Welcome to the Weekly SmackDown React-Down.
Previously on The SmackDown React-Down: I gave Raw a stern talking-to and let it know, in no uncertain terms, that I was sorely disappointed in it's terrible writing and booking decisions, and I told it that it needed to get its act together.
Why can't Raw be more like its little brother SmackDown, I asked?
You gotta admit, even if you're not a Kevin Owens fan, that's a creative booking decision.
Looks like we all just got ...
Available on demand, only on the WWE Network, for just $9.99.
I'm a wrestling journalist now, so I've gotta be a shill for the product apparently.
That's what the internet tells me.
How am I doing so far?
Anyway, so on this week's episode.
It's early but ...
I'm getting kind of worried about our beautiful blue boy SmackDown.
Let me explain:
It all starts with this:
And apparently ends with this:
Swing and a Miz.
Miz's "shoot" promo on Daniel Bryan was the biggest story on the Smackdown brand all week. They even published their own reaction video to their own video, and threw it up on YouTube, entitled "What are people saying about The Miz's tirade on Talking Smack?"
And they even broadcast it, in its entirety, to start the show last night. They had Shane and D-Bry talk about it briefly on camera. Shane said he agreed with Daniel, that the Miz was a coward, but that he can't provoke the talent like that, to which Bryan is like, "Don't you have beef with Brock Lesnar?" This is smart. It sows a little bit of conflict between two allies, and moves two different stories forward.
Then they have the Miz come down to the ring and give a passionate promo about how none of the fans respect him. "Don't you dare boo me!" he says, which is basically like daring the fans to boo him. But the promo is full of fire, and he does have a point.
Then Dolph comes out, and he also has passion. And he also has a point. "Everyone thinks you're a coward, whether they're right or wrong. But all you've got to do is prove to them that you're not a coward. Prove it to yourself."
And Dolph challenges the Miz to a fight. Not a match. A fight. No referees, no ring gear, no bell. Just mano a mano.
And The Miz starts to take him up on it. He takes off his watch and his rings. But then he gets out of the ring.
The crowd boos, because they want to see a fight.
But The Miz doesn't leave ringside. He takes off his suit coat, loosens his tie, and starts to get back in the ring.
The crowd gets excited, because they think they might actually see a new, less cowardly Miz.
But the Miz gets down off the apron and starts to walk back up the ramp.
Now, this is where the YouTube clip stops, but there was more to this segment:
As Miz got to the top of the ramp, Dolph gets on the mic to say: "I guess you really are a coward."
Miz reacts like Marty McFly just got called A Chicken, and marches back down to the ring. Maryse gets in his way and is able to corral him to the back.
Let me tell you why this sucked.
Well, it didn't suck, per se, it was just suck-ish. It was suck-ish that SmackDown effectively killed off all the heat that The Miz had generated the week before. It was suck-ish that we never got to see him cross paths with Daniel Bryan.
It was suck-ish that The Miz didn't punch Ziggler in the mouth.
How much better would it have been if the Miz got called a coward, to his face, by Ziggler, who challenges him to a fight, and then the Miz just laid him out? He's a big action star, he knows how to throw a punch that looks Hollywood real. Have him knock out Ziggler,
We'd immediately get to see that The Miz isn't all talk. That he's not a coward. And we could build on that with Ziggler complaining that he wasn't ready, that he got sucker punched, and we slowly begin the double turn. Slowly we have Ziggler become the whiny chicken-shit heel and The Miz can slowly morph into the action star that everyone thinks is Hollywood soft but who will f*ck you up if you rub him the wrong way.
Isn't that better than cowardly Miz vs fiery Ziggler for the 19th time?
Or even, how about this?
Miz and Ziggler are friends. In real life. They're both from Cleveland, both came up around the same time, hell they even travel together. We know this because the WWE based a whole episode of an original series around it:
Streaming on-demand, only on the WWE Network.
