Welcome, you've landed on Planet Kayfabe where I see the storm approaching long before the rain starts falling... but on the bright side -- Go, Red Sox!
Remember all the way back to last week when I wrote about the good and bad of WWE's reliance on nostalgia. Note "reliance" because it's their most powerful marketing chip right now unlike back in the day when they satisfied the old fans with some light nostalgic fan service, today we are given top marquee, big event matches and even title runs with the Superstars of yester-year popping all the 30-50+ year olds in the crowd because the kids who don't watch this robotic, formulaic piss condensation are the smart ones.
The special 1,000th episode of Smackdown came and went this past Tuesday. It was a fun, but not great show. I don't have much to say about it beyond that. This episode did however expose a few issues within the company in terms of storytelling and character development.
If I were to poll you asking which segment was your favorite most of you would likely either say the Evolution promo segment or the 'Cutting Edge' with Becky Lynch as Edge's guest topped off with yet another big brawl between Charlotte and Becky. That's what I'll be getting into. Of course since it was "a very special" episode, the full-timers were more-or-less treated like prelim clowns and the stars of the past were the larger-than-life superstars dwarfing the current talent.
The centerpiece of this episode was the reunion of Evolution. Yes... The long awaited reunion of a faction that was NEVER together on Smackdown came to celebrate the 1,000th episode of Smackdown because... yeah. Because they did. That's why. Regardless, this was my personal favorite segment mainly due to Batista who cut probably one of the best promos of his entire career. Of course, for the thousandth time, I don't know what it says about WWE when once again the best segment on Raw was lead by a retired wrestler, a part-time wrestler/full time executive and an inactive wrestler turned actor. Batista planted the seeds for a match with Triple H, which if you're a regular NoDQ visitor or visitor of any wrestling news and rumors website or podcast, you know it is no secret that Batista wants one more run with WWE while he can still go. Obviously he doesn't want to end his wrestling career on the sour note that it was in 2014 which was probably one of the most botched returns ever and none of which was Batista's fault although he did admit that he came back too lean and didn't look like "The Animal" that fans remember. Which is true, but it sucked more because of WWE's tone-deaf booking, which still exists today and playing with the audience when he returned never making it clear if he was a babyface or a heel thus confusing them and then when they tried making him a babyface it was too late. The return was just snake bitten from the start. Hopefully Batista gets the ending he's looking for and it looks like that will most likely be at Wrestlemania 35 next year. You may not care, but it shouldn't surprise you. Like I wrote about in long form in my last column this is the era of nostalgia and Wrestlemania 35 will likely be built heavily around Triple H vs Batista. Batista turns 50 in January. Triple H will turn 50 later that summer. Yes, we all want the current guys getting these big spots but the company just doesn't position them as big of stars as the part-time guys of the past. When nostalgia stops selling or they all die, whichever comes first, I guess that's when they will invest in current stars that will actually get the attention of fans under the age of 35.
"The Cutting Edge" segment exposed another problem. Edge came out and unlike a lot of the older guys who come back, seeing him didn't make me feel old. He grew his hair back out and he still looks like Edge. He was here to interview Becky Lynch and she came out to, what else, a huge ovation because the fans love her. However, WWE wants to tell a different story, so they have Edge spew this tone-deaf dialogue about how he was just like her. He was "the ultimate opportunist" and cheated out all his friends just to be the world champion and now lives with regret because now he's retired and has no one.
Look, I'm all for suspending disbelief but give me some rope here. The fans don't see Edge as a lonely guy. They've seen him with his loving mother present for his retirement speech who even popped a chant. They've seen him at the WWE Hall of Fame watching his wife getting inducted while holding their daughter. They saw him at the Hall of Fame this year with his life-long best friend Christian who he also has a show with on the WWE Network and a weekly podcast. On the WWE Network they aired a Table For 3 with Matt and Jeff Hardy along with Edge and Christian. Edge and Matt had a huge public falling out over a decade ago after Lita cheated on Matt and fell in love with Edge while Matt was taking time off from an injury... Yet today it seems like they consider each other friends again. This is all stuff we have seen on their programming. Not stuff internet nerds have to dig for. So, that whole bit about Edge retiring with nothing fell flat.
