IN LAIMAN'S TERMS #259 - Thoughts on Smackdown Live - 1-10-17
By Al Laiman
Jan 10, 2017 - 11:55:06 PM
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IN LAIMAN’S TERMS #259 - Thoughts on Smackdown Live - 1-9-17
Sorry this is a bit late everyone, though from what I've heard, it's a fantastic episode. Judging by the numbers, that's usually counterproductive! Support the column on Patreon, and check out me making Sting jokes on the God Awful Movies podcast! I spent the day in Cumberland, Maryland with a lovely new friend. Thursday I head to Chicago, and next Sunday, I'll be in Canton before I head to Cleveland for RAW live. Fuck, I just realized it's a go-home show... Anyway, let's get to Smackdown before I remember that the semester is starting and I have to go back to real work.
1. Smackdown's getting the "Previously, on Crap!" video this time. They built up Maryse's slap like it was CFJ turning on the Shield or something. Wow. There's a new Intercontinental champion, and he's coming out first. His name is Dean, we like Dean. Apparently JBL doesn't, and what he learned from Dean Ambrose's World Title run is that he wasn't being loud and obnoxious enough. He repeats all the things he said during that time, but now he's screaming them instead of saying them loudly. I'm sure that was the problem, JBL: You were being too subtle!
2. Dean's in the Rumble, thereby dragging down the average age and weight by a considerable portion. We're also apparently in Baton LaRouge... He also brought the gator that bit off Chubbs' hand, how dare you, sir! Now Carl Weathers is gonna fall out the window, can you handle that on your conscience?
3. His guest is another guy with a talk show, the Miz. And props to the Miz for the best year of his career, and that includes the one where he was WWE champion. Like when he lost the title previously, they're both in black mourning formal wear. These are small touches they put forth that set it apart from its competition.
4. Miz also delivers pretty much the same promo he did at Ziggler, claiming it "taints the integrity." If anyone knows about taint and integrity, it's definitely the Miz. He's also in the Rumble, so we can hope he gets Maven'd, right? He threatens legal action? Does that mean we'll get Maria testifying and suddenly being smart? Not likely. Dean's gonna go Brian Pillman and smack a bitch with his crazy stick.
5. I love the interactions with these two. There's so much snark it could choke a Whose Line episode. He gives the Miz a Participation Award, a return "fuck you" if you will. Love it! That's something Bo Dallas could do if he ever got to do anything but be annoying. Miz attacks, but Dean ducks the Stephanie McMahon Smackdown 2: Know Your Role finishing maneuver, but this isn't the Attitude Era so Maryse won't also get a Stunner. Different times, man.
6. He offers Maryse the Participation Award, and that concludes a HAM-filled opening segment right before some... Very strange camera movements following Maryse. What the fuck was that? Did someone tell him that he has to stay late? That James Ellsworth is getting significant time? That he's being replaced by a drunk albatross? Explain Full Sail guy, explain!
7. Oh good JBL, a Nikki Bella/Natalya match... What did we do to deserve this? Recap of this feud, SKIP! ALL THE SKIP! Oh, Nikki got thrown into a door, I'll watch that a few times. This makes me ask though, has ANYONE been attacked backstage more than Nikki Bella since Smackdown Live? Between Carmella and Natalya, she must just wait for it at this point.
8. That JBL-awful entrance music gets like three girls screaming loud enough that maybe the Shining Stars would consider it a touch. She's walking out just fine, so she didn't throw her into a tough enough door. We've got a brawl going on here, and five seconds later they're already heading back toward the stage. They turn back and forth on each other, which isn't the same without Joey Styles screaming, and are we going to get this match thrown out? Nope, now they're getting back in the ring. Smackdown Live loves us, but not in that way.
9. The refs dive in the ring while we do the "people try to pull them apart, but one escapes and attacks the other again" cliche that's a lot cooler when it's someone like Samoa Joe or Goldberg throwing refs away. Nikki gets tossed out of the ring and lands on her knees. I don't care how much padding she has, that can't feel good. Throw in a little Sharpshooter, and are we getting a merciful injury angle here?
10. We then go backstage with the interviewer who clearly went to the Mike Adamle school of wrestling commentary, because she stutters through yet another one awkwardly. This gives us a chance to recap Dolph's heel turn and learn why he was being such a dickhole. Instead of an explanation, we get serious stare, sad-looking Zigglesworth. What's the matter, Dolphy?
11. Kalisto reminds us that he's still on the roster and for some reason is not wrestling with cruiserweights more. The commentators do a rare thing and tell the story like they're supposed to instead of arguing with each other... No wait, JBL is being discount Alex Jones again. Next he'll be saying he wants the life-extension technology, if I'm lucky. Otunga waits a few seconds too long for it to sound like it was a human response, so that compliment I gave? Taking it back.
12. This is the first time I've heard a "Let's Go Ziggler/Lucha! Lucha!" dueling chant. I'm in the rare position of being glad for a commercial because it stops JBL from saying more things. Remember when he was fun on commentary? That was a good week.
13. Holy shit, Kalisto got an upset win! I don't remember the last time that happened. Are we going to go with a Christian-like tantrum thing? Does that mean DDP will return to try to make him see the error of his ways? Damn, Ziggles' tantrums involve clotheslining the FUCK out of Calisto! Dolph is acting his ass off. I can't remember the last time I got such a sense of someone's frustration. Beautiful.
14. We're not done yet! Do faces have friends tonight? Not quickly enough. Kalisto gets the chair smacked on him, reminding him that Baron Corbin also did this. He must've really pissed someone off.
15. Finally, after letting Kalisto get smacked to hell with a chair, Apollo Crews makes the save. No wait, he's gonna get the chairsmackfuckshot too. That's what you get for being a good guy and having a theme that sounds like the whale insurance commercial theme, Apollo. Hope you learned your lesson this time.
16. Damn, they're still not done! Kalisto gets another for good measure. Damn if Smackdown hasn't completely revitalized the guy.
17. Meanwhile, American Alpha also get an awkward interview. I'm pretty sure they were quoting some vintage DMX lyrics, but I'm not sure.
18. Corbin and Cena are next, and I don't think I've ever wanted to cheer so hard for Cena. Maybe Corbin though will finally be the one who doesn't go for a clothesline after two shoulder blocks. Be the hero, Corbin! Give me a reason to give a shit about anything you do! Cena goes gangsta a week after having a fake southern accent, so maybe he's matching last night's perpetual nostalgia with a little of his own Thuganomic throwback. I love alliteration...
19. Then, another promo, where Orton does the "we're here" thing. The Wyatts are one of the two (with Finn Balor) who have the mystique in their entrance to possibly one day pick up where the Undertaker's will leave a sad vacancy. JBL manages to not do his job yet again and starts yakking through it! SHUT UP! There's only so long I can listen to you be low-voiced and super super serial.
20. Alpha, team up with Apollo and have a blended theme already!
21. I love those singlets Alpha are wearing. Otunga the parrot then repeats the summary of Alpha's promo, because it's been so long that we might've forgotten by now. Mauro talking about Jordan being in the danger zone is not accompanied by Kenny Loggins, and that is a travesty. Otunga then repeats what he already said MULTIPLE times in a sentence, for fuck's sake. How can you be on a commentary team with JBL and STILL be the most annoying one!
22. Counter to the counter and a counter to the counter, it's Countermania with Gable and Bray!
23. You almost went to a commercial during a pinfall attempt, didn't you Vince? I see you there, telling your commentators to say the verbal cues that lead to that, but then you didn't. Now you think we won't know when it's coming, but we will. We're on to you.
24. You heard JBL explain what it takes to be a tag team. It's really difficult, but it's really easy. Fantastic analysis. I don't need to say much about the wrestling itself, because it's everything we'd expect from these two teams. Jordan gets the hot tag and goes all Kirk Angel on everyone, again making me want to hear that theme just one more time.
25. For a second there, I thought Luke Harper distracted Randy Orton, but that's finally what leads us into dramatic Batman question commercial time. Instead of seeing what we missed during a commercial, we see what happened beforehand, because stupid.
26. I love this idea of the "featured match" on Smackdown. It's almost never the same people involved either. Meanwhile, its counterpart can't have a match not involving two people facing two other people in four months.
27. Now there's more tension within the Family, and that spiker-rope DDT thing looked vicious. Remember when that was hit on Steph, and we didn't even have to hear her as an untouchable authority figure first? Gable gets the surprise win to retain! Fantastic televised match for the titles!
28. Looks like Orton and Harper are arguing. Or at least Harper is walking around arguing with himself. Finally, a shove! Oh snap, teasing dissent in the ranks! Wyatt ends up getting kicked, and he turns back to Orton for yells. Then Harper gets the angry stares, and nothing happens. Good tease. Orton and Harper are left alone in the ring to stare angrily some more while Luke shows everyone his bald spot to demonstrate his unpleasantness.
29. Otunga: "I don't know how you could keep order between all those guys!" All two of them? You literally can't have less people to keep order with!
30. Baron Corbin gets a black and white fast-moving promo to distract us from him looking really bored and saying things.
