Hey guys, fancy another 2000 words about Smackdown? You would? Lovely! Then let’s get to it!
– Likes, shares, tweets, comments, pins, I’ll take ’em all. Speaking of which, look at this nifty sharing button! Why don’t you give it a try?
– Follow WithLeather on Twitter and like it on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter too! If you like this review, I also write stuff every darn weekday for GammaSquad — we’re under “Geek & Sci-fi” on the navigation bar at the top of this page!
On we go! If the skyyyyy turns blaaaack it don’t matter…
Best: The Art of the Squash
Smackdown kicked off with Big E. Langston (more-or-less) squashing Fandango, and despite the fact that the words “Fandango” and “squash” used in conjunction usually make my brain immediately go “no thanks, I’m going into power-saver mode for the next 5-minutes”, this match was pretty good.
Big E. is the perfect squash match guy — he’s imposing looking, explosive and can do the feats of strength, but he’s not a giant. He’s actually shorter than most of the guys on the roster. He can believably take some offense from a goof like Fandango, but then come back with authority and win in impressive fashion. This is the guy you should be giving the Goldberg push — not a clubbering bore like Ryback.
Big E. really is hitting his stride, isn’t he? I really noticed it when he held up the Intercontinental title, and holy s–t, it actually sort of felt like it meant something just because Big E. was holding it. This is the belt Curtis Axel was carrying around just last month — making up for that takes some serious x-factor.
Best: You’re Making it Worse Randy
Oh, Randy. Raaaandy, Randy, Randy — it’s over man. Triple H just isn’t that into you any more. Don’t make this any more painful than it has to be.
Orton’s promo started as a dull Smackdown Special recap-a-thon, but then Orton actually lapsed into some pretty solid character work. We’ve all been there — somebody, a boss, romantic partner or whoever, who was once totally buying what you were selling isn’t anymore and it’s obvious to everyone, but you don’t want to admit it, so you just pretend nothing has changed while simultaneously sucking up as hard as possible. Triple H hasn’t called Randy Orton the Face Of The Company in weeks (at least not unprompted) and on Monday he just sort shrugged and looked at his shoes as his new flame John Cena threw Orton through a dozen consecutive tables, and yet here’s Orton on Smackdown, kissing Triple H’s ass and assuring us he and the authority are still totally a thing. I’ll admit, I cringed a bit from personal experience.
Oh, and hey, here comes Daniel Bryan! Honestly Bryan coming out to take shots at Orton now that he’s on the way down was kind of a dick move, especially since Bryan was largely responsible for Randy and Triple H’s break-up, but on the other hand, I’m glad Bryan is again allowed to remember that he was screwed out of the title half-a-dozen times over the past three months. This probably isn’t going where I want it to, but for now Bryan getting to say, “Hey, I haven’t forgotten all that s–tty stuff you did, so watch your ass” is enough for me.
Worst: The Rhodeses Combined Tag Team Music is the Worst Combined Tag Team Music Ever
I love when tossed together tag teams combine their entrance tunes, because a) mash-ups make my monkey brain happy and b) it generally signifies the moment when the team’s grown beyond being two dudes thrown together by fate and become a cohesive unit.
That said, The Rhodeses combined theme is hot garbage. It’s just Goldust’s music with Cody’s music obnoxiously fading in and out over top of it. It sounds like two kids playing with the volume knobs on their Fischer Price Sing Along tape recorders, or some jerk yelling over the movie from the back of the theatre.
The song’s also kind of a perfect (and unfortunate) metaphor for the Rhodes brothers’ relationship. Goldust is the real star drowning out his brother, while Cody keeps popping up, screaming for attention. Speaking of which…
Worst: Poor Cody
Man, I hate to say it, but I haven’t really enjoyed Cody and Goldust’s recent matches. Obviously their initial bouts against the Shield were dramatic and different and exciting, but for the last couple weeks…eh.
