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SD!: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Yes, Randy, You ARE Sorry.
December 15, 2013

by PyroFalkon
Master of the PyroFalkon Multimedia Empire, Incorporated
Follow Pyro's Tweets
on Twitter --/-- View Pyro's Videos on Youtube

 

As a guy trying to be a professional writer, I have a couple bad habits. The main one, most likely, is the fact that I don't write nearly enough, since my YouTube work now takes up most of my free time, narrowly followed by apathy. But the other bad habit I have is that I don't read enough; books take up even more time, and I increasingly find myself pursuing stupid goals, such as gaming for pleasure, over expanding my knowledge... or, at least, my ability to ascertain what writing styles I can't stand, why, and how to avoid them.
 

Nonfiction especially isn't usually interesting to me, but I've been reading The Guns of August, a history of the early days of World War I, and I'm absolutely gripped by the book. The interest in the first World War stems from the fact that I have a gaping hole in my knowledge of American history. In Xenia High School, American history basically jumped from 1865 to 1941, without much information in between. Granted, the Civil War and World War II were incredibly important events, but it seems like a huge gap (nearly a century) to bypass. Hell, anything I know about the Great Depression comes from my grandmother pretty much.
 

I've been fascinated with military history for a long time, which may or may not stem from my gaming love, hence why I'm specifically reading about World War I rather than, say, a general history of the time period. Regardless, I asked a coworker at IGN with a history degree what books he recommended if I wanted to brush up on World War I; The Guns of August was his automatic reply. I read the reviews and called bullshit on the idea that the book was written almost like fiction, like a narrative rather than a hard history read. I'm incredibly happy that I'm wrong: it's far more gripping and fascinating than most fiction I've read.

What surprises me the most, coming from the school system of a city that purports nothing that exists on the other side of either ocean is worthy of teaching, is how little America mattered... at least, so far. It's such a fascinating book that I'm actually avoiding “spoilers” so far. I'm making notes on stuff I want to look up in more detail later, but I'm enjoying the pace and style of the writing, so I'm trying to treat it like I have no idea what's coming up. Quite frankly, except for the general result, I don't.

Probably best of all, I'm actually finding ways to adapt the style to my own, since my own fictional writing will eventually feature a war as a plot line. I'm learning what kind of politics and logistics go into the decision to declare war, and what kind of “mundane” troubles can hurt a military before any attacks happen. In Hollywood and games, it's all “point and shoot”... seeing the political side of military engagements, especially at that personal of a level, is intriguing.

Seriously, buy The Guns of August. It's awesome.

And now to SmackDown. Quicker I get it done, quicker I get back to my book. Let's roll...

Opening: TLC is this Sunday, and if you need to be reminded of such, WWE has seen fit to adorn ringside with tables, ladders, and chairs for no reason from the moment the show starts.

Segment 1 [Singles Match]: Daniel Bryan reverse-squashes Eric Rowan (w/ The Wyatt Family) by disqualification. All roughneck offense by Rowan, who even whipped out the always-lame Bear Hug of Doom. It didn't take long for Luke Harper to get involved, but DB dispatched both of them to the east ringside. DB then hit the west ropes to prepare for a suicide dive to take out both of them, but Bray Wyatt stood from his chair and tripped him up (which DB intensely oversold). Mike Chioda called for the bell.

Post-Segment 1: Bray sat back down as his brothers tried double-teaming DB, but DB managed to take them both out. He then slid out of the ring and did a sick running Sagat Tiger Flying Knee to Bray while he still sat in the chair, causing the chair to not only fall all the way back, but splinter in parts too. Not sure how much of Bray's reaction was selling or actual pain... good lord, that was nasty.

DB celebrated his way up the ramp while the Wyatt brothers helped Bray and threw a tantrum at ringside.

Pre-Segment 2: The Real Americans hit the ring for a match, but also to talk some shit. Zeb Colter's issue of the week seems to be that no one in America should say “Feliz Navidad,” especially not when begging for money, since those two concepts equal an illegal immigrant. Though his logic is obviously flawed, I'd be all for agreeing to ban the song of the same name upon penalty of death.

Segment 2 [Tag Match]: The Real Americans (w/ Zeb Colter) defeat Cody Rhodes & Goldust by pin. Solid match, but pure formula and nothing we've really seen before. That's no knock, but it's not really worth giving a detailed, redundant recap. Check it out on YouTube.

