Previously on the Best and Worst of Smackdown Live: The Usos suspiciously lost the Smackdown Tag Team Championship a week before being sent to Raw, the IIconics tried to introduce themselves to Braun Strowman, and Drew McIntyre disappeared during the main event because WWE wanted us to forget he was about to lose another match.
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Anyway, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for April 16, 2019.
Best: O, You Didn’t Know
With Big E injured and Raw and Smackdown Superstars shaking themselves up into new factions and alignments, New Day has only one choice: replace their loyal, powerhouse third with a pissed off Canadian dad whose character’s reputation makes us think he’s gonna flip out and murder them at any moment.
That’s the delightful opening to the Smackdown Superstar Shake-Up; Kevin Owens joining the New Day as “Big O,” causing longtime WWE fans to think about Zack Ryder’s Internet show and the dorkier among us (myself included) to think about anime, and doing this:
That’s followed by a backstage Gut Check® where he’s forced to eat an entire platter of cold pancakes with no syrup (and no beverage) during a single commercial break, which is madness. He might as well be eating a cardboard box full of packing peanuts.
These segments made me think about how valuable The Miz’s face turn has been. With Miz, we knew for a fact that he was just manipulating Shane McMahon to get a free title shot or two and suck up to management, and that his stories about wanting to make his dad proud were all bullshit, because he was just gonna swerve Shane as soon as he could. Then weeks went by, and pay-per-views, and whoops; it turns out the Miz was sincere all along, and Shane was the opportunistic jerk taking advantage of the heartfelt hopes and dreams of his employee. Independent contractor. Whatever.
Now with Kevin Owens, every single segment where he’s a happy-go-lucky do-gooder gives me squinting Philip J. Fry eyes because I know for a fact he’s just screwing with these fan favorites to get … something. It’ll all make sense when he powerbombs them into the apron. But weeks are already going by, Sami Zayn’s dipping deeper and deeper into nihilistic depression, and Owens is just squeezing into crop tops and being a good dude. It’s great. I probably need to just enjoy it while it lasts, because if it lasts for a long time, hey, he’s really good at it.
Here he is doing a Big E New Day intro, which I think is all we really needed from “The Big O.” My favorite part is the hard R at the end of “sour.” He’s already ahead of Shield Kurt Angle on the Unexpected Replacement power rankings.
That sets up a fun but also pretty depressing main event, in which the New New Day easily defeat Cesaro, Rusev, and Shinsuke Nakamura, Team Oh My God How Did You Fuck This Up Already. It’s like a battle to see which formerly super hot, top shelf performer could most easily be replaced by one of the nobodies from WWF Superstars.
A lot of us spent the match fantasy booking a new League of Nations (for some reason) with Owens swerving New Day, throwing Kingston into the Hardest Part Of The Ring, and representing Canada alongside Japan, Bulgaria, and a no longer neutral Switzerland. Not that we’re dying for a new League of Nations of anything, especially given how easily that could bring back Alberto Del Rio, but again, it speaks to our expectations for Owens’ character.
Any chance we could move all three heels to NXT on Wednesday night? I know they already taped the episode, but if the Superstar Shake-Up is supposed to “affect all three brands,” shouldn’t somebody get moved to yellow? Any three heels can take a fun house show loss to the babyfaces, it doesn’t have to be a literal superhuman, the coolest guy in the history of Japanese wrestling, and a man who once entered a WrestleMania match on a goddamn tank.
Best: Buddy Murphy Is Coming To Smackdown
… and he should probably get that dark spot on his face looked at by a doctor!
Best: The Smackdown Women’s Division Is The Jam
The first hour of Smackdown didn’t give us a lot in regard to the Superstar Shake-up. Then we got to the Becky Lynch promo, and we got:
- Ember Moon, who isn’t great on the microphone right now but is good enough in the ring that it doesn’t matter (plus, she’s on the show with Asuka again, which is key)
- Bayley, who has finally gotten away from the nightmare world of Monday Night Raw and has been formally separated from Sasha Banks, which is kinda sad but also probably for the best, at least in the immediate future
- Paige introducing her new team of Asuka and Kairi Sane, whose call up means the end of the Sky Pirates, but at least frees up Io Shirai to become the egotistical monster (and probably future NXT Women’s Champion) she was always meant to be
- a tying in of the rest of the Smackdown Women’s Division, which includes Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose deciding to be Absolution again and the IIconics rightfully noting that they are also Peyton and Billie Two Belts
- additionally, Mandy Rose’s amazing jacket
I’m really happy this turned into an 8-woman tag instead of the IIconics vs. Asuka and Sane Women’s Tag Team Championship match I thought they were gonna do, because yeah, I love the IIconics more than I love most of the people I’m related to, but if they can last more than two minutes with Asuka and Kairi Sane it’ll be a miracle.
The actual match was a bit of a mess, but it established everyone and set the tone for the reshuffled division, and that’s good. The Smackdown women’s roster is really incredible right now, especially when you think about how Raw’s division is Natalya, a vintage fashion dog whistle, a broken up Riott Squad, a woman having double knee surgery, a talk show host, a Sasha Banks who doesn’t want to come to work, and a Ronda Rousey who might not ever come to work again at all. Who else do they have, Dana Brooke and Tamina?
