November 14th, 2014
We kick off Smackdown with a recap of the Team Cena vs. Team Authority non-sense from this past week of Raw. We are in the midst of a multiple month absence of our WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar, and the WWE has chosen to go with the tired babyface vs. the heel authority figure routine. What would be wrong with having a locker room full of wrestlers chasing the top spot in the WWE? What’s wrong with having a locker room full of guys striving to earn victories on every TV in order to win over the authority figures to be chosen as the #1 contender?
Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel: Jericho enters the ring speculating who is underneath Adam Rose’s Bunny’s Mask. Jericho mentions the possibility that it’s Funaki, which starts a “Funaki! Funaki! Funaki!” chant from the crowd. No joke.
Jericho invites the Authority to the ring as his guests. Jericho asks Stephanie and Triple H why they insisted on being his guests. Stephanie then panders to the crowd with pseudo babyface talk. Stephanie gets a “Yes!” chant. Stephanie asks “Where would Daniel Bryan be without the Authority? Where would Superman be without Lex Luthor?” Okay, so the Authority is now self-aware that they are the villains? That was one of the endearing things about Stephanie’s character in 2014, that she was oblivious to the fact that she was the villain.
Jericho then mentions that he could run the WWE, or the WWE Universe could run the WWE. Jericho then polls the live audience about if they would want to see Triple H clean toilets or Stephanie be soiled. Jericho then shows, on the Jeri-Tron 5000, the scene of Vickie Guerrero tossing Stephanie into a pool of brown goo.
Triple H then cuts the same tired promo about being a wolf to sheep and how the Authority is going to stand tall after Survivor Series and no one will be laughing…. Blah blah blah. It won’t happen, let’s not kid ourselves, but the WWE needs to drop on-screen authority figures and heel authority figures after Survivor Series. Just drop it. Opening Raw with 20 minute promos from Triple H and (insert babyface wrestler here) is just losing the WWE’s audience. If a casual fan flipped on the USA Network at 8:00p ET, when the WWE has a 30 minute jump start on Monday Night Football, and saw the same exact thing EVERY SINGLE WEEK, what incentive do they have to keep watching the show? The WWE should be taking advantage of this 30 window to do something compelling that will tie in the rest of the show and get the fans to stick to the show. It is tired. It is overdone. IT IS BORING. I have literally sought out Ohio Valley Wrestling, who might as well be a dead and non-existent independent promotion with the way they handle their business and marketing, because I need something different with my wrestling on a weekly basis. I am the epitome of a loyal WWE fan and have stuck through the WWE during the worst of times. Heck! I grew up during the early to mid-1990’s when people say that was historically the worst WWE product in their history and I loved it! Yet, I am STRUGGLING to get through these shows. If I didn’t feel I had an obligation to Rich Kraetsch and Joe Lanza to complete these Smackdown reviews on a weekly basis I would probably take a sabbatical from WWE and take my wrestling viewing elsewhere and in my 25+ years of watching wrestling I have never chosen another promotion over the WWE. If I ever took a break from the WWE I took a break from wrestling altogether. Not this time.
Bray Wyatt vs. Sin Cara: Is this telling or what? Luke Harper has returned in a main event storyline, seemingly joining the Authority, and Bray Wyatt is wrestling a meaningless thrown together match against Sin Cara. This match was a boring squash match. Bray wins with the Sister Abigail.
Bray gets on the microphone and talks about how Dean Ambrose would run downstairs on Christmas mornings hoping his Daddy would be home from prison. Bray then tells Dean that he can be the light Dean needs. Apparently Bray wants to be Dean Ambrose’s Daddy. Dean’s music hits and he storms down the ramp as Bray leaves the ring and continues his promo. Bray tells Dean that he is predictable and wants to punish him like Dean wants to punish his Daddy.
What in the Hell did I do to deserve the duty of reviewing this crap? This is the storyline they’re going with? Dean Ambrose didn’t have a dad growing up? Bray wants to be his dad? Ugh… Stop.
You’ve got to be kidding me. This has got to be a joke. I can’t even type it. I can’t muster up the…….FREAKING GR…… okay…I can do this…… GRUMP……..Deep breath. Okay. 1….2…3 GRUMPY CAT IS GOING TO “GUEST STAR” on Raw this Monday? WHY!?!!? WHY!?!?!?! WHY?!?!? Does the WWE even try to have a decent product after Summerslam? This is PATHETIC! There is no other word to describe it than pathetic. Please, Chris Harrington or someone who analyzes such things. Tell me how many fans the WWE will get to watch Monday Night Raw by having Grumpy Cat on their show and then compare that to how many regular fans they lose by having Grumpy Cat on their show. I would bet my house that the latter outweighs the former. PATHETIC.
Adam Rose and The Bunny vs. Gold and Stardust: Russell Brand knock off Adam Rose is turning heel by beating up a man in an Easter Bunny costume. (That’s a line I hope people find 50 years from now as a snapshot of how awful the WWE is in November 2014. By the way, future people in 2064, I hope Aurora Levesque and the other two Authority daughters, I hope you have solved the puzzle of how to run a compelling pro wrestling product for 12 months out of the year, because Papa Vince, Mommy, and Daddy sure as Hell couldn’t do it 50 years ago.) Talk about phoning it in. Gosh.
