After an average go home Raw back on Monday it is time for the go home SmackDown. This is WWE’s final chance to alter the WWE Payback card, unless of course they want to give us surprise matches – which always tend to be great (slash sarcasm). It’s SmackDown so beyond great commentary, my expectations are set about as low as they can go. Let’s see if WWE can wow me with WWE SmackDown 04/28/16.
Also, this is probably a good time to mention that we’ll have WWE Payback predictions up on Friday and will be covering the show live on Sunday with up to the minute results and a full recap with commentary after the show concludes.
WWE SmackDown 04/28/16 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. No Chyna graphic because I guess we only do those on Raw. It makes sense in a way since no one watches this crap except me and Mauro Ranallo marks. We open with a video package detailing the AJ Styles / Gallows & Anderson / Roman Reigns situation. Next, it is the updated SmackDown video open, pyro, and we’re live (to tape) from Manchester, NH. Roman Reigns is out first to mostly boos. I guess they’re tired of mixing in cheers, or there is only so much they can do in post-production to that many boos. Roman raises the title and the audio engineer is finally able to overpower the boos with piped in cheers. Lawler acknowledges the boos and says, “It’s fun to boo Roman Reigns. He doesn’t mind.” I see the party line is still that the crowd is just wacky, crazy, and they enjoy playing “opposite day” every time Roman Reigns is shown to them. Each time I hear this feeble attempt to play off the overwhelming non-support for this champion, I imagine Vince as Principal Skinner in this scene. We then see a shot of a kid yelling “Roman” while the crowd boos again. This is every bit as painful as I expected it would be prior to WrestleMania.
Roman is out to cut a promo. Let me guess. He’s not a good guy, he’s not a bad guy, he’s just THE guy. And it’s one versus all. Believe that! Nope. Roman actually throws us a curveball and talks about how he Superman punched AJ in the mouth and he’s going to do it again. Progress? Roman starts cutting a promo saying how he doesn’t believe that AJ is in cahoots with Gallows and Anderson. WWE has laid this on so thick, I’m going to be legit angry if they do have them align now. Roman then calls out AJ and demands the truth. This brings out… The Miz? Yep. He and Maryse head to the ring and apparently Miz is here to further Roman’s conspiracy theory that Gallows & Anderson are in league with AJ Styles. It’s seriously insulting at this point if they don’t swerve at Payback. Miz cuts a promo comparing Roman’s situation to The Shawshank Redemption and says he deserves recognition for coming to that conclusion. Roman then decks him and clotheslines him out of the ring. See, this Roman, stupid conspiracy theories aside, is a Roman I could handle. He didn’t spout off any of his asinine catch phrases and he responds to a loud mouth with physical violence. Roman then offers the IC title belt to Maryse and tells her, off mic, “Very nice to meet you. Thanks for coming out!” I hate to say it, but I actually liked Roman Reigns in this segment. Hell hath frozen over!
Later tonight, it’s the Ambrose Asylum with Charlotte, Ric Flair, and Natalya. I hope Ric doesn’t go off the rails and tell Nattie to kill herself or anything!
Up next, we get to see the exact moment when the League of Nations finally stops being a thing.
Back from break, I guess Titus O’Neil is out of the doghouse since you can win a trip to Universal Orlando with him and his family. Also, we learn that Roman Reigns vs. The Miz is a match that happens in the main event slot. How much you want to bet that Anderson & Gallows show up and then AJ shows up and there is some sort of misunderstanding that further drives home the “OMG I THINK GALLOWS, ANDERSON, AND STYLES ARE A GROUP OF GUYS. LIKE A CLUB OR SOMETHING” conspiracy theory. You know what I thing would be awesome? If Rollins hired Anderson and Gallows as his new A & G Security and they become his heaters. It makes more sense than half of the crap that gets put on this show week in and week out. It’d explain their single-mindedness on going after Reigns on a level beyond him just being the champion and the whole “it benefitting AJ Styles” thing would just be the collateral damage for doing the job that Rollins hired them to do.
