Monday, July 7, 2014

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

With enemies like these...
Photo Credit:
Worst Friend—Telus
As I mentioned last week, I moved recently, but Telus can't hook up my cable and internet until the 7th. I've been able to watch the past couple of Smackdown episodes at my Mom's place (thanks, Mom!), but I wasn't going to subject her to three hours of RAW. “So I'll miss a couple of RAW episodes,” I said to myself. “What could possibly happen?” Oh, not much. Just the return of Chris Jericho, aka my very favourite wrestler of all time. No big deal. Fuck you, Telus. We are not friends.

However, even though I missed the big return, I'm glad Jericho's back. I'm glad the Miz and AJ Lee are back too, for that matter. There are 1004 reasons why I love Chris Jericho and among those reasons are his willingness and ability to work with new or young guys. I certainly prefer heel Jericho, but I'm excited to see what he can do with the Wyatts or the Miz or, heck, what better way to usher in some intergender matches than by having a Jericho/Lee feud? The possibilities are endless!

Should Never Be Friends Again—Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose
As upsetting as it was when vile traitor Seth Rollins turned on The Shield, his feud with Dean Ambrose feud has been fantastic so far. If it keeps up, I may have to change the title of this series to Smackdown: Enmity is Magic. Ambrose in particular has been running up the ranks of my favourite wrestlers list for some time now. In fact, I'm pretty sure that Jericho really came back in order to remind me that he is my first and forever favourite.

Ambrose and Randy Orton had a good match, though I almost feel bad for Orton. He doesn't really have much of a part in this story (and what kind of wacky world do I now live in, that I actually feel bad for Randy Orton, historically among my least favourite wrestlers?). Still, it was nice to see him match Ambrose's intensity during their bout.

Should Be Friends—Sheamus and Alberto del Rio/Antonio Cesaro and Alberto del Rio
Should Be More Than Friends—Sheamus and Cesaro
THE EVIDENCE GROWS. So, this week Sheamus and Cesaro were once again both on the show, but once again did not face each other. Instead, Sheamus faced Alberto Del Rio, while Cesaro faced Big E Langston, and both matches gave me so much material. If you guys aren't convinced about the developing Sheamus/Cesaro romance by now, I don't know what else I can do.

So. Last week del Rio tagged with Cesaro and this week Sheamus offered to defend his United States Championship against del Rio. Aside from the fact that being a fighting Champion is awesome, it's rather too much of a coincidence that Sheamus would issue this challenge right after del Rio had been in close proximity with Cesaro. Clearly, Sheamus was just jealous. Meanwhile, Cesaro's match against Big E had Michael Cole constantly exclaiming that we were seeing a new, more vicious Swiss Superman. How interesting that he appears to be getting more violent with every passing week apart from Sheamus. I said last week that Cesaro and del Rio should be friends, but now I'm thinking that del Rio should be friends with both Cesaro AND Sheamus so that he can help bring them together. It's not like he has anything better to do anyway. This stuff is just writing itself now, I barely have to do any work.

Best Family Friendship—Goldust and Stardust
The newly re-formed Dust Brothers haven't done much on Smackdown yet other than a couple of quick backstage segments; however I must record how much I love Stardust. My notes just read “STARDUST STARDUST STARDUST FOREVER” and that pretty much sums it up. One of the best parts of this new bit is how much Goldust clearly thinks his brother is the bees' knees and watching them weird it up together is so much fun. I don't for one second believe that the WWE is going to fully capitalize on the gold mine (pun very much intended) they have with the erstwhile Rhodes Boys, but I am going to enjoy every bit of wonderfully weird friendship that we get.

Best Friend—Bo Dallas
Bo Dallas vowing to win the Battle Royale for the Intercontinental Championship for “little Daniel” warmed my cold Canadian heart. What a good friend.

It was nice to see a member of Los Matadores other than El Torito wrestle, but I must confess that I have never been much of a fan of bemasked team. I don't think the idea has done Primo or Epico any favours, and I don't find El Torito's antics amusing at all. Plus, I had to deal with JBL hollering, “He's crumping, Michael!” Jesus Christ. Shut up forever, JBL.

Doesn't Need a Friend—AJ Lee
Lee's kind of operating on a different level than the rest of the women's division. She's been given more time to develop her character, and she's a strong enough performer that she has been able to stand out and make the best of the situation even when the narrative has been horribly unkind to her. It's not that she's intrinsically better than the other women; I'm positive that some of the others could do just as much as she has, given the proper opportunities. So while I'd love to see Lee work with Paige, Naomi, or anyone at all, at this point she can do a lot more for them than they can do for her. I don't mean that in a negative way, either. If the company is willing to utilize her talents to help bring out those of the other women, this could be great. (Look at me, daring to hope that the WWE will invest some time and effort into the women's division. I'm such a dreamer.)

Still, I can't help but feel bad for a lot of the other women. Paige's reign never got to be what you might call decisive. She had a lot of victories, sure, but was she allowed to do anything really memorable? Not really. And even though she was on commentary during Lee's match against Eva Marie, she said practically nothing. Naomi finally got her title match, but I can't see her getting another shot for quite a while. Then there's poor Eva Marie, already consistently vilified, trotted out to face the Champ, a crowd favourite (and Eva actually looked fairly competent. She didn't have to do much, but she did it without horribly botching anything, so I'll call that an improvement). Heck, even LEe herself is being cheered in large part due to whom she's dating and not based on her own merits.

Speaking of Eva Marie, I'm going to be talking about her a lot more once I start covering Total Divas, but I'll take this opportunity to deliver an opening manifesto of sorts: Nothing is Eva Marie's fault. If you think she's a terrible wrestler and actor who adds nothing to the program then you should be asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Who hired her?
  2.  Furthermore, who hired her strictly for Total Divas purposes and not as an actual wrestler-in-training? On Total Divas she has mentioned that she's spent little time training, but who is actually ensuring that her time is pretty much all spent on photo shoots and promotional materials?
  3. Who makes the decision to put her in a wrestling ring, time and again, when her lack of skill means she could seriously hurt someone or herself, and when her lack of personality or character pretty much guarantees that the crowd won't respond to her?
Just some things to consider.

In Need of a Friend—Damien Sandow
This is pretty much going to be the go-to Sandow category for a while, isn't it? I don't have a problem with comedic wrestling characters, but, as the Intellectual Saviour of the Masses, Sandow was brilliant. This character switch makes absolutely no sense to me. He certainly puts everything he has into it, but it makes me so sad. Then again, Sandow was the one who betrayed his BFF 4 Lyfe, Cody Rhodes, and deprived us of team Rhodes Scholars. Perhaps it is only fitting that Sandow now has no one to care for him when he gets tossed out of the ring and forgotten in the face of what the WWE website termed “an American/Russian Standoff.”

Speaking of which, I know I'm not the only one who was incredibly not cool with the Real Americans being cheered as they opposed Lana and Alexander Rusev. It absolutely makes sense for Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger to set their sights on the foreigners, but it is really not okay for them to be faces. I have always been leery of crowd members who chanted along with “We the People,” but the fact that we are apparently now being actively encouraged to support the ignorant racists makes me very, very uncomfortable. I know that the WWE fully expects us to allow them to choose our memories for us at any given time, but this is an even more unbelievable lapse in continuity than usual. The only way this will be acceptable is if it's made clear that this is a heel vs. heel feud (and also made clear that YOU SHOULD NOT CHEER FOR THE IGNORANT RACISTS WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU). I actually would like to see Rusev and Swagger go at it, not to mention Colter and Lana. They should try to recruit each other's clients, succeed, and then eventually all join up together in a beautiful display of friendship.