IN LAIMAN'S TERMS #252 - Thoughts on Smackdown Live - 12-13-16
By Al Laiman
Dec 13, 2016 - 10:02:24 PM
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I came down with pneumonia in the last few days, and have been nearly bedridden since last night. These circumstances, however unfortunate, have taught me a lot about myself and our society.
I haven't been truly sick since I was about six with scarlet fever. I had my first job at 14 and haven't stopped since. In the last six years, I've been balancing creating work, working work, and education, not to mention everything else that goes into the life of a spouse and parent.
The drive, the workrate, the overall need to get things done as quickly as possible kept me from going to see the doctor as the cough got worse. I had too much to do, too much on the internal task manager. Having to lie down and ask people to do things for me makes me feel like a failure, like I'm weak, and that I can't possibly just stay here and do nothing.
Outside of a few brief escapes into the wilderness, I don't think I've been relaxed since I was a kid. Always something next on the agenda, always something to write, always something that needs doing, and I got in such a pattern of going 100MPH all the time every day that to take a break and breathe feels unnatural, lazy, and selfish to me.
That's something that was drilled into my head by the way that food service and retail treats you as a worker. "Oh, you're sick? Well someone who can show up will take the job." "Oh, you don't feel well? Too bad, you're at work, suck it up." "The customers don't care if your back hurts, no sitting down ever." "You can't call off, ever, and if you do, we'll replace you."
My experience in those jobs, either from direct management or the higher-ups, is that you're not human, you're not valued, and you're a number who can be replaced. Therefore, you have to constantly over-exert yourself, working that extra shift, forcing that smile to the person who keeps insulting you, because you've been told, verbally or otherwise, that the only thing you're worth to them is maintaining the status quo. Work your ass off and try really hard, and you get to keep your job. No bonuses, no raises, no promotions, you just get to keep doing it. Sell memberships, sell subscriptions, sell add-ons... Not because it helps you, because it makes us look good. Sell 1 or sell 100, you still make that same meager wage no matter what. It gets regional managers and CEOs bonuses though.
It always has to be better. The numbers always have to be higher. Good isn't enough, it has to be perfect. Being a cog in the machine is the desire they want us to have, keeping us passive enough to not threaten the ranks out of fear of losing the meager pay handed down to you from someone who has a watch worth more than your house.
Even now, as I don't have that kind of job to work under, and the semester is over, less than 24 hours of trying to recover from pneumonia feels wrong. I can't be sick, I have work to do! Need to get up and do things, can't waste the day! If I ease up on the effort, I'll get lost in the shuffle, all my dreams will die, and I'll have to start over again.
Man, do I really need some decompression time.
IN LAIMAN'S TERMS #252 - Thoughts on Smackdown Live - 12-13-16
1. We start off with Ellsworth looking about as well as I do right now before Bryan and Shane send him home. I’d say I smell a rat, but I don’t think it’d be literally true currently.
2. Opening in the ring with MizTV, Mr. Mizanin looks like he’s starring in the sequel to Delirious… the standup special, not the wrestler… I wonder how many talk shows Smackdown is going have. Miz brings out AJ Styles as his guest, because while he may be in the market for some, AJ needs to remind even his one-time tag team partner that even Miz is unable to obtain any of the some.
3. AJ opts for the pose instead of the handshake. Jack Gallagher would not be impressed with his decorum! I think I’ll now base all terms of politeness in the manner of Jack Gallagher. “Beastly sorry to interrupt you, my worthy opponent. I’m going to punch you right in the fuck now and I thought you should know. Thank you for your participation in this event.”
4. They both share a laugh over the silliness of Ellsworth and Soccer Moms. It’s already fun. Thank you for never being a slog, Smackdown Live! It’s a good question though, who is next for AJ Styles? The Wyatts?
5. These two are having some HAM-to-HAM verbal combat right here. Even Miz correctly states how putrid the IC title was before recent times. His effort to one-up AJ will likely not end well for the guy who should be wearing one glove right now. The framing of Miz’s jealousy and arrogance against AJ’s makes for some immediate tension, especially with Miz stepping up his game exponentially in the last few months. They went from joking to squaring off really freaking quickly though.
6. Someone interrupts the confrontation. His name is Dean. We like Dean. It’s not like Smackdown Live would let the heels have all the fun on a… Nevermind, TLC. Shortly after, Dolph Ziggler’s here too. I guess his angle with the Miz isn’t over… again. He calls them “paper champions” and his anger is righteous. It doesn’t take Miz but a few seconds to attack, yet he somehow gets the SCF out of it. Damn Zigglesworth, you can’t catch a break. Dean Dirty Deeds’ Miz, then does a standing-up impression of the RKO coil and stares down AJ. He then hits Dolph too, because Dolph moved I guess…
7. Oh snap, the Wyatts attack! Wait, it’s Luke, the guy who lost, but still. I like where this is going. You go from wondering who’s next (No Goldberg) to seeing several challengers within two minutes. That alone set the division clearer than RAW has in three years.
