A Rookie's Guide to Smackdown Vol. 5: Make It Stop
On Monday night, Seth Rollins bought J&J and Kane new Apple watches, a car of some sort that I don't care about, and a "tropical vacation package". Then the lot of them kicked the crap out of Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose again, with the help of an interruption from Bray Wyatt again. The first four minutes of tonight's show is a recap of this series of events. I'm hesitant to think tonight will be much better than the previous few promo heavy catastrophes. This is gonna be bad.
The Authority crawls out of the back and Rollins talks about how important it is to remember the historic time that is the Rollins championship. We are treated to another highlight clip of the Authority whooping up on Brock Lesnar. He calls himself the greatest superstar in the history of wrestling. He announces the matches of the evening, with Dean Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt, and Reigns vs Rollins, since those are both matches we've already seen, and the opposite of the actual feuds going on within the story arc.
Dean Ambrose interrupts by walking down the entrance ramp, looking like he's about to speak, and then turns around and walks back behind stage. After a few moments he simply comes back out with a Kendo stick and takes on J&J and Rollins. The Authority runs out of the ring, and Rollins says Dean's match against Wyatt is starting immediately. I'm surprised they're getting underway already.
Ambrose vs Wyatt
This is the first time Bray Wyatt has actually wrestled since I've started this article. I saw him at Wrestlemania when I recorded that podcast with the rest of the staff here at Kulture Shocked, and once on the following Raw. I like his style, and I don't hate his thing with Reigns. He enters the arena in total darkness, lit only by a lantern he carries down the ramp to an oddly haunting melody. The audience pull out their phones, and the tiny specks of light against the black look like stars in the night.
He steps into the ring and the match begins. Ambrose starts off with control, taking it to Wyatt, but a hard shoulder dive in to Ambrose's chest ends the momentum. Bray Wyatt is one of the few wrestlers I've seen that actually manages to make his moves look real instead of simply scripted blocking. Ambrose is a similar wrestler, with hard hitting blows mixed with short punches and back hands that don't have enough result to be real. When they work together, they manage to make a convincing match, and it's one of the few times I find myself capable of suspending my disbelief during Smackdown. Wyatt and Dean end up outside the ring before commercials, and when we come back Wyatt is back in the ring with Ambrose in mid leap from the top rope.
This is also one of the longer matches I've seen on Smackdown, with little interference. The crowd ends up chanting "This is awesome!" over and over again. I have to agree with them. Ambrose ends up getting chokeslammed in to the wall keeping the audience back, before getting hit with Wyatt's finishing move, the Sister Abigail. It's an awesome match, and one of the only ones since I've been writing these that I've legitimately enjoyed. We go to commercials as Wyatt sits in the ring over Ambrose's body.
R-Truth vs Adam Rose
We come back from commercials to see a man I've never seen before standing in the ring, mid sentence, with a lollipop in his mouth. I have no idea who this is, and because his promo started during commercial, I'm unsure if I'll ever know. The man says that the audience doesn't understand something and never will because they're all to "jelly" of him. That is not a paraphrase, that is a quote. I hate this man.
He's interrupted by R-Truth who's wearing a Burger King crown and carrying a plunger. He's clearly mocking King Barrett, but I have no idea why. He's also apparently changed his name to "King What's Up". Oh, the announcers say the guy with a lollipop is named Adam Rose, not that it matters.
The pair start wrestling. Adam Rose is just getting fed to R-Truth because he doesn't matter. Rose gets a few blows in, but ends up getting hit by the lie detector, which looks incredibly different from the one R-truth did last time he was in the center. R-truth gets the pin, and spends a few seconds doing the prom queen wave to the audience. The match is short.
WWE Live Event Promo
The match is short so that the announcers can get a highlight reel in before the commercial break. The highlight clip is literally show in a YouTube video and a "live" twitter clip, because young people like shitty quality video and grainy audio right?
Anyway, the video is of Bo Dallas, scum of the earth, as he stars singing "Bolieve it or not I'm walking on air." Luckily he only gets the one line out before The Rock shows up from back stage. He came in to the ring, squashed Bo Dallas and then left. The highlight ends with the announcers saying "Be sure to never miss a live WWE event." I'll miss every single one of them if Bo Dallas gets to speak at all during.
