Date: April 10, 2018
Location: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
Commentators: Corey Graves, Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton
It’s the last major show of the week and after Raw, Smackdown has a lot to live up to. There were a ton of surprises, debuts and returns on Monday and I’m not sure how many more will be showing up tonight. If nothing else we might get more wrestling as that tends to be more of a Smackdown focus. Let’s get to it.
I was in the arena for this show, sitting in the upper deck and looking down on the ring with the Titantron on my right. The majority of the upper deck was tarped off and there were large sections of empty seats around the arena.
Here’s Shane McMahon, still announced as the Commissioner. That would still be accurate, even though he’s on a leave of absence at the moment. He thanks the fans for coming from all over the world to be here for such a big week because WWE couldn’t do it without them. He’s had a lot of great Wrestlemania moments but none of them topped teaming with Daniel Bryan.
Now since Bryan has returned to full time competition, Shane has accepted his resignation as General Manager. Therefore, we need a replacement so Shane is proud to present….Paige. I would have bet on Jeff Jarrett so this is a VERY nice surprise. Paige hits that I’m back line and says Shane was the first person waiting on her after her retirement speech last night. The Superstar Shakeup is next week but tonight we can do something special. It’s been a long time since Daniel Bryan and he needs an opponent. Fans: “RUSEV DAY!” Paige isn’t sure. Fans: “AJ STYLES!” Paige: “AJ STYLES!” Works for me!
Non-traditional audience disclaimer.
New Day vs. Usos
Winners get the Bludgeon Brothers at Greatest Royal Rumble. Woods punches away at Jimmy to start but Jey gets in a blind tag for a double boot to the head in the corner. It’s off to Big E. for an overhead belly to belly and Woods lifts Big E. onto his shoulders (dang) for a splash. The Unicorn Stampede takes us to a break and we come back with Big E. missing a splash onto the apron.
Jimmy comes in off the hot tag and gets in some uppercuts to Woods, followed by an enziguri on Big E. The Samoan drop gets two but Woods grabs a DDT for a breather. Woods’ legdrop gets two and we actually go back to tagging. Jey charges at Big E. in the corner but gets Rock Bottomed into a Backstabber from Woods. A double superkick drops Big E. but Woods comes in with a missile dropkick for two more. One more superkick sets up the Superfly Splash to end Woods at 10:25.
Rating: B-. This felt a lot longer live, albeit in a good way. These two have some great chemistry together but it might be better to have them apart for now. They’re only going to be able to have so many great matches together and it would be nice to get some fresh opponents for both. Either of them going to Raw would make sense, but the Bar vs. the Usos sounds like a really promising match.
Post match the Bludgeon Brothers come out for the staredown.
John Cena Make-A-Wish video.
Earlier today, Naomi was proud of winning the battle royal but Natalya came in and was all catty to her, which is the chosen path every time we need a thrown together women’s match. Naomi’s entrance is so seventh grade or something.
Naomi vs. Natalya
Naomi headlocks her down to start and then snaps off a hurricanrana for good measure. Natalya gets sat on the middle rope and taken down with a slingshot legdrop (cool spot) as we take a break. Back with Natalya holding an abdominal stretch, including some of her traditionally lame trash talk.
Naomi finally slips out and tries a sitout Stunner but just pulls Natalya’s hair instead. A Scorpion kick works a bit better but Natalya plants her with the always good looking Batista Bomb. The Sharpshooter is broken up and the discus clothesline gives Natalya two more. Naomi is sick of this though and kicks her in the face, setting up the split legged moonsault for the pin at 7:28.
Rating: C-. Natalya is such a black hole of charisma that her good in-ring work doesn’t make up for it. At the same time though, Naomi has come a very long way in a short amount of time. I’m not sure how much higher she can go but to turn into one of the stronger performers on the show is quite the accomplishment.
Renee Young asks Shinsuke Nakamura why he attacked AJ Styles on Sunday. Nakamura is rather sad about his actions and says the emotions got the better of him. He’s very, very sorry for what he did but Renee thinks he’s being disingenuous. She wants a more specific answer, but Nakamura remembers that he can’t speak English. Maybe it was just me but a lot of Nakamura’s accent went away in the first half of his talk and came back when he couldn’t remember English. The last line was funny too.
Here’s Charlotte for a chat. This Sunday, Asuka made her work harder and dig deeper than she ever has before and for that she has to thank her. The match was different and they left it all in the ring. That was magical, and the question is who does she make magic with next. Cue the Iconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, formerly the Iconic Duo) to make their full time debut.
They’re willing to do some magic by making that title disappear. They’ll give her some credit for her Wrestlemania match being good but not iconic. Peyton mocks Charlotte’s speech, by thanking her second grade math teacher, the Uber driver who brought her here, and air for allowing her to breathe. You know that’s getting some cheers from this crowd.
The brawl is on and Charlotte can’t fight off the numbers game for very long. They throw her over the announcers’ table and then throw her in the other direction just to keep things even. Charlotte gets posted and double powerbombed on the floor as the fans chant for Carmella. Anytime now would be just fine. They throw Charlotte back inside (with Peyton struggling with the dead weight) and strike the pose. That’s enough for them and HERE’S CARMELLA! After a long time of asking if she’s sure (Carmella: “COME ON!”), the referee rings the bell.
