Smackdown Recap: We Heart Strong Style

Shinsuke Nakamura
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As if Orlando didn’t need one more night of spectacle and shenanigans! Smackdown Live‘s post-mania episode failed to disappoint fans looking for their final course of Wrestlemania week goodness, a plethora of returns, debuts, rematches and beach balls leaving everyone pumped for the upcoming season!

Randy Orton addresses the WWE Universe

Randy Orton
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Smackdown opened with it’s new WWE Champion – The Viper, Randy Orton – to a mixed reaction from the raucous Orlando fans. Lest we forget that we love to boo the ones we usually cheer. What followed was a pretty typical “I just won a title” speech, but ended in something leaving me intrigued. Bray Wyatt appeared in true Bray Wyatt fashion, via satellite from the darkest corner of the arena, and challenged Orton to a rematch. This wasn’t just any old rematch however, this was a match dubbed ‘House of Horrors’.

Very little has been revealed to suggest what exactly a House of Horrors match is. In fact it sounds similar to the gimmick matches found on Halloween episodes of Raw, but hopefully it’ll be a little more impressive than Luke Gallows wearing a pumpkin on his head. This could lead to something memorable in terms of gimmick matches. Should WWE be willing to throw some budget towards the production values, then we could have something similar to The Final Deletion on its way. Nevertheless, no date or event has been assigned to this match just yet. At this point it can be assumed it’ll take place at the next Smackdown Live pay-per-view, Backlash.

Bray Wyatt later appeared behind Orton, in at attempt to blindside the new champion, but he wasn’t alone. The returning Erick Rowan joined forces with Bray once again to ambush Orton, wearing an updated sheep mask infused with what looked like a World War Two gas mask! It was like something out of a Norwegian black metal band. Luke Harper evened the odds to set up the main event, a tag team match (holla holla).

Naomi vs Alexa Bliss – Smackdown Women’s Championship

Naomi and Alexa Bliss
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In a singles rematch for the Women’s title, Naomi defended her newly acquired championship against the former two time champion, Alexa Bliss. In what was a pretty solid match between the two, Alexa worked the leg of her opponent, but eventually fell to the new submission maneuver that Naomi used to claim the title in the six pack challenge.

Naomi celebrated in front of her home-town audience, with things potentially opening up now for new challengers from the rest of the Smackdown roster, or even from future draftees from Monday Night Raw.

Curt Hawkins issues an Open Challenge

Tye Dillinger
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At this point I’m pretty certain even The Vaudevillains pose more of a threat than Curt Hawkins does. Apparently we should care less about The Undertaker’s retirement, Cena and Nikki’s proposal and the triumphant return of the Hardyz and more on him, thus a challenge was issued to anyone in the locker room. The “facts” of an open challenge are that it is answered by someone who’s on a ride of momentum, those looking to make a huge impact upon their return or debut. So what exactly did Curt Hawkins expect? He gave his opponent until the count of… 10… to show up.

“The Perfect 10“ Tye Dillinger was finally given the call up and was greeted onto Smackdown Live by thunderous 10 chants. It’s nice to see Tye being on the opposite end to a squash match, as he made quick work of Hawkins, ending the match with his ‘Tye Breaker’ finisher.

I can only hope for great things from Dillinger. If there’s anywhere he can find success, it’s Smackdown Live.

The King of Call-Ups

Shinsuke Nakamura
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The Miz and Maryse didn’t do so well at Wrestlemania, being foiled by the newly engaged couple of John Cena and Nikki Bella. But as is routine for most part-timers’ opponents, they are the one’s that actually show up the night after Wrestlemania. The Miz and Maryse donned their John and Nikki costumes one last time and hosted a fairly humourous skit mocking the engagement schtick.

Just as the ‘It Couple’ were planning on leaving, a lone violinist was given the spotlight at the top of the ramp. For anyone familiar with NXT Takeover events, this was certainly something they had seen before. The crowd went absolutely nuts for the debut of The King of Strong Style – Shinsuke Nakamura.

His entrance was a true marvel to watch, making him look like the total superstar that he is. Although nothing was said by either Nakamura or Miz, it can be assumed that these two are set to cross paths in the following weeks. Personally I was worried The Miz would fall back into the struggles of the mid-card after Cena’s departure, despite him performing at his best for the past few months. It’s a great gesture for him to be given the role of Shinsuke’s first feud.

Dean Ambrose vs Baron Corbin – Non title Street Fight

Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin
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In the second rematch from Wrestlemania, Dean Ambrose fought Baron Corbin in a Street Fight. As the Intercontinental Championship wasn’t on the line for this match, it was fairly easy to predict who would be coming out of this the victor. This match featured everything a fan of hardcore wrestling would want in the PG era – lots of table spots, stiff chair and strap shots and brawls which took place outside of the ring and into the confines of the crowd.

Corbin really came into himself throughout this match. Thinking back on this and to his chairs match with Kalisto at TLC last year, I feel like his best work is shown whenever there’s some sort of hardcore stipulation involved. Ambrose also seemed in his element as well, finally getting the no-holds-barred stipulation that he has been craving to make his since Wrestlemania 32‘s disappointing match with Lesnar.

Baron Corbin reigned supreme, hitting Ambrose with the End of Days after both going through a table on the outside. Even though he hasn’t walked away with the Intercontinental title, perhaps this is building to one final rematch at the next pay-per-view?

Shane McMahon addresses the Smackdown Roster

Shane McMahon and AJ Styles
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This coming Monday will feature the “Superstar Shake-up”, as per the announcement from Vince McMahon on Raw. Very little has been told of what exactly this means. Surely if this was to be a full draft then they’d be calling it that? My guess is we’ll be seeing more small-scale trades, involving members of the mid-card and women’s division being exchanged to keep the title pictures looking fresh. There’s no doubt that certain members of the Raw roster could do with treatment on the Smackdown Live brand.

Shane McMahon also expressed similar confusion, not hinting much towards who might be traded or who exactly he’d want to take on board from Raw, during his promo on this week’s Smackdown. AJ Styles was soon to interrupt the commissioner and explain that no matter what happens, he wishes to stay on Smackdown Live – the house that AJ Styles built – and would be damned to let anyone else take his place.

In what was a heart-warming ending to this segment, AJ extended his hand to his Wrestlemania opponent and didn’t attack him afterwards! Whether this certifies an impending face turn from Styles or is simply a token of good-will towards Shane, who seemed to be fighting back tears after his entrance, I couldn’t say for sure.

Orton/Harper vs Wyatt/Rowan

Randy Orton and Luke Harper
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To close this episode of Smackdown Live, all former members of the Wyatt Family were pitted against one another in tag team action. This match was a display of the underrated abilities of both Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, who held down the majority of screen time within this match. It’s evident that they both have fantastic chemistry which hasn’t really been tapped into before, and I look forward to seeing if a singles feud blossoms between the two of them in the coming week.

Wyatt and Orton were kept apart for most of the match, prior to the finishing babyface comeback from the new champion. Although the finish was somewhat confusing – Wyatt, who was primed to receive his second RKO of the week, used his teleporting abilities to evacuate the ring and up the ramp, leaving Rowan as bait for Orton’s finisher.

Even though the team of Orton and Harper won this match, I look forward to seeing what Wyatt has in store for the House of Horrors rematch and how this feud continues to escalate on Smackdown Live.

Overall, a solid episode of Smackdown to conclude this week’s post-Wrestlemania antics. I suspect we’ll see some new faces this time next week on the blue brand and even more Wyatt related shenanigans leading up to the championship rematch.

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