Monday, January 12, 2015

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Friendship is always magic with former Shield buddies
Photo Credit:
Best Friendship History – The Shield
Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins' past together still means a lot to me. After a lengthy and repetitive opening segment, wherein EVERYONE had to have their say, Reigns was forced to compete against Rollins and Big Show...unless he could find a tag partner wacky enough to risk falling afoul of the Authority. Where, oh where could such a man be found?? And even though it was obvious, and even though I was thoroughly castigating Kane for even giving Reigns the opportunity to find a partner (THEY ALWAYS FIND A PARTNER, KANE. DO YOU EVEN WATCH WRESTLING?), I still smiled when Ambrose showed up to help.

The match was fine, with Ambrose doing the majority of the work and Reigns coming in at the end, and I enjoyed seeing all three former Shield members in the ring again. Despite my ongoing love for the friendship of Rollins and J and J Security, I also like to think that deep down Rollins still yearns for the good old days. In the end, he had to watch Reigns and Ambrose go down the ramp together after their victory, ever the best of friends, while he remained behind with Noble and Mercury. It's not the same, is it, Rollins? IT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. This is unrelated, but I have to mention some of the terrible writing on this episode. Reigns referred to Rollins as being “full of sufferin' succotash, son,” and Big Show referred to his fist as “this big meaty club of a catcher's mitt.” Just...what? Thanks for the weird imagery.

Coolest Friends – Cesaro and Tyson Kidd
Cesaro and Tyson Kidd were at ringside during the Adam Rose/Big E match. The match was fine, but my favourite part was Cesaro and Kidd just hanging out at the announce table, sitting and chatting and being the picture of casual cool pals. They didn't get involved in the match or even give any indication that they were letting Rose in the club, as they pretty much just left him hanging after his loss. The burgeoning Cesaro/Kidd vs. New Day feud could make for some fun matches, but even if not, I'm still satisfied just watching the former team hang out.

Deserves A Friend – The Ascension
It turns out that it didn't matter that I missed the Ascension's match last week because they just did the same thing this week. Exact same promo. Exact same match. Exact same frothing rage from JBL and general disparagement from commentary. I'll level with you: the Ascension isn't really my bag. However, it's infuriating to see them come up from NXT only to be given boring as dirt squash match after squash match. The only time they're given to actually get themselves over is during the pre-match promos and those have all been thoroughly dismissed by commentary. It's such an absurdly counterproductive strategy. Their matches are too short to be memorable and we're told that their characters suck. What is this achieving, exactly? I'm going to have to give kudos to Michael Cole for once, as in response to JBL bellowing about the lack of challenge presented by local talent he tried to point out that the Ascension aren't the ones choosing their competition. JBL just shouted him down, but it was still the first (only?) legitimate point he made all night.

Best Friendship That Never Existed – Alicia Fox and Naomi
Alicia Fox and Naomi faced each other to continue the fall-out of Fox turning on Naomi. They used to be such good friends! Except that they didn't and I honestly can't even remember a time when they had a meaningful interaction. Still, though, I'll take the stunning betrayal of a non-existent friendship over ALICIA IS CRAZY AND NAOMI IS JEALOUS, which is undoubtedly what it will devolve into if the feud lasts. Fox has managed to become one of the more consistently entertaining members of the women's division, and hopefully her inclusion on Total Divas won't hinder her progress. Meanwhile, people have been talking about Naomi's potential for years, and hopefully her ousting from Total Divas will allow her to train more and fulfill said potential. Fox won this round, and I'm not opposed to seeing these two women face off again.

Friendship So Close and Yet So Far Away – Damien Mizdow and Stardust
Nice try, Smackdown. It's true that any advent of the Miz and Damien Mizdow is guaranteed to make me happy, but I was still not distracted by the fact that this was yet another Usos vs. Stardust and Goldust match with another team tossed into the mix. No points for originality! The three-team match was for the Tag Team titles. The Usos retained and the match was enjoyable, but it was largely a showcase for Mizdow. The crowd was fully behind him, as usual, and he spent a great deal of the match fighting valiantly whilst unable to tag in the Miz. And while Mizdow normally appears largely oblivious to the cheers, at one point he turned to the crowd, independent of what the Miz was doing at the time, in order to elicit some applause. Could this be some story progression?

The other major point of the match (for me, anyway) was seeing Mizdow and Stardust in the ring together, which, of course, put me in mind of the halcyon days of team Rhodes Scholars. I looked in vain for some spark of recognition between the two of them, but I retain hope that one day Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes will be the best of friends again. As an aside, I liked the continuation of Kane's antagonism toward the Miz. I like that the Miz is the heel that even heels hate, and, much as I award Mizdow with deserved praise, the Miz has been doing a great job too, in the ring and out.

Weirdest Omission of Friendship – Sin Cara and Kalisto
Sin Cara faced and beat Bad News Barrett, an event that played directly into the unfortunate cliché that the Intercontinental Champion always loses non-title matches. The thing is, this didn't need to be such an absurdity. In the lands of Raw and Smackdown Sin Cara remains an infrequently-seen non-entity, but on NXT he's part of a successful tag team with Kalisto—they hold the NXT Tag Team titles. Seen in this light, a loss to Sin Cara would be nothing to scoff at, yet commentary didn't utter a word about it. Kalisto was nowhere to be found, nor did Sin Cara have his title with him. I still don't think that Barrett should have lost either way, but they could have at least made something more of this match.