shit is smooth/appears to hurt and these dudes look like they have “done their homework” on each other. Oh, shit, it’s like an actual wrestling match! Does Vince know? Did Cornette bum rush the truck?
The Styles Clash counter into the Angle lock into the Calf Crusher counter was just so so so pretty. And the rolling German countered into a sunset-flip esque pin attempt into the kickout into the Pele kick is just what the doctor ordered.
Phenomenal Phorearm (TM) ends it and this match was great! A little over 7 minutes, AJ goes over but Gable looks like a credible singles guy. If they break up American Alpha, sending this young man to Raw for Gable/Neville is a program that will get my popcorn ready.
Supplementary Best for AJ giving Gable the honor handshake after the match. Stuff like this isn’t hard and is why Smackdown is considered “The Good Show”.
Worst: Mojo Rawley is Sad
I hate this stupid break-up angle. Mojo is fine, and if he wasn’t BFFs with Gronk this wouldn’t be happening. But who is going heel here? The guy with the jumping dick finisher or the guy with the Super Bowl Champion friend?
There was a time when Zack Ryder was a SUPER OVER title holder, the champions were Punk/Bryan/Phoenix and the future looked so so so bright. Then Beth got Glam-a-yawned a few years before the Divas Revolution (which I hear Paige started, yes?) and Punk got fed up. Dragon got his brain cage rattled and poor Zack got wheelchair rolled into oblivion because his best friend made out with his girl in front of him. Eve left the company to do BJJ, John Cena opened this show by hopping in the DeLorean back to when he was in a decent feud and Ryder is wearing a suit like he’s a hobo Bobby Roode.
I give up. Woo, woo, woo quoth the Ryder nevermore …
Best: Ms. Money in The Bank
10 million words have been written about the finish at the Money in the Bank PPV, so I won’t bore you with my take, but “Ms. Money In The Bank” is the best phrase WWE has come up with in 20 years and I’m all in.
Try it. Just try it. “Ms. Money In The Bank Asuka” gets me more hyped than 50 Mojo Rawleys.
Best: Feel The Glow
I cannot tell you how f’ing happy I am for Naomi and how she worked her way up to the top just by getting better and better and better. The glow gimmick/entrance/glowing belt are all hugely over and they should be. I’ll even let her do the “Ells-worthless” bit, because I can get down with a Gorgeous Johanna Cena Who Is Best Friends With The American Dragon And Knows How To Wrestle A Bit Now. I’m Team Naomi all day. Every day.
Naomi, however, gets yet ANOTHER match against Lana, and just as I was thinking there’s no point to this feud and that Naomi should just be wrestling squash matches, this end up being the squash match. THAT’LL TEACH YOU TO GET MARRIED, LANA YOU JERK.
Worst: Tamina. Just Tamina.
Tamina shows up, and who gives a damn? Why does Tamina care? Why are she and Lana friends again? What do they have in common? Is this really supposed to be a female Shawn Michaels/Diesel situation? Pretty sure Shawn won a few matches before Diesel showed up on the scene.
Best: Shinsuke Doesn’t Have To Do a Promo if Baron Corbin Jumps Him
I WISH they would let Nakamura talk, because he’s really charming and his English is fine. But I guess since Shinsuke continues to roll his eyes and throw away the Rosetta Stone CD-ROMs Vince leaves in his gym bag, our backstage interviewer doesn’t even get to finish her sentence before Baron Corbin blasts Nakamura from behind with the MITB briefcase.
Nakamura Fighting Spirits up IMMEDIATELY and starts throwing elbows before security pulls them apart. The camera ends on Nak giving the charismatic facials he’s known for, and in less than 60 seconds they got both guys over. HELL YEAH.
I honestly really like this feud. I mean, this isn’t the AJ Styles/Nakamura feud that we were teased with, but that’s okay. I can wait on that. Baron might still be a little green, but Nakamura can carry anybody and a fued based around “He is afraid of me and he should be” is just so, so, so great. Werewolf Biker versus Japanese Ric Flair? YES PLEASE.
Worst: Rap Battle NO NO NO
The less said about this, the better, but here are the lowlights:
- The Usos come out with the Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. chapter of Aces & Eights and Jimmy and/or Jey wearing the belt around his neck like Urkel was cosplaying Flavor Flav.
- New Day come out in American Flag gear that they can only wear once, accompanied by what’s left of the Rosebuds. And goddamn it, they just ruin everyone they bring up from NXT don’t they? I’m confident that’s Low-Ki dressed up like the fourth sailor from On The Town.
- Must I be the one to point out that this is a Poetry Slam and NOT a Rap Battle? We all see this right?
- I know the WWE thinks we have memories only go back six weeks, but the Usos acting like the hardest dudes in Em City is insulting my intelligence.
- We have the weakest brawl in the history of brawls, which Wale breaks up with a stern word and then the heels LEAVE THE RING WITH THEIR TAILS BETWEEN THEIR LEGS BECAUSE WALE SAID SO. I mean, it’s not as bad as Flo Rida destroying Heath Slater with one punch, but it’s not much better, you know?
