Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Unlikely friends are still friends
Photo Credit: WWE.com
I moved on the weekend, which is why this report is late, and some of you may be wondering why I am even bothering. After all, the Smackdown before a pay-per-view tends to be a snoozefest anyway, and by the time this post goes up both Money in the Bank AND Raw will have already taken place. However, I have a sacred duty to FRIENDSHIP to perform, and nothing shall deter me!

One positive outcome of this post being late is that I get to wish you all a happy Canada Day! Did you know that Canada was founded on July 1, 1867 for reasons that had nothing whatsoever to do with friendship? It's true! Canadians have somehow garnered a reputation for being friendly, but don't be fooled. Confederation happened for many reasons: to break political deadlock, to get a railway built, to release Britain from its financial responsibilities (though Britain sure does love, to this day, to have us in the Commonwealth. It doesn't actually give a fuck about us.) etc. However, friendship was nowhere in sight, and to this day friendship remains the scarcest Canadian resource. This is why you should all appreciate these reviews. In writing them, I am flagrantly flouting my country's motto: Friendship Sucks.

Oh, right. Smackdown. * ahem *

Worst Friend—Jack Swagger
Well, maybe “friend” isn't the correct contextual term here. Worst co-worker is probably more accurate. Dean Ambrose and Bad News Barrett had an enjoyable match that gave us a good start to Smackdown. I never expect much from the pre-pay-per-view shows, so this was a fun surprise. Unfortunately, the match was then overshadowed by what happened afterwards. Jack Swagger legitimately injured Barrett while tossing him into the barricade, and watching poor Barrett writhing in pain on the ground afterwards was not a pleasant experience. Pretty much everyone on the Internet has already commented on Swagger's actions and track record, so there's not much left for me to add. I'll just say that I hope Barrett can bounce back quickly and that Swagger makes some vast strides towards becoming the best friend and co-worker he can be.

Best Friend—Naomi
Naomi was on commentary during Paige and Cameron's match, and she stuck up for Cameron even while acknowledging that her friend's actions lately have been less than friendly. If your partner is pulling off a heel turn, it can be tough to remain an effective face. You don't want to condemn them too harshly, and therefore sound like a heel yourself, but you also don't want to say nothing, and therefore appear too passive. Naomi only had a very short time to talk, but she came off as good-natured, yet having a realistic appraisal of Cameron's faults. Naomi walked a fine line here and I think she pulled it off really well.

Side-note: I thought Cameron did good work after the match too - creating some friction between Paige and Naomi and then standing off to the side while visibly enjoying the results. This Funkadactyl feud could actually be really good if given more time.

In Need of New Friends—The Usos
The Usos showed up to offer support to Sheamus during his match against Bray Wyatt (another match that I really enjoyed). The problem is that the Usos just finished performing the exact same role for John Cena, and it's not doing them any favours. They can only react to what Harper and Rowan do in these situations, which means that they spend most of the time just...hanging out. I really like the Usos and I'm tired of them basically just serving as back-up for other people (yes, they do have their own beef with the Wyatts, but that has never been the main focus of these encounters). They are the tag team champions (at least, they are, to my knowledge, as I write this. I have not yet checked the Money in the Bank results) (Ed. Note: I can confirm they are still Tag Team Champions) and they should have their own stories. The interview that they did later in the show exhibited their charisma and ability to get the crowd behind them. Let's actually utilize these talents, shall we?

Sidenote: Stop trying to make “Uso Crazy” happen. It's not going to happen!

Should Be Friends-- Alberto del Rio and Antonio Cesaro
del Rio and Cesaro tagged together in a match against Rob van Dam and Dolph Ziggler, and I thought they worked really well together. They are both ridiculously good-looking non-Americans who are good at wrestling. If that's not a recipe for friendship, I don’t know what is. Of course, Cesaro shattered my illusions by attacking del Rio after the match, but he was probably just acting out because he missed Sheamus this week.

Should Not Be Friends Anymore—Rusev and Russia
Rusev had a match against Sin Cara that was unimportant and uninteresting even by Smackdown standards (though I think I'd like to see them actually face off for real) that led to another confrontation between Rusev and Big E Langston. Look, I like Big E and I like Rusev, but I am not liking this feud and I think a lot of it has to do with the patriotism of it all. It could just be because I'm not American, though, honestly, I'm not a very patriotic Canadian either. Lavish displays of nationalism make me break out in hives. However, lately Rusev himself has been getting lost in all the Russian rhetoric, as that's all Lana ever talks about (please note that I do NOT advocate for Rusev and Lana to not be friends anymore. Lana rules!) and I'm afraid it's hurting him. I think Big E and Rusev could have some really cool matches, but I would prefer it if we could lose the flag-waving.

Most Unexpected Friends—Kane and Randy Orton
Roman Reigns vs. Kane was a match that happened and I really wasn't paying much attention, sorry. The interesting bit happened after the match, when Randy Orton came out and then Kane seemed to suggest that he would be an ally to Orton in the coming ladder match. Except that none of it was verbal and Kane just started setting up a ladder, seemingly for no reason. The whole thing was unintentionally hilarious and I loved it. From Kane giving a demonstration of How To Properly Set Up a Ladder, to Orton's attempts to look intrigued (I love any time Orton has to act. “Detached befuddlement” is usually the resulting expression), to Orton slooooooooowly ascending the ladder while Kane held it (safety first, kids!), to Kane safely disposing of the ladder. Amazing. Thanks, guys, for unexpectedly giving me something interesting!