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Photo Credit: Screenshot / World Wrestling Entertainment

Smackdown Hat Tips And Tap Outs: Bring It To The Table

The one thing I try to accept with SmackDown is that since it’s a two hour show as opposed to RAW‘s three hours is there is less room for storylines and feuds to feature just simple one-on-one conflict. Multiple people are involved in each angle as a way to keep everyone involved which makes it all feel a bit overbooked, but overbooked out of necessity.

I’d much rather see guys like Cesaro or Robert Roode in their own singles programs and not serve as sidekicks for others, but at least they are still on my TV weekly which is better than nothing.

I’m tapping out: Oh Hell-No

If you watch the WWE Network as much as I do, or even as half as much as I do, you’ve likely seen some of the documentaries and interviews with Kane. There was the WWE Chronicle that went into detail about his debut at Hell In A Cell back in 1997. There was the WWE Photo Shoot episode that went over different fascinating photos and moments in Kane’s career. There was just recently The Broken Skull Sessions interview with Stone Cold Steve Austin. All of it is fantastic and worth watching.

But the problem is, it all features Glenn Jacobs talking about his time as Kane.

The one drawback with wrestling in this day and age is it’s difficult to suspend disbelief and the only way wrestling works at times – especially when it comes to characters who wear masks or are supposed to be something far beyond what they are – is if if you can suspend the hell out of it. So when he walks out with literal fire and red lights, I’m supposed to see Kane, but all I see is Knoxville County Mayor Glenn Jacobs in a mask. I can’t help it. I keep trying to tell myself “Oh hey, it’s Kane. The Big Red Machine. The Devil’s Favorite Demon.” But I get a voice in my head going “No, that’s Glenn Jacobs pretending to be Kane before he has to go back to work as a mayor on Monday morning.”

Maybe if Kane was a regular every week and not the once-in-a-while appearing mayor I would have been more into it. Maybe they should do a hybrid of Monster Kane and Corporate Kane so he can talk like a regular person who has an affinity for hell? I don’t know. It’s just like that time someone pointed out the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo, and now that’s all I ever see.

I love the WWE Network and I love all the inside non-kayfabe stuff, but sometimes in a case like this it kind of takes away the ability to suspend disbelief. I don’t know, maybe I needed to have a stiff drink before I watched this.

The Bray Wyatt interruption is fine enough and the idea that Kane appearing to talk about Royal Rumble was just a ruse to draw out The Fiend in order for Kane’s buddy Daniel Bryan to get to him is somewhat clever, but it all felt a bit awkward.

I’m tipping my hat: Be Jealous

When I heard that John Morrison was returning to WWE, my first thought was that they could repackage him a bit. Give him new music, new pyro, an updated entrance… But then I probably would have complained that they didn’t acknowledge his first run in WWE, or that he was mostly best buds with The Miz, so going this route that they are with him returning to Miz’s side and setting off this rivalry with The New Day just works and it’s helped along by the fact that now they both have individual wins over Kofi and Big E in back-to-back weeks.

This doesn’t hurt either New Day member of course because they are already well-established and, if anything, it will lead to a tag team match where we either get a surprise win from Miz and Morrison, or what would be better yet… A New Day win to show that maybe Miz and Morrison are better off as individuals.

I’m not going to speculate on the longterm booking just yet. Maybe Miz and Morrison get a tag title run before they run into issues and a certain Miz turns on Morrison who THEN can be repackaged, given new music, new pyro, an updated entrance…

But for now this all works.

I’m tapping out: The Revival have been locked down for a while

I know The Usos are back and we have to see them be re-established as a top tag team, so the end result of their match against The Revival wasn’t a surprise. Not that it still wasn’t disappointing to see, of course.

What worries me is the post-match stuff where Dawson and Wilder promise they have to change things since WWE doesn’t care about them or tag-team wrestling. While I wish that “change” was out of WWE and straight into the tag team heaven that is AEW, I fear it’s more a change to being a “comedic team” that we’ve seen rumored in various dirt sheets.

*sigh*

At the very least they are doing a better job of building the tag team division on SmackDown than they are on Raw, so there is that’s a positive. The Usos have always been a fun team to watch and I’d argue one of the top five teams in the world regardless of company for the last handful of years, I just hope this isn’t the start of a month-long program where they beat The Revival in various ways on a weekly basis.

I’m waiting to see how this plays out: Wait, what happened with Sasha Banks?

So let’s see if I get this right.

