WWE has released very little information ahead of WWE SmackDown Live 04/04/17. However, it is the #SmackDownAfterMania, so just about anything can happen. Will we see more NXT call ups? Will talents like Tamina and Erick Rowan make their returns tonight? Will SmackDown remember they have a tag division? I’m sure at least some of those questions will be answered tonight. Also, looming in the not too distant future is the “Superstar Shake Up”, which means this could conceivably be the last SmackDown we see some of the roster we’ve grown to love or hate on this show. Let’s get to the recap.
WWE SmackDown Live 04/04/17 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. We open with a video package highlighting all of the SmackDown segments from WrestleMania 33.
No opening credits, pyro, and we’re live from Orlando – again. Tom Phillips opens the show and I’m beginning to fear we may have lost Mauro for good. J** and Otunga are still here though. Otunga was in rare form tonight, but I’ll get to that later. We learn that Miz and Maryse will call out Cena and Nikki later tonight. The announcers also shill this as the “first live SmackDown after a WrestleMania” and warn us that the crowd will be “bizarre”. Thanks for the tip, WWE.
Orton’s music hits to a mixed reaction. He’s out and unfortunately does not just stand there taking abuse from the fans for almost 15 minutes. Nope, he cuts a promo on Bray and says that he has proven he’s Bray’s master. Predictably, the Wyatt stinger hits.
Bray is back in the smoky room and cuts a promo claiming that Orton is the “master of nothing”. The “Era of Wyatt” has only just begun and Bray is out to reclaim what “she” promised him. Bray doesn’t want the title rematch in a standard match though – because maggot projections on the mat are not enough. Oh no! He wants to test Orton’s body and mind and requests a “House of Horrors” match. From this, we learn that when J** talks about this all night long, it sounds like he’s saying “House of Whores”. Randy accepts the match, the stinger hits, and the lights come back on to reveal Bray standing behind Orton.
The predictable brawl breaks out, Orton gets the upper hand with a powerslam, and sets Bray up for a RKO. But wait! Erick Rowan, wearing what I can only describe as a “steampunk” sheep mask, appears and pulls Randy out of the ring. A double team on Orton ensues until Luke Harper is out to make the save. Harper avoids a Sister Abigail and knocks Bray out of the ring with a big boot. Orton and Harper stand tall and the ring and Teddy Long intensifies.
Meanwhile, Renee Young is backstage with the Miz and Maryse. The Miz gives Cena kudos for making his proposal as “part of a WrestleMania moment” as that is a good marketing move. Maryse takes credit for Cena having to propose because she and Miz backed him into a corner and left him with no choice. Because of the “Superstar Shake Up”, this may be the It Couple’s only chance to do this, so they’ll be calling out Cena and Nikki later tonight.
Up next? A Women’s Championship rematch between Naomi and Alexa Bliss.
Back from break, Teddy Long’s dream lives on as a main event tag team match has been booked featuring Bray Wyatt and Erick Rowan taking on Randy Orton and Luke Harper.
Meanwhile, Naomi enters first because why not? Alexa is out next.
Match #1: Naomi (c) vs. Alexa Bliss (WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship Match)
This match is… okay. Alexa’s strategy is the work the knee and it makes sense as that would be Naomi’s Achilles Heel. Unfortunately, that’s about all that Alexa does as the rest of the match is all Naomi. She even hits what appeared to a slightly modified Go To Sleep (!) on Bliss. Alexa attempts to use the ropes for leverage on a pin attempt, the ref sees it, and Naomi slaps on her submission finisher. Alexa taps and Naomi retains. Of note, Otunga is straight out savage putting over Naomi and claiming Alexa was only a “placeholder” until Naomi healed up. Damn. Also, Naomi beat the “hometown jinx” twice – including at WrestleMania. That is truly legendary!
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – An average TV match that seems to scream Alexa getting “shaken up to Raw” as this felt like WWE rushed to get her obligatory rematch out of the way.
Later tonight? Corbin takes on Ambrose in a street fight… which will probably still happen in a wrestling ring.
Back from break, Curt Hawkins is in the ring putting himself over. He issues an open challenge and gives someone ten seconds to come face him. Cue Tye Dillinger’s music to a big pop.
Match #2: Curt Hawkins vs. Tye Dillinger
A complete squash match and Tye goes over with the Tye Breaker.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Tye totally belonged up on the main roster months ago so this is long overdue. The match was nothing to write home about, but Hawkins getting squashed by a random opponent is actually a “thing” at the SmackDown brand house shows, so I’ll allow it.
Later tonight? Miz and Maryse will let Cena and Nikki have it.
