Smackdown made history for Samoa Joe, but did Bobby see the blue brand’s effort as Good, Bad, or Ugly?
Following a successful Raw onto SmackDown we go. The SD Live crew always shows up With the big dance coming up very soon, will they continue to stay in overdrive or play it safe in cruise control? On paper it looks like it will be full steam ahead! Onto SmackDown Live!
Open Challenge United States Championship Match- R-Truth (C) w/ Carmella vs. Samoa Joe vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade w/ Zelina Vega (Fatal 4-Way)
Lacey Evans again cat walked for no reason to open the challenge. Then things got serious, when Samoa Joe, Rey Mysterio and Andrade did answer the challenge. R-Truth was priceless. This was a very brutal, physical contest. All guys putting it on the line and leaving it all out there. Samoa Joe was poised and did a ton of damage in and out of the ring. Andrade and Mysterio put on their usual air show and it made for some amazing sights! Everything those two have done together has been wonderful and we just cannot see enough of it! Just as no one seemed like they could finish this off, Samoa Joe took out Mysterio and hit his a disgusting Urinage dropping Andrade and winning the United States Championship! This was jaw dropping all around. Samoa Joe with the belt could lead to some red hot matches as well. This was fantastic and Joe looked as shocked as the audience that he just won.
Ricochet and Aleister Black vs. The Bar
Suffering their first loss on Raw this week, (via DQ). NXT’s finest wanted to bounce back quickly. What better way than defeating the well decorated team “The Bar.” Cesaro and Shamus beat down Ricochet and kept him isolated. The action looked Good. In comes a fresh Aleister Black. Black blew up taking full control until a Cesaro finally broke him down. Again The Bar took control. Black countered with a huge “Black Mass” on Cesaro, made the tag to Ricochet, dove onto Shamus on the outside taking him out. Ricochet hits his “630” for the impressive victory! Always on, always Good. Rusev and Nakamura along with The Bar dismantled the NXT upstarts until The Hardy’s made the much needed save. This was awesome! Great content, and great story! Mixing Ricochet with the Hardy’s will be bananas.
Kevin Owens vs. Rowen w/ WWE Champion Daniel Bryan
As the sole purpose of the match is to hype the Fastlane Main Event, it was no surprise that after jawing from the announce table at K.O. The rivals went at it but with the numbers on the Champs side, Rowan and Daniel Bryan beat Kevin Owens down. Out of the blue, Mustafa Ali made the save and even though he took a few hits made a huge impact. Kevin Owen wins by D.Q. and hits a devastating Stunner for redemption. The match did its job, was quick and looked Good. The whole thing was a big success and should carry over to Fastlane with a decent amount of heat.
The Queen is pure evil right now and she cannot and will not let Becky Lynch rest at any moment. Flair wants her belt and will not stop until that is the result. She is a pure heel and does her job very well. This whole triple threat at WrestleMania is a shame though as we all know what match it should be. Now a triple threat is looking like the reality. Fastlane will solidify everything. Charlotte only took the time to torment her rival and the audience further but after some buildup, “The Man” came calling. Lynch came out at the request of Charlotte for a “discussion.” Lynch hobbled to the ring much like Monday on Raw. She can barely stand and always has her trusty crutch. The one legged girl in the “lass kicking” contest will not be denied. It was Charlotte who had the edge though, taking advantage of her injured rival. Charlotte brutally attacked Lynch. She worked the knee and with the “figure 8” in her back pocket and fresh bruises from getting smashed with a crutch, Lynch is in trouble. Lynch however tried to rip Charlotte’s arm off screaming until being broken up by the officials. This will be a Good one at Fastlane and was a Good one on SD Live.
