Monday, March 14, 2016

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Let's get weird!
Photo Credit:
Hello, chums. I haven't abandoned my faithful flock, but these reviews are moving to Mondays for a while, which makes writing about these pre-pay per view/network special shows pretty pointless, but I'm going to do it anyway. Because I can! Because I care! Because the Smackdown lore must be chronicled!

Weirdest Friends – Sami Zayn and Neville AND Kevin Owens and The Miz
I'm about to nitpick the hell out of this segment, but don't get me wrong. It was AWESOME to see Sami Zayn on Smackdown, let alone he and Kevin Owens facing off against each other. Tossing Neville and The Miz into the tag team mix made for a killer opening match that I enjoyed a lot.

That being said, for all of the focus that they're (rightfully) putting on Zayn and Owens' history together, it was weird to me that Zayn's NXT feud with Neville didn't come up at all, and they were tagging together like nothing had ever happened. Poor Neville has pretty much lost any character he ever had at this point and been reduced to “short, English, flippy dude,” so I guess it was only a matter of time before he lost his history as well.

Meanwhile, poor Miz once again found himself as an awkward extra wheel, just like when Chris Jericho and AJ Styles started to face off. He ended up on Owens' team solely by dint of failing to get one over on Zayn. Hilariously, Owens showed no concern at all for Miz being tossed out of the ring, but they ended up tagging together anyway, and Owens bailed on him because of course he did. Miz hanging over the ropes staring helplessly after Owens' retreating figure was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever seen.

Should Be Friends – Summer Rae and Lana
It's unfortunate that they followed up the fun opening match with a lengthy recap and then a Brie Bella match, but I liked seeing Summer Rae again. She ended up being kind of a non-entity, serving as another reason for Lana to attack her opponent, because that's a thing that's happening for some reason. I'd really like to have some kind of reconciliation between Summer Rae and Lana, though, after the nonsense they both went through with Dolph Ziggler. Summer Rae's reaction faces are too good to go to waste. She and Lana need to get together and judge the hell out of everyone else's choices.

Most Celebratory Friends – The League of Nations
Let it be known throughout the land that King Barrett the Not So Helpless actually got a pin! I mean, it was on Sin Cara, but still. And how did he celebrate? With a victory somersault! And then Sheamus joined him while Rusev looked on approvingly. Simultaneous victory somersaults! What could be finer?

However, this was the match when I finally did it. I muted commentary. New rule, if you want to be a heel commentator you have to think of something more creative to say about Kalisto than, “Man, is he tiny.” Jerry Lawler's incessant, weirdly specific criticism of Kalisto is intolerable. It got downright creepy when he decided to start salivating over how much bigger Sheamus and Barrett are than the Lucha Dragons. “Look how big they are!” Ew, no, dude. Not even Mauro Ranallo could save it, mostly because he doesn't engage in the shouting matches that the RAW commentary table does, and bless him for that. Just saying, Smackdown, I started muting RAW, and then I stopped watching it. Three hours was way too long to listen to three middle-aged assholes shout at each other. Let Ranallo do his thing, maybe let Byron Saxton try his hand at heel commentating, and fucking jettison Lawler already.

And as long as I'm handing out free commenting advice, here are some more words of wisdom from Coach Lacy. Your words matter. “Dean Ambrose gets himself into these sticky situations” is a constructive criticism. “Dean Ambrose is a brainless idiot, why would anyone like this dummy dumb-dumb” is not. Option A is a valid point about Ambrose's tendency to not consider consequences, but it also alludes to the fact that people love him because he won't ever give up and he'll do whatever it takes. Option B just aggressively runs down the guy that could be your break-out hero and offers no reason to keep rooting for him. It's entirely possible to criticize face characters in a way that can illustrate character and story. Guess who doesn't understand that the language you use conveys a myriad of images and ideas? Jerry. Fucking. Lawler.

Reunited Friends – Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, and the Usos
Hey, remember when Dolph Ziggler was best bros with the Usos and Dean Ambrose was, like, part of their extended family because of their mutual Roman Reigns connection? Smackdown didn't, but I did, so I'm taking their team-up against the Wyatts as a nod to continuity anyway. Not even Ziggler could ruin their combined friendship forces, but I have to ask: what the hell was with his extra floppy selling? I swear he's never been that bad before. “Putting on a show” does not mean “looking like a landed tuna.”

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this journey into the pre-Roadblock past. Friday Night Lacy is really hoping that Dean Ambrose will have himself a fun new accessory by the time you read this.