|Neville *heart eyes emoji*|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
The opening segment of Smackdown had so much unecessary talking. Daniel Bryan came out to recap everything we've already seen, then Barrett came out to fill us in some more on things we already knew, Sheamus came out to do the same thing, Dolph Ziggler came out to deliver some bad jokes on his way to the ring, and just when I thought someone was finally going to throw a punch, out comes Big Show to TALK SOME MORE and much circling and standing around ensued. A series of interruptions leading to a multi-man match is a tried and tested trope, and sometimes it even works, but not here.
The first four men are all in the Intercontinental Title picture; it's the simplest reason in the world to have a match and they don't need to chat about it. And if they were looking for a way to insert Big Show and Roman Reigns naturally into the match, this segment failed utterly. Big Show's motivation appeared to be that he just hates short people or something. And Reigns just meandered out to the ring to be on Team Good Guys...for some reason, but he's the only one who actually started throwing down without shooting the breeze first, so I forgive him. Of course, Reigns barely tapped Show and apparently it was Game Over for the bad guys, as they immediately retreated. What was the point of any of that? I was so irritated about this abject inability to tell a story or just GET TO THE WRESTLING ALREADY that it was difficult to enjoy the three-on-three match that ended the show. It was actually fine! It was exactly what you'd expect out of all of these guys and Team Little Guys Plus Roman Reigns won. But, good lord, it was torture getting there. And is it me or has Big Show noticeably slowed down lately?
Friends Through Adversity – The New Day
It upsets me that the New Day is being disparaged so loudly by crowds. Really, people? They were saddled with this ridiculous gimmick (RELENTLESS POSITIVITY) and promptly hung out to dry with no real push or chance to prove themselves. Yet there they are, gritting their teeth and smiling and clapping every time, even though there's hardly any point. Does it make you feel good to kick them when they're already down? They've been making the best of a bad situation for a while now, they are three genuinely charismatic guys, they play off each other well, and they are far from terrible in the ring. Kofi Kingston and Big E's match against Cesaro and Tyson Kidd was fun, especially when Big E and Cesaro faced each other. The tag champs retained, and both teams are an asset to the division. So why not rally behind the New Day and demand better for them? At any rate, it kind of seemed like the New Day was heading in a heelish direction, and if that happens I'll be fine with it. More of Big E berating the audience, please.
Best Friends Forever – Me and Neville
I am so glad Neville exists. Even if his matches continue to be three-minute squashes against Curtis Axel (yes, I will abandon my big, dorky, Hulk Hogan-obsessed friend in favour of a small, flippy, cape-wearing friend. No regrets.) they will still be highlights of the show. Real talk, though: “Neville” is a terrible name for a wrestler. It makes me think of three things: one, Neville Longbottom, who is my favourite Harry Potter character and does become kind of a bad-ass, but not really in a wrestler-esque way; two, Neville Chamberlain, a fan of appeasement who did not achieve peace in our time and whose failures should not be associated with a successful wrestler; and three, the House of Neville, an English family that played a prominent role in the Wars of the Roses. You could maybe turn that into something for Neville? But it's kind of a stretch. Somebody please give the man a cooler name!
Most Confusing Friend – Cameron
Cameron began the evening firmly aligned with Alicia Fox against Natalya, who had the audacity to suggest that Naomi has earned a title shot due to her pinning Nikki Bella twice now. But when Fox and Natalya started fighting Cameron tried to break it up because she suddenly cared deeply about both of them? And she was the referee for their match...for some reason? And she just happened to have a referee outfit with her? After calling it fairly and announcing Natalya's win she suddenly attacked the Canadian. Swerve! But then she also attacked Fox. Double swerve? And then she cackled into her mirror. Because that's still a thing and I don't get that either. Stop being such a wild-card, Cameron! While Cameron was confounding me, Natalya and Fox quietly had a good, short match while commentary treated neither the upcoming battle royal nor the match in front of them with any degree of gravity or sincerity. I expect offensive babbling from Lawler; I am deeply disappointed in both Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton for not stepping up more. There are actually stories going into this battle royal! It isn't just going to be a random, one-off, clusterfuck! That is awesome! Give it some attention! It was especially glaring because immediately after the women were done the menfolk immediately got all Serious Face for the upcoming Wyatt/Rowan match, clearly indicating that all of the lady silliness was now over. Ugh.
Most Dead Friendship – Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan
First of all, WWE keeps using the word “controversial” to describe Bray Wyatt, and I do not think it means what they think it means. It was pretty late in the game for this match. Maybe if the “new face of fear” hadn't just lost to the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Maybe if Erick Rowan had actually accomplished anything by being on Team Guys Who Were Fired For Like Two Minutes. Maybe if the Wyatt Family hadn't split up like seven months ago. It's dead, guys. And yet...damned if Bray Wyatt didn't get me invested in this match. I loved him chastising the people for ruining Rowan after Wyatt had done so much work fixing him and setting him free. I loved his chilling pronouncement that the only way to save Rowan now would be to destroy him. I loved Rowan's refusal to go quietly against the man who had formerly meant so much to him. I loved their hard-hitting match. I loved Wyatt decisively putting Rowan away and then cradling his head while laughing to the skies. Bray Wyatt is an amazing performer and he deserves so much more. Maybe the whole Wyatt Family thing really IS dead now, but I still kind of hope those crazy kids can still make it work.
Should Be Friends – The Miz and Summer Rae
There was a special Miz TV segment to talk about The Marine 4 and Summer Rae came out to claim her share of the spotlight and there was much hair-flipping and sarcasm. Now I just really want the two of them to be awful, judgemental, smarmy friends together. They would be the worst but also the best. This is the love-hate friendship that I both need and deserve. Also, who else thinks Miz was seriously channeling Miss Vanilla Hoare in Monty Python's Scott of the Antarctic sketch? “Look, you crumb bum. I'M a star. Star, star, star.” If Summer Rae fights a lion in The Marine 4 and the blood goes pssssssssssssssssssshhhh, I will watch it a million times. Side note regarding Damien Mizdow: Normally I would condemn an unprovoked attack, but no one has suffered as Mizdow has suffered at the hands of his former boss, so I'll give him a pass this one time. However, I certainly hope he's not going to make a habit out of just grabbing women and kissing them without warning. Yes, Summer Rae appeared to be fine with it afterward, but it's still icky.