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Cena Slums It, Again
May 17, 2014

by PyroFalkon
Master of the PyroFalkon Multimedia Empire, Incorporated
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I have a question for those of you who are more tech-minded than me; I have a feeling I know the answer, but I'm looking for confirmation. Is it possible for a set of desktop computer speakers to wear out in such a way that a single speaker starts to fade, including the headphone jack? I'm, no-bullshit, slightly deaf in my left ear, so wearing headphones is always a bit of an adventure as I try to figure out whether it's me or my equipment. However, after running some tests (including the super-scientific “swapping the ears of the headphones”), I can confirm that my left speaker is somewhat quieter than my right speaker, and my left earpiece is somewhat quieter than my right earpiece when plugged into those speakers. When I use my headphones with other devices (such as my phone), both earpieces are equal.

I've confirmed that it's not a software thing. My volume balance on Windows is 50/50, and I experimented with 0/100 and 100/0. In all cases, the left speaker is quieter unless I make the balance something in the neighborhood of 75/25. I've known for a while that my left speaker was going a bit, but this is the first time I've ever encountered a situation where it causes the headphone jack to start dying too. [Ed. Note: I've experienced this, too, in the past, so it's a real thing. It's usually because the plug is shitty quality, or has been somehow compromised. You can try jiggling and twisting it, and see if you can complete the full connection... but even if you find the sweet spot, it's a crapshoot how long it'll hold before going wonky again.]

Hopefully I can get it all working again since, thanks to Rick's suggestion, I've started watching “24: Live Another Day” on Hulu. I'm only through episode 2, and while I'm enjoying it more than basically any season after Season 3, I'm still a little too much of a wanker since I'm noticing things I shouldn't... like how, despite being set in London, pretty much none of the characters have British accents. Hell, we even laid eyes on the British Prime Minister, played by Jeeves, but he didn't deliver a line. Regardless, when an Englishman finally DOES speak, I'd really like to hear it with both sides of my head if at all possible. Hopefully the problem is as simple as replacing my speakers and not, say, my motherboard.

All right, enough blathering about computers and Kiefer Sutherland and his ridiculous marquee banner. Let's get to SmackDown...

Segment 1: John Cena is here to open the show. He's here ostensibly for his feud with Bray Wyatt. However, Cena really starts by giving some well wishes to Daniel Bryan and his neck surgery, saying he “hates it when bad things happen to good people.” It nets him some brownie points with the fans.

Then he gets to the original topic: the proposed Last Man Standing match between Wyatt and Cena which is as yet unbooked. Cena runs down the rules of it for the four people in the crowd who don't know, then points out that Bray's never had one. Cena knows how insane those matches are though, and he knows that Bray isn't actually challenging him to it since it takes a tough man to do it. He concedes that Bray is “dangerous,” but that Bray's strength lies in getting others to do his work for him. What Bray doesn't have is balls... or rather, a dozen family-friendly synonyms for balls, though surprisingly not “grapefruits.” Regardless, if Bray is so totally set on it, Cena will then so totally beat him at WWE Payback.

But that's then, this is now, so Cena is making an open challenge to any member of the Wyatt Family to beat the crap out of, and he's leaving the option to Bray himself. He's confident Bray won't choose himself, since he'll just get one his “Duck Dynasty rejects” to help him.

Bray then pops up on the Titantron to do some crazy blathering, mostly centered around that Cena's rhetoric will no longer affect anyone; that after Payback, Cena “will be left standing in the muck of your own ignorance.” Then he starts singing, which gets only about 60% of the crowd singing along, and the other 40% booing him. That's an interesting reaction.

Segment 2: Bo Dallas. But now we have a date! He'll be debuting next week on SmackDown. As Rick mentioned on Monday, WWE doesn't usually debut anyone overseas (except for Santino Marella, where it was necessary for the storyline), so this is a little weird. Guess we'll see how that turns out.

Segment 3 [Tag Match]: The Usos defeat Cody Rhodes & Goldust by pin. Solid match. Mostly pure formula, and that's not a complaint.

Back-and-forth offense to get started with the Usos generally coming out ahead, mostly with quick tags and double team offense. Goldust and Cody started in with a little momentum after a couple minutes, and showed some heelish attacks in doing so. They're clearly tweeners at this point, and they maintain that attitude as we go to ads.

Back, and they're totally in control of... uh... I think that's Jey. Oh, yep, thank you Michael Cole, I did indeed get that right. I'd explain how I can tell them apart, but it's insane and complicated, so I'll keep my mouth shut.

Anyway, the tweeners maintain the offense, which gets more punchy-kicky as we go along, which Cole simply calls “aggressive offense.” They keep the ring cut in half until an awkward spot that results an Irish Whip reversal that sees Goldust basically throwing himself out of the ring. Hot tag to Jimmy, who dominates Cody (who tagged himself in), but Jimmy can't close the deal.

