Monday, May 2, 2016

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

That's what happens when you get involved in your cousin's business...
Photo Credit:
Here's where we stood pre-Payback, before we knew who had actually been paid back and who had been issued a disappointing IOU.

Saddest Friendship Break-Up – The League of Nations
Not sad as in, “I am heartbroken to lose the League of Nations;” sad as in, “My god, no one put any thought into this whatsoever.” I mean, I'd LIKE to think that this was all a nod to the historical League of Nations also being a lovely idea in theory but falling far short of its ultimate goals, but I know that's not the case. The break-up came out of absolutely nowhere, with Sheamus, Alberto del Rio, and Rusev arguing throughout their match against Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Kalisto, eventually leaving Sheamus abandoned to lose the match alone. Then, as if we hadn't got the message, we also had a backstage segment that ended with Sheamus officially declaring the League to be over. I don't buy any of this for one minute, because Rusev would NEVER turn on his friends like that, and him yelling “You walked out on me!” at del Rio was the only sincerely sad part of this.

I hope they all feel terrible about blaming poor Wade Barrett for their losses. I can see them all arriving separately to apologize profusely to him and then they'll all laugh and laugh and laugh about how silly they've been and then they'll re-form as the United Nations of Friendship. Because what the hell else are any of them going to do?

A Tale of Two Matches – Baron Corbin vs. Damien Sandow and Apollo Crews vs. Stardust
We're going to take a little friendship break here to talk about a Thing. Two very similar matches aired on this episode of Smackdown. Both featured recent NXT call-ups, both aforesaid call-ups won in quick and dominant fashion, and both resulted in a loss for a wrestler that I consider criminally underused and underrated. Here's the thing though, until I looked over my notes to write this thing, I completely forgot that Crews versus Stardust happened, and that's a problem.

Now, I don't like Baron Corbin. I think everything about him is ridiculous. There's an episode of The IT Crowd where Roy dresses up as a lone wolf asshole, and “I'm a loner, alright. I'm just a lonely loner on the lonely road. Alone,” is what I hear in my head every time Corbin shows up. But that is a reaction I am having to his character. It's not a positive reaction (or maybe it is. I can't deny that I'm looking forward to mocking this gimmick for however long it lasts), but it's there.

I like Apollo Crews, but right now that's based entirely on NXT goodwill and recognizing that he is good at wrestling. That isn't enough to keep people cheering for him. “Guy who smiles all the time” is not a character. They don't even qualify it with something like, “Apollo Crews has always wanted to be on Smackdown (lol) and he can't stop smiling.” “Guy who loves being on Smackdown” would be streets ahead of “That guy sure smiles a lot.” WHY ARE YOU SMILING, APOLLO CREWS? Give me something to work with.

Also, their mutual losses should lead to Stardust and Damien Sandow realizing how much better they were together and reforming Team Rhodes Scholars.

Best Friends – The New Day
The New Day took over commentary during Enzo Amore and Big Cass' match against Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Normally, I would protest poor Byron Saxton being forced to sit on the floor and lectured about it, but the New Day can make even the most heartless acts endearing. They were silly, of course, but they also put over both teams in the ring and the Vaudevillains when they showed up. There's no need to say nice things about the Social Outcasts right now, but they did anyway. And it's so refreshing to have a trio of titleholders downright EXCITED about the competition coming their way. That, in turn, makes the viewers excited. The tag division is so exciting right now, and I can't praise the New Day enough for getting behind the new guys even while they prepare to defend their titles.

Least Wise Friends – The Usos
Oh, Usos. When will you learn? Every time they get involved with Roman Reigns' drama, they just get beaten up a lot. You know who's staying far away from all of this? Dean Ambrose. Ambrose is Reigns' best friend (when the story calls for it, anyway) and he's whiling away his time annoying Chris Jericho and making hilarious reaction faces at Ric Flair's senile ramblings. And that is because Dean Ambrose, despite all prior evidence to the contrary, knows what's up. In this one instance, be like Dean Ambrose, Usos.

I have to say that Luke Gallows shoving AJ Styles out of the way to take a superkick for him earned a lot of points with me. Sacrifices in the name of friendship get me every time. Meanwhile I'm waiting for Maryse to start wreaking vengeance on everyone who attacks the Miz when he hasn't even done anything other than be mildly obnoxious.