The WWE Heavyweight Champion “The New” Daniel Bryan
Personally I am a fan of “Heel” Daniel Bryan. He is on top of his game and the crowd is not doing the “Yes” movement as much if at all. All Good things. The Champ has transformed well into his role and is quick to turn on the heat with his once beloved audience. The beginning of the segment of really long recapping everything like this on live tv is a Bad look, and for some reason this seemed pretty long having talent in the ring. Rowan is just too much. He could never be taken seriously. He is just too funny. He is doing his job though and fulfilling his role well. This starting getting old and longwinded. Kevin Owens made his entrance mic in hand. KO is a promo machine and doesn’t disappoint. Of course this got physical and number won. Rowan and Daniel Bryan beat down the upcoming Challenger.
The Miz w/ Shane McMahon vs. Jey Uso w/ Jimmy Uso
Starting things off with the Uso’s talking trash was unnecessary. What was even more unnecessary was having McMiz also chime in before the match. Just get to the action please, we already get it! It was said it was a very physical match but that must have been during the commercial time because it was very slow and awkward most of the time from what was seen. Jimmy did a really unique move interfering trying to help his brother pin the Miz but Shane got him with a flying clothesline. After getting even, Miz hits a “skull crushing finale” to finish Jey Uso off and pick up the victory. Really wasn’t very Good. With talent as Good as they are, this wasn’t up to par. Disappointing match.
Mandy Rose w/ Sonya Deville vs. Naomi
It is a shame that Mandy Rose and not Sonya Deville is getting the shot at Asuka, but maybe the latter will be the result of this little match at Fastlane. Deville vs. Asuka at WrestleMania anyone? The heat from the previous matches and the whole marriage drama angle still was fresh as the Glow was felt in a horrible way. Like the previous times this wasn’t the best we have seen. Unfortunately the match was another Ugly shame. Sonya Deville comes in heavy with the distraction, allowing Mandy Rose to take out Naomi and pick up the quick win. Asuka decided that she was bored backstage and made short work of her Fastlane opponent and her bestie! Mandy Rose is looking to get crushed at Fastlane but it is interesting to see what will come next for WrestleMania.
- Good- 4
- Bad- 2
- Ugly- 1
Good but really struggled. This one squeaked by on the Good meter and almost joined Raw in the penalty box. There were some really subpar moments and some really slow Bad content at times but SD Live pulled the nose up and made it all Good. Barely.
So it’s been kind of a rough week so far but the best is yet to come. NXT is next and if history repeats itself, we are in for a Good night! See you on the next Good, Bad and Ugly!
Rob: WWE Roster Turmoil? Not Really
This is fine. (It actually is fine!)
Is the WWE roster in a state of turmoil? Rob Bonnette doesn’t think so, and tells you why!
So the news that Luke Harper has requested his release, combined with the current Sasha Banks situation, the writer that quit, and Road Dogg resigning as head writer of Smackdown has led our good friend Ryan Satin (sarcasm) and others to speculate if there is some bad morale going on backstage in the good old WWE. The take here is that because seemingly so many people have recently asked for or were rumored to be have asked for their release (Neville, Tye Dellinger, Hideo Itami, the Revival, Mike & Maria Kanellis), openly complained about their role or lack thereof (Sasha Banks, Rusev and Lana, Tyler Breeze), or have chosen to not re-sign (Dean Ambrose) that this is some harbinger of bad times. With all this smoke there’s got to be some fire, right?
Well……..not really. Yes that seems like a lot of people but twelve people (or eight when you take into account that the Revival and the Kanellises all denied having asked out) out of almost 150 main roster people is not a huge number. And as a couple of people who used to work for WWE explained the sheer number of people there now means that there are always going to be people either feeling or actually being underutilized.
This is really short-sighted. There’s a ton of talented guys and only so many segments. Someone great always gets the short end of the stick
— Kazeem Famuyide 🏁 (@RealLifeKaz) April 16, 2019
This is when the internet bugs me. (Not singling you out, Ryan.) But to go from handful of wrestlers who have diff reasons for leaving, and jump to “BACKSTAGE IN TURMOIL” is an lot of assumptions.
