WWE Friday Night SmackDown hit the SyFy airwaves last night (Aug. 8, 2014) from Laredo, Texas with a taped show featuring all the latest build to the upcoming SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV) that is now just over one week away from taking over Los Angeles.
Let's react to the show.
Lunatic, in need of assistance
The general idea of a Lumberjack match, the stipulation Dean Ambrose chose for his showdown with Seth Rollins at SummerSlam, is that a group of wrestlers will surround the ring to ensure that the two wrestlers in the ring aren't allowed to escape.
When the spoilers for this show came out and that was revealed as the choice, I was uninspired to say the least. It makes sense in some ways, but the idea of Ambrose, THE LUNATIC FRINGE, as WWE refers to him, asking for help from the babyfaces surrounding the ring to assist him in any way fails logic.
After all, he didn't even ask his only remaining friend, Roman Reigns, for assistance when he was taking a beatdown from Rollins, Kane, and Randy Orton, and that's when Reigns was just standing around in the ring with John Cena and Ambrose was scheduled to tag with them later.
So why Lumberjacks?
Well, Ambrose sold me with his promo here. He acknowledged the fact that The Shield ran up a high body count during their reign of terror and it's that same body count he's calling on here. He doesn't want their allegiance nor does he want their loyalty.
He wants them to remember The Shield running roughshod right through them and use that to ensure Ambrose and Rollins tear each other apart.
That's about as good an explanation as we could have asked for, no? Outside of the fact that I can't remember a single memorable Lumberjack match and we were hoping this would be a show-stealer, this works.
Also, Ambrose had a piece of paper with stipulations written out on it. I absolutely love the idea of Dean Ambrose furiously searching for a pen at his house so he could sit down and figure out what match he wants with Rollins.
Segment grade: B+
But not least:
- Anytime "9.99" was brought up on this show, fans were booing it. Many others have said this, but WWE chose the best route to push the Network it will rely on to become profitable again was to turn it heel. That boggles the mind.
- Those rumors about Big Show being off TV because creative had nothing for him were seemingly justified with his appearance on this show when Mark Henry, another wrestler WWE never seems quite sure what to do with, was cast as his tag team partner. The hook? THEY'RE REALLY BIG, FANS! BIGGEST TAG TEAM EVER! And then they beat up one of the few legitimate tag teams left on the roster while The Usos sit aimless.
- Damien Sandow was definitely played a border patrol agent just so the commentary team could slip in the line "can Sandow score another victory for U.S. border patrol?" That was totally why they did that, right? Cheap heat in Laredo too, of course.
- The Seth Rollins-Dolph Ziggler pairing works, both in the ring and, to my surprise, trading insults backstage. Perhaps the fact that it was taped provided the necessary assistance but it's at least nice to see Ziggler presented as something near the level of the current Mr. Money in the Bank. They gave us a good match and we can't ask for much more than that.
- It's become blatantly obvious that the Paige Turner will never work, not even as a signature move, because fans can hardly recognize it as an offensive maneuver. Even when it's executed to perfection, Paige has more effective moves in her arsenal to better illustrate her prowess.
- Remember when Big E and Rusev had those really great hoss matches? So much for that, huh? I get having a thin roster thanks to an overseas tour but the lack of explanation on the absence of the New Nation was troubling.
- Chris Jericho finally gave us an inspired promo. "The symptoms have been banished from ringside but the source of infection remains. Wyatt continues to spread his disease throughout the entire WWE Universe. He thrives on mind games. He thrives on inflicting pain. He thrives on injecting his poison. I know the taste of the poison in Sister Abigail's kiss far too well but there's an antidote. The antidote is spelled Y-2-J, and at SummerSlam I'm going to purge the WWE of the Wyatt plague. He's got the whole world in his hands? I've got the whole WWE Universe in mine. We're gonna follow the buzzards; I'm gonna grab those buzzards and shove them right down his damn throat. You want to get crazy at SummerSlam, Bray Wyatt? Let's get crazy." That's perfect.
- Expected more from the Ambrose vs. Orton match but wasn't entirely disappointed. The disqualification finish felt far too predictable.
This was a mostly run-of-the-mill episode of SmackDown.
Overall grade: C
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?