4/17 Powell’s WWE Smackdown Live TV Review: The WWE Superstar Shakeup Night Two

By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Live from Providence, Rhode Island at Dunkin Donuts Center

[Hour One] WWE Smackdown opened with a recap of Shinsuke Nakamura’s heel promo and attack on AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan in last week’s main event… The broadcast team was Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton…

WWE Champion AJ Styles made his entrance. Styles received a strong reaction from what Phillips said was a sold out crowd. Styles said they say you can tell a lot about a man through his failures and if that’s the case then we know everything about Nakamura. Styles said Nakamura showed his true colors after he was beaten at WrestleMania.

Styles called Nakamura a con artist. There were dueling chants for Styles and Nakamura (where was that at WrestleMania?!?). Styles said he opted for a dream match with Daniel Bryan last week instead of getting his revenge, but then Nakamura got involved again. Styles called out Nakamura and called him a two-faced coward.

Aiden English could be heard clearing his throat. English and Rusev walked onto the stage to loud “Rusev Day” chants. English sang that Nakamura went on an “anywhere but Providence” vacation. English asked the crowd what day it was and got a loud “Rusev Day” response. Styles called for a fight with Rusev on the spot…

1. WWE Champion AJ Styles vs. Rusev in a non-title match. Styles rolled Rusev into a Calf Crusher. English hit the ring and attacked Bryan for the DQ. After the match, Daniel Bryan ran out and helped Styles clear the heels from the ring.

AJ Styles beat Rusev by DQ in 0:25.

Shane McMahon and Paige spoke backstage. Paige booked the obvious Styles and Bryan vs. Rusev and English match. Shane noted that The Miz was returning as part of the Shakeup. Paige did Teddy Long’s “holler” and dance before walking away. Shane started doing the dance and they were both embarrassed when Paige returned and saw him doing the dance…

Powell’s POV: A decent promo from Styles, but an uneventful opening overall. Styles showed that Rusev wasn’t a threat by having him on the verge of submitting in just seconds, so why should viewers view Rusev and English as a threat to Styles and Bryan? Granted, the match is more about seeing the two babyfaces team together, but it would have been nice if they had done something to make Rusev and English feel more important.

Shelton Benjamin made his entrance. Benjamin and the broadcast team noted that he was complimentary of Chad Gable, who was moved to Raw in the Shakeup. Benjamin said his Twitter account was hacked because he would never say anything positive about Gable. He said Gable needed him. Benjamin said he had a chat with Paige in the back and asked her to send him big competition.

Randy Orton made his entrance, but his music stopped as he was walking toward the ring. Jeff Hardy’s music played. Orton didn’t look pleased. Hardy rushed past Orton, who smirked and raised his eyebrow…

2. U.S. Champion Jeff Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin. The broadcast team indicated that Hardy and the U.S. Title were moved to Smackdown in the Shakeup. Graves noted that Hardy became a Grand Slam Champion when he won the U.S. Championship. Benjamin dumped Hardy to ringside and they cut to a break. [C]

They went with the split screen commercial, and Benjamin targeted Hardy’s left knee. Hardy came back with a Whisper in the Wind for a two count. In the end, Hardy hit a Twist of Fate and followed up with a Swanton for the win…

Jeff Hardy defeated Shelton Benjamin in a non-title match in 8:20.

Powell’s POV: Orton’s reaction to Hardy taking the match was interesting and it appears they are heading toward a match together. Benjamin’s promo was pretty generic, but the match was solid. Jeff is off to a good start as a singles wrestler with quality openers on Raw and now Smackdown. I hope they do something with Benjamin, but my guess is he’s cast as an undercard heel.

The Miz delivered a selfie style promo. He recalled Bryan asking via Twitter how long he’s been waiting to punch Miz in the face. Miz asked the crowd if they wanted to see Bryan punch him in the face. The crowd cheered. Miz said too bad because he was in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. Miz and baby Monroe Sky entered the picture. Miz said he would premiere on Smackdown Live next week. He said he would kick Bryan’s ass if he ever trolls him on Twitter again. Marsye scolded him for swearing in front of the baby…

The broadcast team hyped a “Mellabration” for Carmella, and hyped Jey Uso vs. Luke Harper for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: I assume there will be a few Smackdown newcomers who won’t actually appear on the show tonight because the Raw crew is traveling to South Africa today for a tour. Hopefully the company will push back their overseas tour a day starting next year.

