Thursday, August 10, 2017

Learning to Live with Smackdown

A welcome squash
Photo Credit:
This week on Smackdown I'm learning to live with:

Canadian Content
JBL reminded us that “they call this Bizarro World!” right off the bat because the Toronto crowd alternatively booed and cheered John Cena. You know, just like literally every other crowd. How about we save the condescending nicknames for when something actually weird goes down, ok?

Then we were treated to a Canadian geography lesson when the first match featured Tye Dillinger and Sami Zayn, and Tom Phillips started talking about their hometown advantage. Ah yes, the small town of Canada. Just...what the hell? Neither of these men is from Toronto. Zayn isn't even from Ontario! Dillinger is billed as being from Niagara Falls, but Phillips mentioned him being from St. Catharines, which is apparently “just outside Toronto.” Look, Niagara Falls and St Catharines are quite close and St. Catharines is close-ish to Toronto (though hardly “just outside”) but none of these are the same thing. If you're going to fuck with this stuff at least just pick one and go with it! Mind you, these are the same people who list Jinder Mahal's hometown as “Punjab” so I don't know why I'm expecting any nuance when it comes to Canadian place names.

Anyway, I like Zayn and Dillinger together, and if there's nothing else for them to do, there are worse things than having a team of seemingly really nice guys to cheer for (even if I think it's a baffling underutilization of Zayn in particular). They went up against the Usos in a too-quick match that I enjoyed. Dillinger handled most of the work for his team and showed all the heart in the world, but the Usos are on another level right now, just methodically destroying dudes. Their intensity is great.

New Day showed up after the match, and while I would normally side-eye the good guys pulling off a sneak attack from behind, the prior attack from the Usos was so vicious that in this case I feel like turnabout was more than fair play. It's nice to see New Day with some fire in them. We've seen these teams face each other a lot before, but this somehow feels fresh, and I'm really looking forward to their SummerSlam match.

Things As They Should Be
I have no interest in seeing Lana in the ring or even at all (which is a bummer because I liked her in the past), but her match against Charlotte Flair was at least a singles match, a rarity in the women's division, and it went down exactly the way it should have, so Smackdown can have half points for that. Flair toyed with Lana and then quickly put her away. It was nice to see Flair having fun, but I really don't know what the point of this match was. We already knew that Lana doesn't have the skill to back up her overconfidence, though learning that she apparently wants to emulate Tamina as a wrestler explains a whole lot.

History: It's a Thing!
Again, I have no interest in seeing Shane McMahon, but then Kevin Owens started pulling out historical documents and I got all swoony. Okay, they were just videos of AJ Styles attacking McMahon and then McMahon screwing over Steve Austin in 1998, but a primary source is a primary source, and research makes my historian heart sing. Owens using The Past to shut down Shane's “I'm not like a regular McMahan, I'm a cool McMahon” was icing on the cake. Reminding Shane of his and Styles' pre-respect-handshake relationship and reminding Styles that a McMahon is a McMahon is a McMahon threw an interesting wrench into the upcoming SummerSlam match and now I'm actually looking forward to seeing how things unfold. History is the spice of life!

An Unanticipated Return
There were things I liked about this episode of Smackdown, but a whole lot of it felt like a parade of people that I don't like, including James Ellsworth returning during Carmella's match against Naomi. His appearance quickly quashed the joy that The Glow always brings, and I honestly think Carmella is better off without him. Apparently she was so distracted by him coming back that it didn't occur to her to cash in on a completely incapacitated Naomi. Ellsworth adds nothing of value to either Carmella or the women's division, and I hope The Glow carries him off in the night and disposes of him.

That is the noise I made throughout the entirety of the Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal main event. It was exhausting. But not as exhausting as Randy Orton refusing to lose a feud gracefully and just move on to the next thing. Hey, remember last week when Shinsuke Nakamura beat John Cena to become the number one contender to Mahal's championship and it was kind of a big deal? Should we maybe get Mahal's reaction to that? Maybe build up Shinsuke Nakamura as a threat and Mahal as the champion? Maybe get people hype for what should be an important match and at the very least will be a match-up we haven't seen before? Maybe not keep depicting Mahal as an accidental champion who can't win on his own so we definitely shouldn't care about him? (you can be a bad guy without also being completely hapless, I promise) Nah, that would be stupid. It was very important that Randy Orton get the last word in by writing it all over Mahal's face and then underlining it several times. Ugggggghhhhh. Rusev popping out at the very last second of the show to fell Orton was too little too late.