Late Friday night, I was settling in to watch The Rise and Fall of WCW, when through the window something caught my eye. Shining bright in the sky, a silhouette of a rad pair of sunglasses… Andrew Johnson’s distress signal! He needed someone to smack Smackdown for him. That’s what she said, when I said, “I will smack it with pleasure!”
Following Andrew’s approach, here is a rundown of what happened on the show.
~~ RESULTS ~~
Sheamus pinned Damien Sandow in a Dublin Street Fight
Backstage segment Daniel Bryan and Kane
Miz TV with Heyman and Axel
Natalya pinned AJ Lee
Teddy Long announces MITB participants
Randy Orton pinned Kane
Ryback pinned Justin Gabriel
Christian & The Usos pinned The Shield
Fiesta Del Rio
First I will Smack Down the items worth criticizing, and then I will Smack Up the parts of the show worth complimenting. Won’t you smack along with me?
The World Makes Sense Again, Miz TV Stunk
Bless him for trying, but The Miz would probably do better if he followed a script to the letter. He gets all wound up with his cheesy-radio-announcer-at-an-auction voice, and cannot gauge whether his comments will be useful or funny. He’s given himself a pep talk: this will be the week that he kills it on Miz TV! He just has to play it cool, and fit in all his jokes.
Not even Paul Heyman can rescue this one, and things go improbably further south when Curtis Axel takes the mic. His promo voice is so unnatural that he makes the Miz sound awesome; I’m hoping Axel’s time with Heyman will result in a demeanour as natural as his wrestling. That being said, let’s have this lead to a match at Money In The Bank - a nice little palate cleanser before the main event. And let’s replace Miz TV with Big E’s Flower Shop.
Ryback’s victory over Gabriel is interrupted by Chris Jericho’s constipated swagger down the ramp. Here’s another case of the good guy acting like a total wiener, and the bad guy looking good by comparison. Jericho ridicules Ryback, whose leg was hurt during the match with Gabriel. He starts rhyming off derisive nicknames for Ryback like he did to Fandango all the time. He climaxes with the cringe-inducing “CRY-BACK”, and encourages the fans to chant. He then kicks Ryback’s injured leg and tries to apply the Walls of Jericho, but Ryback escapes. Who looks sympathetic here, and who looks like a jerk with stale material? (To clarify, I fully embrace jerks who have new material.)
They’re Not Buying It Either
Christian has most recently distinguished himself as the guy who couldn’t inspire anyone in the writer’s room. How is he one of the few to pin Dean Ambrose?! When I wrote “21 Things I Love About The Shield”, I knew that their title wins meant change. And even though we all say wins and losses don’t mean anything, I say that the finish of a match contributes to how we feel about a character. I just don’t buy Christian pinning Dean Ambrose.
And I do not like him using the spear; it just feels like he’s fishing for an Edge-nostalgic cheer, and besides, Kaitlyn’s already doing the spear better. I wish Dean Ambrose had sat up after the spear, Undertaker-style, and given Christian a jaunty little toodle-oo wave before beating the crap out of him. Furthermore, how does Christian pinning Ambrose make it any more plausible that the Usos can win the Tag Team titles (which they claimed was the point with the win here)?
My Name Is Sheamus, And I Love To Fake Stereotypically Fight
The Dublin Street Fight was an excellent start to the program. There were kegs of beer at ringside, and bright green kendo sticks and stools (painted to coordinate with the green on Sheamus’s trunks). I was won over by the sack of potatoes.
This is the type of hard-hitting match that people praise Sheamus for, and Sandow did not miss a step either. They brawled and used weapons to create a haphazard feeling, but also used dropkicks, rolling sentons and backbreakers, many outside the ring. When I look at my notes, I am entertained just reading, “Sandow gets reefed into the timekeeper’s barricade, then draped across the secondary bar area near the announcers. Now they’ve taken out the primary bar area by the ramp, and Sheamus has thrown a keg at Sandow! From under the ring, Sheamus pulls out a sack of potatoes, of course, and beats Sandow with it. EEEW – he has just taken a bite out of a raw potato, and spit it at Sandow.” Sandow puts a drop-toe hold on Sheamus that results in Sheamus smashing his face into the leg of an upturned chair. It’s kind of gruesome from my vantage point, but he seems okay. Sheamus comes out on top after a clever Brogue Kick onto a seated Sandow.
Cheers to both men for the coordination and energy, but SHEAMUS PLEASE STOP EATING THE RAW POTATOES! I know scientifically there is nothing wrong with it, but I’d rather watch a chair leg to the eye socket.
I haven’t been keeping tally of who’s won what in this feud, but it’s only fair that they follow up with a Robes and Snifters Match. We find out later that Sandow will be otherwise occupied at Money In The Bank.
More Subtle Than A Sack Of Potatoes
Kane’s a good friend, but his patience is wearing thin. He is so animated in congratulating Daniel Bryan on his tap-out victory over Orton, but Bryan’s patience is also wearing thin. They’re conditioned to put their friendship first, but their tempers and insecurities are bubbling to the surface. Now, no matter what Kane says in the name of friendship, Bryan can twist it into a criticism (in this case, Kane calling the win an upset means he did not expect Bryan to win). “I’m going to chalk up your little outburst to nerves,” says Bryan, continuing this delectable slow burn.
