The Smacking Of WWE Smackdown 01/17/14: Rollin' Right Along
Hey ya’ll, and welcome to The Smacking of Smackdown. We’ve got a lot to go over, but before we get started please do me a favor and Tweet and Facebook share this as much as possible. I’m really trying to justify to myself why I keep doing this, and your support really goes a long way to keeping me out of the liquor section at the grocery store.
Anyway, here are some results so we’re all on the same level:
The New Age Outlaws defeated Cody Rhodes & Goldust
Paul Heyman & Big Show in-ring segment
Rey Mysterio defeated Alberto Del Rio
Naomi defeated Tamina
Big E Langston defeated Fandango
CM Punk Calls Out The New Age Outlaws & The Shield
(Most) images courtesy of WWE.com
The Team of Michael Cole, JBL and The Miz AKA Kill Me Now
There’s nothing I want less than to watch a two hour wrestling program and being forced to listen to a braggadocios egomaniac in a cowboy hat, a 40-year-old with a soul patch that has Vince McMahon’s hand up his ass controlling him like a puppet, AND NOW ALSO a former WWE Champion who’s been on a steady downslide trying out his best Alex Riley impression, which is probably the first time I’ve seen someone try to be more like their own shitty clone.
JBL and Cole aren’t exactly the easiest announce team to listen to in the best of times, but adding Miz to the fire really only made it worse. Between their selective definitions of what is technically the main event of WrestleMania (It’s the last match, you dweebs) and Miz shoehorning in his SNL lifted “REALLY?” shtick as much as possible, it was enough to make me want to make a foot-sized hole in my television.
I hate to say this, but commentary isn’t really your bag, Miz. Some would argue neither is wrestling as a whole, but I digress.
And the Scales Are Rebalanced
Alberto Del Rio got a submission victory over Rey Mysterio on Raw, so of course to keep his momentum going toward the Rumble and his showdown with Batista he got another decisive victory over Rey on Smackdown as well, right?
Wins and losses don’t really matter because wrestling is fake and anybody can be World Champion. Literally, anybody. So when a guy has a winning streak, it doesn’t really matter unless it’s in context of a story being told. The story is what matters, not the wins. So if the story you’re trying to tell is that ADR is a real possible threat for the returning Batista, you don’t have him jobbing to the smallest wrestler this side of bovine or leprechaun origin because it doesn’t help the narrative, it only detracts from it. Kofi Kingston pinning Orton on Raw doesn’t help Kofi one little shit, but it does have story implications for Orton that will direct his motivation against his real threat. It doesn’t help Rey to get his heat back a few days after losing a hard fought victory. It just makes Del Rio look less capable than what we thought he was being built as.
That’s why wins and losses matter; because it affects the narrative, not because stats matter. Stats in wrestling are like parsley on a dinner plate. They’re a nice visual, but you’re not going to eat a piece of f**king parsley.
I’ve been a pretty staunch defender of Tamina in the past, but after that botched back body drop where she more or less broke poor Naomi’s implants and/or neck on the mat, I’m starting to think I need to get off this Snuka train before it slams into a wall.
So Who in WWE Do I Write My Apology To
If you follow me on Twitter than you probably already knew of my reaction toward the announced New Age Outlaws vs Rhodes Boys match, but just in case you don’t:
So I walked into this match with a clear bias and was prepared to write so many bad things about this match. What I got instead though was a perfectly cromulent match, because I foolishly forgot that Smackdown is edited and because Goldust and Cody are together King Midas and can make even the worst things seem like f**king gold.
On paper The New Age Outlaws in 2014 doing literally anything is the pits, but the opening tag bout was fine. Gunn looked good when he was in the ring, he and James sold offense really well, Cody did some creative drop kicking, and Goldust continued to prove that he’s Benjamin Buttoning and rocked the damn house. I would’ve preferred a different ending (because that means they might do this again on Raw, and I don’t think I can be this gracious twice) but for a quick opening Smackdown match, I can’t really complain.
One gripe thought: WWE is willing to say “bad ass” on TV but not “ass”? What kind of weird cherry picking-censor are they stuck with?
I Wish Paul Heyman Would Just Narrate the Entire Show
Continuity is important. I think when companies like WWE (also DC and Marvel) pick and choose what parts of their own character’s history they’re going to use for current stories, it detracts from the stories legitimacy. Often times they look at continuity as baggage, but I firmly believe that continuity makes stories better. It shows growth and makes the characters more well-rounded individuals.