8. Coming up next, we’ll have the “Who Ran Over Nikki Bella?” confrontation for the ages, Carmella vs. Natalya. Judging from how secondary women’s matches go on Smackdown, I give it three minutes. Only because I’d mark out for the return of that HAMtacular Bischoff moment. I can barely move today, let me dream!
9. Meanwhile, in Green-Screen Conversation Interruption Land, AJ confronts the two men in their JCPenney’s fallwear, demanding protection. They book a fatal-four-way elimination match between everyone we just saw, with interference causing elimination. AJ demands protection, but doesn’t go ask the man sitting down at the commentary booth for some reason.
10. Now, back on Total Diva’s promotion time, let’s see if they manage a match out of this E! Network commercial. Natalya takes the mic and denies doing it for the Rock. Carmella has the least interrupting-ous music of all time. I still feel like it’s a few decibels lower than anyone else’s. That may also be the silent DC crowd, but it doesn’t help.
11. We get about thirty seconds of match before cutting to a commercial, yet again failing to provide the promised picture-in-picture system. 2017, maybe? Smackdown will be the DVR show next semester, so we’ll see what happens.
12. I think Truth (no TROOF) gets to make up any bullshit statistic they want as long as they look hip and flashy like the kids like. Now it’s saying that smokers make up to 10k less per year while flashing around the cash. Why not go full-throttle and show hipster kids making it rain on Bill Hicks doing the smoker cough?
13. Be sure to cut to Nikki frequently, lest people forget to watch that show. Carmella’s being assaulted by both suplexes and “LIAR!” accusations. She says “you’re a liar!” about 87 times, so she’s taking the “WWE Network marketing” approach to this problem, got it.
14. This heel vs. heel women’s match is getting some time, I’m impressed. It’s been crisp and well-worked too. Meanwhile, Bella tries really, really hard to care about something. Damn nice power-out from a version of the bear hug by Natalya, and she decides to go begging for a spot on reality television in the middle of the match. At least the angle itself isn’t based on something that happened on the show… yet. Carmella gets the small package win after Natalya keeps spending the match creating her own distraction. Not suspicious in the slightest, Natalya. What cheesy song lyric will you use to get out of this pickle?
15. Interesting, it’s a battle royal to determine the number one contenders to the tag titles this time. Gauntlet to Battle Royal, the true way to see who has progressed over the last two weeks. Alpha has an angle to go with, so it only stands to reason that they’ll get the shot again. Slater’s run with the one-note gag is over, so hopefully he doesn’t fade to obscurity like his Social Outcast/3MB buddies.
16. You know what sounds forced and phony in addition to desperate pleas for subscribing? Using the exact same script as the other show did last night. Good fucking JBL, and now we’re cutting to the same SNL video package too?
17. Fluffy?! Fluffy’s here! He’s on Tribute to the Troops tomorrow, so that’s why he’s here to talk to Apollo, of all people. Angle for a match tomorrow being set up by having Maryse quote Miz’s entrance music? Okay, Miz faux-laughing may be my new favorite thing.
18. I suddenly have the urge to buy a rally towel and I can’t figure out why. Must be the clever placement.
19. I could swear I heard the Hype Bros. announced as “mashed potatoes.” We come back from commercial break just in time for the Selfie Stick Squad, and the former champs are the last out. Where does Heath go from here? Jesus, who did the Vaudevillains piss off?
20. I just had a coughing fit so bad that I got lightheaded. Did I miss anything? Apparently, someone’s gone. Gable’s gone now too, wow! Heath Slater accidentally eliminated Rhyno, there goes that alliance.
21. Surprised how long Ascension and Breezango have lasted in this. Jordan’s gonna clean house and… What? Alpha got eliminated? One of the next teams to face the Wyatts is gonna be either the Ascension, the Hype Bros. or the Heath Slater team? Okay, credit WWE, I did NOT see that coming!
22. Holy shit, Slater gets absolutely launched! That couldn’t have been a fun landing… Tyler Breeze makes the mistake of turning on his fellow heel, and it looks like we’re getting a face spot for the ending here. Yep, Ryder and Co. win. Again, was not expecting that. Facing Orton and Wyatt will be… Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley. All right then. On previous logic, they’ll win at the Royal Rumble, and then lose in a squash the next night.
23. Is Baron Corbin auditioning for the new Wyatt stinger?
24. Now we’ve got Miss Alexa, and thankfully the announcer clarifies it’s a women’s division match. There’s someone already in the ring, so Alexa wins. Or maybe not, she cuts off the possibility of a “charity case” so it saves us from seeing a squash. Alexa hauls off and punches her right in the fuck, damn.
25. Before Alexa can continue her lack-of-charity case, Becky comes out for… potential championship rematch? I’m loving Alexa in this role more every time I see her. She pulls the classic bait-and-switch “you’ll get it… but not tonight!”
26. Someone has something to say about that, and it’s Mr. O-Mac himself! And the love child of Weird Al and Chad Kroeger in the background, apparently. Shane makes the match for right now, so here we go. It was like Smackdown doing a RAW impression, but then making it interesting.
