Monday, October 27, 2014

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Friends or enemies, these two are best when entangled
Photo Credit:
Best Friendship History – Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
I don't normally enjoy when Smackdown opens with a talking segment. However, I liked Dean Ambrose's opening comments on this show, as well as the ensuing interaction with Seth Rollins (though the same cannot be said for the closing segment of the show which was agonizing to sit through). Rollins gleefully cackling about how he never cared about the Shield will never stop twisting the knife in me – in a good way. I never expected him to be such an effective villain, and it's fun hating his traitorous face even while I still secretly hope that the Shield will get back together. I don't think he truly means a lot of what he says anyway.

A lot of his villainous laughter sounds incredibly forced and insincere, possibly masking his true pain. Bad acting or unconscious expression of emotional turmoil - you be the judge! And everything about Ambrose continues to be great. I feel like, as much as he hates Rollins now, the person he's really angry at is himself for having ever been taken in so thoroughly. This feud has layers, man. Layers of FRIENDSHIP. Even the whole cliché “face calls out heel to settle this thing in the ring RIGHT NOW” carried some depth. While haranguing Rollins to come out and fight, Ambrose was really begging Rollins to show some semblance of the man Ambrose thought he knew. And Rollins just went, “lol, no,” which was weaselly and heart-breaking at the same time. Ugh, I love it so much.

Best Friends – The Miz and Damien Sandow
The opinion that Damien Sandow is the greatest thing in the world right is pretty widely held these days (even Sheamus was praising him while on guest commentary), but Miz has been pretty great too and together they never fail to make me smile. Their match against Los Matadores this episode was no exception, highlighted by Sandow applying the figure-four leglock outside the ring while Miz was applying it inside, with Fernando and Diego tapping out a the same time. Fantastic.  

 Most Pleasantly Surprising Friendship – Paige and Alicia Fox
A couple weeks ago I predicted that Paige and Alicia Fox wouldn't last long together, but I'm happy to be wrong. Fox lost her match against AJ Lee, but the three women still managed to create a compelling segment. A lot of credit goes to Paige for not being the usual mostly passive cheerleader at ringside, simply yelling “come on!” and occasionally pounding the mat. Instead, she actually called out concrete instructions to Fox (“body slam her!”) while also hurling a volley of abuse Lee's way. Coupled with Fox's own aggressive initiative, this created a charged atmosphere and actually made it look like Lee was fighting two enemies instead of one. She still won with the Black Widow, as usual, but this time her victory seemed to mean something. I think they keep giving Lee short, easy wins to make her look dominant or something, but most of her matches lately have just been forgettable, having no gravity and being over far too quickly. This was a tiny step in the right direction.

Could Be Friends? – Dolph Ziggler and Cesaro
Dolph Ziggler and Cesaro had a killer match for the Intercontinental Championship, and while Ziggler retained, it was all he could do to take Cesaro down. I'm thinking this whole thing has to end in some grudging respect, right? I would be okay with that.  

Worst Friend – Brie Bella
First Brie Bella was the only woman in her three on three match (her, Naomi, and Natalya against Nikki Bella, Cameron, and Summer Rae) to get a proper entrance, thus subjecting us all to her terrible theme music, which made me physically flinch when I heard it. Then she didn't tag in either of her partners, and while I can take or leave Natalya these days, I really miss Naomi. So I'm not at all sorry that Brie lost. And I have to ask, why did they even bother pretending that any of these woman other than the Bella twins matter right now? As I said, Natalya and Naomi played no part in the match, and while Cameron and Summer did, why on earth were they helping Nikki? What was in it for them? And where was Layla? Are she and Summer only part time friends now? There are other stories that could have been told here. Or, at the very least, the match could have been longer. It's not like this episode was chock-full of content. Sidenote: I bet whoever came up with “Cinder-Bella” is super proud of themselves, Just no. Terrible line, and I think Nikki knew it even as she said it.  

Most Wasted Friendship Potential – Bo Dallas and the Dust Brothers, and Mark Henry and the Usos
I think I've made it clear that I love Goldust and Stardust and the Usos...but I never want to see these two teams wrestle each other ever again. It's become such a stale match-up and I'm tired of it. There was a golden opportunity to shake things up on this show – with Bo Dallas teaming with Goldust and Stardust while Mark Henry partnered with the Usos – but it was sadly wasted. Aside from Dallas walking in on the Dust Brothers as they were being all mystic and whatnot backstage (a moment that made me clap my hands in delight because everything Bo Dallas does is delightful) there was nothing else to suggest that an out of the ordinary team-up was happening. Mark Henry and the Usos didn't interact at all and even the match wasn't so much a team effort as it essentially became the Usos vs. the Dust Brothers YET AGAIN with Henry and Dallas also pursuing their own feud. There was more than enough time to have built this match up as something somewhat fresh, and there could have been some fun moments with the teams, but instead the second hour of Smackdown was plagued with endless commercials and recaps. Disappointing.