By Jake Barnett
WWE Smackdown on USA Network
Aired live from Orlando, Florida at Amway Center
Some video of Smackdown’s contributions to WrestleMania was shown in a video package to open the show. They made sure to point out that Cena had purchased an engagement ring from Tiffany, which means he’s rich or he got the ring at low or no cost in exchange for the plug. Oh, Randy Orton is Champ, which is always better in theory than practice. Tom Phillips, JBL, and Otunga opened up on commentary, and tried to explain away WrestleMania crowds as atypical. Randy Orton made his way to the ring to start the show.
The arena dimmed as Orton got mostly boos from the crowd. Orton asked if the crowd remembers him saying if you can’t beat them, join them, and the screw them. He said at WrestleMania he proved he was the master, and that Wyatt will never forget his name. Wyatt appeared on the tron and said Orton is a master of nothing.
He said he will take back his title, the one that she promised him. He said he has his rematch coming, but he had something very special planned for him. Wyatt said he wanted a different kind of match, one that will challenge his body as well as his mind. He challenged Orton to what he called the House of Horrors match, and that one of them at the end of the night sentenced to eternal damnation. Orton accepted his challenge, and demanded he come to the ring so he could whip his ass one more time.
We saw darkness and then Wyatt was behind Orton. They brawled until a returning Erik Rowan removed Orton from the ring. Wyatt and Rowan beat down Orton until Luke Harper made a save. He was wearing blue jeans and a black sleeveless shirt, so he’s essentially becoming Dean Ambrose. Backstage, Miz and Maryse called out John Cena and Nikki Bella for later in the show. They said it would be the last time Cena and Nikki would be seen on Smackdown for a long time. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss is next…[c]
My Take: Orton and Wyatt are having some kind of spin on a Clockwork Orange House of Fun match, or something. It feels like an excuse to have a garbage brawl after their poor showing at WrestleMania. The rest of the show is shaping up nicely, though.
1. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss: Bliss started out with some strikes and the whipped Naomi by the hair to the mat. She covered Naomi for a two count. Naomi fired back with a bulldog into the corner. Bliss rolled to the outside, but Naomi followed and hit a flying head scissors on the outside…[c]
Bliss attacked Naomi’s previously injured knee during the break, and continue to attempt to hyperextend the knee as the show came back. She then wrapped Naomi’s leg around the rope for leverage, but the ref broke up the hold. Naomi was limping and Alexa went back to the kneebar. They both got back to their feet and traded punches. Naomi hit some punches and a back suplex, and then followed up with a fireman’s carry into a kick to the face. Naomi couldn’t cover, and Bliss got back to her feet.
Bliss hit a DDT and covered for a near fall. Naomi missed an enzuigiri, but managed to hit rear view a moment later for a near fall of her own. Naomi tried to go up top, but Bliss pulled her down. She tried to cover, but the ref caught her using the ropes for leverage. Naomi reversed the cover attempt into a Spider Twist and got the submission win.
Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss at 11:23.
Naomi celebrated as Alexa Bliss crawled up the ramp…[c]
My Take: A solid effort, but it never got out of second gear. Who is next for Naomi? I’m guessing someone is coming across from Raw will fill that role.
Curt Hawkins was in the ring, and said he was sick of hearing about this Superstar Shake-Up, when he should be hearing about himself. He issued an open challenge, and was giving a count of ten….and Tye Dillinger made his entrance.
2. Tye Dillinger vs. Curt Hawkins: Dillinger cartwheeled out of a grapple and taunted Hawkins with 10. Dillinger then hit some kicks and a back elbow before hitting some mounted punches in the corner. Lots of 10s, as you might imagine. He then hit the Tye Breaker for the win.
Tye Dillinger defeated Curt Hawkins at 2:48.
Miz and Maryse calling out Cena and Nikki Bella was hyped for later…[c]
My Take: A nice first appearance for Dillinger. I hope they find a role for him quickly. He’d make a good feud partner for Ziggler right now.
Mojo Rawley was interviewed backstage next to the Dre. He spoke about going crazy with Gronk celebrating. He was somber when he spoke about having his WrestleMania comment, and said the bar had been raised and he would go for big things next. He fired up and asked Sasha if she could feel it. She said no, but he said that was ok because he and Andre could feel it. The Superstar Shake-Up was hyped for next week’s Raw. Shane McMahon would comment on it later in the show. Miz and Maryse are next…[c]
My Take: Mojo must have have run out of drugs or something. Not nearly as much hype as usual.
Maryse and The Miz made their entrance to Cena’s music dressed as Cena and Nikki Bella. He made “house rule” that said no one can say Cena sucks in the arena. They did a sketch where Cena said he only proposed because it made him seem more relatable, and Nikki said she was happy to manipulate him into getting what she wanted. He then announced they were leaving for Hollywood. Suddenly, a man in a nice suit coat was playing the violin on the ramp, and everybody including me got really happy. Shinsuke Nakamura then made his entrance to a huge reaction. The Violin player struggled a bit, but it was mostly ok. I don’t think he could hear himself very well. The crowd sung along and reacted to everything. A huge Nakamura chant broke out. The main event was plugged for later. A street fight between Baron Corbin and Dean Ambrose is set for next…[c]
My Take: Nakamura is a huge get for Smackdown. If they move a few more strong workrate wrestlers over to Smackdown, the show will feel pretty loaded. Miz and Maryse were funny, but they quickly became old news.
