Friday, April 3, 2015

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Harper and Ambrose need to stop playing and become best friends already
Photo Credit:
I was pretty bummed when I couldn't watch RAW this Monday. Brock Lesnar destroying the announce team? Damien Sandow facing Stardust? The Lucha Dragons and Adrian Neville (sorry. “Neville.” Because first names are for suckers.) debuting? Sign me up! “But,” thought I, “surely this momentum will carry over to SmackDown. Surely they'll want to keep people engaged and ride the wave off WrestleMania for as long as possible.” NOPE. Not all the matches on this episode were bad. I really enjoyed a couple of them! But the show overall was packed with short matches, still photos from WrestleMania (in case there are people out there who ONLY watch Smackdown and don't bother to check the results of the biggest pay-per-view of the year?), and talking segments that went on forever. There was little sustained momentum until the very end, and that's just a baffling way to set up a show.

Most Consistent Friends – Seth Rollins, J and J Security, Kane, and Big Show
Frankly, I wouldn't really call Kane and Big Show “friends” to Seth Rollins, as they've both been pretty antagonistic to him in the past and Kane was kind of a jerk to Rollins on this very same show. However, the opening segment in the ring combined with Show's subsequent match against Randy Orton seemed designed to confirm that Rollins has a gang to do his work for him. Because I guess we all needed a reminder? Look, nobody loves the beautiful and supportive friendship between Rollins and his security team more than I do, but this was such a stunted way to open the show, and it was topped off with Ryback running out to help Orton. I just can't warm to the Big Guy, no matter how hard I try. So points for keeping things consistent, I guess, but it wasn't the most exciting way to open the first SmackDown after WrestleMania.

Most Unnecessary Friend – Brie Bella
Seriously. What is the point of having the Bella twins together anymore? They reconciled for no apparent reason and there's no apparent reason for Brie to stick around. She occasionally interferes in matches on her sister's behalf, but mostly she just serves as an echo for Nikki, as on this episode of SmackDown, when the two were once again on guest commentary. And as long as I'm complaining, can I just say how tired I am of EVERY SINGLE women's match having guest commentary? Especially the Bellas. I've been impressed with their improvement as much as anyone, but they are excruciating to listen to sometimes. At any rate, the match they commented on was Naomi vs. Natalya, and I quite enjoyed it! It was criminally short, as usual, but both women were clearly trying to keep things dynamic and interesting. I'm not sure if we're still going with the story they used to be best friends until they were forced apart by...something, but they work well together. Naomi appears to be angling for a title shot again, and more power to her. Though as Nikki rightly pointed out (she always makes at least one good point), Naomi definitely needs to establish a clear identity. Something other than “is married to an Uso.” I've been pulling for her for a long time and I really want her to step things up.

Best Friendship Fall-out – The Miz and Damien Mizdow
I loved these two working together while it lasted, but given how agonizingly slow their break-up was, I think I'll also be able to enjoy their feud for a while longer. Miz won a match against R-Truth and Mizdow immediately ran down to the ring to wreak some more revenge on his former boss. I've said this before, but both Miz and Mizdow have been doing stellar work, and I don't mind if they continue to play off each other.

Should Be Friends – Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper
I see you wearing a black shirt instead of white (well, greyish white) to differentiate yourself, Ambrose. It doesn't change my mind. These two were meant to be together; now he just complements Harper instead of copying him. They certainly proved it by having a match that managed to pick up this otherwise meandering episode. Their match was, again, too short, but, man, was it fun. I want this entire feud to involve Harper power bombing Ambrose through ALL OF THE THINGS and then when he finally runs out of stuff they just shake hands and become best friends forever.

Best Friend – Bad News Barrett
If you sat through the rest of this inconsistent show, which included John Cena blathering about America in the most obnoxious way possible, you got to see Daniel Bryan take on Sheamus in a match that was a pretty good reminder that these two work really well together. It was physical and it was intense and, yeah, Bryan lost, but I don't even care. SmackDown had a main event that I was actually super engaged in and that's always a good thing. And one of the best parts of the match was Bad News Barrett on commentary. In addition to being delightfully snarky and English, he put over both Sheamus and Bryan, making them out to be formidable competitors even while sneering about how he could take the Intercontinental Title back any time he wanted. It was fantastic.