Meanwhile, Renee Young and way too much reverb on the mic are with the League of Nations. They cut the “cop one day away from retirement” promo that signals a faction is going to break up. To the point that Rusev screams they’re the “UNITED NATION!!!!!!!111!!!1!1!” while wildly pumping his arms. Yep. These guys are done. Tonight.
Next, the League of Nations are out to make their final appearance as a thing we’re even supposed to remotely care about. I suppose this is the silver lining of the Bray Wyatt injury. They’re facing “three random Superstars” tonight because it’s SmackDown. Kalisto is out first, saving us from having to see Ryback tonight. Next, is Sami Zayn and then Cesaro makes his James Bond entrance. Lawler calls the babyface team the “Third World League of Nations”. Shockingly, no one on either team hails from a Third World Nation. I know, right?
Match #1: Cesaro, Kalisto, & Sami Zayn vs. The League of Nations
The League of Nations “break up” by constantly tagging themselves in to the match and getting on each other’s nerves. Rusev does it to Del Rio and they have a blow out in the middle of the ring and Del Rio bails. Sheamus then accidentally hits Rusev on a double team attempt and Rusev loses it. I love that Rusev’s way of breaking up with Sheamus is to keep trying to mess up the mohawk. Disrespecting the hawk. Nice work, Rusev. This leaves Sheamus alone who takes a ton of uppercuts from Cesaro and narrowly avoids the Cesaro Swing. He then just marches off to the back and the faces win by count out.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Yeah, the League of Nations had to die, but what a waste of Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Kalisto on this episode. You could have literally replaced them with any other three guys on the roster and it’d have been the same match.
Back from break, the League of Nations are arguing and Del Rio and Rusev come to blows and Rusev slams Del Rio into a door. Sheamus then slams Rusev into the same door, says they both abandoned him, and that the League is finished. R.I.P. League of Nations 2015-2016. Next, Mauro sends us to the Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens hype video that aired on Raw.
Hey, it’s Baron Corbin! Maybe he’ll get to actually have a match tonight.
Back from break, hey it’s Damien Sandow!
Match #2: Baron Corbin vs. Damien Sandow
Oh wow. A Baron Corbin squash match where he completely dominates the other guy and hits the End of the Days. Such a fresh and refreshing thing to see.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Well, at least Sandow got a few minutes of TV time.
Meanwhile, AJ Styles is backstage walking. Renee Young appears and reminds AJ that Roman thinks he’s lying. AJ doesn’t care what Roman Reigns thinks. He thinks he’ll be taking the title from Roman on Sunday. AJ then mentions he’s going to be out at ring side for Roman’s match.
Back from break, Dean Ambrose is out for the Ambrose Asylum. Before starting the Asylum, Dean talks about getting put in the Walls of Jericho on Raw. Ambrose then cuts a promo on Jericho and says that he’s going to win at Payback. Ambrose then eats some Tic Tacs to change hats and be the host of Ambrose Asylum. Dean introduces Natalya first and she says that Dean’s set reminds her of a dentist’s office. We then see footage of Charlotte vs. Nattie on Raw three weeks ago. Dean says that he saw Charlotte tap, but as usual Ric Flair saved her by getting a DQ. Nattie mentions that on Sunday she’ll have Bret Hart in her corner. This brings out Charlotte and Ric Flair. Charlotte cuts a promo on Nattie saying how disturbed she is that Nattie is going to parade Bret around in front of the crowd. Nattie challenges this by mentioning Ric Flair is always around doing Charlotte’s bidding. Charlotte then puts over all of Ric’s accomplishments. Nattie calls Ric a creepy old man who knows he has to cheat so Charlotte can win. Ric then cuts a promo saying how many times he’s beaten Bret Hart and how he’d beat him on the moon if he had to. They clearly cut out the part where he says Nattie should kill herself. Nattie ends the segment by saying that she will be the champion the people deserve.
Back from break, the New Day are out. The New Day commandeer the announce table and send the announce team packing. Mauro and Lawler head over to the timekeepers area, but poor Saxton is left having to sit on the ground. While all of this is going on, the Social Outcasts are in the ring already. Enzo & Cass come out next so I guess this is a match. Kofi says to wait for the bassline to drop in Enzo & Cass’s theme because he “loves this song”. The New Day do the “can’t teach that” hand movements and seem to approve of Enzo & Cass.
