When Paige came out, Tom Phillips immediately hailed her as “a trailblazer™ and an icon in the Women’s Evolution™.“ There goes my pen. Got Paige right in the face, too.
The stupidity of WWE’s obsession with branding and their over-hyping every single facet of this has been talked about ad nauseum, and that has cleared space in my mind to finally see YET ANOTHER problem with the way WWE goes about this. While hurling my pen at the TV, I was shouting “of course she’s a trailblazer™ of the Women’s Evolution™! YOU SAY EVERYONE IS!” And that’s a self-defeating marketing strategy. Why?
Paige says that when she came back through the curtain last night, the first person she saw was Shane. Why the f*ck was Shane at Raw? He’s not supposed to be there. Otherwise his whole dumb taunt to Kurt about how his presence should have tipped Kurt off to Shane’s cowardly invasion makes no sense. You can say that that’s a nit-pick, but it’s the kind of thing that drive me nuts because it would have been so easy to have the same general idea but have it make perfect sense by saying that Shane called her on the phone, but didn’t give enough of a sh*t to think about it for thirty seconds.
Paige books AJ vs. Bryan. Smackdown GM is a fine role for Paige, but I think being a heel manager would have been better.
We got the bullsh*t speech about the special crowd. Go f*ck yourselves.
We (well… those of us in the NYC market, anyway) got a commercial advertising an MSG house show where “for the first time ever, ‘The Baddest Woman on the Planet’ Ronda Rousey will make her debut” in NYC. You know… as opposed when she’ll make her debut for the second time. Does no one proofread this sh*t for them?
WINNER GETS A TAG TITLE SHOT AT GREATEST ROYAL RUMBLE: The Usos vs. The New Day (w/Kofi Kingston)- 7.25/10
Please, G-d, tell me this is the last time I will ever have to see this match and that The Usos are being drafted to Raw next week.
According to the commentary, this match will determine who gets the tag title shot in Saudi Arabia. This seems like the sort of thing that should have been announced to the live crowd.
They seemed to be trying to get Paige over as “controversial,” as Graves has now made that point about every single decision that has been made. He claims that there is “controversy” here because if New Day beat The Usos here, New Day will be at “the front of the line” and thus The Usos will “lose their obligatory rematch.” The problem here is that just because someone else gets their shot before you doesn’t mean that a match you are legally owed magically disappears. But even if you want to go with this stupid idea, then a much better way to get the controversy over would be to have The Usos cut a promo where we get to see them being upset about it. Show; don’t tell.
Of course, if Paige was the one who booked this match, then that contradicts what she had said earlier about booking Bryan’s match being her first act as GM.
The match was great. The Usos won, which seems to totally defeat the purpose of everything the announcers were talking about. You would also think that it pretty much tells us that The Usos are staying on Smackdown because their title shot is after the Superstar Shake-Up, but I think WWE’s clumsiness will wind up negating common sense here and make things unpredictable.
The announcers were pushing the idea that New Day or The Usos could be split up in the Superstar Shake-Up, which totally flies in the face of the fact that in both the draft and in last year’s Superstar Shake-Up, tag teams have been treated as a unit. Including New Day being drafted to Smackdown, which the announcers even mentioned just three seconds prior.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- The Bludgeon Brothers came out onto the stage and pointed at The Usos with their hammers.
NATTIE & NAOMI BACKSTAGE SEGMENT- I cannot put into words how terrible the writing on this was. The fact that an adult thought that this would be a cool thing for two other adults to say is downright horrifying. Both of these poor women were made to attempt to insult each other with the phrase “that’s so seventh grade.”
I have said things in the past along the lines of “whoever wrote this segment should have been flogged for suggesting it,” but that’s nowhere near strong enough here. Not even as a start. Room 101 isn’t even a good enough start. Being given to Ramsay Bolton isn’t even a good enough start! Whoever wrote this segment should be locked in an agony booth for three months straight, then that agony booth should be dropped into a Sarlacc pit.
NATALYA vs. NAOMI- 5.5/10
RENEE YOUNG INTERVIEWS SHINSUKE NAKAMURA- he gave an amusingly disingenuous answer. When Renee called him on this, he responded “sorry. No speak English.” That got a huge pop from the crowd.
CHARLOTTE IS INTERRUPTED BY BILLIE KAY & PEYTON ROYCE- fine.
