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WWE SmackDown results, recap, reactions (Apr. 17, 2020): Mind games

World Wrestling Essential’s... Ahem… Entertainment’s Universal Champion Braun Strowman kicked off the show on A Moment of Bliss. While he ended SmackDown flippantly last week, this time he’s serious. After a recap of the closing segment, Braun said Bray Wyatt is a manipulator and never had a hand in creating him. He owes Bray no apologies.

Braun noticed a wrapped present behind Bliss and Cross and opened it up. He pulled out the black sheep mask he once wore as part of the Wyatt family. Bray’s laughter echoed through the Performance Center as a still image of Braun wearing the sheep mask is shown.

So… alright. This segment. It was pretty good until the reveal, but a few points.

The reveal itself was a good concept. However, nuance was absent here. Ending the segment with Braun throwing the sheep mask down, then coming back from break and having Cole and Graves explain to us what just happened with a quick throwback to Braun in the Wyatt family, THAT would have been more effective. Don’t show the still image and then come back and explain everything. I’m nitpicking but I’m a sucker for storyline so I say let’s do better next time.

Next, goodness gracious Braun, can you not sound like you’re reading from a teleprompter? This is where WWE doesn’t book to a babyface’s strengths. If they got over as a force to be reckoned with, don’t have them be the happy go lucky babyface champion.

Finally, can we please record different Bray Wyatt laugh tracks? Thanks. Having said all that, I did like the Wyatt family callback here, as well as callbacks to Braun and Alexa Bliss’s Mixed Match Challenge partnership.

Cruella Deville

Sonya Deville came out in tears wanting to bury the hatchet with Mandy after she conspired with Dolph to drive a wedge between her and Otis. When Mandy came out, Deville said she’s known Mandy for five years and has seen her more than her own family.

And what she’s been wanting to tell Mandy? She’s the most selfish human being she’s ever met. Fire and Desire was never about Sonya and Mandy, it was all about Mandy. It was her entrance music and her magazine cover. She’s nothing but a dime a dozen bottled blonde from a lab. Sonya said she was wasted and had to play second best to no talent eye candy! Now she wants to hurt Mandy.

Dolph came out and tried to play mediator, while trying to get Mandy back, but as she pushed him away, Sonya attacked her. Otis came out attacked Dolph and when Sonya tried to take him out, Mandy attacked her back and she and Dolph ran back up the ramp. Dolph tried a second time but Otis gets the better of him.

I was enjoying this feud a lot, then found out that the writer of this feud was released or furloughed. I was worried about the way it would be handled in their absence, and it looks like I didn’t have to worry! This segment rocked. All players did great, and it was a starmaker for Sonya Deville. What’s even more interesting though, Dolph wasn’t a complete heel here. He genuinely expressed a desire to get Mandy back and became frustrated with Sonya for attacking her. Where do we go from here?

The Rest

Big E def. Miz and Jey Uso - And the NEEWWWWWWWW SmackDown Tag Team Champions! (RIP Howard Finkel.) This match didn’t get much of a big fight main event feel. Regardless, having Miz and Jey Uso try to take Big E out was a nice touch, since New Day have more reigns than The Usos and Miz and Morrisson combined. It was fast paced and fun to watch. Still have a feeling we’re not done here, because like I said last week, they’re the three teams revolving around the titles right now and we need new life in this division.

Also, Big E? Those belts were not sanitized before you kissed them, my friend. Yuck.

Tamina def. Sasha Banks - Tamina dominated until after the break, when Bayley tried to get her attention so Sasha could push her into the ringpost. Lacey Evans came out to attack Bayley and stop her from interfering. I had hopes for this last week, but there wasn’t any progression in the Sasha/Bayley conflict. Adding to that, the match wasn’t great and nothing clicked here. Super disappointing since this is one of the best storylines in WWE right now.

After the match Lacey is confronted backstage by Charly Caruso and told her that she’ll follow Sasha wherever she goes and revealed Sasha’s name written on her Women’s Right hand. I’m… not happy about the addition of Lacey here. Her character isn’t enlivening to me at all.

Dana Brooke def. Naomi - This was a surprise victory for Dana. Before the match Carmella gets in her face about preparing for this match instead of their Women’s tag title match next week. Dana said she can do both. And so she will! Dana looked legitimately happy and surprised that she won. I was expecting Naomi to win so I’m pleasantly surprised.

The Money in the Bank match is announced and… it’s very different this time around. This match will be in WWE headquarters and the participants must get to the roof from the ground floor and “climb the corporate ladder”. This is going to be one of those matches that will be either really good or really bad depending on how they film this.

Daniel Bryan def. Cesaro - Cesaro and Bryan got the Apollo/Aleister treatment this week. I have been waiting a long time for these two to lock up. A damn classic I tell ya. Backslides and backbreakers and uppercuts galore! Bryan got Cesaro in the Lebell Lock for the win, and Drew Gulak stopped Nakamura from interfering. Seek this one out.

The truth will be revealed - Before the first commercial break in this match, the WWE hacker flashed onto the screen and showed a bunch of tag teams (The Usos, New Day, Miz and Morrisson, Bliss/Cross, Sasha and Bayley) and said some people keep their friends close, but others keep their enemies closer. Looks like we’re seeing someone turn on their tag partner soon! If it’s not the obvious one here, who do we think they’re referring to, Cagesiders?

Sheamus def. Denzel Dejournette - Denzel was given another shot on SmackDown, but never really got any offense in. Sheamus had some fire under him and got a quick win.

After the match Sheamus hears Michael Cole talking about Jeff Hardy again. He got in Cole’s face (social distancing, Sheamus!) and said he’s being disrespected. Really interested in seeing how this advances next week.

Corbin and Elias brawl backstage - Boring. Done with these two.

Another Jeff Hardy video package is shown, this time detailing Jeff’s addiction issues. From the time he left WWE in 2009 through his arrests. Next week will be the redemption story.

The Forgotten Sons - A short video package was shown of the new tag team on SmackDown. They give off a real Sons of Anarchy vibe. This little video package made me want to see more from them.

Quick aside: To speak of the elephant in the room for a moment, I did not agree with WWE’s decision to release and furlough people while we have the worst pandemic in a century happening right now. As has been reported, there was no need to do it. However, I am here because I enjoy watching wrestling and supporting my favorite wrestlers. We’re going to get through all of this together, Cagesiders.

SmackDown was a 60/40 split for me. I’m super confused as to why we’re continuing Corbin and Elias. That’s boring and should be done with. Why have Elias win at WrestleMania if we’re rolling it back? Not happy about this one at all. Sasha and Tamina was underwhelming. Do we have to make fun of Tamina’s size? The small shirt and having the ringpost glitch out when she was pushed into it don’t serve any purpose to further the story. And Lacey being thrown back into this? Pass. Please don’t do Braun dirty with the heavily scripted promos, WWE.

I enjoyed the Mandy/Sonya segment the most tonight. SmackDown looks like it’s coming into its own post WrestleMania. There were mostly good matches tonight, with interest for next week’s show for what will happen with tag team fallout, Sasha and Bayley fallout, Sheamus’ hatred towards Jeff’s comeback, a women’s tag title match, and Triple H’s 25th anniversary.

Grade: C+

What are your thoughts, Cagesiders?

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