Friday, April 24, 2015

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

This week's best friends having a laugh at the expense of their opponents
Photo Credit:
This episode of Smackdown was basically commentary heaven, with Tom Phillips sitting in for Michael Cole and no Bella guest commentary during the women's match. Never let anyone tell you that commentary is of little consequence. Michael Cole's insincere and often inaccurate narration constantly puts me on edge, and combined with Lawler's unfunny rambling I usually watch Smackdown with firmly gritted teeth. It's not a comfortable way to watch television. This week Saxton and Phillips mostly politely ignored Lawler in favour of getting on with their jobs, thus I was much more well-disposed toward the show as a whole.

Most Unnecessary Illustration of Lack of Friendship – Kane and Seth Rollins
Was anyone unclear on whether Kane and Seth Rollins' Authority-authored alliance is on shaky ground? Anyone at all? Well, Smackdown appears to have thought that some emphasis was needed, so we had yet another segment of the two of them dancing around trying to prove who's really in charge, including Kane making two matches for Rollins that didn't actually take place. The second match, against Dean Ambrose, immediately devolved into a brawl (a beautifully chaotic brawl, despite my complaining about the circumstances) that resulted in the tag match that ended the show. Here's the thing: absolutely none of that preamble was necessary. We already know Kane has it in for Seth Rollins. We could have just had the match pitting Rollins against his former Shield friends and partnering him with the most terrifying man on the roster. No talking necessary. It would have been abundantly clear that Kane was intentionally making things difficult for Rollins. SHOW, DON'T TELL, WWE.

Best Friends – Sheamus and Bad News Barrett
In the match that should have opened the show instead of Kane and Rollins sniping at each other, Sheamus and Barrett took on Neville and Dolph Ziggler. This match was guaranteed to be both fast-paced and physical and it didn't disappoint. Much as I like Neville and Ziggler as the plucky underdogs, I think I like Sheamus and Barrett as massive, condescending jerks even more, though I think it was a mistake to have Sheamus do all the talking. He's fine, but Barrett is always enjoyable to listen to, and I would argue that he could have used the spotlight more. Ziggler and Sheamus' feud and awful stipulation match at Extreme Rules have been given sufficient attention and Neville is still impressing the pants off everyone with his antics, but Barrett was just kind of...there. At any rate, the match didn't disappoint, and it was nice to see Neville get the pin for his team. I'd really like to see both of these teams continue to join forces in the future.

Doesn't Need a Friend – Naomi
BURN IT ALL DOWN, NAOMI. Sorry. I'm just enjoying the heck out of lone wolf Naomi getting to show her aggressive side. She's really taken to this heel turn so far, and I think the extra edge has improved her matches, too. She beat Natalya after some decent back-and-forth and looks great going into her title match against Nikki Bella. I'm so glad that Naomi is finally proving that she can stand on her own. Now, if we could just do something about that entrance music, which ludicrously clashes with her new character.

Best Friend to America – Ryback
I guess. I don't really know what to say about Ryback's match against Rusev. I mean, Ryback didn't really say anything in response to Rusev and Lana's usual lambasting of America and John Cena, but I suppose he stuck up for America just by being there. I also fail to understand the logic of having Ryback dominate the match, but then only win by disqualification while Rusev still got the post-match “look how powerful and dangerous he is!” pose when it was indicated that he would have lost if not for the use of the Valyrian steel/adamantium chain (MAXIMUM UNBREAKABILITY). This is not how you make your Russian-Bulgarian look strong. Rusev should not have to resort to props.

Should Join Forces – New Day and Cesaro and Tyson Kidd
Cesaro's match against Kofi Kingston was over just when it was getting started, with Kingston getting the win. I think it's time for all of the tag teams to join forces and demand more time and more respect. Kidd and Cesaro will defend their tag titles at Extreme Rules against some combination of New Day, but only on the kick-off show. Again. It's time to stop being relegated to the pre-shows and being given short, pointless matches. I don't know how they can fight back, but these are five dynamic guys; I'm sure they can figure out a plan together. It should probably involve a lot of clapping. And cats. And FRIENDSHIP.

Best Combination of Friendships Past and Present – Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Luke Harper
At this point in the show I was also watching a stream of the leadership debate for my province's upcoming election and for fun I assigned each wrestler to a candidate. They matched up surprisingly well! On top of that, the tag match between Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Luke Harper was a great way to end the show. Between the Shield reunion, the supportive friendship of J and J Security at ringside, and the presence of Luke Harper, this was basically Lacy's Happy Place. Everyone was on point and I enjoyed the match immensely. Personally, I wouldn't have had Rollins take the loss, but what can you do?