One more night in New Orleans for WWE on April 10, and the WrestleMania 34 week is a wrap.
The dream match between WWE champion AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura turned out to be one of those dreams you can’t remember most of a couple minutes after you wake up.
It wasn’t bad. Nakamura, Styles and any agents who helped lay it out sought to deliberately craft something a little different from an indie main event-style match to set it apart (and perhaps foreshadow the aftermath), and instead of standing out from the hours of wrestling which preceded it, they got lost amongst those.
So instead of asking where it ranks with Savage/Steamboat, we’re wondering where both men go next. And considering there’s a Superstar Shakeup coming next week, we mean that a little more literally than we normally would.
The leadership of SmackDown itself is a bit of an open question, as Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan managed to defeat Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to send them packing to wrap the story which has been the blue brand’s top program for much of the time since the last Shakeup. Leading into that tag match, commissioner McMahon placed himself on an “indefinite leave of absence” - and that was before he went to the hospital for diverticulitis and a hernia. General Manager Bryan is living his dream of a return to the ring, and was talking about ditching the kayfabe office job while announcing his return match at ‘Mania.
Even if the newly heel Nakamura and The Phenomenal One remain on the Tuesday nights after next week, they may have new bosses. And although if Owens and Zayn are truly gone, WWE may not want to shuffle off two other top players to Team Red, it seems possible that one of them (especially AJ, as someone Vince McMahon clearly sees as a bankable star - and that seems possible even with though he has the belt, since with the pending return of dual-brand pay-per-view (PPV), who knows what the plans are for that prize?) will be on Raw next Monday.
Which means they may have to deliver something big to follow-up what we have been talking about since their WrestleMania dream match ended. Shinsuke’s low blow betrayal, and cheap shot Kinshasa, mean we could be getting something from his WWE character other than quirky mannerisms and a cool entrance. And then there’s the pissed off redneck who will certainly want some payback on his long-time rival from Japan.
Should we get Dream Match III - here or on a future PPV as a brand crossover - it might be better as truly face/heel anyway.
The Title Scene
While those men’s stories got most of the airtime leading into ‘Mania, it was the women who delivered SmackDown’s best match. Charlotte Flair shockingly ending Asuka’s streak to keep her Women’s title was the epic encounter many thought Styles/Nakamura would be, and would have delivered the most shocking outcome of the night had the last match not happened (and it debateable which was less predictable). The Empress wasn’t on Raw and the official preview for tonight doesn’t mention her - but does talk about WrestleMania Battle Royal winner Naomi, Becky Lynch, Ruby Riott and Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella as possible future rivals for the Queen’s throne.
The Viper’s time with the United States championship was short, Bobby Roode’s ‘Mania debut was less than Glorious and now Rusev Day might be cancelled. Jinder Mahal left their Fatal 4Way in the Superdome with the red, white and blue strap, and... yeah. Still kind of hard to get fired up for this scene, but he did pin Lana’s man, so maybe that feud - and a proper babyface turn for Rusev - is the next move.
Speaking of less-than-glorious debuts, The Usos first time on the main card of The Showcase of The Immortals was a pretty one-sided loss to new tag team champs Bludgeon Brothers. Are Jimmy, Jey or their friendly rivals New Day healthy enough after their dismantling at the hands of Harper and Rowan to take a shot at revenge tonight? They may not be here next week...
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- Baron Corbin seemed on pace to become a two-time Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal winner, then former SmackDown tag titleholder Bray Wyatt unveiled his new team. Will be interesting if The Lone Wolf and Team Blue’s other noteable also-rans from this year’s ‘Dre do much tonight ahead of being likely Shakeup fodder.
- Last night, Raw got the debuts of the two talents most were expecting to see arrive get called up from NXT... and also No Way Jose. WWE.com is teasing more arrivals for tonight... will it be a former champion like Ember Moon or Authors of Pain (perhaps SAnitY, or even Andrade “Cien” Almas) or an undercard act like Jose?
It’s the WrestleMania 34 fallout show!
What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?