Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: Anyone not watching the series finale of Game of Thrones tuned into Money in the Bank to see Daniel Bryan and Rowan lose a non-title match on the pre-show, Becky Lynch lose the Smackdown Women’s Championship to Charlotte Flair only for Charlotte to immediately lose it to Bayley, and Shane McMahon win a steel cage match via wardrobe malfunction.
One more thing: Hit those share buttons! Spread the word about the column on Facebook, Twitter and whatever else you use. Be sure to leave us a comment in our comment section below as well. I know we always ask this, and that this part is copy and pasted in every week, but we appreciate it every week. Onward to In Your House: Badd Blood Money!
Anyway, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for May 21, 2019.
Best: Big E!, Or
Worst: Welcome To The Promo Parade
You guys know the drill. This is the only way they know how to open shows anymore.
- the severity of the injury was a “work” for some reason to set our expectations and then flip them on their asses when he shows up earlier than expected and rages out with a heel turn on his friends (note: not especially likely, ever), or
- he’s not medically cleared, but well enough to show up and pretend like he got beaten up backstage, setting up Kofi having a personal grudge against whoever’s challenging him for the WWE Championship next
Sure enough, here’s Big Epsilon getting fridged:
E calls out Kevin Owens as the attacker, presumably to limit the amount of people Kingston would have at ringside for the match against Sami Zayn from “two” to “none,” and unless E’s pulling a weird Big Cass power move where he’s pretending to be attacked for some kind of grand manipulation, we have no reason to think he’s lying. The big twist-a-roo is that Sami just loses like a chump again in what makes up about 15 seconds of the 3-minute video, because a new challenger approaches:
Yeah, Dolph Ziggler is randomly back to do his one whimpery “actually I’m the best wrestler” promo and set up a WWE Championship match for Saudi Arabia because Kevin Owens isn’t going. So as per usual, Ziggler’s a last-second replacement nobody wanted as a first option, headed to WWE’s grossest show to do the job in a match nobody wants to watch. That we’ve already seen a hundred times! It’s PERFECT! Perfect Ziggling.
Dolph shows up later to explain himself — why, Dolph, why, and so on — by paraphrasing one of Billy Ray Cyrus’ forgotten ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ followup country hits — and like always, it’s good, passionate work that’s hard to connect with for long-time fans because we’ve been through this so, so many times before. Dolph’s the ultimate “rebound.” If you need someone to scab, Dolph’s your guy. He’ll show up, do that same promo a few times, talk about how he’s been in THIS BUSINESS for so long and is CLEARLY BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE IN THAT LOCKER ROOM IN REAL LIFE and just WANTS AN OPPORTUNITY, and then he gets one and loses, and we move on. And then six months later we get rumors of him leaving WWE or going on tour to do stand-up comedy, and then he pops up to do the bit again.
Taking it in a vacuum, it’s not a bad story. The idea that WWE has these talented journeymen veterans just kinda hanging around doing nothing hoping that one day maybe they’ll get their shot is an unfortunately real thing, and Ziggler finally pulling away from WWE after a decade only for one of his peers to step up and get that one magical opportunity that randomly came along is compelling. It’s what jealousy actually looks like. Jealousy isn’t hitting someone in the back with a chair because you’re mad at them and want their jewelry; jealousy is pretending to be someone’s friend because you want to ride their coattails and then flipping out on them and talking shit when they get opportunities that don’t involve you. Or just being cruelly, honestly mad in your heart that someone else is doing well, when you are the one who deserves it. It’s the difference in Mozart and Salieri, you know? It’s a tale as old as time.
So in the short term, which is how they write these shows, it’s good. In the broader, been-here-before term, it’s a dude who’s good at his job but so visibly and vocally tired of having to do this for a living that he’ll pop in to take somebody’s place in the bullshit dictator show, because why not? It’s just wrestling, and it’s just money, and at the end of the day, this makes you more money than telling jokes.
And, as presented in this week’s Raw column:
With the wild card rule in play, the new championship causing a pack of random jobbers to run around screaming at each other, and the only available pay-per-view build being for a Saudi Arabia show none of us are going to watch or talk about, the next couple of weeks of WWE TV might as well come out and announce themselves as a wash.
Speaking of that whole, “random jobbers running around screaming,” thing …
Day Two Of The 24/7 Championship Is Going Great
Not to repeat too much of the content from Monday — WWE, I’m looking in your direction — but so much of the 24/7 Championship still doesn’t make sense. First of all, why would you want a championship that the first champion won by picking up Mick Foley’s droppings? There’s no prestige in winning a wrestling championship you win without wrestling. Second of all, why would you want to win a championship that doesn’t really get or earn you anything besides having everyone you work with trying to beat you up all day? Most of the time people want to win championships, in kayfabe and out, because it gives them a level of professional satisfaction and allows them to say they’re the best in their field. Plus, more money, merchandising, TV-time, whatever. The 24/7 Championship just gives you a camera man nearby who films you floundering around like a goober until somebody pins you.
For example, the longest reigning 24/7 Champion of all time is R-Truth, who continues to defend his championship by … [checks notes] getting Carmella to dress him up as Carmella. I’m not sure how this avoids conflict, or how wearing a disguise helps if you’re also wearing the 24/7 Championship around your waist, but it’s Truth, so … who knows?
If they wanted to do a Hardcore Championship without being able to say “hardcore” because Mattel has them by whatever the G-rated word for “balls” is, they should’ve just done a straight-up comedy championship like Dragon Gate does. Instead, you’ve got a comedy guy who was United States Champion not that long ago running around with his Mixed Match Challenge Championship partner (and former Smackdown Women’s Champion) looking like Gertie and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in his wig disguise.
