Live from Louisville, Kentucky, this is Smackdown Live for episode #974. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top. Thank you for reading and remember you can always pick up a TJRWrestling t-shirt to support the site as well.
A graphic was shown to let us know this show is in memory of WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino just like Raw was. He died last week at age 82.
There was a shot of the live crowd in Louisville, Tom Phillips welcomed us to the show and the music of The Miz hit to start the show.
Miz TV hosted by The Miz
The Miz walked out alone in a suit. The announcers plugged the Greatest Royal Rumble event on Friday where Miz is in a 4-Way Ladder Match for the IC Title with champion Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe.
The Miz took his time to speak because the crowd was booing him. Miz did his “when my hand goes up, your mouth goes shut” routine and told the fans to welcome him back on Smackdown Live. Miz did his intro for his show. Miz said the A-Lister is back on Smackdown Live and now Smackdown is the A show. Miz said he makes it must see and he brings the ratings. Miz said there’s something missing…a title. He said it’s a title that he’ll win for a 9th time at the Greatest Royal Rumble event and he was talking about the Intercontinental Championship.
The Miz said this is the moment that the world has been waiting for. It took the fans a few seconds, but they got a “yes” chant going. Miz said his guest this week is a man who threatened to punch Miz in the face last week. Miz spoke about how this is a man that holds a grudge from years ago on Talking Smack, which got canceled when Miz moved to Raw. Miz talked about how this man wanted Miz to go to Smackdown so he can confront him. Miz spoke about how just under a month ago, he welcomed his daughter Monroe Sky into existence and when he was her first impression, she had pureness and innocence. Miz said he knew he had to be a better man from that moment while claiming all that hostility he had went away. Miz mentioned how they have similarities because Bryan is on a reality show (two actually) and Miz is starring in Miz and Mrs. Miz said when he became a father, he knew he had to change and be a better man. Miz said if Daniel Bryan wants to come out there and punch him in the face then he should punch Miz in the face. Miz called Bryan out to the ring. There was a delay as Miz looked at the entrance with no sign of Bryan. Miz called for him a second time. No Bryan.
Analysis: Great job as usual by Miz. He knows how to work the crowd as well as anybody.
Instead of Daniel Bryan, Big Cass’ music hit. I only know because the screen says “Big Cass” on it. The song is a very generic rock song.
Cass walked out wearing a suit. He put his jacket on and put his watch on his wrist. The announcers talked about how Cass had a torn ACL last Summer. The camera filmed him from the ground up like they tend to do with taller wrestlers since he is nearly seven feet tall. Can you teach that? No, you can’t.
Cass stood in the ring with his fist in the air and the crowd booed him. Cass said he is the guest now. Cass claimed that nobody cares about Daniel Bryan, which drew a lot of boos. Cass talked about how he was on the shelf nursing an ACL injury for seven months and on the day he gets cleared, Daniel Bryan also got cleared. Cass said that all he heard about was Daniel Bryan while nobody was talking about Big Cass. Miz told Cass that he doesn’t need his help. Cass told Miz that not everything in this world is about him. Miz talked about how he’s a Grand Slam winner, he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer, he main evented WrestleMania and he asked Cass what he’s done besides hobble around on a bum knee. Cass offered to shut The Miz’s mouth right now. The fans chanted “yes” for that.
Miz said this is about Daniel Bryan and Cass said you’re damn right this is about Daniel Bryan. Cass said that Bryan looks like he should be his garbage man and instead of that, he spews trash to the fans. Cass told the fans that they are not going to achieve their dreams because they are a bunch of Joe Schmos. Cass said up until he was 16, he was an average kid like Daniel Bryan and he got pushed around. Cass said he started to grow to become seven feet tall. Cass said that Bryan reminds him of himself when he was a little guy and he despises him. Cass said he’s in WWE, he didn’t have to work in the bingo halls, the indie scene, he didn’t have to go to Japan and it’s because he’s tall, educated and damn good looking. Cass said that makes him valuable, a star and money. Cass said he still lives in the shadow of Daniel Bryan and said it’s not for long. Cass said that he’ll make sure that Bryan goes back on the shelf beaten, bruised and retired. Cass said that Bryan will never cast a shadow over him or anybody else again. Cass mocked the “yes” chants and left.
