Monday, April 11, 2016

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

The Vaudevillains are the best new friends on this week's Smackdown
Photo Credit:
Best New Friends – The Vaudevillains
Well, new to Smackdown, anyway. I actually watched RAW this week, and seeing all the NXT debuts made me a wee bit envious, but Smackdown got the Vaudevillains' main roster debut, and that made up for a whole lot. I fucking love the Vaudevillains. Even better, they got to go up against the Lucha Dragons, another team I hugely enjoy, and it made for awesomeness all around. I know people go back and forth on the wins and losses in these debuts – how do you make your new guys look good? Do you make your veterans take a loss? – but honestly I think either option is fine. Here, the Vaudevillains won, but it's not like the Dragons went down easily. Both teams looked great, and I'm so excited to see the Vaudevillains on the main roster. The tag division desperately needed some new energy to shake things up. One of my favourite parts of the match was Byron Saxton telling Jerry Lawler to “just enjoy it” and stop squawking...and Lawler did indeed manage to not say anything awful for the rest of the match. It means a lot that commentary is clearly being told to build these guys up and not tear them down. That's probably a hard pill for the Ascension to swallow, but what can you do?

Should Not Be Friends – Charlotte and Ric Flair
I know I've written about this before, but I'm going to mention it again because I'm so sick of Ric Flair. I was hoping that her WrestleMania win would have given Charlotte so much confidence that she'd ditch her dad, but apparently not.

Also, I guess we're just going straight into this thing with Natalya and not at all addressing the fact that Ric Flair prevented Sasha Banks from getting back in the ring at WrestleMania. Like, we're just suddenly done with Banks and Becky Lynch in the title picture? Okay, then. I'm not opposed to Natalya getting in there, but it was rather an abrupt story change. Lynch's confrontation with Emma also got me excited for a feud between the two of them, and Summer Rae looked great in her match against Natalya, so here's hoping she gets to stay in the spotlight, too.

Best Married Friends – The Miz and Maryse
I was happy for Zack Ryder at WrestleMania, but I really don't have any strong feelings for him either way, so you'd best believe I was cackling like mad watching the antics of the Miz and Maryse, consorts in con-artistry. I loved Maryse back in the day – she was a bright spot in the often dismal Divas' division during the late 2000s/early 2010s – and the Miz is always best when he has someone to play off of, so why not his wife? It may not be much of a consolation to Ryder, but if he had to fail to win the Intercontinental Title back, at least he looked like a hero. The match was great, and it was obvious that Ryder only lost due to flimflammery. Like I said, actually having the title would probably be preferable, but at least he put up a heck of a fight.

Worst Friend – Curtis Axel
Curtis Axel clearly lost the bout of Rock, Paper, Scissors that the Social Outcasts used to determine who would face Apollo Crews, but he put himself in the match anyway. Bad form, sir! He was promptly dispatched by Crews, which served him right for being such a cheat. Bo Dallas should not be exposed to such dishonesty!

Could Probably Use a Friend – Dean Ambrose... and Tyler Breeze
Dean Ambrose is apparently totally fine after his (enormously disappointing, even for me, someone who didn't expect much out of it because I hate Brock Lesnar) bout against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania...except that he lost. Now he's back on Smackdown and levelling Tyler Breeze in quick order, but it has to sting that he's essentially reached a glass ceiling. He's done all he can in the mid-card, he can't beat Brock Lesnar, and his best friend the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion apparently isn't the least bit interested in his welfare.

That being said, those frustrations are no excuse for being so harsh with poor Tyler Breeze. You know that feeling you get when you're happy a guy you like is on TV where people can see him...but also he's clearly only there to eat a quick loss? That flash of glee followed by crushing despair? Yeah. Can Tyler Breeze join the New Day or something? He shows up on Up Up Down Down enough.

Best Temporary Friends – Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho
Neither Owens nor Jericho would be super great candidates for someone looking for a tag partner at the moment, but for this episode of Smackdown they were exactly the surly Canadian dream team that I needed. AJ Styles and Cesaro teaming up was also delightful, but Jericho and Owens together would probably be the tauntingest team in tag history. I greatly enjoyed Jericho exiting the ring at one point to throw a tantrum and Owens struggling to get him back in. How does it feel to have an unpredictable tag partner who might bail on you, KO?

What can I say about this main event? RAW got all four men in singles action, but I think this was just as good. Cesaro continued to look great in his return to action, Styles continued to prove himself a valid number one contender to the WWE title, Owens' and Sami Zayn's mutually held grudge, ignited when Zayn made his way to the ring to confront Owens, continued to be hot fire, and Jericho was still there as a crafty veteran, making us all wonder if he's really done messing with Styles. It was great.

I just really, really like this whole situation. I like Styles as the clearly deserving and valid number one contender, but with a crowd of guys behind him who have an equally valid claim. I like Reigns coolly facing down his next opponent because, hey, after Triple H, what could anyone else possibly throw at him? Above all, I like the total absence (so far) of the Authority. If we can keep up this competitive and exciting title scene based solely on everyone being super good wrestling and do away with the convoluted and often nonsensical Authority storylines, I'll be so happy.