Look who’s back to talk some Smack! 😀 It’s @TheMagnumDA with my first SmackDown Live TV report! Today is Day 2 of the Superstar Shake-up, and while Raw had three hours to showcase the shake-up, SmackDown Live tried their best to fit a lot of changes into two hours. Unfortunately, that affected the match quality, as you’ll see in the summary below.
Before I go any further, I’d like to send my condolences to the family of Bruno Sammartino: Without question, one of the most popular superstars of the WWWF era. No one will ever touch his record as the longest reigning WWE Champion of all time. Rest well, Bruno.
Non-title match: WWE Champion AJ Styles defeated Rusev (w/Aiden English) via DQ in under thirty seconds. No stars.
Non-title match: U.S. Champion Jeff Hardy made his return to SmackDown, defeating Shelton Benjamin (**1/2)
Luke Harper (w/Erick Rowan) defeated Jey Uso (w/Jimmy Uso) in under one minute with a discus clothesline. No stars.
Samoa Joe debuted on SmackDown, defeating Sin Cara in under two minutes with the Coquina Clutch. (1/2*)
Charlotte Flair (w/Becky Lynch) defeated Billie Kay (w/Peyton Royce) (**1/2) After the match, Asuka made her debut on SmackDown, making the save for Charlotte.
WWE Champion AJ Styles & Daniel Bryan defeated Rusev & Aiden English via DQ when Shinsuke hit yet another low blow on AJ Styles. (**1/2)
The Superstars involved in the “Superstar Shake-up”
Moving from Raw to SmackDown Live: Asuka, Big Cass, Cesaro, WWE US Champion Jeff Hardy, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Mandy Rose, The Miz, R-Truth, Samoa Joe, Sheamus, and Sonya Deville.
Moving from NXT to SmackDown Live: Alexander Wolfe, Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas, Eric Young, Killian Dain, and Zelina Vega.
SmackDown is Stacked: When I compare the two brands’ roster changes, I’m stunned at the amount of talent on the SmackDown side. Raw had more additions to their roster (they got 18 stars, SmackDown only got 12 stars). But take another look at the depth on SmackDown Live: I’ll definitely take a brand with Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy, The Miz, The Bar, Asuka, and Charlotte Flair as the foundation. Combine that with new stars like the Iconic Duo, Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas and SAnitY…and you’ve got a formula for a really strong show. I’m definitely interested in what happens next for the blue brand.
Returns Making Things Fresh: Another realization that came to light…there have been a lot of returns to WWE television recently. SmackDown is a huge benefactor of those returns. Having Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, and Big Cass come back to SmackDown after WrestleMania is a savvy move to keep things fresh. That gives the brand a really positive outlook heading into the rest of 2018. Tuesday nights will definitely turn into must-see TV.
Brand New Match-Ups: This is basically an extension of the first two positives, but it’s worth noting that we will certainly see some fresh match-ups on SmackDown. Personally, I’m looking forward to Daniel Bryan vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe, the Good Brothers vs. the Bludgeon Brothers, The Bar vs. The Usos, and Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs. Jeff Hardy. The additions of Absolution and the Iconic Duo will make for many different combinations of Women’s matches. We might even get to see Zelina Vega mix it up with Asuka or Charlotte! There’s a lot to look forward to.
No Longer Rusev Day: I was convinced last week that Rusev’s “Bury me softly, Brother” tweet struck a raw nerve with some higher-ups in WWE. After watching last night, I still believe that’s the case. Yes, his match with The Undertaker is back on for the Greatest Royal Rumble, but boy did he look like a geek on SmackDown. AJ had him in a position to tap out within 30 seconds in the opening segment, and even though English made the save, Rusev still looked weak. I’ve heard some rumblings about Rusev’s desire to possibly leave WWE when his deal comes due…if that’s true, McMahon would be letting go of one of the most popular superstars in WWE.
Cass vs. Bryan Feud: I’m trying my best to wrap my head around this one. From a storyline standpoint, it makes sense. I understand that Cass wants to make a name for himself, and he wants to do it at Bryan’s expense. From an in-ring standpoint, though…I don’t think it’s too bright to have Bryan return to face a guy who uses a “Big Boot” as a signature move. Sheamus taught us three years ago: It only takes one errant kick from a relatively inexperienced wrestler to put Bryan out for good. Let’s hope that history does not repeat itself.
Time is Not on Their Side: The Superstar Shake-up has made for some compelling TV, but some of the match-ups have been really short and disappointing. Look at tonight’s show…three of the six matches went two minutes or less! I think some of these guys should receive a five-minute showcase to really put them over. A good example is Jeff Hardy — Most of the wrestlers debuting/returning to SmackDown should have received the same amount of time (with the same quality of wrestlers) that Hardy did. I understand that’s probably going to happen in the coming weeks, but I would’ve loved to see someone like Almas debut last night.
Shinsuke’s Heel Turn: To be honest, I’m glad that Nakamura turned evil. I went crazy at WrestleMania when he turned on AJ Styles (“KICK HIM IN HIS DAMN MOUTH!”), and I thought it was a great direction for him to go. Since then, he’s done nothing except ball shots to AJ Styles, while telling Renee that he doesn’t speak English. It worked as a follow-up last Tuesday. This week, he needed to do more. The fact that he didn’t…shows a lack of imagination on WWE’s end. This heel turn could quickly become a disaster.
That’s going to do it for the SmackDown Live portion of the Superstar Shake-up! Until next week, this is @TheMagnumDA signing off.