- The only way I would have respect for the kayfabe/fourth-wall breaking is if Jimmy and Jey said, “Hey, Kofi? When were you planning on splitting the difference between ‘decapitate The Miz’ and ‘four feet of air for Trouble in Paradise?’” If you’re gonna have a roast battle, get real, Us-HBOz.
Best: Titus O’Neil Takes Over 205 Live
I think Titus running 205 Live as a heel GM sounds fantastic. I mean, no one in Creative is paying attention anyway, right? Go ahead and sneak on in there, Pancake. Go hog wild. What’s the worst that could happen?
Worst: 2 Seconds Later
Immediately after the Titus clip, Aiden English was suddenly singing, which is a bummer, because I thought we were doing a 205 Live segment. (For an actual surprise, for once. I know Cruisers are on Raw but it’s the 4th of July and no one’s watching outside of that building, so slip it in and see if anyone notices.)
Randy Orton interrupts him and I guess we’re having the match that was supposed to happen last week, but Randy assaulted a dude because he’s the good guy.
Aiden interrupts Randy on the ropes, hits him with the mic and beats him down outside, but keeps the scarf on because “gentleman.” He rolls back into the ring to finish his song and LOL we cut to a picture in picture commercial and we don’t hear the song anyway! Oh, WWE, you are hilarious trolls.
There is something kind of great/kind of weird about 2017 where Aiden English is getting heat and beating down Randy Orton. I mean, I’m happy for Aiden but, like, why? What’s the story here? Orton is going into a Punjabi Prison Match (BARF) against WWE champion Jinder Mahal (It’s fine. Get over it.), and he’s getting his ass beat during a commercial break by the remaining half of a old-timey tag team.
Orton powerslams English and then finally takes his hoodie off. At this point, I was expecting he’ll do the second rope DDT, remove his boots and so on and so forth until Aiden is getting RKO’ed outta nowhere by a Clothing-Optional Beach Viper.
Randy continues the comeback and Aiden is selling a ton and the announcers start talking up the whole “I hope the champ is watching this/this is what is going to happen at the PPV!”
Sadly, Randy does the DDT off of the announce table and keeps his clothes on. Orton picks up the stairs, the ref warns him about being DQ’ed, he does it anyway and the match is called off, but they just let Orton roll Aiden into the ring and RKO him while the ref is all “What The Hell Bro?”
Jinder comes out with Singh One and Singh Two, but they’re all in suits, so I guess no run-in and beat down. Jinder holds up the title like it’s a taunt, but the announce table just said “14-time champion Randy Orton” so cool story bro, you know?
Jinder cuts a heel in America/face everywhere else in the world promo and it’s fine. It’s totally fine. This is what it is. Meltzer said so. Get over it.
Randy cuts him off before we actually hear a language other than English because GOD FORBID. Orton cuts a “Randy Says A Lot So He Can Get To The Point” beginning to the promo but actually (surprise, surprise) is super efficient. Next week, Randy is going to cut the best promo of his life by saying, “I’m going to RKO you back to India because you’re a jerk” and we’re going to make him WWE Poet Laureate because it’s still better than whatever Wale booked earlier in the night.
Best: Johnny Curtis’ Fake Moustache Almost Falling Off
Worst: KANELLIS OR CAN’T-ELLIS. PICK ONE.
Great. They’re in love. But honestly, Sami Zayn is the most legit sincere babyface on the planet, so putting him in a feud where he’s supposed to be against love makes ZERO SENSE TO ME.
The Kanellis’s’s (whatever) aren’t really being dicks about being in love, right? Like, they’re that new couple who are three months into their relationship and they kiss a little too often and don’t stop holding hands while eating brunch, but that’s not really fuel for a feud, right?
I mean, Dusty Rhodes was in a HORRIBLY misogynistic angle back in the day where he “won” the “services” of Baby Doll for one month from Tully Blanchard, but that was because she was constantly cheating and helping Tully win. Dusty didn’t hate them because they were a couple who were really into each other. Sami is just kind of interrupting MiRia making out in the hallway at a house party because he’s trying to make it to the bathroom.
I’m extremely concerned with where they’re going with Sami here. If I know WWE, they’ll do this feud and then have Maria leave Mike for Sami and then where will we be? Sometimes I wish they would “suspend” Sami or have KO hurt him and put him out of commission, only to have a masked man come back for his revenge leading up to, oh I don’t know … say, a ladder war.
Screw it. Let’s suspend Bo Dallas too and have ourselves a masked tag team debut right after Summer Slam.
Best: BATTLE ROYAL!!!!
I love any version of a bunch of dudes in the ring. Royal Rumble is hands down my favorite PPV. Bunkhouse Stampede was my JAM as a kid. Lumberjack Matches that spiral out of control. Stir my drink, War Games.
Sami gets a Mr. Show transition intro and then we go to commercial. Everyone else comes in during the break and we come back at the end of Dolph Ziggler’s entrance. AJ gets a second entrance on the night and he does a decent job of selling the damage from the early match but after the “rap battle” that felt like 2 Million B.C., so I’m not really buying it.
