SmackDown React-Down, 7/26: New Era. You're Doing It Wrong

Welcome to the first ever SmackDown React-Down, where I will let you know where things stand on Tuesday Nights during the New Era. So far, not so good.

Be sure to check out Ryan Cook's Live Coverage every week, too!

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Y'all.

Damn, ya'll.

This was just ... damn.

I can't imagine a worse way for Smackdown to follow up that amazing, stellar, game-changing Raw on Monday night than to come out and shit the bed so monstrously like this.

If you asked me, what's the worst that could happen, I wouldn't have imagined it could have been this bad. This is catastrophic. This is the Hindenberg. Oh, the humanity.

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It started out promisingly enough, with everybody's favorite babyface authority figures introducing the show and throwing to a new intro package.

Fine. This is fine. Nothing too objectionable about it. Looks a little "Tron"-esque, but we'll forgive that and move on.

The whole roster is standing on the apron, waiting to for their fearless leaders to address the troops. It has a cool, fly-on-the-wall-in-the-locker-room-before-a-big-game kind of feel to it. This is good. I like this.

Okaaaaayy. Fine. This is ... fine. I guess if you have that roster, I'd pick those five. But there's no reason to make AJ wait until last and force him to sweat it out and make this face:

Beyond that, I mean, I might choose The Miz to be in the match instead of Ziggler or maybe Corbin. I mean, The Miz is the Intercontinental Champion, so he should at least be one of your Top Five Guys, right? Before you all @ me, I know he faces Randy Orton later, but at this point, we don't know that yet. All we know is that Rusev is the US Champ on Raw and he was one of the eight guys in the two Fatal 4 Ways. So what SmackDown seems to be saying is that The Intercontinental Title isn't very important. I mean, they seem to be saying it right now, but they'll be screaming it from the rooftops halfway through hour two. But we'll get to that.

But anyway, yeah, there's a Battle Royal to determine the sixth man in the 6-Pack Challenge, and everybody's in it, since as JBL says seventeen times during the broadcast, "There's no glass ceiling on Smackdown Live!" He might have worked in a "Maggle" there, just out of habit. But we all know there's only a few guys who have an actual chance to win: Crews, Del Rio, maybe Kalisto, Ryder if you're feeling froggy, and Kane, because it's the 'E, and I wouldn't ever put it past them. Guess who the final 5 wind up being.

Well, I guess technically, Del Rio was eliminated before Breezango was, but you get the idea. Notables: Gotch is eliminated first, in 24 seconds, because apparently the Kangaroo Court in back has determined that he was at fault for that Sin Cara situation. Speaking of which, JBL, who is awful and deserves to be fired, calls Kalisto Sin Cara, catches himself too late, and there's like five seconds of dead air while Mauro probably does this:

The whole match is botchy, especially Zack Ryder, who misses Kalisto by a foot on a basement dropkick and then just falls off the top rope when attempting an Elbow Drop. Kane eliminates like twelve guys in the match; he's in 2001 Rumble Form.

At the end there's pretty cool finish, with Kane going for the chokeslam and Apollo just backflipping through it.

I have genuinely never seen that before, and I am impressed. I think the right guy won this battle royal too, so this is good. I am happy with this.

HOWEVER, the battle royal only serves to showcase how thin the Smackdown roster is. If you had just decided to pick The Miz as the 6th guy, or Crews, or Del Rio or whatever, and said "These are our top six guys," we wouldn't have spent this whole battle royal realizing how unimpressive guys 7 through 20 are.

But I get it, "everybody gets an equal chance on Smackdown, it's a meritocracy, no glass ceiling blah blah blah" and you know nobody believes that, right? Like you'd never book Konnor or Viktor or Erick Rowan or Mojo to win a shot at the title. You know you wouldn't, so just stop with the lies. The dirty DIRTY LIES.

Deep breath.

It's fine. This is fine. Whatever.

Let's keep going.

Oh, no. Oh, ladies. No. Not last night. Any night but last night.

This match was solid, even very good. It might have been even better than the one Becky and Natalya had on Sunday at Battleground.

They go back and forth a lot, hitting very impressive moves, a release German suplex and the old Natty By Nature discus lariat from Natalya, and a top rop guillotine leg drop from Becky.

Mauro Ranallo says "These two are going at it like the Chloe's, Kardashian and Grace Moretz," and now I hate Mauro Ranallo and The Cruiserweight Classic is ruined for me so thanks for that, Smackdown. This is why we can't have nice things.

Neither woman can lock in her submission finisher, until Becky reverses the Sharpshooter into the Disarmer.

It was a great match with a cool finish. It might have been one of the better Women's Matches in the history of Smackdown.

But it absolutely cannot hold a candle to this:

Becky and Natalya could wrestle the best match of their LIVES, and it wouldn't have come close to that moment on Monday night. A nine and a half minute, really well wrestled match on Smackdown should be something to celebrate, and next week, it might have been. But having this match now does nothing but invite comparisons, making you look even more like the B show. For example, Monday night's match was not only objectively more impressive to watch, it was for the Women's Championship. What are these two women fighting for?

