No! Paige! The eye makeup is a target! This is gonna get ugly.
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Okay, on we go…
Best: You’ve Come a Long Way, Tripsy
Tripsy — that’s totally going to catch on, right?
A lot has been said about how much better the Triple H of the past year is than “classic” Triple H, but better doesn’t really cover it. Current Triple H isn’t just an improved version of Triple H from the mid-2000s, he’s his total Bizarro world counterpart. Old Triple H was all about being the coolest dude in the arena while passive-aggressively tearing his opponents down within inside comments, and barbs that hit a little too close to home. Meanwhile, the Triple H that came out on this week’s Smackdown praised his opponents to high heaven. He did everything he could to communicate that The Shield are legitimate, awesome guys, and when he did lay into them, all Triple H’s barbs stemmed from his own ego and insecurities. The result? I actually look forward to say-nothing 10-minute show opening Triple H promos now. It took 15-years of hanging around with the guy, but I guess some Ric Flair finally wore off on Triple H. Or maybe it’s something to do with the ponytail — I bet that thing was haunted.
Best: Tournaments Make Everything Better
Even directionless, Wade Barrett-esque Intercontinental Championship reigns! I guess Big E’s still wet enough behind the ears that he thinks multiple former world champs coming after his title is something to get excited about, because dude was keyed up for his match with Alberto. The match was actually shaping up to be one of the best Big E bouts in quite some time, until…
Worst: What the F–k?
…Alberto put Big E in the armbreaker, Big E got the ropes, the ref counted to five, Alberto released the hold and the ref threw the match out anyways. Now honestly, I’m not entirely sure whether the rule is “you get to a count of five and then the match is thrown out if you don’t break” or “if the ref gets to five the match is immediately thrown out” because matches don’t end like this. The rare times a ref disqualifies a guy for leaving a hold on too long, he usually counts to five, gives the guy a sternly worded lecture then tries to pull the guy off before finally chucking the match.
Aw crap, somebody on the writing team dusted off Ye Olde Professional Catch-As-Catch-Can Rulebooke again, didn’t they? This is the new “match is called on account of guy getting hit too much in the corner” isn’t it? God-dammit.
Best: Now This Is How You Waste Time
Don’t get me wrong, Paul Heyman is one of the best talkers of all time, but sometimes, particularly recently, the guy can be a bit too fustian. A little stilted. I realize he talks slowly and emphasizes weird SYLlaBLES to annoy the crowd, but I kind of miss Paul’s passionate side and wish he’d drop the affected delivery sometimes. So I heartily enjoyed Paul just screaming MY CLIENT BROCK LESNAR CONQUERED THE STREAK for five minutes straight. Sure, it was pure filler that, much like the opening Triple H promo, imparted zero new information, but hey, I’m fine with entertaining asshole filler. I mean, entertaining filler from an asshole. Uh…well, you get what I mean.
Best: Mean Girl Match
A Paige/Aksana match? That’s proceeded by an Aksana promo? Whaaat? Welp, barring any disasters, this is the clear frontrunner for best Smackdown I’ve ever reviewed.
This match was surprisingly good. Maybe the best main roster women’s match I’ve seen this year. Paige is a badass of course, and Aksana is secretly the orbital bone crushing most dangerous girl on the roster and these two just belted the s–t out of one another.
Also, they’ve quietly sanded out the inconsistencies in Paige’s character. The crying and mass hugging from Raw has been forgotten — now Paige is a deadly submission wrestler all the other girls are jealous of. So basically an AJ we’re supposed to like because of, um, reasons. Hey, I never stopped liking AJ, so that’s cool with me.
What? Hornswoggle is a heel now? And in 3MB? Okay, even if there is a disaster, this is the best Smackdown I’ve ever reviewed.
Now, I’ve always hated Hornswoggle. Heel Hornswoggle, face Hornswoggle, mute Hornswoggle, talking Hornswoggle — all invidious garbage. But shirtless, Chris Gaines hair, evil rock star Hornswoggle? I am all about that business. 31/2MB. YES YES YES.
The match was, uh, well, it was probably the best Hornswoggle match ever. The real story were the announcers, who were being all faux-excited and sardonic about it. Thing is, they were putting so much effort into their snark and goofy short jokes it came full circle and was significantly better than their regular commentary. Guys, maybe try to keep up this level of engagement when the full-sized guys are in the ring too.
Best: I’m Besting Bad News Barrett and Have Nothing Bad To Say About Bray Wyatt
Well, okay, Bray Wyatt wasn’t on the show this week, but still, a complete Smackdown report without any BNB or Wyatt negativity. I know, I didn’t see it coming either! Can all the stars be in Saudi Arabia every week?
Bad News Barrett returning to the ring just saves his whole deal for me. Now he’s a competent wrestler who does a silly thing on the side, which is fine by me. I like wrestlers with goofy gimmicks, I don’t like when goofy s–t is all they do. It’s the difference between most of the guys on the NXT roster a Ron Simmons DAMN segment (for the record, the former is mostly good, and the latter definitely isn’t). Also, “…and shows the entire world just how small your brains really are” should be how every future BNB segment ends.
Worst: Welcome To The Main Roster, Here’s Your Complimentary R-Truth Feud
Every time a new big deal bad guy hits the main roster he’s immediately sent careening into the brick wall that is R-Truth. Feuding with R-Truth immediately douses any sort of excitement generated by a big debut, and the new guy usually ends up looking like crap in the ring since R-Truth is a deceptively lousy wrestler. Truth is quick and does flips, so people assume he’s good, but he’s formulaic and boring and selfish as f–k, mindlessly hitting guys who need to look like monsters with vertical suplex-stunners and not really selling anything. Bray Wyatt took months to recover from his Truth feud — this has to stop. And no, making The Miz the guy you stick new guys with is not the solution. Think harder WWE.
Santemma’s past dalliances have left me wanting (to say the least), but I dunno, I kind of enjoyed Emma spreading open a sock so Santino could insert himself. I feel dirty.
Also, this was kind of adorable…
WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?!
Best: Batista vs. Sheamus
Oh Sheamus. The poor guy’s the most lost in the shuffle dude in WWE right now, which is a shame, because he remains a miracle worker. This was easily the best one-on-one match Batista has had since returning to the WWE. Hell, take the huge crowd and portentous atmosphere away from the main event of Wrestlemania, and this is the best match Batista has had since returning full stop. There was a nice contrast between legit badass Sheamus and Batista, who weaseled around with the turnbuckles and ropes whenever possible. Speaking of which, the match also benefited from Batista messing up a slingshot and almost legit decapitating Sheamus — things always get just a bit more real after something like that.
Now, I assumed from second one that this match was heading towards a bulls–t finish. A Shield or Evolution run-in. Instead Batista, in an inspired dickbag move, crotches Sheamus on the ropes, clotheslines him in the back of the head then powerbombs him for the clean win. Wow. Okay! I’ll take it!
Sooo yeah, hooray for weird, everybody’s in the Middle East Smackdown. Are you sure you don’t want to extend this tour WWE? Come on, give Yemen and Qatar some love!