Thursday, September 15, 2016

Learning to Live With Smackdown

Cena butting to the front of the line like he obnoxiously always does
Photo Credit:
This week on Smackdown I'm learning to live with:

Narrowing Down My Biggest Gripe With WWE
That's right, I figured it out, and it's all thanks to John Cena, who made his unwelcome return this week. WWE is obsessed with creating “moments” that they can endlessly call back to. The problem is that those moments end up frozen in time with no consequences and therefore no real meaning. Case in point, Cena lost his match at SummerSlam to AJ Styles. It was a hell of a match (wrestler John Cena is usually welcome; wrestling character John Cena is the dirt worst), and Styles won completely clean. Cena was visibly shaken and left his “never give up” armband in the ring. That was a great moment... and it meant absolutely nothing on this episode of Smackdown. Cena just waltzed back into the ring, demanded a shot at the title, and got it because he's John Cena. Never mind that his confidence should be shaken. Never mind that he LOST his last big match and has done nothing to earn another one. Nothing really matters. This is the exact same thing I've been banging on about with Dolph Ziggler. Fine, this is a fantasy wrestling world where everything's made up and the points don't matter, but SOMETHING has got to matter or why should we even watch? Even a fictional universe has to have something holding it together. I know that John Cena versus Dean Ambrose versus AJ Styles is probably going to be a great match, but I want more. I want some fucking consistency.

What if Cena had come back humbled and contrite? What if he said that he knew he had no right to another title match right away? What if he said he wanted to work his way back up? Then we'd have something new. Then we'd have character development. Then his 16th title reign would mean something other than “lol Cena wins.” But why would we want that, right?

I mean, yeah, we got a pretty great main event match out of it, but that doesn't mean that I can't be righteously indignant.

Wrestling Authority Figures That Have Apparently Never Watched Wrestling Before
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are kind of the worst, aren't they? I know I've been complaining about them pretty much since the draft, but the awfulness is just expanding every week. This week McMahon complained about AJ Styles winning via low blow, and Bryan complained about the Miz winning via Maryse, and, like, yeah, it's not fair play or whatever, but that's the way the camel clutch cookie crumbles, you know? This is wrestling. Cheating happens literally all the time, and unlike in real sports there aren't any instant replays. No records can be corrected. There aren't any asterisks next to anybody's name (well, ONE name, but that's less of an asterisk and more of a [redacted]). Stuff happens that you don't like, but there's nothing you can do about it unless you choose to abuse your power to hand out punishments, which is what McMahon and Bryan routinely do.

Also, minus a million points to McMahon for acting like he didn't do everything he could to stop Heath Slater from getting a job on Smackdown. You don't get to share in the good vibes if you actively tried to PREVENT the good vibes!

Laughing At the Misery of Others
Now that I've castigated Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan for being terrible people, I'll tell you about the joy I took out of watching both the Hype Bros and the Ascension get beat up. I don't even know which I feel worse about. The Hype Bros had already lost both their previous matches in the tag team tournament and Zack Ryder was nursing his leg, and they had to face the now-vicious Usos again. This gives me even more evidence that McMahon and Bryan don't actually care at all about their employees because why on earth would you make these poor men fight yet again, but I reeeally don't care about the Hype Bros and I reeeeally like the Usos' new attitude, so I clapped my hands while Zack Ryder winced in pain.

As for the Ascension, I don't know if a more hapless team has ever existed. I feel slightly less bad for cackling over their misfortunes because their loss came at the hands of Everyman Heath Slater and Good Guy Rhyno as they defended their shiny new titles. I feel safe in saying that absolutely no one wanted the Ascension to win their match, but I still feel kind of bad. Smackdown: It makes EVERYONE a terrible person!

The Miz As Accidental Hero
The Miz was on fire when verbally taking on both perennial ruiner Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan. Miz is mad as hell and he's not gonna take it any more, and I love it. Yeah, he's still a cheater and a narcissist but Dolph Ziggler is an irritating thorn in his side and Daniel Bryan, as has been clearly established, is The Worst, so I can't help but sympathize with the guy. Then he went and pulled a Classic Miz by doing away with AJ Styles' impromptu tag partner, which was not a nice thing to do, and then inserting himself into the tag match, which actually a pretty amazing thing to do. The Miz: Awful But Awesome. Seriously, he did not have to take part in that match. Going in against John Cena and Dean Ambrose for no reason other than to prove that he belongs in the spotlight? That takes a certain amount of fortitude. The Miz did end up taking the pin in that match, but he looked great and in my opinion absolutely proved that he deserves more than what the douches in charge keep giving him.

Jack Swagger's Triumphant (?) Return
We got cheated out of a Baron Corbin/Apollo Crews match in order for Jack Swagger to announce that he's on Smackdown now and it's... a thing that's happening. Mostly the whole thing served to make me realize that I really wanted Baron Corbin to just destroy him, so I guess I officially appreciate Big Breakfast now. I don't anticipate Jack Swagger suddenly catapulting into relevance after so many years, but he's our problem now, anyway.

Becky Lynch, First Smackdown Women's Champion
This is the easiest thing in the world to learn to live with because it is the thing I wanted most to happen. Becky Lynch is the best and I wish her a long and happy reign.

Of course, the rest of the Smackdown women's division is nothing to sneeze at. There was a five-way match to determine the number one contender, and everyone acquitted themselves well. Best of all, Alexa Bliss won, which is exactly what I wanted because I feel like I'll be able to watch her and Becky Lynch face each other for a good, long while before I get tired of it.

Erick Rowan's Triumphant (?) Return
I know I've complained about Bray Wyatt's apparent discarding of Erick Rowan going completely unaddressed, but I didn't want it to be picked up in such nonsensical fashion. Rowan popped up again to do Wyatt's bidding and I honestly don't know if we were supposed to be surprised because I wasn't even sure if we were supposed to remember that he and Wyatt were apparently on the outs. I need some dots to be connected here!