WWE SmackDown Review (4/18): Naomi, Charlotte, AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Who Won This Week's MVP?

Standout Moments

1) Champion Vs. Queen What a dynamite opening to SmackDown! Charlotte (somewhat comically) is already out here demanding title shots. Seriously, what's taking so long? It's been a whole week! Naomi obliged and quickly came out, cut a great promo, and went straight at Charlotte for a fight. Shane McMahon rolled out while the two were still fighting and booked a match for later in the night. Charlotte was not one to be outdone though, going after Naomi and tossed her out of the ring, grabbing the title in victory. Naomi wasn't having that though and went right back in to send Charlotte out to the floor, crowd loved every bit of this segment. Going off first impressions, really thought Naomi and Charlotte had some great chemistry based off pretty basic booking. Loved how neither woman backed down too, far too often we see heels back out of impromptu brawls, so this was a refreshing way to kick things off. Also, Charlotte's all black outfit was an eye-catching contrast to Naomi's glowing attire.

2) Wait, What?! So, the winner of the six-pack challenge would get Randy Orton at SmackDown's next PPV, Backlash. People were joking about it for most of the day, but Jinder Mahal (not a typo) won the match, thanks to the Bollywood Boyz distracting Sami Zayn. Now, there's plenty of time for someone else to potentially take his spot, but at the very least, we look to be getting a new stable and that's a good thing. To Mahal's credit, he cut a decent (if unoriginal) promo after the match and was booed heavily by the crowd. I have to admit, it's pretty amazing that he goes from doing nothing on Raw (aside from KO'ing Balor, on his way out), comes to SmackDown, and gets an opportunity this big. It's shocking and weird, but whoever won this match was just going to get fed to Orton, so why not Jinder?

3) Match Before The Match Not as fire as their opening segment, Charlotte and Naomi had a number of hesitations and miscues throughout their match. Nothing egregious, but I did start to drift as they never really took it to the next level. With Charlotte getting the predictable win it's likely they didn't want to give everything away this week, so, hopefully, they can tighten things up and have a smoother match next Tuesday. These two are the most athletic women in the entire division, so I wouldn't be surprised if we see something amazing in the title match. Naomi has probably her toughest challenge already in front of her, if she can keep the title in this feud she could be in line for a long run.

4) Meh. I honestly was hyped for Kevin Owens' "Open Challenge" and unfortunately we got Gary Gandy. It was a nothing match where Gary nearly jacked up the finish by jumping into the Pop-up Powerbomb, rather than getting "popped" up by Owens. Luckily, Owens is a great wrestler and adjusted to get the move off properly.

Trending Up

Kevin Owens Despite not being a fan of his match segment, he was gold at the announce table. He constantly went after both Tom and Byron, while speaking in French at one point with JBL. Staying true to his future opponent, Owens paid plenty of attention to AJ Styles throughout the match too.

Trending Down

Tamina Some of these complaints aren't totally her fault, like asking for a title shot. She's been out since before the brands split! Why would she get anything close to a title shot? Aside from pure heel/face alignment, Tamina giving Charlotte the "Stank eye" with Natalya and Carmella is off because Tamina is just as new to the show. Finally, she's been out for nearly a year and looks/acts the exact same way as she left. That's not a good thing when all she pretty much did was cross her arms and stare. That's lazy on both her and WWE's part for not coming up with some new wrinkles to her gimmick.

Primo And Epico Sure, they beat American Alpha, but the crowd had zero reaction during the match and after they won. Some people could say this is a good thing to drop The Shining Stars gimmick, and I wouldn't argue that. They are in this section because this is Primo and Epico's fourth gimmick restart in the WWE. They must be big fans of Ed Leslie.

American Alpha - They lost to Primo and Epico, not a great look, especially for a team that who expected to take over this division.

This Week's MVP

Baron Corbin Despite losing, Corbin continued to move his way up the card, being in the main event for the second week in a row. This time around, he took on Styles and did a heck of a job holding up his end of the match. In no way, would I say Styles carried Baron in this one and it was easily my favorite match of the night. Corbin landed a nasty looking backbreaker and an incredible deep six on the former champion while also using his agility to work the in/out of the ring game with Styles. WWE has made it no secret they see big things in Corbin and so far he's shown he can handle what they've thrown at him. He just needs more time and experience to help round out everything.

Overall Thoughts

Despite my comments on Tamina, I do like this heel faction that is suddenly very jealous of Charlotte. Not sure if they will actually do anything, but it's an interesting twist as the Queen tries to ascend to the top. Even Austin Aries can't save those awful 205 Live promos, please, change this up. In its entirety, this episode was a strange one for me, I didn't hate it, but some of the match outcomes were just kind of weird. Jinder winning, Charlotte's was so predictable, Owens squashing some jobber, and the count-out for the main event was underwhelming (I get why it had to be done, but still). Felt like Raw had a better grasp of their new roster this week, while SmackDown is still kind of figuring things out.

Grade (out of 10): 6.5 (Last Week: 7.5)


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