WWE Friday Night SmackDown hit the SyFy airwaves last night (May 16, 2014) from Greensboro, North Carolina, with a taped show featuring all the latest build to the Payback pay-per-view (PPV) scheduled for early next month in Chicago, Illinois. The sledding, as it were, is just as rough on television as it is off it right now.
Let's get to reacting to the show.
THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS
In two segments, WWE successfully booked Bray Wyatt to present himself as a top level heel and, in some small way, a threat to the overwhelming force that is John Cena. They also successfully positioned Cena as the babyface fighting for what's right.
Fighting for his life.
But when it comes crashing down, it really does hurt inside. And when I say crashing down, I mean everyone almost immediately losing sight of the goal and allowing Cena to grab a microphone and tell jokes.
Or his version of jokes, at least.
That consists of finding new and interesting ways to reference Bray Wyatt's testicles or, rather, his lackthereof. Oh, hey, would you listen to that, Cena made a funny. "He's got no pearls ... in his pants." You know, instead of having the whole world in his hands.
Yes, I do get it, and that's the problem. It's a problem because John Cena both isn't funny and, at the very least, cannot be denied that, in fact, Bray Wyatt doesn't really measure up. Because that's what he's really saying, and that's how the feud has played out over the past few months.
Wyatt is not as good as Cena, so he's left to grasp at straws. That makes him look desperate. So desperate, in fact, that he's now claiming to have found the cure for Cena and, apparently, that cure is a Last Man Standing match.
A match Cena has never lost. I'm not even going to fact check that either, that's how confident I am in its accuracy. And that right there is a problem in and of itself.
(Editor's note: I'll come back in here and include a tweet from a follower correcting me on this but leave the original text because it helps illustrate my emotion at the situation after having watched this show: "Cena is 2-2-1 in LMS matches. 4 of which have been rated 4 stars or higher." Thanks to @JohnandTrishFan for the assist.)
Maybe no one wanted to double up the TV rights fees because everyone is sick and fucking tired of John Cena telling stupid jokes that can't get over with even his dumbed down target audience, one advertisers couldn't care less about which is what lessens WWE's value.
I'm not sure how WWE will survive without him but boy I'll be glad when John Cena is gone.
Segment grade: F
If at first you don't succeed, don't try to be a referee
BREAKING: In addition to being terribly bad at wrestling, Eva Marie is, in fact, terribly bad at refereeing a wrestling match.
I don't know how it's possible but every single one of Eva's movements looks forced and/or uncoordinated. She looks off no matter what she's doing, like she's constantly unsure of what her next move should be and her mind locks up so her body follows.
Look at the count at 33 seconds of the above video. She has zero clue what she's doing there and all she has to do is slap a mat three times. It's so bad that Michael Cole makes sure to point it out and JBL goes full JBL wondering if Eva lost count on her way up to a high number like 3.
Then they went into the finish and dear lord, it's the worst thing you'll see in some time.
Natalya gets a surfboard and Nikki Bella manages to fall back into a pin attempt. Only Eva can't be sure that it's a pin attempt so she doesn't start counting, at which point JBL screams for her to "COUNT". Nikki, realizing the referee doesn't have clue one in there, readjusts her position and makes clear that she is, in fact, pinning Natalya.
Eva manages to awkwardly gut her way through the final three count and everyone was put out of their misery.
Segment grade: F
When Jim Ross was harping on heels in WWE and how none of them are actually heels, he made the point that too many of them are doing things that make them easy to like. They're cutting promos that make good points that you can't argue against, and they aren't breaking the rules anymore.
In an age when the lines are so unclear, Batista stands alone.
Or walks alone.
PIT OF DANGGGGGGER.
Here's what I love about this match, other than the fact that I was worked by a Dolph Ziggler tweet setting it up -- and I feel good about being made a mark on that one -- Batista, pissed at Ziggler making a comment that is, well, true, goes hard in the match. But Dolph manages to get the upper hand just enough that Batista gets sick of it and just low blows him to make it stop.
Disqualification because -- GASP -- a heel broke the rules.
Not only that, he was that perfect bully who, after cheap shotting his way to the advantage, laid a hell of a beating down so he could take credit later like he was the better man.
And because Ziggler bumps like a mad man and sells just as well, it really put Batista over as a real bastard.
This was perfect.
Segment grade: A-
All the best to all the rest
- Cody Rhodes sold a superkick from Jimmy Uso by going stiff, including holding both arms up in front of him while he was flat on the mat waiting for the follow up splash. I feel like he should be given an award for best sell so far this year.
- Here's to hoping Heath Slater goes down in the history books as one of the greatest jobbers of all time. The comedy of his match with El Torito wasn't funny but he put over a little person in a bull costume. And it wasn't even the first time it's happened this week.
- During the Nikki Bella vs. Natalya match, Michael Cole made this comment following Natalya's spinning clothesline: "Shades of her daddy". Maybe it's just me but the use of the term "daddy" there felt wrong because A) she's not from the south and B) her father is Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. Why not say "father"? That sounds prestigious. "Daddy" sounds inappropriate.
- Poor Titus O'Neil. Sheamus literally hit one move, then relaxed on the ropes for a few seconds and took his sweet time getting the pin.
- Here's why the Damien Sandow "handcuffed" story doesn't work: what could he possibly have to say that WWE would want to silence? CM Punk's worked shoot promo worked because he was a legitimately big star about to challenge for the WWE world heavyweight championship before he was literally going to leave the company. He had a good reason to spout off about his issues. But Sandow? He's a jobber trying to be relevant by pulling the curtain back, only he's pulling it back in a way we want nothing to do with. Go back and watch WCW before it died to see how quickly fans will turn away when you acknowledge guys doing jobs because it's part of the script. Sure, we all know the script exists but that doesn't mean it should ever be a talking point within a storyline. It's cheap, creatively lazy, and will never, ever get anyone over.
- Cesaro kicking R-Truth in the gut and shouting out at the crowd "what's up with that, huh?" might be the most interesting thing he's done in over a month, and that's kind of sad, really.
- Stripping Daniel Bryan would be the worst decision right now. There's money to be made in his comeback story.
- When The Wyatt Family had surrounded the ring and threatened to attack John Cena, right as The Usos' music hit Cena smiled and started pointing at his head, I guess to signify that he had outsmarted the backwoods cult by recruiting help from the tag team champions. This is a man who once beat the entire Wyatt Family in a 3-on-1 handicap match.
Thank god this was only SmackDown and no one cares because good lord this was an awful show that went a long way in driving me away from the product, not to it.
The worst part? The biggest star this company has worked this show, so we were supposed to think it was a bigger deal than normal. It wasn't.
Overall Grade: D-
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. How did you like it, if you liked it at all.