Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: Charlotte Flair and Golden Age Charlotte Flair had a tea party that ended in betrayal, Shane McMahon Appreciation Night was interrupted by 24/7 tomfoolery, and Heavy Machinery promised to kill and eat Wiggles and Wilbur.
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Anyway, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for June 4, 2019.
Best: How’s It Ghana Be?
This week’s Smackdown Live opens with footage of Kofi Kingston’s return to his home country of Ghana with the WWE Championship, and it’s a refreshingly positive couple of minutes on an otherwise pretty pessimistic and meandering show. Between this and Johnny Gargano’s victory lap in Cleveland, WWE’s doing a good job of zeroing in on exactly why we should cheer for its few remaining heroes, and an even better job of connecting them (at least geographically) to the every day men and women who watch the shows. It’s the thing I always wrote about CM Punk’s reactions in Chicago; everyone in your company comes from somewhere, and if you’re truly a global omnipresence, you’re missing out by not leaning into your stars’ relationships with where they’re from and making every locale look important and unique.
Unfortunately for everyone, that leads directly into another Dolph Ziggler, “it shoulda been [voice cracks] ME!!” promo.
Worst: Super ShowOff
I joke a lot about Ziggler’s character because I don’t think they’ve ever had a guy more structurally sound at my internalized idea of what Vince McMahon might want a pro wrestler to be and yet despite all his obvious talents and upside, he’s more often than not the lesser half of some of the worst and dumbest segments you’ve ever seen.
Taking a step back from the performer for a second, what does anyone think is to be gained from a month of Dolph cutting the same, “it shoulda been ME” promo at Kofi? It’s like he’s stuck repeating the same one segment idea — show up unexpectedly, inform Kofi that his rise in popularity and success should’ve been Dolph’s — and never got the script for the followup. So he’s just reiterating the same point over and over, while trying to give it this acting “gravitas” that doesn’t have anywhere to go and (at best) makes him sound like Anakin in the Star Wars prequels. I can’t GO to Ghana, Kofi, because it’s full of SAND, which is COARSE and ROUGH and IRRITATING, and it GETS EVERYWHERE!
That leads directly to a tag team match between the Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and the New Day that’s fine, and everything you’d expect from a forgettable weekly TV main event done at the beginning of a show.
Long story short, no Super Showdown angle or match is doing its participants any favors, so I’ll be happy when this weekend is over and we can go back to planning underwhelming mega-events in the war-mongering country of socially regressive law and policy we already live in, thank you very much.
We’re Still Not Wrestling Very Much
This has been a major problem on Raw recently, but it seems like WWE’s promotion-wide response to the critical success of the wrestling-heavy AEW Double Or Nothing has been to promote as little pro wrestling as possible, and to basically run 2-3 hour episodes of Hee-Haw without the money for sets or the commitment to corn-fed affability.
The tag team match in hour one goes 10:30. The main event in hour two — Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Charlotte Flair, with the winner moving on to face Bayley at
Super Showdown where women are allowed to wrestle WWE Stomping Grounds — runs 8:50. Between those two matches, 2-hour-long wrestling show Smackdown has a whopping 35 seconds of wrestling. That’s technically “two matches,” as it’s two 24/7 Championship title changes back-to-back. So at best they gave us four wrestling matches for a combined , and 19:55 at worst, two for a combined 19:20. That’s under 20 minutes of wrestling total, and most of that was commercial breaks.
Has WWE considered just abandoning the wrestling parts completely and being a traveling Vaudeville show about co-workers at a smile factory?
Bayley, This Is Still Your Life
That women’s match is set up in an incredibly awkward Moment Of Bliss between host Alexa “Coffee Kingston” Bliss and Bayley. You may remember this dynamic duo from Bayley This Is Your Life, a bit so bad it’s taken Bayley two years to recover. Now that she’s finally got some prestige and momentum again as Smackdown Women’s Champion, we’re throwing her into another feud with Bliss, who isn’t even on the Smackdown roster. And we’re gonna base the feud on Bliss making Bayley wait while she gets a coffee order correct? Wild cards, you guys.
- I think Bayley and Alexa Bliss are both very good at what they do (which are very different things), but for some reason they have a sort of anti-chemistry. The closer they get, the worse they are. It just happens sometimes.
- The “wild card rule” has gone completely off the rails. You had a non-Smackdown team challenging the Smackdown Tag Team Champions on a pay-per-view pre-show, and now you’ve got a non-Smackdown wrestler challenging the Smackdown Women’s Champion. It really doesn’t say a lot for Smackdown’s trust of its own roster and divisions. Plus, weren’t there supposed to only be 3-4 “wild cards” per episode to keep it fresh? This one episode has Alexa Bliss showing up to do a talk show segment and ending up in a match, Sami Zayn showing up to wrestle in the opener, Shane McMahon’s heel posse following him over to attack Roman Reigns, and an entire pack of 24/7 Championship jobbers floating from show to show. Does it even matter anymore? Why not just axe the brand split entirely and save yourself the trouble of weirdly un-explaining it?
Best/Worst: 24/7 Convenience
As mentioned, the only other “match” of the night is a 24/7 Championship defense ordered by Shane McMahon. It’s sort of a lumberjack match idea where a formal challenge has been made, meaning 24/7 rules are “temporarily suspended” until the match is over. This could be a cool idea, honestly, and give the title and the division some structure (or at least explain why someone who won the belt wouldn’t just stay home in hiding and be champion forever), but … well …
When it’s time for the match, they just do the same 24/7 “run up behind the other guy and do a roll-up” bit. It’s the exact same thing as the backstage “matches,” only done in the ring. So Truth gets pinned, immediately gets his pin back, and then runs away. It feels like a real missed opportunity to pepper these bits with actual matches and like, try to do something with the concept. Truth pinning Elias under the ring was fun. Truth can seemingly turn even the worst segments into something, but the gaggle of hapless idiots following him around with a mixture of aimless aggression and crippling depression make it feel less like a competitive division and more like an endless Benny Hill chase that runs you until you’re dead. Or, uh, is that just me?