Baron Corbin made his entrance for a street fight. Dean Ambrose then followed. Stills were shown of their match from WrestleMania.
3. Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin: The early part of the match belonged to Corbin, who pummeled Ambrose with strikes before going for a chair under the ring. Ambrose hit a suicide dive and went hard over the announce table, seeming landing on his head and neck. Ambrose then quickly sent him into the crowd and continued to brawl a bit before firing up the crowd with a taunt…[c]
Corbin picked up Ambrose and drove him through a table that was setup in the corner. Corbin may have taken the worst of that, landing pretty hard on his head. He rolled to the outside and grabbed a leather strap, which he used over Ambrose’s back and chest. He then setup a chair in the corner, which backfired on him. He attempted to toss Ambrose into the chair, but Ambrose avoided it and Corbin charged and crashed through the chair.
Ambrose grabbed the strap and worked over Corbin, who rolled to ringside. Ambrose dove off the top and landed on Corbin at ringside. He then saw a table setup on the floor, which caused him to set Corbin on it and climb back up top. He then put Corbin through the table with an elbow, and landed pretty hard on the corner of the table and the floor himself.
Ambrose went up top again now that Orton was back in the ring, but Corbin threw a chair at him and crotched him on the ropes. Corbin then hit End of Days for the win.
Baron Corbin defeated Dean Ambrose at 12:10.
Shane McMahon is up next…[c]
My Take: I enjoyed the brawl and I think this was the right finish. My spidey sense tells me we may see Ambrose traded to Raw along with the InterContinental Championship for Kevin Owens and the US Championship, so the fact that this was non-title allows them to finish the feud and keep the title where they want it.
Shane thanked the crowd for the chant they gave him, and then immediately went into the Superstar Shake-Up. He said Superstars on the Raw Roster should pray they end up on Smackdown, because along with the fans he and Daniel Bryan have created a land of opportunity. AJ Styles music the hit, and he made his entrance. AJ had a shiner on his left eye from one of Shane’s wild potato shots.
The crowd chanted for Styles in a big way. AJ said he doesn’t know what’s going on with the Superstar Shake-Up, but he doesn’t want to go anywhere. He called Smackdown the house that AJ Styles built, and the crowd cheered. He said he’ll be damned if someone is going to come over and take it from him. He said the reason he came out is because after WrestleMania he feels like he owes him something. He then shook his hand. He started to walk away, but then whipped around ready to throw a punch. He then smirked and walked up the ramp. The Main Event is next…[c]
My Take: AJ’s face turn is going to be huge. Hopefully that means Smackdown imports some heel from Raw. Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe would definitely fit the bill. It will also be interesting to see how they eventually get to an AJ vs. Nakamura dream match. I’d also like to see what AJ and Bray Wyatt could do in the ring, especially if they cut back on the dumpster fire hocus pocus.
Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan made their entrances, followed by Luke Harper and Randy Orton.
4. Randy Orton & Luke Harper vs. Bray Wyatt & Erick Rowan: Rowan quickly dumped Orton to the floor in the early going…[c]
Luke Harper made a tag as the match returned and quickly took down Wyatt. He hit a somersault senton and sent both Wyatt and Rowan to the floor. He then dove on Rowan, who flew over the announce desk. Wyatt hit a huge clothesline that settled Harper down. Wyatt and Rowan tagged back and forth controlling the action and cutting off Harper on their half of the ring. Wyatt hit a hard clothesline and a running senton. Rowan then entered and used strikes in the corner. He then hit an impressive single leg dropkick.
Wyatt tagged in and grabbed a rear chin lock. Harper fought to his feet and hit a weak looking spinning side slam. That got him enough room to make a tag. Orton hit a powerslam on Rowan and set up for a hanging DDT, but Wyatt broke it up. He then hit the DDT on Wyatt a moment later, and fired up the crowd for an RKO. The Wyatt sounder hit and the arena went black. When things came back Wyatt was gone and Rowan was in the ring. Rowan attempted a Full Nelson Slam, but Orton escaped. Harper hit a superkick on Rowan, and then Orton hit an RKO and pinned him.
Randy Orton & Luke Harper defeated Erick Rowan and Bray Wyatt at 11:51.
Wyatt looked a little dejected that his plan failed again. Orton and Harper celebrated to close the show.
My Take: Meh. I’m pretty apathetic about that match. I want Luke Harper to succeed and it’s good to see Erick Rowan healthy, but this feud has died 1000 deaths and it doesn’t show any signs of suddenly becoming interesting. This was a fun show over all, but it was bookended by the worst feud going on the show, and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The sooner they abandon this project the better.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Richard Holliday discussing The Dynasty faction in MLW, MJF's departure, the addition of Gino Medina, training under Paul Roma, and much more. Check out MLW Fusion Saturdays on beIN Sports and on the MLW YouTube Page...