Backstage is perpetually in chaos anyway. But that’s not why anybody leaves. 😂
— Tom Casiello (@tommiecas) April 16, 2019
Now I am not a former writer with WWE nor did I stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night but I have been watching and following pro wrestling for almost 35 years so I can tell you that this is nothing new. Way back during the 80s it was pretty common for people to come to the WWF and not stay as long as you remember they did. I’m talking name guys, some of whom main evented WrestleMania like:
- Ricky Steamboat – 3 years (1985 to 1988)
- Rick Rude – 3 years (1987 to 1990)
- Barry Windham – 1 year (1984 or 1985), then a few months in 1989
- King Kong Bundy – 3 years (1985 to 1988), then again from 1994 to 1995
- Paul Orndorff – 4 years (1983 to January 1988)
- Terry Taylor – 2 years (1988 to 1990)
- Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard – 1 year (1988 to 1989)
- Kerry Von Erich – 2 years (1990 to 1992)
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There were other name guys like Dick Slater who were there and gone in months. Sid Vicious never made more than a year either time he came over. Even Ric Flair asked for his release a year and half after coming over in 1991 and got it. All of those guys were considered serious acquisitions when they came in, and for various reasons left a lot sooner than expected. And like today those reasons largely had to do with their place on the card at the time or where it looked like they’d be in the future.
A few did get fired (Blanchard got popped for drugs and the Freebirds famously got run before they even debuted), or left because of injury (Orndorff) but most of these guys just left. Now fast forward to today. Harper asked for his release after six years. AJ Syles just re-signed and has already been there longer than Flair (the first time), Steamboat, and Rude were. Hell, Finn Balor has already outlasted most of the guys on that list. So has Baron Corbin (even though he sucks so bad that we got T-shirts saying so!) We haven’t gotten to Kofi, Sheamus, Dolph, R-Truth, etc.
There has always been a revolving door of sorts, and it spins even faster when things are going well be it the Hulkamania era, the Monday Night Wars/Attitude Era, or now. It’s never a sign of anything other than business being good and there being more than one place for people to work. They can get an offer from WWE, give it whirl, and if things don’t go to their liking they can move on. It was true during the mid 80s before the territories started dying. It was true when WCW was riding high.
And it’s true now when you have ROH/Impact/MLW out there, AEW on the way, and an indie scene that offers a lot of opportunities. When people don’t have to stay they’ll leave if they don’t like where they are and they can get on somewhere else. It’s a good sign for the business and not a bad sign for any one company (let’s not act like the revolving door only is only in WWE now). When business is good, WWE signs a ton of people and lots of them don’t stay long.
Now that brings the next the question: do they just have too many people? Well yeah, they do. But that’s how they operate during the good times. They sign some people because they have plans for them but they also sign people to get them off the market or to provide roster depth or just because the wider net you cast the better chance you have of getting a breakout star. The wide net got them the Shield, Daniel Bryan, Styles, Finn Balor, and several others. In years past it got the Hart Foundation, Ultimate Warrior, Jake Roberts, and 1-2-3 Kid (X-Pac). Wrestling is art not science, and finding success is often a matter of throwing as much stuff against the wall as possible and seeing what sticks.
So yeah if you have the capacity you sign as many people as you can. WWE isn’t the only place that did that. WCW did of course. New Japan tried to keep all The Elite guys even though they have a pretty large deck of guys, some of whom aren’t getting much use right now there. Do signings not field any tangible results? Sure. Do some departures hurt more than others? Sure. But it’s nothing new and nothing to get all bent out of shape over.
So let the dirtsheet guys do what they do, and don’t get too worked up. Nothing new under the sun here.
Chris: Examining The WWE SmackDown Live Shake-Up
Did the Superstar Shake-Up turn WWE Smackdown into the A-Show?
Christopher McManus takes a deep dive into the WWE Smackdown Live side of this week’s Superstar Shake-Up!