Graves announced that Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville were moved to Smackdown as part of the Superstar Shakeup…

3. Jey Uso (w/Jimmy Uso) vs. Luke Harper (w/Erick Rowan). Rowan took out Jimmy at ringside. Jey tried a suicide dive, but Rowan caught him by the head. Jimmy superkicked Rowan. Back in the ring, Harper clotheslined and pinned Jey for the win.

Luke Harper beat Jey Uso in 0:50.

After the match, the Bludgeon Brothers worked over the Usos. They picked up the Giant F’n Thor hammers. Naomi ran out and pleaded with them to stop. Harper and Rowan picked up their tag title belts and backed up the ramp…

Graves hyped Styles and Bryan vs. Rusev and English for later in the show… An ad hyped Brock Lesnar for Monday’s Raw… [C]

Powell’s POV: A strange post match angle that felt hokey. We’ve seen the Bludgeon Brothers rough up the Usos before and go for the hammers, so why did Naomi suddenly freak out this time around? It was also ended on a flat note with the Bludgeon Brothers simply backing away.

4. Samoa Joe vs. Sin Cara. Sin Cara did not receive a televised entrance. Joe is the newest member of the Smackdown roster. Joe won via submission with the Coquina Clutch…

Samoa Joe defeated Sin Cara in 1:35.

After the match, Joe took the mic and mocked Smackdown for being the land of opportunity. He said it seemed like the land of handouts because everyone on the roster had it easy. He said Smackdown Live was coddled, catered to, and everyone on the roster was convinced that they were better than they are. “Well, that all changes,” Joe said. “I’m here now and I get all the opportunities.” He said he will have the opportunity to put Bryan to sleep, to defang Orton, and to emasculate and decimate AJ Styles.

Joe told non-believers to look no further than what he does in Saudi Arabia and at Backlash. Joe said he will put the Big Dog out to pasture for good if there’s anything left after Brock Lesnar is finished with him. Joe said that if by some miraculous happenstance, “then I will bring back my newly won Intercontinental Championship and I will tear the Universal Championship from his waist. Joe finished by saying “believe that”…

The broadcast team set up the new commercial for dual brand pay-per-views. Afterward, Phillips said it’s the “rebirth of pay-per-views as we know them.” Saxton hyped the tag team main event and noted that it was the first time that Styles and Bryan would team together. Graves hyped the Mellabration for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Yes! This is the move I’ve been hoping for. Joe felt like the fourth big man on Raw behind Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman. He can be the dominant big man on Smackdown, which desperately needs heels after losing Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Jinder Mahal, Baron Corbin, and even Dolph Ziggler to Raw. Those big three opponents alone should be terrific matches.

A Sanity video package aired, meaning the NXT faction is now on Smackdown…

Backstage, Renee Young asked Daniel Bryan why he helped AJ Styles. Bryan said it’s because he respected him. He said he made a list of people to motivate him and at the top of the list was Styles. Bryan said he is proud to fight alongside Styles because he knows one day they will fight each other.

Bryan turned around and Big Cass was standing there. Cass measured his height compared to Bryan and said, “So you’re what all the fuss is about…little man?” Cass walked away…

[Hour Two] Smackdown Women’s Champion Carmella made her entrance. She paused and listened to a faint “you deserve it” chant and then said the fans weren’t behind her before and she doesn’t need them now. She boasted that she waited 287 days and picked the perfect opportunity.

“I beat Charlotte Flair,” Carmella said with a laugh. “I beat her all on my own.” She claimed what she did was historic and will go down in women’s history. Carmella set up a video package that chronicled her winning the Money in the Bank match and eventually cashing in.

Powell’s POV: WWE managed to erase James Ellsworth from Carmella’s video package.

Carmella said her briefcase was named Frankie, and she named the title belt Cleopatra. Charlotte Flair made her entrance. Charlotte said the only reason Carmella won the MITB match was “because of that Chinless Freak” and the only reason she won the title was because of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. Charlotte said it’s harder to stay on top than to get to the top.

Peyton Royce and Billie Kay made their entrance and mocked Charlotte from the stage for being a big baby. They walked toward the ring and said they are the future and the future is iconic. Charlotte removed her robe and looked at Carmella and then the Iconic Duo. Charlotte chose the Iconic Duo and was quickly outnumbered. Becky Lynch’s music played and she ran out and helped Charlotte. [C]

5. Charlotte (w/Becky Lynch) vs. Billie Kay (w/Peyton Royce). The match was joined in progress. Carmella sat in on commentary. Charlotte won via submission with the Figure 8.