Cena and Kevin Owens Promo
We come back to an announcment that Cena is being nominated for the "Sports Humanitarian of the Year" award. I'm not sure he qualifies. Shouldn't it be the "stage actor humanitarian of the year" award? Sorry guys, but I'm not buying it.
We then get a recap of the relationship between Kevin Owens and Cena, with a highlight reel of a match between Cesaro and Cena in which Owens interfered to save Cena from losing the US title. This whole promo is simply to set up a match at Battleground, which I assume is the next pay-per-view.
Ryback vs Mark Henry
The announcers use the connection of Battleground to start talking about Ryback, so that they can then segway in to Ryback talking shit about Mark Henry. A four hundred something pound man who I've never seen wrestle.
The video clip of Ryback talking transfers swiftly to Mark Henry talking about shitty Ryback is. Mark Henry says that Ryback is going to get his hairline pushed back, but Ryback is bald, so I'm not sure how intimidating that is.
We finally get to the actual match as Mark Henry walks down in to the rng accompanied by the announcers talking about some sort of history between him and Ryback. We go to commercials, and then Ryback comes in. The entire arena chants "Feed me more.", which has to be a little disheartening for Mark Henry as a professional.
The pair of hulking muscle mutants throw each other around the ropes without doing anything particularly interesting. Their slow, burly, lumbering movements do little to maintain a fast paced and interesting match. The most interesting move until the clima is when they both clothesline each other and end up rolling around on the floor in "pain". Eventually we get what Ryback promised, and he manages to throw the humongous man that is Mark Henry into a shoulder-mounted back slam called "The Shellshock".
We watch a replay four times.
We get another promo, in which J&J show off their Apple watches to Rollins, the guy who bought them. I wonder how much money Apple is giving WWE to shill out this hard. They then say that Reigns isn't in the building yet cause he's a punk, and then we go to commercials.
We come back to a Diva match with Naomi in the ring and Brie Bella walking down the ramp. I'm disheartened by having to not only watch another Divas match, but also at having to listen to Lawler talk about how hot the Divas make him. I may slowly be building up an ability to tone out the announcers' dumb shit, but Lawler is impossible to ignore. He's one of the most off-putting human beings I've ever seen, coming in just below Bo Dallas, because at least Lawler's voice doesn't sound like out of tune violins.
The match starts, and the women do their typical spinning, rolling, grunting, slapping crap. It's boring until Brie manages to drop the back of Naomi's head in to the floor outside the ring, beating the crap out of her. The announcers are so bored with the match that they end up having a conversation about how whipped the guest announcer is by Naomi, his diva wife.
I'd really love to see a match where Ryback fights Brie Bella and have the divas get the chance to do actual wrestling. I feel like that would be incredibly entertaining, and would open up a huge line of feud possibilities for the writers to dip in to. Brie and Rollins could hook up and get a little variation in their matches instead of doing the same thing week in and week out. I know there's a stigma against men hitting women, but I feel like the world would be OK with it so long as you didn't write the matches as a male wrestler pointlessly kicking the shit out of some chick. Watching Paige bodyslam Dean Ambrose would be frickin amazing.
Back to work I guess. Brie continues to wreck Naomi. Alicia Fox interferes with Naomi as soon as Naomi starts to gain some momentum, and Brie ends up pinning her opponent. It's a pointless match to watch because I've seen it before. This is the fifth volume of Rookies Guide, and I've already seen every divas match ever held.
Bray Wyatt Promo
We cut in to a promo of Wyatt taunting the tardy Reigns, but it comes just a little late to make sense. Earlier in the night we watched Wyatt get beat by Ambrose in what has been the only quality portion of the night. During this promo, Wyatt makes a joke about how Reigns couldn't protect his only friend Ambrose. This comment was clearly recorded prior to tonight, and nobody noticed the continuity error that stemmed from Wyatt getting beat down by the man he's suggesting needs protection.
Wyatt taunts Reigns, saying that Reigns is a weakling that cares about to many people. Wyatt promises to burn everything Reigns loves, so that Reigns will truthfully be one man against the world.
