Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The last SmackDown before Backlash exists, and that’s about it

Image for article titled The last SmackDown before Backlash exists, and that’s about it

Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

  • Results: Jinder Mahal (with the Singh brothers) defeated AJ Styles; Breezango defeated The Colons; Carmella defeated Naomi; Randy Orton defeated Baron Corbin
  • How dare Kevin Owens hijack The Highlight Reel? How. Dare. He?
  • When Breezango enters the WWE Hall of Fame, hopefully whoever inducts them (EC3/Derrick Bateman, hopefully) includes “DAY ONE IS H” in their speech. Again, the Fashion Files have way too much going on to list everything (like American Alpha as “Fashion Beta”), but the “DAY ONE IS H” part is simply brilliant (especially after all the confusion I saw last week about what “DAY ONE ISH” actually means), as is Tyler Breeze’s stress that they might lose to The Usos because of how “well-conditioned” the champions’ hair is. Still goofy, but it’s a goofy that comes with a true vulnerability. Breezango and The Usos honestly feel like a perfect pairing, especially with how loose and free their promos and segments feel compared to everyone else’s.
  • Because I think it can get lost in their great character work, I need to remind everyone that Breezango is a team who can put on very good to great work in the ring regularly. Fandango, back when he was just a dancer (like when he was getting his push and beat Jericho at WrestleMania), was sort of held back in the ring because of the gimmick, but part of what makes the whole Breezango package work now is how that’s no longer the case. Plus, the fact that he’s allowed to have two finishers—the leg drop, which he used on The Ascension, as well as his Falcon Arrow—is a nice choice, one that’s rarely touched on in general but very smart, despite a less than smart character.
  • Ellsworth’s “duh” as he tries to dress down Becky, Charlotte, and Naomi is so obnoxious. It’s great! As is him calling himself a “brother.” As is his delusion that both Becky and Charlotte are attracted to him. As is Naomi’s decision to choke him. Shane McMahon basically runs an asylum at this point.
  • Someone needs to tell Baron Corbin not to spam his (what I call) stealth move, the one where he slides back into the ring and tries to get his opponent back with his agility. Repetition is obviously a big part of WWE style, but he literally goes for it three times in this week’s match, and it doesn’t really jive with his character that he wouldn’t learn from his mistakes. He’s a hot head, yes, but he’s also one who has something of a tantrum and then quickly adapts, which is part of what makes him so dangerous. Here, he runs into an RKO on his third ill-advise try. On a more positive (depending on your perspective) note, I found his match with Corbin to surprisingly highlight how similar the two are, in terms of general character concept and their approaches to wrestling (when Orton cares, at least). This match actually makes me more interested to see how Orton versus Mahal goes, because Orton does a lot to make Corbin look really good in this match. The guys even chain wrestle at the beginning of this match, which I definitely didn’t expect at all. Corbin (like Fandango, I’ll note) wrestles here with that sense of urgency of wanting to prove something, that same sense I have yet to see out of Jinder, even in his match against AJ Styles. (A match where the only heat comes from Kevin Owens’ cheap shot on Styles, by the way.)
  • Hearing about Erick Rowan’s “clown” gimmick on recent house shows, I haven’t exactly been excited to see it on the main show… but his Talking Smack appearance got me on board, at least character-wise. I’ve written before about how characters like Undertaker and Kane legitimately terrified me as a kid, and the best compliment I can pay Rowan’s work on Talking Smack (especially if the actual show can capture the same vibe) is that it feels like the type of thing that will terrify the children of today. And Renee Young, of course.
  • Rusev did not show up this week. Alright then.