For one, WWE’s doing the “title holders must lose all non-title matches” thing with them and secondly nobody cares about Cody and it’s sad. Every time Cody got the tag in this Friday’s match against Rybaxel the crowd just died, and this is Smackdown, where Nikki Bella dropkicks are met with rapturous piped-in applause.
Cody desperately needs to absorb some of his brother’s charisma while tagging with him. No more short brown hair, tight briefs and Nickelback-sounding heel entrance music. Start wearing some face paint, go the everyman route like your dad or hell, express your true interests and start wearing a pointy green hat and tunic to the ring. Become anything other than “back-up Randy Orton” because that doesn’t lead anywhere but a DiBiase Posse party in the parking lot.
Worst: No, Your Name Isn’t Bad News Barrett
Bad news, Barrett! You’ve been given the worst gimmick since uh, Kizarny? Kerwin White? Brandon gave this the ol’ “so bad it’s good” pass in his Raw report, but no — this is below bottom of the barrel. This is a fishy-smelling crust made out of the garbage water that managed to seep through of the bottom of the barrel.
“My name is Bad News Barrett.”
What? No it’s not. Bad New Barrett isn’t a name. Somebody wrote that and got paid for it. Ugh. I mean, I guess I could see “super pessimistic guy who points out the worst in any situation” being a character, but for that to work you have to involve him in situations. Not just stand him behind the Anonymous GM’s podium like a dunce in a sports jacket. If you really want to put him behind the podium, do some research — come up with something bad that happened this week, or something bad that happened in the town he’s in. Something specific. Something other than BAD NEWS, YOU STINK. Bad News Barrett may not be the dumbest thing the WWE writing team has ever come up with, but it may be the laziest.
Worst: Thanks A Lot European Kids
The second Sin Hunico scored his upset win on Raw the bottom fell out of my stomach because I knew knew knew I’d have to watch Kofi/Alberto part 568 on Smackdown. It’s the circle of life for ADR. His latest push fizzles, so in frustration WWE jobs him to Sin Cara or Santino or whoever, but then they remember that Latinos are the only people who still watch their show, so they have him put Kofi Kingston in the armbar for too long to get his heat back or show ruthless aggression or whatever. Annnnd it moooves us alllll.
Tracing this back, Sin Cara only won on Monday because European kids were buying Sin Cara merchandise like crazy on the latest WWE tour of the continent, so f–k you European kids. Kinder Surprise not giving away good enough toys anymore? Tired of reading the same dozen Tintin books over and over? Is that why you’re resorting to Sin Cara for entertainment? Help me understand this.
Best: The Shield Break-up is Going to be So (Hypothetically) Good
The subtle (by WWE standards) build to the Shield’s big break up continues to be great. They needed to pick somebody to face CM Punk one-on-one, so Ambrose volunteers because he’s the leader! But of course everyone, including Ambrose and Reigns, know Ambrose isn’t the star of the team anymore. These two scrappy indie guys somehow got mixed up with the heir to the Rock’s throne and there’s only so long they’re going to be able to hold him back with quaint notions like “teamwork” and “all for one”. Oh, and you best believe when the wrestling prince decides to step out of the shadow of the slightly unhinged guy who had to claw and struggle for everything he has it’s going to be ugly. Bowling shoe ugly I dare say (in a good way).
Or the Shield will “decide to go their separate ways” off screen, Reigns will immediately win the title and Michael Cole will pretend like the Shield never existed. It’s…it’s going to be door number two, isn’t it?
Worst: I Don’t Get Dean Ambrose
In the ring! Just in the ring! I still like his promos — hell, I just got done praising one. Put down your pitchforks!
But yeah, Ambrose vs. Punk didn’t drive me wild and honestly, I can’t remember any Ambrose singles matches I’ve really enjoyed all that much. He’s fine as a cog in a six-man, but Dean Ambrose on his own is, well, just a bit too much Dean Ambrose for me.
