Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live: Vince McMahon continued his “show up and replace someone in a match because REASONS” gimmick by subbing in a returning Kevin Owens for Kofi Kingston at Fastlane. He also contributed this evergreen image to our lives …
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And now, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for March 5, 2019.
Best: Damn You, John Cena!
Let’s pour one out for R-Truth’s United States Championship reign, which vanished for most of February before returning for two glorious weeks and ending. Last week, we were introduced to the idea of John Cena being R-Truth’s “childhood idol,” which is hilarious, because he’s six years younger than Truth. It also gave us, “damn, he brave,” which is one of those one-time pro wrestling phrases like, “I’m sorry, I love you,” that’ll never stop being quotable.
This week, Truth is frustrated to realize he has to do the United States Open Challenge every week, and even tries to skip it when “Mrs. Sexy Gloves” Lacey Evans does her bi-weekly senility wander. The best bit is probably him trying to understand the “you can’t see me” catchphrase, since he sees him everywhere from his “John Cena bed sheets” to “a movie about a car that was also a alien robot.” “John Cena showed up there, too!”
I’m happy that Samoa Joe finally won a championship on the main roster, but it better not cut into this R-Truth comedic renaissance.
Best: Joe (Repeated 100 Times)
Call me K.C., because Smackdown Live’s got me screaming, “JOE! JOE!” All my life I’ve prayed for a match like this.
In case you missed it, and didn’t see our breakout about the result, Truth’s U.S. open challenge was answered by arguably the three best in-ring competitors on Smackdown not currently wearing championship gold of some kind: Rey Mysterio, Andrade, and Samoa Joe. I’d throw Ricochet and Aleister Black on the list if I thought they were ever going to belong to a brand, and Cesaro if he wasn’t currently losing to anyone capable of pulling off a lateral press.
If you’ve been watching Smackdown the past couple of months (or know anything about professional wrestling at all, even in the slightest), you’ll assume this got, “this is awesome,” chants, and you’d be correct. It’s almost 15 minutes of exciting and creative fast-paced action with a hot crowd, all building to the coronation of a guy who should’ve held a championship five minutes after he left NXT, not over two years later. Brother hadn’t held gold in WWE since the end of 2016. That’s insane.
Regardless, this sets up a number of big-time matches for Fastlane(‘s kickoff show) and WrestleMania. Mysterio and Andrade can continue their rivalry, Samoa Joe gets to move on to defend the United States Championship — presumably against John Cena, given all the Cena content on Smackdown lately and Joe’s post-match promo about how he’s about hustle, loyalty, and disrespect — and Truth can win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. I don’t think that last one’s going to happen, but I’m gonna keep tying it in the column until it comes true. What else are you gonna do with it, have Lars Sullivan emerge from lurker oblivion and throw out Rob Gronkowski? Put Truth’s name on something that lasts forever.
Unfortunately The Rest Of The Show Was Not This Good
Not bad, necessarily, just a hell of a lot of, “nothing happens and then someone makes the save.” Lots of skippable content, especially for a show that’s supposed to be selling us Fastlane.
The most confusing complaint I have is that I didn’t really enjoy a Daniel Bryan vs. Kevin Owens promo exchange, which seems like one of those things that should break my fingers if I type it. They both did a good job with the material they were given, but did a new writer get put in charge of this segment or something? Neither Bryan nor Owens had anything clever to say, and everything they did say seemed counter to their characters.
For example, Daniel Bryan just makes a bunch of fat jokes about Owens. Owens responds with a lot of “I’m just like YOU, the WWE Universe!” If we’re being consistent with the characters, Bryan’s only interest in Owens’ appetite should be what he eats, and that he’s wasting resources or whatever, and even a babyface Kevin Owens shouldn’t be allowed to come out here and pretend like he likes the crowd. This wasn’t Bryan cutting a promo on Owens as much as it was Heel Wrestler cutting a promo on Face Wrestler with no identifying characteristics.
It’s also really interesting to me that they reintroduced a super heel character like Owens by having Vince McMahon unfairly replace nuclear crowd favorite Kofi Kingston in a pay-per-view title match at the last minute, and are seemingly dedicated to making Owens a likable face. Couldn’t you have like, had someone attack and injure Kofi, have Owens make a surprising save, and Kofi give Owens his spot or something? That’s not a great idea either, but “the evil boss replaced your favorite with this guy, so cheer for him a week later” seems like a perilous fuckin’ stretch.
It sets up a one-on-one match between Owens and Rowan for the main event, which lasts a minute-40 before it gets thrown out. The story is that Owens “doesn’t have any friends left” and Bryan has Rowan backing him up, which equals one thing, doesn’t it? The return of Sami Zayn. Everyone in the crowd is chanting “SAMI! SAMI! SAMI!” because it’s very, very obvious. And then … Mustafa Ali runs out to make the save.
No grief to Ali, but the muted crowd reaction he gets is due in part to everyone knowing how blatantly they were telegraphing Owens’ only friend (who is also returning soon) running out to save him. We all kinda want to see how Zayn interacts with Bryan’s new character, and whether he joins him or not because of their loosely aligned political views, so Ali felt off. Heel Wrestler attacked Face Wrestler, so Additional Face Wrestler made the save. You could’ve slotted in literally anyone else and it would’ve played the same.
