Hello, and welcome to the Smacking of Smackdown, the only Smackdown review on the web written by a communist hipster douche. If you’re feeling generous do me a solid and Facebook/Tweet/Google +/Reddit/Tout/Carrier Pigeon this thing to everyone you know, because friendship is magic.
In case this is your first time here, you should know that this isn’t like the traditional recap/review that you’ll see on this website, because recaps bore me and I’m not very good at them anyway. So what I do is just group things into two columns; Smacked Up (good) and Smacked Down (bad). But, in case you’re the type that can’t function unless things are in chronological order, here’s a helpful guide to aide you in the mind-bending world of non-linear writing.
Randy Orton & Daniel Bryan in-ring segment
Big E Langston defeated Fandango
Kofi Kingston vs Alberto Del Rio went to a No Contest
Ryback & Curtis Axel defeated Cody Rhodes & Goldust
CM Punk defeated Dean Ambrose
Natalya defeated Tamina Snuka
Rey Mysterio & Big Show defeated The Real Americans
Randy Orton defeated Daniel Bryan
Anyway, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first.
(Most) images courtesy of WWE.com
I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This
A couple of red flags went up during the opening promo:
- Daniel Bryan has spent the better part of the last month and a half mixing it up with Wyatts, and while that’s been mostly good there’s always been the nagging realization that WWE’s faith in Bryan has been (unjustly) shaken to the point that WWE has done their panic move of shoving as many belts on John Cena as they can while simultaneously forgetting about all the character development that has happened during the lasts six months and gone back to the status quo. It’s like comic books but more frustrating, because while it was cool that Dick Grayson and Damien Wayne were Batman and Robin, those two fictional characters won’t lose money and career advancement because DC thought it would be better to keep the cowl on Bruce Wayne.
- By forcing another match between Orton and Bryan, it seemed less like a “Hey, remember they don’t like each other” and more like “Okay, here’s your blow off match, now quit tweeting about it.”
- The crowd was pretty dead all night (even with the pumped in cheers that Smackdown is known for) but their lack of real excitement when Bryan came out was concerning. I don’t know if it’s just because Oklahoma is full of assholes or they were just bored, but it made me uneasy.
So Long Main-Eventer Alberto Del Rio
Enjoy slumming it with Kofi Kingston and Sin Cara 2 until you get bored with America and decide to retire. I’ll miss you cross-arm breaking RVD while simultaneously over-explaining to everyone around me why you’re awesome and they are dumb for not seeing it.
Bad News Barrett is the Dumbest F**king Thing Ever
When I heard that Wade Barrett was going to be repackaged as “Bad News Barrett” I assumed it would be another weak attempt to emphasize on his bare-knuckle Fight Club mentality. What we got was something worse. Much worse.
I don’t watch “The JBL & Cole Show” because I don’t hate myself, so I had no idea that Bad News Barrett’s character development was just walking up and literally delivering bad news. They’ve translated this to TV, which has gone as well as you’d expect. They put him at a podium with #BadNewsBarrett written on it, and he gave “bad news” to the audience. But, his bad news wasn't anything accurate or newsworthy, it was just a variation of the classic “the audience is stupid/ugly/fat” Rick Rude rash generalization type of thing, only stripped of all charm and creativity.
The name really bugs me too. You know, they didn't call Bad News Brown "Bad News" because he delivered unfortunate information via podium. They called him that because HE was bad news. Wade Barrett isn't "Bad News". He's just the messenger you want to shoot.
I don't understand how anyone could possibly think this was a good idea. I like to imagine the clock ticking ominously in the writer’s room as JBL and Cole pitched this to Vince, and nobody was brave enough to stand up and say “That’s f**king stupid.”
Well if Bad News Barrett continues the way it is, I have some good news! It won’t last much longer.
