Previously on the Best and Worst of Smackdown Live: Rusev schemed and wrestled his way to a spot on the WrestleMania card, they tried to convince use the pre-show battle royals are going to be important, and Shinsuke shook AJ to his core.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE SmackDown Live for April 3, 2018.
Best/Worst: Most Cases Of Promptly-Treated Diverticulitis Apparently Improve In 2-3 Days
We open the show with a Daniel Bryan-Shane McMahon talking segment, a beloved staple of Smackdown Live. Shane does his usual fancy footwork and then holds his stomach afterwards TWICE because he just had DIVERTICULITIS and may still have AN ABDOMINAL HERNIA, which the internet tells me the recovery time for if your job involves heavy lifting is four to six weeks. But what if your job involves looking smug, little brother punches (copyright Brandon Stroud), and jumping off things like an idiot? I feel like you shouldn’t be cleared to go back to THAT until, I don’t know, at least after WrestleMania? Or maybe never?
Shane has ALSO been medically cleared after two weeks in the most expensive of hospitals, in contrast to two years fighting for his dreams despite all odds, but he and Daniel Bryan still have to resolve their personal problems to win at WrestleMania. Finally, months and months of those passive aggressive Mutual Respect segments are paying off! (I am honestly morbidly curious to see where this all goes at Mania.)
The former Team Hell No member knows exactly how to resolve tag team differences: hug it out! Shane again proves himself to be the worst McMahon by going for the handshake. But Nashville doesn’t want to see a handshake! Nashville wants to seem them hug it out! I think what Nashville REALLY wanted to see was an announcement that Shane couldn’t compete and we were getting a surprise tag team partner for Daniel Bryan, but I’m probably assuming too much thinking me and the people who What Chanted our recently medically cleared hero were on the same page.
Cursory WebMD research aside, the real proof that Shane shouldn’t compete at WrestleMania is that he GETS RED-FACED FROM THE HUG. How is this man alive? I hope Roman and Brock decide to Coexist for a minute on Sunday and beat the crap out of Shane for burying the injury that derailed their singles push and illness that derailed their life (almost into the afterlife), respectively.
Shane and Daniel insist they’re on the same page now, and they’re ready to get payback on the men they fired. When one of you defines these people as your “friends for fifteen years” and the other defines them as “cancers” you know you’re seeing eye to eye!
The aforementioned Canadian cancers show up later in the show to cut promos on their opponents. Sami, in a truly baffling ensemble of blue khaki pants, a white collared shirt, an Against Me hoodie, and his signature flat cap, cuts his greatest heel promo yet. He CALLS OUT A BABY and super obnoxiously hates on Bryan’s beautiful return speech and family. I was a Heel Sami doubter at first, but now I think he might be even better at this than Kevin Owens.
When Shane and Daniel, after what I hope is one last segment of them watching TV at a maddeningly angle and sort of getting along for the road, come out, they make a big thing out of how we’re seeing them for the “very last time” on Smackdown Live. Assuming we’re not getting a Daniel Bryan loss at Mania, this points to Sami and KO getting Super Star Shaken over to Raw soon due to
- Stephanie’s spite for Shane
- HHH wanting to protect his NXT babies and also his spite for Shane
- Kurt Angle being an idiot GM who doesn’t realize you shouldn’t hire people who were just fired for trying to kill their bosses
I can’t wait for this storyline to be over! That’s how a TV show should make you feel, right?
Worst: Everyone Is Ready For Ms. Money In The Bank
Our one women’s match on the show is that Charlotte vs. Natalya rematch we were all so bummed we didn’t get last week.
I am so aggressively not into the whole Harts vs. Flairs thing. This is partly because it feels like Nattie’s whole character right now, and Nattie’s character work is extremely hard to watch. That moment at the beginning when she abruptly turned to the crowd for applause and just waited like that for like ten seconds to get rolled up was a bad start. If Natalya really wants to further the Hart legacy, she should go to New Japan in drag and join Davey Boy Smith Jr. in the Killer Elite Squad and not feud with Charlotte anymore.