The finish was clever. After a clusterfuck house of fire sequence by Cody, Jack Swagger (illegal) found himself on the outside on the west, and Antonio Cesaro was stunned on his back in the ring. Cody went up for his moonsault, but Swagger distracted him. Cody fought of Swagger, but Cesaro took the time to recover; he quickly grabbed Cody's ankle and yanked him off the top rope, delivering his signature European Uppercut to him. Goldust was down still from his hot tag effort, and Cody couldn't answer the three-count pin.

Segment 3: Nice little montage of the title unification story. I agree that the whole thing is a little rushed, but that video package was pretty cool. Although I can never help laughing whenever I see Cena's haircut during his “Prototype” debut.

Segment 4: Bad News Barrett is back, now with a gavel, because why not become even more annoying? He bitches for two minutes, essentially being upset that no one voted for him for anything during the Slammys. Was he even nominated in any of the categories? And more importantly, who gives a shit?

Segment 5 [Singles Match]: Mark Henry squashes Damien Sandow by countout. Nope.

After the match, Big E. Langston, who was on commentary, decided to throw him back into the ring. Henry smacked him, and Sandow smacked Langston in retaliation. But it was less an epic battle of punches than a stereotypical nerd slap fight, and Sandow just ran away afterward. Whatever.

Segment 6: Booker T wants to sell you shit from WWE Shop.

Segment 7 [Tag Match]: AJ & Tamina defeat The Bella Twins by submission. Natalya was on commentary, and every time we saw her on camera, she was facing JBL. With all due respect (and about 80% jest), if she can't be bothered to actually watch the match, why the hell should we? Doesn't help that Natalya still tried to sell us that she's so totally the face since she's on the Total Divas show. Natalya's nonsensical overall point is that AJ isn't the deserving champion despite being, you know, the champion.

As for the match itself, well... it was standard AJ fare, which isn't exactly a compliment, but not exactly a slam either. AJ spent the match getting her ass kicked, Tamina did the heavy lifting, and then AJ hit a Black Widow out of nowhere. Nikki tapped out by slapping AJ's lower back rather than her ass, to the chagrin of males everywhere.

By the way, the match took two minutes, at best. Wake me when WWE starts giving the divas equal treatment again.

Segment 8: Cena hits the ring to talk. And... uh... it's uninteresting. I have to say, I thought he really brought it on Monday with his fantastic promo against Orton, and I was intrigued in the final shots being him standing with The Authority, since if that was turned into a plot line at TLC, I'd be seriously considering a corner was turned in WWE.

But... this wasn't Monday. And all Cena did was generic hype, mostly to boos. He did what he could, but given that it's a match with next to nothing in build-up, Cena can only do so much. A generic promo won't help matters.

Pre-Segment 9: Siva... Tau? I was so distracted by opening Christmas cards that I didn't even notice they were doing it at first.

Segment 9 [Tag Match]: The Shield (Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) defeat The Usos by pin. Solid match, also worth YouTubing, but not worth recapping. WWE isn't bringing their A-game tonight.

Dean Ambrose was on commentary and, surprisingly, remained there the whole time. He watched the match, commented on it, and talked shit, meaning he was about 4572% more effective in that booked position than Natalya was.

No new spots, but we saw some stiff ones, from Jey's stiff Samoan Drop on Rollins to Reigns's finishing Spear that pretty much removed Jimmy's ribs from his body. Good stuff.

Post-Segment 9: Well now this is interesting. As Shield (all three) celebrate and pose in the ring, CM Punk appears on the Titantron stealing Shield's shtick. He does a to-camera monologue with a shaky cam as he tells The Shield he's “broadcasting from an undisclosed location” (which, he says, is so totally just the arena basement).

Punk says the area is pretty dusty and gross, but knows it's where Shield likes broadcasting their little messages. So Punk has a little message of his own. He knows he's walking into a slaughter on Sunday with his 1-on-3 handicap match, but he's also sure he's going to trash someone on his way down. Especially since, now that he's faced Shield enough times, he knows their weaknesses.

Then he tries something intimidating as he rips off Shield's catchphrase and signature single-fist pose, but someone forgot he's got tats on his fists, so he holds up his right hand almost against the camera lens... so as he says “Believe... in the best...” all we see is the word “DRUG” photo-bombing a supposedly intense moment.