Have Ziggler come out and say, "We've got a lot in common. Everyone thinks you're a coward and everyone thinks I can't come through when it counts. Neither of us is getting the respect we deserve. That doesn't mean I don't think you're a jerk sometimes, and I know you've wanted to punch me in the throat on several occasions. But we've been through a lot, you and I. Going up and down the roads together, we've kind of become brothers. And I'm on your side, Miz. SCREW THESE PEOPLE."
Think of the heat.
Just do something, ANYTHING other than another lame "Miz is a coward, Dolph is a show-off" feud.
You had the world at your fingertips after that Miz promo on Talking Smack. Even if Miz vs Daniel Bryan isn't an option, you could have done literally ANYTHING, and you chose this.
Hell, have Kane talk to his old friend Daniel Bryan, say that he thought was Miz said was disgusting and deplorable and he wants a title match with the Miz so that he can stick up for his buddy.
Then have The Miz accept the challenge. Have the Miz win. Clean. Then after the match, have him start doing a new post-match thing to all of his opponents. He wants to make everyone remember how prestigious the IC Title used to be, right? Well, have him say something like "I'm going to make sure this title remains at the forefront of everyone's minds."
So he lays the title belt on the mat, face up, and he does the Skull-Crushing Finale to his opponents ON THE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE.
Then he holds the title up for the camera.
And he makes this face:
Tell me that wouldn't get over HUGE and IMMEDIATELY.
Look, this match between The Miz and Ziggler at Backlash might be great, but no one's going to remember it a year, hell even six months from now.
And I fear that they'll forget the brilliant shoot promo that was its genesis, just as quickly.
Imagine if after CM Punk's Pipe Bomb promo on John Cena, they just had him feud with Del Rio or Randy Orton or DOLPH ZIGGLER.
That could very well be the equivalent here.
And if so, they'd really be Mizzing the Point.
(I had three awesome Miz Puns that I was considering using for the title. I went with Mizzed Opportunity, but I wanted to make sure I could work the other two into the body of the article. I'm very pleased with myself.)
So somebody at the Smackdown home offices realized that Heath Slater is the moneymaker, y'all.
They have FOUR Heath Slater YouTube Videos up this week, and they tell the story of a pretty cool upcoming push for this guy, as well as a possible heel turn for our favorite Samoan Twins. But more on that in a bit.
Rednecks are people, too.
So apparently Heath Slater's life away from the squared circle is just a Larry the Cable Guy stand-up routine brought to life.
Does Vince know that his shows are broadcast in the south? He does, right?
He used to make fun of Southerners mercilessly back in the day, since his territory was the Northeast and WCW territory was in the South, and any dig he could get in on the people who watched his competitor was considered high comedy.
But I though he had gotten over that.
A lot of people who live in single wide trailers pay some of their hard earned money every month so that they can get cable to watch WWE programming.
I know that Vince doesn’t care that the jokes he’s making at these people's expense could be considered hurtful, but there you go.
However, Sean Ross Sapp lived in a trailer when he was younger, and he took no offense at these jibes, so I guess I’m allowed to laugh now. GAME ON.
My favorite part was the way Renee Young looked at a plate of saltines and cheez whiz like she’s Willie Scott at dinner at Pankot Palace.
My second favorite part was this:
The rest of it was mostly crap, but the fact that they did it at all showed that they know how over Heath has gotten, how much potential there is for greatness there, and that they are starting to take steps to make this guy special.
Plus the fact that this terribly written, poorly produced, "features-a-joke-where-a-fat-lady-burps-and-that's-it" sketch came off as anything but an abysmal train wreck, is entirely due to Heath Slater.
That dude is taking turds and polishing them into priceless Fabrege Eggs.
Rhyno Hot Tag = One Gore.
It's efficient. I'll give him that.
But hey, +1 to the Headbangers for showing up and coming to play.
Have fun with all those Indy Bookings you guys are going to get after this.
