The Best And Worst Of Smackdown 3/14/14: TWO STRAIGHT VICTORIES!

Dolph is totally going to steal the hell out of the Wrestlemania pre-show.

Pre-show Notes:

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Okay, on we go…

Best: Triple H is Happy for You

It’s been said before, but Triple H really is good at being a condescending dick. Almost like he’s had some practice at it. Triple H comes out and the crowd kind of mindlessly Yeses him, so he makes them feel like assholes with a deft “Hmmm, yeah, bet that feels good”. He then goes on a spiel about how he’s been protecting Bryan all along, which isn’t true, but still, No chants aren’t quite the appropriate response, so robbed of their easy chants, the audience actually starts listening to what he has to say, at which points he drops the intense, match selling stuff about crushing everybody’s hopes and dreams. Why was Triple H never this good when he was doing this full time? I guess some guys just need 20 years and 13 world championships to get up to speed.

Worst: Let’s Abuse Damien Sandow For No Reason!

Unfortunately Triple H couldn’t make it through the opening segment without switching gears from harmless entertaining dickery to the more malignant variety by picking on Damien Sandow. Poor, sad-eyed, CM Punk physique without the tattoos Damien Sandow. This wasn’t a face turn for Sandow, so why devote a segment to Triple H dumping on him? Then The Shield, who are turning face, beat up on and triple powerbomb this poor shlub. I guess The Shield had to triple powerbomb somebody to set up the end of the show, but if that’s the case have Sandow come out and be a jerk rather than have the powerbomb be the final twist on a purple nurple Triple H started.

Best: Big E Wins A Match!

Dude’s as surprised as anyone…

Worst: Oooooo, Somebody Fell Asleep At a Production Meeting

Hmmm, so having failed to find anything constructive and/or entertaining for Bad News Barrett to do, they’ve given him a new job — whining in a thinly veiled manner about petty backstage grievances!

Somehow Barrett started at “Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak” and wound around to “BAD NEWS you’ll fall asleep at a meeting at work” and Michael Cole was all SNRKKSNICKER and JBL was, “What kind of a STUPID ASSHOLE gets sleepy at a meeting?!” I get sleepy watching your programming WWE — the planning process can’t be much more stimulating. Cut sleepy Billy Kidman or whoever it was a break.

Best: Stealin’ Tags

Is “stealing” a tag really so awful? It’s WWE’s one go-to for showing there’s dissent within a tag team, but why is this something to get upset about? Oh, you want to come in and do all the hard work? Sure friend! A win for you is a win for me — hooray for tag team wrestling! The whole “somebody tagging themselves in is terrible because they’re STEALING THE GLORY” seems to me to be the thinking of very petty, insecure minds. Interestingly the spot started to be overused around the time Triple H really got invested in the tag division, but I’m sure those two points are completely unrelated.

Anyways, I’m still giving this segment a best, because, rampant Real American tag stealing aside, this was probably the best match of the night. Cody was working overtime to make everything Cesaro did look good, including pulling this stunt…

What were you planning to do if Cesaro didn’t catch you Cody? Twirl your body and bore head first into the earth like Drill Man?

Cesaro and Swagger even managed to make the rote tag stealing stuff somewhat entertaining with some good facials, and I’m glad the Usos are now important enough that they get to do crowd popping rescue spots. So yeah, a segment with nothing but good to great people in it was good, but enough tag stealing.

Best: A Competitive Bray Wyatt/Kofi Kingston Match?

A back and forth Bray Wyatt/Kofi Kingston match was low on the list of things I excepted or hoped to see on this week’s Smackdown, but the match was…pretty good?

Bray is still far from a bulletproof performer, but there’s a type he works well with, namely smaller guys who bump hard. Bray isn’t really that big, but he works like a monster, so he needs somebody who can pinball off him, and Kofi can certainly do that. Bryan, Kofi, the smaller, wilier Shield members, Bray’s worked well against all of them. Kane, Roman Reigns (and probably Cena) not so much. Bray really needs to do like Chris Jericho and have one gear for the big guys and one gear for the faster smaller guys if he wants to hang around as a top heel — he can’t wrestle Bryan every night.

Worst: Oooooo, Somebody’s Not Returning WWE’s Calls

In a match that no doubt delighted the horny guy with a baby on his lap sitting next to me at last week’s house show, Nikki Bella continued her John Cena-ing of the women’s division by beating Tamina, but the real story of the segment was AJ on commentary.

See, every time Cole or JBL asked her a question AJ would ignore it, and then she got up and walked out on them. Ho ho! I see what you did there WWE! Of course Cole and JBL were so obnoxious that AJ came off as sympathetic, so joke didn’t really work as a jab against Punk, but it was probably more accurate overall.

Worst: A Long-Standing Rivalry Renewed

A rivalry can’t be renewed if it never ended, and I’m fairly certain Dolph Ziggler has wrestled Alberto Del Rio at least once a week for the past five years.

So yeah, the rekindling of this classic rivalry didn’t do much for me. I don’t know if they chopped 10-minutes out of the middle of this one, but the announcers were giving Dolph/Alberto the “What a great match!” sell even though the entire thing lasted maybe six minutes. Give them credit, they were trying hard to make this match in the second-to-last segment on Smackdown (aka the Aksana slot) seem important, but my brain wasn’t having it. Honestly I’d rather have Aksana in the Aksana slot.

Then after the match Dolph fiery promo-ed his way straight to Cringetown, boasting over winning TWO STRAIGHT MATCHES, entering the battle royal we all assumed he was already in, then dramatically vowing to finally secure himself a WRESTLEMANIA MOMENT by winning a giant chocolate Andre the Giant in the opener (which he won’t actually do). This promo was the equivalent of Dolph doing a 360-degree bump to the floor off a Miz clothesline — cool it dude.

Best: Way To Go Carlito’s Dad

Carlos Colon’s Hall of Fame ring has to be delivered to him in Torito’s nose, right? And then Carlito will spew apple on everyone? Being in a wrestling family must be weird.

Best: The Shield Sticks it to the Man

Needless to say I wasn’t looking forward to Smackdown’s Kane/Big Show main event. Kane and Show have less chemistry than any pairing in WWE history — they’ve probably wrestled literally (real literally, not Michael Cole literally) hundreds of times, and it’s never been any good.

Thankfully they got it over fairly quickly and the final few minutes of the show were great. Things weren’t going Kane’s way, but the guy’s no good at slithery Triple H-style evil, so he just starts screaming at The Shield to get in there and mob Show, and The Shield is all, “Come on man, a little subtlety. How gauche” and bail. Somehow Kane gets his hands of Rollins and tries to intimidate him and then BAM, FRIENDSHIP SPEAR FROM REIGNS, which is totally badass and reinforces Reigns and Rollins as the relationship at the core of The Shield. Reigns wouldn’t be spearing Kane for Ambrose.

So, The Shield has blatantly thumbed their nose at the authority, buuut, the incident was mostly the fault of Kane and his petty rage, and The Shield did do Triple H’s bidding earlier in the show, so they haven’t definitively joined with the forces of good. There’s still enough uncertainty here to keep us going until Wrestlemania, where, if there’s goodness in this world, we replay this scenario with Triple H and Daniel Bryan. Fingers crossed.