Are you ready for Part Two of the “Superstar Shake-Up”? I hope so, because that is what is expected to go down on WWE SmackDown Live 04/11/17 tonight. I’m writing this intro a bit early, but so far I’ve only seen a brief backstage clip with Daniel Bryan where he confirms that James “Big Hog” Ellsworth will remain on SmackDown Live. Also, of note there was an “after Raw” trade between the brands that sends Byron Saxton to SmackDown and David Otunga to Raw. Pray for Saxton since he’s now stuck with J** for at least the near future. Anyway, I’m sure tonight will be about as insane as last night was on Raw.
WWE SmackDown Live 04/11/17 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. Show opening credits and pyro are a Raw thing and this is SmackDown Live, baby! We’re live from Boston, the new announce team of Tom Phillips, J**, and Byron Saxton are here and we’re kicking things off with Kevin Owens’ music.
KO is out in a suit and his beard has been tamed somewhat. In the low-resolution I have to watch Raw and Smackdown on via my cable provider in order to catch the East Coast feed it appeared that KO was clean-shaven. But nah, he just got a haircut and trimmed his beard a bit.
Owens declares SmackDown to be the “brand new Kevin Owens Show” and claims that SmackDown just got a huge upgrade with him on the roster. Owens mentions that he’s brought the U.S. Championship with him to SmackDown and begins cutting one of his “Canada is better than the USA” promos. After cutting a brief promo in French, KO claims to be the “new face of America”.
Baron Corbin’s music hits and he’s out. Corbin alleges that last week he beat Ambrose up so bad, that Ambrose ran away to Raw. Corbin assumes that since Ambrose beat Owens last night on Raw, that Corbin has already beaten Owens by proxy. Corbin feels he’s owed a title match, so he’ll have one against Owens and take the U.S. title from him. Owens fires back that Corbin is delusional and turns down the title challenge.
Sami Zayn’s music hits and Owens looks like he’s seen a ghost. Zayn is out to a pop and announces that he’s officially on SmackDown Live now. Corbin chimes in and says that no one cares that Zayn is on the show. AJ Styles’ music hits.
AJ is out to a pop and hits the ring. There is a massive “AJ Styles” chant which AJ pauses for and lets sink in a bit. When he finally speaks, AJ says that it’s not the KO Show, it’s SmackDown Live. AJ adds that it’s not about Zayn (“no offense”), it’s definitely not about the Lone Wolf, it’s about him. Because SmackDown Live is the “House that AJ Styles” built and he’s still here.
This all causes Daniel Bryan’s music to hit and he’s out. This sounds a lot like a “tag team match” (w/ out Teddy Long) is brewing, but alas instead we learn that KO’s title defense against Jericho at Payback still stands. Daniel then books a triple threat between Zayn, Styles, and Corbin. The winner becomes #1 Contender for the United States Championship and will receive a future title against the winner of the Owens / Jericho match at Payback (aka – the next Raw brand PPV). Following this yet? Because I barely am. Apparently the winner of the Owens vs. Jericho match not only is the United States Champion, but also will be going to SmackDown. I’d love to have Jericho be booked to win this and then have him hold the U.S. Title for the duration of his summer Fozzy commitments. Since this entire “Superstar Shake-Up” has been the current generation’s version of “crash TV”, it would not surprise me if that happens. Hopefully, it doesn’t.
Later tonight? The Usos defend the SmackDown Tag Team Championship (remember that?) against American Alpha.
Also later tonight? Shane McMahon will address the state of the women’s division.
Meanwhile, Randy Orton is backstage… and he’s… walking!
Back from break, already in the ring? Erick Rowan. With Bray gone, I bet he’s wondering if Tye Dillinger’s spot in SAnitY down at NXT is still available. Orton (w/ sperm snake entrance) is out last.
Match #1: Erick Rowan vs. Randy Orton
This felt a lot like the matches we saw on Raw last night. Very little substance here at all. Orton is in control and Bray’s stinger hits. His backstage smoky room vignettes cannot be contained by a brand split. He reminds us that the House of Horrors match is coming soon and Bray is everywhere and everything. When the lights come back up, Orton stupidly slides out of the ring even though he has to see Rowan standing there with the ring steps. Rowan brains Orton with the stairs and it’s enough to signal a DQ from the ref.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – There is absolutely zero tension in the Orton / Bray feud now. WWE killed it by sending Wyatt to Raw and they should just scrap the House of Horrors concept – especially considering they’re literally sending surveys to fans asking them what they want to see in the match. They have no idea what the match even is and now Wyatt is challenging for a title on the show he’s been “shook” away from. Makes absolutely zero booking sense. Also, no way they could throw Rowan a bone here since Orton is the WWE Champion and even a distraction win here would mean they’d have to put Rowan in the title picture. Lose / lose situation. This show is not off to a good start.
Post-match, Rowan tosses Orton in the ring and hits him with a full nelson slam. Random music plays, but I guess it’s Rowan’s music? It’s been so long since he entered to anything other than Bray’s theme, I’m not sure if this has always been his music or is something new.
Later tonight? Triple threat action!
Up next? The groundhog saw it’s shadow so the SmackDown tag division gets a match on TV this week!
Back from break, the champs are already in the ring and get no entrance – as is tradition. American Alpha enter next.
Match #2: The Usos (c) vs. American Alpha (WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match)
An average tag match. Much like last night, once again, this one is mainly here to get to the post-match bit. The Usos go in peril for a bit, but largely handle Alpha here. They end up putting them away with a superkick / frog splash combo. Not much to this and beyond the “champs get no entrance” thing I didn’t really think they were going to swap the belts here.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Average across the board. But, hey, at least the tag division got a match on the show this week.