For that matter, what are ALL of these women fighting for?:

All of the other women on the Smackdown roster come out one by one to interrupt each other, starting with Alexa Bliss. If you are not familiar with her, I guess that's cool, since nobody in the crowd in Buffalo was either. Here's what you need to know, in gif form:

At some point, she broke into Skynet, stole the Terminator hand, bedazzled it, and turned it into cyborg chic jewelry knuckle gloves. She doesn't wear them when she wrestles, though I wish she would.

She has the best heel facial expressions in the biz, including something we like to call "Resting Bliss Face":

Oh, yeah, and there was that time when she and that goober tag team she managed were going through a Freddy Kruger phase for a while for some reason. It was awesome.

She's also got a varied moveset, from high flying maneuvers like Twisted Bliss:

To this awesome STO thing that she starts by grabbing her opponent by the goozle and staring daggers through her face:

Alexa Bliss is awesome, but there's no telling when we'll get to see her in the ring? Next week, hopefully? Against our next interrupter?

Now look, I know this may not be a popular opinion, but I really like Naomi. A lot. I think she's one of the most purely athletic female competitors I've seen on the main roster, and before she got injured she was busting out some really impressive and innovative offense, split legged moonsaults and bulldogs into the turnbuckles:

As long as her finisher is no longer jumping up and putting her butt in your face, I'm glad to see her back. And even if it is, at least she's on Smackdown, and Mauro Ranallo can call it "A Flying Hip Attack" instead of Michael Cole's "She calls that the rear view."

Naomi is interrupted by Carmella, who is stuck on Smackdown instead of on Raw with Enzo & Cass, her old NXT running buddies. Carmella is by all accounts a sweet girl, but she'll never get over as "Female Enzo" on Smackdown. She would have been over as hell with her boys on Raw, but I doubt we'll ever see that, since she and Big Cass are dating, and Vince hates that. He broke up Del Rio and Paige by making sure they were drafted to different brands, and I'll bet he made sure of this as well. You see, in Vince's mind, Big Cass is a future WWE Universal Champion, and the kid won't be able to focus if he's got his girl around, so let's split them up and make his life miserable. That'll make him want to work harder in the training room! Anyway, Carmella is fun in the ring, but she's going to fail here, and that makes me sad.

Now, here is where I get to tell you the good news. After all that I just described, something amazing happens:

If you didn't watch last night, and you didn't click on that YouTube clip up there, please do so now.

Eva Marie's music hits, the Buffalo crowd boos like the Jets are in town, and a narration begins.

I will not describe it. It is impossible to describe. Suffice it to say that this is the greatest heel entrance that I have ever, or will ever see. It is nothing short of perfection.

Eva Marie is probably still terrible in the ring, but we're not talking about that right now. Right now, we're talking about her entrance, and it is the greatest thing on Smackdown.

And then it ends. Nothing happens. The other women don't attack her, Eva doesn't say a word. They just cut to commercial.

What? No mention of a second women's title? Or that maybe the Women's Championship will float from brand to brand? I don't give a t*tty f*cking sh*t, bring back the damn Divas Title and that horrible butterfly belt for all I care.

WHY ARE THERE WOMEN ON YOUR SHOW IF THERE IS NOTHING FOR THEM TO FIGHT FOR?

Deep breath.

Anyway, moving on to reducing the Intercontinental Title to a pile of poo.

The Miz is fantastic right now. He interviews HIMSELF for Miz TV, even switching chairs between "question" and "answer." It's brilliant, so good that the smarks are now cheering him, which is the sweet spot for a heel. You want the little kids in the crowd to be booing him, then look around and see dudes in their twenties marking out, and start to question everything they thought they knew about wrestling, about LIFE. "But, he's a bad guy... Why is uncle Rob cheering for him? Is UNCLE ROB a bad guy? WHAT'S HAPPENING?"

Anyway, this genius bit is interrupted by (once again, pantsless) Randy Orton, who insults the Miz, challenges him to a match and makes a joke about Maryse experimenting with a strap-on.

(Yeah, they edited that one out of the YouTube clip.)

Maryse accepts the challenge for him, and Miz's face goes from this:

To this:

Okay, they're about to bury the Intercontinental Title and the guy that's holding it forever, in order to put over the guy who's getting fed to Brock Lesnar in a one-off match at Summerslam a month from now, so before they do that, here's what I would have done.

