This week is going a bit out of order doing a Smackdown Live review first but I attended and, naturally, really want to write about it. Matt and I will review Monday’s Raw a little bit later this week. Smackdown came from Kansas City, Missouri this week. With Smackdown being far from perfect this year, I was a little skeptical. But I’m happy to say I thought it was a solid show.
Pre Show Dark Match – Becky Lynch def Natalya
I won’t lie, my only source of knowing this match happened was Twitter. Finding parking for this event was hell so we didn’t make it inside in time to see this. Not necessarily a match I’m disappointed to have missed, I’ve seen both of these women in the past.
Smackdown started off with Shane McMahon standing in the middle of the ring. He said he didn’t agree with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn being in the main event for a shot at AJ. However, someone he respects does. Out comes Daniel Bryan. Shane suggested giving someone new a title shot. Crowd went big for Rusev Day. “Duly noted”. D Bry said he thought he deserved a pay raise because he booked two guys that Shane hates to rip each other apart. Shane seems to get sappy and tells Bryan that he knows all he wants to do is wrestle. He compares the “Yep Movement” to the “Yes Movement” saying it’s just a cheap imitation. He says that Bryan is “living vicariously through Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn”. Out comes AJ Styles. He played that he’s traveled many miles already this year as the champion. He can handle that because he was “built for the grind”. He said he can’t handle Smackdown management obsessing over the likes of KO and Sami. He gave equal blame to Shane as he did to Bryan. He claims he’s going to walk out of Fastlane and into WrestleMania as the Smackdown Champion.
Wow, boring segments are a lot more fun to see live. The crowd was all in on Rusev Day and seemed to follow up on any “Yes” chant they possibly could. But this was pretty boring and bland. We’ve come to see this kind of stuff each and every week. Shane and D Bry bickering back and forth with one another has become somewhat of a tired narrative. They’ve got to butt heads or do something different with it soon. I liked pairing up KO and Sami in the main event just to see how they would handle it but didn’t like the idea of, like Shane said, more of the same stuff. AJ’s presence was fine, it was just a way to break up the management opening segment. He got a nice pop. I like how he played how many miles he’s traveled and mentioned the grind that WWE superstars face.
AJ Styles was shown walking backstage as Shinsuke Nakamura approached him and said he’s going to beat him at WrestleMania.
This backstage look only took about 15 seconds but I just wanted to make a quick point on it. How many times is WWE going to give us these light encounters with AJ and Shinsuke before realizing that they’re making it really obvious who’s going to win at Fastlane?
Charlotte def Liv Morgan
Aside from the attack Riott Squad dished out last week, we really didn’t have much of a reason to care about this match. I was surprised when they were recapping last week they didn’t show anything about Carmella attempting to cash her Money in the Bank contract in. They may have said something on commentary, I obviously didn’t hear any of that. But if not, that’s a huge missed opportunity. Attacking the champ and almost costing her the championship is a pretty big deal. The match was nothing spectacular. Charlotte predictably won. I was more intrigued to see the Riott Squad. I’m still not big on them but I enjoy seeing people I’ve never seen before when I go to WWE events.
Bludgeon Brothers squashed two jobbers
Since we got to the event pretty late, we hadn’t yet ate anything. So I missed this entire match while standing in the concession stand line. I’m sure it was fun. We were back in the seats in time to see the stare down they had with the Usos though. Man that surely eventual feud is going to be a lot of fun.
The Usos had an in ring promo where this week they’re going to explain to us what “Locked Down” means. They made a lot of comparisons to prison, saying it wasn’t like that, finger prints, orange jumpsuits, cold showers, etc. It’s rather a state of mind that they turn into a prison and they run that prison. They recapped 2017 saying it was the year they turned it around. “We went from facepaint to snapbacks. We went from rainbow colors to white and black. We went from wrestling tights to all whites. We went from ehhhh they might be alright to yeah, yeah, we had match of the night.” They said it’s not paranoia, it’s the Usos.
This segment proves why this is the best Usos we have ever seen. They have some of the most underrated mic skills in the company. You can tell they actually connect with and feel their character. Their intensity in this was great. They played hard times and describing what goes on in their mind. Please keep giving these guys mic time and please keep rewarding these guys by having them keep the straps.
Daniel Bryan announced the first ever Smackdown Top 10 List. It goes as follows…
10. Tye Dillinger
9. Randy Orton
8. Becky Lynch
7. The Usos
6. The New Day
5. Bobby Roode
3. Shinsuke Nakamura
1. AJ Styles
WWE can do some pretty stupid things. This is a pretty stupid thing. Not only does the list not make any logical sense, the idea is just dumb. What does this provide? WWE will likely see this gets no momentum and doesn’t take them anywhere and slowly fade away until we forget about it. The two champions being at the top makes sense, obviously. But you’re telling me fellow superstars don’t think Sami and Kevin are top 10 on the brand? But they DO think Tye Dillinger is? Give me a break. This is a joke.
Bobby Roode def Rusev for the United States Championship. After the match Randy Orton emerged and RKO’d Roode, Aiden English, and Rusev.
I don’t really know the logic yet behind Randy Orton coming out but it was nice to see him and he got a huge pop. It was funny, during the match the crowd tried a “Let’s go Bobby, Rusev Day” chant. The “Let’s go Bobby” chants never lasted any longer than five seconds before “Rusev Day” would take it over. I imagine a double turn between Bobby and Rusev is on the horizon. Rusev is way more over than Bobby Roode was. The match itself was pretty good. A lot of quality moves and near falls. The roof would’ve come off the place had Rusev won but Bobby still got a nice pop.
Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin def The Ascension
It’s nice that they haven’t completely given up on Gable & Benjamin like I feared they would. They’ve started to gel more as a team since they’ve gone after the tag titles. The match wasn’t anything great but I enjoyed it because I’ve never seen any of these four live and in person before. Never would I have ever thought that The Ascension would become virtual jobbers.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn ended in a Doulbe DQ after AJ Styles attacked both. Daniel Bryan came out afterwards and said at Fastlane it will be a Triple Threat match for the Smackdown Championship.
Yawn. Not because of the match, the match was great. These two have great chemistry and there were some sick spots, namely when Sami jumped through the ropes into a spinning DDT on the outside. But why this match again? Don’t get me wrong, I understand why they’re doing it and it makes logical sense, I’m just getting tired of it. It’s likely going to lead to dissension between KO and Sami which will lead to a match between the two at Mania. If Smackdown was any indication of that match, that one will be fun.
Overall – If you’ve ever been to a WWE Live Event you know that it’s way more fun than it appears on TV. So me saying this was a good show may be a little biased. But you had two solid matches in the main event and US title match, the Usos delivered a great in-ring promo, and we have the main event set up for Fastlane. Smackdown started 2018 really slow, but it’s starting to pick it back up at an ideal time.
Initially, I also wanted to review the Mixed Match Challenge and 205 Live in this post as well. But at the time of writing this I need to leave for class in about 10 minutes so I’m going to save that for another post. Thanks for reading!
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