WWE Friday Night SmackDown hit the SyFy airwaves last night (June 21, 2013) from Dayton, Ohio, with a taped show featuring the continued push of Daniel Bryan that doesn't really look like a push but most definitely is a push.
But this time there's a potentially interesting added element that could really send him on a rocket ship sailing to the moon.
If you missed the show, or just want to go back and read the live blog again, click here. That's enough with the potatoes, though, let's get to the meat:
- SmackDown is never really going to be a super polished broadcast, mostly because it's taped and because of that, they operate the entire show differently. But I will never, for the life of me, understand how that could equate to Daniel Bryan getting a jobber entrance for the main event. Unless it's part of a larger storyline I badly want to happen, it just hurts what they're trying to do with him. My first thought was that it was a receipt for that backstage brouhaha with Triple H, but that would be even dumber. Then again, that's the culture of pro wrestling, and especially WWE. It's silly to speculate, really, but it simply made so little sense, I can't help it.
- To expand on my hope for a larger storyline there, it would be beyond wonderful if WWE actively went after Bryan. I'm talking in the same vein as Vince McMahon going after Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1998. They should be trying to screw the guy over at every turn and eventually, he should get over the hump before finding new and interesting ways to continue outsmarting them. Don't tell me this wouldn't work perfectly right now either because he's positioned beautifully for it. They've already sort of been playing this out with the 18 second world heavyweight title loss and the drop down to a mid-card comedy act tag team with Kane and he's just overcome all of it to shine through as the brightest star in the business. That's pretty much exactly how it went for Austin and eventually they got behind him and he became the biggest star in history. I'm not saying the same thing will happen here but it's clear the fans badly, badly want Bryan to be the top guy. If some authority figure we love to hate -- cough, Triple H, cough -- gets in the way of that, we'll push for him even harder. It will benefit everyone involved. I'm not even trying to relive Austin's glory years here, there just hasn't been anyone positioned for something like this so beautifully since that happened.
- Continuing to hammer on this a bit, I'm also not sure I've ever appreciated Randy Orton as much as I do right now. If you remember, the stuff with Team Hell No got over but they were working as heels for most of their run. In fact, Bryan is still doing a lot of heeling during his performances, but we're never really sure how to feel about it because the story has been slowing turning us to sympathize for him. And there always needed to be someone there to really drive it home, someone we had formerly sympathized with but are really all too eager to turn on. There is no better guy to play that character than Orton right now. He's been begging to turn heel and struggling to find passion in his work. Remember that crap with Sheamus? He clearly couldn't have cared less about any of that but now, he's all in with Bryan and it shows. They're playing off each other well and they're having great matches together. It's been wonderful.
- Remember when I said I couldn't give a shit less about Mr. Anderson and Doc arguing over who gets to be Vice President of Aces and 8s and it is quite possibly the worst storyline in the history of organized pro wrestling? I feel close to the same about The Miz and Curtis Axel feuding over the Intercontinental title. Obviously there are differences, big ones, ones that matter quite a bit, but my brother watched SmackDown with me and asked how I feel about Axel. I hadn't really given it thought since his big debut, or at least hadn't had the question posed to me to where I had to come up with an honest assessment of him and I quickly realized, holy shit, he's got nothing going for him. He's the Intercontinental champion, but that belt doesn't mean anything. He's Curt Hennig's son, but he doesn't look much like him and he's not nearly as good in the ring. He's a Paul Heyman guy, so that's good. Actually, that's all. All Axel has going for him at this point is that he's managed by Paul Heyman. And The Miz is still The Miz.
- That reminds me: Quick shout out to Cagesider Anderson Silva Money for the comment of the night in the SmackDown live blog thread. The question "whose face is more punchable, Miz or Axel" was posed and this was the response to it: You could ask "whose face is more punchable, The Miz or someone with a tattoo on their face that says, ‘Please punch. Pretty please. I'll even give you a dollar if you do'" the answer would still be The Miz.
- That's just good stuff.
- Paul Heyman refusing to answer Renee Young's question on whether or not he was involved in Brock Lesnar attacking CM Punk pretty much confirms that storyline direction there, doesn't it? I can't quite decide if that's a good or a bad thing, though. I'll let you Cagesiders riff on it in the comments section.
- I'm good with The Shield triple powerbombing Christian because I think Christian badly needs something interesting to do but I'm curious to see the explanation for it. If there's anything I hate about pro wrestling booking, it's when we end up with what I call "floating talent." That's when you have a guy (or guys, in this instance) who are phenomenal and have to be on TV every week because of it but creative doesn't really ever come up with interesting storylines for them. The Shield are getting dangerously close to becoming that. They were fine as tools to help advance the Daniel Bryan story, but he's grown beyond that now and they need something else to do. Hopefully this thing with Christian provides them with that, and we have reason to hope because he was given top priority to the writing team not long ago.
- AJ Lee is still great. Kaitlyn is still terrible. Natalya is still underused. Eve Torres is still missed.
- I guess the new thing with Ziggler is that he's getting his ass kicked left and right now but he's doing so as a sympathetic figure, so we're supposed to be getting behind him while it's happening. I don't know if it will work, ultimately, but I can see the reasons the company had for doing it. If nothing else, he's still a solid enhancement talent because this feels more like it's about getting Alberto Del Rio over as a nasty heel than it does getting Ziggler over as a sympathetic babyface. It's working too. So far.
As is usually the case with SmackDown, it was a solid effort that didn't knock my socks off but left me feeling entertained.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show.