Friday, July 31, 2015

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Strange friendships equal mayhem on this week's Smackdown
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Strangest Friendships – Cesaro and Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens 
The main event on this episode featured Cesaro and Ambrose against Rollins and Owens, after Owens interrupted Rollins and Cesaro's match at the start of the show and Cesaro was given leave to find his own tag partner. It wasn't at all strange for Ambrose to throw himself in against Rollins, but it was strange that he didn't show up until the last second. The show tried to play up the drama of whether Cesaro could possibly find a partner or if he'd have to go it alone. It was just so needless and weird. Why on earth WOULDN'T he be able to find a partner? Owens is formidable, sure, but hardly indestructible, and Cesaro is definitely a match for him. Rollins has been pretty effectively neutralized at this point – Cesaro himself had clearly gotten the best of him both at the start of the show and last week. Basically, if you tag with Cesaro right now, you're in pretty safe hands.

Furthermore, why wouldn't Ambrose or Roman Reigns jump at the opportunity to have a go at Rollins again? Either Cesaro should have gone straight to them, or they should have sought him out. And I can kind of understand Owens allying with Rollins in order to get at Cesaro more easily, even though I don't think he's been explicitly associated with the Authority before now. However, Owens' whole shtick right now is that he's had to fight for everything he ever got, and he'll keep fighting for whatever he needs. Rollins' whole shtick is that he had everything handed to him without having to work for it, and now he doesn't know how to defend it. So, common heel alignment aside, shouldn't these two hate each other? Rollins didn't seem at all pleased when Owens interrupted his match, so I don't think they should have worked so well together, even if necessity did throw them together. I suppose Rollins was just glad that someone else was there to take the pin, which Owens duly did

Most Hilariously Deprived of Friendship – The Ascension
As the New Day headed to the ring for their match they had words for their opponents, Los Matadores and the Lucha Dragons, stating that either team very well could be the next number one contenders for the tag titles, but also affirming their own intention to recapture their lost bronze belts. They said nothing at all to their teammates, the Ascension, and the omission made me cackle in delight. Much as I like having a strong and varied tag division, the Ascension are still kind of awful. As it happens, the match didn't have anything to do with declaring a new number one contender, but it was still my favourite of the night due to the high-energy show that most of these teams are capable of putting on. The Prime Time Players on guest commentary were also welcome. When Big E clearly intended to tag Kofi Kingston at the end of the match, Viktor tagged himself in and was promptly pinned by Kalisto. The Ascension's ineptitude resulted in them being soundly berated by the New Day (though I'm sure it was a very positive beratement).

Yawn – Rusev and Jack Swagger
Since WWE apparently doesn't have anything for Rusev right now other than a prolonged ugly break-up and prop comedy, they trotted out Jack Swagger to wring what they could out of his former feud against Rusev, even though I can't even remember the last time Rusev actually said anything disparaging about America. Swagger was also in front of his home-state crowd, which seemed to inspire him to sometimes look like he gave a fuck about what he was doing. The match was dull, and Rusev eventually won.

Should Be Friends – Stardust and Neville
Well, “friends” in the way that Batman and the Joker are really friends, deep down. Stardust is right, Neville needs to embrace the strange. Stardust is offering what sounds to me like an interesting and fun narrative wherein he's set himself up as a supervillain and he's handpicked Neville to be his superhero arch-nemesis. That could be awesome, but Neville just keeps acting like he's too cool for school, looking quizzical and dismissive. His attack on Stardust after the latter's win over R-Truth seemed to indicate that Neville does care somewhat about Stardust's taunting and sneak attacks, but I'm really hoping the story that Stardust has in mind can actually play out.