Hey ya’ll, and welcome to the first Smacking of Smackdown of 2014. Last week I was on an airplane for most of the weekend, so John graciously covered for me. But, this week I’m back, and I’m ready to start anew, maybe have a sunnier disposition and try to be more positive in my life. Can you guys taste that? MmMmMmMmMm. It tastes like progress.

Anyway, do me a favor and Tweet and Facebook share this as much as possible. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to double my readership. So…ya know… help out.

Before we get started, here are some results so we’re all on the same level:

RESULTS:

The Usos vs The Wyatt Family went to a double count out

Miz TV featuring The Miz, Big Show, & Paul Heyman

Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, & Los Matadores defeated Rybaxel & The Real Americans

Randy Orton defeated Big E Langston

Xavier Woods defeated Fandango

The Shield defeated CM Punk & The New Age Outlaws

(Most) images courtesy of WWE.com

Batista

This might come as a surprise to you, but I’m not super thrilled that Batista is coming back. It’s not because he isn’t good at what he does, because he is. During his final run with WWE four years ago he was one of the best characters on television. My problem with Batista is that I can’t separate “The Animal” Batista from “Real Life Asshole” Dave Bautista.

A lot of people say that the dirt sheets have ruined professional wrestling, and I’m not going to argue with them. I don’t necessarily think they’re 100% right, but there’s an argument for not needing to know everything about every performer in the industry. This goes the same for anything really, because while George Michael Bluth might seem like a sweet if not misguided kid, I can’t get over that he’s played but a little dickhead that wouldn’t sign an autograph for my friend because she was “not hot enough.”*

The good news is that when someone acts like a shit bag in real life it’s easy for me to hate them on TV. Take Brock Lesnar for example. I think he’s a bully and kind of a jack ass, but that translates well because on screen he’s an awful human being and isn’t supposed to be redeemable at all. Unfortunately though, Batista is going to return as a babyface because that’s what WWE does, and probably will get a title match at WrestleMania. These are things I don’t want, and you really shouldn’t want either.

However, if Batista returns with a popped-collar pink golf shirt, walks out in his spotlight minus the pyro, refuses to play nice and answers with air wanks to everyone, and tells Roman Reigns he isn’t allowed to do the spear anymore because he invented it,  I’ll shut up and stick my thumb in the air because that’s the Batista I know. He’d be an asshole, but at least it would be genuine.

*I didn’t experience this firsthand, but my friend is trustworthy and adorable, and if she says Michael Cera is a dick than Michael Cera is a dick.

So NXT is Your Favorite WWE Show, Cole? Kiss My Ass

The only way I’ll accept that Michael Cole watches NXT with pure joy in his heart is if he spends the entire show calling all the talent “useless rookies” and tweeting when he should be paying attention.

Fandango vs Xavier Woods

I don’t understand Xavier Woods. I don’t dislike him, but I don’t understand him. He’s a goofball that is enjoying himself, but what are his aspirations? If his goals are to dance badly and have a good time, well then mission accomplished I guess.

I generally don’t really dig characters whose entire development revolves around the idea of “having fun” for two reasons:

1) He doesn’t have any kind of momentum or trajectory at all. His entire main roster career thus far has consisted of stealing Brodus Clay’s entrance music and valets, and losing matches. I’m sure he’s won a few here and there, but I honestly can’t think of one that stands out in my mind, and that’s concerning. I don’t really have any feelings towards Woods one way or the other, but sometimes that’s worse than actually hating his guts.

2) When a character is all about “having fun” that’s all the announcers seem to know what to say. If you took a shot of Wild Turkey every time Cole or JBL said the word “fun” (or “having a good time” which is just fun’s definition) during this match you’d be on a respirator. We get it, he likes to have fun, even when he’s losing. It worked so well for Brodus Clay, until some rookie with Dragon Ball Z jokes written on his tights came by and stole his gimmick. He’s living the dream.

Wyatt Chaos is the Best Chaos

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve legitimately watched a WWE program. First it was the holidays so wrestling wasn’t going to happen, and then I went to Florida and got stuck at airports and had stuff to catch up on. So my first real episode back into wrestling was this one, and what a way to get back into it; The Usos vs The Wyatts in a high octane back and forth tag team battle. Welcome home, Andrew.

I’ve loved the Usos for a long time now, but it’s really encouraging to see them get real exposure as a top team in WWE. Sure they haven’t won the belts, but neither did the Buschwackers and everyone remembers them (Okay, bad example.)

The Wyatts and The Usos have strong chemistry with each other. Jimmy and Jay are big enough to where Harper and Rowan can throw bombs at them and not worry about breaking their bones, so clothelines are a lot stiffer and big boots are a lot more devastating. When these two teams go at it I’m assured that I’m going to have a hard-hitting match, and they didn’t disappoint. I’m not even upset about the double count-out, because Smackdown is basically the “Detective Comics” of wrestling shows; nothing of consequence really happens, but sometimes it sets up the important stuff on a program that matters. The important set-up being for the Usos/Bryan and Wyatt match on Monday.

I’m intrigued by the Daniel Bryan’s seemingly heel turn, mostly because I don’t know what the hell to expect. Sure it could go the super obvious “Daniel Bryan turns on the Wyatts and then says YES!” kind of nerd prediction, but I like to think they’ve got bigger plans than just return to the status quo.

