The Not-So Rookie’s Guide to Smackdown Vol. 1: Hello Again Friends

Posted in The Three Count by - July 12, 2015

Hello Friends. My name is Marc Hall and I am your new WWE Smackdown commentator. Its a pleasure to meet you.

Weekly WWE programming is a much different animal than NXT, although that line is getting blurred week by week. Also changed are the formatting of the weekly shows. Gone are new and compelling overarching storylines, replaced by rehashed and tired angles. Attitude is long dead, replaced by Big Show calling Ryback a “Blockhead.” Unlike War, WWE sure has changed.

As my most recent foray into engaging in weekly WWE programming gets underway, I can’t help but find myself a bit distracted by WWE’s very public content problems. Follow any pro wrestling site, including ours, and you’ll find jaded commentators and fans, frustrated by WWE’s current direction. I find myself among them.

I enter Smackdown relatively blind. Unlike the main roster of old, its a tad difficult to determine storylines and the order for contention on any of the belts. In all honesty, the only two storylines I’m aware of in the main roster currently are the Rollins/Lesnar feud and Dolph Ziggler threatening to fuck Lana in the middle of the ring in front of Rusev. As I begin this journey, I can only hope that I’m able to witness firsthand WWE’s rediscovery of their ability to tell a story… Perhaps tonight is the night.

Dean Ambrose vs Bo Dallas

After a review of Brock Lesnar destroying a brand new Cadillac CTS and almost decapitating a fan by throwing part of the door in to the crowd, Seth Rollins and Paul Heyman engage in a relatively impressive mic duel. Under the shadow of the brand new Cadillac CTS, both take the opportunity to make plenty of puns at the expense of the car. Primarily due to Heyman’s inability to cut a bad promo, Rollin’s exits appearing a strong heel in lieu of the chicken shit coward that he’s been booked as of late.

Our opening match finds Dean Ambrose, once the hot new sensation in action, against Bo Dallas. Dallas takes advantage of his recent run in with frequent WWE cheque casher, Dwayne Johnson, mentioning propelling him to stardom in his opening tirade. For his part though, Dallas has definitly improved on the main roster in terms of ring work. Despite being saddled by a shit gimmick, yellow teeth and wrestling in what looks like a diaper, Dallas puts on an intense showing against an accomplished opponent.

Ambrose on the other hand performs a very safe and predictable match. Making sure to hit all of his crowd pleasing signatures, Ambrose comes away with the victory via Dirty Deeds. I find it interesting that less than a month ago, it appeared that Ambrose could be our next champion… Now, he’s in the opening match on Smackdown beating on Bo Dallas.

Rusev vs Fandango

I have a great deal of sympathy for Dolph Ziggler and his most recent run in WWE. In the past twelve months, Ziggler has accomplished more than many wrestlers accomplish in their entire careers, save for being World Heavyweight Champion again. Currently though, he is embroiled is a love parallelogram against Rusev, Summer Rae and his current love interest, Lana.

Rusev returning this quick is a great thing for him and the fans, but this current angle is, and always has been, a snooze fest. Him alongside Summer Rae is not only awkward and unbelievable, it’s a detriment to all characters involved. If there is a benefit to be had in this storyline, Summer Rae would most likely reap anything that would be sown.

While on the subject of Summer Rae… Rusev, bro… you can do so much better. Alicia Fox, Tamina, hell maybe take a trip back to NXT and hit up Bayley or Charlotte. I’m not here to judge your taste in women Rusev, but if parading around with the Paris Hilton parody from South Park is what makes Lana and The Show Off Jealous, then so be it.

As far as the match goes, it was pretty standard fare by way of an Accolade victory. A big deal is made regarding Rusev now wearing boots, the result of his recent ankle injury. Our wonderfully talented announcing team make a big to-do about how his new boots effect his performance in the ring, which is par for the course these days. Fandango wasn’t able to mount much of an offense, which hardly does anything for his character. I would continue to argue though that Rusev destroying yet another jobber serves him poorly as well. I’ve genuinely enjoyed Rusev’s performance in his promos, and hopefully the payoff in a Rusev/Ziggler match will be worth the slog through this boring and distracting storyline.

Roman Reigns vs Big Show

For what feels like the hundredth time, we find ourselves viewing these two in a match. WWE is trying everything they can to make Reigns look as strong as possible. Of course, the quickest and most obvious way to do this is having him go over on the three biggest and oldest men on the roster.

This match goes down like the dozens that came before it: Big Show scores a few big hits, shouts “I’m the Giant!.” then Reigns gets his second win and hits him with a few Superman Punches. Typically this would be the point where Reigns would score the pin, however our match deviates a bit. Bray Wyatt’s music hits and he appears on the entrance ramp. Although like Raw prior, its an imposter Wyatt, the real Eater of Arby’s appearing on the near side apron. Of course, Reigns turns around at the exact moment and punches Wyatt, repelling the interference.

