Monday, July 6, 2015

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Instead of fighting, Wyatt and Ambrose should be friends
Photo Credit:
It won't be Canada Day when you read this, and it wasn't even Canada Day when I watched this episode, but it was Canada Day when it aired, so I feel justified in wishing everyone a happy Canada Day! Swig some maple syrup in celebration.

Should Be Friends – Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose
I'm pretty sure I wrote about this back when they were feuding full-time, but I still believe Wyatt and Ambrose should be pals. They work well together, and even though I've seen them wrestle each other many times I still like seeing their matches, even when they aren't terribly exciting, as was the case on Smackdown. All of this points to a certain amount of chemistry that could be the foundation of a beautiful friendship. Bray Wyatt, at least, would never leave Ambrose out of his plans for messy revenge, the way that Roman Reigns did last week.

Saddest Friendship – Adam Rose and Rosa Mendes
Adam Rose had a match against R-Truth, lost pretty quickly, and I'm not sure what I'm even supposed to do with this. I mean, the match was perfectly fine, but mostly I just felt terrible for Rose: bereft of his followers, bereft of any stakes whatsoever in his matches, losing to man who recently declared himself “King What's Up,” and with only Rosa Mendes, with whom his lack of chemistry is truly astounding, for company. That's hard times

Most Animated Friend – Jimmy Uso
As everyone knows, I have very little use for Ryback, and I was gritting my teeth throughout his match against Mark Henry because I knew it was going to end with Ryback triumphing over Henry, and nothing makes me grumpier than not getting to see Mark Henry decisively crush people. However, the saving grace was Jimmy Uso getting beyond excited when Ryback lifted Henry onto his shoulders and won. Uso actually got out of his seat in his zeal, and it was fairly adorable. Superfan Jimmy Uso can stick around. Maybe when Byron Saxton comes back we can finally put Lawler out to pasture and let Uso take his place.

Deserves a Friend – Naomi
Naomi had a match against Brie Bella and, yes, we did have this exact match two weeks ago. However, it was a fine match then and it was a fine match again, so I'll take it. Unfortunately for Naomi she had to go this one completely alone, without Tamina, against Bella in the ring and Alicia Fox at ringside. To the credit of all the women involved, it looked great. Bella and Fox were vicious, and Naomi fought back hard, though she eventually lost. Of course, it would have looked even greater if Naomi was being billed as the face she clearly is, but instead we're apparently supposed to feel neutral about everyone.

On top of that, Naomi couldn't even count on the support of her husband on commentary. Uso once again would not commit to a single opinion about his wife's situation, and while last week I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, this week I'm not being so generous. It's not like he's under any obligation to be objective. Aside from that being impossible, he was vocal about every other match. As I said above, he was so invested in Ryback's strength and victory that he actually stood up while loudly proclaiming his congratulations. To not extend that same investment to his own wife is ridiculous. The entire commentary situation during the match was a complete shambles.

When Tom Philips, while doing his damn job, tried to ask Uso if he had heard anything from the other women in the division about the general situation regarding Paige and the Bellas, Uso and Lawler both started spewing some of the most profoundly stupid, sexist bullshit that I've ever heard. They took Philips to task for daring to ask such a question, stating that he was going to get Uso in trouble with his wife by implying that he actually pays attention to the women's division. Apparently talking to one's female co-workers is exactly the same as cheating on one's wife, and Uso wouldn't dare even look at another woman. Like the ones he works with every damn day. The ones we've often seen him associate with on Total Divas. But sure, let's just ignore precedent and common sense and keep on hammering out the notion that all women are crazy, jealous bitches who hate each other. That's great, guys. I've changed my mind; Uso doesn't get to stick around when Saxton comes back. Instead, he and Lawler can both be fired directly into the sun.

Best Friends – The Prime Time Players
The Prime Time Players won their match against the Ascension, and such is the power of Titus O'Neil and Darren Young's teamwork that I actually enjoyed an Ascension match. Nothing else to report here; it was just a good time in a mostly unremarkable show.

Biggest Waste of Friendship Potential – Summer Rae and Lana
Last week I talked a lot about Lana, but I stopped short when at getting to Summer Rae's involvement in this cluster of terrible ideas. This week, let's get to Summer Rae. Summer Rae is a good wrestler who is also by far one of the better actresses in the women's division. And how do they utilize her? By continually shoving her into “girlfriend” roles then doing absolutely nothing with her and letting her stories, meagre as they are to begin with, fizzle out. Remember when the best thing to come out of the Layla/Fandango/Summer triangle was the two women realizing that Fandango was a narcissistic jerk and turning on him together? That was awesome, and it would have been so, so easy to do something similar with Lana. They could have had Summer deciding to befriend Lana and gradually introduce Lana to fun American stuff, and then Lana and Rusev could have split due to friendship and, like, baseball or something. Something positive and affirming and also satisfyingly ironic, since it was always Lana who was far more vocal about the evils of America. She could be a villain redeemed, not a possession being passed along to another man, and Summer Rae could be relevant again. Instead , on Smackdown we had Summer singing the praises of a stalker ex-boyfriend who referred to her as a “better Lana.” But watch the subtle shift in Summer's expression when Rusev says that she knows her place. This is such a criminal waste of the talent of everyone involved.

Most Uncomfortable Friendship – Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose
You know, I was fully prepared to say something positive about the announced Seth Rollins versus Roman Reigns main event. Yes, it was the same old Authority/ex-Shield stuff, but where we usually have Kane against Reigns, Ambrose against Rollins, or all four in a tag match, Rollins against Reigns felt like a bizarrely fresh match-up. However, instead of just letting the two go at it, the usual shenanigans quickly ensued and the match ended via disqualification. Ambrose came to Reigns' aid and the two of them managed to nab Joey Mercury for an extended post-match beatdown. You'd be completely right if you said that Mercury deserved it – he's hardly been an innocent bystander in all of the persecution of Ambrose and Reigns – but I was still unsettled by it. By all means let Ambrose and Reigns get revenge, but maybe they could not do it by destroying diminutive employees. Use your friendship for good!