Monday, June 6, 2016

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Not buying this friendship at all
Photo Credit:
Least Convincing Friends – Becky Lynch and Natalya
As always whenever an alliance pops up out of nowhere, we're supposed to believe the two involved are super special best friends, and I am really not buying it in the case of Becky Lynch and Natalya. It makes sense for them to team up against Charlotte together, but they don't also have to be bosom sisters. I don't know, I'm just not seeing a lot of chemistry there and they hardly interacted before this storyline. On Smackdown they referred to Natalya as Lynch's “dear friend” and I just scoffed. Mauro Ranallo did a good job of bringing up that they've worked together before in Canada, which is cool, but they've got nothing on Charlotte and Dana Brooke's bond based on being awful people.

Weekly “Fire Jerry Lawler” rant: You seriously can't point out that of course every woman in the division wants the title without saying they're “jealous?” That's really the word choice you're going to go with? Jealous Divas strike again? Would you say that Seth Rollins is jealous of Roman Reigns? That AJ Styles is jealous of John Cena? No, you wouldn't, because it's a clearly gendered term that needs to be retired. Also, we don't call them “Divas” anymore. If the man can't remember simple things like that, why does he still have this job?

Best Friends – Tyler Breeze and Fandango
How am I not supposed to root for two people who stumbled into the middle of someone else's friendship story and made it their own? FaBreeze (BreezeDango is an unwieldy and, frankly, stupid name and FaBreeze is RIGHT THERE, ugh, WWE STOP BEING BAD AT NAMES) are the best and I never knew I needed them together before but now they are all I need. Fandango sneering, “Just like the game of shooty-hoops, three strikes and you're out,” had me dying. Shooty-hoops!

Least Suited Friends – Kevin Owens and Alberto del Rio
You know, part of me wanted to sympathize with Kevin Owens for his post-match tirade where he declared that he was sick of his tag partners costing him matches – the man HAD just been accidentally enzugiried by Alberto del Rio – but at the same time, it's Kevin Owens, serial bailer. I'm sure he was just upset that (a) he couldn't tag with Chris Jericho and (b) he's going to have to face Jericho in the Money in the Bank match because let us not forget that their friendship is canon. Either way, one can't blame him for being dissatisfied with del Rio, who is still feeling like the odd man out in this story.

In other friendship news, I liked seeing Sami Zayn and Dean Ambrose team up again, with Ambrose finally starting to catch on that he's surrounded by Canadians and they are not to be trusted. I thought Zayn was the standout performer during the tag match, which was enjoyable all-around. At one point he dove out of the ring to save Ambrose from a dual assault from Owens and del Rio, made sure Ambrose got back in the ring so he could at least take a count-out victory, and got himself back in position to take a potential tag. Canadians get shit done. I was all set for that being the signal that he might win the briefcase, but then after the match Cesaro ran out looking impossibly cool, as always, dispatched poor Kevin Owens (who was really having such a rough night), and posed with the briefcase himself. I'm so looking forward to the actual Money in the Bank match, and I don't even know who I actually want to win.

This Week On “THAT Guy is Still Employed But Damien Sandow is Gone?” – Jack Swagger
Yeah, I checked right out of Rusev's match against Jack Swagger, sorry. It actually went on much longer than I thought I would, which is probably good news for Swagger because he still got to look tough, but I just want to watch Rusev crush people. So anyway, that happened.

Most Hastily Repaired Friendship – The Club
So the pay-off to the well-constructed story of AJ Styles trying to do the right thing but constantly being set up to do the wrong thing by Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson and then telling them he's got to do his own thing was just completely throwing in with them all of a sudden. What a... twist? And by “a twist” I do mean shoddy and lazy storytelling. There was a way to get Styles to this place, and that way was not, “Whoops, guess I'm a bad guy now because John Cena can't ever be less than the most heroic hero! No room for shades of grey here!” Also The Club is a terrible, terrible name for a group, as the New Day demonstrated when they heartily mocked it.

That all being said, I loved Styles' match against Kofi Kingston as our main event. It offered some subtle but great characterization from Kingston when Styles pointed out that he's been with WWE for ten years and has never made big. Kingston listed off his accomplishments, but his cocky, wacky facade faltered just a little, and there was an edge to his voice when he agreed to Styles' challenge. It was gone when he fell back into hijinks with Xavier Woods and Big E, but I really appreciated the idea that being with New Day has assuaged some of Kingston's bitterness at never really being a main eventer, that Styles knew exactly where to prod him, and that Kingston still wants to prove that he can be effective in solo matches. He lost, but it was largely due to interference from Gallows and Anderson, and I like that The Club didn't just run roughshod over New Day, as goofy as they can be. More matches involving friendship trios, please.