IN LAIMAN'S TERMS #250 - Thoughts on Smackdown Live - 12-6-16
By Al Laiman
Dec 6, 2016 - 10:26:38 PM
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IN LAIMAN'S TERMS #250 - Thoughts on Smackdown Live - 12-6-16
1. Friends and haters alike, welcome to my 250th column. It’s fitting that I get to review Smackdown Live for this particular edition, considering during my first run, I didn’t even have the time to watch Smackdown. Anymore, it’s been the saving grace of the brand, the one that kept me from eliminating wrestling from my life again. That, and the overwhelming support from a lot of you. I don’t have Tito time here, but I have been around since 2011. I went from posting random things and not really having any running narrative to some silly idea I had for a column becoming the foundation of my work here. I know I’m kinda niche and not for everyone, but I am grateful nonetheless. Also, if you’ve been waiting to get an Al Laiman t-shirt, either sign up on Patreon or I’m more than willing to send you one as well. Thank you for 250 columns on this amazing site. I never thought I’d get to write for the site that I grew up reading every day.
2. We start out with AJ in even more blue than usual. Even with a blue house and a blue window, it does appear. If only there was someone with pants of that color to pair with him! AJ certainly capped off an interesting show, being one of almost all the heels to win at TLC, the only exception being Nikki Bella. I know some people think that heels and faces are outdated, but it still feels weird to have a show with all heels winning.
3. Still frames, we still might not have seen the show yet. Great still of seeing the Phenomenal Moon for all to see. I never get tired of seeing AJ Styles as the WWE champion. And just as AJ mentions the name of the main eventer who somehow can’t get in an offensive move, there he is. At least he seems to be having fun, as he shadow-boxes across from AJ Styles. Ellsworth is throwing down the punk card nonetheless, and the crowd isn’t sure what to make of it at all. Neither am I.
4. Either AJ forgot the punchline, or he was pausing for dramatic, Shatner-like buildup. It’s certainly weird to see him so cocky and trashtalker-like all the same. I’m still trying to figure out where they’re going with this, though AJ’s point about Ambrose never stopping is quite valid.
5. Speaking of Dean… We like Dean… Mr. Ambrose and his Fonzie jacket don’t appear to be in such confident spirits when he sees him coming to the ring. And, he walks in, hits the Dirty Deeds, and leaves. Beautiful. That might be the first silent HAM of all time.
6. Coming up next, after the slow-motion Alexa title win, the Wyatts retain easily I’m sure. It should be, too. It was a fun ride, but there wasn’t anywhere else they could go with it, and they stopped using the segments that got him over in the first place, so people lost interest. But there are the Wyatts, and they brought back the “we’re here!” Awesome!
7. The Wyatt singer plays, but nothing happens. Technical difficulties? Wait, Orton’s theme? But not! Remix… Have they done that before? If they have, I didn’t notice. I love it though! The Wyatts finally have gold, and are hopefully entering a feud with American Alpha. Unfortunately, they start yakking a few seconds in and ruin the whole thing. At least it wasn’t JBL-serious-voice. Comparing Orton and Bray to the Brothers of Destruction though? That’s a reach.
8. The Wyatts are certainly over in… Wherever they are. Rhyno with some serious chops replacing his full beard, and either there’s a bunch of empty seats on the floor or everyone’s standing, I’m not sure which. Slater’s already making a better go of it than he did at TLC… for some reason…
9. After I get reminded that the Jimmy Stewart movie will be on this channel, we’re back with Wyatt and Orton making Rhyno the face in peril. I’m gonna guess, brief Slater hot tag, Wyatts overcome and retain, move on? Brian just pointed out that Bray is looking strangely like Terl from Battlefield Earth, and that’s a terrifying thought for a multitude of reasons. Heath Slater is apparently so beaten up that he’s helpless against a fifty-second Sister Abigail setup to the tagged-in RKO. Everyone here knows my opinion of Randy Orton, but what can I say? This works really, really well.
10. We get Kailsto promising that speed kills… Unfortunately it hasn’t killed the Apathetic Wonder of Baron Corbin… And now we’ve got Carmella coming out while a Natalya tweet shows over the screen. Twitter feuds FTW. And we’ve got Carmella facing Natalya? What? Carmella hears the Enzo chant and slips back into her New York dialect to blow it off. Nice, we’ve had more Smackdown HAM than normal already!
11. Joey Styles would call out “CATFIGHT!” right here, and it becomes a brawl immediately. She then chases Carmella out of the arena, and thus we have our 30-second block of women’s secondary feud. We hold on the screen for a few long seconds until we flip over to Natalya, who was waiting for her cue to start moving, and missed it. She runs into Nikki Bella in the second vengeance-based appearance tonight. Nikki then flounces away instead of hitting Dirty Deeds immediately, and… that’s it.
