- Presented LIVE on the USA Network from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA (my God, I’m tired of typing that after this weekend). Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves are calling the action from ringside, unless otherwise noted. Last night on Monday Night Raw, we saw the debuts of Ember Moon, No Way Jose, and The Authors of Pain, the return of Bobby Lashley, and returning from injury, Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy. What can Smackdown Live do to match that?
- Shane McMahon is out first, and they’re teasing he has a huge announcement to make tonight. Don’t you love him taking a sabbatical from his duties lasted all of two weeks? He kisses up to the audience for being part of WrestleMania Week. He puts over being able to team with Daniel Bryan, and because of his passion and determination, they won, ridding Smackdown Live of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. He mentions Bryan being a full-time WWE Superstar, which means he has resigned as Smackdown Live’s General Manager. He introduces us to the NEW Smackdown Live General Manager... Paige. Well, that was a knuckleball where we expected a slider. After announcing her retirement from in-ring competition, the first person she ran into backstage was Shane. Next week is the Superstar Shakeup, but for now, she wants to make tonight special. She wants to know if everyone wants to see Daniel Bryan in action tonight. Tonight, he’ll face... *really long pause* A.J. Styles. I sense this match being ruined by interference.
- Post-match, The Bludgeon Brothers arrive to stare the Usos down from the top of the entrance set, but we’ve got a couple of more weeks until Greatest Royal Rumble (in Saudi Arabia, where the Women of WWE can’t compete, but WWE took the dirty money regardless), so this is all we’re getting this week from them.
- Earlier today, Dasha Fuentes tried to interview Naomi about winning the Women’s Battle Royal, but Natalya quickly interrupts. She tells Naomi that Neon is so-7th Grade, and that she can’t wait for her to be shipped off to Monday Night Raw.
- Renee Young is backstage for an interview with Shinsuke Nakamura, wanting to know why he tarnished the dream match at WrestleMania. He says maybe he got too emotional and gives a very insincere apology. Renee calls him out on his tone and presses him for a response. "Sorry, no speak Engrish.” I think I can get behind douchebag Shinsuke Nakamura, but his in-ring stuff has left a bit to be desired.
- Charlotte Flair comes out to celebrate her victory at WrestleMania, handing Asuka her first loss since coming to WWE in the Summer of 2015. She wants to know who her next challenger will be, bringing out the debuting Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. Finally, Raw only had 57 people come out as a surprise. They say her match at WrestleMania was good, but it wasn’t iconic. They mock her for thanking everyone, including the Uber driver and the air that she breaths. Charlotte throws the first blow and gets taken down quickly. She tries fighting back, but gets hit with the running boot from Billie Kay, dubbed "Shades of Kay” by Phillips. Has it really been called that the whole time? They haven’t been seen much on NXT TV lately, so I can’t remember. They toss her around on the floor, and you’d think her best friend, Becky Lynch, would’ve attempted a save. They cap off the beating with a double Powerbomb on the floor. If this debut doesn’t scream breaking up the Riott Squad, I don’t know what does.
- Carmella comes out, and they MILK this to the point you’d expect someone to stop, but nope, the cash-in happens...
- Next week... SUPERSTAR SHAKEUP! (Some predictions: Baron Corbin, Randy Orton, Gable & Benjamin, Becky Lynch and Natalya to Raw. Smackdown will get less valued pieces, like Goldust. Maybe The Revival.)
- Dasha Fuentes is backstage with the NEW Smackdown Women’s Champion, Carmella. It only took her 287 days to cash-in the Money in the Bank Briefcase. She says there’s always a Princess waiting to knock the Queen off her throne.
- Renee Young catches A.J. Styles on the way to the ring. He said he doesn’t want an apology from Nakamura, he wants to put his fist down Nakamura’s throat. For now, he’s concerned with his match with Daniel Bryan. He might be one of the greatest, but he’s not Phenomenal.
We return with Bryan fighting out of a suplex and bouncing off the ropes with an elbow, knocking Styles into the corner. Bryan with the running corner dropkick, followed by his signature Yes-Kicks. Styles counters the roundhouse with a Dragon screw leg whip. Styles dives into the corner with a clothesline. Bryan flips over a charging Styles, but the knee buckles and Styles moonsaults into a reverse DDT for a near fall. Styles with a series of leg strikes mixed in with the Phenomenal Blitz. Bryan quickly retaliates with a hip throw into a cross arm-breaker, but Styles escapes and locks on the Calf-Crusher. Bryan rolls through to counter the hold, this time looking for the Yes-Lock, but Styles stacks him up for a near fall. Styles with the Pele Kick and a clothesline, turning Bryan inside out, for two. Styles to the apron for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Bryan meets him with a kick to the chest, followed by a roundhouse kick to the back of the head. Bryan sets up in the corner for the big knee, but Styles counters. Bryan fights out of the Styles Clash and hooks the Yes-Lock on the second attempt. Styles with a foot on the ropes, forcing a break. Bryan traps Styles in the Tree of Woe and unloads with more kicks. Styles shifts his weight to land on top of Bryan during a back suplex attempt. Suddenly, Shinsuke Nakamura shows up and hits Bryan with the Kinshasa, drawing the Disqualification at 12:41. He lays into Styles with another low blow and hits him with a Kinshasa as well. 4-Star TV match with potential to be a 5-star match on PPV and with 20+ minutes and a real finish.
Final Thoughts: The first hour felt like a forgettable episode of Smackdown Live, then we got the debuts of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, inadvertently helping Carmella cash-in the Money in the Bank Briefcase on Charlotte, and then an outstanding (but criminally short) Main Event with A.J. Styles and Daniel Bryan in a "Fantasy Match”, only to be predictably ruined by Nakamura’s interference. Not as good as last night’s episode of Raw, but a couple of decent segments saved this from the trash pile.