However, the match would eventually end in DQ, Wyatt later able to take advantage of Reigns resting on his laurels in the near side corner. Big Show would take advantage of the opportunity by landing a decent chokeslam on Reings. Much to my delight, the further butt rodgering of Reigns continues as Wyatt lands a Sister Abigail, hopefully a precursor to a big victory at Battleground.

Big E vs Titus O’Neil

Considering the way in which New Day began as a stable, the genuine heat they had started to receive is somewhat impressive. Although, like many before them, their star has fallen greatly due to being saddled with multiple losses, 14 in fact since June 1st.

O’Neil and Darren Young on the other hand have benefited greatly from winning the tag belts. Both had been struggling since Young’s return from injury and a reunion of a Prime Time Players proved to be the right decision. Kofi and Xavier Woods continue to play great heels, constantly mocking O’Neil’s signature weird seal barking noises.

Big E would appear to control much of the match, hitting a big belly to belly suplex. Kofi and Xavier would attempt to interfere in the match, although the ref would make the save, ejecting New Day back to the locker room. O’Neil would take advantage of the distraction and hit the Clash of the Titus and score the victory. A decent, hard hitting match between two big guys, nothing more.

Brie Bella and Alicia Fox vs Naomi and Tamina Snuka

This match is a prime example as to what is wrong with the Divas in WWE and really with storytelling and continuity as a whole in WWE. First off, to get this out of way: Alicia Fox wins after a distraction from Nikki via the Coochi Cutter, or whatever the fuck her scissor kick is called. That being said, there are two points in this match that I’d like to illustrate further.

There is a sequence in the match where Brie Bella reverses a maneuver and hits a neck breaker. She quickly pops up to go back on offense, but then precedes to fall over to attempt to crawl to the ropes. Nothing hits her, nothing impedes her progress, she just falls over on her ass and rolls onto her stomach.

Second, during this entire match, there is little to no interaction from temporary commentator, Jimmy Uso as to Naomi’s sudden change in attitude and dress. If just a few months prior Jimmy was about to rip Miz in half for simply talking to her, then why is he ok with her acting like a bitch on wheels and dressing like a hooker. Furthermore, he seems content to hardly mention his wife getting screwed out of a victory.

This is the new normal it seems folks. WWE brass and Vince may claim to want to change the Diva’s Division, however, there seems to be little effort being made to actually enact actual change. As long as this type of phoned in performance is allowed to continue on a weekly basis, this will be the future of Women’s wrestling.

Ryback vs Seth Rollins

I say, without hyperbole, that this is one of the worst actual matches I’ve seen involving a World Heavyweight Champion. WWE is in a perplexing space considering their booking of Rollins/Lesnar at Battleground. Despite being a talented, accomplished wrestler, Rollins spends almost the entirety of the match getting his ass kicked. Really, this bordered on squash match territory.

Rollins does score a few hits during the match, but it was Ryback all the way… until the end. The World Heavyweight Champion rolls out of the ring and attempts to leave up the ramp. Nothing new, we’ve seen Heels abuse Champion’s Privilege all the time. Ryback, of course would give chase and bring the fight back to the ring. Rollins would again exit the ring, this time running full tilt through the audience. The World Heavyweight Champion literally ran away from the Intercontinental Champion.

The fun wouldn’t stop there. Fulfilling an earlier promise to dismantle Ryback, Big Show appears to continue the fight after the count out. With Rollins and Big Show attempting to jump Ryback after the bell. Ryback was in desperate need of a hero. If only there was someone out there who has wrestled and beaten Big Show 40 or 50 times in the past year. who could save him?

The chickenshit booking of Seth Rollins, particularly while being prepped to wrestle the biggest and most dominating bodies in the history of the business, is getting offensive. There is nothing wrong with a non fighting champion, however, having “the guy,” turn tail and run away from an under card fighter is facepalmingly frustrating. This appears to be setting up for a Dusty Finish at Battleground, a further buy in of the era of the coward.

My first journey on the Good Ship Smackdown is hardly what I would call entertaining. My only fond memories are of Brie Bella’s knees giving out, and Rollins’ running away from a fight like a full on bitch. Is this the main roster? Is this what I need to prepare myself for in weekly WWE programming? Perhaps I expect too much from the product I love, maybe it’s time we all sit and realize that maybe we need to lower our expectations.

Smackdown Rating: 1/5

This post was written by

He is the senior editor at Kulture Shocked. A Nebraska boy born and raised, where he spends most of his time as a writer. When not tearing up Xbox Live, he spends most of his time divided between Magic: The Gathering and his fiancee.

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