Friday, October 7, 2016

Learning to Live with Smackdown

Stop it, Wyatt, Orton's already won
Photo Credit:
I watched this week's episode of Smackdown in tandem with the American League Wildcard game hoping like hell the insufferable Jays would lose and everyone around me would shut up and go back to caring more about preseason hockey than postseason baseball and I could enjoy the rest of the playoffs in peace. It was not to be, so take any complaints in this write-up with a grain of salt due to my grouchy mood.

Anyway, in addition to being a Canadian who hates the Jays with a blinding fury, this week on Smackdown I'm learning to live with:

The Feud That Will Not End
Instead of last week's weirdness with Randy Orton ending the show in a sheep mask leading to anything interesting, it turns out he's just discovered the magic of video editing and is using it to “turn the tables” on Bray Wyatt. Thus we had a flip of last week's scenario, with Wyatt being forced to seek out Orton. I was prepared to smile and grit my teeth through it because I could at least appreciate the narrative structure if not the substance, but then Wyatt almost immediately got himself trapped in a room, and I just have to ask: what is even the point of this? How is this even still going? It's not even a feud at this point. There's never been any tables to turn because Orton has never been the slightest bit intimated by Wyatt at any point. Meanwhile Wyatt can't even get a single win over Kane, because god forbid we let anyone, particularly the supposed supernatural, super scary guy, look stronger than KANE. Wyatt looked like such a massive moron on this episode, from being distracted by Orton's upside-down video feed, to taking an intentional count-out loss because, again, KANE is just too much for him these days, to getting himself boxed in. What is even left for Randy Orton to prove? He's already won and by a large margin.

Wyatt mysteriously disappeared by the end of the show and, look, if he just legit vanishes and never comes back, it wouldn't be the worst thing. At least then I could imagine him off in a swamp somewhere living his best life and not being continually beaten down by the Randy Ortons and Kanes of the world. Maybe he and Luke Harper can open up a little tea shop.

Actual Child Jack Swagger
Baron Corbin's hilariously lackadaisical feelings about Jack Swagger brought out Swagger himself, and in response to Corbin's continued boredom the All-American American whined that he'd go straight to Daniel Bryan and get a match made because then Corbin would HAVE to pay attention to him! Because Jack Swagger is like six years old apparently. He also ended up winning their match in the worst way possible, when the ref decided that Corbin very clearly reaching for the ropes was actually him tapping out. Uh, good job on all fronts, Swagger. Way to show that kid that YOU'RE actually the coolest cat in town.

The Promise of Something Different
Smackdown caught me pleasantly off guard when the women's match of the night was set to be Nikki Bella against Alexa Bliss. Something different! Something not directly tied to the upcoming No Mercy pay-per-view. Then they panned to Carmella sitting on guest commentary and I knew exactly how things were going to pan out: interference, Becky Lynch running out to help, subsequent tag match, Bliss pinning Lynch due to shenanigans. Ho hum.

I mean, it was fine. I just want to emphasize that the match was fine and everything is perfectly fine, but it was also predictable, while the initial singles match between Bliss and Bella offered something new. At least we got to see Bella look like a complete badass when she forcefully hurled Bliss right into Carmella and then dragged Bliss right back into the ring to continue the match.

The Other Guys
I haven't got much use for either the Hype Bros or the Ascension, but I am glad to see the non-title picture section of the tag division get some attention, and I'm glad to see the Vaudevillains get more screen time whatever the context. Sure, Mojo Rawley annoys me to death. Sure, I legitimately thought the Ascension had just gotten lost when they wandered out to stare meaningfully at the match going on between the Bros and Vaudevillains. At least it was something different.

The Dolphumentary
Following last week's sensational segment featuring the Miz and Dolph Ziggler, this week was bit more low-key, but it was still good. Miz bringing out Ziggler to watch footage of his career that heavily featured its lows was a brutal move, and seeing Ziggler just sit there and take it was pretty wrenching. I like to imagine Miz painstakingly cutting clips together himself, cackling the whole time. The Miz also brought out the remnants of the Spirit Squad to humiliate their old squad-mate. Ziggler, while still clearly at the end of his rope, showed just enough fire and determination to make us think that maybe he can pull off a win on Sunday. I'm also glad that the whole thing didn't devolve into a brawl until Miz sicced the Spirit Squad on Ziggler and he had to defend himself. I think that went a long way toward conveying the idea that Ziggler is owning his past and acknowledging his failures – he's not going to beat up Miz just for pointing them out. Instead, he's saving his fight for when it matters.

Emphasizing All of the Points
Jason Jordan's match against Jey Uso was over so quickly you could have blinked and missed it. Mostly it just served to highlight everything we've known for the past few weeks. The Usos are super bad now and they will stop at nothing to take out American Alpha's knees. Also Heath Slater and Rhyno are the best people on this show, which they demonstrated by running out to make the HEROIC SAVE.

Alpha Males
This is kind of a weird note, but the phrase “alpha males” was tossed around during both the Swagger/Corbin match and during the main event segment, and it just made me wonder why. David Otunga declared that Swagger and Corbin were an example of “two alpha males going at it” and “there can only be one on Smackdown!” Like, this is WWE. There are would-be alpha males literally everywhere. The place is crawling with assertive masculinity. Also, since when is this Highlander? I mean, I guess WrestleMania IS the showcase of the Immortals...

Verbal Sparring
The best part of the main event conversation between AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, and John Cena was that Cena hardly said anything, which is the best possible John Cena. Instead, Styles and Ambrose both were able to get some good lines in, and because not even Cena can refute the fact that he is The Worst, he just resorted to good, old-fashioned violence. It wasn't a terrible way to end things.

Anyway, see you all after No Mercy, which is what I hope will be shown to the Jays. And all you other Jays-hating Canadians (I can't be the only one) can come sit by me. We'll get through this together.