Welcome to The Nerd Hub and our weekly breakdown of SmackDown Live. This week, we responsibly get rid of our plastics. We collect and sort our recyclables. Then, we break out our flannels and let our beards run wild. It’s time to celebrate the return of the Planet’s Champion, a tag champ for the second time.
HEADLINE NEWS: DANIEL BRYAN’S BACK, BAY-BAY
The Earth’s warrior returned to action on both RAW and SmackDown Live this week. Daniel Bryan made sure his return home became memorable, though. He and his 7-foot Redwood, Rowan, claimed the vacated SmackDown tag team belts.
Heel Shane McMahon attempted to just give the tag titles to his heel buddies, but the pesky Usos got in the way. They used Vince McMahon’s new “Wild Card” rule to visit their old stomping grounds from the RAW roster. The former four-time SmackDown tag champs challenged Bryan and Rowan to an impromptu title match.
In addition, WWE booked this match perfectly with Rowan coming out the star. He put the Iron Claw on Jey Uso for the 1-2-3. So, Bryan lost his rematch for the WWE Championship on RAW and appears out of that title picture. However, he and Rowan can maintain heat as heavy favorites in a weak SmackDown tag division.
Best of the Rest: Another Wild Card Title Match
RAW Superstars AJ Styles and Sami Zayn used the “Wild Card” rule to get a WWE Championship opportunity. Kofi Kingston seemingly went from an afterthought to WWE’s MVP right now. He defended his championship successfully in the main event of both shows.
Kingston somehow escaped Tuesday’s show from Louisville with his title reign intact. He survived interference from Kevin Owens and three Blue Thunder Bombs from Zayn. When Zayn set up for a Helluva Kick, Kingston countered with Trouble in Paradise for the pin.
Styles revisiting SmackDown made all the sense in the world. It’s the house he built, after all. In addition, Zayn and Owens possibly teased the return of their heel alliance. Though Zayn didn’t capitalize here, don’t rule out him trying to help KO at Money in the Bank.
BIG WINNER: KOFI KINGSTON
The “Wild Card” rule remains the gift that keeps giving for the WWE Champion. Anyone who refused to buy into Kingston as champion must admit he’s risen to the occasion. Kofi, Styles, and Zayn entertained in an excellent match start to finish. Furthermore, it legitimized the pancake slinger as a champ and Zayn as a main event heel challenger.
Unlike Seth Rollins with the Universal Championship, Kingston took his belt at WrestleMania and put respect on his name. He’s coming off as the best fighting champion in the company today. He and Styles did more with zero build than AJ and Rollins have accomplished in two weeks on RAW.
Perhaps WWE could take a lesson from recent successes like Kingston and Becky Lynch. Rather than relying on only a select few big names, they should spread more opportunities around to see who grabs the proverbial “brass ring.” Kingston’s got two hands on it right now.
BIG LOSER: WOMEN’S DIVISION
WWE advertised a six-woman tag match coming into the event. However, they elected to pull the two biggest Superstars – Charlotte and Bayley – from it. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the resulting match turned into a blink-and-you-missed-it afterthought.
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville wound up with the victory over Ember Moon and Carmella. In one of the few booking bright spots here, Rose looked strong ahead of her MITB ladder match. She nailed Moon with the Bed of Roses implant buster for the 1-2-3.
Fans online continue to speculate why the women’s division keeps getting marginalized on both shows. The time invested in women’s division storylines seemingly shrinks more and more each week. WWE evoked memories of the divas’ era this week as they’ve gone back to the women getting one segment timed long enough for a bathroom break.
The Miz – Credit the A-Lister for making a feud with Shane McMahon the most fierce in the entire company. Sure, Miz chasing around Shane each week gets repetitive. However, these two make the most of their chemistry. They make you feel like they legitimately hate each other. The only other rivalries going right now with genuine emotion behind them involve champions. These two just need a storyline wrapped around daddy issues. Bravo, Miz.
Shane McMahon – He’s so evil he turned The Miztourage against The A-Lister this week. Miz had the upper hand quite a bit on Tuesday. However, Shane stood tall with a steel chair over The Miz’s prone body when all was said and done. Don’t look now, but Shane has become the hottest heel in WWE. He’s working double-duty in dishing out beatings to The Miz and Roman Reigns. His entrance music says it all. Here comes the money – bringing the most heated rivalry into Money in the Bank.
Rowan – The reinvention of the 7-foot Redwood as Bryan’s muscle works. As a result, the former Bludgeon Brother became a SmackDown tag champ for the second time this week. If you asked who the most successful member of the Wyatt Family would be in 2019, how many people would have guessed Rowan? He’s lasted through their breakup. He overcame injury. Furthermore, he found a repackaging that made sense. Unfortunately, Luke Harper, Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt still have a lot of questions to answer about their futures that Rowan doesn’t right now.
Lars Sullivan – The Freak returned to take out Jeff Hardy and R-Truth once again. You can argue whether smacking around geriatric acts should impress you. However, you can count on one hand the number of guys booked to look as devastating right now. As a result, Sullivan keeps gaining momentum. He seems headed for a collision course with a main eventer this summer.
Andrade-Ali match – Leave it to WWE to ruin one of the matches I most wanted to see this week. Two of the biggest breakout Superstar candidates finally got what seemed like an opportunity to showcase their abilities. Then, they bring Randy Orton out to put our fun to an abrupt end with a pair of RKOs. I get that all three are Money in the Bank ladder match competitors. Yet, this match deserved better.
Rebirth of Absolution Angle – Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville had little time to celebrate their victory over Carmella and Ember Moon. Their former Absolution faction leader Paige brought out her new team to challenge them to a match next week. Kairi Sane and Asuka against Rose and Deville should bring a good match. These two teams probably represent the best the women’s tag division offers as far as wrestling ability. However, I don’t buy the fans getting invested in heat between Paige, Rose, and Deville over Absolution. Furthermore, WWE seems to routinely change their plans for SmackDown. Does anyone have faith this match goes off as planned?
Buddy Murphy Debut Off TV – The former Cruiserweight Champion finally made his SmackDown Live debut. The problem? It came during a commercial break and wasn’t aired on TV. Yes, WWE had the man come out and cut a promo that only the Louisville audience got the benefit of hearing. It seems pretty curious to take your best Cruiserweight off 205 Live to sit in catering and do promos off TV.
Liv Morgan – Fans of the popular former Riott Squad member get more enraged each week she remains off TV. This week, Morgan put out a picture of her on a “Wanted” poster on her social media. The interest seems to be there for everyone but the WWE creative team. She came to SmackDown in the Superstar Shake-Up a month ago, breaking up the faction. She’s done nothing on camera in that time.
Big Superstars Missing – Charlotte and Bayley both count a lot of people among the fans. Imagine how many of those people bought tickets thinking they’d get to see them and didn’t. I know, I know. The card is subject to change. However, SmackDown Live put on a show in which it yanked two of its biggest Superstars from an advertised match with no explanation. Then, they wonder why people don’t line up to buy tickets or tune in for shows on TV.
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