The smoke has cleared and now the RAW and SmackDown Live rosters have changed dramatically over the span of 48 hours. The WWE Universe has seen an entirely new landscape with locker room leaders switching brands, tag divisions finding balance, and a women’s division stronger than ever. Today, I highlight the moves that were made to the SmackDown Live brand and what this means in a very pivotal year for the show going forward.
It is no secret that with SmackDown moving to the Fox Network in October, the brand was going to have a large number of star power and a roster that’s is presentable for a prime time slot that’s going to be available in every household possible. The Superstar Shake-Up did that in droves, creating strong moves that will make the blue brand an intriguing show going into its transition.
Let’s get to one of the main reasons SmackDown will be benefitting heavily with their impending move to the Fox Network and that is The Big Dog in the WWE. The former WWE and Universal Champion made his jump during the closing moments of SmackDown Live, delivering a Superman Punch to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and spearing Elias. This was the play that the company had in mind for well over a year, as Reigns swapping with AJ Styles was necessary for a number of reasons.
Reigns, much like Styles, have done all that he could on Monday nights. Highly regarded as the top male star in the company and the main locker room leader, Reigns bring the star power and motivation to a young SmackDown roster ready to transition. He will still be in the background as he’s still recovering from his leukemia treatment. Until then, he will be working small programs with Elias to pick up on his ring condition. When that happens, it’s going to be an exciting time with all the new match-ups at his disposal.
A move that was a year in the making, Finn Balor has the opportunity to be one of the top three names on the SmackDown Live roster. Balor also brings the WWE Intercontinental Championship with him, for who he is in his second reign. It is possible that like before, the midcard titles could effectively switch brands with Samoa Joe and the United States title going to Monday Night RAW. Balor also has Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows lurking around, so if creative was interested in pairing “The Good Brothers” again then that’s a direction worth looking into.
The Boulder Beast has finally found a home. After his debut was postponed due to him no-showing a couple of events in January, the Leviathan made his long-awaited presence felt by destroying WWE legends such as Kurt Angle and The Hardy Boyz during Mania Week. It seems like the WWE brass is still high on The Freak Man, having him decimate a number of super popular stars. With Sullivan officially being on the blue brand, many could expect some big plans heading his way.
“The War Goddess” made her return at WrestleMania after recovering from elbow surgery and didn’t miss a beat with her showing in the Women’s Battle Royal. As what was shown leading up to WrestleMania was the severe lack of depth to SmackDown’s women’s division, leading to Charlotte Flair to regain the title from Asuka to help with the brand’s credibility at the time. With the Shake-Up approaching yesterday, Ember was one of the easy candidates in providing balance to a depleted women’s roster and an opportunity to be a perennial title contender in the coming months.
While expected, this still came as a surprise that the former Women’s Tag Champion would now be on Tuesday nights. Bayley has been indirectly involved with the current fiasco surrounding Sasha Banks, who has taken a leave of absence following their defeat at WrestleMania. Whether it played a factor in Bayley moving over or has yet to be determined, but this was also needed for lovable babyface. Prior to her tag run with Sasha, Bayley tread throughout the RAW’s waters barely finding consistent footing. Far too often and even now, she is seen as the fourth wheel of “The Four Horsewomen” of wrestling and. This is her chance to “be the change,” as she likes to put it and make a name for herself as a solo star.
As promised by Paige last week, she would bring in an impressive team to SmackDown Live to combat against The IIconics. “The Pirate Princess” made her SmackDown debut aligning with Asuka as two STARDOM alumni and instant contenders for the Women’s Tag Team Titles. Sane has been featured on both Women’s Royal Rumbles and WrestleMania Battle Royals to moderate success and participated in WWE’s sole women’s pay-per-view Evolution. The casual audience that knows her should fall in love with the Disney character come to life, as her charisma and mannerisms will have her as a longtime fan favorite for years to come.