Also, somehow even though he was only in the ring for like twelve seconds, Rhyno came out of this match needing like eight stitches to close an ugly gash on his eyebrow.
I think Heath bit off part of his own tongue or something too.
Looking forward to that Bret Hart shoot interview where he drags the Headbangers for being unsafe workers.
Heath Slater is the most over guy in the company.
Me from a year ago just showed up in a time machine,
read that over my shoulder, and had a stroke.
I want Slater and Rhyno to win this whole thing, and I think they will.
In the second round, next week, they face this team:
The Hype Bros are on a winning streak, but they're not going to beat Heath Slater and Rhyno.
The other semi-final is American Alpha vs The Usos.
I think the Usos win, using slightly heelish tactics, handful of tights, whatever.
Then, at Backlash, it's Slater & Rhyno vs the bend the rules Usos.
Slater and Rhyno win, then the Usos throw them a beat down after the match.
They take out Rhyno with a chair on the outside.
Then they go to town on poor Heath Slater.
Really get some heat on the new top heel team on Smackdown.
Or have the Usos win, then beat down Slater after.
He doesn't win the contract, but we build more sympathy.
You could do a lot with that.
Just an idea.
Give Apollo Crews a program with AJ Styles.
I'm serious. AJ can make me care about anyone he's working with in the ring.
I mean, I've seen Apollo do stuff like this before:
But when he does it to Styles it just seems more impressive.
Plus I think Crews would be great as a Montel Vontavious Porter type heel. Super athletic, super arrogant, super full of himself.
And that way you could turn Styles babyface, so we can cheer for him, and that's all we really want anyway, right?
Unless babyface Styles can no longer wear a John Cena Headband.
Because if so,
HEEL AJ 4LIFE.
Bray Wyatt for the new Prestige reboot.
Hey, if they're re-making Lethal Weapon into a FOX series starring Homie the Clown, a show about Victorian Magician Intrigue can't be far behind.
But a word to the wise, if you're going to do the whole "Orton charges the ring, but the lights go out and when they come back up, Bray's gone" deal, you kind of have to show Orton in the ring by himself once the lights come back up.
Your commentary should also have some kind of reaction to one of the brand's top superstars apparently being a warlock with the power of disappearance, instead of just no-selling that with a promo about the upcoming women's match.
A Six Year Old White Boy's Introduction to Glow in the Dark Twerking.
You know there's some little white First Grader living in a well-appointed home in an insular, affluent subdivision in the suburbs of a city like Omaha or Tucson, or Albany, New York, and he's watching Smackdown last night, hoping in vain for a glimpse of his hero John Cena, and then this comes on his television:
AND HE IS FOREVER CHANGED.
In all seriousness, I really enjoy Naomi's entrance, really appreciate all the competitors in the Smackdown women's division, and I really love love LOVE how Carmella just will NOT. STOP. Beating up Nikki Bella.
It's a much more compelling character trait than "occasionally moonwalks."
And now for the end of the show ...
Hey remember that awesome idea I had about Kane sticking up for his little buddy D-Bry and challenging the Miz? Well, as it turns out Kane couldn't have done that anyway, because he had a prior obligation.
Chokeslamming a Milkman in his underwear.
Tom Cruise and I have no idea why that was a thing that happened.
Done with Dean.
That's it for me. I'm out.
I mean, I know he's still over with a majority of the fans, but I find his shtick to be grating and I simply can't abide his style of wrestling.
He's not even funny anymore. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt last week with the giant foam cowboy hat, but I'm over it now.
I can't be the only one that feels this way, right?
Rusev, what do you think?
Do you think Ambrose should still be champ after Backlash?
Well, I think that settles it.
Anyway, the match is fine, and Baron Corbin gets to look like a world-beater at times, but the finish is wonky. AJ accidentally Enzuigiri's Corbin, causing Dean to get disqualified.
Corbin eats a Dirty Deeds and AJ goes for a Phenomenal Forearm, but then this happens: