Well, here we are. I can’t really believe it’s been less than a week since WrestleMania Backlash but apparently so. I think enough of a fuss has been made over the zombies so we can probably skip right over those and move on. Real highlights included an all-out war between Roman Reigns and Cesaro, the Mysterios finally capturing tag gold and… well, Natalya and Tamina too if you want to call that a highlight. I’d give the match of the night to Reigns and Cesaro and I was really impressed by the Swiss Superman’s performance, leaving it all in the ring and giving it the fight of his life. Sadly for him, the Tribal Chief was just too much and Roman is still your Universal Champion.
So with WrestleMania Backlash in the rearview mirror, all roads now point to Hell in a Cell in June. Will Cesaro get another shot at the title or will Seth Rollins get in his way? Will we have to sit through yet another rematch between Natalya and Tamina and Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler? Will Reginald still be employed by then? Will Bianca Belair be thrown into the cell early on in her reign? So many unanswered questions. The most important question right now is who will walk out of SmackDown as the Intercontinental Champion? A 4-Way main event is coming our way and it’s going to be brutal.
Parade Of Champions
We kicked off SmackDown this week with the ever-lovely Sonya Deville. I say lovely but you know she could absolutely rip your arm off if you got on her wrong side. I’m surprised she hasn’t beaten up Adam Pearce yet, to be honest. Sonya had some important news this week – the ThunderDome will be vacated in July and the Superstars will be going back on the road finally. I honestly can’t wait to have fans back on a regular basis and I’m sure everyone involved in WWE feels the same. All credit to everyone involved for being able to deliver a consistent product through the last year to keep us all entertained but it’ll be nice to get back to normal.
We got all the champions on the stage to start the show as Sonya wanted to show appreciation for them. I say all but, instead of Roman Reigns, we got Paul Heyman because Roman obviously works on Roman time and doesn’t really care what Sonya or anyone else wants. Heyman came out to Roman’s old theme which was odd but I guess it works. I wonder if he’ll get a vest soon too and start punching the ground. Anyway, Heyman hyped up Roman and said he’s THE champion and, blah blah blah, he’ll appear later. Moving on, Bayley appeared to accuse Bianca of cheating at WrestleMania Backlash, so Belair stepped up for a fight but got jumped by Baszler and Jax and you see where this is going…
Bayley, Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax vs SmackDown Women’s Champion Bianca Belair and Women’s Tag Team Champions Natalya & Tamina
Having watched the ‘emotional’ videos online of Natalya and Tamina backstage, I assume they’re faces now. It’s all quite weird really. Clearly, they’re both hugely respected by people in the industry and they’re thankful for everything they’ve done, but did Tamina even have any fans before this all happened? I’m fairly sure she didn’t but now everyone’s saying how much she deserves it and all this rubbish. I don’t get it. I’ll never get it. But here we are and I’ll just have to suck it up until they find decent opponents.
There’s nothing like making your tag champs look strong right? So of course despite a back and forth match where everyone got their stuff in, Natalya ended up tapping out to Shayna. Really? She’s just had one of the biggest and most successful nights of her career and that’s where you go? I despair. In all honesty, I have no need to see any combination of tag matches or singles involving these women ever again. You’ve got a whole damn roster of women. There is no need for these endless lazy rematches with 50/50 booking. No one comes out of it looking strong whatsoever. I’m just glad Bianca didn’t end up taking a fall or something which wouldn’t surprise me knowing WWE logic. Sure it was a nice feel-good moment for some at WrestleMania Backlash but the whole tag division is still a complete mess.
King Corbin (without crown) vs Shinsuke Nakamura (with crown)
I was all ready to rant about how stupid this feud is but then we got Rick Boogs. RICK BOOGS. I’m totally Team Boogs. I enjoyed his work back in NXT as Eric Bugenhagen. Hell, I even liked him in the Old Spice commercials that WWE ran recently. So to see him on the main roster doing something is a real guilty pleasure of mine. I don’t know how long he’ll be around or what their long term plans are for him, but Boogs on that guitar put a real smile on my face so I’m all for it. I’m officially dropping Reginald as my favourite SmackDown person and picking Rick Boogs instead. GO BOOGS.
To divert from Boogs for a little bit – Nakamura and Corbin had a pretty decent match actually. Both guys are fully capable in the ring so beyond all the silly crown stuff it’s no surprise they worked well together. Anyway enough about them and back to Rick. Not only did Boogs play Shin’s music during his entrance (which was obviously awesome) but he then provided a valuable distraction in the middle of the match allowing Nakamura to roll up Corbin for the win. How’s that for teamwork? This team could do it all. Maybe Shinsuke will officially become King. Maybe they’ll win the tag titles together. Maybe Boogs will become Universal Champion. The potential is endless.