Truth’s shenanigags end up interrupting Carmella’s match with Mandy Rose and culminate with him being chased off into the night, so what’ve we learned? That if the 24/7 Championship wasn’t a joke the second it got booed for Mick Foley holding it up, it is now, and that if Truth wants to stay champ he should just stay at home until someone puts in enough work to find out where he is. Just always be running away slowly, like in It Follows.
Great title you’ve got there, WWE.
Best: 210-ish Live
Outside of the return of Langston™, the best moment of the night was Mustafa® vs. Cien Almas™. It was almost as good as the Antonio® match from Raw.
In all seriousness, surprise! Ali vs. Andrade was the best match of the night. It’s a perfect intersection of stories for the characters; Ali is a never-say-die babyface who is still undersized and overmatched even when he’s in the ring with a 210-pound guy like Andrade, and Andrade is a murder buzzsaw whose biggest weakness is his attention span, and his need to physically dominate his opponent. It’s why Zelina Vega is such a windfall for him, but even with her barking orders he can’t always keep his concentration and do the right thing. He absolutely wrecks Ali here but can’t put him away, and misses a couple of key opportunities to try by shaking his head “no” and deciding to do more moves. The running knees to the back of the head were a great example of this. Unfortunately for An Daddy, though, Ali makes like so many Goonies and never says die, pulling an inside cradle out of his ass and stealing a flash three.
Another good thing about the finish is that they have Ali win the match like this without having to immediately have Andrade pull him back in the ring and beat him down and move the story somewhere else. They give us the story, finish that story, and then let it breathe. That’s great. The only issue you might have is Andrade losing clean when he’s supposed to be challenging for the Intercontinental Championship in a few weeks, but (1) he’s going up against the Demon, and (2) it’s on Bigger And Better-er Than WrestleMania-ass Super Showdown, so who gives a shit.
Best: Charlotte Flair Has … NOT Pinned The Smackdown Women’s Champion?
Also moving in a positive direction this week is the beef between new Smackdown Women’s Champion via magic briefcase Bayley and former Smackdown Women’s Champion via opportunistic manipulation and cheating, Charlotte Flair. Bayley and Becky Lynch team up against the Dollywood Blondes and you think the finish is either going to be Lacey taking the fall or Charlotte pinning either of her opponents to set up some other championship match. Instead, Smackdown takes a moment to actually make one of their champions look competent and strong by having Bayley pin Flair. She doesn’t do it in a dominant way, leaving a lot on the table in terms of both action and story, but she does it regardless. That’s crucial right now when Bayley’s trying to “move past the hugs” without seeming like a complete deconstructing and vague rebuild of the character.
Plus, it’s good to see future 75-time champion Flair put someone over on the weekly shows outside of a big epic crying thing. Charlotte’s the first-women’s-everything, but Bayley’s actually the first women’s Grand Slam Champion and took away that seemingly inevitable additional accolade. It subverted expectation in a simple way, and now you can tell a story beyond, “Charlotte thinks she deserves everything and doesn’t take you seriously,” and, “Bayley can’t socially or emotionally handle anything.”
Re-Live The History Between Triple H And Randy Orton!
Shane McMahon is still feuding with two top Superstars at the same time, and beating one of them every time they fight. Now he and the McMahon Family are “putting obstacles in the way of Roman Reigns,” which has never made sense because he’s obviously the guy they love the most from a business standpoint, and makes even less sense now that he’s a public survivor of cancer and checks literally every box on their hypothetical dream performer. They’re just mad at him because he punched Vince once? It’s not like Roman knelt on the dude’s chest and punched him in the face until EMTs took him away like Kevin Owens, who is their friend again because he cheats all the time at the job they run?
It’s the same “he’s like Cena, everyone” stuff that spoiled us on Roman in the first place, and he should definitely just be feuding with and having matches with other actual wrestlers instead of getting 50% of the attention of 25% of the evil general manager machine. Right?
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
R-Truth should claim Lil’ Jimmy pinned him for the title, and that everyone should be looking for him to win the title instead.
I WAS BIG E’S FRIEND FIRST!
Good to see Dolphs character of “complete whiner” is still intact.
The Real Birdman
Carmella should’ve dressed Truth up as Liv Morgan or Buddy Murphy or Killian Dane then no one would recognize him
Firefly Fun house was particularly terrifying tonight. Using that footage of that old Orton/HHH feud was thinking outside the box.
Son Of Tony Zane
If this doesn’t get ratings, Vince is going to bury the 24/7 Title somewhere and award it to the first person who can find it under the big W.
Brock still believes in the brand split
WWE needs to pay for the Yakety Sax song. Just so it can play during the 24/7 bits
Dave M J
Hair dresser Carmella! CONTINUITY!
A gif of Sami sarcastically jumping up and down would perfectly illustrate how I feel about so much of WWE lately.
That’s it for this week’s Smackdown. While nowhere near as bad on the regular as Raw — few things could be, if we’re being honest — it’s been a rough couple of weeks for the blue brand, and I hope whatever creative “shake-up” they’re doing settles soon so the guys who write good WWE TV don’t have to constantly share with the people who don’t.
As always, you’re the best for coming here and reading this, and I appreciate it, and you. Drop us a comment down below to let us know what you thought of the episode, and be sure to toss us a social media share if you’re a Kofi and not a Dolph. Never be a Dolph!