Thursday, June 22, 2017

Learning to Live with Smackdown

The problem with the women's division right now is its focus on... men
Photo Credit:
Welp, we are now living in a post Overbooking in the Bank wrestling world, which means there's a whole lot of Smackdown stuff I have to learn to live with, including:

Blatant Appeasement Attempts
So just when I'm thinking about rage quitting this show, Smackdown just happens to throw Chad Gable and Luke Harper in my path, two of the people for whom I've been clamouring for weeks. Mmmhmmm. How very coincidental. I am not so easily mollified! I will not be distracted by such cheap manipulation! How dare you, Smackdown. How. Dare. You.

However, I will offer grudging thanks because I love these guys and why on earth wouldn't you utilize them whenever you can? Weirdly, Jason Jordan didn't stick around to watch Gable be impressive as hell while he tossed around Kevin Owens like he was pocket-sized, but hopefully they'll both be around next week. Luke Harper main evented the show (as he should) by putting more effort into his outing against Jinder Mahal than Randy Orton ever will, so how about if we just shove Orton to the side and keep letting Harper improve everyone with his presence? If you're going to pander to my specific interests, Smackdown, you better pander all the way.

Sisters Doin' It For Themselves... Except For When They're Not
It might be a little late to give my take on what happened during the (historic!) first ever (historic!) women's (historic!) money in the bank match, but fuck it. Everyone else has had their say, and I'm going to have mine. I fucking hated the finish. The end.

All right, I'll expand on that. The most common argument I've seen thrown at those of us who didn't take kindly to a man grabbing that briefcase was, “Well, ACTUALLY, you just don't know how wrestling works. Heels gonna heel and a heel did a heel thing.” Ah, but which heel, my willfully obtuse children? Which heel? Because Carmella sure as shit wasn't doing anything as she just sat there, immobile, while Ellsworth climbed the ladder, grabbed the briefcase, and tossed it to her. Carmella had zero agency – to borrow my favourite word from my grad school days – in that situation. Had she directed Ellsworth in that moment or indeed in the entire match, it would have been a different story. The irritating thing is that Carmella DID have a great moment in that match, when she had Charlotte tangled up in the ladder and stomped her face a few times before smoothly crossing over to the other side to keep climbing. That was great! No one is going to think of that when they think of this match. They are going to think of Ellsworth grabbing that briefcase and of the ensuing clusterfuck. Not one of the women involved is going to be remembered for their individual performance, not even Carmella, who ostensibly won, and that's a fucking shame.

The problem is absolutely not that Carmella won or cheated to win or that Ellsworth helped her. Of course he was going to be a factor if she won – that's their thing. But Ellsworth consistently pulls focus when he's involved in the women's segments and now that he's gone so far as to steal the crowning moment in what should have been something meaningful, I do not appreciate the nightmarish Santina flashbacks that I am experiencing. Carmella proved on this episode of Smackdown that she can more than hold her own on the mic, and she could have delivered the exact same material if Ellsworth had just held the ladder for her, for instance. It absolutely did not have to be this way. Instead we were treated to Daniel Bryan condescendingly telling all the other women to just calm down throughout the show only to strip Carmella of the briefcase so that we can do the whole shebang all over again.

Except you can't just redo the first women's money in the bank match. It's done. It happened. And it feels like if after watching someone eat a box of cookies for ages and ages they finally offered you one – stale, but hey, it's still a fucking cookie – and then covered it in dirt. You can still eat it and it's not going to stop you from eating more cookies down the line, but that cookie still fucking sucks. This situation fucking sucks. I don't even know what I want to happen. I certainly didn't want Carmella to lose her contract, because I think it's a good idea for her. Her being forced to win it without Ellsworth's help isn't the point. The point is that the image most strongly associated with the first women's money in the bank match is of a man pulling down the briefcase. If you don't understand why that's a problem, I don't know how to explain it to you, but you probably need to shut the fuck up.

Meanwhile, Shane McMahon couldn't even be bothered to show up. Lana is still getting title opportunities just because she asks for them, but no one is addressing that weirdness. Becky Lynch sounds so sad and tired, and I can't deal with that. The one silver lining that could have come out of this – the women uniting against patriarchal bullshit and taking over the show – was tossed out in favour of the same old cycle of limp insults and free-for-all dust-ups. Oh, and in your weekly STFU, JBL report, he actually said that the reason we had the women's money in the bank match in the first place was because none of the competitors could get along. What the fuck...that's not... OH MY GOD. In case you, too, are a tone-deaf asshole, allow me to remind you that, no, that's not why we had the first women's money in the bank match. We had it because all the women had a case for being the number one contender for the championship, and it was impossible to pick one because they were all such fierce competitors. But, you know, women be catty.

I feel very tired.

Tag Division Stuff
I was disappointed with the Usos walking out of their championship defence against the New Day at Money in the Bank, especially since I'd really enjoyed the match up to that point and I don't see why it couldn't have ended clean, but at least we got a rematch of sorts out of it on Smackdown with Big E facing Jimmy Uso. It was a short match, but a good one. It's always nice when Big E gets a singles match, and as long as we're handing those out to the tag teams: Chad Gable vs. Big E. Just saying.

Meanwhile, now that Zack Ryder is healthy again, he and Mojo Rawley want the title match that they never got. What does crack general manager Daniel Bryan have them do? Well, even though they already had a match to win a title match, now they have to have another match to have a title match. That makes sense. Should Bryan have been making all these decisions on his first day back? Was the pressure too much? Is NO ONE going to talk about Lana literally asking for and getting title matches based on nothing? Is that happening in a void? Have her dance powers overcome even The Glow?

A Perfectly Proportionate Response
If there's one person who absolutely will not stand for attacking family members, that person is obviously Randy Orton. Obviously. And since the Singh brothers mildly threatened his father one time, Randy Orton has declared that he will literally kill all of Jinder Mahal's family members, which is a totally rational and equitable reaction. Such a hero. I am totally looking forward to him continuing to slither into the main event scene when he is as exciting as dry toast, and I definitely don't have a sinking feeling that we're heading for Orton vs. Cena Part 202: Electric Boogaloo. That would just be silly, and silly things never happen on Smackdown.

Praise for Dolph Ziggler
Ugh, what is this? I don't want to do this. Okay, FINE. The best match on the show was Dolph Ziggler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, and much as I would like to give Nakamura all the credit for that, it does take two to tango, and Ziggler definitely pulled his weight here. I mean, it certainly helps that Nakamura can move so fluidly while also hitting with the impact of solid cement. He is a delight to watch. I don't want to see them get stuck in a loop of only wrestling each other, but this match was certainly a bright spot on the show. It took me a while to fully get into it because I was so disgruntled about other things, but luckily it was also long enough that I was able to be drawn in. It was like Smackdown recognized all the bullshit that was going down and rewarded us with this match. Thanks for the small favour, guys.