27. Will Randy Orton threaten to go to the papers with Shooter tonight? You know, the way I phrased that, I just pictured Orton trying to drag Shooter McGavin into an office of journalism, and that would’ve made for an interesting crossover. If anyone deserves an RKO out of nowhere, it’s Shooter McGavin.
28. They waited to start the match until after the commercial break, well that was nice of them. Damn, I like both of their ring outfits. Becky’s got some sort of booty-short lace thing going on, and it fits her personality.
29. Alexa tweaks a knee after going to the outside of the ring. Is it a trap? Maybe, but regardless, she gets counted out. Becky isn’t thrilled with this and decides to air her grievances by starting a fight. Oh snap, you mean Alexa wasn’t hurt at all? You scrappy little devil, you!
30. I am so sick of hearing “Bad Romance” already. This movie better come out and go away soon, please!
31. Damn, the Cena return’s getting some Two Steps From Hell treatment while he slowly… runs the ropes… epically… Runs the ropes! Cena’s back, and he’s gonna run those ropes! Take that, Kelly Kelly!
32. Now, promotion of the Shooter appearance with dramatic camera zooms. I still say, call up Christopher MacDonald and pay whatever he asks to wear a polo and take an RKO. With that coming up immediately after Smackdown, do they want you to watch 205, Talking Smack, or Shooter?
33. Now it’s time for the main event, likely after a mid-entrance commercial break. Interesting that Luke and Ziggles get contender’s matches after losing their most recent prominent matches, but at least we’ve got ourselves an interesting main event with someone new getting a shot.
34. Watching the commercials and the way they promote things, I know I’ve ranted about it a lot, but it really does make me think that this is working with someone. Like there’s someone out there who has been on the edge of buying the Network, thinking “if they just ask me 49 more times, I’ll finally give in.” Or someone’s thinking of turning the channel off, but only after the in-show promotion in between all the commercial spots do they decide to check out Shooter. Or they like having commercial breaks in the middle of matches because they can get snacks or check their Twitter. I’d like to think that it’s working and that I don’t understand most things, but given the reports Tito gives of the declining ratings, I think it’s more the desperation that I’ve gotten the vibe of. I’m a weird, eccentric person with eclectic taste and all over the map as far as media enjoyment goes, so I don’t really expect to be in the target demographic. How does it come across to you, regardless of whether or not you agree with me? I genuinely want to know other perspectives on this. Has it worked on you? Do you get annoyed with it? What do you think they should do different?
35. Oh, 205 is on after 205 now. Got it.
36. Did they accidentally say that Harper dived after Cena, or am I truly hearing things? It’s quite possible, given how I’m feeling. Harper destroys Ziggles and Dean. Miz gives him a slow clap and it works. Kyle Cease from Not Another Teen Movie is gonna be so pissed! He offers a handshake, but it doesn’t go too well. Brodie Lee showed up to play tonight!
37. AJ Styles is not impressed with Luke Harper’s gator stare. Ziggles gets to do some HBK-style bumping while Harper does his impression of Braun Strowman on RAW the last three months. When does that cross-promotion encounter happen? Holy shit, a series of strikes and clotheslines leaves Dean, Dolph, and Harper down! Miz nearly gets a pinfall out of it too. He tries to pin the other two, and Ambrose catches him and eliminates the IC champ. Payback for last week, I suppose.
38. They’ve revived Underworld now too?
39. I hope Biff gets a chance to shine on Tribute to the Troops. He came back revived, lost one feud, and now he’s gone again.
40. This has been a damn good match. Outside of the filler and shills, a damn good show. Harper gets taken out so that Ambrose and Ziggles can trade the wrestles. Ziggles kicks out of a not-Batista Bomb, that’s surprising. Harper ends up getting eliminated similarly to Big Cass in his own Fatal Four Way title-shot match. I’m surprised to see Dolph last this long with his recent troubles, but either one of these guys continuing something with AJ Styles is fine with me. I’d be surprised to see Dean get yet another shot, which leaves only Dolph. Did his feud with Miz elevate him to the main event scene? It should, even with the strange way of losing the title before a defense at Survivor Series.
41. Miz comes back to goad Dolph into leaving the ring to chase him. Dean dives and takes him out, and Dolph follows up with a superkick, giving Dean a chance to throw Zigglypuff into the ringpost for the second time this match. Miz interferes with Dean getting back in the ring, which leads to a superkick. AJ vs. Ziggler, welcome back to the main event, Dolph! Someone noticed your dramatic improvement in work during that feud! Fantastic televised match with a fresh opponent for the Phenomenal One.
42. Rich Swann comes on the screen to promote 205 before we leave a fantastic show. The stuff that happened in the ring tonight was fantastically booked, put together, and wrestled. The only dull moments were the filler, and there wasn’t nearly as much as there is on a typical episode of RAW. Drinks all around, this was all good fun.
HAM OF THE NIGHT
I’m gonna give it to the Miz. He’s been bringing top quality stuff lately, and that reaction to a bad Fluffy joke sealed it for me. I love me some Gabriel Iglesias, but the reaction was appropriate.
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
12-12-16 - Jack Gallagher
12-13-16 - The Miz
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.