Tuesday’s Smackdown tapings were a different time, man.
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Worst: These Show-Opening Shield Promos Are The Ass
Lately Smackdown has got into the habit of starting the show with in-ring Shield talky segments, and they have not been good. Dean Ambrose was at his hand-jiving, 23-skidooing worst tonight. At one point he called Triple H “kiddo” — I don’t care if you’re trying to be intentionally condescending, you don’t call WWE’s immortal god king (who happens to be 16-years older than you) kiddo.
Also, Roman Reigns just straight up re-used his line from Raw about Randy Orton being the ass of the company. Listen, that shit wasn’t alright when Batista was doing it, and it’s not acceptable coming out of your pouty lips either Roman.
As if on cue, Reigns and Ambrose’s Triple H trashing was interrupted by Triple H himself, who was in an oddly magnanimous mood tonight. He said there’d be only one Money in the Bank qualifying match tonight, which you’d think would be set-up for Triple H pitting brother against brother, but instead he just flipped coin and gave Ambrose the qualifying match with Bray Wyatt. Well gee corrupt overlord, that was awfully sporting of you! I guess we were supposed to be mad Triple H didn’t just give the match to Reigns because he has bigger muscles and “deserves” it more? Then he banned Roman Reigns and Harper and Rowan from ringside — thanks for the even-handed decision Mr. Evil Despot! Weird.
Worst: Roman Reigns Singles Matches
I was pretty excited when BNB came swaggering out onto the stage — a legit fresh match! Unfortunately Reigns is just not there yet as a singles performer. Bad News Barrett is an underrated worker who’s managed to pull good matches out of questionable workers like RVD lately, but he couldn’t make it happen with Reigns.
Our Samoan prince has the Superman punch, he has the spear, but until it comes time to unleash them, he doesn’t have much — it’s all so-so punching and frequent breaks to smoulder at the hard camera. He’s also one of those big guys who doesn’t really know how to work like a big guy. His style makes sense in tag matches, which are all about selling, selling, selling until you can get the hot tag, but Reigns spends too much time down on the mat in singles matches. They really need to turn Sheamus heel, because Reigns desperately needs some “how to hit hard, have a million signature moves and sell without looking like a chump” lessons from the best big guy in the company.
Worst: The Day The Music Died
Oh man, this episode is going to be uncomfortable, isn’t it? I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep it together if Teddy Long comes out to announce one last tag TEAM match. Leave the holdonaminnits alooooone.
Anyways, the Union Jacks went out doing what they did best — being eviscerated in comically violent fashion.
RIP 3MB. Services will be held at the graveyard.
Worst: Well, Now We Know Who The Nikki of the Usos Is
I didn’t watch the show, but based on the recap Jimmy Uso beat Luke Harper in a long, hard-hitting match on Main Event. Jey Uso followed that up by losing to Erick Rowan in a minute-and-a-half on Smackdown. Ouch. Of course the Bellas analogy only goes so far, since Jimmy is married to Naomi, which has to be considered an accomplishment on par with snagging John Cena for dude wrestlers. I guess this won’t be truly settled until we figure out which Uso has a large tattoo on their crotch.
Best: Bo’s White Guy Dance
Yeah, I know, a white man dancing goofily to the rap music is everything awful about WWE, but come on, look at this guy…
He’s not going obnoxiously over the top like Vickie Guerrero doing her Elaine dance or Michael Cole whenever he’s called upon to make an ass of himself — he legitimately looks like he’s never heard this “rap” stuff before, but by gosh, he kind of likes it! I mean, once you get past all the shouting it has a good beat!
Also, Bo’s match with Truth was kind of shockingly decent. Like, it might have been Bo’s best main roster match to date? I mean, I guess R-Truth is technically a former world champion — maybe he has some wrestling talent in there somewhere.
That said, Truth being annoyed by Bo was way off base. Truth was creatively exhausted for life after writing one 30-second rap, and used to talk to invisible children. Truth and his malleable Play-Doh brain ought to be the prime mark for Bo’s aphorisms and phony inspirational act.
Best: Sheamus The Shameless
Ohhhh shit, Cesaro has his fists taped up! Only Heyman could take fist taping, something almost every guy on the roster does for no particular reason, and turn it into an ominous declaration of war. Also, Sheamus the Shameless. How did I never think of that?
