Monday, July 21, 2014

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Even if he beat the piss out of Ambrose for them, Kane doesn't deserve the Authority's friendship
Photo Credit:
Here we are, on the verge of another PPV, though I'm pretty sure Money in the Bank just happened yesterday... (Ed. Note: This was written before Battleground)

Doesn't Deserve the Friends He Has—Kane
Kane is just kind of there right now. He's part of all the Authority shenanigans and he's in the fatal four way match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but he's just adding nothing to the proceedings. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins had their latest talking segment on Smackdown and when Rollins revealed that Ambrose would face Kane later on the show, I was so non-plussed - “Oh, it's just Kane. Again.”

I know that Kane can be a divisive figure in that people tend to like him or hate him. Personally, I've pretty much always liked Kane and thought that he could be relied upon to bring something to whatever he was involved in. Lately, though, I feel that Kane contributes nothing of value to either storylines or matches. They've been insisting on calling him THE DEMON KANE™, but he hasn't struck me as being particularly demonic for a while now. He's lost his impact and doesn't deserve to hang out with the cool kids anymore.

Should Be Friends—Fandango and Miz
Fandango and Miz tagged together against Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler, and it was immediately clear to me that the former duo should be friends. Fandango is clearly feeling disoriented after (deservedly) losing both his gal pals, while Miz has no one who understands his need to protect his face. They're both theatrical types—a dancer and an actor—who should support each other in their artistic endeavours. I'm not saying that they should be an official tag team, but I like thinking that they'll continue to have each other's backs against philistines like Sheamus and Ziggler. Champions of the arts unite! Heck, even JBL picked up on this potential friendship. It's THAT obvious.

Most Unfortunate Break-Up—Nikki and Brie Bella
Okay, Nikki and Brie didn't “break up” so much as Brie just left, but either way the sisters' split has led to a shitty outcome. This could have been a great opportunity for Nikki to establish her own identity and win some crowd support against the evil machinations of Stephanie McMahon, but things haven't played out that way at all. Instead, Nikki is stuck in a holding pattern wherein she's constantly punished for Brie's actions, but absolutely no progress is being made—it's just the same thing every week. Worse still, Eva Marie and Alicia Fox are apparently also stuck in the loop as McMahon's minions.

On Smackdown, Nikki was forced to officiate a match between Fox and Eva Marie, but the two opponents ending up turning on their ref, giving us yet another two-on-one beatdown. I felt so awful for all three participants because none of them got any mic time beforehand to communicate either Nikki's feelings or her opponents' plan. The match began with Eva Marie and Fox shoving each other and not doing much else, which was intensely boring and excruciating to watch. Of course, their actions made sense once they joined together in attacking Nikki, but since the audience was not made aware of their intentions beforehand, it just made all the women look hopelessly incompetent. Neither Eva Marie nor Nikki Bella have much in the way of acting talent (Alicia Fox has become pretty entertaining, but I don't think we've really seen her emote); in order to sell a narrative they need help, and they are getting absolutely no assistance. Instead they're being thrown to the wolves due to lazy writing.

Most Stable Friendship—The Wyatt Family
Chris Jericho and Luke Harper had an enjoyable match, and the Wyatts demonstrated that their brand of friendship is still going strong. There was a moment about two-thirds of the way through the match when Harper thought he'd won, but Jericho kicked out and Harper couldn't believe it. He started to freak out, but automatically turned to look in Bray's direction for support and guidance. Beautiful. The Wyatts have a such a well-established support system.

Should Not Be Friends—The Real Americans and the Audience.
This has got to stop. First of all, Zeb Colter calling Rusev “Bullwinkle” makes no sense (maybe if he was Canadian, sure)--the name he's looking for is “Boris.” However, if the Real Americans were still being portrayed as heels, this wouldn't be a problem. Colter always spouts shit that is clearly wrong and we used to laugh at him and boo him for it because he is an IGNORANT RACIST and we should not take him seriously. Which brings me to my second point: NOTHING about these characters has changed. They're still ignorant racists, still saying ridiculous things, still engaging in the most ludicrous forms of flag-waving (literally), but now we're supposed to cheer for them? Well, you Americans are. I have no idea what the rest of us are supposed to be getting out of this. Way to think globally, WWE!

Just...please stop cheering for this nonsense, WWE audience members. Look at your lives. Look at your choices.

Deserves a Friend—Alberto del Rio
I don't think I've mentioned yet how much I love Alberto del Rio, but I really do love him and I'm tired of people calling him boring and of his character going nowhere. His match against Kofi Kingston wasn't just tedious because we've seen them go up against each other so many times in the past, but also because we know that neither of them has the smallest chance of winning the Battle Royale for the Intercontinental Championship. I've written before about Kingston needing something to propel him forward, but I feel even more strongly about del Rio. We all loved him and Ricardo Rodriguez together, right? Can we do that again? del Rio is better when he has someone he can consistently play off of, so let's give him an underling/secret friend and let the magic happen again.

Best Friends—Summer Rae and Layla
After last week's commentary disappointment, I was so glad to be back on the Summer/Layla friendship high this week. Of course, commentary still wouldn't shut up about the ridiculously old news of Fandango dumping Summer on Twitter, but I barely even heard them because I was so busy basking in all the FRIENDSHIP. It kicked off with the two ladies kicking their former dance partner to the curb and not showing the slightest inclination to take him back. Then this dazzling display of support was followed up with their tag match against Paige and AJ, during which Summer yelled “That's my friend!” in appreciation of Layla's offence, while Layla checked to make sure her partner was okay before tagging in. This is what I want to see - friends loving and supporting each other.

Supplemental mention of Bo Dallas' sage advice to Fandango on how to cope with losing his ladies. He's such a good friend!

Best Frenemies—Paige and AJ Lee
Just like with the Nikki Bella situation, Paige and Lee have been given precious little talking time to help tell their story. The difference is that the latter women have the benefit of better developed acting skills. They did some great facial work at the end of their match, from Paige's surprise and resentment at Lee tagging herself in to finish the match, to Lee's initial cocky celebration followed by uncertainty that she may have pushed Paige too far, to Paige's eventual mastery of her emotions, to both of them hugging it out in wonderfully insincere fashion. I hate that they have to work so hard just to tell a simple narrative, but bless all of these women for being so much better than the material they are given.