31. WrestleMania is in New Orleans again? It's only been four years! Is this just what we're gonna do now? Three or four places? Then WWE totally doesn't show off how relevant they are by showing press releases and Tweets. So excite. Much wow.
32. Meanwhile, on Conspiracy Theories, Becky can't believe how many Conquistadores there are. Eva Marie gets another verbal joke, and Becky stole her hair color too. That or it's slowly blending in with her shirt. And there's that Meryl Streep reference we were expecting last night! It's funny cause it's topical! Daniel Bryan does his best RAW GM impression by showing us that despite a mask, a non-title victory over the champion means title match next week. But it's gonna be a steel cage match, I'm down!
33. Now, James Ellsworth skips out to the ring with Carmella. At least he's not in the damn main event anymore. JBL quotes more jokes he made backstage tonight, and apparently she's wrestling Discount Molly Holly in a vintage one-piece swimsuit. Fine with me if she can wrestle like Molly too! JBL continues with his irrelevant tangents, because that's all he does anymore, while the camera pans to Ellsworth more than JJ Watt, even when he's injured. A "Let's Go Jobber!" chant breaks out, because clever, and this girl has also joined the Lack of Knee Pads club for some reason. It's slow and awkward, even with the Ellsworth interference. She gets back in the ring, and someone messed up BAD on that finisher. I'm not sure who. That was fucking DREADFUL.
34. We get a brief clip of Taker's promo from last night... That for some reason is courtesy of WWE.Com and not... RAW? Whatever. I'm still trying to figure out what that noise was after he said "peace." I think it was a Treebeard impression, but I'm not certain.
35. Because we haven't seen Ellsworth enough, he's backstage with Carmella doing textspeak speaking things, and Ellsworth does what Ellsworth does. Mostly, it's just time for some comedy! Now... Goodie, a Corbin promo. He says he "doesn't care" and might as well have left it at that. Then, AJ interrupts him and shows him what a facial expression is, as well as a callback to a line that did something other than reference a terrible 90's Arnold movie.
36. I had to rewind to make sure that Mauro didn't say something about... Nope, not even going there. We get the second straight night of a five-person commentary team. Joy.
37. Corbin's pose makes him look like he really wants a hug. Not like a Dad hug either, but a weird uncle who hasn't quite learned how to people yet but wants to be your friend.
38. Cena's music wakes up the rest of Louisiana who wanted to leave when Randy left, and I'm really hoping we'll see AJ Styles in a WrestleMania title match. There's gonna be enough older part-timers without having Cena face one too. Unless it's Taker. I'd accept that, because it means we don't have to sit through Strowman/Taker.
39. We've seen this opening to a Cena/Bigger Guy match... Slow, deliberate power before Cena changes the pace. Let's see where it goes from there. Nope, instead we're gonna go to commercial break after all that excitement, just after Otunga tries to talk some shit to AJ. You shut your whore mouth, Otunga!
40. Corbin keeps coming over to AJ to talk shit like a people talks, then gets out of the ring and keeps doing it. Turning your back on John Cena to yell things. Always a great decision for a lone wolf. He then turns around to do it two more freaking times! If one of those five commentators quoted a little My Cousin Vinny and said "I think... I get... the point," I'd take everything back I ever said about any of them.
41. Cena gets a few more hope spots, but ultimately don't result well. Corbin then yells at the ref RAHR! He's taking an awful lot of time to talk shit for someone who doesn't care. Another Cena hope spot results in another slam and another nearfall. He's getting the rub for sure, win or lose. AJ calls it a Sidewalk Slam because he's a WCW commentary fan and wanted to slip in that reference, eh Tony?
42. Ooh, a bear hug! Excitement!
43. One of Cena's cutoffs finally work, Tornado DDT for a nearfall. Suddenly, AA out of nowhere, and Cena wins? Okay. I mean, yay, but really? That's it? Corbin dominates him for most of the match, and two moves and it's over? Let's see if Corbin recovers from this, because if one loss can ruin your gimmick, it's a shitty gimmick.
44. Overall, not the best Smackdown, but far better than last night's experience. Even one of the weaker Smackdowns is still infinitely more watchable. There was a realllly bad match in there though, and it stood out. It wasn't That Jackie Match bad, but it was close.
HAM OF THE NIGHT
Ambrose wins with the Ironic Echo, even if he did kill Chubbs. Shooter's on next, and he's gonna be pissed.
2012 - Daniel Bryan
2013 - Paul Heyman
2016 - Chris Jericho
1-2-17 - Kevin Owens
1-3-17 - Jack Gallagher
1-9-17 - Shawn Michaels
1-10-17 - Dean Ambrose
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