Right off the bat our new Universal Champion kicked off the show. He said that he refused to stand down and he put Goldberg away for good.
And suddenly Shinsuke Nakamura interrupts. Ha! What? You thought it was gonna be Big Show? What would give you that silly idea?
Shinsuke reminded us all that the last time we saw Braun, he was defeated by the The Artists and I’m happy that was even mentioned because how do you just gloss over that? Nak wants Braun tonight, and Braun wants to fight. Suddenly Cesaro popped up behind Braun but Braun was smart enough to know it was coming. YO! BRAUN SHOVED THAT DUDE OVER THE TOP ROPE! Nak gets the better of him though, and two thirds of The Artists bolt up the ramp.
In the main event, both men had a pretty decent match. Strowman picked up the win, but it was never really about this. As Strowman celebrated, surprise Firefly Fun House! Bray said hello to his former Wyatt stablemate and chastised him for ditching the family. But all will be forgiven if he shares that shiny blue belt over his shoulder! Braun said that he’s ready to Let. Him. In.
This was the logical next step for both men. The booking for this segment was excellent! Braun treating Bray as a joke, laughing him off and doing Bray’s signature “Bye! See you later!” and Bray looked really angry about it. Using the Wyatt family callback the way they did put the cherry on top. If this segment proved anything, it’s that there will be some fun exchanges between these two men leading up to their match.
Bayley and Sasha came out to gloat about Bayley’s win at WrestleMania. Bayley turned it into a big lovefest for herself, and said that she’s beaten everyone and defied all odds. Because she’s the best, or rather she AND Sasha are the best. Her title is intact, as is her friendship with Sasha, and they’ve got two words for the haters- screw you!
To continue the trend, Tamina interrupted and said she wants a fair fight with the champ. Sasha got on the defensive for her bestie and lashed out at Tamina for making demands. While holding Sasha back, Bayley declared that she wants to be fair and accepts Tamina’s challenge. But ONLY if she can beat Sasha Banks first.
The seeds have been planted! The nuance here was delicious. Sasha stood up for Bayley, but gets herself put in a match she never asked for by the same person she was just defending. Bayley soaks up the self-adulation and remembers to include Sasha in her speech. Sasha turns to Bayley with a serious face to finish her message to the fans. The look, man. It’s so Sasha Banks. She’s an expert at this and I cannot wait to see what happens next.
It’s another triple threat, playa playa!
Miz and Morrisson had a Dirt Sheet segment which was rightfully and hilariously cringeworthy. They were given WrestleMania recapping duties (Alex Briggs did it better) and then, sang their hit song “Hey Hey”. The Usos interrupted however, to argue that both tag champs should have had to defend both titles. Miz said he was injured and unable to compete, to which Jey Uso started fake coughing into his arm. Clever!
Out came the New Day to make logical sense out of all of this. Since one set of men from each team fought at WrestleMania, the other set of men should get to compete for the “kissable and lickable” tag titles. Never change, Big E. Kofi officially announces the match and signed off with the old Teddy Long staple “playa playa!” and even does Teddy’s dance.
So we get… somewhat of a rematch next week for the tag titles. It was downright silly for the Usos to come out and claim that the WrestleMania match was a fluke. I mean, they knew Miz wasn’t going to be in it but Jimmy competed anyway! I do find it creative to do another tag title match triple threat with the other men, but I’m 50/50 on it. My reasoning for that comes later.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross def. Kabuki Warriors - Kabuki Warriors started off immediately on the offensive and dominated for a few minutes. Asuka does everything wonderfully. After getting the tag, she waited for Alexa to focus on Kairi outside the ring and hits the sneak attack. It’s super effective! Of course Madwoman Asuka is on full display and it really is a joy. Nikki’s swinging neck breaker is *chef’s kiss*. I dig Kabuki Warriors but I’m feeling a break up coming. Later in the night, Carmella and Dana Brooke challenged Alexa and Nikki for a match and they accepted.
Dolph Ziggler def. Tucker - Before this match, we get a beautiful recap of Otis vs. Ziggler at WrestleMania and Ziggler and Sonya Deville came out claiming the video of them was doctored. Tucker showed off some Mandy and Otis pictures and said he and Dolph have unfinished business. All throughout, Tucky had some fire under him, but he falls to a superkick. Similar to my feelings on the Kabuki Warriors, I sense dissension incoming. And also similar to the KW, I love Otis and Tucker together so that’s gonna suck, y’all.
Forgotten Sons def. Lucha House Party – Steve Culter and Wesley Blake dominate for most of their debut match. LHP got some offense in to remind us that they’re a decent tag team. This was a good start for Forgotten Sons and I’m interested to see more.
Elias sings a song - This Elias segment was odd. He was up on the same platform he was knocked off singing a melody recapping his last week and wanting to be in the Money in the Bank match. Basically, there was no point to it. I found it particularly odd that they had this segment filmed, but couldn’t give us two minutes to describe how Strowman got a title shot out of nowhere.
Sheamus def. Cal Bloom – Standard squash match for Sheamus. I’ve always liked him so I’m glad to see him back.
We saw a video package highlighting the start of Jeff Hardy’s career. We’ll be seeing more of that next week, and it is announced the in two weeks, we will be getting a special on Triple H’s 25th anniversary.
So of course, the next set of three fighting for the men’s tag titles have already proven they can have very good matches with each other, but there’s a problem, particularly with SmackDown – lack of tag teams! On the women’s side, women who aren’t a tag team just join together to challenge the tag champs. On the men’s side, the same group of guys fight over and over while Heavy Machinery have their own programs and LHP are fodder for the debuting Forgotten Sons. And The Revival… they’re gone. We’ve got to inject some freshness into this division.
Oh and what was up with not addressing Roman Reigns? Like, at all? No explanation for Braun getting a title shot, but then also no mention of the guy that was originally scheduled to be at WrestleMania. Quite an odd decision there. Where will he fit in to the Universal championship build between Braun and Bray? Technically he still has a title match, right? He can either wait for Bray to be done with Braun, or maybe there’s another round of “I’m not finished with you” incoming.
The matches tonight were good, but it seemed like there was more focus on setting up stuff for the coming shows. There are extenuating circumstances of course, but as a viewer you’d expect to see some more fresh matchups after WrestleMania. It’s just what it is. They do seem to be adding more content with the Jeff Hardy video packages and whatever they come up with for Triple H’s 25th anniversary. We’re taking it week by week here.