While the post-WrestleMania episode of Monday Night Raw is always something special, the same is not guaranteed for the post-WrestleMania episode of Thursday Night SmackDown. While it wasn’t a groundbreaking show, this week’s edition turned out to be a solid show all around if you ignore the massive amount of WrestleMania recaps (which I did and will in this article).
The WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns is out to a mixed reaction to open the show. It sounds heavily edited, but there are both cheers and boos mixed in. He cuts a similar promo to the one he did on Raw, and said again “I’m not a bad guy. I’m not a good guy. I’m THE guy. You can love me or you can hate me, but I don’t really care.” That last line was new, but it leans in favor of the theory that a heel turn is coming for Reigns. Shortly after a mention of him, AJ Styles is out to confront Reigns.
AJ gets a huge pop, and during their back and forth there seems to be a chant of “AJ Styles” that is followed by a chant for “Roman Reigns.” It’s difficult to tell if the ones for Reigns were added in, but they’re definitely not as clear. This is a great, albeit short, interaction between to future competitors who have never crossed paths before. It’s a solid opening to the show, despite the odd reactions Reigns continues to get.
Next up we have the debut of The Vaudevillains. Their opponents, the Lucha Dragons, are out first to an expectedly positive reaction. Shortly after, the screen goes from color to black and white as we finally get the main roster arrival of The Vaudevillains. When it started, I was worried this match would be too short. Fortunately, this turned out to be a great contest between two teams that a very familiar with each other. After some hard fought action, The Vaudevillains hit Kalisto with the Whirling Dervish for the pinfall victory much to the crowd’s disgust. The new duo are definitely tapping into the more dastardly side of their character, and it appears to be working.
Next up we have Natalya vs. Summer Rae, and WWE Women’s Champion (man that sounds good) Charlotte is on commentary. This was a pretty good match that served as a reminder not only of Natalya’s skill but that Summer Rae is actually good in the ring. Natalya picked up the victory with the Sharpshooter as she stared down Charlotte. The likely #1 Contender then confronted the champion on the outside, continuing to add heat to what is surely an impending contest for the WWE Women’s Championship.
Speaking of championships, following this we get a rematch from Monday Night Raw as Zack Ryder tried to recapture his Intercontinental Championship from The Miz. Maryse makes an entrance to her own music, which is great to hear again, and has a microphone in hand. She briefly comments on herself, and then states that she’s proof that “behind every great man is a great woman.” This leads to the introduction of The Miz, who she officially referred to as her husband. For those not aware, the two have actually been married since February of 2014. While it did serve to effectively squash Zack Ryder’s brief run, this was a quality championship contest with enough false finishes to make the finish mean something.
If you want to remember why Miz is such a great heel, this is a good reintroduction. Maryse is also absolutely perfect at ringside as a manager. Ryder got his fair share of offense, including connecting with an Elbro Drop from the top rope that led to a near fall. Predictably, Maryse gave the assist in the end. She untied the cover off of one of the bottom turnbuckles and tossed it in the ring. Ryder grabbed it, and the cover was quickly taken away by the referee who went to reattach it. This provided the distraction as Ryder turned around to get a thumb to the eye and a Skull Crushing Finale to set up the pinfall as The Miz retained the Intercontinental Championship. The crowd is pissed, and Miz is getting as much heat as he did back during his WWE Championship reign.
Next up The Social Outcasts are sitting on the apron as we come back from commercial. A silly bit of bickering ends with Axel being the selection to compete from the group. His opponent is Apollo Crows, who made his main roster debut on Raw but arrives now on SmackDown for the first time. While Axel got a little offense, it was clear that this simply proved to further establish Apollo’s dominance. After a bit of distraction ended with Crews knocking each other member of the Outcasts to the floor, he hit Axel with the backdrop into a sitout powerbomb for the pinfall victory.
Backstage, we get an interview with Becky Lynch about her actions on Raw and her thoughts about the Women’s Championship Match at WrestleMania 32. She is interrupted shortly thereafter by Emma, which starts a bit of bickering between the two and is likely to set up a future clash. After a commercial break and a repeat of the Primo & Epico promo from Raw, we get the arrival of Dean Ambrose to one of the biggest pops of the night. He’s in action against Tyler Breeze, but it doesn’t last long as a few minutes of angry heavy hits from Ambrose end with a stiff Dirty Deeds for the victory. Ambrose clearly is competing with a bad attitude due to the result of his match against Brock Lesnar.
Before Ambrose can exit the arena, Jericho’s music hits as he comes out to set up our main event for the night. Back from break, next out is Kevin Owens who will be teaming with Jericho against AJ Styles and Cesaro. A wonderful match proves to be the worthy main event, as all four competitors get plenty of chance to showcase their skills. Early on, Jericho and Owens successfully isolate Cesaro for a good portion of the match. While it clearly is here to set other things up, this match shows just how good Jericho and Owens could be as a heel tag team. They’re simply too good.
After the isolation, AJ Styles finally get the hot tag and begins to clean house. The match continues, and Owens gets an upperhand when it looks like he’s about to go for the Pop-Up Powerbomb. Before he can sling AJ into the ropes to set it up, Sami Zayn comes running down the ramp with his shoulder heavily taped and flanked by agents and referees trying to stop him. The distraction is enough for AJ to roll Owens up for the quick victory, but Kevin Owens clearly doesn’t care as he immediately slides out of the ring and begins brawling with Zayn. Owens manages to throw Zayn into the steps as the agents drag him away and SmackDown comes to a close with a livid Owens being held back by numerous staff.