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WWE SmackDown Live recap & reactions (Apr. 17, 2018): Fully Loaded


WWE SmackDown Live returned last night (Apr. 17) from the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. You can find all the results at the best dang live blog ever right here.

SmackDown Live? More like StackDown Live after the Shakeup.

Because Paige grifted Kurt Angle and Raw so badly that Kurt should be putting out some want ads.

Let’s jump into the new look Blue Brand.

Main Event scene

The show opened with AJ Styles demanding Shinsuke Nakamura come face him after showing his true colors. The champ got Rusev Day instead. Update: They’re still really over.

This became an impromptu match between Rusev and Styles, but AJ got the jump on the Bulgarian and locked in the Calf Crusher really early. Aiden English had to interfere, the match ending in DQ.

Rusev Day then took the boots to Styles until Daniel Bryan made the save!

This led to the main event of AJ & Bryan vs. Rusev Day. Just the three most over acts on SmackDown Live main eventing the show, as it should be.

But for two weeks in a row, Bryan didn’t get to finish a match on SmackDown. Again, it was because of Shinsuke Nakamura. Well... partially.

While AJ was on the apron waiting to get tagged in, Nakamura sneaked behind and delivered yet another low blow to the WWE champ. Shinsuke just loves crushing Styles’ phenomenal ones. The look in his face is pure joy.

Meanwhile, Bryan was blindsided by a big boot from Big Cass! Bryan and the returning Cass had a moment earlier in the night when the returning big man called DB “Little man” backstage.

Looks like Cass will have a main event program for his return from injury. They were definitely giving him a big push prior to his injury so it makes sense. And Bryan is a great partner for Cass. Who better to help the seven footer have a great single’s match than Daniel Bryan? It’ll give Bryan a large obstacle to overcome and it’ll give Cass a marquee program for his return.

The New Landscape of the Women’s Division

The women received a good deal of time (three segments) to display their new look.

It opened with Carmella and a Mellabration in honor of her winning the title last week. Look at these decorations!

WWE YouTube

After running her mouth for awhile and putting herself over with her own video package, which heels are wont to do, she was interrupted by Charlotte, who Mella defeated for the title last week. The former champ was soon interrupted by the IIconics, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce.

The IIconics do annoying so damn well. I love Peyton’s terrible imitation of Charlotte and loved it even more when Billie said if she closed her eyes, should couldn’t tell the difference between the two.

This turned into a three on one brawl until Becky Lynch, who wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, ran out to make the save.

Billie and Charlotte then went one on one and while Kay gave the Queen a run for her money, she succumbed to the Figure Eight.

The IIconics and Money Mella decided that post match was a great time for another beatdown...

Until Asuka showed up to even the score!

How sweet is the new look SD women’s division? Asuka, Charlotte, Carmella, Becky Lynch, the IIconics, Naomi (who was part of the Usos/Bludgeon Brothers segment).

Charismatic Tuesdays

Shelton Benjamin is solo now, which is what the Shakeup is all about. It’s time to give certain wrestlers a different direction for a new season of WWE. And for Shelton, it’s a heel singles run.

He tweeted out good things about Chad Gable last night, but opened his promo saying he got hacked because he’d never say anything like that. I love when talent goes out of their way to kayfabe explain shoot tweets.

The Gold Standard wants to get back to his championship ways and asked GM Paige for a big match tonight.

Out came Randy Orton.

But wait! Jeff Hardy came out behind him! Hardy was the first Shakeup reveal!

Hardy and Benjamin had a fine match which the US champion won clean. I was hoping they’d find a way to avoid having Shelton lose clean the first match of his heel singles run, but it is what it is.

Orton making his presence known early before being interrupted by Jeff was a nice touch. Not only was it a mini-swerve, but that’s very possibly the Backlash US title match. Orton won the right to face Mahal for the title last week. But then Mahal lost the belt to Jeff Hardy. Now, it’s entirely possible Mahal could win it back at the Greatest Royal Rumble, but really, it’s not.

So Jeff showing up Randy is a nice touch to tease that eventual match in a few weeks.

Joe! Joe! Joe! Joe!

Samoa Joe is on SmackDown! What an acquisition. Paige owned Kurt Angle on this one. Well, on all of them. But especially this one!

The Samoan Submission Machine debuted, beat up Sin Cara, and then owned everyone else on the microphone.

Honestly, Joe is one of the best promos in WWE now. And he put EVERYONE on notice. He’s going to choke out Daniel Bryan. He’s going to defang the Viper. And is going to emasculate and eviscerate AJ Styles. Then he ran down Roman Reigns like he has the last week.

Joe is a huge get for SmackDown and the blue brand’s main event scene is stacked.

See you next week

Miz didn’t show up last night. Instead, he sent in a video with his wife and child from LA.

Honestly, that’s just perfect.

We all want to see Bryan and Miz together, either cutting a fire promo or finally fighting. So for Miz to make us wait is such a heel move.

Utter destruction

Luke Harper pretty much squashed Jey Uso this week after a very short, chaotic match. The Bludgeon Brothers went to continue their destruction after the match. Jimmy tried to attack them with their own hammer but that bought the Usos little time.

When Harper and Rowan went to use the hammers themselves, Naomi ran out and pleaded with the Brothers to leave her husband and brother-in-law alone. Strangely, they obliged.

The Bludgeon Brothers continue to look like absolute monsters. Who has a chance against these guys?

Rounding out the Roster

That’s not everyone Tuesdays received.

They got the Good Brothers and R-Truth, which aren’t needle movements. But they picked up the Bar, SAnitY (without Nikki Cross it looks like), and Andrade “Cien” Almas.

Seriously, this roster is incredible. Not that it means anything. Last year, I thought SmackDown won the Shakeup and they had a rough year. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that doesn’t happen because they’ll be wasting a TON of talent.

Often, these Shakeup episodes are only about the movement of wrestlers and not about the stories. Not tonight though. They introduced talent while telling their stories and setting the table.

Really fun showing this week.

Grade: A

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