Hey folks, sorry about the lack of a Smackdown report last week, but I was moving into a new house and didn’t have Internet or cable and, and…you didn’t even notice it was missing, did you? Well, uh, it’s back!
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On we go! If the skyyyyy turns blaaaack it don’t matter…
Worst: I Know They Have The Same Body Type, but Bray Wyatt Isn’t Paul Heyman
In his Raw report Brandon seemed to be pretty optimistic about the promos that might result from a CM Punk vs. Bray Wyatt feud, and I agree — on paper it seems like this should be good. Punk is a great talker, and Bray is, well, he’s intermittently pretty damn good. Wyatt will finally have something other than Kofi Kingston’s confuzzled look and The Miz’s, “Boy this guy sure is weird!” nerdy commentary to play off of, and Punk can do his “I’m the one guy here who pays attention and remembers stuff” thing and bring up his own past as a greasy cult leader.
Again, on paper that’s what would happen — it certainly didn’t happen here on Smackdown where Punk basically cut the exact same “I’mma fight you and breaka-yo-face!” promo he’s been cutting on Paul Heyman and his guys for the past three months. It worked with Heyman because that was a bitter personal feud between a man and his creepy adopted father, but I don’t know if I want it to be become the default CM Punk character. CM Punk should usually be a little more aloof — a bit more above it all, especially when facing these jerks who are more-or-less cribbing his notes from 2010.
Best: I like CM Punk/Curtis Axel Matches
I don’t know! I just do! Axel is boring as s–t against almost anyone else and Punk often sinks to his opponent’s level, but these two work well against each other. I think it’s because Punk is best against guys who are somewhat bigger than him, but not so big that his bulldogs n’ floppy elbow drops offense looks overly silly, and also because I know Axel is always going to lose against Punk.
Axel is one of the few guys I have no interest in seeing win — the fact that you can depend on Beastly and Starscream to f–k it up ever time out is part of their appeal. Sure, you can give Axel offense or tease that he might win as long as I know he’s going to lose in the end, and when he’s in there with Punk that’s pretty much always a guarantee.
Best: This is The Least Offensive Role R-Truth Could Have I Guess
Man, what do you do with R-Truth at this point? I mean, it’s impossible take him seriously in the ring anymore, and his crazy Lil’ Jimmy comedy routine has worn out its welcome, but he remains kind of popular (I guess?) and WWE clearly still sees some value in him, so what’s to be done? Replace the generic music from the second half of the Usos’ entrance with R-Truth’s rap, that’s what!
It actually kind of works — the Usos’ war dance generates some electricity that Truth desperately needs, and as mediocre as the guy’s rap is, it’s still marginally better than the “Stock Hip-hop Beat #17” they were using for the Usos before. Plus hey, if the Usos are going to continue sticking their noses into Shield business, they need a regular third body to stand on the apron and clap, which R-Truth is capable of. I think.
Worst: I Don’t Like Cameron/Tamina Matches
From the wrestling to the return of the Funkadactyls’ gold diapers, everything about this segment was rank. It goes without saying that the Tamina vs. Cameron parts of the match were a clownshow, but Naomi and AJ weren’t much better tonight. Exhibit A — the part where Naomi legit waylays AJ in the face and instead of selling, AJ sits on the apron with a, “Bitch, I can’t believe you hit me for real in this fake fight!” look on her face then just says “Ow!” Come on AJ, if you want to play pint-sized badass ring general, you can’t get huffy every time somebody’s arm actually grazes your face.
Aw, I take it back. I can’t stay mad at you.
Best: John Cena is a Thif!
A big thank you to the person on the Smackdown writing team who decided Alberto was ready to start cutting promos with only bullet-points to guide him. Honestly he probably isn’t ready — his promos this last month on Smackdown have been random and stumbly, but they’re still so much better than the rigidly scripted gringo-perro-destiny-fests he has to recite on Raw. His promos are messy, but at least they have energy and convey some feeling, and the basic points come across, namely that Alberto is Mexican and great, we’re all stupid gringos and John Cena is a thif! A dirty thif!
Worst: …He’s Also Not Very Funny
Speaking of John Cena, WHAA-CHA-CHA YOUR TIME IS UP, DIARHEA JOKE TIME IS NOW!
