Monday, June 23, 2014

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Seriously, this OTP won't die NOR SHOULD IT
Photo Credit:
I wanted to start things off this week with some words about why I genuinely love Smackdown. A lot of people dismiss Smackdown as nothing but a mish-mash of RAW recaps and matches that don't matter, and there's some truth to that. The WWE clearly doesn't care much about the show, but that's why I kind of love it. I actually like that there's no pressure to Smackdown and we usually don't have to deal with the major players. I like to think of Smackdown as a place for the forgotten, where the matches are made up and the outcomes don't matter and that's perfectly fine with me because I'll make up my own stories. Heck, that's where this whole friendship thing came from. Smackdown can be a place where you can just watch wrestling without the mess that usually comes with RAW. However, sometimes even I can't make heads or tails of a show filled with pointless short match after pointless short match, which is unfortunately what this show was. So much for my bid to extoll the potential virtues of Smackdown. At least we still have FRIENDSHIP.

Best Friend -- Roman Reigns

Roman Reigns was MY best friend in the opening segment because he actually livened things up. First we had to deal with wacky John Cena delivering a wacky recap of how everything is just so wacky right now and yet amidst all the wackiness he seriously wants to win the championship. Pick a tone, John. Either you don't give a shit or this is the MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER. Then out trotted the rest of the Money in the Bank contestants, right on cue to deliver their, “No, I'M going to win!” lines and then stand around in the ring like a bunch of doofuses. It initially looked like Reigns was going to follow suit (aside from some bizarre intense-staring-whilst-removing-clothing action by Cena. That was...odd), but when Orton came out, Reigns leaped into action and woke me from my doze. Roman Reigns, man of action, is friend to us all.

Worst Friend -- Bo Dallas

Worst friend, but best part of the abysmal Fandango/Summer/Layla mess that is still dragging on. Dallas was initially helpful to Fandango, pointing out the women flailing at each other and then supporting Fandango after Layla kicked him in the head. Then Bo got an idea. An awful idea. Dallas got a wonderful, AWFUL idea. “I know just what to do,” Bo smiled in his sleeve, “One easy win and I'll make them bo-lieve.” He chuckled and clucked, “Oh, this plan is so great! With this pin and this win, I'll be bo-and-eight!” (this is what happens when Smackdown is boring. I write bad Grinch parodies.) But seriously, Dallas' facial expressions were so great here, from sincere worry over Fandango's plight to the realization that he could easily grab a cheap victory, just going for it, and then counselling Fandango about how there are plenty of fish in the sea. Not a great display of friendship, but still a pretty great display of something no less.

Deserves a Friend --Titus O'Neil

Man, poor Titus. Frankly, his match (well, matches, I guess) against Adam Rose didn't do anything for either of them, but I felt far worse for O'Neil. Please put the Prime Time Players back together again. And as an aside - for the love of EVERYTHING, will commentary please shut the fuck up about the god damn bunny? I cannot emphasize enough how much this bit is neither funny nor entertaining.

Should Be Friends -- Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler

Kingston lost his match against Seth Rollins, Ziggler won his against Bad News Barrett, and I yawned over both results. These two are practically interchangeable at this point — both reasonably popular guys who are going absolutely nowhere. And even though both are billed as high energy performers, I really don't get excited for their matches. I know that Ziggler has more of a following and I can see why, but, personally, I've never been much into him. So what should we do with two guys stuck in a rut and giving lacklustre performances? Make them friends and put them in a tag team!

I loved the Kingston/Evan Bourne tag team (Ed. Note: Pouring one out for Evan Bourne, y'all), and I think that same dynamic could be captured by pairing Ziggler with him. Both of these guys need some help to make them interesting. Unlike Cody Rhodes, who can take any ball you give him and just run for miles with it, these guys cannot spin straw into gold. I want both of them to succeed and I believe they can with the power of friendship! And, you know, the company actually giving them goals and a purpose...but mostly friendship!

Should Be More Than Friends -- Sheamus and Cesaro

I will go down with this ship, and I will take you all with me. Maybe if the three-on-four main event hadn't been kinda boring, I wouldn't have been able to focus so much on the great unspoken love in our midst. Team Bad Guys at least kept things interesting with lots of tags and a couple instances of friendship in action (everyone coming out to stand protectively over Randy Orton's prone body, Cesaro checking on Del Rio after he'd been thrown out of the ring and helping to roll him back in), but Team Good Guys didn't have the most exciting strategy. Sheamus did most of the fighting, Cena got beat up, Reigns came in to save the day.

I'm pretty sure we all expected Reigns to have that final spot, and a predictable match can still be a good one, but not when it involves pretending that Cena couldn't easily beat all four of his opponents at once. The prolonged section of the match with him just lying around taking abuse dragged something awful and gave me no choice but to focus on Sheamus and Cesaro. They dominated the early part of the match and I'm pretty sure they only tagged themselves out due to conflicting feelings over whether they wanted to hurt each other or ride off into the sunset together. But they also tagged themselves back in specifically to face each other and constantly found ways to face off outside the ring as well. “But Lacy, they're feuding, of course they want to face each other.” Even Cole commented that the two are “bitter, bitter rivals,” but I am not fooled.

There was an awful lot of heavy breathing and intense staring going on for this to be just some feud. Roman Reigns coming in at the end of the match to clean house like a majestically coiffed mop certainly shook me out of my musings, but not enough to make me forget that I had seen yet more evidence that Sheamus and Cesaro just need to kiss and make up.

Doesn't Need a Friend-- Dean Ambrose

Normally I would never suggest that one man could be above the need for friendship, but Dean Ambrose may be that man. His match against Kane was yet another short, pointless match, but he looked good and he made Kane look as good as possible. It didn't even matter that he lost. I'm not sure if we're supposed to assume that the Shield is done, but the simple change in attire (while Reigns remains in the same gear) seems to demonstrate that Ambrose doesn't need a group anymore. He's got a goal—to destroy vile traitor Seth Rollins--and he knows how to achieve it. On that note, I really don't see why commentary keeps pushing that Ambrose is off the walls. Rollins betrayed him, therefore he wishes to destroy Rollins, therefore he will attack Rollins at every available opportunity. Pretty simple logic. He doesn't care about his other matches and he seems to have left friendship behind.

Most Stable Friendship-- Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter

I guess. Last week I suggested that there might be trouble brewing between Swagger and Colter, but it seems I was wrong. Swagger lost against Big E, but it didn't seem to affect anything at all. The status quo was maintained, which was the theme of this entire show. Meh.