Charlotte defeated Billie Kay by submission.

After the match, Carmella entered the ring and hit Charlotte from behind with the title belt. Royce worked over Lynch while Carmella roughed up Charlotte. Asuka’s music played and she headed to the ring and helped Charlotte and Lynch clear the heels from the ring…

A video package noted that Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are coming to Smackdown as part of the Shakeup…

Powell’s POV: Asuka’s just makes the Smackdown women’s division even more loaded. They kept their main players in Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Naomi, and now they’re trying to make Carmella while also adding the Iconic Duo and Asuka. Meanwhile, I would love to see Finn Balor join Gallows and Anderson as a heel faction on Smackdown. If not, it’s hard to get excited about Gallows and Anderson, who have been completely wasted since their highly anticipated arrival in WWE. Perhaps things will be different for the duo on Smackdown, but seeing is believing.

The broadcast team hyped at the Greatest Royal Rumble event matches Jeff Hardy vs. Jinder Mahal for the U.S. Championship, and Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns in a cage match for the WWE Universal Championship…

Sheamus and Cesaro appeared on the screen and boasted about the teams they beat. They said they are coming to Smackdown Live. They received the awful word graphics…

New Day were clowning around backstage when they spotted “The Immortal One.” It was R-Truth. Tye Dillinger showed up and glared at Truth. New Day asked if they’d met before. Dillinger kept a serious face and said they’d met, then the two of them did a little dance and hand slapping before doing the What’s Up? Truth said he was happy that they were all together on Monday Night Raw. Dillinger informed them that it was Smackdown Live. “My bad, I’ll see you all tomorrow,” Truth said before leaving the scene…

The broadcast team recapped the Superstar Shakeup moves. They showed the three male members of Sanity in a graphic and mentioned them by name. However, Nikki Cross was not shown…

A brief video with Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega aired, and the duo were announced as coming to Smackdown Live…

Powell’s POV: Much like the women’s division, the Smackdown tag division kept its top players in Bludgeon Brothers, The Usos, and New Day. And now they add Sheamus and Cesaro. Meanwhile, the lack of Nikki Cross in the graphic is disappointing. It will be fun to see more of her in NXT and all, but she would definitely bring something unique to the main roster both as a wrestler and as part of the Sanity act.

6. AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan vs. Rusev and Aiden English. Only Bryan’s entrance was televised. Styles and Bryan dominated the early action and went for submission holds. The heels escaped and fled to ringside. [C]

The heel duo worked over Styles, who eventually made a hot tag. Bryan was dominating Rusev and English when Shinsuke Nakamura showed up at ringside and low blowed Styles, who was standing on the apron. Big Cass entered the ring and hit Bryan with a big boot for the DQ…

AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan beat Rusev and Aiden English by DQ in 12:30.

Big Cass’s music played. Renee Young walked onto the stage and asked Nakamura what his latest “reprehensible act” was all about. “No speak English,” Nakamura said. Cass stood over Bryan while his generic theme song played to close the show…

Powell’s POV: How great would it have been if Finn Balor, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson would have attacked Bryan and Styles to close the show? Anyway, the Nakamura attack was a repeat of what he’s been doing, which is fine because it’s well done. Big Cass feels like an odd choice for Bryan’s first real program, but my guess is that he’s actually associated with The Miz, which would explain why Miz lost Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas on Raw. Overall, Smackdown fans should be very happy with the Shakeup. They kept their core players in every division, and the men’s division got rid of a lot of damaged heels and replaced them with fresh heels. Here’s hoping the Smackdown creative team don’t repeat their mistakes from 2017 with this new group of heels. I will have more to say in my members’ exclusive audio review later tonight. Listen below to hear how Brian Fritz and I did when we prognosticated the Shakeup last week on the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast.



Readers Comments (7)

  1. midnight rider April 17, 2018 @ 8:14 pm

    strange how asuka has not been mentioned once on either raw or smackdown!

  2. Jack C Catalano April 17, 2018 @ 8:32 pm

    You lost me. You mentioned Samoa Joe and 3 big opponents should be terrific. Who are the 3 opponents?

    Btw, I don’t think they erased James Ellsworth. They just showed the match from Smackdown and not MITB.

  3. With the exception of Finn Balor not being sent to SmackDown I’m pretty happy with the way things ended up. Becky Lynch is back in the mix and hopefully my Sonya Deville can be the bad ass she should have been on Raw. Joe should be WWE Champion by SummerSlam.

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