12. We come back with the Borefest of Baldspot himself, Baron Corbin getting interviewed about Kalisto’s quickness. Joy. Let us hear once again how he doesn’t care about anything.
13. We come back with the jobber-entranced Ascension, presumably off their audition for Walking Dead extras, and they’re facing the Hype Bros. Okay. At least one of them has to win? They get an aside-entrance promo that sounds like they borrowed from a Ministry-Taker rant in 1999 or something… Oh wait, they both get aside promos. Time management, I guess? Douchebag dudebro comments from Mojo though, lovely.
14. Anarchist Legion of Doom takes the hype to Zack Ryder, though by all this cheap heat, they’re giving him more time in the ring than what he’s used to. Mojo runs back and forth on the apron, trying desperately to stay in the ring and not go straight through the roof. I like the deliberate way he hits his moves. Everything is intentional and crisp. He’s got some potential if we can ever get past this gimmick. The Ascension nearly gets a roll-up victory, and Zack Ryder stands there watching, so I was totally believing that they’d win it there. Those little things kill a match sometimes. Hype Bros win as they shove each other like bros do, and we’re done with that segment. Serviceable lower-card tag match.
15. Miz is out next, and his continuing slow burn feud with Daniel Bryan now has even more strobe lights. It turns Maryse’s jacket into a seizure waiting to happen. Even for someone like me, there’s such a thing as too much sparkling. Miz is absolutely soaking up every second of this, and I can’t help but enjoy it.
16. Now presenting Dean… We still like Dean… And what the hell, be a 1998 Kane and just get in the ring, give Miz the Dirty Deeds, and walk away. Damn, I thought he was going to for a second. Even in a moment like this though, where MIz is recapping everything we already know, how do they not add “Done Dirt Cheap” at some point? Ambrose tells us that we wouldn’t like him when he’s angry, so that doesn’t bode well for Miz in the future. Miz, surprisingly, is calling Dean out on his shit almost too well. He taunts Ambrose for not allowing them the match, and Dean turns up the aggression. I doubt Maryse will stop him, Miz.
17. Miz presents him with the Miz Participation Award, with a ribbon that says “You Tried!” Oh please make this a feud! The crowd chants, “You deserve it!” That’s some vicious chanting there, crowd! Before anything goes further, our YESGM books Ambrose vs. The Miz. For the title? Tell me it’s for the title. Bryan allows the crowd to dictate that, and Miz is none too happy! Hell yes!
18. Mrs. Laiman’s favorite Smackdown wrestler comes out again for a likely disappointing finish. You can tell how intense it was from these freeze frames. Corbin’s entrance is now… golden with a skyline. Is it Miz’s opening video with the apocalypse turned up? And Chris Sale is going to the Red Sox. Fuck, now I have to hate him too.
19. Corbin manages to convince us all that he doesn’t give a shit yet again, and he does throwy big guy things while holding his arms out for the world’s biggest hug. Big hit, happy body! Kalisto ends up hitting a high spot that nearly causes him to flip the whole way back over on his head. Kalisto botches the hell out of a roll-up attempt, but doesn’t let that break his momentum. He gets another close fall and looks back several times, and yet again, Baron fucking Corbin wins. What the fuck was the point of that? What’s that, four times now?
20. Meanwhile, after that bout of pointlessness, someone comes up to hug Nikki Bella. I’m assuming I’m supposed to know who this is. I don’t. I assume it relates to Total Divas somehow. Skip.
21. Now, we’ve got Chad Gable in a singles match with the symphonic Queen anthem facing… Tyler Breeze? Okay. This match was apparently booked backstage over a ticket. Breeze’s berserk button is his hair color. Hey, it could’ve been over a fake Japanese shampoo commercial, ya never know. Fandango distracts Gable so that Breeze can forearm him right in the fuck to get the advantage.
22. Ooh, a Royal Rumble DVD? You don’t say…
23. It turns into suplexes rather quickly, and Gable wins quickly. As it should be, under these circumstances at least. Fandango gets caught corpsing on the floor, whoops. Probably shouldn’t have switched to him with a shit-eating grin after being suplexed on the floor, guys. I guess the IC title match is gonna be the long match of the show, though there’s normally a midcard match that gets featured on Smackdown. Weird.
24. Dean’s getting Wrangler ads now? He wears jeans to wrestle, so it makes sense, but still…
25. Alexa kicks off her celebration in the blue with pyro. Ooh, that must’ve cost a Kane match in the budget! She refers to a word that rhymes with witch, and then uses it once. Only once, we gotta keep that kid-friendly rating.
26. Becky comes to the ring with haste, and it’s time for more vengeance. We have more bickering between the two, even encouraging people to tweet more… like they needed that… I’m liking this exchange, even though they’re not allowed to say the word again. Becky demands the rematch now, but probably won’t get it. Appear to accept it, psych! Yep. I’m enjoying this feud more than I thought I would. JBL complains about not being able to come out and demand matches, which is a rule only enforced when it’s convenient by plot.