Jimmy does slip out of a Cross Rhodes attempt to hit his corkscrew moonsault, but again can't close the deal. Pier Four Brawl ensues, Jey is sent flying off the west side, then Goldust teases a flying something-or-other from the apron, so Jimmy kicks his head off. Cody figures what's good for the goose is good for the gander, so he nails Jimmy with a Disaster Kick. However, when he tries the pin, he's too close to the ropes, so Jey pulls his ankle. Cody kicks him away and gets to his feet, but Jimmy does too and decides there hasn't been enough face-kicking in this match, so he hits Cody with a superkick. Then whips out the Superfly Splash, and that's all she wrote.

Segment 4 [Singles Match]: El Torito (w/ Los Matadores) defeats Heath Slater (w/ 3MB) by pin. Nope.

Segment 5: RAW recap of The Shield and Evolution. One of my pet peeves is when someone pronounces the word “often” with a hard T. Dean Ambrose even adds a little stank to his “ofTEN,” and it drives me nuts.

Pre-Segment 6: Because this match between Natalya and Nikki Bella totally needs context, we get the same stupid-ass clip from That One Show. Gifted paintings are apparently Serious Business.

Segment 6 [Singles Match, Eva Marie is the special guest referee]: Nikki Bella defeats Natalya by pin. I'm torn about Eva Marie. On one hand, she probably has no business wearing the stripes, especially since the only reason she's there is to remind us she exists on That One Show. On the other hand, she's Eva Marie, wearing essentially a bikini bottom (with the stupid WWE-required pantyhose) and showing off her midriff. So... net positive to me.

Basic offense to start things off... and to keep us going. The fans sound like they're pretty into it, though I don't see the same reactions, so I have a feeling they're sweetening the sound. (Unless that really is a bullshit rumor, though I never researched it enough to know or care.

The finish saw Natalya doing a sweet surfboard to Nikki... but then Natalya's shoulders kinda dropped down. Eva forgot the rules of the contest and just sort of stood there. Then Natalya awkwardly let Nikki, and both women's shoulders were on the mat... it basically looked like a German Suplex without the bridge.

Eva still had no idea what to do, though she did start counting... after they started shifting and there was no more pinning situation. So they readjusted so Nikki sat on Natalya's neck and pulled her feet up, basically a pinning situation that you would normally see after a victory roll. Natalya wiggled her butt like a corgi, and Eva decided to start counting after a few seconds passed. She also counted slower than a molasses-coated slug, but hey, it was a three-count after a good ten total seconds.

So, tl;dr: it was awful. Like, super-awful. And it sucks, because Nikki is surely more ring-capable than that, and we know that Natalya is far more ring-capable that that. But when AJ isn't around and WWE is more concerned with reality television on a different network than with putting on an enjoyable product with their own niche, this is what we get. Fucking assholes.

We're supposed to care about the post-match tension between Natalya and Eva Marie, but we don't. We so, so don't.

Segment 7: Renee Young interviews Dolph Ziggler, who apparently tweeted some bullshit about Batista earlier this week. And because WWE usually operates on teenage girl logic, apparently a critical tweet is Super Important And Newsworthy. Dolph tries to backpedal from the tweet a bit, but then just bluntly says that Batista is the “weak link of Evolution.” And they're having a match to settle it.

Segment 8 [Singles Match]: Dolph Ziggler defeats Batista by disqualification. Dolph uses his “quickness” to get an early advantage over Bats, which is babyface code for using chickenshit heel tactics. That works for about thirty seconds, at which point Bats rams Dolph's back into the apron edge, then whips him into the steps.

Heel beatdown from there, mostly roughneck offense. Ziggles gets a breath when he counters a Batista Bomb into a DDT, coming much sooner in the match than I thought it would. Bats whiffs on a Spear to the corner, so Dolph gets his hope. 10 punches in the corner... but he only gets up to 5, and Bats punches him in the Little Ziggler.

That's the match, but Bats hits him with a disqualification anyway. That'll teach him to use a computer!

Post-Segment 8: Bats leaves the ring, but then decides penance hasn't been paid enough, so he goes back in the ring just to fling Dolph out. Bats throws him into the corner barricade, then powerbombs him onto the edge of that barricade too. That stiffens my back just looking at it.

Bats is finally satisfied, so he leaves after posing on the stage to unanimous boos.

Segment 9: Bo Dallas again.

Pre-Segment 10: Titus O'Neil and Sheamus are set to face each other. Titus talks shit after entrances, then gets racist by being pissy about a non-American holding the United States title, which sounds like a line that Zeb Colter should say. Will Titus O'Neil be the next Real American?

Segment 10 [Singles Match]: Sheamus squashes Titus O'Neil by pin. Titus turned around after tossing the mic to a stage hand and walked right into a Brogue Kick. The only reason this lasted more than five seconds is that Sheamus decides to pose first before actually making the pin.

Segment 11: Byron Saxton is trying to interview Adam Rose at his party bus. Rose is more interested in partying and sucking that infuriating (for some reason) lollipop. Rose does manage to say that he's essentially pissing off Jack Swagger and Colter for being boring jerks, and encourages Saxton to “be a rosebud” instead of being boring too. Saxton digs it and sucks on Rose's other lollipop, which thank god isn't a euphamism, although we really have no idea where Rose was keeping it before giving it to him. Also, some dude dressed up as a cheeseburger puts a rainbow wig on Saxton's head, because a sweet business fade isn't rose enough.