I'm not sure if it would be better or worse for him to also put up the “FREE” fist, but it would have been infinitely less hilarious.

Pre-Segment 10: They announce that the Tag Titles will be on the line at TLC in a fatal four-way tag match, also involving Ryback & Curtis Axel, Big Show & Rey Mysterio, and The Real Americans, with Cody Rhodes & Goldust defending. When the hell was that match booked? What possible logic could they have used to throw everyone together? [Ed. Note: Rybaxel and Ceswaggio have both beat Goldust/Cody, recently, and Big Show and Rey are, like, totally awesome. MYSTERISHOW~!]

Segment 10 [Singles Match]: Big Show (w/ Rey Mysterio) reverse-squashes Ryback (w/ Curtis Axel) by pin. Ryback offense for 45 seconds, chokeslam out of nowhere, pin.

After the match, Axel shoved Show from behind, thus leading to a 619 and a WMD for his trouble. Good contribution, buddy.

Segment 11: Bray Wyatt cuts a short to-camera monologue on the Titantron aimed at Daniel Bryan. Can simply be summed up with “Bray loses his goddamn mind and sings a lullaby to Eric Rowan's left nipple.” In other words, it was pretty sweet.

Segment 12: The shirt and bandana combination of Kofi Kingston, for some reason, makes me think he looks like a black, skinny Hulk Hogan. Weird.

So, Kofi was hitting the ring for a match against Alberto Del Rio, who was already in the ring. But before Kofi got in there, Miz arrived to hit Kofi with a Skull Crushing Finale for no reason. So, re-heel turn, I guess? And am I supposed to give a shit?

Segment 13: In Michael Cole's weekly sit-down interview with Triple H, Trips says he might accept Randy Orton's apology for bowling over Stephanie McMahon on Monday. We'll hear that apology, uh, next. After ads, of course.

Segment 14: Randy Orton hits the ring to blather, and what I notice is that the computer program that runs the light board across the top of the arena crashed, as the SmackDown logo is “stuck” and overlapping itself. Because of course that is the kind of thing I notice.

Anyway, Orton opens that he doesn't know what he was thinking on Monday, but he's not going to continue the apology unless he can be face-to-face with Trips, who comes out presently. We kick it to a replay of the sweet clusterfuck of an ending we had on Monday, then get back to the arena. Orton reiterates he's innocent... and gives more footage, because slow-motion replay is a better option than hearing Orton speak.

Orton says that “a lot of people have a lot to apologize for that night,” which I was hoping was a veiled reference for him to apologize for hitting Orton with a Pedigree. Orton, then, apologizes.

Trips says he didn't need to watch the footage since, you know, those are his cameras, and he's been watching the footage for the whole week. And Trips as well picked up on Orton's (surprisingly subtle) little barb, as Trips maintains that if “a lot of people have something to apologize for, I'm not one of them,” since he's the boss and everything.

Trips goes on that he could so totally fire Orton for Monday, but that's not what's best for business. And since a bunch of bullshit went down on Monday by a lot of people, Trips will accept his apology.

Orton is happy with that, but then kicks the footage up one more time to the very ending, i.e., Cena standing beside The Authority. So, what the hell is that? And also, I'm glad that moment wasn't an aside. My spidey sense was tingling when I saw it.

Anyway, Orton asks if Trips still has the same confidence in him as Orton has in himself. Trips smiles a douchey smile, shakes Orton's hand, and says “Don't worry, we know exactly where our faith lies.” It seems to mostly placate Orton, until his limited intellectual faculties catch up about twenty seconds later.

Trips leaves, Orton looks around confused, and I wonder why the hell I haven't been reading my book for the past two hours.

Final Thoughts: As a lead-in to the PPV, SmackDown was awful. Stories didn't really go anywhere, matches were tepid and/or formulaic, and what developments existed were stupid. Check out the matches I recommended and skip the rest.

Personally, WWE sold me on it Monday, and I would totally buy it, except I'm running very short on funds. (I'm down to double-digits, and if I bought a $45 pay-per-view, I'd have literally nothing to eat for the rest of the week.) So I recommend you do like I will, and come back to Online Onslaught shortly after 11pm on Sunday for Rick's recap of TLC.

Later on, everyone.

Episode Grade: D+

 
E-MAIL PYROFALKON


  
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