WWE Smackdown Recap 5/7/2015: Quality Programming Be Damned
WWE returns to the sunny shores of Ottawa, four days removed from Dean Ambrose pinning the champion, Seth Rollins and inserting himself in the main event at WWE Payback. The action and booking heading into Payback has actually been pretty decent for a change, if not a bit to literal. Many of our stars are seeking just that: payback. Rusev for losing his coveted United Stated Championship; Ziggler for having his forehead rubbed against Shamus's hairy, sweaty ass cheek. This is wrestling.
Programming in WWE has been a bit hit or miss lately, the company failing to find the mark less and less often. A more dangerous description of WWE programming is stagnant. The gap between must-watch moments seems to be getting wider by the year. The difficulty of writing three hours of RAW each week seems to be trickling down to NXT and Smackdown, both having suffered in quality as of late. Tonight though, the show wasn't unwatchable... it wasn't bad. Merely it was just noise. A fleeting distraction while sorting Magic cards, or playing a video game.
Dolph Ziggler vs King Barrett
A lengthy opening promo between Jerry Lawler and King Barrett preceded the opening bout, a continuation of the mini spat between Barrett and Ziggler. The match itself is actually pretty decent, Barrett himself showing a great amount of aggressiveness in the ring. What was a good thing though hits a speed bump as Shamus interferes in the match, attacking Ziggler. Neville would eventually appear though to aide Ziggler, turning the match into tag team affair, Ziggler and Neville in one corner, Shamus and Barrett in the other.
The match slows down in interest though once the tag mechanic is introduced. The babyfaces would eventually score the victory, Ziggler over Barrett. It appears that Barrett's ability to lose when holding some sort of title is next to his name, making the surprise return of King of the Ring feeling even more wasted .
Luke Harper vs Fandango
Luke Harper and his amazing vest have hardly received the attention or push deserved, given the wide range of talent we've seen in the past. However, tonight it appears that his ship may have finally come in as he scores a squash match victory over Fandango. While hardly a fan of squash matches, It's nice to see Harper look strong for a change. Hopefully, as seen above, the long teased and much desired Rowan/Harper feud may be finally gracing our screens soon.
New Day VS Tyson Kidd, Cesaro and Ryback
Despite the New Day experiment proving to be a complete and abject failure, yet again we find them gracing our screens in this six man fare. In a fitting ending for the shittiest modern tag team, the New Day would taste victory via the shittiest method in WWE, the distraction pin. Even with an eye-rolling ending, the match is quite watchable and entertaining. The former tag champs and Ryback though would carry the match from the opening bell. Even through a somewhat lame spot involving a each face team member simultaneously suplexing a member of New Day, the match is definitely worth a viewing.
Emma Vs Naomi
Whatever Naomi has done with herself, its certainly working. Almost everything about her has improved in notable fashion. Her ring presence has completely changed, going from high level of sloppiness to very tight in a very short time. Her physique, move set and charisma have all shown progress as she continues her transition from Funkadactl to badass. Although, she still needs a bit of work in reading her lines and her finisher simply must change. If this streak of aggression were to continue, a comparison to Jacqueline may be in Naomi's future.
The Lucha Dragons vs Los Matadores
Former NXT alums Sin Cara and Kalisto seem right at home on the main roster and the pair continue to impress with each match. This match held back somewhat due to the limited abilities of Los Matadores. With that being said, even a bad Kalisto match is a good one, complete with some interesting, high flying spots and great mat wrestling. Sin Cara even comes out looking like a rose here, scoring the pinfall victory over a fading and irrelevant gimmick tag team.
Fatal Four Way Contract Signing.
A prime example of WWE and their questionable booking decisions. 15 years ago, when the contract signing hadn't been done to death, the idea of this as a main event wouldn't have been as aggravating as it is in 2015. Not that the contract signing is a bad, or boring event. However, but as a main event, the schtick is getting a bit tired. Someone gets pissed off, starts a fight and tosses someone through the table. Although Dean Ambrose does deliver a chuckle worthy moment as he calls “dibs” on throwing someone though the table.
The Smackdown broadcast tonight wasn't necessarily a boring show, but there was little relevant or newsworthy. As fans, this is what we've come to expect and I fear that this is certainly the new normal going forward. I don't necessarily need the blood and violence of Armageddon 2000, nor do I need the raunchiness of a late 90s RAW. As a fan, all I ask is two hours of television where I don't feel compelled to play Titanfall just to get through the show. To you Triple H, I say that my attention span is not faulty, nor is it only measured in minutes. I simply cannot sit through a show when production is on autopilot much longer.
Smackdown Rating: 3 out of 5 Messy Contract Signings