WWE SmackDown Live
April 10 2018
We’re in New Orleans, Louisiana and this wraps up the Mania week coverage (apart from Kaiju, which is coming!) My original plan was to skip this as SmackDown is largely trash but I was told the show was good so here we are, unspoiled and excited for yet another wrestling show.
Promo Time: Shane McMahon
Stop cheering this fucking clown. If he thinks he’s over he’ll keep wheedling his way into big matches and making a hash of them. Making Daniel Bryan’s return match about this joker almost completely tanked it.
Shane thanks us all for the success of Mania week (a lot of it has to do with the other companies running and turning this into a huge festival to be fair). WWE had a patchy week but with a lot of highs. Having Daniel Bryan return to in-ring action was one of them. Shane McMahon tells us that Daniel Bryan is going back to being full time as a wrestler so he’s resigned as General Manager. The new GM is….
Oh wow, that’s cool. We were very worried about her when she retired last night. We were debating whether she’d go and work at the PC or become a commentator but this is good for her. I’m pleased to see her smiling again after yesterday.
Paige wants to make tonight a special first night in charge. She books Daniel Bryan against (crowd chants for Rusev and AJ Styles)…AJ Styles. That’s quite the match to book on your first night!
The Usos vs. The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods)
This rivalry continues with the winning team facing the Bludgeon Brothers in Saudi Arabia. Corey does a good job covering for the ‘Usos obligatory rematch clause’ thing by saying they could lose that here. Why would the Usos even agree to this match though? Maybe they figure they can beat the New Day any time. New Day continue their entertaining ways. I applaud their ability to stay fresh for years albeit by throwing all manner of crazy shit at the screen to see what sticks. Whereas the Usos have stayed over for the same period of time by just being really good at wrestling. You take the path you need to take. This is another healthy, competitive contest between two talented teams. Xavier eats a frogsplash and gets pinned. Well shit, that means heel vs. heel in Saudi. I’m surprised. Another good match between these two teams. Innovative, fast paced. Good stuff.
Final Rating: ***1/2
The Mallet Men come out for a showdown after the match. And everyone just stands there while Tom Phillips puts over the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Video Control gives us a clip of Naomi still admiring that ugly fucking Women’s Battle Royal trophy. Natalya interrupts her moment and Naomi accepts her challenge, even though Nattie was just hoping she got shipped off to RAW.
Naomi vs. Natalya
I have to give Naomi a lot of credit. She’s been here a long time and has kept herself relevant through hard work, same as the Usos. It helps that she’s added a cool entrance. Everyone likes a cool entrance. Nattie has a character that’s so WWE. It’s designed to be disliked by children. I can’t imagine the character ever crossing over to the Indies for example. It’s telling that during her control segments I feel my mind wandering. I start thinking about Natalya’s cat and whether WWE would ever consider putting the cat over anyone in a match. Until Naomi comes back and wins with a split legged moonsault it’s such a TV match.
Final Rating: **
Tom segues from this to talking about AJ-Nakamura and his “it lived up to the hype” line makes me laugh out loud. No mate, it really didn’t. This leads to Renee Young going to chat with Shinsuke Nakamura.
Nakamura’s vocabulary and tone has improved a lot recently and that’s apparent here where he says, very tongue in cheek “I’m very sorry what I did to AJ Styles”. Was that a wink? You cheeky fucker! When Renee tries again Nakamura responds with “sorry, no speak Engrish”. Oh shit! He even mispronounced English on purpose. If Nakamura as a heel involves him getting all salty with people for slyly ragging on his English language skills I’m all for it.
Promo Time: Charlotte Flair
Charlotte is in a good mood, having stolen another major show and ended Asuka’s streak in the process. Logically Asuka was being built for a Ronda match down the line but that’s clearly not happening.
She wonders who is next for Charlotte and the Iconic Duo are here!
Billie Kay is fine but Peyton is championship material. These two are total bitches. Interesting that Peyton gets a considerably bigger pop than Billie. Charlotte gets a beatdown because she’s outnumbered. The Iconic Duo make their point. The segment drags a bit but new talent freshening up the division and giving Charlotte a new challenge is good. The crowd spend most of the segment gazing at the ramp expecting a save and tag match. WWE have that clear cut booking. With Charlotte down Carmella runs down with the Money in the Bank briefcase. She’s cashing in!
SmackDown Women’s Championship
Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Carmella
I love how slow Mike Chioda is at getting the case cashed in. Carmella boots the fallen Charlotte in the head and wins the title. Charlotte survived Asuka but couldn’t survive a double team and Carmella’s opportunism.
I’m a big fan of how overblown and ridiculous Carmella’s celebration is. Charlotte goes from being so disappointed at defeat to smiling. Carmella got one over on her but she has a rematch. You don’t get to be a 16 time world champion without losing it fifteen times. She knows the game.
Final Rating: NR
Bobby Roode vs. Randy Orton vs. Rusev
The trouble with announcing some post-Mania cards is that you have to stick the same guys in matches ad nauseum because they’re all advertised for multi-man matches on house shows for titles and shit. So these gentlemen (and Jinder Mahal) are stuck together for a while. Jinder is US champion now. Whoever wins this match gets the title shot in Saudi Arabia (or Backlash? One or the other). Interesting that Rusev comes out last as he’s considerably more over than Orton.
I didn’t give a rat’s ass about any of these guys at WrestleMania and I still don’t now. At least Jinder isn’t in this match. Having him as US champ is fine. He does carry himself like a champion and it keeps him away from the real title where he did horrible damage to Smackdown as a brand last year. Accolade has Roode beaten by Orton breaks it up and hits the RKO on Roode to get the title shot. This was a better match than the snoozefest at Mania. The tone deaf booking continues regarding Rusev though. The fact the crowd wanted him against Daniel Bryan tonight speaks volumes.
Final Rating: **1/2
That Greatest Royal Rumble Show is in Saudi Arabia, with an insanely stacked card, and it starts at 6pm UK time. Should be an interesting evening’s entertainment!
Video Control takes us backstage where Carmella puts herself over by winning the title all by herself. “What about Peyton Royce and Billie Kay?” “Who?”
AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan
AJ takes a moment to put Bryan over pre-match but points out he’s even better. It’s on! The WWE title is not on the line here. Bryan is a wee bit rusty but it’s barely visible, which is testament to how bloody good he is at wrestling. It’s weird how quiet the crowd is here but they’re so focused on watching this match. Seeing all the little nuances of the mat work. I’d rather Bryan stuck to mat basics at this point. The last thing I want to see if Dan taking a load of head drops and strikes. Bryan put on a video of him doing a backflip for the first time in three years and it was cool to see how much that meant to him. He does that here and AJ immediately plants him with a quebrada inverted DDT. Back in the big leagues! As the match progresses it’s startling how easily Bryan has slipped back into wrestling. He looks so good here. AJ helps a lot as he’s so smooth and it covers for some timing issues but they’re minor. Daniel Bryan is back baby! It’s a great match to put a capper on Mania week. You couldn’t ask for much more. Of course Nakamura runs in and hits Kinshasa on Bryan so that AJ gets disqualified. Then he roughs up AJ and smacks him in the nuts a few times.
Final Rating: ***3/4
I enjoyed SmackDown more than RAW. Probably because I didn’t stay up till 4am watching it live. Possibly because I was more into the presentation. An hour shorter SmackDown is generally an easier watch….when it puts out useful programming. Your standard episode of SmackDown is not a good experience. This one was. Aided by dream match booking and big surprises. They did the debuts a little better than RAW too.