Smackdown also makes a point to remind us that their division includes Charlotte Flair and Carmella Van Dale, who should really start using that as an on-screen last name. PVD fans represent. It’s the match it needed to be; Carmella being a scrappy babyface who’s still getting better every time she goes out there, and Charlotte getting a strong win to help her recover from the WrestleMania main event. It’s also important that they remind us Charlotte didn’t take the fall in that match, and is only not Smackdown Women’s Champion because the Raw Women’s Champion slipped up and a referee briefly lost his depth perception.
Eh: No Holds Lars’d
That leads directly into another random attack from ‘Ogre Rated’ Lars Sullivan. Sullivan’s beaten up Kurt Angle, the Hardy Boys, and Rey Mysterio, so now he’s onto WWE legend R-Truth. We should just get comfortable lumping him in with the rest of those guys because he’s going to still be awesome and still look exactly like this 20 years from now.
Lars’ attacks continue to be a little underwhelming, especially with the announce team yelling OH MY GOD LOOK AT THE POWER OF THE MONSTER when he’s just doing normal wrestling moves the cruiserweights can do to each other, and I think he could benefit from a Braun Strowman stunt spot or two. Can we have him rip off a crew member’s arm or something? He needs to do more than he’s doing now, whether it requires special effects or not, and “lurking” at Carmella ain’t it.
Best: Blue Demon
In other great news for Smackdown and a Superstar getting “called-up” to it, Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor has joined the show. He immediately has a 10-minute match and clean victory over
Mustafa Ali. That’s a way better use for Bálor than figuratively eating Bobby Lashley’s ass for four minutes four times a month.
Ali’s gear and hair kept making me think he was Seth Rollins, too, and I hope I wasn’t alone in that. Especially when he’s doing amazing shit like bringing back the Jericho Spike.
Bálor being here is an awesome substitution for AJ Styles, because it gives the guy a chance to work with a new crop of fresh opponents, and, more importantly, work with them. Finn on Smackdown could be a godsend for both his character and the Intercontinental Championship, and he’s the right kind of star to push as one of the faces of the brand when you’re going over to Fox in the fall.
(Ali’s one of those guys too, so don’t forget him.)
Best: It’s … The BIG DOG
Smackdown continues its high quality cherry-picking of Raw in its main event segment, as Vince McMahon introduces the homie Elias as the “biggest acquisition in Smackdown Live history,” only for A Large Dog Roman Reigns to show up and punch Vince in the goddamn mouth. So many reasons this is great, including:
1. It gets Elias away from Raw, as he’s honestly way, way too good of a character and needs to get that Fox spotlight. That Fox searchlight? Whatever, he deserves the biggest audience imaginable, especially after getting stooged to John Cena and The Undertaker in two straight weeks.
2. It gets Roman Reigns away from Raw booking, which will allow him to continue becoming an Actual Fan Favorite by doing what he can secretly do really fucking well: wrestle. Reigns and Bryan have awesome chemistry already, as to Reigns and Bálor, and there are a ton of guys on the roster he can probably work high quality matches with. And it gets him out of the Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin circle jerk.
3. With Finn and Roman both coming to Smackdown, we’ve eliminated two of Michael Cole’s most annoying catchphrase in a single episode. Rest in peace to, “HE’S IN THE DROP ZONE!!!” and his infinite variations of, “here comes … the BIG DOG!” Leave the memories alone.
How is this show so good, and Raw so bad? Is Raw tanking to get the first draft pick in 2020 so they can pick up Matt Riddle?
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Sky Captain and the Empress of Tomorrow.
Smackdown is no longer The House that AJ Styles Built. It is now and for ever shall be known as the New International House of Pancakes
Otis: what the heck is that perv’s problem
They should give Rusev a match similar to one of those supermarket brawls with Stone Cold and Booker T only in like a dollar store. And against a healthy Big E. That would be a comedy gold mine.
Murphy’s Law would make more sense on Monday nights; where everything that can go Raw-ng, will go Raw-ng.
So pre Disney/Fox “merger”, WWE gives us the Iron Man vs Venom matchup we never knew we wanted.
Vince: what do you mean we can’t call them the orient express?
Lars Sullivan basically has the body of Soda Popinski
If this doesn’t end with Kevin Owens murdering the two of them than he’s a Skrull’
Replacing Big E with Big O is quite the vowel movement
Note: You’re probably looking for me to wonder what the storyline reason for Reigns punching Vince in the face was, but I’m okay with it being, “Vince was mouthing off to him,” with a mix of, “Roman Reigns has watched the show before and knows that Vince McMahon works in everyone’s worsts interests.” Vince has earned a random punching. Kinda sad to see him having to take the “Big Show knocking out Dusty Rhodes” assisted bump, though.
That’s it for Smackdown. Thanks for reading, as always. Drop us a comment down below to let us know what you thought of the show, and throw us a social media share to help keep us in the wrestling jokes business. See you next week for the first actual shows for the new rosters.