Monday, November 3, 2014

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Why did Layla hang out more with faux-Summer Rae than the real one?
Photo Credit:
Most Distressing Lack of Friendship – Summer Rae and Layla 
Summer Rae and Layla both participated in the Halloween costume battle royal to determine the number one contender for the Divas' Championship, but you'd never know the two women are supposed to be friends. I was looking forward to them doing some kind of team costume, but no dice. I'm also pretty sure that the two didn't interact at all during the match. If Summer and Layla have split up off-screen I will be very disappointed. Fabulous friendships such as theirs, based on a love of dance and a hatred of mean former dance partners, don't just come along every day.

Two side notes on this one. First, Nikki Bella's win. As AJ Lee pointed out on commentary, it was cool that Bella actually earned something for once. She already makes a decent villain as part of the Authority, but if she's an opportunistic cheat AND is able to handily mow down her foes? That makes her an even more effective threat. Second, AJ Lee's aforementioned commentary. I love her and she certainly has a gift for snarky commentary, but her remarks really rubbed me the wrong way. She spent the entire time deriding how “sexy” all of the women's costumes were and generally being too cool for school. She had a point to make, but it was not made at the expense of the right people. A good rule of thumb: if the chucklefucks on commentary are laughing and egging you on, YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG.

I agree that the sexy costumes worn by the divas on pretty much every holiday can be a tiresome cliché, but let's think about this. First, not all of the women on this episode just fell into the usual line. Sure, there were “sexy cop” Cameron, “sexy firefighter” Alicia Fox, “sexy zombie nurse” (what?) Rosa, and “sexy schoolgirl nerd” Summer Rae, but there were also Naomi as a paratrooper, Layla as a clown, and Emma as Tarzan (causing commentary to work themselves into knots trying to fathom that a woman dressed as Tarzan and not Jane). Paige was Summer Rae for some reason. Natalya was the Queen of Hearts (way to be original, Nattie). Even Nikki Bella's cat costume showed way less skin than her usual gear. What I'm saying is that there was some creativity and fun mixed in with the stereotypical costumes and it was incredibly insulting to talk down the contestants' efforts when Lee herself didn't have to do a damn thing.

She could get away with wearing a shirt that just had “boo” printed on it. She's lucky that she isn't expected to take part in the matches that are clearly designed to be as titillating as possible, and she could certainly show a little sympathy for those who seemingly aren't allowed to have any personality. Some of them apparently just gave up and went with what was expected of them and some of them tried to think a little outside of the box, but none of them deserved to be casually written off. There's nothing wrong with being sexy, whether on Halloween or at any other time. However, “sexy” is all that a WWE diva is generally expected to be and these costume battle royals are just another way to parade them in front of the masses without giving them anything meaningful to do. If, like AJ Lee, we're fed up with it, let's aim our caustic comments where the blame really lies: with the people who insist on making the women dress up in costumes in the first place and who constantly showcase their bodies but not their abilities.

Best Friends – Kane, Seth Rollins, Jamie Noble, and Joey Mercury
Kane and Seth Rollins being villainous together still warms my heart. Together with Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury they pulverized Dolph Ziggler in a charming show of fellowship. It's important to have common ground, even if said common ground is picking on defenseless men. If I cared about Dolph Ziggler in the slightest I might feel differently. But I don't, so yay, evil friends!

Deserves a Friend – Heath Slater
Poor Heath Slater came out to the ring dressed as a scarecrow and, after starting to tell us why he loves Halloween so much, was attacked by Ryback, who was...cheered for it? What the hell? Slater was being completely inoffensive and kind of adorable (to be honest, he was way more Clem Layfield than Heath Slater, which I've no objection to); he did not deserve to be beat up by The Big Guy. If only 3MB was still together, this would never have happened! Actually, if 3MB was still together Ryback probably would have just hoisted all three of them onto his shoulders, but at least Slater would have had friends to share in his humiliation.

Most Pointless Friendships – Everyone in the Tag Division
Goldust and Stardust lost their match against Los Matadores, causing commentary to start crowing about this could mean a title shot for the latter team. Just...what is even the deal with the tag division right now? After a lengthy (seemingly never-ending) series against the Usos, the Dust Bros. Finally proved their dominance and then they just lose to a (let's face it) complete non-entity of a team? And then said team IMMEDIATELY gets pegged for a title shot even though they've done nothing else worthwhile pretty much ever? I really don't think the problem is the lack of teams. The problem is that said teams are basically completely static interchangeable parts to be slotted into place whenever someone figures that it's time to have new champions. There are no stories and there is no character progression. Even the Usos/Dust Bros. blood feud wasn't really based on anything more than “The Usos are good guys and Goldust and Stardust are bad guys.” Even when the matches are good (and they usually are, particularly when Goldust and Stardust are involved), it's frustrating to realize that nothing these teams achieve actually matters.

Should Not Be Friends – Sheamus and America
Seriously with this? The only thing worse than an American yammering about how great America is, is a non-American yammering about how great America is. I am all for Sheamus and Rusev colliding with each other, but not like this. Not like this! Also, the first thing Sheamus did after declaring his undying love for the US of A was to attack Rusev for absolutely no reason. Apparently espousing an unreasonable devotion to America turns you into a giant asshole.

Should Be Friends – Dean Ambrose and Cesaro
The Trick or Street Fight between Dean Ambrose and Cesaro entertained the hell out of me and I'm not going to pretend otherwise. And I don't think that you can really participate in something that ridiculous with someone without somehow becoming friends with them. Something about hitting each other with skeletons and having one's head shoved into a pumpkin just creates a bond, you know?