Back from break, Dasha is backstage with a Zubaz suit wearing Mojo Rawley. Mojo puts over winning the Andre Battle Royal and he feels this is just the beginning for him. He asks Dasha if she feels it too. Dasha does not. Heel Dasha just won major points with me.
Next, we see footage from Raw of Vince saying it’s time to “shake” things up. Later tonight? Shane will address the shake up.
Meanwhile, Miz and Maryse are in their WrestleMania gear and are… walking! I hope this is a pre-taped “walking” segment and they’re changing into their Cena and Nikki outfits!
Back from break, Cena’s music hits… only it’s Miz dressed up as Cena! Yes! Miz and Maryse perfectly mimic a Cena / Nikki Bella entrance and head to the ring. I love it.
Miz is in full on Robo Cena mode and Maryse is wearing a comically oversized engagement ring. Otunga refers to it as a Ring Pop and gets a pop out of me here at home. Wow, maybe it really is “bizarro world” during Mania week. Otunga is tolerable on commentary.
Anyway, Miz Cena says that he and Nikki are leaving for Hollywood and you won’t see them for a very long time. They go to leave when they’re interrupted by Shinsuke Nakamura’s violinist.
From there, we get Nakamura’s full entrance and he soaks in the crowd’s adulation in the ring before we head to break. Nakamura is so bad ass he doesn’t even need to work a match on his debut. Nice. I would have liked to see some sort of interplay between him and Miz, but I guess that’s what next week is for assuming they both stay on SmackDown.
Later tonight? Horton (hey, it’s the end of Mania week and the best I could come up with) vs. the Wyatt Family.
Up next? Corbin vs. Ambrose in a street fight.
Back from break, Corbin enters. Dean enters last. This is apparently not for the IC Title for some reason.
Match #3: Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose (Street Fight)
Hey, it’s a “street fight” that never goes anywhere near a street as I suspected. What it does mean is that Dean Ambrose gets spinebusted through a table in the corner, a leather strap that looks like part of Nakamura’s outfit becomes a whip, and chairs get involved. This was far and away better than their lackluster WrestleMania match and I’m still surprised we got a “hardcore” match this good without a title change payoff. My surprise was compounded when Corbin goes over as clean as possible in a “street fight” match with the End of Days.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – They should have had this match at Mania, put the belt on Corbin, and had the boring match they had at Mania as Ambrose’s obligatory rematch on tonight’s show. Oh well. 20/20.
Up next? Shane McMahon’s address.
Back from break, Shane hits the ring to a pop. Shane mentions the “Shake Up” and says that Raw Superstars should be praying they get sent to the “land of opportunity” that SmackDown has become. AJ’s music hits and he’s out.
AJ, sporting a shiner under his eye, cuts a promo saying he doesn’t want to leave SmackDown because it’s the “house that AJ Styles built”. He’ll also be damned if anyone comes over from Raw and attempts to take that from him. After Mania, AJ says he feels like he owes Shane something and offers a handshake. They shake, AJ acts like he’s going to hit Shane, but nah, he was only kidding! AJ leaves to his music. So much for using Shane’s promo to explain more of how the “Shake Up” will work.
Up next? Main event time. This means that once again the SmackDown tag division is sitting backstage with nothing to do.
Back from break, Austin Aries cuts a promo putting over tonight’s 205 Live – featuring the Fatal Four Way #1 Contender’s Match he vows to win.
The Wyatt stinger hits and Bray and Rowan head to the ring. Harper is out next to Swamp Gas. Champ enters last even though the title isn’t on the line.
Match #4: Bray Wyatt & Erick Rowan vs. Randy Orton & Luke Harper
I think everyone was expecting Harper to turn on Orton here, but thankfully that doesn’t happen. WWE seems committed to actually trying to do something with Harper for once. So, he’s one of my top favorites to get “shaken up” next week. We shall see. Everyone looks okay here and this felt a lot like last night’s tag main event – just without a “Finn Balor” level surprise. Rowan regains his “Wyatt Family redshirt” status when Sister Abigail (?) teleports Wyatt out of the ring to avoid eating a RKO at the end of the match. Instead, Rowan walks into the RKO and gets pinned, while Bray sits on the aisle and laughs. Harper looked solid and got a decent reaction out of the crowd, which is nice to see. Considering WWE is hyping up this “House of Horrors” match for sometime down the line, I imagine that both Orton and Wyatt stay put on SmackDown.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – I’d have liked to have seen some sort of surprise here – at least SOMETHING more than Bray just teleporting out of the ring. But, at the very least, they didn’t turn Harper which is a good sign for his future.
Post-match, Harper and Orton stand tall in the ring as we go off the air.