27. Heating up is a transition for something… I suppose it’s better than switching gears from Michael Cole. Recaps, skip.
28. Dean’s out for the third time tonight, and he’ll be stalking in the ring until the commercial break ends, so we can get discount Hollywood Rock’s entrance over again. All the sparkles, even without the jacket! At least the Intercontinental title continues to be a big deal on the show. The main event is going to be the only feature-length match, it appears. Weird, no mid-show one with anything to offer? TLC after-effects?
29. “The Reunion Tour of the Miz is just about over, John?” Reunion Tour? That’s what they’re calling the title reign? JBL HAMs it up beyond usual to talk about MIz’s acting credentials. Damn, next thing you know, he’ll be mentioning Stella Adler and Uta Hagen and claiming have had personal interviews with them!
30. I’m almost to the end of this show already, and I started watching after 9PM. It’s 10:17 now. That’s a lot of commercial breaks and filler. I was on the Waiting For Next Year podcast talking wrestling, current events, and sports, and I was booked at 8, so it unintentionally gave me a delay in starting tonight. Mauro compares Dean and Miz fighting to Twitter trolls? “Please, we’re trying to be relevant! Twitter’s what you like, right? Mention it in all the things! Please love us! We’re not pandering!”
31. Dean is selling like he’s D’Von Dudley after a big spot in a TLC Match. I’m not sure if these two have faced recently, but I like their blend of styles coming together in this match. Miz is holding his own pretty damn well, all things considered. Dean comes back with a suicide dive, and now comes the turning moment of the match either way.
32. Miz has an answer for every move Dean has. Great psychology here, just as the ladder match was a great example of psychology in a gimmick match. Both of these two are among the top users of mat psychology in the business today, no doubt. Maryse interferes and that nearly gets Miz the huge upset win! With all these Daniel Bryan references, there damn well better be a match payoff.
33. We get Ellsworth in the main event again, and that distracts the ref from counting a roll-up pinfall. This gets Miz the chance to hit the SCF, and Miz beats Ambrose because of Ellsworth. I’ll be damned, that happened. Another heel-heavy night in the main Smackdown scene. Good main event all the same, but I still have to ask where the Ellsworth thing is going. Show’s over already, and damn if it didn’t feel short. I’ll take that over the slog that is most RAWs any day though.
34. This episode was underwhelming, but it was a reset as it were. Preparing for the Royal Rumble, setting all the faces in places to overcome the heels, without much success so far. Once again, it has continuity. I feel like I’m watching the same program when I tune into Smackdown, as opposed to RAW, which is a dartboard of random ideas thrown against the wall to see what sticks. There did seem to be some technical difficulties though, and that did no favors on the presentation front.
HAM OF THE NIGHT
Can’t resist giving it to Dean for getting a silent HAM, not to mention a live action performance of one of Stone Cold’s old shirts. Arrive. Kick Ass. Leave. Or something along those lines.
5-30-16 - JBL
6-6-16 - Chris Jericho
6-13-16 - Enzo Amore/Xavier Woods
6-20-16 - John Laurinaitis
6-27-16 - The New Day
7-4-16 - The Club
7-11-16 - Bob Backlund/Darren Young
7-18-16 - John Cena/Enzo Amore/Big Cass/Karl Anderson/Doc Gallows/AJ Styles/Big E/Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods
7-25-16 - Bob Backlund (Gonna Give it to Ya)
8-1-16 - Paul Heyman
8-2-16 - Dolph Ziggler
8-8-16 - Karl Anderson/Doc Gallows
8-9-16 - Becky Lynch
8-15-16 - Heath Slater
8-29-16 - Kevin Owens
8-30-16 - AJ Styles
9-5-16 - Fake Xavier Woods
9-6-16 - AJ Styles
9-12-16 - Mick Foley
9-19-16 - Chris Jericho
9-20-16 - Rhyno
9-26-16 - Chris Jericho
9-27-16 - Curt Hawkins
10-3-16 - Chris Jericho
10-4-16 - The Spirit Squad
10-11-16 - AJ Styles/Dean Ambrose
10-17-16 - Stephanie McMahon
10-18-16 - This is Dean. We like Dean.
10-24-16 - Chris Jericho
10-31-16 - Big Cass
11-7-16 - New Day
11-8-16 - Luke Harper
11-14-16 - Paul Heyman
11-15-16 - Tony Chimmel
11-21-16 - Kevin Owens
11-22-16 - This is Dean. We like the Mountie.
11-28-16 - Corey Graves
11-29-16 - Carmella
12-5-16 - Kevin Owens
12-6-16 - Dean Ambrose
Al Laiman, In Laiman’s Terms, and Inciting Incident are owned by It’s a Shameful Thing, Lobsterhead, LLC. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. For media or inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.