Friday, October 20, 2017

Learning to Live with Smackdown

Not going down how anyone might have hoped
Photo Credit:
Remember last week when everything was pretty good and even the bad things weren't THAT bad? Yeah, this week is nothing like that. Frankly, I should have know I was in for a bad time when my first thought was, “Since when does Tom Phillips sound so much like Michael Cole? ... oh, fuck.” It was indeed Michael Cole filling in for Phillips (who was “on assignment,” whatever that means) and over the course of the evening he shared with us such insights as Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens' previous bad blood being down “some differences in opinion over the years.” Differences. In. Opinion. WHY ARE YOU HERE?

I was pretty disappointed with most things on this episode, including:

Zayn Pain
I knew the Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens thing wasn't going to be exactly what I wanted. I knew it wouldn't be as nuanced, that it wouldn't be given enough time to breathe and develop naturally. I didn't know it would only take one week until they walked back everything that justified what Zayn did and distilled him into just another basic heel. He was out there calling the audience “you people” and everything. We people didn't care enough about him so now he doesn't care about us. Sound familiar? It's exactly what Dolph Ziggler has been yelling at us about for weeks. I mean, Zayn delivered the spiel better because SAMI ZAYN, but this just a massively disappointing development. This is how Sami Zayn, man of honour and all-around swell guy, turns to the dark side? Bullshit. You've got a character with such a well-established personality, not to mention someone who can give a dramatically compelling performance, and this is what you give him to work with? What a waste. Sami Zayn is a gift and you are throwing him away. And I WANTED Zayn to throw in with Owens. I WANTED to see him wrestle with some demons (uh, not literal demons. You stay the fuck on RAW, Kane and Finn B├ílor). I WANTED to give up the Sami Zayn I loved in order to see how something different would look on him. But not like this. Fuck this.

Things got mildly interesting when Kevin Owens pointed out that Daniel Bryan has become exactly what he had fought against, that he's the Authority in every way. It would have been amazing if Bryan was really shaken by that and if it caused HIM to also be on Owens' side. That would have cemented Owens as a master manipulator, and we could have still been on Bryan and Zayn's sides, understanding where they were coming from and why Owens was able to prey on them. Instead we just got Bryan promising to find people to punch Owens and Zayn in the face because that's how our good guys deal with valid criticism. Also he threatened me with Shane McMahon next week, so fuck Daniel Bryan forever.

Everything about this situation annoyed me. I should have been excited for Zayn and Owens to team up against Shinsuke Nakamura and, well, anyone other than Randy Orton would have been preferable, but still. It should have been great! It was kind of great! But I didn't enjoy it. I couldn't stop myself from thinking how obvious it was that they have nothing for either Nakamura or Orton but they can't very week justify leaving both of them off the show, or how it made no sense for those two to be the ones that would do Daniel Bryan's vengeful bidding. Cool and aloof Nakamura gives a fuck about people being mean to Daniel Bryan? I don't think so. Randy Orton, aside from having checked out of all of this shit like five years ago, is going to put himself on the same side as Shane McMahon? Sure thing. I hate when I can't make my brain divorce Dumb Story from Good Wrestling. It's the worst, and it's not how I want to watch this show.

Going Back to Start
Last week we were supposed to take note of Becky Lynch's win over Carmella because it was a way to reassert herself in the women's division. This week that mattered zero amounts. It wasn't even brought up. Instead we're heading into round two of Charlotte Flair versus Natalya, which is fine, honestly. Natalya should never speak words out loud, but she and Flair generally have good match chemistry. Still, why would we start moving forward with Becky Lynch only to go back again? And why base a six-woman tag on a backstage altercation last week wherein Tamina, Lana, Lynch, and Naomi pretty much just stood on the sidelines? Whatever, the match was pretty good, and Flair tagging in to clean house and then tear after Natalya afterward while wielding a chair was very cathartic for me.

Surprise Sin Cara
Who remembered that Sin Cara is on Smackdown? Shut up, you did not. Anyway, he popped by to beat Baron Corbin. Yup. All that good work AJ Styles and Baron Corbin last week to make Corbin look dominant and important? Pointless! Now he's back to being an incompetent buffoon losing via count-out because Sin Cara came on too strong. Sin Cara. Now, Sin Cara did look really good in this match, which made me happy for him, but what is the point of any of this?

Lies, Vile Lies
Corey Graves had the gall to say that the rematch between Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler was “anticipated,” and I can't believe he would lie to me like that. Nobody wanted to see this match again. It was at least mercifully short, but it also ended with a reverse of their previous match, which means we're going to see this at least one more time. I bet that prospect makes you shiver with antici


Positive Notes
Because there were a couple of them. First, while the Fashion Files' return wasn't my favourite of their segments, the Ascension continue to make my heart happy with their efforts to make friends. Fashion Four, assemble!

Handsome Rusev is still the most tragic hero on this show, and I choose to believe New Day celebrating Rusev Day was sincere, but Rusev has just been hurt too many times to be able to take them seriously. Rusev Day forever!

Kevin Owens celebrating Sami Zayn pinning Randy Orton by singing along with Zayn's theme song was adorable. The “whoops, we still have time to kill, keep the cameras rolling” bit at the end where Owens ordered Zayn to “Hug me. HOLD ME TIGHT” was beautiful. I hate this stupid show, but I love Kevin Owens forever.