Analysis: I thought it was a good promo from Cass. He said what we all expected him to say about how he hated that he got no attention for coming back from his injury and he hates Daniel Bryan, which will get him huge heel heat. Cass told the truth about not needing to wrestle elsewhere to get to WWE because being a taller guy helped him get in the door. There’s truth in what he said.
Coming up later is Carmella and Charlotte Flair in a contract signing for a Backlash match.
Asuka and Becky Lynch were shown backstage. There was a shot of Daniel Bryan on the floor grabbing his left shoulder with a referee and agent Adam Pearce looking at him. The women checked on Bryan as well as the show went to break.
Analysis: It looks like the Big Cass gimmick of cheap backstage attacks is continuing. That’s what they did with him last year when he turned heel on tag team partner Enzo Amore. It’s a cheap way to get heat.
The show returned with the announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton talked about how Daniel Bryan was getting looked at in the trainer’s room.
The Iiconics duo of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay talked about how good they looked. I agree with them. They mocked Becky Lynch with Royce doing an impression joking about four leaf clovers. The women spoke about how Charlotte beat Asuka at WrestleMania and they helped end Charlotte’s title reign, so that means they are better than Asuka. Kay claimed that Asuka was the Empress of Yesterday instead of tomorrow. They said they are the future, but Becky Lynch’s music interrupted that.
Analysis: They are over the top annoying heels. I like their chemistry. They are also easy on the eyes, so I don’t mind having them get TV time to get their characters over.
Becky Lynch entered first for her team. Asuka was up next and she got the bigger ovation. This is Asuka’s first match on Smackdown. The show went to break there.
It was joined in progress or may have started in the split screen in the US, but not here in Canada.
Asuka and Becky Lynch vs. The Iiconics – Peyton Royce and Billie Kay
The faces were in control with Lynch hitting a forearm on Royce. Lynch kicked Royce into the turnbuckle followed by a Bexploder Suplex. Kaye tagged in and took down Lynch with an arm wringer. Royce wrenched Lynch’s left arm against the middle rope. Kay with a knee to the left arm of Lynch. Kay with an armbar on Lynch. Kay whipped Lynch into the turnbuckle, Lynch fought back wit ha kick to the face and that led to a double clothesline spot. Royce tagged in against Asuka, which led to Asuka hitting a hip attack on Kay and a dropkick on Royce. Asuka caught a Royce kick and slapped on an ankle lock. Lynch knocked Kay off the apron. Asuka with a German Suplex on Royce and a hip attack. Lynch back in, Asuka hit a kick and Lynch hit a leg drop. Royce shoved Lynch into Asuka, which knocked Asuka off the apron. Royce and Kay double teamed Lynch, Royce sent Lynch into the turnbuckle and Royce covered with a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! along with her feet on the ropes. That was enough to win. It went about five minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Iiconics – Peyton Royce and Billie Kay
Analysis: ** The match was solid for the time given. It’s the second loss for Asuka even though it was Lynch that got pinned for hear team. I thought WWE would want to get Asuka off on the right foot on Smackdown with a win, but I don’t mind going with The Iiconics going over. They need wins to establish them as a credible team.
Renee Young was outside of Shane McMahon’s office. AJ Styles walked out of the room with a smile on his face. Styles said that Shane gave him the opportunity to soften up Shinsuke Nakamura tonight on Smackdown. Styles said it’s a six man tag match with Nakamura teaming with Rusev Day and Styles said his partners will be “too sweet” so it’s probably Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson without Styles saying it.
The announcers shilled the Greatest Royal Rumble event on Friday. I’ll have a live review up on Friday afternoon on TJRWrestling.
Still to come: Carmella vs. Charlotte Flair in a SD Women’s Title contract signing.
A video promo aired about former NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas and his manager Zelina Vega. Vega said that Almas has no peers and nobody is on his level.
Analysis: I’m excited about them on Smackdown. I think Almas can quickly rise up the ranks on Smackdown as a top heel on the show. It’s a good fit for him. He has impressed me a lot in the last year and keeps getting better while Vega reminds us of how important managers can be to a heel wrestler. She does a great job. I wish WWE had more heel managers.
The Usos were in the locker room. Naomi showed up to talk to her husband Jimmy Uso, so Jey left. Naomi said she loved him and she has a bad feeling about this match tonight. Jimmy said that Jey will be out there and he’s got his back. Jimmy said he’s going to take care of Rowan and not to worry about it. Jimmy kissed her on the forehead and he left.
