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Photo Credit: World Wrestling Entertainment

Smackdown Hat Tips And Tap Outs: Can We Sell You On Our Little Sunday Show?

This is it, the last WWE TV before a big Royal Rumble weekend in Houston! Time for them to sell me on this upcoming pay per view and convince me to spend 50 bucks with my local cable prov…

Oh wait, guess that’s not a thing really anymore what with the Network I already have for 12 bucks a month (good ‘ol Canadian exchange rate), not to mention… It’s the freakin’ Royal Rumble. WWE can go on and on about how SummerSlam is a big event or how whatever blood money show in Saudi Arabia is as big as WrestleMania, but the truth is Royal Rumble will always be the second best event WWE puts on because Royal Rumble matches – especially that we have two of them now, men’s and women’s – are so much fun on their own and have such important stakes, that the entire event can’t help but feel big.

There is a reason WWE is starting to do Rumbles at baseball stadiums now. Even that makes it the second biggest event WWE does next to the larger football stadium / dome ‘Manias.

So anyway, they don’t really have to do much selling to get us to watch the Rumble, but with it two days away, the last TV before a PPV should serve as a good tone setter…

I’m waiting for the end of this feud…

Unlike RAW, we get right to the action on SmackDown, which makes sense since it has one less hour to work with. Surprisingly it’s Team Corbin vs Team Roman which felt like a nice change of pace from having their shenanigans always closing out Friday nights.

Jimmy Uso at one point suffers a leg injury that is obviously a work to set up a bit of a handicap match to give the edge to the baddies – or at least it seems like a work until Dolph Ziggler goes for some sort of tackle / bulldog / sling blade into the ring steps and post that probably legitimately hurts Uso Number 1.

From there, we get a very much paint-by-numbers three-on-two match owned by the heels, takes out Uso Number Two and gangs up on Roman until he gets in one Superman Punch which is like a bat-signal for Uso Number One to return and then all heck breaks loose with Roman and Corbin fighting through the fans to the back…

Just like they can on Sunday!! So make sure you buy the Royal Rumble on pay per view…

Usos do the tag team-y thing for the win. All of that is to say that this was fine, a good way to spend the first 30 minutes of SmackDown, and man I’ll be glad once Roman and Corbin can move on to new things.

I’m tapping out: Bully Bayley

Lacey Evans is the All-American girl who is totally against people being mean and bullying each other to get what they…

Wait, isn’t this the same Lacey who, a year ago, attacked Becky Lynch multiple times, and ended up having Becky’s boyfriend’s name pasted on the back of her tights?

Whatever. Lacey isn’t about that now. She’s for the kids and fighting the good fight.

Bayley is just a mean, selfish bully. Attacking people from behind, only thinking about herself and her…

Wait, isn’t this the same Bayley who a year ago was giving out hugs to whoever wanted them, always fought the good clean fight and constantly had to endure attacks by bullies?

Whatever. Bayley isn’t about that now. Eff them kids and their stupid hugs, it’s time for her to be the bully.

I’m just not feeling any of this. Lacey is better as a straight up sassy heel. Bayley is better as… well she was brutal as a face, but honestly all we needed from Bayley years ago was that fun, loveable hug-lover who also had enough edge to her to snap once in a while and not wimp out when considering using a kendo stick in a friggin no-holds barred match when she herself got destroyed by one two weeks earlier.

As it is, we leave these two with Lacey somehow having gotten the upper-hand a few minutes later in a backstage set off which again just feels like more of the same that we’ve had for years with Bayley.

Just let her be a badass and walk away from it. That’s all I ask.

I’m really tapping out: Do Bayley and Lacey have to ruin everything?

We had Rose v Bliss one week, then we had Deville v Bliss week two, now for week three we get the tag match even though Nikki Cross never got a one-on-one match of her own and…

Well, apparently she can’t get a tag match either. Bayley – who we saw nearly unconscious against a crate a moment ago – is now running away from Lacey and into the ring which is just… I can’t…

Look, if you’re a pro wrestler and trying to avoid fighting someone, I would like to think that the last place you’d run towards and into to avoid it is THE ONE PLACE INSIDE THE ARENA THAT IS DESIGNATED FOR FIGHTING.