The heater was supposed to be Becky Lynch taking a shot (verbally, on the mic) at Edge's injured neck which forced his early retirement. Instead the fans popped because it was obvious when this company tries way too hard to get heat with ridiculous over-the-top lines like that. The kind of stuff no one would ever say in real life. Like when Nikki said to Brie Bella "I wish you died in the womb". That's probably something the Bella's said to each other every day when they were 5 years old. Not really the kind of thing an actual adult would say in anger.
All this segment did was further prove that the fans love Becky and want to cheer her. The company is doing almost as much to get her booed as they are to get Roman Reigns cheered. Look, I know in the monopoly era with the stock way up and Saudi's shilling out millions and ridiculous television contracts there is less incentive than ever to listen to the fans but... come on. Give me a f***ing break, WWE. What is wrong with just listening to the consumers and letting them cheer who they want to cheer and boo who they want to boo. Instead of doing these awkward, force fed angles that go over like a fart during sex. Seriously, it's becoming too obvious that the company wants you to boo Becky that the fans are just going to cheer her even more passionately now because the company itself comes off as childish and stubborn... Well, look who the owner is, right? Maybe that should be the motto of the rebooted XFL that apparently they tossed out the concept of fans donating money to their favorite players. Yeah... That's a real thing. They'll have better luck with that shit than they will getting Becky Lynch booed though. This was a fine segment and Edge was great, but the material screamed of 2018 WWE tone deaf bullshit.
A couple other "legends" returned. Rey came back to beat Nakamura in a World Cup qualifying match. Big Show returned during a Smackdown Tag-Team Championship match with The New Day and The Bar only to turn for... (all together now...) HIS ONE THOUSANDTH TIME HUR HUR HUR yeah, that joke has been made a thousand times, too, I know. The funny thing is in all seriousness, I and many others I follow on Twitter who regularly live-Tweet WWE programs all called this turn. We've seen it many times where Big Show comes out to seemingly help someone but instead he turns around and Chokeslams them. Yawn. They might as well make this his gimmick. The bipolar giant. He comes out every week and alternates turning babyface and heel. For years he's been a living punchline for turning so much. On Steve Austin's podcast, which aired on the WWE Network, Big Show said one of the biggest frustrations he's had in his career was how much the company has turned him. Well, he's back and he turned again and no one cares. The Bar are your new Smackdown Tag champs and I guess they have some sort of alliance with Big Show. Like it even matters, right? This group has been around for a while and is over well enough. Do they really need a B-level "legend" to increase their profile? If the biggest Big Show fan is reading this, I don't know what to tell you. I think Paul Wight is a great guy, but unlike the other old guys who make returns the Big Show character doesn't really add anything to the show in 2018. He's just gonna be with The Bar then one day one of them is going to yell at him for f***ing something up and he's going to turn babyface by whacking him with the K.O. Punch. There. Spoiler alert.
There's my thoughts on Smackdown 1,000 and some takes on on-going issues with WWE programming that are clearly not getting fixed any time soon. I guess I should just enjoy that Becky Lynch, after a few years of doing lame comedy and being a prelim act, is getting a big push. I just wish I could enjoy this push without having to roll my eyes at some of the ridiculous lengths WWE will reach just to get someone to boo her. Instead of worrying and putting so much effort into "how do we get this guy cheered that keeps getting booed" and "how do we get this superstar booed that keeps getting cheered" they could perhaps listen to their audience. I know that sounds crazy.
Overall thoughts, the show was fun but heavily rushed. The ending with The Undertaker felt rather pointless as well with him making a full entrance just to say the end of his pre-taped promo from a day earlier. Yeah, they like to insist that Undertaker is one of the biggest stars in Smackdown history, but when I think of The Undertaker "Smackdown Superstar" is very low on the list of things that come to mind. I guess it was cool for those, like Big G, who were there live, but on TV it was a pretty flat ending. The returning Rey Mysterio celebrating his win would have been a fine way to close the show.
That's it for Planet Kayfabe. I'm KC for NoDQ. I'll be back next time to talk about WWE's glorified PR counter tactic to Crown Jewel known as "Evolution" (yeah, sorry if I wont be crying tears of joy for this event. The placement less than a week before going to Saudi Arabia is too coincidental.) Thank you for reading. Follow me on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe and I'll see you here next time.
Best of luck in the World Series to the Boston Red Sox. Take care and God bless.