If AJ's Title Reign Ends with Natalya, I'm Going to Scream
I’m not a Natalya fan. I haven’t really ever been firmly in her camp, but I used to at least appreciate her as someone that was generally above average. But ever since “Total Divas” went on the air and we’ve been privy to the acting abilities of the Divas in a realistic setting, I’ve come to detest Natalya more than most. Her wrestling ability seems to be hit and miss, she does a worse sharpshooter than The Rock, her promo skills are abysmal, and her “reality show” persona makes me want to give Vince a thumbs up for Montreal. Seriously, if WWE wants us to stop sympathizing with the Hart Family, just keep giving Natalya mic time. She’s embarrassing.
AJ on the other hand is legitimately the best Diva they have on TV both as a wrestler and a character, but I have a terrible feeling that her title run is going to come to an end at TLC at the hands of the least interesting Total Diva. I don’t want AJ to lose at all unless it’s to someone worthy like Paige, but I could at least tolerate her jobbing to Brie Bella or even Naomi. Jesus, how bad is that when I think even Brie Bella is better than Natalya? It’s like I’m on Earth 3.
Learn Your Own Goddamn History, WWE
I’m a continuity nerd. I have a degree in History (giant waste of money, don’t get a liberal arts degree kids) and wrote a paper on the reality of how written history is rarely an accurate portrayal of what actually occurred that was published in a pretentious magazine. Continuity is faulty, but it’s important because if you choose to alter the past, you are inevitably doomed to repeat it. That’s why we never learned anything from Vietnam, but I digress. This is a wrestling blog; I’ll keep my snooty historical discussions for the neck beards that frequent bookstores that serve whine.
During the main-event Michael Cole brought up the fact that there was some confusion because they had already had a title unification match in 2001, and that Chris Jericho was the first Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. Cole then went on to say that while this was true, Jericho only unified the WCW and WWE titles, but the current World Heavyweight Championship’s lineage goes back to 1908 and George Hackenschmidt.
That is obviously incorrect. I think if you’re going to change your own continuity, the place to start would be your own website.
I could probably write 2,000 words alone on why this is dumb and terrible and insulting to the audience, but I’m going to spare you. Instead I’m just say that I wish WWE would stop trying to rationalize the title unification’s importance and just go ahead and fart directly into my mouth. It would save us both a lot of time and frustration.
The IC TItle Is Beginning to Mean Something Again
Big E Langston is in a really good place at the moment. He’s the Intercontinental Champion just when being the Intercontinental Champion is about to mean something again. That puts him in a rare position of prestige, and while it’s still too early to accurately anticipate how his run will go, I’m confident enough in his abilities as both a wrestler and character to make the most of it.
Likewise goes for his opponents. Fandango seemed to be more important than he is simply by having a match with the IC champion. It didn’t hurt that it was a particularly decent match, despite its short length. Fandango is better than most realize at wrestling, maybe because too many people still can’t separate characters from reality. He and Langston have decent chemistry, and I think with enough time to build an in-ring story, they could have something pretty good.
Even the post-match stare down was well done. Damien Sandow looks like a prototypical IC champion. If he fell through time and was dropped in the early 90’s he’d have a 6 year title reign. He just looks like an Intercontinental Champion. He’s also a baller in the ring, and his character work is stronger than most top level WWE guys today (looking at you, CM Punk). If WWE continues this trend of revaluing the IC title and stops putting it on guys like Curtis Axel, we might actually get that resurgence in mid-card titles we’ve been begging for since (checks watch) forever.
FYI that's my new favorite picture of Curtis Axel.
For a guy that loves (LOVES) giving Curtis Axel a ton of shit, I actually really enjoy him as one half of the former Paul Heyman Guys team. He and Ryback have this goofy sort of comradery going. They are two guys that under normal circumstances would never hang out together, but they’ve been thrust into this unenviable position of abandonment and they’re sticking together because it’s all either of them have left. It’s kind of beautiful and sad if you think about it too long.