The Bunny loses the match for Adam Rose leading to Rose giving The Bunny the NXT Special aka The Party Foul in the post-match segment.
Byron Saxton backstage w/ Dolph Ziggler: Byron throws to a recap of the last few weeks Ziggler has had. Ziggler talks about how he has survived World’s Strongest Slams, Choke Slams, Steel Cages, etc. and the clock is ticking. For the next ten days Ziggler has to do what he does best. Survive. Huh….I thought “what he does best” was show off and steal the show or something.
We then get a video package of “The biggest WWE Free Agent” and “THE BIG GUY!” , Ryback, followed by a backstage segment with Byron Saxton and Ryback. Ryback tries to be cute and talk about how Kane is the only one who should be worried about surviving. Why does the WWE insist on making their babyfaces into comedians? And awful comedians might I add. Ryback was at his best when he was just plowing over people. Ryback was most over when he was silent, and just destroyed jobbers/mid-carders. Once they had him start cutting promos it was all over. Ryback isn’t a bad promo, he really isn’t, but just because he can cut a decent promo doesn’t mean it’s best for his character development. Sting wasn’t a bad promo, but when he was his most over in his career was when he didn’t talk for a whole year. There is power in silence and there is bad TV in muscled up freak athletes trying to be funny.
Triple Threat Elimination Match for the Intercontinental Championship
Cesaro vs. Tyson Kidd w/ Natalya vs. Dolph Ziggler ©: Cesaro earned this title shot by losing to the champion in 3 straight falls out of two matches and Tyson Kidd earned this match by losing to NXT superstar, Sami Zayn. You see, because when you are a mid-card champion in the WWE you are expected to lose every non-title match you are a part of, so when you are trying to earn a title shot for said mid-card title you have to lose a bunch to prove to the Authority that you are a jobber.
This was a pretty awesome match free of over the contrived WWE multi-man match spots where one guy sells on the outside while the other two wrestle. You saw very little of that non-sense. Cesaro was brilliant as he always is and showed off his skill/power by tossing these two around. Tyson Kidd was headlock free in this match and was able to show non-NXT fans what he is truly capable of. Dolph Ziggler played the role of the underdog champion having to defend his title under unfair conditions to the best of his ability. This was probably the best multi-man match the WWE has put together all year.
Tyson Kidd manages to eliminate Cesaro first when Cesaro is pre-occupied with Ziggler, thus giving Kidd a true opportunity to showcase his ability under a higher profile one on one situation. Ziggler hits Kidd with a ZigZag out of nowhere for the win. ***3/4
Cesaro will forever be a source of confusion as to why the WWE will not get behind him. Cesaro has the size and build the WWE historically looks for, he is more than capable on the microphone, and he can get over as a babyface or a heel. So, what’s their problem? Wade Barrett is coming back from injury soon, it would behoove the WWE to pair the two together as a WWE version of the Kings of Wrestling.
Natalya vs. Layla w/ Summer Rae: Natalya and Layla really put their working boots on for this match. This was the most crisp and smooth WWE Divas match of the 2014 year. (Emphasis on “WWE” Divas, with obvious separation from the standout “NXT” Divas) This was Layla’s best match in years, and maybe ever. Even the spot where Natalya incorporated the Total Divas storyline and slapped Summer Rae fit into the match. Really well done. ***
Two ***+ matches in a row? This show has hope, but further emphasizes my point about WWE being a good product sans heel authority figures and/or comedic promos.
Ambrose/Wyatt backstage brawl: Dean is being interviewed by Saxton when Wyatt attacks him and holds onto him like Will Smith held his son in that bathroom of “Pursuit of Happiness” and talks some more mumbo jumbo.
Corporate Kane w/ Triple H and Stephanie McMahon vs. Ryback: Kane is setting the record for most Smackdown main event matches ever in a single year. (I don’t know the validity of that, but as the official Smackdown reviewer for VoW since February it feels like he has been in the main event match every single week of 2014. I will look this up sometime this week and when he is in inevitably in the main event next week I will have the official number. )
Stephanie and Triple H sit next to the commentators table during this match, but don’t put headsets on. Cole and JBL spend the duration of the match bickering and arguing over the future of the WWE post-Survivor Series.
There is not another wrestler on the WWE roster that takes me out of a segment or match more than Kane. Ryback worked his butt off in this match and carried Kane to a decent match. That is three times in three weeks that Kane was carried in a match by a less experienced opponent (Ziggler was his opponents the last two weeks). It is sad and pathetic. Kane is just slow and plodding and makes his matches look “fake”. Kane gets disqualified by hitting Ryback with a Steel Chair. Ryback gets revenge by destroying Kane with said Steel Chair and hits him repeatedly while Triple H looks on from the apron. We get a stare down between Ryback and Triple H to a nice pop from the crowd and some very vocal “Feed me more!” chants to close the show. **1/4
This show had two matches rated at *** or more, and that is rare to say for an episode of Smackdown in 2014. The rest of the show? Complete garbage. If you want a good WWE Triple Threat match to sink your teeth into go watch the IC title match, otherwise avoid this show unless you like beating your hekad against the wall while you watch wrestling. These Smackdown shows are an absolute chore to watch. If reviewing Smackdown was my shoot job then I suspect I would be fired with the amount of whining and crying I do reviewing them. You can follow me on Twitter @LuchaNerd