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WWE SmackDown Live recap & reactions (Apr. 10, 2018): Beware the Shinsuke

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WWE SmackDown Live returned to us last night (Apr. 10) from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is the WrestleMania fallout show for the blue brand. Find all of the results in our fantabulous live blog here.

This is Her House

Shane McMahon opened the show with a bombshell announcement.

Daniel Bryan is stepping down as SmackDown GM to become a full time talent.

And Paige is taking his place.

Her retirement speech last night made it seem like she could be stepping away for a bit to figure out what she wants to do. That made this quite the pleasant surprise.

Paige was a great in-ring worker, but also a talented talker/personality. So this will be a great spot for her. I’m excited to see how she fits into the role, interacts with the talent, and how she prepares for the toughest challenge of her seasoned career: Working closely alongside a McMahon.

She made her first big match as the main event. And boy was it a doozy...

Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles

Nothing more creative for the title needed here. It’s enough.

In a WWE ring, in 2018, we saw Daniel Bryan face AJ Styles.

And it was good.

Bryan looks to have zero ring rust and Styles is one of the best there is. So even without a build, it was a sight to behold. Now personally, I’m still getting used to watching Bryan wrestle. I may flinch a little more than I would if I didn’t know his history. That will just take time I suppose.

We never got a finish. It wasn’t something we should have expected though. The WWE champion isn’t going to take a loss here. Neither is Bryan. Even if he moves to Raw, they’d want him strong.

So instead of a finish, SmackDown’s new top heel interrupted the dream match.

Shinsuke Nakamura slid in and kneed Bryan in the back of his head. That’s enough heat alone, given Bryan’s history.

Then Nakamura low blowed AJ Styles so hard it lifted the champ off his feet. He finished his rampage with a Kinshasa to the Phenomenal One.

I absolutely love what they’re doing with the King of Strong Style. I loved the turn at WrestleMania, which felt much needed and would give AJ vs. Nakamura the heat it needed. He had a brief interview backstage last night where he was just a complete bastard. And then he interrupted a dream main event, kicked the biggest fan favorites in the company in the head. All the while, this made the Kinshasa seem like a brutal finish.

The era of heel Nakamura is upon us!

Successful Cash In!

The main women’s segment was loaded this week.

Charlotte came down to the ring and delivered a heartfelt promo about making magic and having the best night of her career at WrestleMania.

A shame this could be considered the worst night of her career.

The long awaited debut of the Iconic Duo of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce finally happened! Now known as “The Iconics,” they cut a promo obnoxiously mocking the Queen for being so gracious with her speech. They were very grating, as they should be.

Then they beat the hell out of her. It was a brutal beat down, taking a darker turn from just high school mocking that they started with.

With Charlotte left laying, Carmella finally cashed in her Money in the Bank briefcase to win the SmackDown women’s title.

The Queen went from defeating the undefeated to losing her title to Carmella after getting wrecked by two newcomers.

This business is cruel.

All the Rest

Usos vs. New Day

The Usos and New Day squared off to see who challenges the Bludgeon Brothers for the tag titles at the Greatest Royal Rumble.

While I can’t say for sure, it feels like this match got more time than the triple threat at WrestleMania. And when these teams get time, they put on exciting matches.

The Usos earned the victory and will now go on to face the Brothers.

This match again?

Randy Orton defeated Rusev and Bobby Roode to become number one contender to the US title. This match will happen at Backlash and not the Greatest Royal Rumble, so don’t worry people who can’t watch hours of wrestling on a Friday afternoon due to work, you’ll be able to see this one! (Yeah, there was some sarcasm in that.)

To the surprise of no one, Rusev was super over and it was looking like he would win before Orton kind of stole his victory. I’m very curious to see what the future holds for one of the most over acts in the WWE. It should be a bit more than this.

Women’s exhibition

Naomi defeated Natalya last night. Even though it wasn’t completely random as it was set up in a backstage segment, for an “After Mania” show, it sure felt like filler. It’s good to see Naomi pick up a win and continue her momentum after winning a WrestleMania battle royal. As I’m sure Mojo Rawley can tell her, that’s not always the case.

For a post-WrestleMania show, there seemed to be a lot of down time. Multiple #1 contender matches where the former champs got the win anyway (though always love me some Usos vs. New Day) and the women’s exhibition.

But the big beats really hit well.

Grade: B

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