Still, a lot of the match isn’t bad, and does show off the athleticism of these women. Charlotte demonstrates her crazy core strength, and Nattie’s surfboard looks good, especially on the long-legged Flair.
The match is derailed by Carmella trying to cash in AGAIN, which this time doesn’t seem like it was planned out with Natalya. Charlotte punts the briefcase away, and stares Mella down before tapping out Nattie with the Figure Eight. Carmella looked so shook that I’m not sure why she would prefer to fight Asuka, especially after facing her in the Mixed Match Challenge, unless she has the memory of goldfish or is braver than she seems and just afraid of how much better Charlotte’s extensions look than hers. Maybe she’ll get new ones before she definitely cashes in on Sunday.
Asuka enters because she couldn’t wait two hours to taunt her opponent during the MMC, and Charlotte hits her with the ol’ Catchphrase Switcheroo. It never fails! “Are YOU ready?” Got ’em, Char!
… That was her best promo in a while, though.
Worst: PLEASE JUST LET ME WATCH YOUR WRESTLING, WWE
Jeez Louise, the picture-in-picture ads for WrestleMania were awful. The Ronda Rousey video package playing during Charlotte vs. Natalya should seriously be the basis for a Flair vs. Rousey feud. It wasn’t even a new video package! We got these during Rusev vs. Jinder (when Rusev was tearing it up!) and the main event too. These matches were already promoting WrestleMania!
Why does Smackdown get treated like this? We better win Survivor Series this year.
Best: Shinsuke Nakamura Is A Messy Bitch Who Lives For Drama
Before the main event we get two videos setting up the classic CAN THEY COEXIST? tag match between Team Body Pillows In Japan and Suzukigun USA (Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin.) Tom Phillips sets up the first by saying, “We asked AJ, does Shinsuke Nakamura have him emotionally compromised?” because AJ Styles is Spock and/or the teenage girl played by Dean Winters in that Allstate commercial.
We cut to AJ looking SO emotionally compromised, partly because they apparently dragged him directly out of a tanning bed to do this interview in front of a red background. He admits that the pat on the head “as if I were a dog” got to him last week, but Shinsuke underestimates him. His emotions are his strength, ACTUALLY, and they’re the reason he’s gotten this far in his career.
In Shinsuke’s video, which seemed to be a response to AJ’s, I was immediately distracted by the fact that his new shirt features his Wrestle Kingdom 9 entrance crown! Does this mean we’re getting that back for his sure to be legendary WrestleMania entrance? If we’re throwing back to his Tokyo Dome entrances, could we also get the pole dancers/pyro combo from Wrestle Kingdom 8?
Nakamura doubles down on his point that he knows AJ, he knows AJ is emotional, and his emotions will lead him to make a mistake. Then Shinsuke will become WWE Champion, something he uprooted his whole life and moved to America to achieve at WrestleMania. The shades of a possible Heel Champ Shinsuke we get here are fantastic.
Best/Worst: Hype Man Bros
The actual match and pre-match stuff from Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev made me want to see Jinder win the US Championship, becoming “absolute ruler of the United States” and making the people of NOLA and also the internet super mad, and have babyface Rusev feud with him for it after Mania.
Their squads play off each other really well, and I think might be even more fun if Lana and the other Singh were added to the mix. Sunil’s terrible singing intro dissing Aiden English and putting over Jinder was a great way to get us immediately more hyped for Team Rusev Day. Aiden English raps (I think?) again before he sings, and I continue to be amazed by how great that is. How is he so cool and so uncool at the same time?
During this match, the “Rusev Day” chants finally aren’t incongruous with the character and the booking. The WWE and WWE Universe are at last on the same page with this guy.
After Rusev gets the pin, Randy Orton hits him with an RKO from sort of outta nowhere. Aiden kicks the crap out of the Viper for unfairly attacking his friend, and then super bland babyface Bobby Roode pushes Aiden into an RKO in a sequence that displayed the full spectrum of Caucasian skin tones.