Dammit, no John Cena is supposed to be the one silver lining of reviewing Smackdown, but somehow the guy ended up with the Smackdown belt, so here he is talkin’ poop, dumping on Vickie Guerrero for no reason and going on some endless snide riff about writing Del Rio a get well card and ugh, just shuuuuut uuuup. Shut your dumb smirking face and kindly remove your A-show ass from my nice, safe little B-show.
Worst: A Six-Minute Great Khali Match
Woof. Bryan vs. Harper better be good, because this Smackdown’s already shaky workrate EKG pretty much flatlined with this endless Khali/Alberto debacle. There’s a reason Great Khali matches end immediately after he’s knocked down for the first time — watching the dude trying to get to his feet is f–king tragic.
Khali moves like his legs are made of wood, and I’m not talking about fancy-shmancy wooden legs with like, joints and stuff — I’m talking like, unhewn logs. Khali has log legs. Skinny log legs. Are you just going to keep carting this guy out until he pulls a Sid, WWE? Trust me guys, that s–t ain’t PG. Hornswoggle can find another dance partner, just get this guy out of the ring.
Best: Okay, You’re Married Cole, We Get It
The one highlight of the Khali match came, surprisingly, from the commentary booth when JBL countered Cole’s new “I know all about Mexicans because I married one” talking point by dropping Cole’s wife’s name and saying she’s a “huge fan of Del Rio” if you know what he means. This was followed by a good five seconds of icy silence before Cole mumbled something along the lines of “Nuh-uh. Shut up!”
Listen, I’m not a fan of tossing around loose accusations, but I’m totally in favor of JBL implying Cole’s wife wants to bone Alberto every time Cole tries to pull his “I asked my wife and she says Alberto sucks!” malarkey.
Best: Ooo, Where’s Jennifer Lawrence?
Wait, these two scruffy backwoodsy men attempting to murder each wasn’t a scene from Winter’s Bone 2: The New Batch? Dagnabbit.
This match actually started a bit slow — Bryan was busy selling his injury and honestly I’m not a huge fan of Luke Harper’s selling (or lack thereof), but things picked up once Bryan forgot about his shoulder and presented Harper with the option of either selling or getting his face caved in by forearms.
Hey, by the way Bryan, have you asked Punk why he wasn’t rushing to the rescue the last few months when The Shield were routinely curb-stomping you? No?
Yeeeeah, I guess that might be awkward.
Best: You Win Goldberg Chanters
So yeah, after ignoring the constant Goldberg chants for nearly a year Ryback finally responded on Smackdown by, well, basically becoming Goldberg. He broke out a jackhammer and spear, and Michael Cole acknowledged it was happening, so it was a real thing we were supposed to notice. This probably isn’t a good idea long term — when fans chant “Goldberg” at Ryback, the implication is that Ryback isn’t as good as Goldberg. It isn’t a compliment, and Ryback didn’t do much to alter the “Ryback is Goldberg except lame” perception on Smackdown with a jackhammer worse than the worst one Goldberg ever did. When Goldberg did the jackhammer, it was one smooth impactful motion — when Ryback did it, it was the set-up to a vertical suplex randomly followed by a no-great-shakes powerslam. I barely even recognized what Ryback was trying to do, and 16-year-old me lived to watch Goldberg jackhammer dudes.
Long-term concerns aside, Ryback suddenly embracing his not-buried-particularly-deep inner-Goldberg made for a more interesting match than I was expecting out of Cena and Ryback. I actually got into it near the end, because it seemed like they might be trying something new with Ryback and maybe, just maybe this new Ryback might beat Cena. Of course that didn’t happen, but the match was weird enough that I was able to briefly convince myself that the ultimate oddity, John Cena losing, could happen.
By the by, Ryback also hit a running powerslam and teased a Batista Bomb during the match. Hmmm. I know this probably isn’t headed anywhere interesting because, come on, it’s Ryback, but wouldn’t it be great if WWE made The Big Guy a walking embodiment of the WWE big man? Just give him the combined movesets of Goldberg, Batista, Kevin Nash and whoever else and have John Cena overcome him every week! Well, that last part wouldn’t be so great, but let’s be real, big men other than the Undertaker only exist to be AAed in 2013 WWE.
Of course much like Damien Sandow’s phantom face turn from last month, there’s a good chance Ryback’s Goldberg transformation will be retconned by Monday, but hey, for one very special night your Goldberg chants did something other than make Ryback feel bad, so congrats WWE Universe, congrats.