Thursday, September 8, 2016

Learning to Live with Smackdown

Way to ruin the joke, WWE
Photo Credit:
This week on Smackdown I'm learning to live with:

Focusing on the Women's Division...For Better and For Worse
The women's division got the most time on this episode, with an in-ring segment to start the show and a six-person tag half way through. Unfortunately, the results were not equal. Daniel Bryan announced that he was hosting a “forum” for all the women competing in the six-pack challenge at Backlash, and then he proceeded to unload a cheap plug for Total Bellas (to a hilarious lack of audience response) and moderate precisely nothing. The “everyone comes out to interrupt each other in succession right before a pay-per-view match” thing is one of the most tired tropes WWE insists on trotting out, and it was even less well done than usual here. Becky Lynch gave it a good go with her usual blend of energy and natural delivery, but after Natalya came out to kill the mood, no one after her even got entrance music, which I never fully appreciated as providing an essential transition signal. Without it, it felt like a whole bunch of lines were just being missed, and Lynch was the only one trying to fill in awkward pauses because she's the only one who isn't terrified of speaking beyond catch phrases. Naomi and Nikki Bella didn't get any lines in at all. How is it possible to mess up something this paint-by-numbers so badly?

Luckily, the six-person tag match was much, much better. Becky Lynch once again did most of the heavy lifting because she is both reliable and awesome, and if she does not win the title this weekend I will be DISPLEASED. Everyone looked pretty good, though. Carmella actually impressed me for the first time. Naomi was the only one who didn't get much time in the ring, though, which, combined with her no lines earlier, mildly irritated me. Still, though, for a pre-pay-per-view show, this match was a definite highlight.

Baffling Leadership
Let me just make sure I understand all of this: The Miz gets berated for not participating in Dolph Ziggler's little dare last week, something that was not officially sanctioned by management, even though this week he's all set to go out and have an officially sanctioned match without protest, while Ziggler is handed yet another title opportunity for interrupting and demanding matches he has no right to. Why are you punishing the Miz for following the rules and rewarding Ziggler for being a prick? Stop making me sympathize with the bad guy! Why are you so bad at this?

Inconsistent Characterization
Hey, remember when Dolph Ziggler went on and on about how he was on his last chance to make an impact and it was now or never and then he lost to Dean Ambrose and was completely crushed by it and then lost to AJ Styles and was completely crushed by it? Well, Smackdown doesn't remember any of that! Unearned title opportunities just magically heal all wounds, I guess, and Ziggler's back to crackin' wise, joshing around with JBL, and blithely chirping that SOME DAY he'll win the big one and everyone should just stick with him until he does. Welp, glad you can be so glib about your constant failure, bro!

A Good Match In Spite of It All
I actually really enjoyed the Miz and Apollo Crews in spite of Dolph Ziggler's relentless commentary trying to jackhammer into my brain. I recommend this match because Crews looked great and every week you can sense the crowd getting a bit more behind him. Miz looked good, too, taking out Ziggler at ringside and still winning his match. Then we were supposed to believe he was a coward for sending Maryse back into the ring to retrieve the title from Ziggler's frantic posturing over it, but really it just made him look smart because Ziggler 100 per cent would have attacked him.

AJ Styles, Luddite
Whilst hanging out at Fort Desk with Renee Young, AJ Styles was outraged that footage of what happened to him last week was played, demanding to know how it happened and blaming one dude. Does...does AJ Styles not know how television works? Later on he also destroyed another dude's phone, so I feel confident in assuming that he just hates all technology. Mill owners, beware!

Obvious Secret Friends
After quickly losing to American Alpha, the Usos brutally turned on their opponents and are apparently raging heels now. However, I know the truth. They clearly just wanted to get American Alpha out of the way to help Heath Slater and Rhyno win the tag team tournament. Like the rest of us, the Usos are firmly behind the feel-good story of the year. Hearts of gold, these guys.

Ruining the Joke
Yes, Heath Slater and Rhyno beat the Hype Bros to advance to the finals of the tag team tournament and it was heartwarming and joyous. However, Smackdown decided it would be extra hilarious to have Slater's kids assembled in the audience to watch him. Guys, the bit with Slater's kids was funny because he kept changing the amount! The uncertainty and obvious falsehood was what made it funny, and you just ended the joke! How is it that not one single person on the writing staff knows how jokes work?

Hair Opinions That Are Wrong The main event chat between AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose was short but sweet, with both men delivering some good material and Styles getting revenge for last week. Before they got down to brass tacks, though, Ambrose made a crack about Styles' “soccer mom hair,” and I'm going to make three points here:
  1. Not to hairline-shame, but if there's anyone on the entire roster who has no right to make fun of another man's hair, it's Dean Ambrose.
  2. Am I the only one who thinks AJ Styles has pretty good hair? It's got great shine and body!
  3. Stereotypical soccer moms are still rocking the short back/long front layers classic Kate Gosselin look and have been for a while – NOTHING like Styles' style. Do your cosmetological research, wrestlers!