Analysis: Jimmy got his ass kicked last week and Naomi prevented a further attack, so this was a follow up to that. I guess we are supposed to assume that a husband and wife didn’t talk about it for a whole week? Sure. It’s a television show, my friends. It doesn’t always have to make sense. I need to remind myself of that sometimes.
Rowan walked out with his partner Harper. They are the Bludgeon Brothers and Rowan has a match against Jimmy Uso after the break.
There was a Make A Wish commercial and World Wish Day is on Sunday. There was a shot of Alec a Make A Wish kid at ringside. Phillips said he got to meet The Usos earlier in the day.
Jimmy and Jey Uso entered. They greeted Alec and his family at ringside.
Rowan (w/Harper) vs. Jimmy Uso (w/Jey Uso)
Rowan slammed Jimmy early on. Harper with a boot on Jey on the floor. Jimmy sent Rowan to the floor, Jimmy tried a suicide dive, Rowan caught him and Jimmy sent Rowan into the ring post. Jimmy with a kick to the head of Rowan and he went up top with a cross body block for two. Jimmy with a kick to the gut. Jimmy up top, Rowan shoved him off and Jimmy went into the barricade. Rowan tackled Jimmy on the floor. Rowan picked up Jimmy and Naomi’s full entrance played. Rowan put Jimmy down as Naomi did her full entrance dance in the aisle. Jey capitalized with a jumping kick to Harper and he sent him into the stairs. Jimmy kicked Rowan into the turnbuckle and Jimmy with a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Rowan for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Jimmy Uso
Analysis: *1/4 A quick match featuring two things I don’t like very much: The entrance of somebody not in a match and the dreaded ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the second straight match on the show. I get the point of it with the distraction from Naomi leading to Jimmy getting the win, but if you just did a rollup finish in the previous match, why do it again? It seems a bit too much to me. It’s rare for the Bludgeon Brothers to lose, but this was done in fluke fashion and was a singles match rather than a tag, so I guess it’s okay.
This Friday at the Greatest Royal Rumble it’s The Bludgeon Brothers vs. The Usos for the SD Tag Team Titles.
Later: Styles, Gallows and Anderson vs. Nakamura, Rusev and English.
The SD Women’s contract signing is up next.
Smackdown Women’s Championship Contract Signing
There was a table in the ring along with a contract and two leather chairs. Renee Young was in the ring to moderate this.
Carmella, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, entered in her ring gear and she had the Women’s Title around her waist. Carmella grabbed the microphone from Renee and she complained about how she introduced Carmella first. Carmella asked why Renee would introduce Carmella before the challenger. Carmella said she had something to address.
Carmella told Renee that she is her champion and Carmella told the fans she is their champion. Carmella said that the fans will never know what it’s like to be a champion like her. Carmella talked about last week’s “Mellabration” showing her incredible accomplishments, but when it was over nobody gave her a standing ovation. Carmella complained about the disrespect. Fans chanted “you suck” at her. Carmella said she’s going to play that same exact highlight reel again. Carmella told the fans to give her the standing ovation she deserves when it’s over.
The Carmella highlight reel video aired just like last week.
When the video stopped, Carmella told the fans that reaction wasn’t good enough. Carmella said she’ll play it again and told the fans to stand up and cheer.
The video started again. After about 30 seconds of it, Charlotte Flair’s entrance hit for the predictable interruption. Charlotte walked out in her robe and she was in her wrestling gear including a robe.
Charlotte entered the ring and sat in one of the leather chairs. Carmella celebrated with the title while Renee told her to take a seat.
Charlotte signed the contract first and let out a “WOO” in Carmella’s face. Carmella got in her face, so Charlotte sent Carmella’s face into the table and she pushed the table onto Carmella. Charlotte’s music hit and she left. I don’t think Carmella signed the contract, but it’s not like it really matters.
Analysis: Carmella was really over the top with her promo as well as the video package asking for it twice. Charlotte didn’t say a word, but she was all business as she signed the contract and shut up Carmella by shoving the table on Carmella. It was not the most interesting contract signing, but it told the story of Charlotte having a lot of confidence going into the Backlash match against Carmella.
The announcers talked about the Greatest Royal Rumble event again.
Shinsuke Nakamura’s locker room was shown. Dasha Fuentes knocked on the door. Aiden English answered and said no interviews.
Jeff Hardy, the US Champion, was shown backstage because he’s up next.