Speaking of that same dynamic, Aleister Black and Ricochet continue their weird dominance over the entire main roster all at once with a five minute win over The Bar. Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura show up to attack Black and Ricochet after the match, presumably getting the League Of Nations back together (?), and then the Hardy Boyz have to make the save. That’ll give us a pretty great 8-man tag next week (or whenever), but again, I don’t know how these character relationships work or why anyone is on anyone’s side, really. It’s not a Raw situation where none of it makes sense, I just want to see more of the work that gets us to this point. Honestly I’m not even sure why Ricochet and Aleister Black are the world’s greatest and most cohesive tag team all of a sudden, and they come from the show that’s nothing but showing the work.
Naomi gets stooged to new super powerful Mandy Rose in 45 seconds, which is good if you’re trying to build Rose as a legitimate contender to Asuka, but really undercuts the whole Mandy Rose vs. Naomi feud they’ve been pushing for the past couple of months. Also, Asuka only gets the post-match advantage by sneaking up on Mandy. I don’t know if they realize they have Asuka on their roster and what that means to the fans who have watched her the past, oh, 15 or so years.
The best of these matches, and the only one I’d actually give a supplemental best to, is The Miz vs. Jey Uso. Before the match, Miz promises that if Jey loses his focus for one second, he’s going to capitalize on it and defeat him. During the match, a ringside fight between Jimmy Uso and Shane McMahon causes Jey to decide he’s gonna do a big running dive to the outside, and Miz stops him in the middle of it with a Skull-crushing finale. Miz made a promise, and stood by it. That’s good babyface storytelling, and I’m actually shocked that Miz is still on the side of the angels this deep into the story, heading into Cleveland. Also, the difference between 2019 face Miz and 2013 Ric Flair protege face Miz shows how much he’s grown as a total performer. I’m guessing something dramatic finally happens at Fastlane.
Best: Randy Orton TNAs AJ Styles
I can’t believe I’m Besting Randy Orton promos, but I straight-up Nelson Muntz laughed at, “are you seriously talking about someone other than you deserves a title opportunity? Heh, man, I see why it took you fifteen years to get here.”
Damn, AJ, you’re getting sonned by the guy who wrote a big sperm to the ring at WrestleMania. Get your shit together. Get it all together. And put it in a backpack. All your shit. So it’s together.
Best, But Not Really Important: Raw Rolls On
On Raw, they’re in a weird spot where two Smackdown superstars are feuding over the Raw Women’s Championship. On Smackdown, they’re in an equally weird spot where they’re using their two top female Superstars to tread water for a Raw angle that only really gets advanced when the Raw Women’s Champion is around. And if you read the Best and Worst of Raw column, none of it makes much sense.
The closing segment on Smackdown isn’t bad, I guess, but it definitely doesn’t plow any new ground. Charlotte insults Becky a bunch (and insults the crowd by mocking their chant, which makes it feel like we’re supporting Charlotte if we cheer Becky, nerfing that reaction), Becky gets beaten down again (because she’s going to roll into WrestleMania in an iron lung), and Becky only manages to fight back at the last second. She “stands tall” at the end of the segment, but all it really did was remind us that she’s been losing most of these fights and still seems the same level of confident about it. You’ve gotta have Stone Cold get beaten up sometimes, but if you beat him up every week, sometimes multiple times a week, and he only shows up hobbling to the ring on a crutch smirking about how he’s the toughest SOB in the WWF, we’re gonna start wondering what’s wrong with him, you know?
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
So I found out there is an R-Truth reddit literally called /r/truth and it was originally a conspiracy Reddit but then just became about R Truth. It’s fantastic.
Asuka’s gonna own Mandy’s ass so badly we’ll have to rename her Shinji.
Joe really missed his chance to yell, “yo, Wendy, we did it” after he won the belt, there.
Shane: “Ok, Erick, we have two spots for you to possibly fill with your return.”
Rowan: “Fair enough, Shane, whatcha got?”
Shane: “Well, the first is to be a henchman for Daniel Bryan, who’s doing a hipster villain thing insulting people for being fatties and not recycling.”
Rowan: “…Um, I don’t know, Shane, to be honest that doesn’t sound like me.”
Shane: “Ok? Well, the other option is reuniting the Wya-”
Rowan: “DANIEL BRYAN.”
BRYAN: WHO”S LOW BROW NOW…BROWN COW
More like Ayn Randy
Wait, Kevin lost all his friends? That confirms it, he is a face.
What I love about the R-Truth angle is that in canon he’s smarter than he lets on and probably knows he can “idiot” himself into getting TV time. Which is likely what the real Ron Killings does do! He’s legit the closest thing WWE has the The Joker or Deadpool the man is brilliant
Welcome to “Chlamydia Cove.” We’ll return to the wrestling portion of our program after several more commercials.
Emmalina’s going to make her debut before Lacy.
That’s it for this week’s Smackdown. Thanks for reading, as always.
Drop us a comment to let us know what you thought of the show, which was definitely nowhere near as stressful as I probably made it sound. WrestleMania builds with these random two pay-per-views between Royal Rumble and Mania are always a little stunted. Share the column on social to help us out, and make sure you’re here this week for Fastlane Pay-Per-View®, a show that will work very hard to top its pre-show.
See you then!