That’s why I haven’t been super behind Big Show vs Lesnar, because they’ve either been replaying story beats they did 10 years ago, or just ignoring them all together. The announcers are being forced to play it like Big Show throwing Lesnar is a huge accomplishment, despite the fact that Show already beat Brock for the WWE title in the past, and Brock destroyed a wrestling ring by chucking Big Show backwards off the top rope. It’s frustrating because I remember things that make these characters more interesting, and the organization responsible for telling me stories about them just plain refuse to acknowledge these events.
However, if you’re going to force me to ignore the past (except for that weird moment where Show called himself a Paul Heyman Guy before it was cool, and then didn’t explain it at all) there is no better way to calm me down than to put a microphone in Paul Heyman’s hand and tell him to just talk until they’re into the clearing. Heyman doesn’t ever really change the continuity, but he does carefully work around the past events in a compelling and entertaining way so that when we’re into this seemingly rebooted timeline where Big Show was never part of Lesnar’s stable of giants, I’m not as angry about it.
Whatever they’re paying Paul Heyman to talk isn’t enough. They should just use him as a SWAT for storyline issues, and drop him into the middle of things just to explain what the f**k is happening. Maybe if they employed that idea more consistently in the past, we wouldn’t have had things like Triple H raping Kane’s dead girlfriend to deal with.
RIP Mae Young
Seriously, that tribute video was one of the most touching things I’ve ever seen WWE make. I’m a big softy so it doesn’t take a whole lot to make me emotional, but pairing a bunch of Mae Young’s best WWE moments and personal backstage photos with a pretty jovial song (“Stubborn Love” by The Lumineers) reflected on the life that Mae Young lived: friendly, endearing, affable, and most importantly, fun.
Mae Young might have been absurd bordering on creepy at times in her WWE bits (nobody looks good after giving birth to a hand covered in lube), but she always seemed like she was having the time of her life while doing them. Even when she was pushing a century in age she always had a smile while in front of a WWE crowd. And not one of those kinds of smiles you plaster on while trying to power through an obligation. She had a smile of genuine joy.
That’s what I’ll take from the life of Mae Young. Even when you look like you might be at your most ridiculous just smile and enjoy it, because even ridiculous can be beautiful.
Bray Wyatt is the Dragon, Look Upon Him and Rightly Tremble
A lot of people have been saying that Daniel Bryan’s “victory” over the Wyatt’s on Raw should’ve been the end of the story, but I disagree. That wasn’t the ending; it was just the last weigh station before shit gets real.
WWE fans get swept up in this idea that the moment with the biggest reaction should ultimately be the climax, but that’s not how a good story works. A good story (especially in wrestling where the villains have to be villains again the next week) ends with both parties coming out the better. If it ended on Raw than Wyatt doesn’t really benefit from it, because it looks like he just got tricked by a man he welcomed into the fold. But if Bray goes after Bryan one more time and Bryan still succeeds in pushing back, it’s conceivable that the crazy cult leader might finally get the hint and back off.
Right now Wyatt is angry because he’s been tricked, but instead of getting indignant about it, he’s using his rage to redirect himself and roll out haunting promos that would make weak men weep and strong men tremble. Bray Wyatt has been backed into a caged corner, but he’s not the type to cower. He’s a monster, and monsters don’t really go away. They just hide under your bed until you least expect them.
Better Than You Probably Assumed It Would Be
Ever since Fandangoing stopped being a thing, Fandango has been stuck in neutral and his matches haven’t really been anything to write home about. This match with Langston though went a long way in rebuilding his worth, at least in my eyes. Fandango showed a mean streak in his offense that was much needed. He didn’t really goof with his dancing as much, and it showed that he was taking this whole “wrestling for a living” thing a little more seriously.
Big E was good for his part as well. One of the hardest things for big guys to do is to convincingly sell their opponents offense, but Langston legitimately made me think he was struggling at times against Fandango. It doesn’t hurt Big E to look like he had to work a little harder than normal to put a guy who is bearing his teeth down for the count.
It was just a good solid match, and the effort was noticed. So good job fellas! You kept me from only paying attention to Summer Rae, which is a HUGE accomplishment.
