SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon Named Paige the New SmackDown General Manager
It made no sense to keep Bryan in the general manager role now that he has been cleared to compete, so Paige was a wise choice. I have to give WWE credit, they certainly made me think she was leaving the company after that promo she cut on Raw. We'll see how she fares in this spot, but as long as she doesn't turn heel, I'm content. The last thing we need is another heel authority figure. Her setting up AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan for the main event gave something fans to look forward to for the rest of the show.
The Usos def. The New Day in a SmackDown Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
While this wasn't on the same level as their instant classics from last year, it was still an excellent match with plenty of suspenseful nearfalls. The crowd was engaged in the action and it helped that it could have gone either way. The Usos ultimately emerged victorious, and since they already had an automatic title rematch, why bother with this? This makes me think New Day is either moving back to Raw as a unit or breaking up in the Superstar Shake-up, but I think The Usos are more in need of a change in scenery than they are.
Naomi def. Natalya
Hopefully Naomi won't have to bring that awful-looking trophy from winning the WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal to the ring with her for long. That thing is an eyesore. Anyway, this was a good match from the ladies. I can't help but feel like we've seen it countless times in the past, but it was effective in allowing Naomi to maintain momentum coming off her WrestleMania victory. I could see Natalya moving to Monday nights, but I'd much prefer Becky Lynch over there since she deserves better than what she's been getting lately.
Carmella def. Charlotte Flair to Win the SmackDown Women's Championship
While I wasn't the biggest fan of Charlotte ending Asuka's undefeated streak at WrestleMania, I am happy Carmella wasn't the one to hand Asuka her first-ever loss. In fact, in retrospect, everything played out perfectly. I don't know where the hell Asuka was this week on WWE TV, but Charlotte getting interrupted by The Iconic Duo was an awesome moment as they have been long overdue for a main roster call-up. They looked strong in their debut by laying out Charlotte before Carmella cashed in Money in the Bank to become the new champion. Carmella is still a work in progress, mind you, but Charlotte will be better off in chase mode in this likely feud with Carmella. Finally, something in the SmackDown women's division to get excited about!
Randy Orton def. Bobby Roode and Rusev in a United States Championship No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat Match
It's been the same four faces in the United States Championship picture for months and I am so sick and tired of it. Rusev is over as hell, yet WWE clearly doesn't want to acknowledge his popularity and push him. Otherwise, he would have won here and turned face. Instead, we're getting Orton vs. Mahal again at Backlash, this time for the star-spangled prize. This was a well-wrestled match otherwise, but I'm sure the crowd would have cared a lot less if Rusev wasn't involved.
WWE Champion AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan Ended in a No Contest
It was funny hearing the commentators call this a "fantasy match" because they spend months hyping up Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura as a "dream match," so perhaps they didn't want to repeat themselves. It certainly lived up to the lofty expectations in being an excellent matchup, even at 11 minutes in length. Plus, you know they could produce an even better bout with more time and I'm sure that day will come eventually. For now, it was more important to give Nakamura more heat by having him lay out both guys. A Triple Threat between them at Backlash for the WWE Championship would be absolutely outstanding, but time will tell whether they go in that direction.
If you were like me and expected more call-ups/returns after what we witnessed on Monday's Raw, then you were probably a little let down. It's possible more fresh faces will surface on SmackDown Live in the Superstar Shake-up next week, but it's obvious WWE is trying to stack Raw and doesn't view the blue brand as high of a priority. Nevertheless, this was still a solid show with plenty happening between the title change, the notable main event, Paige being named the new GM and The Iconic Duo arriving. SmackDown needs to bounce back after they were decimated last year's Shake-up.
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