By Steven Flora
In the wake of WrestleMania, Team Blue saw the dawning of a new era, as Shane McMahon made Paige the new General Manager of SmackDown Live. Then, in a fantasy match of Paige's creation, WWE Champion AJ Styles battled Daniel Bryan, a showdown that would fall victim to the wrath of The King of Strong Style. Plus, Carmella cashed in her Money in the Bank contract to become the new SmackDown Women’s Champion after the debuting Iconics laid waste to Charlotte Flair.
Nakamura spoils dream match
WWE Champion AJ Styles & Daniel Bryan goes to a No Contest
The WWE Universe was treated to this fantasy match two nights after WrestleMania 34, as AJ Styles squared off against Daniel Bryan on SmackDown per the order of new General Manager Paige.
In Bryan’s first match on SmackDown in nearly three years, he and Styles had the WWE Universe buzzing before the bell even rang, with a big-fight feel coursing throughout the building. There was no drop-off in excitement once the action got underway, as the two Superstars went full force in this non-title contest. Styles appeared willing to put his newfound beef with Shinsuke Nakamura on the back burner and focus on the task at hand with The “Yes!” Man.
However, just as the classic was beginning to develop and Styles countered Bryan’s top-rope superplex to leave both Superstars down on the canvas, Nakamura entered through the timekeeper’s area and caused a ruckus, prompting a no-contest.
The King of Strong Style laid Bryan out with a Kinshasa to the back of his head, then delivered another savage low blow and merciless Kinshasa to the WWE Champion. And then, yet another low blow. Nakamura left smugly while Styles and Bryan were left down on the mat.
Side Note: Last week I commented on the respect that both Styles & Nakamura had for each other. Boy I was dead wrong. Nakamura has become even more intriguing following his heel turn and his interview with Renee was just brilliant. I'm more interested to see where this leads to rather than the WWE Champion himself.
Carmella becomes SmackDown Women’s Champion, successfully cashing in her Money in the Bank contract after Billie Kay & Peyton Royce lay out Charlotte Flair
NXT standouts Billie Kay and Peyton Royce arrived on the blue brand and wasted no time making it clear that one of them could absolutely dethrone The Queen for the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
Kay and Royce urged Charlotte to stop focusing on the past and instead start looking toward her very “Iconic” future. From there, with it clearly looking like Kay and Royce were gearing up to pounce, Flair took the fight to them. She was able to fend them off for a bit before the dastardly duo took her down. Kay & Royce double-team assaulted The Queen, going as far as toppling her over the announce table, ramming her into the steel ring steps and administering a double powerbomb onto the floor.
The Iconics, ecstatic with their handy work, then dragged Charlotte’s lifeless body back into the ring and stood over The Queen, making it clear that a new day had dawned in the SmackDown Women’s division. However, that new dawn quickly turned F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S when Carmella raced down to the ring with her Money in the Bank contract in hand, urging one of the referees who was there to check on Charlotte’s condition to ring the bell so she could officially cash in. After some hesitancy due to The Queen’s clearly impaired condition, Charlotte slowly rose to her feet, and the bell was rung.
From there, Carmella connected with a kick straight to Charlotte’s dome, and because of the unbelievable beating Charlotte had already sustained, that was all it took for a new champion to be crowned.
Carmella’s had many nicknames —The Princess of Staten Island and Ms. Money in the Bank to name a few. But now, the moonwalking and trash-talking Superstar has one primary moniker — SmackDown Women’s Champion.
Side Note: Great segment from top to bottom, if anything I reckon this is the last time we've seen Charlotte on SmackDown. The Iconic Duo were great and definitely made a statement to the women of SmackDown. Carmella cashing in was just the icing on the cake and made for a great portion of WWE TV.
Shane McMahon announced Paige as the new General Manager of SmackDown
McMahon kicked off the show with a major announcement: Team Blue was about to get a brand new General Manager.
In the wake of he and Daniel Bryan’s victory over The “Yep!” Movement at WrestleMania 34, Shane-O-Mac revealed that Daniel had asked for his release as the show’s General Manager so that he go back to being a full-time WWE Superstar. Shane thanked The “Yes!” Man for his passion and resolve, then introduced the new General Manager of SmackDown — Paige!
Paige, who retired from in-ring competition the night before on Raw, wasted no time making a major impact on the blue brand, announcing that AJ Styles would square off against Daniel Bryan (who hadn’t competed in a match on WWE television in almost three years) in the main event!
Side Note: This was nice, considering I thought she would just be a lackey for Absolution. Plus it's the first female GM we've had since AJ Lee in 2012. #WomensEvolution.
Other Notable Moments:
The Usos def. The New Day to challenge SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bludgeon Brothers at the Greatest Royal Rumble event: After The Bludgeon Brothers’ dominant performance at WrestleMania 34 over The Usos and The New Day allowed them to capture the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, both fallen teams looked to pick themselves back up and earn the right to challenge Harper & Rowan for the titles at the Greatest Royal Rumble event. Writing perhaps the final chapter in their incredible rivalry, The Usos and The New Day dazzled the WWE Universe in only the way they can, going back and forth in a contest that kept everyone on their feet. After several mesmerizing sequences, Jimmy caught Xavier Woods with an equilibrium-altering Superkick, and Jey finished Woods off with his signature splash, allowing The Usos to snatch the victory to lock down their ticket to the Greatest Royal Rumble event. Following the match, The Bludgeon Brothers arrived on the stage to ominously point their mallets at Jimmy & Jey, letting them know that a bludgeoning was soon in their future.
Naomi def. Natalya: Fresh off her glowing victory in the first-ever WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal, Naomi looked to continue her momentum by taking down Natalya. The two former SmackDown Women’s Champions laid it all on the line with a chance to move into title contention regardless of which brand they’re representing with the Superstar Shake-up looming. Natalya attempted to use her strength advantage to wear Naomi down, but the glow shined on when Naomi connected with the Split-Legged Moonsault for the win.
Randy Orton def. Bobby Roode and Rusev to challenge United States Champion Jinder Mahal at WWE Backlash: Following the Fatal 4-Way Match that saw Jinder Mahal capture the United States Championship at WrestleMania 34, the three Superstars who fell just short of walking away with the title this past Sunday faced off in a Triple Threat Match with the winner gaining the opportunity to face Mahal for the championship at Backlash. With The Modern Day Maharaja watching on from a chair at ringside, the three Superstars picked up right where they left off on Sunday. After close calls at victory for all three Superstars and high-impact moments like Rusev and Orton each slamming the other onto the announcer’s table, The Viper hit the RKO outta nowhere on Roode, allowing The Viper to grab the W and rekindle his epic rivalry with Mahal with the US Title on the line at Backlash.
Overall SmackDown Live Rating: A
Things to look forward to next week
SMACKDOWN LIVE Superstar Shakeup
No more Rusev Day!
Is Asuka on Raw or SmackDown after her loss?
What will happen to Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn?
What will Paige bring to SmackDown?