Smackdown Women’s Title: Carmella vs. Charlotte
Carmella is challenging and wins with a superkick in 7 seconds.
So this is a mixed bag overall. The Iconics make an awesome debut and instantly look like threats (they can do what even Asuka couldn’t by laying out Charlotte). It makes this feel like a big deal and Charlotte has multiple directions to take now. At the same time though, KILL MONEY IN THE BANK WITH FIRE AND PITCHFORKS. This makes the whole Charlotte vs. Asuka match seem like a waste of time because “oh never mind Carmella wins anyway”. But hey, at least Money in the Bank, a match that took place about ten months ago gets a payoff. If that has to take away from a classic match, eh who cares. Shock value and all that.
Carmella teases coming back to the ring but poses on the ramp more instead.
Bobby Roode vs. Randy Orton vs. Rusev
The winner gets Mahal, at ringside, for the US Title at Backlash. Joined in progress with Roode having to block an RKO but getting hammered down in the corner by Rusev. A Blockbuster drops Rusev for two but Orton throws him to the floor. The Machka Kick gets two on Orton and all three head to the floor. We get the required announcers’ table abuse before Roode elbows Orton in the face a few times.
The Glorious pose is struck but the Glorious DDT is blocked. Rusev pulls Orton to the floor though and drops him onto the table to give the fans some hope. The spinwheel kick drops Roode (he’s taken a beating tonight) and there’s the running superkick. The Accolade goes on but Orton makes the save and posts Rusev. That means the RKO to put Roode away at 7:07.
Rating: D+. What does it mean when just losing instead of being pinned is the best thing to happen to Rusev all week? Why in the world we’re seeing Orton vs. Mahal AGAIN on pay per view is beyond me but that’s what we’re stuck with all over again. I’d rather we just get this out of the way in Saudi Arabia but Mahal is why we can’t have nice things. Rusev….I feel for you man.
Post match, Orton stares down at Mahal. After the show went to break, Orton posed for a very long time, to the point where the referees were practically yelling at him to leave and then giving a frustrated look when he wouldn’t leave. Maybe a goodbye to Smackdown?
Carmella talks about being the princess that threw Charlotte off of her throne. She took 287 days to set up the perfect moment to win. She’s almost overcome with emotion and then congratulates herself with a big smile. Carmella has no idea who Peyton Royce and Billie Kay are either. She’s good in the role, but this feels like a major step down after what we had been getting for the last few weeks.
AJ Styles isn’t worried about Shinsuke Nakamura because he’ll put a fist down that throat when he gets the chance. Tonight, he’s across the ring from Daniel Bryan. Daniel may be great, but he’s not phenomenal.
AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan
Non-title. AJ takes him to the mat to start and it’s an early standoff. A shoulder block works a bit better and things speed up. Bryan fights out of a test of strength and starts in on the arm with the hard kicks. It’s off to a hammerlock with Bryan bending the arm in a variety of unnatural manners. AJ fights up and it’s the drop down into the dropkick as the fans aren’t sure who they like more. The slingshot forearm to the floor drops Bryan again and we take a break.
Back (after Bryan misses a Swan Dive in the break) with Bryan hitting the running clothesline to set up the YES Kicks. AJ counters the big one with the dragon screw legwhip but Bryan moonsaults over him in the corner. That’s fine with AJ, who moonsaults over him right into the reverse DDT to drop Bryan for two. The Phenomenal Blitz is reversed into a cross armbreaker but AJ rolls over for the break.
Instead it’s the Calf Crusher to work on Bryan’s bad knee but Bryan reverses that into the YES Lock, which is reversed into a rollup for two. A hard clothesline gives AJ two and they’re both winded. Bryan is back up with some hard kicks and it’s time to load up the running knee.
Thankfully AJ is smart enough to realize that the YES chants mean something is coming and he ducks the knee, only to get pulled into the YES Lock. Dang Bryan will get you one way or another. AJ gets the rope so Bryan puts him in the Tree of Woe for more kicks. A belly to back superplex is reversed into a crossbody….and here’s Nakamura to knee Bryan in the head for the DQ at 12:42.
Rating: B. This was getting somewhere but the ending was the right call. Bryan vs. Styles could be a major pay per view match and there’s no reason to throw away a clean finish on a regular TV match. They were starting to really turn this into something good as both guys were cranking it up. I was liking this more than Styles vs. Nakamura from Wrestlemania so there’s hope for something better in the future.
Post match Nakamura abuses Styles’ groin and hits Kinshasa to end the show.
Overall Rating: B-. They went with a very different style than Raw with only the Iconics (and Paige in a different way) debuting here. I like that as a change of pace, especially when you can throw some of the new names from last night over to Smackdown in the Shakeup if necessary. The focus was on wrestling tonight and that made for something fresh after last night’s mainly angle heavy show. Good show with a taste of what could be a big time dream match down the line.
Usos b. New Day – Superfly Splash to Woods
Naomi b. Natalya – Split legged moonsault
Carmella b. Charlotte – Superkick
Randy Orton b. Bobby Roode and Rusev – RKO to Roode
Daniel Bryan b. AJ Styles via DQ when Shinsuke Nakamura interfered
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