Note: There’s seriously no reason WWE shouldn’t have given Matthew McConaughey a Raw-long run with the belt.
Worst: Aleister Black Is Still Not Wrestling
You really made me do this, huh? From last week’s column:
If he doesn’t wrestle before we see another one of these, I’ll have him do a song from Hamilton.
If he doesn’t wrestle before we see another one of these, I’ll do something a lot easier than trying to rap as three separate raspy-voiced guys.
Also On This Episode
Lars Sullivan gives an “exclusive interview” about his upcoming match with Lucha House Party and gives his Chris Farley speaking voice its main roster debut. There’s nothing that instantly kills Sullivan’s vibe as fast as that dorky voice, especially when he’s saying some serial killer shit like:
“Three blind mice, watch how they run, watch how they’re caught, watch how their tails are ripped apart with my bare hands and a beautiful portrait is painted with their bodily fluids!”
I really hope Rob Schamberger doesn’t get put in charge of painting Lars Sullivan in Lince Dorado’s urine and ass sweat.
Lars’ “exclusive” — really shocked that CNN didn’t get to talk to Lars before WWE! — is followed by a non-match between Andrade and Apollo Crews. I say “non-match” because they both show up in gear with music to do a wrestling match, but Andrade wins immediately without a decision being announced and Crews just rolls away. This is how much they care about the wrestling on the show right now. Stuff just starts and they haven’t put any thought into how to end it, so it just sorta stops and we move on. When did the SNL writing team start doing freelance work for WWE? Are Colin Jost and Michael Che still in the back somewhere?
With Crews instantly demolished, Finn Bálor jogs down and they do the same bit. Andrade stands tall, and … boop. Lars Sullivan’s interview, the Andrade/Crews non-match, and a Triple H vs. Randy Orton video package are the “cool down” between the second match of the episode and a main-event Goldberg promo. Buzz, your Smackdown episode, woof.
The Revival have wild-carded their way onto the show to serve as the helpless Dothraki, charging forward with fiery arakhs into the inevitable, frozen darkness of Roman Reigns. He snuffs them out pretty quickly — he’s been called out by BEST IN THE WORLD Shane McMahon, as “will Shane McMahon vs. John Cena Super S be competitive” is seriously a story we’re trying to get over in 2019 — and gets caught by ALSO wild-carded Drew McIntyre kicking him in the face. I’m honestly starting to lose track of who is supposed to belong to which show, since we’re just popping back and forth without any announcements or documentation.
Anyway, Shane gets another leg up on The Big Dog® in a (badly failed) attempt to convince us that even Shane McMahon +3 could beat Roman Reigns in a wrestling match. Miz has a sort of fantastic, knowing fakeness about everything he does that makes a match with Shane make sense. Roman should be able to snap Shane’s spine by looking back over his shoulder and raising an eyebrow at him.
Finally, for the benefit of the progressive nation of Saudi Arabia and its beloved Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, we have 52-year old Sid Haig-ass-looking Bill Goldberg making his Smackdown debut to respond to comments from 54-year old tired-ass-looking The Undertaker. On Monday, Undertaker said “you’re next” to Goldberg. On Tuesday, Goldberg says “rest in peace” to The Undertaker! That’s it, that’s the whole story.
Part of me is interested to find out what would happen to The Undertaker’s … you know, human life, if Goldberg spears him. The other half of me stopped being interested in seeing Goldberg vs. The Undertaker in like, December of 1998. Especially without any context, especially in a promotion both of them barely work for, especially plus 21 years, especially at the end of the grandest pay of them all, WWE Equivalent To WrestleMania.
Anyway, shout-out to anyone still dumb or five enough to think this shit’s still cool. Remember when Raw and Smackdown weren’t exactly the same every week? That was nice.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Not Ghana lie, that was touching.
The Real Birdman
Lars: “I’ve been called this one word since I got here. Say it, Kayla”
*Shows up to wrestling match in street clothes*
*Shows up to talk show in wrestling clothes*
The C Team
*Producer knocks on Aleister’s door*
Producer: “You know there’s a 24/7 title now, right?”
Aleister: “…I’m good.”
Son of Tony Zane
A hardworking black guy tells a nice, subdued story about how he finally visits his home country and how proud he is to be an inspiration to kids there. Then a mediocre white guy interrupts and whines “what about me?” That seems like how we talk about race in 2019 in a nutshell.
Bayley i have a question, what’s up with those face tattoos? Your mom let you go to the mall unsupervised or what?
I will forgive all these Aleister Black dark room promos if eventually the camera pans down and shows us the rotting corpse of Mojo Rawley.
Charlotte’s mad at Alexa because it’s not sweet tea
Bayley’s mad at Alexa because it’s not a Capri Sun
There’s your character development, PAL
Goldberg challenges Chris Jericho to a match, and that coward Y2J doesn’t have the guts to come to the ring and accept!
Big Baby Yeezus
“Goldberg on Smackdown? This is the biggest moment in Smackdown history”- Me, 6/4/01
That’s it for this week’s Smackdown. As a helpful programming reminder we’re skipping the Saudi Arabia show, but we’ll have a lot of content up on Friday in case you’d like to do anything else.
Make sure to drop a comment down below to let us know what you thought of this week’s Smackdown, give us a share on social media if you’re a pal — a real one, not the Vince McMahon kind — and make sure you’re here next week as we try to cram for WWE Stomping Grounds at the last second. See you then!