Friday, September 11, 2015

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Cesaro is a good friend
Photo Credit:
First of all, a wild round of applause to Elliot for filling in for me last week. Now I'm all moved in to a new apartment, and my husband has started a brand new job, but on Smackdown the song remains the same as when I left it, a cacophonous, tone deaf mess meandering along with no end in sight. That sounds exceptionally negative, and I do apologize because I like to have fun with this stupid show, but this episode, you guys. Ugh. Here's the thing; the wrestling itself was not bad at all. From a purely wrestle-centric point of view, every match on this episode was perfectly fine, but the amount of screwy finishes and lack of cohesive storytelling made things frustrating as hell.

Most Loyal Friend – Cesaro
Cesaro is still wearing “Kidd” on his arm and doing the Sharpshooter in reference to his injured tag partner, and it makes me smile every time. He had a match against the Miz, and this is the kind of pairing that doesn't really make much sense, but that I 100 percent do not mind. By all means, get the crowd excited with a quick match featuring Cesaro being awesome and the Miz being ridiculous. I am not at all averse to Smackdown being the place where we can see pairings that don't necessarily have an overarching storyline (though in this case it does look like Cesaro is just being substituted for Ryback in the Miz/Big Show thing that is happening for some reason), as long as the match is satisfying and the finish is decisive. In this case, the Miz ended up tapping to the Sharpshooter, and that was that. When the first match of the night is also the most satisfying, and you have two hours to sit through, you seriously need to rethink the structure of your show.

What Even Is This? – The Women
The women's match started out as a promising affair. After some pre-match maneuvering between Team PCB and Team BAD, the ref ejected Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Tamina, and Naomi because he has watched a wrestling show before and knew that interference was definitely going to happen. As a result, Paige and Sasha Banks were set to have a true one-on-one match. Well done, ref. It was awesome to finally see Banks as a solo act on Smackdown, and Paige, for her part, looked the best and most driven that we've seen her in ages. She responded to Banks' aggression and fast pace with a will. In a burst of ferocity after Banks had basically taken her to school, Paige rolled both of them out of the ring and flung Banks against the barricade...and then everything went to shit. First the camera decided to get in SUPER CLOSE so that all we could see was hair flying everywhere. Then a second ref came running out for some reason and proceeded to help pry the two women, who were back in the ring, apart. The first ref had not counted Paige or Banks out or called anything illegal, and the bell had not been rung, so the match was definitely not over. Then the banished teammates came running back in (was the second ref their only barrier?) for a brawl and things ended without any explanation whatsoever.

This finish was so frustrating and typical of the women's division. Why NOT just let it play out and have either Paige or Banks get a legitimate win? Charlotte already has a title match against Nikki Bella coming up. There's no one else waiting in the wings at the moment, so why not start positioning people so that we can get an idea of how things will shake out? Wins and losses have been flying around for months now without anyone keeping track and with nothing at stake, but now that there's a definite goal in sight, now that Bella will actually have to defend her title, NOW we're just going to maintain the status quo and keep the field level? A win or a loss for Paige could have created conflict between her and Charlotte, with either Paige questioning why SHE doesn't have a title shot or Charlotte resenting that Paige gets to be in charge of their group. A win for Banks could have pushed her to the forefront of the revolution (where she should be). SOMETHING could have progressed here. And a shenanigan-free women's match would have been a win for all of us.

Most Enthusiastic (But Probably Not The Brightest) New Friend – Jimmy Uso
Jimmy Uso joined Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose for a trios match against the New Day, and also as a potential ally against the Wyatt Family. I thought it was a nice touch that it was Ambrose who thought it made perfect sense to recruit Reigns' cousin because the only people he trusts are those he considers family, but it was Reigns who did not want to involve family because he understands that the Wyatts mean business and he doesn't want anyone he cares about to be hurt. This once again confirmed my theory that it must be exhausting to be friends with Dean Ambrose, but it likewise must be pretty dull to be friends with Roman Reigns. Ambrose certainly seemed to love having Uso on board; it must have been nice to be around someone interested in having a good time for a change. Unfortunately, Uso's almost manic glee at being included was probably misplaced. It was really not a good idea to throw himself in the Wyatts' path, as they did predictably interrupt the match by turning the lights off, absconding with Uso, and leaving his prone body behind when they vanished. Ambrose could grimace all he wanted, but he really should have seen this coming. As for the New Day, they were pretty much wasted here, but wasting everyone's time was the theme of this episode anyway.

Most “Meh” Friendship – Stardust and the Ascension
In theory, Stardust teaming with the Ascension should make perfect sense. In actuality, the Ascension don't have a spark of personality between them, leaving me pretty ambivalent about this pairing. If Stardust can make these two halfway interesting, I'll be all for it. Otherwise, I shall continue mourning the untimely demise of the Stardust/Cosmic King pairing. The Ascension took on the Lucha Dragons, and with yet another instance of match interference on this episode, this time via Stardust, Konnor pinned Kalisto. Neville ran in to help the Dragons once a post-match beatdown ensued, but my favourite part of the entire thing was Stardust's stonefaced seal clap of victory. I'll take what enjoyment I can get.

Best Not-Quite Friends – Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens
It was fitting that this episode filled with clusterfuck finishes ended with a lumberjack match, a type of match tailor made for clusterfucks. Seth Rollins requested the match specifically so that he could prove that he could beat Ryback...because a lumberjack match is a great way to do that? At some point Big Show decided to make it all about him and attacked Ryback and then Mark Henry, only to be herded to the back by the other lumberjacks. Then the rest of the lumberjacks decided to pursue their own ends anyway, resulting in a massive brawl that accomplished nothing and had nothing to do with either Rollins or Ryback. Unlike with the women's match, no one stopped the match when things got out of control, and Rich Brennan made sure to remind us that lumberjack matches are no-disqualification, so everything was perfectly legal, even though we got no such explanation for the women's debacle.

Once the dust had cleared and we were all wondering what exactly the point of anything was, Kevin Owens decided to actually contribute to the match at hand, tripped up Ryback, and enabled Rollins to get the pin. Rollins and Owens have teamed up before, but they're still not what I would call friends, and I like it that way. It wouldn't make sense for them to team up – Owens disdains pretty much everyone and Rollins is a serial traitor who doesn't want to share the spotlight – but I like that two of the scummiest characters on the show will still assist one another. When it suits their own ends, of course.