Thursday, October 27, 2016

Learning To Live With Smackdown

Ellsworth realizes he made a big boo-boo
Photo Credit:
This week on Smackdown I'm learning to live with:

Poorly Applied Swamp Wizard Powers
We started things off with Bray Wyatt facing Kane in a no disqualification match, and partway through Luke Harper teleported in to bail Wyatt out of a tough spot. But, like, it's a NO DISQUALIFICATION match. Why wasn't he there from the start? And why didn't he keep ganging up on Kane afterward? There was no need for the mid-match theatrics. This is such a pet peeve of mine in wrestling. If you have carte blanche to do whatever you want to win then DO WHATEVER YOU WANT TO WIN. Save the dark wizardry for when you actually need it.

Randy Orton, Terrible Ally
On the other hand, I'm not at all surprised that Randy Orton wasn't in Kane's corner from the beginning because he's so checked out of this story that he probably didn't even know there was a match going on. His betrayal of Kane was sold well by Wyatt and Harper's stunned and then gleeful reactions, but if they take my advice (which no one ever does) they won't let him join the club.

Also, did anyone else think that Orton just legit forgot his lines during the backstage interview where he made awkwardly intense eye contact with the camera for several minutes before droning, “If you can't beat them, join them”? I mean, cool story, bro, HAVE beaten them before. And you had a literal fire demon on your side. Just admit that you're the worst. Can we substitute a real viper for him? The same aversion to pants but with 10 times the entertainment value.

Living in a Blissful World
Becky Lynch showed up to assure us all that she's fine and will be in fighting form for her title match against Alexa Bliss. Now, I love Becky Lynch and I love her as champion, but Bliss' rebuttals were so, so good. She's got great delivery and facial expressions and if the dialogue is still occasionally resorting to appearance insults, at least we've got performers who can elevate poor material. I hope Lynch is one hundred per cent healthy for their match because it could be aces.

Insufficient Pun Appreciation
During a pre-match promo the Ascension delivered a line stating that the Ascension would... rise. It was a pretty good pun and they just no-sold it, which infuriated me. This is the problem with the Ascension. They are completely ridiculous but they refuse to embrace it. They play everything completely straight, growling all their lines without any hint of humour. They could be in on the joke but instead they are a joke. You've got a team name perfect for punning! Appreciate it! Rise to the top! Climb every mountain! I mean, at least elevate yourselves over the Hype Bros, whom I still don't like and find exhausting to watch.

Carmella Being Really Bad At Vengeance
Carmella waited until after Nikki Bella had won her match against Natalya to strike, which was baffling to me. The match was to determine who would captain the women's team at Survivor Series, with the loser not even being included on the team, so why didn't Carmella interfere during the match? Her whole issue with Nikki Bella has to do with the notion that Bella stole her spotlight. She could have attacked Natalya and got Bella disqualified, or she could have tried to sabotage Bella without the ref seeing. Either option would have cost Bella the captaincy and a spot in the Survivor Series match and therefore the spotlight. Instead Carmella just looked like she missed an obvious cue. I mean, I appreciate her letting the match play out because it was pretty darn good, but get your vengeance game together, girl.

Sharing a Head Space with JBL
Just as I was typing that Dolph Ziggler was doing what he does best – interrupting – JBL said the exact same thing. I am profoundly distressed by this. What's next? I start getting belligerent with my coworkers? Shouting down anyone who disagrees with me? Talking over Bray Wyatt's entrance? May The Glow grant me strength. GET OUT OF MY HEAD, JBL, AND STAY OUT.

Minion Fatigue
I'm pretty done with the Spirit Squad. It made sense to bring them out when Miz was shaming Dolph Ziggler about his past, but why keep them around? Why would a man obsessed with his status and starpower keep around couple of has-beens? The dudes can put on a perfectly fine match – I'm not putting down their wrestling ability – and it makes sense for Miz to have underlings, but I'm just saying that Tyler Breeze and Fandango are doing a whole lot of nothing right now and they would make far more sense as part of his entourage.

Rhyno, Saving Grace
I was in serious danger of turning on Slater and Rhyno when Heath Slater wouldn't stop putting down Miz for hiding behind his wife and hypocritically trying to get out of putting the Tag Titles up against the Spirit Squad after berating Miz for not wanting to have his rematch against Ziggler. Then I noticed Rhyno getting steadily more enraged, finally snatching the mic and accepting the challenge. This is because Rhyno took a throwaway line about hating male cheerleaders and incorporated it solidly into his character. That's amazing. I am still consistently surprised by how much I am loving Rhyno.

Dean Ambrose, Garbage Person
Dean Ambrose got exactly what he deserved this week. Thus far I could take or leave the James Ellsworth phenomenon, but this week he really won me over. His sad face when Ambrose wouldn't let him be at ringside! His joy at being included! His righteous attack on AJ Styles! His horrified remorse at having cost Ambrose a potential title shot! What a precious marshmallow of a person. How dare Dean Ambrose use him as a mere prop in a feud against his boyfriend, AJ Styles, and then callously discard him? How dare he not treat Ellsworth as a person deserving respect and sympathy?

And, for real, let's not pretend that Ambrose isn't going to be right back in the title picture next week, because no one else has been anywhere near it lately. I'm not tired of Ambrose and Styles facing each other yet, but Ambrose has got clout not many other people have on the show right now. This standing in the Smackdown hierarchy should compel him to be nicer to those beneath him. If I can play Mr. Knightley to Dean Ambrose's Emma for a moment: “Were [Ellsworth] your equal in situation – but, [Dean], consider how far this is from being the case...[His] situation should secure you compassion. It was badly done, indeed.” BAM. Smackdown via Jane Austen. I keep this shit classy.

Also, just a PSA to whatever regular readership I may have: My posting schedule is probably going to get fairly wonky over the next two or three months. My apologies in advance.