Ziggler gets eliminated first and then we cut to another commercial.
Quick side rant: If there was EVER an argument for an “offseason” or rotating wrestlers so they have 2-3 months off a year that isn’t 6 weeks of 19 ROUNDS or THE MARINE: DID YOU KNOW WE MADE THIS MANY OF THEM?, it’s Dolph Ziggler.
I know this gets said a lot, but they have this guy who is above-average in just about every category, and they run him out there week after week after week, and I just don’t get it. The Zig Zag Man was SO f*cking over and ON FIRE with AJ and Big E and I know, I know, the concussions and they’re worried about putting the strap on him and they don’t know if they can count on him and blah blah blah but he’s working 300-plus days a year right now. Give him some time off to do stand-up and when he comes back, you’ll be able to hear that pop from space.
Best/Worst: More Battle Royal In Earnest, But Not Really
We’re back into a battle royal in name only because now we only have seven minutes left in the show, and you’ve forgotten what a great worker Luke Harper is, haven’t you? There are mummies less buried than my dude.
Brezango does a decent Royal Rumble Kofi Spot and it’s nice to hear them get some love out of the crowd, if only to see them lose 0.2 seconds later.
We tease the Hype Bro break-up, then Mojo saves Ryder … only to then have Mojo turn on Ryder, so I guess he is the heel but who gives a shit because Sami eliminates Mojo and I’m so confused as to what the plan is here.
Sami, AJ and Tye Dillinger are the last three left and they’re all faces, so I guess that’s nice. Sami goes after Tye first, which makes no sense, because they should team up on the more experienced AJ. But then again, maybe Mojo was meant to win and Sami went into business for himself to get suspended/re-masked, so they’re winging it. Two Tye Breakers later (one each to Sami and AJ), and then Tye dumps them both over and now we’re in a Apron-Will-They-Or-Won’t-They Spot.
Sami gets a window and dumps Tye, and now we’re down to the two options that would be Owens’ worst nightmare. KO sells a great “concern” face that Kevin Dunn miraculously cuts to in time, then Owens immediately begins referring to himself in third person, and talking about how he has beaten both of these men before. And that is why KO is amazing: Tell the story simply and well.
Sami goes for the Helluva Kick, AJ ducks and Sami almost goes over and holds on. Test of strength suplex battle on the apron, AJ goes up, knees Sami in the face and then Pele Kicks Sami to the floor which Sami sells by passing out but flying like he’s in Angry Birds.
KO comes in for the perfectly timed beatdown, gets too cocky and AJ is left standing tall in the middle of the ring and raises the belt so they can throw up the chyron in the close-up.
I personally HATE it when non-champions touch the belt. I know that ship sailed many, many years ago, but I will continue to stand on the dock and shake my fist at the horizon until I’m a skeleton in a 2007 PIF t-shirt.
All in all, not entirely a bad show! The stuff I liked I really liked, and the stuff I didn’t like actually didn’t bum me out that much. Not bad for a holiday show.
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to being savaged in the comments.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
I was hoping that KO would beat up Sami out of habit.
MOJO RAWLEY IS A HYPE-OCRITE!!!
Me to me: Did you ever find Tyler Breeze attractive when he put on a dress and played Tenay Young?
Me: no… hahahahahahahahahahahaha………… no
Me to Me: ok, me neither, just asking
Pfft. Typical of the English, trying to put a stop to Independence Day
Did Sami Zayn just ambush Enzo?
If they replaced the Singh Brothers with the Shining Stars, would anyone notice?
Bring the opponent to the stairs, totally fine. Bring the stairs to the opponent, instant DQ.
Dave M J
YOU’RE GONNA LISTEN TO WHAT I’VE GOTTA SAY!
We only have 30 minutes, Randy
Was that Sin Cara? I legitimately forgot he existed.
I’m surprised nobody went with an “X gonna give it to you, so Woods took a Paige, spitting hot fire like a pyromage, Mana tapped out so I hit up a potion, slaughtering Usos is a day at the beach and I walk on oceans, Usos get beat like a Friday night with Jergens lotion, New Day rocks get the crowd in motion. Up Up Down Down when you tap out like Lana on your girl Naomi’s booty, TV PG out the window this is mature like Call of Duty. Modern Warfare, do it with Flair like Charlotte rocking natural selection, moonsault assault add you to my title collection. Big Balla brand got nothing on X, I’ll drop you like an N-bomb on Raw though I prefer the Jaeger with percoset. Get hype bro, I’m like Bo against Flo-Rida, get fly like Neville doing a red arrow off a hang glider. Like an RKO I spit it out of nowhere, that’s your damn luck I just don’t care, like Brock about the kids of Heath Slater, you got served like a waiter now leave me a tip, I ain’t Garcia but this was a long strange trip. Bring it on son, step to this sound, if you need me I’ll be watching Lucha Underground.” Something like that.