WWE SmackDown Review (4/11): AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura, Who Won This Week's MVP?

Standout Moments

1) Fight Forever - Kicking off the night was Kevin Owens, which was probably the most obvious switch that we were going to see last night with Dean Ambrose already on Raw. This would have been a good place to show a "trade" on Raw, just to help with the execution of the whole Superstar Shakeup. Moving on, Baron Corbin came out and demanded a title shot since he beat the Intercontinental Champion, Dean Ambrose, so badly that he went off to the red brand. Since- hey, it's Sami Zayn! Owens had the best reaction to his longtime rival appearing on Tuesday night. "No, you cannot be here, this cannot be real!" Sami was another great fit to move to the blue brand, even though he did a heck of a job on Raw since the beginning of the year. I'm totally fine with these two hanging around each other, whenever there's nothing for them to do, WWE can always throw Zayn and Owens together.

Out comes AJ Styles to a massive pop, glad to see WWE opted to keep him on SmackDown, he's been a huge reason why things have gone so well, let him revel in it for awhile. After soaking up the cheers, Daniel Bryan joined the fun to announce a triple threat match to decide the number one contender for the U.S. Title between Zayn, Corbin, and Styles, after Owens wrestles Jericho at Payback. At the very least, it's nice to see the secondary title being held in such high regard. Most likely it's due to WWE needing to stall a bit with the WWE Championship until we get through Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt.

2) Two Things One, JBL talking so highly about the SmackDown Tag Division was literally insane. Two, the champs received no entrance.

Okay, I lied, there's more, the match (like most main roster tag matches) started off really slowly, but once Chad Gable got the hot tag everything picked up in a hurry, including a nice false finish or two. Despite AA's best efforts, Jimmy and Jey managed to get the win and retain their titles. Thought New Day would show up here, but instead we got the always underwhelming, Primo and Epico. I'll give it to them, the move they landed on Gable looked nice, but these guys just have never done anything for me, we'll see if the change of scenery helps any.

3) Restocking The Division First, we saw how incredibly small the Women's Division is on SmackDown with Naomi, Natalya, Carmella, and Becky coming out to join Shane McMahon. Naomi called Ellsworth a "Side chick," which was the best! Shane then goes full troll mode by getting everyone to think Charlotte is coming out and instead, it's Tamina. She's been gone a year and I still had no reaction to her coming back. She just looks around and is horrid in the ring, tough to get excited about that. Enter, Charlotte, she could have some interesting feuds with Naomi and Becky Lynch (again), but that's it? I feel like the Women's Division still needs at least one more person with Nikki and Eva out of action for the foreseeable future. Enter, Lana, who looks to be taking over the gimmick that Emma wasn't comfortable doing. It feels like they are splitting Rusev and Lana up, did they not learn from their previous mistakes? Lana has been working in NXT from time to time and has mentioned going after the title in interviews, so it's possible we could see her in the ring very soon. As much as I enjoyed this division when the brands first split, I think Raw is now winning the battle.

4) 205 Live Promos Still don't like them, they are awkward and poorly written, won't put that on "Dark" TJP.

5) Commentary - Byron Saxton brought his overly happy self to the table, Tom Phillips reacted according, and JBL, well, was mightily joyous, too. It was strange and totally forced how that entire group acted last night, especially with all the bullying stories swirling around the internet right now. No idea if JBL will last in the company, but it looks like WWE is prepping the booth, just in case he is sent packing. I bet he just blocked me on Twitter...

Trending Up

Rusev It's a bummer he just got that basic announcement, but expected, since he's out with an injury. Absolutely love this move though, there is no reason why he couldn't be a staple upper midcard guy on SmackDown, taking over where Miz left off. It's even possible he could creep into the main event scene at some point; we all know he has the talent to make it there. I am nervous about his prospects though if Lana isn't working with him, we'll have to see how that goes when he returns.

Trending Down

Erick Rowan Yes, he got the best of Randy Orton in last night's segment, but if Bray is on Raw now, Rowan's outlook isn't so hot, not that it really ever was. If Luke Harper (who was missing in action last night) is also off on his own, Rowan is going to be relegated to talent enhancement with his limited overall abilities. I don't want to hate on him too much, but he's never really got the fans going on his own. Might be time to team him up with someone new, maybe even send him to NXT to get a fresh coat of paint? For now, I do enjoy his theme music though, keep that.

This Week's MVP

AJ Styles - Unfortunately, we didn't have a monster flipping any large emergency vehicles on SmackDown, so there wasn't an obvious pick this week. I did enjoy Kevin Owen's promo, but it goes to AJ for winning an incredible triple threat match. All three guys really sold for each other and brought their unique styles to the ring. Props to Corbin who did not look out of place going against Styles or Zayn, he continues to impress. I did see a number of people on social media complaining that Styles is above going after the U.S. title, but titles' value are relative. I see nothing wrong with elevating a secondary title by having some big names fight over it. Remember when Cena made the U.S. Title the hottest thing going with his "Open Challenge"? Plus, AJ could have one match against (most likely) Owens at Backlash, lose, and move back to the main event scene. A loss to Owens (being a former Universal champion, himself) wouldn't drop his stock that much.

Overall Thoughts

Jinder Mahal and Sin Cara coming to SmackDown is as exciting as Curt Hawkins going to Raw. I'm beyond tired of seeing "Mojo and friends," but that beer toss into Mahal's face was solid. New Day will also eventually be making their way over to the blue brand, more fresh feuds, always a good thing. If I include Nakamura's call-up, I'd say SmackDown ended up winning the Shakeup with the additions of Zayn, Owens, Charlotte, and Rusev. The themes for each show was already like this, but WWE is making it very clear the better in-ring action will be on SmackDown, while Raw will continue to be about "Moments," promos, and characters.

Grade (out of 10): 7.5 (Last Week: 7)


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