There was a shot of a family got a seat upgrade sponsored by Little Caesars. Boxing legend Evander Holyfield was sitting a few seats over and they didn’t mention him.
The announcers mentioned that Carmella did sign the contract, so it’s official.
Shelton Benjamin was in the ring. Jeff Hardy entered with the US Title and Hardy faces Jinder Mahal at the Greatest Royal Rumble event on Friday.
Before Hardy could get to the ring, his music stopped and Randy Orton made his entrance. Orton entered the ring, so he gets to face Benjamin.
Shelton Benjamin vs. Randy Orton
Benjamin with a shoulder tackle, Orton with a leap frog and Orton avoided a kick. When Orton went for a RKO, Benjamin shoved him away. Phillips mentioned they were part of the great OVW class of 2002, which is a nice reference. Also part of that group were Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Batista to name a few. Benjamin took control by sending Orton’s left arm into the rope followed by kicks to the chest and a kick to the head of Orton that led to a break. Jeff Hardy looked on from ringside.
The show returned with Benjamin nailing a spin kick on Orton. Benjamin slapped on a headlock, so Orton hit a belly to back suplex. Orton with a powerslam on Benjamin. Orton connected with the DDT off the ropes. Orton wanted the RKO, but Benjamin rolled to the floor. Orton sent Benjamin into the top of the announce table. Orton picked up Benjamin and slammed him back first onto the announce table although it wasn’t enough to break it. A masked man clipped Hardy in the back of the leg. He ran into the ring, Orton grabbed him, took the mask off and revealed it to be Sunil Singh. Orton with a RKO on Sunil. Benjamin capitalized on that situation with the Paydirt on Orton. Benjamin pinned Orton to win the match after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Shelton Benjamin
Analysis: **1/2 It was a solid match from two guys very familiar with eachother going back nearly 20 years. The Singh attack was done because it’s Hardy vs. Mahal at Greatest Royal Rumble, so it was a cheap way to promote that match. Benjamin took advantage of that to get the win that gives Benjamin some credibility as a singles wrestler. It all made sense even with a cheap result. Sometimes you have to do finishes like that to put heels over.
Post match, Orton was stunned in the ring, Hardy was limping outside the ring and Benjamin was happy in the aisle.
The New Day were backstage with their new book along with pancakes and some cereal. Sheamus and Cesaro showed up to them. Sheamus and Cesaro said when they win back the Raw Tag Team Champions at Greatest Royal Rumble, they will be back on Raw. Sheamus held some pancakes while adding that the competition on Smackdown doesn’t stack up. New Day told them to leave when they did their catchphrase.
Analysis: I expect Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt to win the Raw Tag Team Titles, so this segment likely sets up Sheamus and Cesaro feuding with The New Day soon.
AJ Styles was in the locker room with his buddies Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson because they are together again for the main event.
There was a video package for the Sanity trio of Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe.
Renee Young was backstage by the trainer’s room. Daniel Bryan walked out of the room with ice on his left shoulder. Bryan said that he’ll be fine for the Greatest Royal Rumble. Bryan said he was attacked from behind by Big Cass. Bryan said he talked to Paige and he’s facing Big Cass at Backlash. Bryan said it doesn’t matter how big you are because everybody is the same size when they’re on the mat tapping out.
Analysis: Bryan vs. Cass at Backlash is the biggest match of Big Cass’ career. Bryan will make him look great and Cass must prove he belongs working with top talent.
Samoa Joe did a promo about winning the Intercontinental Title Ladder Match at the Greatest Royal Rumble event. Joe said if Roman Reigns wins the Universal Title at GRR then he’ll take that title at Backlash as well.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made their entrance for the main event. AJ Styles was up next for the team. Styles is the WWE Champion that got a great ovation like usual. They are the trio known as The Club without any bullets, of course.
The trio of Styles, Gallows and Anderson waited for their opponents in the ring.
Aiden English did his usual spiel about how today is Rusev Day. Rusev entered to join English for the tag team match. Rusev faces The Undertaker in a Casket Match at the Greatest Royal Rumble event.
Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance. There was an altered version to his song with a Japanese band shown on the screen and a guy was singing while Nakamura entered. Nakamura challenges AJ Styles for the WWE Title at Greatest Royal Rumble on Friday.
Analysis: I like the changes to the Nakamura song. The original song is more fitting for a face, so having it be more of a heel track is a good idea. Here’s the video for the new Nakamura song.
AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Aiden English and Rusev
The trio of Styles, Gallows and Anderson kicked English repeatedly and knocked him out of the ring. Gallows kicked Rusev leading to Rusev bumping to the floor. The three faces posed in the ring as the show went to break two minutes into the match.
The match returned with Styles working over Rusev with forearms. Styles went after Nakamura, but Nakamura bailed to the floor. When Styles went for Nakamura again, Rusev nailed a Machka Kick on Styles to give the heels control. English tagged in with a headlock on Styles leading to a commercial for the Greatest Royal Rumble in the split screen. Nakamura worked over styles with the good vibrations boot to the face followed by a knee drop for two. Rusev with a body slam on Styles followed by an elbow drop. English went back in with a headlock while singing “he’s not going anywhere.” Styles broke free, he hit a dropkick on English, Rusev tagged in and Styles nailed a Pele Kick. Gallows got the hot tag against English with clotheslines. Gallows with a corner splash on English plus a kick and a pumphandle slam, Gallows called English a nerd and hit a running splash. Anderson was sent into the ring post. Nakamura got the blind tag when Gallows didn’t see it. Gallows knocked English out of the ring. Nakamura kicked Gallows in the back of the leg. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa on Gallows for the pinfall win for his team. It went 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Shinsuke Nakamura, Aiden English and Rusev
Analysis: *** It was a standard six man tag team match that was given a decent amount of time. They set up the key spots well with Nakamura doing the cheap attack to the back of the leg of Gallows to set up the finish. I like how it was booked. It put over Nakamura well going into the Greatest Royal Rumble event on Friday.
After the match was over, Styles attacked Nakamura with punches. Nakamura broke free and hit another low blow uppercut on Styles. Nakamura went for the Kinshasa on Styles, but Anderson went back into the ring and Nakamura hit Anderson with the Kinshasa. Nakamura nailed the Kinshasa knee strike on Anderson again with Styles too hurt to prevent it. Nakamura’s music hit.
Analysis: Poor Anderson saved his buddy Styles and took two knees to the face for doing it. Anderson is a good friend while Nakamura continues to act like a vicious heel thanks to the low blow to set up those knee attacks.
Replays aired of what happened.
Nakamura went up the aisle looking happy with what he did while Styles checked on his buddy Nakamura. The camera focused on Nakamura and that’s how Smackdown ended.
Analysis: I’m going with Styles beating Nakamura at the Greatest Royal Rumble event although it’s not a lock by any means.
Three Stars of the Show
- Shinsuke Nakamura
- AJ Styles
- The Miz
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
2018 Average: 6.15
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 8, 6.5, 6.5, 7
2018 High: 8 (April 10)
2018 Low: 4.5 (January 2 and January 9)
It gets a out 5.5 of 10.
I was excited for the show due to the great roster that Smackdown has now, but they didn’t use a lot of the talent and are still waiting to debut some of them. I thought the first hour was boring with not a lot of excitement, but the second hour was a lot better.
It was disappointing that there wasn’t a segment with The Miz and Daniel Bryan like they advertised. That’s probably going to happen down the road, so that’s okay. It’s just an example of WWE teasing something to build the excitement up for something in the future.
There was no Shane McMahon or Paige on the show, which is another example of why they don’t even need authority figures on this show.
— WWE (@WWE) April 25, 2018
Here’s the lineup for the Greatest Royal Rumble event from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday, April 27 with a 7pm local start time, which his 12pm ET/9pm PT. I will have a preview up on Wednesday and a live review on TJRWrestling on Friday.
Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs Roman Reigns
WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura
50-Man Royal Rumble Match – Names include: Daniel Bryan, Braun Strowman, Big Show, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Elias, Baron Corbin, Big E, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Apollo Crews, Shelton Benjamin, Sin Cara, Chad Gable, Goldust, Titus O’Neil, Mojo Rawley, Dolph Ziggler, Bobby Roode and more.
John Cena vs Triple H
Casket Match: The Undertaker vs Rusev
Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs The Miz vs Finn Balor vs Samoa Joe
United States Championship: Jeff Hardy (c) vs Jinder Mahal
Raw Tag Team Championships (Titles are vacant): Bray Wyatt & Matt Hardy vs Sheamus & Cesaro
SmackDown Tag Team Championships: The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs The Usos
Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander (c) vs Kalisto
That’s all for now. Go Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Blue Jays.
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