Are Bobby and Randy cool with each other again after last week’s fight? It looked like they were, but then they started trash talking again (I think, because they cut away from that after like a second.) As long as this feud is over soon, I don’t care! Turn ’em heel and/or make ’em a tag team or I really, really don’t care about these orange dads.
Primo Colon Still Works Here?
The pre-Andre eight man tag in while Corbin, Ziggler, Rawley, and Colon defeated Breezango, Ryder, and Dillinger was a parade of people who are probably unsatisfied with their careers. It definitely, via Corbin and Rawley, showed winning the Dre doesn’t do much for anyone. Breezango have been relegated to the internet, I legitimately forgot Primo Colon was still signed, people felt that way about Tye Dillinger until recently, and Dolph Ziggler was there. Commentary also mentioned Zack Ryder’s past IC title win, which, LOL.
This was the saddest eight man tag ever, but the match itself did actually leave me wanting more. I guess that’s what WWE probably wanted me to feel, along with a need to tune in to the pre-show! Most of these guys are good wrestlers who don’t often get to show off their skills. Hopefully they get a chance to shine in the Andre in front of like 200 people.
Best: Head Pat Of Doom
In no universe is AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin a bad match, no matter how many infuriating picture-in-picture ads try to ruin it. We open with Nakamura vs. Gable, which, like his match with Benjamin last week, brings out the strengths from each of their shoot fighting backgrounds. Throughout the match Shinsuke gets to show off his kicks and strikes, Gable his crazy athleticism, and Benjamin gets to look powerful and skilled. We see AJ compete emotionally, but in a way that makes him fired up and extra strong rather than sloppy.
But emotions and mind games do threaten the COEXISTENCE of our heroes. Shinsuke tags in AJ by patting him on the head, which makes AJ so mad he starts arguing with his partner immediately and they both get attacked.
Before getting the win with a Phenomenal Forearm, AJ walks over to Shin and makes direct eye contact (these guys did A LOT of direct eye contact and it reminded me of Rock vs. Austin and I was super into it.) Shinsuke looks like he respects that AJ’s trying to beat him at his own game, but doesn’t look psyched out. The Phenomenal Forearm Fakeout doesn’t even phase him for more than a second … but the pat on the head REALLY DOES.
After that, Shinsuke is ANGRY and ANGRY NAKAMURA is maybe the only thing better than Cool Jerk Nakamura (see: Nakamura vs. Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom 9.) Their Mania match is going to be so good, you guys. Please make sure to watch the prequel for free on NJPW’s youtube channel so you can be extra nerdy about it, because it’s going to be so worth nerding out about.
And … that’s it! WrestleMania is on Sunday! I’ll see you next time for the Smackdown After WrestleMania, which isn’t as iconic as the Raw After WrestleMania, but I suspect we’ll have some new champions and it’ll be exciting if they don’t make people talk too much.
Update/Best: Top Ten Comments Of The Week
Dave M J
I could probably live without seeing another Charlotte/Natalya match ever again.
…wait, I think I added “Charlotte/” unnecessarily.
The Real Birdman
Somewhere a single tear rolls down Dr. Shelby’s cheek
wait… TODAY IS RUSEV DAY? then why the hell was i hiding eggs on sunday?!
Never let him Singh again.
Narrator voice” They were not on the same page.”
This movie “Blockers” is actually a sequel. The original was called “Baron Corbin Cashes In”.
Corbin is a lot of former things.
Former winner of the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Former winner of the Money in the Bank match.
And former winner of a Most Luxurious Head of Hair contest.
And we all know how those ended.
Baron Von Raschke
Does Vickie Guerrero come out and push Shane into a plastic pool full of mud now?
Sami Zayn looks like the 5th Impractical Joker
*Dana. Brooke frantically runs down to the ring*
“Yo we givin’ out head pats over here!?”