Friday, February 20, 2015

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Bryan was a highlight of a wrestling-packed episode of Smackdown
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This week's Smackdown was packed full of matches. On one hand, it was awesome because more wrestling is always a good thing. On the other hand, everything zipped by so fast it was hard to fully process anything. On the whole, though, I have to say that I'd rather have more matches than more time spent yakking in the ring over things we already know, so thumbs up, Smackdown!

Most Frustrating Friendship – Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns
Last week I was full of praise for the journey that Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns undertook during Tag Team Turmoil, at the end of which the two appeared to have made some sort of peace with each other. That work was swiftly undone on the following Raw and made me want to flip a table. The two didn't interact at all during this week's Smackdown, but it seems they're heading into the Fast Lane pay-per-view back at square one. What was even the point of last week? Did I just dream that it happened? Even Kane and Big Show seemed perfectly fine again, with no acknowledgment of the squabbling that to Bryan and Reigns' win. Ugh.

However, I have to say that I enjoyed both Bryan and Reigns' matches this week. Bryan faced the Miz, and while the match itself was unfortunately short, I loved seeing Bryan go up against his former NXT mentor, a fact that was even mentioned by commentary (Michael Cole referencing the uphill battle that Bryan fought without any hint of irony that Cole himself formerly made a career out of running Bryan's name into the ground was as hilarious as it was enraging). Reigns likewise faced an old enemy, going up against Luke Harper and bringing back memories of the Shield versus the Wyatt Family. I don't know if this symmetry was intentional – both Bryan and Reigns dominating important foes from their pasts – but I sure enjoyed it. And even though this phrase has pretty much lost all meaning as it applies to Roman Reigns, both men looked strong after their victories. If they can't be friends, at least they can give me a good story.

Most Stagnant Friendship – Ryback, Erick Rowan, and Dolph Ziggler
Enough with these three and the same old song. Survivor Series was almost three months ago, but from the way their matches are billed you'd think they'd just been fired and re-hired yesterday. It's over, and despite what commentary desperately wants us to believe, none of them have done anything remotely defiant since coming back. This week, Ryback won against Kane, Erick Rowan lost to Big Show, and Dolph Ziggler lost to Seth Rollins, with the matches allegedly occurring as yet more “punishment” for not agreeing with the Authority or whatever. None of the matches were particularly interesting, with perhaps the exception of Ziggler/Rollins, though since J&J Security were barred from ringside, thereby depriving me of FRIENDSHIP, I wasn't feeling very charitable towards their match. There was no point to any of it other than to set up a match at Fast Lane and I'm completely over this whole thing. The true Authority – Stephanie McMahon and Triple H – haven't done anything particularly villainous lately that requires standing up to. It's time for everyone involved to move on.

Should Be More Than Friends – Bad News Barrett and Dean Ambrose
Barrett spent his entire match against R-Truth trying to get the attention of Dean Ambrose's, who was on guest commentary. Barrett actually ended up losing because he was so desperate for Ambrose to look at him. Ambrose chose to play hard to get, completely ignoring Barrett and turning his back on him in order to discuss men's fashions with Byron Saxton (I loved that bit, largely because it was a return to the cool and collected Ambrose that I love, instead of the wacky cartoon that he has become recently). Barrett wrapped it up by staring intensely at Ambrose after the match, and do I really need to elaborate on this? Love is in the air...

A Match That Happened – The Ascension vs. Xavier Woods and Big E
Remember what I said about so many matches happening that it was hard to process them all? This is one that definitely got lost in the shuffle and I don't have much to say about it. Other than how hugely uncomfortable I was with the two old white guys on commentary exhorting Byron Saxton to clap along with the New Day, Saxton shortly replying that he doesn't need to be told when to clap his hands, and then being chastised for being such a downer and not knowing how to have fun. Yeesh.

Should Not Be Friends – Nikki Bella and Brie Bella
There is no point to the Bella Twins being together right now, or maybe even ever again. The two were once again on commentary during Paige's win against Cameron (a match that wasn't awful, which is pretty much how I can best judge a Cameron match: “Well, it wasn't awful. Yay!”) and it could not be more obvious how little Brie is needed. Last week I called her an echo that just makes everything worse, and it's still true. I guess she can help her twin by interfering in matches, but it's my belief that Nikki should be moving more towards becoming a villain so strong that she doesn't even need to cheat. Keeping her with Brie means that they will also keep falling into this irritating high school mean girls thing and it's holding Nikki back.

Best Unintentional Friend – Rusev
Jimmy Uso had a match against Tyson Kidd, and since it started with a bit from Kidd and Cesaro about the power of friendship I was pretty set to gush about that, but then Rusev showed up out of nowhere and started wrecking things. Since no reason was really given (yeah, yeah “message to Cena,” whatever) I came up with my own. Who is better to his lady friend than Rusev? No one! And since he went right after Jimmy Uso while Naomi just stood at ringside and did absolutely nothing to help, I believe that Naomi must have confided to Rusev what a shit-weasel her husband has been, and the gallant Russian Bulgarian decided to avenge her. I'm also pretty sure his following tirade loosely translated into a spiel about respecting women and that he will come after anyone who acts like a douche-canoe to them (*cough* Cena *cough*). I really, really wanted him to also go after Lawler, who had remarked that there were a “lot of wives out here, right?” followed up with a crack about men wanting to sell their wives. Don't make me miss JBL, King.