Friday, March 6, 2015

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Smackdown is full of deja vu moments like above...
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Best Friends – Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, and Natalya
I'm so glad that Natalya is becoming a more fully integrated part of Kidd and Cesaro's team. During their match against Los Matadores her attack on El Torito helped the menfolk win. Kidd even included her in the celebration afterward instead of brushing her aside as he used to do. Cesaro and Kidd were fun on their own, and Nattie played the beleaguered wife well enough, but all three of them are even better as a fully functional unit. I am all-in on these three just destroying everyone together and thoroughly enjoying each other's company while they do it.

Most Repetitive Friendship – Kane and Big Show
In the past I've enjoyed the on-again/off-again partnership of these two. Now it's just tiresome as they keep going in circles. Both men declared their intention to enter and win the Andre the Giant Memorial battle royal at WrestleMania, just like they did before the Royal Rumble. We have been there and done that. Both men also had a match against Ryback (Kane lost, Show won), but since I still refuse to have anything further to do with Team Guys Who Were Fired For Like Two Minutes versus Team Authority, my notes for both matches just consist of the word “nope” repeated over and over. Two questions: If Kane is the one making matches on Smackdown, shouldn't he be more concerned with the chaos reigning over the Intercontinental Title? And what the heck has been up with Show's Knockout Punch lately? It looked like he barely tapped Ryback. Ugh, enough with all of this.

Most Repetitive Friendship – AJ Lee and Paige
Speaking of things going in circles. AJ Lee returned on Monday night and it would seem that we're exactly where we were months ago, with Lee and Paige forming an uneasy alliance against the Bella twins. “Frenemies” was even repeated ad nauseam, like we could ever forget how thoroughly the term was hammered into our collective skulls last time around. However, the good news is that the Divas were, in fact, given a chance. Despite the Bellas co-opting the movement into their heel spiel, and despite Brie Bella apparently only being able to work at one pace, her match against Lee was given a pretty decent amount of time, with Lee taking damage for much of the match yet eventually making Bella tap. As a stand-alone match it wasn't anything phenomenal, but as a first step it was sorely welcome. Of course Brie Bella has no idea how to fill more than a minute or two of time; when has she ever had to before? I have every confidence that the women of the main roster can learn to make the most out their increased time, if they continue to get it. But here's hoping we'll also get to see a different story and more women than just the Bellas, AJ Lee, and Paige over and over again.

Most Repetitive Friendship – The Miz and Damien Mizdow 
The Miz and his assistant are still in the process of breaking up. I still love both of them and I'm still enjoying their dynamic, but I can't deny that this story is getting stuck in a rut. And I honestly don't know if I want them to pull the trigger yet. Together Miz and Mizdow are hugely entertaining and they play off each other well. Apart, what is there for either of them in the singles division? Granted, one need only look at their Smackdown opponents, the New Day, for an example of how one can become equally aimless in the tag division. It was hard to care that Kofi Kingston and Big E won their match because the focus was clearly Miz and Mizdow.

Most Repetitive Non-Friendship – Rusev and Jack Swagger
Can I add Rusev vs. Jack Swagger to the list of things that I'm just not going to write about anymore? Seriously, I can't believe I had to watch a match between these two yet again, replete with pre-match pro-America blathering and eventual tapping to the Accolade. Who could have possibly seen that coming?!? Luckily, we were all saved by Curtis Axel, who continued to be an unlikely source of enjoyment. He interrupted Rusev post-match to issue a challenge confusingly couched in a Hulk Hogan homage. My favourite part was Lana and Rusev not knowing whether to be angry or confused.

Best Antidote to Repetitive Friendships – Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, and Bad News Barrett
Throughout this night of apparent time travel back to feuds that I thought were dead and buried, I anticipated that the main event, featuring Ziggler and Ambrose against Harper and Barrett, would at least be super fun. It was. All four men, along with R-Truth and likely Daniel Bryan and Stardust, are going to be taking part in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania, and the match on Smackdown was something of a preview for how good said ladder match is likely going to be. All four guys went at it with a will, but Harper in particular stood out to me, and I think his inclusion in the title hunt is the one that pleases me most. There were post-match shenanigans with the title yet again, but mostly I was just thankful to end the show with something that felt fresher than everything else. There's really not much to the build for the title other than “all these guys want it,” but the character differences are still coming through. I worry whether that will remain the case if too many more people are added, but for now I'm relatively content.