It was a foregone conclusion that Buddy Murphy would be making a jump to the big boys after losing the Cruiserweight Championship at WrestleMania, the only question is where he would go. When Cedric Alexander was announced he’ll be heading to RAW, Murphy was the next name to be leaving 205 Live to join Team Blue. This is an incredible story for “The Best Kept Secret”, who just in 2017 was grinding on the NXT Florida loops and having heavily-praised classics with Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black. He would continue to chase for the brass ring in shedding enough weight to join the 205 Live roster and stealing the show on a weekly basis.
The former “Cruiserweight Juggernaut” will have a chance to do the same thing on Tuesday nights, with a fresh set of faces to display his skills against. He can rekindle his old feud against Ali, trade strikes with Finn Balor, and even step up to Roman Reigns himself. The possibilities are endless for him and if there’s one man that can prove his opportunity is worth it, it is him.
Vince McMahon’s “biggest acquisition in SmackDown history” turned out to be RAW’s former drifter Elias. Feeling that now he longer have to deal with the interruptions on Monday, Elias was quickly dealt with by Roman Reigns. This is likely to be his first program on the blue brand, as SmackDown has always been the breeding ground for midcarders needing to break through to the top of the card. He’s always been a serviceable act on RAW and now will have to step it up a notch on the show full of workhorses.
The Riott Squad started like a ball of fire nearly two years ago only to fizzle out throughout 2018. As with many members of the main roster, they became victims of circumstance, often fed to Ronda Rousey and The Four Horsewomen. It was only a matter of time that the trio would run their course and had to split in order to truly get the most out of each other. In Liv Morgan’s case, this is a show-and-prove moment for the mischievous, plucky superstar. It will be her first true test as a potential singles competitor, which means she will have to go out of her way to stand out on a now stacked division. Hopefully, she has grown enough not to draw similarities to Carmella, who both developed a brash and urban-influenced gimmick in NXT and are both billed from the Tri-State.
Gable’s run on the main roster has been flashes of brilliance marred with being lost in the shuffle. After being swapped to RAW last year in hopes of a solo run, he was paired with Bobby Roode in a makeshift tag team with moderate success. Then he got stuck again after losing the tag team titles and was sent to SmackDown when it looked like the duo was starting a heel run. Now on his own again, this might be the last shot for Gable to make something worthwhile after so much push and pull.
Getting placed in a tag team with Shelton Benjamin again would only defeat the purpose of Gable’s desire of wanting a solo run. With Fox focusing on a sports-oriented product for their weekend slots, Gable could be seen as a potential athlete to promote. He’s a former Olympian and can be seen as the heir to Kurt Angle if given the right push.
Mickie James has been absent over the past few months before returning for the Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania. She returns to SmackDown as a veteran leader into the SmackDown locker room full of talented women. I doubt that she will have much of a bigger role on a roster that includes Charlotte Flair, Asuka, Bayley, and Ember Moon, but she will be a great hand to get younger stars like Kairi Sane and Liv Morgan over and will have good matches.
Heavy Machinery was built for SmackDown Live. The comedic powerhouse duo of Tucker and Otis is a great fit to a dynamic tag team division full of colorful individuals. I wouldn’t be shocked if they have a small run with the titles, though there will more interactions between Mandy Rose and Otis for my amusement.
Apollo, much like Chad Gable, was a victim of being bottlenecked on such a top-heavy RAW roster over the years. He would find some success with Titus O’Neil and Dan Brooke as a part of Titus Worldwide but later went solo facing Jinder Mahal and Baron Corbin in small TV programs. Now back on SmackDown, Crews help in a diverse midcard where no matter where he is placed, he’s gonna do well. He may not be a future world champion now, but Crews have the ability to get to the next level.
SmackDown Live continues to be the beacon of in-ring athleticism and new faces making their mark in the company. This year, the roster has a chance to truly cement themselves as THE A Show.
You can follow more of Chris’ musings on Twitter: @RappersRActors
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