This was the WrestleMania go home episode of Friday Night SmackDown, dubbed “WrestleMania SmackDown,” and neither WWE Champion Brock Lesnar nor Universal Champion Roman Reigns appeared live and in person.
Instead, we got a video package, which was admittedly good (“All Nightmare Long” by Metallica was a nice music choice, shout out to Triple H), but the absence of a strong go home angle in favor of a Happy Corbin segment with Drew McIntyre’s sword in the main event of this show felt strange to say the least.
It was downright bizarre.
I suppose the idea was to bring across how important they still deem McIntyre to be, and what the future likely holds for him, but I just can’t see any real justification for not closing this show with the big names or, hell, even having them appear at all.
Charlotte Flair was given solo promo time to sell her SmackDown women’s title defense against Ronda Rousey on this show, and she didn’t really say much of anything different than what we’ve been getting. It was good enough, and she comes across like a big star should, with the crowd responding to her as such.
Flair called herself “cool” and how “cool” it is that every woman wants to be her and every man wants to be with her. She’ll take Rousey to school on it and as far as everyone is concerned, “I’ve got ya beat there too, bitch.”
Rousey didn’t appear live, instead of getting a short video from “earlier today” where she was interviewed briefly while “getting in some extra training.” She again told Flair to tap out or have her arm ripped off and taken to the Rousey household to become a souvenir for the family, which they would love.
What’s actually worth highlighting is this hype ass video they put together for the match and aired just after Rousey’s interview and just before Flair’s promo:
How good is that?!?
It almost makes the rest of the feud worth it just so they could pick out the bits and pieces they needed to make that video. WWE’s production team doesn’t miss with these video packages.
It’s finally time, folks.
All the rest
- The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal has felt like something of an afterthought for years now, especially seeing as they moved it to the SmackDown before WrestleMania instead of putting it on WrestleMania itself. Having said that, this year’s version was a fun little sprint of a battle royal that managed to hit upon multiple stories in the span of about 10 minutes. Madcap Moss winning by last eliminating the US champion was a surprise, but it seems clear they have future plans for Moss and I’m starting to see more and more of why that’s the case all the time. He annoys the hell out of me, sure, but he’s supposed to. Famous last words incoming: let’s see where they go from here…
- Ricochet vs. Angel vs. Humberto was always going to be about whether or not the latter two, who are a tag team, could get along enough to figure out who would be the one to win. Sure, they could dish out all the damage they wanted together, and Ricochet would be overmatched, but then who would win? That was the story of this match, and they ultimately turned on each other before Ricochet took advantage of the discourage to retain his Intercontinental championship. Even knowing this is how this would play out, all parties involved made it entertaining and got the crowd into it. It was fun!
- Continuing their streak of building to the Fatal 4-Way women’s tag team title match by simply having the teams involved wrestle fun matches, Sasha Banks & Naomi defeated the champs, Queen Zelina Vega & Carmella, without all that much difficulty. A sign of things to come, perhaps? The crowd certainly seemed behind it, but the messaging here wasn’t so subtle — the teams of Liv Morgan & Rhea Ripley and Shayna Baszler & Natalya were both ringside watching it go down, their presence looming large.
- That sniveling little shit Austin Theory went and committed the cardinal sin — he interrupted Pat McAfee dancing on the desk while Rick BOOGS was playing Shinsuke Nakamura to the ring. Then he ran to Vince McMahon to save him from McAfee whooping his ass, hiding behind him like a punk kid! I hate him! (Man, this whole thing is actually pretty slick, huh? It’s such a basic story, and such a simple hook, but they sure as hell got me with it. Even more so now that Vince himself has stuck his face in and threatened to fire McAfee. The payoff here, McAfee finally beating this troll up, is going to be a lot of fun.)
- Theory’s trolling interrupted a Jimmy Uso vs. Rick BOOGS singles match, and after Finn Balor decided to show up and put the boots into theory, they made an impromptu six-man tag team match. McAfee was great on commentary cheering hard for every bit of Theory’s misery, at one point yelling at him on the apron “you’re a punk, dude! Everybody hates you!” Surprisingly, or maybe not so, they had Theory pin Balor in the said six-man and Michael Cole had to back McAfee off. Fans responded by chanting for Cole, which was actually pretty great. Again, fantastic promotion for the match.
This was a good show standalone, but was missing some things as a go home show.