Thursday, April 6, 2017

Learning to Live With Smackdown

What would you rate this week's Smackdown, Mr. Dillinger?
Photo Credit:
First things first. Did everyone make sure to tell Shane McMahon how very impressed they were with his WrestleMania match? This a group effort, people. The only way we avoid this nonsense next year is if he's positive that everyone loved his amazing performance and there's no need to repeat it. I mean, sure, he was moving at a snail's pace and his punches made it look like AJ Styles was just being whacked with aggressive pasta, but, oh man, can you believe a man of his age is still jumping off of things? So cool. Wow. Look, just tell the man that he's every bit as good as AJ Styles and then we can all move on with our lives. (No, YOU'RE still salty about not getting Styles/Harper even though it made perfect sense.)

Anyway, midlife crises and nepotism aside, this week on Smackdown I'm learning to live with:

A Modest Glow
Naomi and Alexa Bliss had a match that I thought was just okay, but it gave Naomi more of a spotlight in front of her hometown crowd and it solidified her as our Women's Champion. There are far worse things than a mediocre match between those two women, and I love them even when the wrestling isn't quite clicking for me. The aura of The Glow once again washes over us all.

The Announce Team
I didn't talk about this last week, but I really miss Mauro Ranallo's presence. He still isn't back, and while I hope he takes all the time he needs and comes back to Smackdown when he's able, the three-man booth we're working with is not ideal. I like Tom Phillips and I think he's good at transitioning between segments and getting out the talking points, but leaving him alone with JBL and David Otunga isn't great. He hasn't got the volume to cut through them, and he doesn't have Ranallo's enthusiasm. I'd really like to have them as a two-man team, but until then I guess I'll keep sitting patiently through JBL and Otunga's mindless bickering.

Strong Style Getting a Perfect Ten
When Baron Corbin versus Dean Ambrose was announced I threw my hands in the air and wondered what the point of any of this was if we were just going to do WrestleMania rematches all night. Even if nothing big was going to happen before the shake-up next week, couldn't we use this time to maybe see some different faces? Maybe just throw two people in the ring that we haven't seen together every week for months? Then Curt Hawkins appeared and while Curt Hawkins isn't who I would have chosen to see, I was willing to see where it went. And where it went was the Smackdown debut of TYE DILLINGER giving us a short but super fun match and instantly making the episode TEN(!) times better.

Later on we were also treated to the debut of SHINSUKE NAKAMURA (yes, it is necessary that I type both their names in all-caps) and I thought the crowd was going to ascend to another plane. All he did was make an entrance, but when you're Shinsuke Nakamura you make a fucking entrance. The best part was the audience losing its mind over both debuts, chanting and cheering and singing along and being awesome. I'm really looking forward to seeing Dillinger and Nakamura add some oomph to the Smackdown roster, assuming we get to keep both of them.

Taking It to the Streets
Despite the fact that it made absolutely no sense for Baron Corbin to get another match against Dean Ambrose after challenging for the title and losing, I quite enjoyed their street fight match. Also baffling: the match wasn't for the Intercontinental Championship, so I guess Corbin just felt like getting put through a table for no reason. We all have our quirks. Anyway, there was a lot of bashing and throwing around of bodies before Corbin was able to pull off an End of Days and win. However, while I liked the match I really wish its time slot could have been used by someone else, like, say, the now almost comically neglected Tag Division.

I typed that in all-caps because that is the level of NOPE with which we are dealing here. The announce table can call Luke Harper and Randy Orton teaming up an “unlikely duo” all they want, but I call it an ABOMINATION. Randy Orton ruined Luke Harper's life! It makes sense that Harper would want to humiliate Bray Wyatt and maybe even use Orton to do it, but to team up with Orton when tagging with him was what started all of this in the first place? To just blandly celebrate with him at the end instead of turning on him? I do not accept this. I am here for independent and unlikely folk hero Luke Harper, not snake buddy for no reason Luke Harper.

Also I am annoyed that we didn't get a scene with Bray Wyatt calmly explaining to Erick Rowan all the weird shit that's happened since he he's been gone. I'm glad Rowan is back because Wyatt should always have at least one follower, but why is he completely fine with fighting against Harper? Speaking of Harper, we're just not going to deal with him being unable to pin Wyatt last week? He's fine now? There was so much opportunity here for character and story and they just did nothing with it.

Anyway, the (UNHOLY) main event tag match was fine as far as the actual wrestling went. Harper spent a lot of time both dealing out and taking offense, and it was nice to see Rowan in action again, even if he's not my favourite. The enduring popularity of Randy Orton continues to be a complete mystery to me, but whatever.

I'm going to disappear for another couple of a weeks, so I'll see you all after Smackdown gets all shook up. Frankly, I'm way too tense about what might happen, so it's probably for the best that I won't be able to watch the results live.