The bottom line is that despite WWE’s attempts to the contrary, Daniel Bryan is still white-hot popular and over as hell with the fans. Will this ultimately hurt his career? I say no, because anyone with a functioning brain should know that this isn’t a long term situation. Bryan will turn on the Wyatts; the questions are when, how, and why. In the meantime Bray Wyatt gets to rub elbows with arguably the most popular Superstar on the roster, and we get to see more creepy/fantastic Wyatt vignettes. I call that a win-win, so let’s ride this baby out and see what happens.

Miz TV…Wait What???

I’m just as surprised as you are.

It’s surprising how useful The Miz can be as a personality when he cuts through the bullshit and just presents things without any unnecessary exposition. I’m a big mark for continuity references, but I was okay with Miz and Show ignoring the whole ShowMiz team run in order to just get to the topic at hand. I also really appreciated the inclusion of Paul Heyman into the mix, because he makes everything better and can make something that’s pretty meh into being must-see. Small annoyance that Heyman is ignoring that whole personal history of dumping Lesnar for Show a decade ago awkwardness, but I can see why he wouldn’t want to bring that up. Brock’s long-term memory probably doesn’t go that far back, so probably the less said the better.

Oh My God, Zeb’s Signs Are Amazing

Temperature inspired signs? Zeb, you've got to stop making me like you. 

Ridiculous xenophobic protest signs aside, this 8-Man-Tag was enjoyable as hell. It’s hard not to enjoy a match that has both the Real Americans and a team of Luchadores in it. Even Rybaxel were enjoyable in the parts they played. It’s hard not to enjoy a Curtis Axel match when there are so many masks in the ring. Seriously, Cesaro must have been having Chikara flashbacks.

Randy Orton vs Big E Langston

I put this in the Smacked Up section because I appreciated the effort and the third act of the match was exciting and fun to watch, but the first two acts were DULL AS F**K. Randy Orton has been excellent the past few months, but every now and then he’ll go at half-shit-giving and kind of just roll out that slow-paced Randy Orton style offense, and it was taxing to get through. Big E was impressive during his offensive moments, but at the same time I didn’t expect him to win at any point during the match. That’s the problem when you force matches between your top star and a secondary champion in the middle of the show. There’s no expectation for it to end any other way, and boy they did not disappoint with that assumption.

I’m probably knit-picking, but that’s kind of what I’m supposed to do here. I just wish I didn’t have to watch a Randy Orton match on Smackdown and my gut reaction be to grab my phone because the next 20 minutes I know I’m gonna be in and out of it.

Dean Ambrose Is Losing His Mind

Holy shit what has happened to Dean Ambrose

Since I haven’t watched wrestling regularly for the past few weeks I’ve been missing out on the supposed unhinging of Dean Ambrose’s character. Slowly he’s been reverting to his Jon Moxley days—both with his mouthy in-ring chatter and his post-swirly hair—and has been individualizing his appearance from the rest of his Shield cohorts subtly. Why else would he be wearing a hoodie instead of a flackjacket and dangling his championship belt like it’s a red, white, and blue cock? The dude is starting to crack, which is good as The Shield is heading toward an implosion, and they need to individualize themselves a little bit more.

What I took away the most from this pre-match promo though was how good Seth Rollins has gotten on the stick. He’s not revolutionary mind you, but he’s a million times better than he was a year ago when everything he said he shouted like the indy nerd that he was. All three members of The Shield have grown in the past 14 months, but none have improved as much as Rollins has. Ambrose is gonna be fine, Reigns has always been a machine, but Rollins I worried about because of how he spazzed out whenever he had a microphone. Now, I think he’s gonna have a chance.

So yeah, when The Shield breaks up it’s gonna suck. But, at the same time we’re going to have three fully formed individual performers who all have a chance to succeed beyond their stable days. How often can we say that?

They (Don’t) Still Got It

Okay, confession time: When I was a kid, I LOVED the New Age Outlaws. LOVED THEM. You know why? Because I was a dumb kid that was easy to trick. I bought into pre-match catchphrase fest that they leaned on, and enjoyed their occasional good showing in tag team title matches to be convinced they were one of the greatest tag teams of all time. Then I grew up and started to care about more than dick jokes and half-assed wrestling efforts and I realized that loving the Outlaws was akin to loving “Saved by the Bell”: It’s all fun until you grow up and realize the thing you used to love was actually cheesy garbage.

That said, I still have kind of a soft spot for the Outlaws, but only until I hear them call Billy Gunn “B.A.” instead of “Bad Ass” and then I’m out with airwanks at the ready. I don’t think them being in matches is beneficial for anyone involved: The Shield don’t look tough for beating up old men, Punk doesn’t benefit by having two over-the-hill partners to take on the toughest team in the WWE, and the Outlaws don’t look like [They]’ve Still Got It™ they look tired. That's why Gunn spent the majority of the match on the apron and James mostly just sold offense. If you're going to be winded, you might as well look like you have a reason for it.

To be fair the Outlaws didn't look that bad (especially Gunn who still has some power) and the finish alone was enough for me to enjoy the main-event. I like that Punk was working the separate and conquer plan that has worked for him against The Shield in the past. That’s why when he noticed Rollins regaining his composure ringside he Z targeted him, launched out of the ring, and relied on his partners to finish Ambrose and Reigns off. If he had any other partners they might have succeeded, but because Punk was teamed with a guy that uses the Rocker Dropper as a finisher Reigns was able to turn it into Spear City and knock off the Outlaws. That’ll show Punk for counting on Triple H’s Stooges to do anything right.

Oh God, they are Triple H’s Briscoe and Patterson, aren’t they? We’re probably only a few years away from watching Jesse James and B.A. Gunn in an evening gown match. Ugh, we deserve this.

Twitter: @TheAEJohnson

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