Still The Head Of The Table
PPV after PPV Roman Reigns has proven that he’s the main event and the true champion of WWE. Even after all these months, I’m still in awe of just how good he is in this heel role and the exceptional level he performs at, especially in these big-time matches like against Cesaro at WrestleMania Backlash. Not only does he look like a massive deal in all ways but he brings his opponents up as well and it was absolutely the best Cesaro has ever looked in WWE. But as Roman stood in the ring this week on SmackDown alongside Jey, he let his special counsel and hype man Paul Heyman tell some strong truths – that no matter how great his opponents may be, there’s only one man that walks out victorious every time. And now the Tribal Chief has dealt with Cesaro, it’s family business time with the less obedient cousin Jimmy.
Oh, but Jimmy didn’t come out. Cesaro did. And despite having his arm in a sling, he asked for a rematch but things are never that straightforward. I’m sure Roman was about to accept but no, instead we got Seth Rollins (in what may be his best suit ever) again as we did at the PPV jumping Cesaro. Not sure if it’s just me but I’m starting to get the feeling that Rollins might not exactly like Cesaro. This was a brutal and non-stop beatdown by Seth, escaping the incompetent officials every time and delivering not one but two stomps. They should all be fired for being so useless. Maybe we’ll get a triple threat at Hell in a Cell? Give it to me.
Dominik Mysterio (with Rey Mysterio) vs Robert Roode (with Dolph Ziggler)
Well if I’m going to moan about the endless rematches of sorts on the women’s side then I have to do the same here. I get that they like to continue feuds but it just feels so lazy when it happens so often. It was great to see Dominik win the titles with his dad on Sunday and I think they’ve got some great potential going forward. Dominik will learn a lot teaming from his dad and while he may never reach the heights of Rey, he’s certainly paving his own path and is a talented guy on his own merits – despite what the Dirty Dawgs may say.
Now it won’t be surprising that this wasn’t exactly a main-event classic. Both guys are fully capable but it wasn’t really the story they were looking to tell. In fact, I think Roman Reigns has probably had longer entrances than this match. Thankfully it was a decent showcase of Dominik’s talents and with him defeating Roode he takes another step towards becoming a legit superstar. Nice to see a tag champion actually win a match this week. I’d like to think that maybe the Mysterios can move on to other challengers now like The Usos or Street Profits but how likely is that really? I doubt it.
Fatal 4-Way for the Intercontinental Championship: Apollo Crews (c with Commander Azeez) vs Big E vs Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
Now I would’ve happily had this on the WrestleMania Backlash card instead of some of the other matches. Look at that lineup. Four guys at the top of their game fighting over one of the most important titles in the business. That’s how it should be and they deserve the main event slot on this week’s show. I love it when they treat the title with respect and hey at least it’s nice to have something a little different in the endless Apollo and Big E feud. No-fault of either guy as they’ve both worked hard but sometimes you just need something to end. One thing I’ll never get sick of though is watching KO and Sami beat the holy hell out of each other and they certainly did that this week and some.
This was one of the best Intercontinental Championship matches I’ve seen in a while. They were given a decent amount of time and all four guys gave it their all from the time the bell rang. Absolute chaos and I loved every second. Even the intimidating presence of the Commander works well with Apollo’s current gimmick, as long as I never see him stand on a box again. From Owens’ frog splash to Big E’s rope dive to Sami nearly stealing a win with a Blue Thunderbomb (as if it would ever be a three-count), this match had everything and any man could’ve walked away with the title at any time. But it all came down to one unexpected moment as Aleister Black made his return through the fog to hit the Black Mass on Big E allowing Crews to pick up the scraps to retain his title. It was a hugely surprising ending but an exciting one that I can’t wait to see where it goes next. SmackDown delivers again.
The best of SmackDown
- Aleister Black – that is how you make a return
- Rick Boogs – he’s a legend
- IC title match – a match worth of the title
- Seth Rollins – a suit for the ages
The worst of SmackDown
- Women’s tag division – still a disappointment
- Robert Roode – a loss won’t get him a title rematch
- Cesaro – a loss on Sunday and now leaving on a stretcher
Just when I thought Rick Boogs was going to be the highlight of the week they throw out Black again and I’m just super hyped for the idea of him and Big E smashing each other all over the place. How incredibly epic is that going to be? I hope that means Big E moves away from Apollo Crews as I think Crews needs the title more than Big E does. That’s not to say he can’t reclaim it at some point but they definitely need to end that feud for now. Plus hopefully working with Black actually elevates both men as it should. Imagine either one against Roman Reigns down the line? Yes, please. SmackDown might have a few low moments with too many rematches but the rest is some of the best the company has to offer. And thankfully not too long to wait until crowds are back to boo Roman once again like we all love – but at least it’s for the right reasons these days.
All photos and videos courtesy of WWE