The Iconic Duo (or, “The Iconics,” as their TitanTron video called them) got a huge pop… and for the life of me, I can’t understand why. They come across to me as the very definition of lifetime midcarders.
Peyton Royce looks different. Specifically two things about her.
One of them is her haircut.
And yes, the other is her bust. I bring this up because I actually can’t remember the last time someone in the company got a boob job, or even the last time someone got a boob job prior to signing. There is progress being made here.
Anyway, Billie & Peyton showed up and acted like midcarders. They jumped Charlotte, but I actually liked the fact that Charlotte saw it coming and nailed Billie with the back elbow first before getting overwhelmed, simply because it seemed extremely obvious to me that Billie was attempting to move behind Charlotte in order to attack her, and thus Charlotte seeing that, too, made Charlotte not look dumb.
Charlotte overwhelmed and then beaten up. No one came out to save her because she apparently has no friends. Do the writers just, like, constantly forget the Becky Lynch exists? How the hell can you forget hair that bright orange?
CARMELLA TRIES TO CASH IN HER MONEY IN THE BANK- Not only did the referee takes F*CKING FOREVER to only move across the ring, but he also turned around and asked Carmella if she wanted to cash in, like, three times. WHY THE F*CK DO YOU THINK SHE BROUGHT YOU OUT HERE, YOU MORON?! It really felt like the referee was deliberately screwing with her. Then he took FOREVER to order the bell to be rung, and he tried to make sure Charlotte was ready for the match, even though IT’S MONEY IN THE BANK!’
Then, after all of these delays, the bell rang and Carmella hit Charlotte with a big boot… and got the win, meaning that all of that crap did nothing but make Charlotte look worse than she otherwise would have.
Our top babyface have now been screwed out of her hard-fought championship by a cowardly heel who isn’t even a good worker… and the fans are all cheering. WHY?
So Carmella is your new WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion. The problem is that now she’s going to have to defend it, and that will require her to wrestle.
US TITLE #1 CONTENDERSHIP MATCH: Randy Orton vs. Bobby Roode vs. Rusev (w/Aiden English)- 6.75/10
So Rusev gets pinned clean in the title match, and now he’s just in the #1 contendership along with the two dudes who didn’t get pinned? How does that make any sense? You’d also think that there would have been a similar “controversy” surrounding this match as with the New Day vs. Usos match because Randy Orton is the former champion and thus is already owed a rematch but said rematch would be “in jeopardy” or whatever, but there was no talk about any controversy, nor the idea that Orton was even entitled to an “obligatory rematch.” I truly don’t understand how someone could book this show and not realize this inconsistency.
They had a good little three-way match. Orton won, pinning Roode, so we’re getting Orton vs. Jinder again. Oh goody.
DASHA INTERVIEWS CARMELLA- Meh. She claims to have won the title with no help from anyone else and also won MITB with no help from anyone else, setting her up for a feud with Billie & Peyton, but it really seemed designed just to tease the crowd into thinking she would mention Ellsworth.
RENEE YOUNG INTERVIEWS AJ STYLES- great.
He cut a promo on Nakamura, then built up his match against Bryan.
DANIEL BRYAN vs. AJ STYLES- 7.75/10
Saxton referred to Bryan’s injury as him having “stepped away from in-ring competition.” I’m sure this was something he was ordered to say, but it just makes wonder why they insist on trying to obfuscate the fact that Bryan was injured when EVERY SINGLE PERSON KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED. They’ve been doing the same thing with Paige. They made her say that she could “no longer perform as an in-ring competitor” or something like that, and that was after four months of her being on TV but not once wrestling without any explanation. And when guys get injured they just take them off TV with no explanation, except in very rare cases. It feels like they’re trying to hide the fact that wrestlers can get injured because they think it’s bad PR, but in reality it just takes away from the matches by trying to almost ignore the fact that the wrestlers can get hurt, which I think subconsciously makes it harder for the selling to really take hold of you.
These guys had an awesome match, with Bryan’s wonderful selling on full display as his knee got worked over. Unfortunately, the match ended with the disappointing finish I had feared it would have: Nakamura causing a double disqualification. The post-match attack felt heinous and was definitely the right kind of heat where my reaction was anger at Nakamura rather than anger at the company for booking it this way, but that doesn’t mean it still wasn’t disappointing.
A pretty great episode of Smackdown in the ring, though it was marred by the usual logical problems. It’s sooooo f*cking great to see Bryan wrestling again.