Segment 12 [Singles Match]: Santino Marella (w/ Emma) reverse-squashes Damien Sandow by pin. Damien Sandow is Damien Sandow for this one, rather than wearing his Magneto pajamas. JBL calls him on this, and implies that “Sandow and Magneto is like Bruce Wayne and Batman.” I am apparently in Full Wanker Mode since my immediate reaction to that was “That's the wrong universe, fuckface!,” instead of not giving a shit like 99% of the viewers. I am... ashamed of myself.

So it took me longer to write that paragraph than the match lasted, which was basically Santino getting his ass kicked under fifteen seconds and then hitting him with the Cobra out of nowhere.

Post-Segment 12: Things get... momentarily weird. Sandow is outside the ring, not really all that “selling,” and he proceeds to scream thus:

Well aren't I a good soldier? I'm a great soldier? Isn't that what you like; smart guy loses and you're happy? Problem: some idiot keeps this mic turned on!” ...which he says as they cut his mic. But the camera mic still picks him up as he continues: “Some idiot won't turn my mic off! I won't shut up!” Then he literally drops the mic, slaps his wrists together and holds them up in the air, and screams “Handcuffed!”

That... was fucking odd. That did not feel like a work, which may mean it's an awesome one. That, or it was a shoot, though if it is, I'm rather surprised WWE kept it in the show.

I checked Sandow's Twitter account, and lo and behold, he said things like “I'll be surprised if they let me in the building,” and “What some call 'pipe bombs,' I don't even call firecrackers.” Though he does add he's “still employed,” but then posted a picture of handcuffs with a handwritten note reading “Life is great” with a smiley face. But no tweets in the last four days. Summed up thusly: what the hell?

I would be the first person in line to agree with him, if this is indeed a shoot, and it certainly smells like it. He deserves way, way better than the stupid Magneto bullshit he was booked in, though he's right that that little outburst is barely a “firecracker.” I guess I'll leave it to Rick's editor's note here to hear his take on the situation, since I've long since mentioned I don't read rumors or dirt sheets and have no insider sources beyond my overactive imagination. [Ed. Note: nothing too earth-shattering about it. It's all part of the script, and it started on the pre-show last Monday... apparently, it got over well enough that they're putting it on the real TV show, now. But like all "Hey, this is a shoot" angles, you're right that it's sort of jarring when a "shoot" is happily presented on TV by WWE. Doubly jarring when you consider it's a taped show.]

Pre-Segment 13: Back from ads, and R-Truth is already in the ring. Paul Heyman then pops out onto the stage to put over anyone who calls himself a “Paul Heyman guy,” since his guys have snapped The Streak, and won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Same song and dance we've heard before.

Segment 13 [Singles Match]: Cesaro (w/ Paul Heyman) reverse-squashes R-Truth by pin. Truth whipped out a fancy pinning combination immediately and only got two. Truth then went balls-to-the-wall with punchy-kicky, then ate a Neutralizer basically out of nowhere.

Segment 14: RAW recap of DB's speech about the neck surgery, as well as Kane's angle where he “brutalized” DB away from the cameras. We get some pictures of DB seemingly good to go, but we'll know exactly how DB is doing, plus the state of the title on RAW next Monday.

Pre-Segment 15: Cena hits the ring for the main event. The Wyatts make their full entrance, but surround the ring and tease that they're going triple-team Cena. Cena actually looks worried, which is weird... ah, but here come the Usos to run protection. Cena does the broad gesturing of being so totally smart, and then we go to ads before we find out who he's facing.

Segment 15 [Singles Match]: John Cena (w/ the Usos) defeats Erick Rowan (w/ the Wyatt Family) by pin. Decent match for what it was, and probably the best we could hope for from Rowan. He didn't screw anything up, and Cena oversold for him... but we had to deal with two versions of a Head Squish of Doom, and that's not a compliment.

Cena had a grand total of zero (0) moves until he had his hope spot, whereupon he hit his Five Moves of Doom, culminating in the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena made it worse by doing the “You Can't See Me” taunt directly at Bray, so he sent in Luke Harper to attack Cena. But the Usos earned their paycheck by beating the shit out of him, sending him packing, and following up with twin suicide dives.

Rowan managed to make a go of it thanks to the distraction, but that obviously didn't pan out, and then an FU ended that whole nonsense.

Final Thoughts: So... yeah, that happened. The opener was the closest thing we had to sustainable episodic TV, but what else exactly got accomplished tonight? Batista ran over Dolph, Cesaro ran over R-Truth, the divas ran over gender equality, and Cena... well, okay, Cena/Wyatt technically advanced a step, but who gives a shit? We all knew where that match was heading.

Oh well. Chalk this one up to WWE's “phoning it in overseas” one week early while they're still in the States. Hopefully things will improve, and hey: remember we've got Bo Dallas coming next week! Whee!

Episode Grade: D+


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