*facepalm*

Lacey chases after. Deville and Bayley (??) start fighting in the ring, then everyone starts fighting with everyone in the ring…

Just like they will on Sunday!! Only with a lot more women involved!! So make sure you buy the Royal Rumble on pay per view…

I’m ok with most of this: Ladies and gentlemen.. Braun Strowman

I really wanted to hear Braun sing. I almost gave this a tap out because I didn’t get it. I also almost gave this a tap out because poor Cesaro continues to job to the stars and I hate it, but at least he’s on TV and when he does get his offense in, man he looks great.

Nakamura and Strowman should prove to be an interesting bout and I don’t know how I’d book this one. On one hand, Strowman is well overdue for a singles title run and it’s been that way for a year. On the other, it would be a huge boost to Shinsuke if he can be seen toppling the big man even if it takes some evil chicanery.

I’m at least glad we didn’t see Strowman pin Shinsuke in the tag match. The whole “*insert name* has just pinned the *insert title* champion!” trope is overdone by WWE on a constant basis – they did it last week with Lacey and Bayley remember?

John Morrison has just pinned one half of the Tag Team Champions! Again!

Case in point.

We’ve now established a few things here. Miz and Morrison are feeling jilted by the WWE Universe who clearly loves to hate Miz and would have gone nuts for a John Morrison return if said return wasn’t him just popping his head out of a locker room while he consoled the Miz after a loss.

We’ve also established that Miz and Morrison suddenly have the number of both Kofi Kingston and Big E who, despite the fact they are also accomplished singles stars, are getting out-smarted by the Miz who couldn’t figure out how to use his brain like that against Shane McMahon about seven months earlier.

As for the match, Kofi and Johnny Nitro have a helluva match as one would expect and I really am looking forward to New Day vs Miz And Morziz for the tag titles. This all feels like a set up to a title change at some point and also feels like they’re setting up a New Day overcome-with-negativity storyline which will feel strange if they keep on going with their amazing podcast that is maybe the most over thing in wrestling right now.

I’m tipping my hat repeatedly: There will be blood

Contract signings suck for the most part, but this one promised to be different and it did not disappoint.

There is so much amazing going on with this segment, I almost can’t stand it.

How awesome is Daniel Bryan’s new shirt? It’s 60% Organic Cotton, 40% Recycled Poly and 100% fitting for someone like D-Bry. You may have seen interviews where he talks about it and the mad man actually made it happen.

That’s how you know Vince adores this guy. Vince may have green-lit this thing for maybe three other guys in the history of ever, but because Hogan, Cena and Austin have never really cared for the planet as much as Bryan has, he’s never had to worry about it.

As it turns out, the shirt rips up pretty easy as well which I am not sure if something you want to have seen on its TV debut, but me and my wallet are going to look past that and just hope I don’t run into demons who want to fight me in an arena flooded by red lights.

Cutting to the Funhouse, seeing Bray using a fax machine made me legit burst out in laughter. One of the most effective things about Bray Wyatt / “The Fiend” is the way he can feel disarming, almost sympathetic when he’s “himself” in the Funhouse, but the painful memories he has of previous betrayals and transgressions is what fuels his transformation into “The Fiend.” So, after some choice words by Bryan, fun-loving Bray – who really looked like he was trying to keep at a distance as so not to bring out “him” – decides that maybe “The Fiend” needs to be the one to sign the contract anyway.

He does of course, not with a pen, but with his own blood that he drew from stabbing himself with the pen because “The Fiend” does demented Fiend things.

And he did that after we had a brief preview of just what a strap match could look like with “The Fiend” whipping Bryan, leaving welts as we’d see once the regular lights came back on, and questions about just how wise it was to sign a match for a strap match in the first place when we saw just how brutal it could be.

Just like it will be on Sunday!! So make sure you buy the Royal Rumble on pay per view…