Friday, January 29, 2016

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Bad friends and Titus O'Neil
Photo Credit:
Best at Being the Worst Friends – The Usos and Dolph Ziggler
Wherever the Rock goes, he leaves a residue of homophobia behind. Thus on Smackdown, emboldened by their relation's dressing down (but in a totally not-gay way, despite the constant references to dicks. No homo, guys! For the love of god, NO HOMO) of the New Day on Raw, the Usos came out to do the exact same thing on Smackdown, throwing a little extra gay panic the Miz's way for wearing a “dress” (showing themselves to be fashion-phobic as well because Miz's robe is fucking magnificent). Naturally, this set up a match, and the Usos were joined by Titus O'Neil (why, man, WHY?!?) and Dolph Ziggler, head ruiner in charge of ruining things, as always. However, I'm at least glad to see that Ziggler and the Usos are apparently still besties. Besties who are terrible people, but I'll take all the character consistency I can get.

On another note, I once again loved seeing the Miz enjoy the hell out of himself while teaming with the New Day. He even took the pin for them! If the tag champs are going to keep constantly losing non-title matches, at least they have a friend who'll somewhat salvage their reputation.

On yet another note, the powers that be seem to have given Mauro Ranallo some notes. I didn't mention it last week, but it was so refreshing to hear absolutely no references to Rikishi during an Usos match. Not so this week. He didn't go so far as to go the “shades of...” route that Michael Cole always does, but it was still there. I don't want to hear the same old beats for every wrestler and every match. Stay fresh, Ranallo! Fight the good fight!

Does Not Deserve Friends – Jerry Lawler, Utter Racist
To kick off Kalisto's United States title defense match against Neville we had Jerry Lawler declaring that “something about a luchador being United States champion just doesn't sit well with [him.]” Ranallo immediately called him on it, asking him what exactly the problem was, and Lawler stuttered and backpedaled for a bit before finally burbling that he had been backing Alberto Del Rio. Yeah, okay, horrible old man. That's why it took you so long to think up a plausible answer to that question. “Oh, he's a heel. That's just a heelish thing to say.” Nope. Not flying with me. And while I'm on the subject, back when I watched Raw, nothing got me to mute faster than JBL shouting belligerently about anything and everything. I do not need or want a shouty, bullish heel announcer. It's entirely possible to defend the bad guys without yelling like a foghorn or being a generally shitty person. Could we have some decorum, please?

Blatant racism aside, the Kalisto/Neville match was a lot of fun, and it was such a relief for Kalisto to have a solid defense free of any shenanigans or underdog talk. The match was, of course, flippy as hell, so if you're into that kind of thing you would have enjoyed it. I am into that kind of thing, and I wish it had lasted longer. I kind of expected Neville to turn on Kalisto afterward. He didn't, but I'd still like to see them face each other again.

Best Friend – Bo Dallas
Bless Bo Dallas forever. The Social Outcasts came out so that Curtis Axel could challenge AJ Styles to a match, and it was Dallas who pointed out that Axel's year-long participation in the Royal Rumble had finally come to an end, and how horrible and devastating that must feel. It's that kind of sincere yet backhanded sympathy that makes Bo Dallas a beautiful treasure that we do not deserve. Axel did end up getting his match against Styles, and of course he lost. Styles looked fantastic. I'm sure he won't be spending too much time with the Outcasts, who are pretty low on the ladder, but it was still a fun interaction. And maybe they'll start using a promo picture other than the horribly unflattering one that appears to have caught him mid-yawn.

Not Really Friends – Becky Lynch and Natalya
Becky Lynch ran out to save Natalya from post-match excessive stretching via Charlotte, but there wasn't much to the segment, so I wouldn't look for any long-term effects friendship-wise. I was really disappointed in the match itself. Charlotte and Natalya's match for the NXT women's championship in 2014 was awesome, so we know they're capable of doing great things together. It's not that I expect every Smackdown match to be a classic (lol), but when every single other match on the show other than Kalisto/Neville involved some pre-match chit chat from the men, I can't help but be irritated that the women had so little time to work with.

Fans of Friendship – The Wyatt Family
Bray Wyatt loves friendship as much as I do. That's the only explanation for his interruption of Roman Reigns' and Dean Ambrose's Highlight Reel segment with Chris Jericho. Reigns and Ambrose were just starting to show signs of genuine disgruntlement with each other over who will win their upcoming number one contender match when BLIP! Bray Wyatt suddenly appeared, babbling about the apocalypse, unrelated to anything. He clearly just wanted to distract them from fighting. He knows that Roman Reigns is at his best when with Ambrose, being adorable and not smug, and he doesn't want anything to endanger that. I'm sure the ensuing three-on-three match was just to mask how heavily invested he is in their relationship.

As for the Wyatt Family as a whole, I have missed this super effective version of them. Wyatt ordering “Break his leg!” while Harper does just that to Jericho, Rowan's improbable spinning high kicks, Strowman interfering in the most obvious way and getting them a disqualification loss: all of these things give me life. Okay, maybe not that last one, though I like to pretend that Strowman tries SO HARD to be sneaky, but he's just toooooo big. There's a children's book in there somewhere.

Also, Big Show was there...for some reason, and Bray Wyatt's face exactly mirrored mine. Not so much “Oh noes, guys, it's Big Show and now we are For It,” and more, “What even are you doing here?”