The Rhodes Boys meanwhile are still killing it as the tag champs, and while I’m not usually a fan of champs losing non-title matches, I was okay with it here because Jesus do those two need a win. I like to think Goldust and Cody didn’t give them the win out of pity, but didn’t get too bent out of shape afterward because come on, what else do those dorks have to look forward to?
Well, This Match Didn’t Stink
Even though you’d think it would (I’m sorry).
Before we get into the crappy parts of this match (again, sorry) I just want to comment on how I’m starting to understand the Dean Ambrose hype. The dude has been slowly growing on me throughout the year, and when he has one-on-one matches with top tier talent, he starts to shine. During the match he converted a backslide pin attempt into the armbreaker that was pretty seamless. He has a fluidity to the way he moves that’s almost hypnotizing, and I’m starting to understand why the Internet has been blowing him for so long.
Unfortunately Ambrose’s wrestling skills were not the highlight of the match. Apparently at some point during the bout Punk was having some dietary issues and decided that waiting patiently to get out of the ring and excuse himself to the bathroom was for suckers. That or he forced a fart too hard and a turtle head poked out. Either way, you’d think on a taped show they could’ve give Punk a minute to go blow ass in a toilet like a human being, but I guess that’s not what real men do, so shitting his pants was the only alternative. Poor Dean Ambrose. No wonder he didn’t want to get back in the ring.
Professional wrestling is awkward at times. There’s an expectation to work through just about anything that happens in the ring. That’s why a lot of guys work hurt and finish matches when they probably should just roll out of the ring and black out. The same thing goes for pooping your pants, so you’re expected to just bite your lip and bear it, no matter how shitty it is (I’m so so sorry).
But kudos to finishing the match guys, and kudos for not making it a stinker. (OH GOD, I’M SO SORRY I PROMISE I’M DONE.)
I guess we should just call him CM Stunk (Seriously, I’m SO sorry).
Don’t Bring a Big Hoss to a Big Show Fight
The Real Americans have genuinely become one of my favorite reasons to watch WWE television in the past year. I don’t agree with their xenophobic outlook, but that has no effect on my enjoyment of them as television characters. I don’t agree with cooking/distributing meth or murdering people with boxcutters, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think Guss Fring is an enjoyable character.
That being said, there was no more appropriate answer to their challenge for Rey Mysterio to find a partner and throw down with them in the ring than the Big Show. Zeb’s face post-match was probably the most satisfying thing ever. I love you Real Americans. Please continue to occasionally write checks your asses can’t cash.
Okay, That Bad Feeling Is Gone
Randy Orton vs Daniel Bryan went exactly as you expected it to. The problem with having lots of matches with the same two opponents in a short period of time is that it’s hard to keep things fresh, and it’s hard to bring anything new without getting ridiculously grandiose with the spots. Another problem is that if you’re going to have a marquee match on Smackdown, it’s not worth it to pull out the stuff you could save for a PPV that would make it different and special. It wasn’t bad mind you, it’s just nothing I haven’t seen between these two before.
The cool thing though happened at the end when Bray Wyatt cost Bryan the match with the power of distraction, then went on to tell him that these kinds of things will keep happening to him because that’s how the Authority rolls, and he needs to align with the only guys that see things for what they are. While I was watching Smackdown I was texting my friend Folden about the Wyatt’s vs Bryan at TLC and he made an interesting guess as to how it would go down.
He said, “What if it’s a no-contest, not because of the Wyatt’s destroying Bryan pre-match or vice versa, but because Bryan actually joins up with them. But, instead of going heel, he makes them faces, and they all fight the Authority together.”
At that point my brain blew a fuse, because of course. It makes so much sense. It makes TOO much sense for WWE to actually pick up on it, but wow what a thought to have. I can say that I’d prefer Wyatt as a heel, but he could be a face and still be creepy ass Bray Wyatt. The only difference would be who he focuses his rage on.
So what did you think of Smackdown? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you cats next week.
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