Instead of picking AJ last for the Battle Royal, you have Daniel Bryan pick The Miz last and he gets on the mic and says "Thanks, Dan. I appreciate your including me, but unfortunately, I think I'm coming down with something. I've got a little tickle in my throat, and I'm going to take the night off." "You're turning down an opportunity at the World Title because of a tickle?" "Yes, the last thing I'd want to do is reaggravate an old vocal chord injury that I got while filming The Marine 3: Homefront. But it doesn't matter anyway, because as long as I'm holding the belt, the Intercontinental Title is the most important title on Smackdown Live. Come on, dear, let's go get me some hot tea." And then he and Maryse just leave the ring area. Now you've tried to include the Miz as one of you're top guys, he's being heelish by refusing, and he's putting over the Intercontinental Title by saying it's the most important title on the show, and now you're forced to have that Battle Royal to determine the Sixth Man. Or you can do what I would have done. Triple Threat between Crews, Del Rio and Kalisto. Put Crews over there if you want, that's cool.

And in this spot, have Miz come out to do Miz TV, drinking his "hot tea." Maryse can use one of those pump-spray cough medicine things to squirt in his mouth, really put over that he's doing Miz TV under protest, playing through the pain, whatever. So when Randy comes out and challenges Miz, he can say "No, I'm sick" and then have Randy throw the "hot tea" (actually just warm water) in Maryse's face. Miz accepts the challenge to defend his wife's honor.

Then you can do this:

You have Miz wrestle smart, going after Randy's surgically repaired shoulder, you can even have Randy hit that first RKO out of nowhere, to show that even a wounded snake is a dangerous one. But then, you have Orton pin him. And after the match, next week, whatever, Miz can heel it up and say he was wrestling hurt, because of the sore throat. Even though we know he's bullsh*tting us, it explains why he lost so easily. Just have Randy pin him after one RKO. Please. After all, it only takes one RKO to get to #ViperVille, right? That's the new marketing strategy you're going to use, right? So there's no reason to have Randy sit there for a full minute and wait for Miz to get up again, just to RKO him again. It further immasculates and humiliates the ONLY OTHER GUY BESIDES DEAN AMBROSE WHO CURRENTLY HOLDS A TITLE ON YOUR SHOW.

Deep Breath. It's fine. This is fine.

American Alpha, please come out and wrestle and take me away from all of this.

Wait they're not debuting until next week? WHY AM I STILL EVEN WATCHING THIS DRECK?

And oh yeah, I forgot to mention Shelton Benjamin is coming back so that's good, but what does "Coming Soon" mean? Like NOVEMBER?

WHO ACTUALLY IS ON THIS SHOW?

Oh, for f*ck's sake.

Yes, Rhyno showed up to Gore Heath Slater because Heath Slater was making some really good points about why he should have not only been drafted, but drafted pretty high. Then Shane McMahon called Rhyno–40 year old, as big around as he is tall, RHYNO–the hottest free agent in sports entertainment today.

And now Smackdown has made me hate Shane-O Mac. I swear, if you make me hate Daniel Bryan, Smackdown, I swear to GOD...

This was such a great idea, you guys, executed so poorly that I quite literally can't even, right now. They put so many commercial breaks in there, coming back from one with a double tower of doom spot, then never explained what happened during the break. John Cena spent almost all of the TV time before the final two minutes, out on the floor. I forgot he was in the match at one point. From a broadcasting point of view, this was borderline incompetent.

But the match (what I could see of it between ad breaks) was great. And it should have been.

Six quality performers:

Two young studs, hungry to show what they're capable of:

A criminally underutilized brawler with true star potential:

The face that runs the place:

The best damn worker in the entire company:

and a veteran fan favorite who shows off in the ring but never quite wins the big one:

wait. wut. what happened?

Let me see that again.

Wow.

WOW.

You had those six guys in a #1 Contender's Match, and you picked Dolph Ziggler to win?

Who was last really relevant in late 2014?

Who last held the top title in mid 2013?

That guy?

So your brand's Title Match at Summerslam is Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler?

You do realize, on that card, it's fifth from the top, right?

In some order:

  • Brock vs Orton,
  • Seth vs Finn,
  • AJ vs Cena,
  • and after Monday, Sasha vs Charlotte.

Then your WWE Title match. Hell, if KO and Sami want to go again, you're sixth.

HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE?

Bray Wyatt has a brand new look as your roommate's weed dealer!

He was working babyface in the ring, or at least chaotic neutral! You could have fulfilled the promise from when that one night when Bray Wyatt was No Look Shooting Roman Reigns Spears from His Finger Gun!

I was really rooting for Bray Wyatt, you guys, and now I am sad.

So that was it. The first Smackdown of The New Era.

There was a whole lot of potential there, but it was mostly wasted.

The Women aren't fighting for anything, there wasn't a single sign of a Tag Team division, you just buried the Intercontinental Champion beneath two RKOs, and now we get a face vs face title program between Wacky Dean Ambrose and Douchey Dolph Ziggler?

Welp. B-Show status confirmed. This was a terrible way to start out the Smackdown side of the brand split.

Or, I could be wildly off base. That's always a possibility.

But I will say this:

The New Era. You're Doing It Wrong.

Until next time, I've been Alex Pawlowski
and you can follow me on Twitter @pawlowskithe4th

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