By Brad Carroll
With WrestleMania 34 fully in the books, with fans nearly universally praising the first half of the show and destroying the second half, there’s a lot to discuss the morning after. It was a long and exhausting night, with over seven hours of WWE Network coverage to ingest and hopefully not end up with an upset stomach, which seemed to happen anyway when Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns finally hit the ring for their title match, but we all survived in the end.
By now you know who won and who lost, but we’re going to go much deeper than that in our WrestleMania review, breaking down the biggest winners and losers from the event, which has nothing to do with who got their hand raised in victory or not.
Below is our SmackDown winners and losers. Click here for our Raw version. Read our WrestleMania 34 SmackDown Live preview and predictions here.
Charlotte: The only other superstar who could even rival Charlotte’s night on the big stage was Ronda Rousey, and that was for entirely different reasons. Rousey was great, and we’ll get into that in our Raw winners and losers story here, but Charlotte truly took the mantle as the greatest women’s wrestler in WWE history. Her fantastic performance against Asuka, who was great as well, led to one of the more shocking wins in history, not quite on the level of Undertaker losing his WrestleMania win streak, but close enough to have mouths left open after Asuka tapped out. While I would have waited a little bit longer before having Asuka lose, there is no better person to end the streak than Charlotte. Perhaps it would have been more effective with more of a build to the match, but with how good Charlotte has been since coming to the main roster, she deserved this kind of moment. Asuka isn’t done yet, and could win the rematch, if there is one, but this night was all about Charlotte, clearly the biggest winner from the SmackDown side of the roster.
AJ Styles: He didn’t get the big, fancy entrance and his match with Shinsuke Nakamura wasn’t the thrill ride everyone expected it to be, but Styles left WrestleMania still the champion, despite getting low-blowed by the heel-turning Nakamura at the end of the match. Styles doesn’t need victories like this to prove he’s the most talented guy on the roster, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. This also re-establishes Styles as the one true world champion, forget about Brock Lesnar, and also gives him what should be a nice feud going forward against Nakamura.
Jinder Mahal: Now, this is the title Mahal should have won all those months ago when WWE was trying to build him from jobber to world champion. Mahal should have started here, which would have been even better considering he could have used his Indian background and hatred of America all the better by being the United States champion. It just makes sense. But WWE ruined him by giving him the world title instead, forcing fans to reject him as champion because it didn’t make any sense. So, Mahal is finally in the spot he was always meant to be. The only problem is it’s several months and a whole lot of ill will too late. Still, even with all that, Mahal leaves WrestleMania as a champion, something he needs desperately to give fans a reason to care about his matches, or better yet, who’s going to beat him for it.
Bludgeon Brothers: They are the new SmackDown tag team champions, and while nothing was overly impressive about the win over The New Day and the Usos, it puts the entire division back on track. Even though the matches were enjoyable, does anyone really want to see The New Day and the Usos fight on a PPV for like the 12th straight time? I don’t think so. The Bludgeon Brothers represent new matches, new feuds and flat out new everything for the division on SmackDown. Plus, it’s nice to see Luke Harper finally get rewarded like this. He should have been wrestling for the world title last year, after all, before being cast aside even though he was extremely over and could have won the title. So, the Bludgeon Brothers are winners and so is the entire SmackDown tag team division.
Daniel Bryan: The biggest win for Bryan was actually getting the chance to wrestle again, not to mention doing so at WrestleMania of all places. The match wasn’t anything special, but Bryan got the win to make this a feel-good story for everyone.
Carmella: I guess Carmella is just going to keep that Money in the Bank briefcase forever now, because I thought for sure she would cash in after Nia Jax beat Alexa Bliss for the Raw women’s championship. There was no way she was going to cash in during the Charlotte-Asuka match, so this was her biggest and perhaps only chance to not only cash in, but win the title too. This was the perfect opportunity, but there was not even a hint of anything happening. Maybe she cashes in on Charlotte Tuesday night, but would WWE really take the title off Charlotte so quickly after beating Asuka? And would WWE really have two Money in the Bank winners lose their title cash-ins in the same year? Carmela and Baron Corbin are two examples of when WWE takes a chance and realizes soon they made a big mistake. Here they inexplicably made two. By the way, Carmella was also the first one eliminated in the women’s battle royal. No, it wasn’t a good night for Carmella.
Shinsuke Nakamura: The heel turn helps, but I have a feeling that those fans who didn’t see Nakamura wrestle in NXT really believe he’s just an overrated guy without much talent. That’s tough to say, but his dream match with Styles didn’t live up to the hype, not even close, and fans will blame Nakamura for that, because they’ve seen Styles tear the house down with John Cena of all people. Beating Styles up after the match gives Nakamura a new direction, so it keeps him in the title picture going forward, which is a win for him. But still this wasn’t the performance any of us were looking for. Plus, he’s now lost his second world title feud (Jinder Mahal being the other) since coming to SmackDown, even though this one is sure to continue.
Bobby Roode: Maybe Matt Straub was right after all in our WrestleMania preview when he said WWE has already pulled the plug on Roode’s push. I thought he would win the US title back, but couldn’t have been more off, as Mahal walked away with the title and Rusev was the most over. Randy Orton was just there. I have no idea where Roode goes from here, but he’s now lost two major matches back-to-back, first to Orton and now here. I’m not so sure that he’s completely fallen out of favor just yet, but this result was not good for him in any way.
Rusev: He’s over and it appeared for a little while he would finally get a title to add to the celebration that is Rusev Day. But again he was passed over for someone else. Aiden English and Rusev are an entertaining team, but maybe that’s where they will stay for the foreseeable future.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn: Are they really fired now? Are they allowed to switch over to Raw, which would be the best thing for both of them? I don’t know, but it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. But for WrestleMania purposes, Owens and Zayn lost to a part-timer and a guy who hasn’t wrestled in forever, losing their jobs in the process. Scripted finishes or not, that’s not a good look and is the reason both of them land on this side of the list.