Welcome to The Nerd Hub’s weekly review of SmackDown Live. We raise our glasses and toast the birth of vengeful Kofi Kingston this week. Put away the unicorn headbands. Set down the platter of pancakes. The WWE Champion threw hands this week, thanks to more brilliant heel work from Kevin Owens.
HEADLINE NEWS – KOFI SHOWS KO
Kofi Kingston continues to amaze. The affable and inspirational WWE Champion showcased a completely new side of himself Tuesday. Vengeful Kofi got fed up at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, and blew up on Kevin Owens. He put a premature end to The KO Show by sending Owens over the announce table. Kofi wanted to keep pummeling the portly heel, but he ran away like “a scalded dog.”
Kingston watched Owens mock his injured New Day partner Xavier Woods with action figures during the main event segment. Since Owens injured Woods last week, KO decided to keep prodding and teasing the champ. However, Owens became the one to run away as the show went off the air. Kofi stood tall.
Color me floored. If he’s not careful, Kofi Kingston may create the hottest feud in the WWE for the second straight pay-per-view show. There’s a reason that Kingston drew the loudest decibel reading at WrestleMania when he dethroned Daniel Bryan as WWE Champion. He and Bryan generated nuclear level heat that reportedly threatened to steal the main event away from the women’s championship match. Now, Kingston and Owens threaten to steal the thunder from the Universal Championship dream matchup between Seth Rollins and AJ Styles.
Coming into this year, I considered Kingston the least-entertaining member of New Day. Now, he’s running neck-and-neck with two-brand champ Becky Lynch for the best performer in 2019.
BEST OF THE REST: HORSEWOMEN SHOWDOWN
Fans had to wait four years to see this. RAW and SmackDown Women’s Champ Becky Lynch had not wrestled Bayley in singles action since their NXT days in 2015. The champ-champ eventually came out on top in a competitive match by getting The Hugger to tap in the Dis-Arm-Her. Then, Charlotte Flair gave us more Four Horsewomen on Four Horsewomen violence by ambushing Lynch and Bayley after the match ended.
This match fell victim to SmackDown Live’s dreaded shared screen with commercials during a break. Fans spent all weekend hyped for the match to have to watch it picture-in-picture. Consider this a strategic fail for WWE in production of the show. This card featured better options for this sort of distraction to the viewers.
Otherwise, this match checked all the boxes. Bayley continued to look like a serious threat and got announced as part of the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match field. Then, we got more of the never-ending Becky-Charlotte saga. It teased big things ahead for all three women at the XL Center in Hartford on May 19.
BIG WINNER: ALI
Ali emerged as the brightest SmackDown Superstar of the four announced for the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match Tuesday. He teamed with Intercontinental Champ Finn Balor to defeat Randy Orton and Andrade in a tag match near the end of the show.
Orton and Andrade focused their efforts on a concentrated beat down of Ali. However, Balor sparked a rally that Ali got to finish with a 450 splash for the victory. In addition, Ali stood tall in the end after answering an Orton RKO to Balor with a superkick.
A tag team match failed to serve as an original idea to showcase the ladder match competitors. However, the four Superstars made this a far more entertaining display than your average tag match. This match served two purposes well. It shone a spotlight on the men in the upcoming pay-per-view’s biggest gimmick match. Furthermore, it gave Ali more momentum as he continues to emerge as one of 2019’s big breakout stars.
BIG LOSER: ROMAN REIGNS
The Big Dog came over to SmackDown Live to face The B-Team? Who in their right mind thought anyone would get invested in this? This exploded in WWE’s face from the start. The introductory segment with Shane McMahon tanked. Nobody needed an explanation of why Reigns cold-cocked Vince McMahon. Everybody wants to punch Vince. We get it.
Then, out came The B-Team, aka the Caucasian version of Lucha House Party. They clowned around long enough to get squashed by Reigns in a handicap match. Nobody thinks The B-Team could beat Reigns with four guys, let alone two. So, this part of the show took a big L for me. Once again, WWE tried to make us like Reigns by putting authority lackeys out for him to Hulk smash. This segment looked like one taken from any random RAW episode from two years ago.
SmackDown Women’s MITB Ladder Match Field – The SmackDown competitors for the Money in the Bank briefcase look much tougher than RAW’s offering. Carmella, Bayley and Ember Moon all can say they’ve held championship gold in their careers. Meanwhile, Mandy Rose came close a few times to snatching the SmackDown Championship from Asuka. However, WWE may decide to generate another mega-push for Alexa Bliss so that could offset this deep field from Team Blue. If not, the winner should come from this SmackDown group.
Kairi Sane & Asuka – The build continues for my pick to become the next women’s tag champions. Sane & Asuka squashed unnamed local competitors. Kairi got the honor of the decisive InSane Elbow for the win. The heel champion IIconics criticized them throughout the match with Corey Graves from the announce table. To me, this screams a showdown between these two teams in the near future.
Lars Sullivan – The Freak laid waste to the SmackDown Tag Champion Hardy Boyz yet again. We even got a storyline promo from Jeff Hardy explaining away his legit leg injury from a Lars beating. Snitzky 2.0 then punched through a folding chair and destroyed R-Truth, who came to help Matt and Jeff. Watch out, retirement homes. Lars continues to crush the 40-plus age group like tin cans.
Aleister Black – We had to settle for another pre-taped promo, but he made TV. Liv Morgan, Apollo Crews, and several others still have not made a single appearance for SmackDown weeks after the Superstar Shake-Up. Unfortunately, Aleister likely sits out Money in the Bank because Randy Orton made the ladder match field. However, WWE gave him promos back to back weeks so he seems to be a priority.
Kevin Owens – KO and his buddy Sami Zayn sizzle each moment they are on the screen these days. I will give Owens a slight nod for the best heel in the company right now with Daniel Bryan on the shelf because KO’s done more in the ring. We could see the Prizefighter as champion in a little under three weeks.
The B-Team – No one cares or believes in Bo Dallas or Curtis Axel at this point. They have not had a relevant booking for over a year. Therefore, Reigns beating them does not register. I don’t fault Dallas or Axel. As noted above, this segment seemed like a cut-and-paste job from a RAW script two years ago.
Elias – The Drifter may find the move to SmackDown kills all his momentum. The best they can give him after nearly a month involves him being a guest referee for squashed authority lackeys? The Dr of Thuganomics got it right if this is the case going forward. “WWE” stands for “Wasted Wrestling Experiment.”
Shane McMahon – He became Lame O’Mac on Tuesday. The promo segment he worked with Reigns lacked any passion or energy. The Columbus crowd gave no buy-in for good reason. This fell flat. The fire and chemistry Shane shares with The Miz did not translate with The Big Dog.
The Hardy Boyz – Let me make myself clear. They land in this part of the review because of the disappointment over Matt and Jeff surrendering the belts. Jeff reluctantly conceded his injury would preclude them from being fighting champions. When Matt and Jeff beat The Usos, it felt like one last hurrah for these legends. Nobody wanted to see their title reign as SmackDown Tag Team champs struck down by injury.
MIA Superstars – Nearly half of the Superstar Shake-Up additions to SmackDown continue to sit out TV tapings. So far, Liv Morgan, Mickie James, Heavy Machinery, Buddy Murphy and Apollo Crews might as well have been erased by Thanos. A few other Superstars, such as Chad Gable and Ember Moon, have only made brief cameos or played a small part of in-ring work. In addition, Nikki Cross currently remains homeless as far as a roster announcement. Other promotions could build quite a card on the names in this list. WWE can’t even find a spot for them so far.