Post-match, the Shining Stars show up in jeans and no shirts and beat down American Alpha. The announce team sells this like someone from WCW Nitro just invaded Raw in 1998. Of course, in the writer’s room, the team is wondering how in the Hell they’re going to get the Shining Stars over with their awful “time share scammer” gimmick.
Later tonight? Shane addresses the fact that the SmackDown Live women’s roster now consists of four people.
Up next? Mojo Rawley takes on “I gave Finn Balor a concussion” Veins Mahal. Yay.
Back from break, Mojo is out. Oh yay, “Gronk” is here. Mahal (w/ veins) is out next. I absolutely do not care about anything happens from here on out.
Match #3: Mojo Rawley (w/ Gronk) vs. Jinder Mahal (w/ veins)
Ugh. This is the worst thing I’ve watched all week. Things come to a head when Mahal notices Gronk in the front row over by commentary. Sadly, the ensuing action doesn’t involve J** accidentally getting taken out off of TV for the foreseeable future. Nah, they just do a B+ version of the WrestleMania spot where this time Gronk dumps beer on Mahal instead. After that, Mojo is able to drop Mahal with a running elbow and get the win.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – I don’t like Mojo. I don’t care about Mahal. I don’t like Gronk having anything to do with the WWE. I don’t like that J**’s side of the announce table wasn’t destroyed in the ensuing chaos. Nothing redeemable happened here. At all. Absolute garbage.
Post-match, Mojo jumps into the crowd and Gronk catches him. Mojo them stands on the announce table and wears J**’s stupid hat (likely without permission). Mojo better watch himself in the shower later, that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Up next, Shane discusses women’s wrestling.
Back from break, Shane hits the ring. He puts over the Superstars that have left to Raw for making SmackDown the land of opportunity. He invites the entire SmackDown women’s division to the ring and all four women come out – Carmella with Ellsworth.
Shane puts over Naomi, but Ellsworth grabs the mic and starts putting over Carmella. Naomi snatches the mic from him and tells Carmella to get her “side chick before she gets chin checked”. Shane gets the mic back and announces who is joining SmackDown.
Shane trolls the crowd and puts over the new acquisition as a 2nd generation Superstar and the daughter of a Hall of Famer. You expect Charlotte Flair, but Tamina returns to TV here. After she hits the ring, Shane acts like he’s done, but announces the biggest get for SmackDown yet and Charlotte comes out.
But, nothing comes of that because we’re send to footage of Zayn backstage getting ready for the main event.
Back from break, the announce team puts over the SmackDown acquisitions before announcing that Sin Cara and Rusev both have been “shook” to SmackDown.
Meanwhile, already in the ring? Aiden English. He’s back to his “singer / artiste” character he had pre-Vaudevillains. Before he can sing for too long, Tye Dillinger interrupts.
Match #4: Aiden English vs. Tye Dillinger
This one is like a time warp since English is entirely back in his NXT character. This is a glorified squash match to put Tye Dillinger over, though. Before long, Tye hits the Tye Breaker and puts English away.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – I’m glad Dillinger got another win on TV, but I was hoping they’d do something entirely new with English. His old NXT character is fine, I guess, but he seems like has potential to be more than that.
Next, we see a brief hype video talking about AJ Styles. Meanwhile, he’s backstage getting ready for the main event.
Back from break, Emmali… I mean Lana(lina?) is “coming soon” to SmackDown Live. Apparently she has a new gimmick. I’ll believe it when she’s on my TV.
Meanwhile, Dolph Ziggler is in the ring. He announces he’s going to remain on SmackDown Live and all of the Raw talent coming over can continue to ride his coattails. He continues with “disgruntled heel persona” until he’s interrupted by Shinsuke Nakamura.
Nakamura does his standard entrance and eventually Dolph asks Nakamura “can I help you?”. Ziggler wants to know who Nakamura thinks he is. After a long pause (w/ fans chanting Nakamura’s theme song), Shinsuke says “Do you want to know who I am? I am Shinsuke Nakamura.” Dolph turns to leave and attempts a sneaky superkick. But, nah, Shinsuke blocks it and taunts Dolph. Ziggler bails out of the ring to boos.
Next, we see a video package about Baron Corbin.
Up next? The main event!
Back from break, just kidding. It’s not main event time yet. The announcers put over the entire SmackDown “shakes” and send us to a special video that promises that the New Day will be showing up on SmackDown Live soon – which means after Kofi heals up I’m guessing. I’m down. If WWE was against breaking them up, the only other thing that made sense was moving New Day to SmackDown.
Next, we see a short hype video about Sami Zayn.
Back live, Sami enters for the triple threat. Corbin is out next, and AJ is out last.
Match #5: Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles (Triple Threat Match to Determine the Number One Contender for the United States Championship)
Easily the best match on this show (and Raw too for that matter). AJ and Sami are a golden pairing and hopefully at some point we get a full program between them. Corbin actually looked good here too playing the “big man” role against two smaller guys. I was kind of surprised that Owens wasn’t out for guest commentary since that is usually hilarious, but I guess we can’t have it all. This one boils down to a finish sequence where Zayn is able to hit a Helluva Kick on Corbin who is on the apron. That allows AJ time to recover, so that when Zayn turns around he walks right into a Phenomenal Forearm. AJ wins, Corbin is protected, and well… at least Zayn was in the main event for his SmackDown debut?
Verdict: Thumbs Up – A really fun watch that made me want to see more of AJ vs. Zayn. I figured Corbin would get the nod here, but after all is said and done, he seems like a big favorite to win Money in the Bank this year based on how the rosters now stand. We shall see.
We go off the air on AJ posing in the ring.
All in all, it kind of feels like Raw “won” the Superstar Shake-Up, but it’ll sure be interesting to see how the better writing team on SmackDown will get all of these new people over.