Pruett’s Pause: WWE SmackDown Live – Shinsuke Nakamura debuts, dances, and leaves, Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi, and Randy Orton makes me want to sleep

By Will Pruett

At long (well, a year) last, Shinsuke Nakamura has come to WWE’s main roster. The most charismatic wrestler in the world and the most exciting addition to WWE’s roster in quite some time has left NXT behind him and is now on Smackdown. This is a moment I want to revel in for a little bit.

When it was announced over a year ago that Nakamura was on his way to WWE and debuting at NXT Takeover in Dallas, it was truly wonderful. He had a great match against Sami Zayn and settled in as the top star on NXT. Everyone waited and wondered why Nakamura was still on the minor league show.

On this episode of Smackdown, without videos announcing his debut or any real hints, Nakamura emerged as a top star on Smackdown and the (unusually subdued for a post-WrestleMania) crowd went ballistic. This was how you present someone as a top star, put them in front of a crowd, display what makes them unique, and still save something for later.

Accompanied by violinist Lee England Jr, who played him to the ring at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II, Nakamura was able to soak in the adulation of the fans and make a distinct impression on the fans who may have never seen him.

Nakamura also seems set for success as far as his opponent goes. Unless something major is shaken up in the Superstar Shakeup Shuffle on Raw, Nakamura looks to be heading towards a feud with The Miz. This is perfect. Miz is one of the two most important heels on Smackdown. He’s capable of putting just about anyone over and retaining his heat. He can have decent showcase matches (see his 2016 matches with AJ Styles for examples. Miz outperformed Chris Jericho against AJ). Miz is capable of carrying a feud in the promo department, allowing Nakamura to say little.

More than anything else, people enjoy hating The Miz and they enjoy loving Shinsuke. Those matches will be fun.

Now, I just have to hope and pray AJ Styles stays on Smackdown and we can get Styles vs. Nakamura sometime soon.

And now for some random thoughts:

– Randy Orton is hellaciously incomprehensibly frustratingly boring. There is no other way to put it. I can’t remember the last great Orton match. I can’t remember the last compelling Orton promo. The only moments where this character seemed to have any earned interest in the last year were when he was going full-on Wyatt on us. Now, we are left with the same old Randy coming to the ring and talking in his trademark slow cadence. It’s bad, y’all.

– This crowd was not as dynamic as the Raw crowd was after WrestleMania. I’d imagine having another full day to day drink/be hungover in Orlando, a series of late nights, and all around wrestling exhaustion made this crowd a little less excitable. I was fine with a little bit less than we saw on Raw, but it wasn’t as fun of a show to watch either.

– In other debut news, “The Perfect 10” Tye Dillenger is finally getting an opportunity on WWE’s main roster. Tye has become almost a mascot for NXT, standing on the side of the good and pure and never really winning. His “10” spots are over and fans love chanting at him. I also know most wrestlers really appreciate his work and find him underrated. I’m not confident “The Perfect 10” is anything more than a mid-card gimmick, but it’s good to see Tye finally get this chance.

– I have a pitch for the Mojo Rawley character. He learns that he can commune with spirits from beyond the grave and constantly tells stories about partying with Andre The Giant. He says he now has to do Andre’s work on earth and starts drinking a barrel or keg of beer per night. I’m not sure how this ends, but it’s mostly to see Mojo hold weekly seances.

– Naomi getting another fun reaction in her hometown to her great theme music (I’d say it’s amay-ay-ay-ay-zing) was great. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss for the Women’s Championship seemed a little premature for a rematch, but I’d guess Alexa will move to Raw next week. Hopefully Alexa continues to be a spotlight player in WWE, as she’s been very impressive since the brand split.

– AJ Styles and Shane McMahon having a bro-down in the middle of the ring made me happy. I hate to see my two favorite humans fighting like that, especially when I clearly had to take Shane McMahon’s side. While I kind of expect Styles to move to Raw next week, him staying on Smackdown as the top babyface is intriguing. I love the idea of Styles as Smackdown’s franchise guy. It gives both the show and Styles a little more identity.

– Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose was a step up from their WrestleMania pre-show match. Good for them.

– I’m going to miss Maryse’s Nikki Bella impersonation.

– I’m going to miss Nikki Bella.

– Randy Orton agreed to a House of Horrors match with Bray Wyatt before knowing what this was or meant. This isn’t brave. This is stupid. What if it means Orton has to lose because those are the rules of the match? What if it means Orton doesn’t get his buddy Spermy the Snake to come to the ring with him? What if Randy Orton has to confront his one weakness and actually wear pants while wrestling? Those aren’t risks I’d be willing to take if I were Randal.

– Erick Rowan is back, so Bray Wyatt has his least skilled henchman. I just can’t care about the Wyatt characters or Orton at this point. I’ve tried. It’s impossible. Hopefully this feud ends after the first Smackdown pay-per-view after WrestleMania.

– Did you know there isn’t a Smackdown pay-per-view until May 21? They had the longest stretch without a pay-per-view before WrestleMania and they have the longest one after.

Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? Hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @wilpruett, leave a comment, or email me at


Readers Comments (1)

  1. Humor isn’t your strong point is it?

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