The Ascension vs Prime Time Players
We come back from commercials to the Ascension standing in the ring as the announcers plug the 25th anniversary of the Jerry Springer Show. It's disappointing. The Ascension are literally two dudes dressed in leather pads with triangles painted on their foreheads. The Prime Time Players are just two dudes that are good at wrestling. They've got no flair and no intimidation. How much do you want to bet that the guys that didn't get an on screen entrance are the ones that lose?
The match starts with Titus of the Prime Time Players against Victor for the Ascension. The match is... almost entirely worthless. One back slam on to the skirt of the ring is slightly exciting, and the rest of the match is The Ascension beating up on one half of the Prime Time Players until Titus finally gets back in to the ring and crushes both members of the Ascension for a pin. It's boring and dumb. I hate tag team matches that don't include the Lucha Dragons. All the other teams are so bland and boring in their combat styles.
Rusev has finally paired up with that blond chick from last week to try and make Lana jealous, because wrestlers are actually just middle school students on steroids. Apparently on Raw this week, the blond slapped Lana, and then Lana went bat shit crazy on Rusev's new girlfriend. Apparently the blond is named Summer Rae? They never put her name on screen, so I have no idea how to spell it. Is she a Diva? I've never seen her matched up against anyone. Whatever. The audience goes in to a "We want Lana" chant, and Rusev claims to love Summer, and says that he will pursue Ziggler like a rabid dog.
Rollins vs Reigns
We come back from commercials to the same recap of the Monday Night Raw main event as was featured at the beginning of tonight's show. Do the writers and producers think that the wrestling audience are a bunch of morons who can't remember the blatantly obvious story lines featured here from week to week, let alone played at the beginning of the night? Am I some goldfish with no memory of each second gone by? I hate this shit some times.
Rollins enters the ring, with the announcers pointing out that Reigns still hasn't stepped in to the building. Rollins says he's only stepped in to the ring because he wants to see the awesome Apple watches now permanently attached to the mooks that are J&J security as they count down the ten second timer that officially calls a match a forfeit. The bell rings, and the count is called by one of the J&J guys who isn't even looking at his watch, because Apple watches feed directly in to your brain if you leave them on long enough to merge with your nervous system. If they wanted this advertisement that is Smackdown to be honest at all they'd have Orton come out, RKO the hobbits, and then show close ups of the fragile, shattered Apple watch screens.
Of course, with ten minutes left in the show, Reigns isn't going to not show up, and he enters the arena at the count of seven, the crowd reaching out to touch the hem of his magical body armor as though he is the son of god. However, they are unfit to touch the hem of his garment. That's one issue I have. How can it be fair to let a dude wear kevlar in to the ring? Doesn't that give him a pretty massive advantage against his shirtless opponent? Though, now that I think about it, feeling the Kevlar chafe across your exposed nipples might make it more of a disadvantage. That shit hurts.
Reigns enters the ring and is immediately set upon by Rollins, since the bell had already been rung. Reigns begins to kick the crap out of Rollins and J&J, fueled by a desire for "revenge". Unfortunately, the numbers are against him as usual, and Roman ends up getting wrecked by the Authority for a good four minutes.
Reigns ends up winning due to disqualification when J&J blatantly charge the ring and turn it in to a three on one squash match, but luckily for Reigns, Dean is fresh and ready to go, sprinting out of the back whip the Authority repeatedly with his Kendo stick. J&J manage to get Rollins out of the ring and over the wall into the audience, but the Dean and Roman manage to snag one of the dwarves. We're treated to a scene reminiscent of the horror genre, as the midget begs Rollins to come back for him as he's slowly dragged back in to the jaws of pain, and the sleaze ball that is Rollins looks on and refuses to help.
We're then treated to a full minute of Ambrose and Reigns crushing Joey Mercury. Smackdown ends, and it's time for another week long wait.
All in all, this showing was better than it has been in the last two weeks. Ambrose and Wyatt's match was a legitimately entertaining piece of scripted sports, and the final shots of the main event that called to mind films like Anaconda or the Alien franchise were enough to elevate it's ratings up a notch. Yet the Divas matches are still painfully lacking, the repetitive nature of the feuds is enough to bore a man to tears, and the constant barrage of pointless promos, recaps, brand recognition, highlights, and reminders is beginning to border on the offensive.
Final Say: 2 Monday Night Raw Summaries out of 5