Friday, June 30, 2017

Learning to Live with Smackdown

Why wasn't this match the one laid out at the pay-per-view?
Photo Credit:
This week on Smackdown I'm learning to live with:

Second Verse, Same as the First
Smackdown started out with Carmella and Daniel Bryan delivering the exact same material they did last week. I guess Smackdown wanted to make extra sure we were all caught up. Either that or repetition has just become this show's mission statement, as also on this show were the retreads of both the women's money in the bank match and championship match, and we also had confirmation that Usos and New Day will be facing off again at Battleground, as will Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal. That means that, barring the men's money in the bank match, every match from the Money in the Bank pay-per-view will have been repeated. Because they were all so nice we needed to see them twice?

Not Buying into the Hype
I don't even like the Hype Bros and I felt terrible for them. I think most of us expected them to at least win the nontitle match against the Usos even if they had no chance of actually winning the championship, because WWE loves nontitle losses, but no. They had a decent little match going and then Ryder was pinned and back went the Hype Bros to toiling in obscurity. Like I said, I don't even like these guys, but immediately after their loss New Day hopped out to demand yet another championship match, which was granted. Poor Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley had to re-earn a title shot that they had already earned, and then they had to quietly slink off while the New Day seized the moment to unfunnily muscle their way to the front of the line again. Here's hoping we get at least one backstage segment wherein Mojo Rawley calmly and earnestly explains to Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon what a bunch of bullshit the current title scenes are.

Great Cops and Two Tickets to Paradise
From my notes: “What the shit? Do I love the Ascension now?” Yes, Tuesday Night Lacy. Yes you do. Now, I already loved the Surfer Dudes with Attitudes, but I never thought the Ascension would tap into the spirit of their Southpaw alter egos. Lo and behold, Smackdown gave us the gift of Viktor almost being swayed by the offer of Eddie Money tickets (forgetting that they only listen to grindcore thrash metal), Konnor eventually giving in to the lure of a cheese plate, and the two of them stealthily nabbing the tickets at the end of their interrogation. The Fashion Police also continued to be my purest source of delight. I love that in switching from noir to Miami Vice they've also kept their references period-specific, e.g., the Eddie Money tickets and Heather Locklear's hair. Also they've succeeded in making me love the Ascension and should be rewarded accordingly.

The Will of the Glow
Women's Champion Naomi, Wielder of The Glow, is not here for your pre-match attacks and one (1) wrestling move. She will moonsault and pin you in short order and so shall the world right itself in the presence of The Glow. And dancing Russians will throw bizarre, prolonged tantrums and everyone will be like, “What is she doing?”

Praise be.

Ramblin' Randy
I have never in my life seen the appeal of Randy Orton, but especially after his unhinged ranting on this episode I cannot understand how he could be seen as anything other than an entitled, hypocritical, pathetic, childish asshole. When a grown-ass man is literally stomping around a ring shouting threats and refusing to leave until he gets what he wants like an ill-behaved toddler, how do you react with anything other than ridicule and eye-rolling? I'm glad that Shane McMahon pointed out Orton's history of attacking other people's family members, but I wish he had also pointed out that by any reasonable standard vengeance has pretty well been achieved. The Singh brothers didn't actually hurt Bob Orton, and Randy Orton immediately decimated them, then the did the same on the next episode of Smackdown. Like, you're good, dude. The ghost of your father's cast can finally rest in peace. Cool Dad Shane giving into his trash child's demands was also disappointing. How is he going to learn, Shane? HOW IS HE GOING TO LEARN?

I've had conversations with myself wherein I wonder why Jinder Mahal ISN'T actually the face in this whole thing – a hardworking dude rising from obscurity to seize an opportunity going up against an apathetic douche whose last name opened doors for him – and the reason I kept coming up against was that the Singh brothers are always there to take care of business for him. But following Randy Orton declaring that he will commit literal violent crimes against Mahal unless he gets what he wants, I feel like OF COURSE the Singh brothers are always there to watch his back! Please take all the precautions you want against the weird snake man who will never stop harassing you!

I mean, I know the REAL reason why Mahal isn't the face, as aptly demonstrated by the crowd chanting “USA!” at him on cue. But at least we can all come together over the hilarious reality of a Punjabi Prison match actually happening and the phrase “steel-reinforced bamboo.”

Baron Sami-Z
Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn are still fighting, and apparently it's not even a grudge thing at this point. It's just something they do on Tuesday nights. There weren't any backstage segments to build to it, just these guys doing their thing. I mean, their thing is Zayn making Corbin's offence look more devastating than it has a right to be, and I certainly didn't hate the match, but I'll be happy to see both of them move on.

Money in the Bank Redux
I don't really know what to say about this other than it's what should have happened in the first place. I can't even say which match was better because, frankly, everything about the previous match has faded in light of the finish and the talk about the finish, and that's a damn shame because I do remember that I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed this one, too, though, so I'll leave it to others to compare them.

One weird thing I noticed was that while there was a lot of falling off of ladders, no one actually got hit with a ladder. I certainly don't want anyone to risk unnecessary injury, but it still seemed strange. That said, it's not like this match lacked for standout moments, including Becky Lynch climbing up a ladder being held aloft by Charlotte and Tamina; the other four women picking up and moving a ladder while Carmella sat on top of it and Carmella's subsequent dive onto them; Charlotte trying to decapitate Tamina with a ladder and then climbing over her foe's body only to be defeated by her own overconfidence when Tamina toppled the ladder from her prone position (this was probably the greatest moment of Tamina's career); and Natalya apparently not understanding how the match works or just not caring as she took time out to put Carmella in the sharpshooter and follow Charlotte over the barricade to continue a beatdown instead of, you know, climbing a ladder. Finally, I loved that it came down to Becky Lynch, our beloved and only true hero, being so close to victory only to be viciously beaten down with a chair by Carmella, who, yes, grabbed the briefcase her own damn self and set herself up to be a really good villain for the division. Great work all around. More of this and less of whatever the fuck the last two weeks have been.

I'm on holiday next week, which means I'll just have to miss John Cena's triumphant return and all of the Fourth of July foofaraw. Oh, darn.