Match #3: Enzo & Cass vs. Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas (w/ Heath Slater)
This is your standard Enzo & Cass squash win. Enzo starts, gets into trouble, Cass get the hot tag, cleans house, and tags Enzo for the Rocket Launcher win. Elementary stuff. During the match, the Vaudevillains come out on the ramp and watch.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – I get why Corbin and Enzo / Cass are getting squash wins on this show, but I’m not super excited by either match. I think it’s possibly because I’ve seen these kinds of squashes so many times from these guys in NXT already. At least in Enzo & Cass’s case, I know they’re capable of better matches than this. The New Day were more entertaining this time around on commentary than the last time they took over… but why can’t they do this on Raw next time? That’d be a vast commentary improvement no matter how you slice it.
Post-match, The Vaudevillains golf clap the Enzo & Cass victory from the stage. Cass then cuts a promo on the Vaudevillains and calls them sawft. Enzo & Cass turn around and stare at the New Day who are still at the announce table.
Meanwhile, R Truth is backstage using an actual stick as a selfie stick. Goldust enters and says it felt right when they were all dancing last week. Tyler Breeze then enters and bumps Goldust in the face with his selfie stick. Truth says he formed a team with Breeze and they’re going to be called the Gorgeous Truth. They leave and then Fandango enters and does the gyration talking thing at Goldust again. So weird. Fandango sits down and still gyrates while he consoles Goldust. So, I guess we get Fandango & Goldust vs. Tyler Breeze & R Truth before Reigns / Styles if we’re running long on extra time at Payback?
Hey, it’s Apollo Crews! We still have no reason to care about him besides he’s a really good athlete!
During the break, Primo and Epico are still out clubbing in Puerto Rico.
Back from break, Stardust is out. Hey, let’s have Crews squash Stardust again…
Match #4: Apollo Crews vs. Stardust
…and that’s exactly what happens. At least this one is varied as they have Stardust get in a bunch of offense first and work Apollo’s knee. Of course, Apollo is able to hit multiple Enziguris and his sitout powerbomb with the bad knee… so yeah.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Still no reason to care about Apollo Crews other than he is a physical specimen.
Back from break, we see the segment from Raw where Stephanie tells Shane that Vince will decide at Payback who runs Raw.
Next, AJ Styles is out to “be at ring side” during the main event.
Back from break, the Miz & Maryse come out to the ring. They’re followed by Roman Reigns. Time for the main event!
Match #5: Roman Reigns vs. The Miz (w/ Maryse)
Well, they didn’t go the obvious route by having Anderson & Gallows interfering to trigger a DQ or no contest. It’s odd when having Roman Reigns going over clean in the main event with the spear isn’t the most obvious outcome. But that’s what happens. The Miz looks okay here, he hits a few nice spots, but it’s obvious this was either going to be a no contest or Roman victory.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Roman looks competent, Miz looks competent. It’s an average match that didn’t fall into the cliché “no contest” finish I was anticipating.
Post-match, AJ gets into the ring and confronts Roman. This brings out Anderson and Gallows and AJ looks annoyed to see them. Roman comes at Gallows and Anderson and starts getting beat down outside the ring. Gallows drops Roman with a kick in the ring, and this brings out the Usos. While everyone else fights, Roman is on the ground, and AJ is just kind of standing at the ropes watching this all go down. Styles tries to talk to Jimmy Uso and gets dropped. Gallows clears the ring and then AJ starts to try to talk to him. Gallows shoves AJ out of the way and takes a spear from Roman. AJ then tries to give Roman the Styles Clash, but Roman counters it. AJ jumps off the apron to dodge a Superman punch. Roman stands in the ring with the title to end the show.
So, that’s our WWE SmackDown 04/28/16 recap. Not the greatest SmackDown ever, but still generally okay considering it’s the go home before a PPV so nothing too exciting was going to happen. See you in a bit with Payback predictions and then live Payback coverage on Sunday!