Like most of their matches, Cesaro/Sheamus wasn’t quite as good as it should have been. I’ve been trying to figure out why these guys don’t click perfectly. I think it’s because both men have a reputation for being TOUGH GUYS so there’s pressure to spend most of the match hitting each other hard, but at his best Cesaro is one of the most elegant wrestlers WWE has. His spinning M. Bison punch is impressive because Cesaro is so perfectly in control, not because he legit waylays guys with it. Sheamus can club a guy hard, but as Brandon has laid out, he’s actually best when selling. Basically, in order to live up to their only semi-accurate facades, these Cesaro/Sheamus matches break down into an endless succession of forearms to the face, which is neither guy’s true strong suit.
Still, don’t get me wrong, this was a good match, it just wasn’t the “holy shit, tell your friends” classic it is on paper. The finish was a particularly perfect bit of poetic dickery. Cesaro looks like a ripe asshole for winning with a roll-up after trying to shame Shameful Sheamus for doing the same at Payback, but it’s still a completely legit win. It’s another example of something we’re seeing more often from WWE lately — heel wins that are irksome and make you want a rematch, but that aren’t outright DQ/cheating cop-outs.
Worst: Kitty Litter and Milk
Kudos for the WWE writer who came up with cat litter and milk during the “What’s the most stomach churning combination of things we can pour on Summer Rae?” brainstorming session. Jesus.
Why are Fandango and Adam Rose not best friends? Both guys seem to have stumbled into WWE by accident and don’t take it seriously in the least, both guys like to dance and yet Fandango apparently finds Rose appalling. I mean, I’m with you buddy, but you don’t really have any high ground to stand on.
How long ago did Fandango and Summer Rae split up? It’s been months, hasn’t it? In the real world wearing disguises to stalk your ex and regularly getting into embarrassing shrieking brawls with his new girlfriend would be a sign of serious mental illness, but in WWE it gets you your victory music played. I’ll admit, I’ve missed a few episodes of NXT — has Summer Rae ever, for even a second, not been a horrible, grating human being? Aside from the “she’s a pretty lady” factor, I’m really struggling to understand the “I love Summer Rae” thing.
Worst: U S…A?
In the middle of an epic Big E/Jack Swagger “Guys Who Deserve Better” match, Lana comes out to rap about Putin, so Zeb Colter yells at her, which leads to him being crushed by Rusev. Well, that’s what should have happened. In reality Lana looked taken aback and immediately retreated in defeat. So uh, hooray for Zeb Colter? Maybe this is the start of a new chapter for Zeb and–whoops, no wait, Big E just pinned Swagger. Boooooo! Come on Big E, keep up! We like xenophobia now! I think? Let’s just move on.
Worst: The Day The Porno Sax Died
This old heart can only take so much.
Poor Aksana. She never really became good, but she worked her Lithuanian butt off and elevated her badness until she achieved a sort of transcendent awfulness. Or maybe she is actually good — I mean, I’m pretty sure she’s not, but I dunno. I know I can’t tear my eyes away during her matches. Of course that’s largely because she’s usually legit beating the f-ck out of whatever poor girl is in there with her, so maybe it’s best she’s gone, but still…[sounds the 21 porno sax salute].
Best: Wyatt vs. Ambrose
This match was really damn good — probably Bray’s best since his battle with Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble. This is one of those matches where you kind of wish the guys were main eventers, because if these two were really allowed to cut loose, this would have been a classic. Hopefully in a year or two when both guys are former champs, this match will be looked back upon as an early, forgotten Bray/Ambrose classic.
Dean Ambrose is the perfect opponent for Bray. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Bray is big, but not that big and he works best against smaller guys who can pinball off him and make his monster offense look legit. Ambrose definitely fits that bill, and he can answer every weird tick and crazy face from Bray with a weird tick and crazy face of his own. Both guys beat the tar out of each other, and Ambrose had some wonderfully idiosyncratic moments while selling, like the bit where he just started flopping face-and-shoulder first into the mat multiple times to get feeling back in the shoulder after Bray slammed it into the apron. I mean, I think that’s what he was doing. Regardless, it was amusing stuff.
Even the distraction finish was better than usual. When Rollins popped up on the announce table Ambrose didn’t just point and shout and await his roll-up, he went after the f-cker. If you really hate somebody so much that the mere sight of them makes you lose all concentration and composure, you don’t just stand there bugging your eyes out, you go introduce that jerk to your fist. The finish of this match felt like a real moment as opposed to an overused WWE trope.
So yeah, awesome match that you should totally go out of your way to see. Or, you know, enjoy it when they do it again on Raw.