Friday, May 29, 2015

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

The gear was important
Photo Credit:
Most Significantly Garbed Friends – The Lucha Dragons
I don't know if this was on purpose, but I'm going to pretend it was because this is Smackdown and I'll dole out praise wherever I can. The Lucha Dragons faced off against Tyson Kidd and Cesaro in a lumberjack match, and the Dragons' apparel matched the purple sported by their opponents and the bright green/yellow featured on the New Day's gear. In other words, they mirrored both their opponents for the night and the title holders going into the Tag Title match at Elimination Chamber. Such a costume choice indicates a focus on who their main competition is and also shows that they think they can hang with the major players in the division.

Branding themselves as winners paid off, too: the Dragons once again won their match (albeit with an assist from Xavier Woods distracting Tyson Kidd) and they're looking pretty good going into Sunday's match. I liked the SmackDown match, too. Cesaro and Kalisto especially stood out, as usual, but I didn't see the need to make it a lumberjack match. None of the lumberjacks really got involved until the end, Natalya apparently wasn't allowed to be a lumberjack so she just kind of awkwardly stood at ringside making reaction faces, and after last week's four corners match, followed by the handicap match on RAW, constantly seeing all the teams at once was overkill. It's almost like WWE doesn't trust its audience to remember who the heck these guys are and doesn't know how to properly focus on multiple teams other than to aimlessly dump everything together and hope for the best...

Friendship Betrayal – Sheamus
King Barrett the Woeful lost his match against R-Truth in short order. That's right; R-Truth is on a roll while Barrett can't win to save his life, and we all know what happens to weak kings, as demonstrated bu Sheamus appearing to take out first Truth and then Barrett. I thought Sheamus and Barrett had bonded over a mutual hatred of short people! I thought they were unlikely pals! But apparently neither friendship nor royalty is sacred to Sheamus.

Most Facepalm-Worthy Friendship Fallout – Lana
Following her failed reconciliation attempt with Rusev due to his boorishness, Lana gave a rousing speech asserting her independence and rejecting the idea that she belongs to any man. It was well-written and well-delivered...and then Renee Young immediately asked Lana about her relationship with Dolph Ziggler. Sigh. “I belong to no man! Now let's talk about how my life revolves entirely around men!” Oh, well. Points for trying, WWE, I guess. As for Rusev, I actually liked his match against Ryback, which came as a surprise to me because normally everything Ryback does irritates me to no end. I can't even explain it, he just...bugs me. The match ended in a disqualification, and Rusev unfortunately seemed to hurt his ankle. Maybe some time in recovery will allow him to reflect on his behaviour and we won't have to say good-bye forever to his partnership with Lana.

Most Extraneous Friends – Tamina and Brie Bella
I've written before about Brie Bella's continued presence being of little consequence to her sister's success, but Tamina, too, doesn't add much to the picture. I understand and even appreciate the narrative at play in theory: Nikki Bella's sister always gives her an edge, therefore Naomi also brings in a family connection to even the odds, while Paige, our “hero” (there are not enough sarcastic quotation marks in the world) goes it alone. In practice, however, Brie's been helpful at times, but mostly serves as Nikki's less interesting echo, while Tamina has hardly interfered on Naomi's behalf at all. During her match against Naomi, Paige made sure to take out Tamina at ringside, but Tamina had done little more than smirk in her general direction. After Paige's victory, Nikki came out to remind us that she's the champion, with Brie mutely clapping at her side and looking as nonthreatening as ever. I'm completely into the Nikki/Paige/Naomi triple threat match, my opinions on their characters notwithstanding. I am not so much into their attachments either scowling impotently or blandly calling out, “Come on, Nikki!”

Something Something Friendship – The Usual Suspects
Here is a short list of things I love: The Shield and its former members J and J Security Interactions between any and all of the above Formerly I would have bet that I could never get sick of seeing said interactions. Well, WWE seemingly decided to take me up on that bet and I never want to see any match combination of Roman Reigns, Kane (especially those two), Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and his devoted security team ever again. Or at least not for a very long time. Yes, the Shield have a great history and chemistry. Yes, Kane and Rollins have a tenuous relationship. These are dynamic narratives that are cheapened and robbed of their impact when we see them ALL THE DAMN TIME. The tag match on SmackDown between Reigns/Ambrose and Kane/Rollins went exactly the way that everyone expected it to, except for a twist at the end that did nothing to freshen things up because it was so weird. After Reigns and Ambrose nearly won the match (interference by Noble and Mercury resulted in disqualification),

New Day came out at Kane's behest. Why on earth would they do that? I don't believe they've ever been affiliated with the Authority before and Kane had just made them have a ten on three handicap match on Raw! It made no sense! Of course, the entire match didn't make any sense because, as Rollins pointed out (bless him for having a memory), they'd had the exact same match on Raw and it hadn't gone so well. And it turns out that Kane's big plan for success this time was to bring out the Tag Team Champs, who were quickly disposed of by Reigns and Ambrose (and way to make said Tag Champs look completely ineffectual, guys). GOOD JOB, KANE. He and Rollins did end up coming out on top, but it was a very near thing, making Kane look incompetent and Rollins once again look like a weak Champion. A new story, please.