Friday, November 13, 2015

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Poor Fandango
Photo Credit:
Could Probably Use a Gang of Giant Friends – Fandango
Poor Fandango. The first time we've seen him in months and Braun Strowman just crushes him in short order. I'm not even sure why Fandango came out for his match, but he did, so I guess we can consider him a brave soul, if nothing else. I felt intensely sorry for him, faced as he was with Strowman and the rest of the Wyatt Family. He should have brought out his own gang, West Side Story style, and fiercely snapped his way to the ring. Speaking of things that are silly, I still can't take Strowman seriously, lethal bearhugs notwithstanding. You know when people who haven't ever really watched wrestling do an impression of a wrestler and what they come out with sounds like a cross between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage at their Hoganiest and Savagest? That's Braun Strowman. He's like a caricature of a wrestler.

Most Felt Friendship Absence – Sheamus
I loved that on Raw Sheamus was so distracted by King Barrett tangling with a soccer player that he lost his tournament match. It was an adorable display of friendship, but Sheamus did not accompany Barrett to the ring on Smackdown. I hope they haven't broken up because Barrett certainly could have used someone telling him to just finish what he was doing instead of running of his mouth. However, I have to say that given Barrett's lack of sustained success over the years, it's kind of admirable that he's still such a cocky bastard. Admirable or sad. Due to the aforementioned yakking, he lost his tournament match against Neville, so maybe he and Sheamus can make up as they console one another. I was excited about the match on paper, but in execution I only enjoyed it in parts. I don't know why they insist on doing a David and Goliath thing with every single Neville match. He takes a ton of damage, gets tossed around (and don't get me wrong, he's a man who knows how to get tossed around), and eventually manages to eke out a win. The Red Arrow is a devastating move, but it looks like that's all that Neville has, like he just has to wait for his opponent to make a mistake in order to hit it and couldn't deal any other damage. Yes, Neville isn't super tall, but he's a pretty solidly built dude. There's no reason to disbelieve that he couldn't take down King Barrett without having to take advantage of Barrett stopping to have a chat. Indeed, the best bits of the match were when Neville was able to get into some back-and-forth with Barrett.

Better Without Friends – Kalisto
I was super excited for Kalisto to have a singles match, even if it was against Ryback, and it ended up being my favourite match of the night. In direct contrast to the preceding Neville/Barrett match, Kalisto started out strong and established himself from the get-go as a valid opponent. He appeared cautious – he was facing a guy much bigger than him, after all – but that didn't stop him from dealing out offense with a will. I really liked how smart this made Kalisto look. Ryback had no idea what to do against a smaller opponent who wasn't on board with just being tossed around, and it cost him the match. Kalisto did also take a lot of damage, of course, but not in such a way that I could only see him coming out on top through sheer fluke. It was a much more balanced match than the Neville/Barrett one that I'm starting to feel bad about harping on. I did not expect Kalisto to win, and even though I know there's no way he's going to win against Del Rio in the next round of tournament matches, it was still the nicest surprise WWE has given me in a long time. I love the Lucha Dragons, but I also loved the crowd getting behind Kalisto based on his individual merit.

Should Not Be Friends – Alberto del Rio and Zeb Colter I like Alberto del Rio. I've always liked him, and in theory I'm glad to see him back, but this return has just been the worst. The MexAmerica thing and the oddly muted Zeb Colter are doing nothing for del Rio. Seriously, what's up with Colter? I admit I never was the biggest fan of his shtick even when he was first paired with Jack Swagger, but at least the character used to have a conviction that could not be ignored. His commitment lately has felt lacklustre at best, a general aura that del Rio is projecting, too. I really wanted to get into his tournament match against Stardust, more for poor, forgotten Stardust's sake than anything else, but I could not get past the general apathy overshadowing everything. It was a perfectly fine match – it's Alberto Del Rio and Stardust, of course it was technically good – but it wasn't the barn burner that I know those two could have had. del Rio won and, as I mentioned, he's set to face Kalisto next. Maybe Kalisto will be able to inspire something in him that Zeb Colter sure isn't.

Least Effective Friends – Luke Harper and Erick Rowan
Ugh, this whole Wyatt Family thing is so damn depressing. Despite having lost to the Undertaker one on one at Wrestle Mania and despite the Undertaker and Kane having escaped from soul eating and dark imprisonment in order to demolish the Wyatt Family two on four, Bray Wyatt is still angling for a match at Survivor Series wherein he chooses two of his family members to face off against the Brothers of Destruction. I guess he's a glutton for punishment or something. We've already gone over Braun Strowman dealing with Fandango. Harper and Rowan, meanwhile, in a match that I cannot believe was the main event, were soundly taken to task by the Usos. The USOS. Now, I like the Usos, and I'm glad to see them back together, but there is no way that they should be gaining the upper hand against two monsters like Harper and Rowan to the point that Wyatt got so frustrated that he and Strowman jumped in and handed the Usos a win via disqualification. It takes four people to stop the Usos' momentum, but you STILL want to run TWO people against the undead guy with lightning powers and the literal fire demon who won't even stay down when you EAT THEIR SOULS? Okay, friend.

This whole story went off the rails so fast I still can't quite believe it. Why should I ever take the Wyatts seriously as a threat ever again? It's absurd and disappointing to see them like this. At the end of the show commentary solemnly averred that this was a message to the Undertaker and Kane, who accepted Wyatt's Survivor Series proposal, but a message stating what, exactly? “Look how mediocre we are?” The scattered “we want Harper” chants during the match warmed my heart, but, man, what an awful way to end Smackdown. The Wyatt Family hovering over the Usos' bodies was the exact opposite of the effective ending of the Halloween episode when they took on Ambrose, Cesaro, and Ryback. That was impressive and intimidating. This was just sad.