Thursday, January 12, 2017

Learning To Live With Smackdown

For once, Ziggler didn't completely suck
Photo Credit:
After last week's misery fest I am ready to enjoy all of the things. This week's plan of action is Learning to Live with Positive Thinking and also Smackdown. Here's what we've got.

Finally Getting Physical
After weeks of hearing about how pretty Nikki Bella is but how she's destined to be a spinster (which would be the Worst Thing Ever because she's Donna Reed in It's A Wonderful Life, apparently. Enjoy your miserable library, Nikki!), what I needed to improve my lookout on life was some good, clean, trying-to-kill-each-other fun. Natalya and Bella were set to have a match, but Natalya struck before they'd even made to the ring and things just kept disintegrating (aka getting awesome) from there. Rather than lie around feeling betrayed, Bella still came out for the match and launched herself full-tilt at Natalya before the bell had even rung. Both women proceeded to be absolutely vicious with each other, and it was hugely refreshing. They should keep throwing hands and stop spouting the crappy dialogue they've been given. The only time I ever buy Nikki Bella's acting is when she's destroying people, and she even managed to look convincingly in pain while she was in the Sharpshooter. I'm really looking forward to when they have an actual match.

Dolph Ziggler Not Ruining Things
I mean, I didn't actively enjoy what he was doing, but neither did I completely hate it. Let's call it a win! Apparently Ziggler is not just channeling his frustration into unnecessary violence against his former friends but he's also conflicted about it. At least, I think that's what he was conveying. After losing to Kalisto, Ziggler kept beating him up, then snapping back to himself like some sort of muscular, orange Gollum. Their match was pretty good, though. Ziggler largely kept things grounded, which was frustrating because I wanted to see Kalisto fly around, but Ziggler's a bad guy now so I actually appreciated him being a lucha-denying prick.

Some ~positive~ criticism, though. We haven't seen Kalisto much in ages and Apollo Crews has never been allowed to get off the ground, so when they're dealing with Ziggler's excessive feelings, the average person's response is going to be, “meh.” Or worse, they're just going to keep cheering for Ziggler because they're so much more familiar with him. I love Kalisto and I want to love Apollo Crews, but just making them the brunt of Ziggler's misguided wrath without any build-up does not a compelling feud make.

American Alpha Retain!
Speaking about people the audience should care about more than they seem to: American Alpha retained their tag titles! Yay! How people are still chanting Randy Orton's name when they've got Chad Gable and Jason Jordan just throwing themselves full force into everything they do is beyond me. But, again, this is what happens when you don't give people adequate reason to care about things. At any rate, the Wyatt Family's rematch against American Alpha was pretty fun. From my notes: “JASON JORDAN JUST TOOK BRAY WYATT'S HEAD OFF, GOD DAMN,” after a particularly well-executed clothesline. Then Chad Gable kept giving me a heart attack every time he jumped at Orton and I was positive it was going to end in an RKO. Thankfully, that didn't happen and I was able to just enjoy the result. The show should have highlighted more how great American Alpha are and how they deserve to be at the top of the division, but instead the focus largely went to the disintegrating new Wyatt Family, which, while a good story, shouldn't have been the only narrative. Speaking of which...

Luke Harper, Secret American Alpha Fan
I mean, I assume he is. That must be why he distracted Orton and allowed Gable to get the pin. Okay, MAYBE he was just seeking revenge for Orton knocking him off the ring apron earlier and just in general for forcing him to play second string. Loving American Alpha or hating Randy Orton, either way, this is clear evidence of why Luke Harper and I are destined to be best friends. The Wyatt Family fracas actually got pretty compelling this week, as Harper and Orton really sold their resentment of each other and Bray Wyatt kept having to physically force himself between the two of them. The “ohhhh” from the crowd when Harper accidentally kicked Wyatt was well-earned. Hopefully Wyatt is realizing that Orton, snake powers notwithstanding, is the weak link here.

The Total Absence of Positivity
Yikes, okay. I know I vowed to enjoy things this week, but JBL came absolutely unglued during Carmella's match, making it one of the worst segments I've dealt with on Smackdown in a while. Carmella's opponent was billed as CJ Lunde, but she usually goes by the name Thunderkitty and has wrestled for SHIMMER and SHINE. She was rocking an old-timey singlet and hairstyle, which gave JBL all the ammunition he needed to mock her appearance for the entirety of the match. James Ellsworth was in Carmella's corner, adding extra shit to the shit fire that is JBL spewing his hateful bile everywhere. It was fucking awful. Who on earth allowed him to hold forth so loudly and for so long? Ellsworth is at least a regular and while it's not okay to bodyshame anyone, he's at least seemed to be in on the joke. Lunde/Thunderkitty was visiting talent, a guest given a one-off spot to do a thankless job and take a pin, and if she was lucky, maybe get some people interested enough to check out what other work she's done. This is how she's treated? Just massively, massively unprofessional and needlessly mean.

One on hand I sympathized with Mauro Ranallo deliberately ignoring JBL and staring blank-faced into the camera (I could practically hear “The Sound of Silence” playing in his head), but one the other hand I wish to any god in existence that he had just smacked JBL right out of his chair.

Baron Corbin, Angry Puppy
I'm so close to consistently liking Baron Corbin, bless his misunderstood teenager heart. I'm pretty sure I'm having the exact opposite reaction to him that I'm supposed to, since I'm less “What a tough badass” and more “Awww, look at the would-be edgelord.” You cannot call yourself The Lone Wolf and expect to be taken seriously (by me, anyway). Do not let my condescension take away from his work in the ring, though, as I've even been liking his matches more often than not.

Anyway, I particularly enjoyed this week because AJ Styles was on guest commentary saying perfectly lovely things about Corbin and Corbin would not stop glaring over at him and trying to start something like having the support of the WWE Champion is a personal insult. He's the Lone Wolf, AJ, not the Supported By His Peers Wolf! Ugh, stop cramping his style! I can only assume that Corbin stomped off to his room and slammed the door shut after taking a loss.

Also, points to AJ Styles for raking David Otunga across the coals every time he said something smarmy and ridiculous. If I can't have JBL getting what he deserves, I'll take open contempt for Otunga.