Friday, August 14, 2015

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Naomi and Charlotte are seemingly just spinning wheels
Photo Credit:
Most Stagnant Friendships – The Women's Division
Charlotte and Naomi had a singles match this week, indicative of the fact that, no matter the increase in match length in quality, the women's division still makes no sense. If you'll remember, Charlotte versus Naomi was supposed to happen last week, but interference turned it into a tag match. Now, if it was so desperately important that these two face each other one on one, which is what the existence of their match this week would suggest, why wasn't their match last week simply restarted with their team mates banned from ringside? Furthermore, what is any of this leading to? Team BAD won last week, but Charlotte made Naomi tap out this week so...what? They're even now? Wasn't this whole revolution started to take down the Bellas? So shouldn't the other two teams be trying to work out some kind of alliance? Can we have some indication of how the dynamics of the various teams are shaping up other than “they are on a team now?”

It didn't help that the match itself was kind of disappointing. Naomi dominated for most of it, and for someone whose heel turn saw her spitting fire everywhere and bringing that drive to the ring, this was a frustratingly lackadaisical effort from her. Once Charlotte gained the upper hand it was painfully obvious how much more crisp and focused her movements were.

The Better Brothers – Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper
The upcoming Summer Slam match between Wyatt and Harper and Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose is being billed as a clash between families, but I have to say that the remnants of the Wyatt Family strike me as presenting a far more familial front than the former Shield (and I think it's hilarious that no one's bringing up the fact that neither family is complete. Poor Erick Rowan must be crying into his sheep mask). Harper and Wyatt came out to the ring together, and Wyatt even let Harper speak before his match against Reigns, which showed a thoughtful recognition of Harper's brief foray into independence. Reigns and Ambrose didn't enter together at all, and while Ambrose was as supportive as usual during the match, I think there's a some kind of gulf there and that the two of them have been protesting too much about how in sync they are. Wyatt also leapt into the fray to break up a pin, resulting in the DQ win for Reigns, and while it was a heelish action, I think it also spoke to his concern for Harper. As for the match, I was initially disappointed that it was going to be Reigns versus Harper, since I am an enthusiastic fan of Harper hurling Ambrose into things. However, Reigns surprised me by coming out strong when he normally just kind of bides time until it's time for him to hit his big moves.

More Stagnant Friendships – The Tag Division
Just like with the women's division, no matter how much I love the teams in the tag division right now (and I really do) everything is kind of stuck in a holding pattern. This Smackdown in general was pretty repetitive: we had Charlotte against Naomi again, the Prime Time Players against the New Day again (though this time without Mark Henry), and the main event was exactly the same as last week except with Neville taking Dean Ambrose's place. I do like the Prime Time Players shaking things up by having Titus O'Neil absorb damage and Darren Young coming in to clean house, but the division as a whole is still just treading water.

The Lucha Dragons and Los Matadores, contenders though they are, are pretty much just window dressing. They appeared in order to force the New Day back into the ring when they tried to bail, and when they later joined the Players in the ring after their victory the tag champs looked kind of wary since, after all, these other two teams will be coming for their titles, too. This could have been a good chance to inject a bit of drama into things, but the Dragons and Los Matadores just stood there stoically. A missed opportunity to shake things up. And since I'm talking about the New Day, here's an anecdote: My city recently commissioned a giant letter E to be carted around and displayed downtown, and everyone is calling it the Big E, which has provided me an endless source of comedy. “The E stands for Positivity!” “Only one Big E? I NEED FIVE.” “This Big E signals a new day for the city” (that one's courtesy of my brother). Of course, apart from my brother, absolutely no one appreciates my wrestling related hilarity. The struggle of wrestling fans is real.

Best Worst Friends – Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens
Last week I questioned the logic of Rollins and Owens teaming up, but this week I kind of loved them as terrible people doing terrible things together. Kevin Owens gives absolutely no fucks and seems to inspire a viciousness in Rollins that he needs in order to stop looking like a chump champion. Owens jumping out of the way so that Rollins took the full brunt of Cesaro leaping out of the ring was probably my favourite moment of the night; it was such a jerk thing to do. Of course, Rollins got his own back by completely abandoning Owens to Cesaro and Neville after the match when Owens' attack on Cesaro went awry. I guess I've become so used to heels being secretly cool that it really tickles me when they're just scummy people who hate everyone and each other. I also have to give an honourary Best Friends to Cesaro and Neville. Neville as Cesaro's little buddy was pretty adorable. I think Cesaro missed having a small, flippy guy to hang out with, and his use of the sharpshooter combined with “Kidd” on his armband is heartwarming.