Sasha Banks antagonizes Lacey Evans, and then Lacey Evans’ daughter which is supposed to anger Lacey even more even if her kid reacted in a way that made most of us think the kid could probably handle her own fight with Sasha. Banks and Evans get into a big feud, but we go weeks now without Sasha being able to wrestle, so Lacey gets put into a match with Sasha’s best buddy Bayley who then loses her one-and-only match to Lacey, and now we have Lacey vs Bayley for the Women’s title at Royal Rumble?

Does WWE trust Bayley so little to carry a story that they have to have Sasha do the heavy-lifting? What was even the point of half of this? Couldn’t Lacey just feud with Bayley and leave it at that? Was the original plan to have this whole thing with Sasha nixed due to an injury?

If I have to give kudos, it’s to Lacey Evans who is getting herself over as a babyface and to Bayley for selling The Women’s Right like she was taken out by a sniper in what was a pretty decent match overall. It just feels like this was supposed to be Lacey vs Banks and we’ve been hit with a big misdirection play now.

I’m tipping my hat: Just setting the tables for future shows

The short jokes for Chad ‘Shorty G’ Gable are already played out, and we already did this “Sheamus comes back to beat up on people smaller than him” gimmick, but I liked their backstage interaction here if for nothing else, it gives Shorty G the upper hand for the week and keeps it that way. None of this “big guy comes back and beats the crap out of little guy” BS that we got when he was in a fued with Baron Corbin.

Shorty G takes down Sheamus, lays in a few fists and then walks away. Perfect.

Next week if I see Sheamus attacking Shorty G from behind again, it’ll feel justified and help establish that Sheamus despite being the bigger, badder guy, needs to resort to cheap tactics to get the best of Shorty G.

Meanwhile, at some point Braun Strowman has to have a run with a singles title and I’m very much ok with it being the Intercontinental belt so all this setup between him and Shinsuke is fine; you add Elias to the mix because you’d need someone to help deal with Cesaro even though Cesaro himself should have a singles title run as well, not to mention Elias himself has never had a title ever despite the fact he’s been one of the most over performers over the last few years.

Ya know what, screw it. Put all four of them in a fatal fourway for the title at ‘Mania. Heck, throw Sami Zayn in there as well.

One can dream. In the meantime, the little run-in Team Zayn has with Elias and then Braun likely sets up a week or two of singles and tag matches.

This is all fine. Set-ups are fine.

I’m reaching for my hat, but not tipping yet: Wait, Mandy really likes Otis?

This is some low-key story-teasing and I am here for it. Sonya doing the whole wink-wink nudge-nudge bit to Mandy Rose over Otis is the best way to go through with this because Sonya is all of us right now.

You look at a ‘guy like Otis’ and then look at a ‘gal like Mandy’ and there is no way Mandy would ‘love’ a guy like Otis but would sure use him for her benefit as she seemingly did the week before in picking up a win over Alexa Bliss. Sonya knowing what we all are thinking, this hints at this to Mandy, but doesn’t come outright and say it and Mandy plays coy about the whole thing. That backstage interaction along with Sonya wanting in on “using” Otis, only for it to backfire as this week’s distraction involving Otis results in Alexa Bliss getting the pin, opens us up to multiple story branches.

The obvious angle is Mandy is just using Otis to help her get some wins, but the less obvious story is maybe Mandy really does like Otis. It’s almost funny that this whole thing also involves Alexa and Nikki Cross because it was just a year ago they had their own story of “Ok, she’s just using her.. only wait, she actually does want to be her friend and isn’t using her at all!”

I wouldn’t mind seeing that here as well.

I’m thinking about tapping: Isn’t this over yet?

Man, Royal Rumble better be the last we see of this King Corbin / Roman Reigns feud because it has run its course and I am ready for both of these guys to move on as well as Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode to continue being a tag team without having to serve King Corbin.

Roode vs Roman in a tables match goes pretty much how you’d expect. A bunch of teasing of each other getting put through tables, interference from the bad guys that make it seem like all hope is lost until the good guys rush in for the save. Spear through a table and we’re done here.

At least we didn’t have to wait for the match stipulation to be announced even if threatening to fight all over a baseball stadium sounds as much a threat as it is a promise for an exciting match. Also it’s going to feel a bit disappointing if they have this “Falls count Anywhere” match and at some point don’t use the train located over Minute Maid Park’s left field wall as part of the match.

I’m sure next week we’ll get a six-man tag between all six participants on the go-home show to Rumble and that will be fine as well, especially if we get Corbin finding one more way to get one up on Roman before the big match which Roman no doubt wins. This all feels like it’s heading to an inevitable conclusion, and really not a moment too soon.