His method-ey, stolen from old gangster movies mannerisms are fun and all, but take those away and what do you have? One of the slower, blander, more limited guys his size on the roster. I mean, what was with the seemingly 10-minute long stall outside the ring? What did that achieve? What was with the constant head locks and cranks? We’d complain if anybody else did that. What’s good for the Orton is good for the Ambrose. Things picked up near the end, but that’s mainly because Punk generously let Ambrose kick out of or escape all his finishers except the GTS.
I dunno, I regret to say it, but I look into my crystal ball and see Roman Reigns on a golden throne, a face Seth Rollins making a good living throwing himself off things as the new Jeff Hardy and Ambrose taking over the Bad News Barrett podium.
Best: From the Pacific Islands…
You thought West Africa and The Orient were as non-specific as the WWE could get? Ha! Tamina is now being billed as from The Pacific Islands. She’s from an island somewhere in the biggest thing on the planet. What Pacific island is she from exactly? Japan? Australia borders the Pacific Ocean — is she Australian? The Galapagos? That floating garbage island?
Speaking of floating garbage, Tamina gets a best anyways because she’s now beating herself with her own terrible splash. From now on anyone who wrestles Tamina should save us all some grief and just start the match lying down near the turnbuckle and let nature take its course.
Best: Never Challenge Rey Mysterio To Find A Tag Partner
Cesaro and Swagger got into it with Mysterio backstage because, well, of course they did. The Real Americans not picking a fight with Mysterio eventually would be like the Joker breaking out of Arkham Asylum and starting a thing with Nightwing while Bruce Wayne sits around in the Batcave wondering what’s going on. Some good guys and bad guys just belong with one another.
Unfortunately for The Real Americans they made the cardinal error of challenging Mysterio and a partner of his choosing to a tag match. You challenge, say, CM Punk to a mystery partner tag match and there’s a good chance he’ll just come down to the ring on his own, but Mysterio? Everyone loves Mysterio. If you challenge that guy to find a partner, don’t be surprised if the Rock or the ghost of Eddie freakin’ Guerrero bursts through the curtain.
The “ohhhh I’ve miscalculated horribly” look on Zeb Colter’s face when Mysterio revealed the Big Show was perfect. The match was pretty damn good too — probably the best on the show, even if Cesaro didn’t end up swinging Big Show. They’ve gotta be saving that one for Wrestlemania, right?
Worst: Why Is This Happening on Smackdown?
I know I really shouldn’t complain about things of import actually happening on Smackdown, but seriously, why the hell is Bryan vs. Orton happening on Smackdown?
Triple H and Stephanie outed themselves as villains and turned the entire WWE upside down just to keep Bryan away from Orton and the title, and yet here’s Bryan and Orton fighting on Smackdown without fanfare, controversy or interference. You guys ruined three pay-per-views in a row to screw Bryan, but on Smackdown the show must go on?
The match itself wasn’t even particularly great. It was patently obvious we were headed towards a Wyatt Family interference finish, so Bryan and Orton were mostly just filling time until Bray showed up to more or less repeat what he said on Raw.
Worst: The Biggest Match In WWE History
So, Smackdown ended on a bit of drab note, so let’s talk the TLC main event a bit. It’s been a while since WWE’s had the opportunity to spread the bulls–t this thick, hasn’t it? I mean, there’s only so high you can turn the hype dial on a John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio match, but this title vs. title thing has allowed them to really open the hyperbole gates.
Cole spent the entire show spouting lines like, “The enormity of this match is unreal!” and yeah, I guess champion vs. champion would be enormous if championships still meant something and everyone hadn’t gotten tired of 14-time champion John Cena and 11-time champion Randy Orton half-a-dozen title reigns ago.
All this false hype, all this trying to excite people with things that haven’t meant anything in years just makes me queasy. It’s like when your mom tells you she’s going to make you your favorite, extra special dinner you secretly grew sick of years ago. TLC is a steaming double helping of chicken surprise — hope you’re hungry kids.