Renee Was Digging Her Some Dean Ambrose
I don't have photographic evidence to support this claim, but Renee Young was swooning while in the presence of Dean Ambrose. And speaking as a heterosexual male, I have to say that I don’t blame her at all. That dude has got some crazy guy mojo at work or something, because I’m straight as hell and even I find myself looking for a fan and talking about vapors when he pops up on the screen.
I’m currently loving the slow journey toward The Shield’s implosion, and this promo was a good indication of where they all are individually. Ambrose is that dude that well placate his pals and tell them what he thinks they want to hear to keep the advantage, Rollins still has some stars in his eyes pluckiness to him, and Reigns is just a straight foreword bad ass that isn’t afraid to just call it like it is. It’s awesome, and even though they’ve been incredible as a unit, the slow burn is a good way to set up that they’re all going to be great individual stars when the time comes.
Also, Ambrose was killing it here. Telling Rollins to work on his landings? LULZ. I like to think that was code for “You bump like you’re getting murdered.”
Jesus, Zeb. You with your props. You’re making me fall in love with you so hard.
Selective selling of injuries aside, I really enjoyed the tag team match. The Usos are arguably the hottest tag team in the WWE that didn’t come from Dusty Rhodes’ balls, and The Real Americans are consistently the most entertaining duo on television. The wrestling was solid as always, but by employing some light slap-stick and wheelchair humor, they went above and beyond this week to entertain the living shit out of me.
It also helped me justify enjoying the fact that Jimmy (or Jey, I don’t know) used Zeb as a battering ram against Cesaro, because unlike on Raw when Big Show’s assault was completely unwarranted, Zeb used his handicap to interfere in the match. That doesn’t really justify using a 60-year-old man as a weapon, but you feel a little less gross about it when you realize he instigated it.
I hope on Raw Zeb gets his own People Power inspired chair, but covered in “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and NRA stickers.
CM Punk is Full of Shit
One of the best things about the CM Punk character is how he has everyone absolutely fooled. The guy presents himself completely as an honest, tough, hardworking individual that doesn’t require any outside assistance or the need to hide behind an army, despite the fact that he has on and off spent a great portion of his WWE career manipulating people beneath his station to do exactly that. He rages against the machine (The Authority in this instance) because it doesn’t often fall in line with what he perceives is truth; that CM Punk is the best and most important thing in the world and anyone that disagrees is a moron that deserves his contempt.
Seriously, look at his history. He rallied a group of people in need of guidance, shaved their heads, and called himself their savior. When that petered out he maneuvered his way into an established group, thrust himself into a leadership program, and used them to do his bidding. Then he got a new following, the WWE Universe, and rode their adoration to the longest championship reign in two decades. When someone the loved more came around, he turned on them and joined up with the Devil’s Advocate who was a one man cult to lead, and started paying hitmen in flak jackets to take out the competition. Now he’s back in a position of fan worship and the cycle has begun anew; the Cult of Personality is once again deciding what truth is because he knows people will listen, regardless of how capable he is of twisting it.
On the other end you have a guy like Kane, who despite his past atrocities cannot be called a manipulator. Even when he was being cryptic and weird, he always called it like it is. Now Kane is in a position where he feels he can do some actual good, and even goes as far as to tell call off the dogs and assure Punk that The Authority WANTS him to succeed. So what does Punk do? He intentionally instigates Kane into assaulting him, which is what Punk wanted all along. The whole night he was picking fights with the people he deemed responsible for his recent troubles, and when Kane gave him an out he spit in his face. Punk exploited Kane’s insecurities and put his money on the hope that Kane would briefly forget what he learned in anger management and relapse.
The reason, of course, is because Punk needs to battle the establishment. Not to right wrongs or to speak truths, but to try and maintain his version of reality. If Punk doesn’t rage against the machine than he loses his following, and what is a Cult of Personality without a cult? Punk has always been only concerned with himself, and now he’s created a new powerful enemy that he can rally his followers against. It’s great storytelling, whether it’s intentional or not. See, the real villain in this story isn’t the guy who spent a year in anger management rebuilding himself into a more well-adjusted individual, only to lash out when antagonized. It’s the guy manipulating you into thinking he is.
So what did you think of Smackdown? Let us know in the comments. See you crazy cats next week.
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