Tit For Tat (Yes I Did!)
For the sake of consistency, I should Smack this Down for re-using the awful joke about AJ getting around (since I complained about Lawler bringing it up out of nowhere during their Payback match). But four things made this segment shine:
1) The payoff of Kaitlyn dressing up as AJ. It was predictable in the best way, and I would have been disappointed if Kaitlyn hadn’t done it. It shows that both women are capable of playing mind games, but more than anything it was fun. I hope they get another match at Money In The Bank.
2) Kaitlyn’s charisma (and implicitly, AJ’s when she dressed up as Kaitlyn on Raw). Both women are comfortable on camera, and can play a character as well as they can wrestle. I will allow Kaitlyn’s use of the “AJ gets around” joke, because she’s using it for a purpose - to antagonize and distract AJ – and she is doing so in a goofy way. I like to think there’s a fine line here. When Lawler said it, he was checking off his list of random epithets when it made no sense, in the same breath as other misogynistic comments.
3) The presence of a true talent in Natalya, including her dope kip-up out of AJ’s head scissors. Such a shame that the match was over in the blink of an eye.
4) Timekeeper Mark Yeaton’s face when he was revealed to be one of AJ’s dates.
Hole On A Minnit, Future Playas!
When Vince McMahon and Teddy Long are on camera together, things usually don’t end well for Teddy Long. He announced his big idea for the World Heavyweight Title Money In The Bank match, and I was just waiting for Vince to shit all over it. To counter Vickie Guerrero’s “WWE All-Stars” approach, Teddy is loading his match with “Future Players”: Wade Barrett, Jack Swagger, Dean Ambrose, Antonio Cesaro, Fandango, Cody Rhodes, and Damien Sandow.
To everyone’s surprise, Vince loved the idea. I’m going to overlook the fact that this match could also be called “Leftovers”, because I love half of those leftovers. Vince congratulated Long, and ends the segment by pronouncing Fandango’s name with such gusto that you KNOW he must have come up with that gimmick.
My 8-year old son watched this with me, and he loved the part with Vince pronouncing Fandango. So we have identified Vince’s target audience. It was quite interesting, watching with a kid who doesn’t watch wrestling. He also loved Daniel Bryan’s Yes! and No! chants, and made a hilarious observation at the start of the Ryback/Gabriel match: “Who do you think is going to win, Ryback or Ryback, because that other guy is fit, but I don’t think fit enough!”
A Guy So Nice, I Need To Smack Him Up Twice
Daniel Bryan proves time and again that he is the King Midas of every segment he touches. He Yes chants his way out to do commentary on the Kane/Orton match, and everything thereafter is a study in character development and storytelling, delivered in the most endearing manner. Bryan has an earnest sense of humour, and you can tell that JBL and Cole adore having him on comms. He is put out that Kane did not properly congratulate him on his win, “He didn’t call, he didn’t email, he didn’t send a cake!”
Meanwhile, the match between Orton and Kane is quite good; it holds my attention, and gets enough time for some excellent action. Its main purpose is to further the story of all three men. Cole and JBL pursue a line of questioning that prompts Bryan to doubt Kane. When he accidentally-on-purpose helps Kane to defeat, Bryan’s facial expression says it all: he’s feels satisfied, and that feels good.
The ring is festooned with balloons, and a mariachi band is here to celebrate Alberto Del Rio’s title win over Dolph Ziggler. I know the crowd is thinking the same thing I am when they see the giant bowls of chips and salsa on the table: somebody’s going to get dipped.
I missed you, Mexican Aristocrat Silky Scarf! It takes Del Rio only a moment to spark a “U.S.A.” chant, as he delivers his insults in espagnol. Then he makes quick work of the pinata, and I was a bit disappointed that the mariachi guys didn’t go scrambling for the candy. Maybe they were told that if they behaved, they would each get a fair share of the candy afterwards. “Where are you, little Ziggy?” taunts Del Rio, and a very different Dolph Ziggler comes out.
No pearly whites flashing, no swoon-inducing ass wiggle. Dolph channels his trainer, Lance Storm, and is serious for a moment as he removes his watch and jacket with the intent of punishing Del Rio. They brawl, and the crowd starts chanting for salsa. Unfortunately for us, a candy-motivated mariachi has cleared the table, through which Air Ricardo is diverted on his flight off the top turnbuckle. Dolph then Zig Zags Alberto and Honky Tonks Ricardo with a guitar. Red, white, and green balloons float down on the crowd, and Dolph’s pearly whites are headlining the mariachi band. A show-stealing way to end.
Sign of the Night
“Like I was sayin’ to my homeboy Joey when we were doing Beyblades at recess, I just can’t stop digging those crazy chicks!”
I really liked this Smackdown, and I could have even written happy thoughts on the Raw Rebounds featuring Punk and Heyman. You’ll want to watch Smackdown for the Dublin Street Fight, Daniel Bryan, Kaitlyn’s promo, and the Fiesta Del Rio. I am a huge Chris Jericho fan, and the Timbits running through my veins dictate that I’m supposed to like Christian as well, but they did not impress on this occasion.
It has been super cool sitting in for Andrew Johnson again, and I would love your feedback in the comments below. I’m also on twitter @kickyhick and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org – in the immortal words of Daniel Bryan, “Everybody texts!”