Friday, January 30, 2015

Last Night's SmackDown LIVE

Photo Credit: Logopedia
I believe the most succinct review I can give last night's episode of SmackDown is to agree with TH from The Wrestling Blog when he said something like, "WWE I cannot believe you tricked me into watching SmackDown."  There's nothing wrong with watching SmackDown mind you, but we all pretty much watched this one thinking we would get something that felt more like a RAW than the typical SmackDown.  We were mistaken.

That said, there were some interesting things that happened last night and not surprisingly they centered on Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan.  To a lesser extent I thought Triple H's opening promo was noteworthy because it highlighted an issue with WWE. 
  • Triple H's Opening Promo--First problem with this was the announcement that there would be a WWE Universe-shaking announcement on RAW.  That was our first signal that we were wasting our time with this show.  Second and bigger problem was that Triple H's onscreen character is a mess.  He's the evil heel which is beyond tired, but he's thanking the WWE Universe for buying the WWE Network.  While I'm tired of heel authority figures I actually like The Authority because Triple H and especially Stephanie are so good in their roles until you have this situation.  I don't care anything about them "breaking the fourth wall" or "killing kayfabe," but you need to have a consistent portrayal of these folks when they are on RAW and SmackDown at least.  In that one promo you couldn't tell if he was heeling, playing it straight or whatever and the live crowd was confused. 
  • Roman Reigns Takes on Big Show--The exact opposite of what Roman Reigns needed.  A long, slow match where he had to sell entirely too much to a guy that has no real value because he was booked forever to have no real value.  If you shorten that match up, have Reigns get down at one point and then rally back for a decisive victory then the whole thing is more effective.  I also wouldn't have personally had Roman Reigns hang around and pander to the crowd.  He got a mixed reaction and he should've briefly celebrated and walked off like he was focused on the task at hand and even like he recognizes the crowd's displeasure and does not care even a little.  Him doing the "nice guy, John Cena they paid their money and have the right to do whatever, I respect the fans" crap is going to get him nowhere fast.  Someone on A1 said people liked the guy who looked like a bad dude, uttered 8 words and smirked like a jerk.  That's the guy people got behind.  Samoan John Cena ain't going to get Roman Reigns over as your next face of the company.  Yet again WWE's insistence that their top guy act this way is hurting them just like it did with the UFC's CM Punk.
  • Casket Match: Daniel Bryan vs Corporate Kane--Kane's promos throughout the night leading up to this were kind of cool.  It's always good to see Daniel Bryan in the ring and the reaction the fans give him.  The closing visual of Bryan doing the YES! thing while standing on the casket was phenomenal.  The fact that Cole hinted that this feud is over is the best news.  Hopefully, Corporate Kane will disappear forever and if Kane returns it's in the Big Red Monster look.
  • Cena Addresses Rusev and Lana--Sports fans, have you ever heard that a team has tuned out their coach?  That's how I feel about John Cena.  Pretty much as soon as he talks I stop caring.  His picking on Lana doesn't offend me, but unlike other issues where I think a face fighting fire with fire is OK it's a bit odd for Mr. Hustle, Loyalty, and RESPECT to talk to Lana in that manner.  Rusev came across as legitimately angry with his promo and ready to fight.  Having Lana talk him out of it was good heeling. 
  • The Ascension vs Dust Brothers--This was a mess because The Ascension is a mess and the narrative was a mess.  Meltzer mentioned on Twitter that the alignment of the Dust Brothers is unclear.  Someone suggested that a better angle on the match might have been that The Ascension was looking to take out another Attitude Era act in Goldust.  They did tease a brother vs brother feud which could be interesting especially with the idea that Dustin is winding it down and looking at an agent position possibly.
  • Other Things--Tyson Kidd wins a match with an Uso!  Seth Rollins and J&J Security get clowned by RyBack/Ziggler/Rowan, but Slippery Seth Rollins once again gets away.  Oh, and Bray Wyatt cut a promo.  Those are always good, but since he doesn't have any direction at this moment it wasn't anything special. 
Aside from seeing the kind of reaction Roman Reigns would get in Hartford, CT and how WWE might try to subtly tweak his character there was no value in watching this show from a storyline standpoint.  Now if you just wanted to see some matches then you got two hours of that minus all the talking and commercials of course.  The truth of the matter is that this SmackDown LIVE was no more must-see than any other episode of SmackDown and that's a shame.