LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 4/10: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of WrestleMania fallout, Strowman’s next challenger, Women’s tag title rematch, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor


APRIL 10, 2020

Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves

-The show opened sans the usual Smackdown theme music video. Michael Cole welcomed the audience to the show, emanating from the Performance Center.

-Braun Strowman’s music played and he stepped out onto the stage, wearing the Universal Championship around his waist. Michael Cole began talking to Corey Graves, who returned to the commentary table. Cole threw to clips of Strowman’s match with Goldberg from WrestleMania.

Strowman slapped the title. He said when opportunity knocks on the door, you answer it. He said he “knocked opportunity off its damn hinges.” He said he took everything Goldberg had to dish out and refused to stay down. Braun said he put Goldberg down for good. Strowman said it was the greatest moment of his career. He was cut off by Shinsuke Nakamura’s music. Nakamura walked to the ring alone.

Strowman brushed Nakamura off, but asked what he wants. Nakamura said he’s knocking on Strowman’s door. “You’re supposed to say, ‘who’s there?’, ” Shinsuke joked. Nakamura said the last time he saw Strowman, he, Sami, and Cesaro beat him. “No one tuned into Smackdown to hear you run your mouth,” Strowman retorted.

Strowman offered to knock Nakamura out. Nakamura told Strowman an old Japanese proverb. Strowman responded by saying he had his own proverb, “get these hands.” Cesaro then attacked Strowman from behind, but Strowman quickly dispatched him. Cesaro and Nakamura regrouped on the ramp. Strowman yelled, saying he’d see Nakamura later tonight.

-Michael Cole and Corey Graves ran down tonight’s show, including a rematch between Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs. Asuka & Kairi Sane, and a look at Otis and Mandy Rose’s romance.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Strowman started out this promo relatively strong. I’m not a huge fan of putting the title on him, but under the the extraordinary circumstances, I’m not going to get too upset about it. I’m glad to have a full time champion, and more importantly, anyone not named “Goldberg.” I understand what they’re trying to do here, setting up a match for Strowman right out of the gate, but Nakamura has not been sold as a credible opponent in recent months, especially to Strowman. Again, it’s hard to fault them too much for choosing him, given their limited access to talent, but it further highlights the weaknesses of continuing to hold these shows.)

-Out of the break, they showed a Progressive “Match Flo” for the Women’s tag team title match at WrestleMania, leading into the rematch tonight.

Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross headed to the ring with their newly won tag team titles. Asuka & Kairi Sane headed to the ring next.

(1) ALEXA BLISS & NIKKI CROSS (c) vs. ASUKA & KAIRI SANE – Women’s Tag Team Title match

Kairi Sane attacked Alexa Bliss right at the bell, dropping her with a surprise dropkick from behind. She quickly took Alexa to the corner, tagged in Asuka, and the two began working Bliss over. They exchanged quick tags and attempted a double suplex, but Bliss blocked it. Asuka & Sane were still able to take Alexa down.

Sane went for am arm drag on Bliss, but Bliss countered into a roll up for a quick two count. Both women sprung to their feet and traded blows. Sane stomped on Bliss’ feet and tagged in Asuka, who quickly ran to knock Nikki Cross off the apron. Asuka & Kairi continued their quick tags and isolation of Bliss.

Asuka held up Bliss for Kairi to hit an open chested basement dropkick. Bliss slowly returned to her feet and caught Sane with a dropkick. Sane rolled to the outside. Bliss crawled to her corner, but Cross was still on the floor, selling Asuka’s attack from moments earlier.

Kairi tagged in Asuka. Asuka shot Bliss through the ropes to the floor. Asuka followed her out and threw on a headset, screaming in Japanese on the mic. Nikki Cross returned and dropped Asuka with a cross body on the outside. Cole sent the show to commercial.

Back from the break, Asuka had Nikki Cross on the mat. She taunted Bliss, then tagged in Kairi. Kairi continued where Asuka left off, delivering kicks to the midsection of Nikki. Sane attempted an Alabama Slam, but Cross rolled through into a sunset pin for a two count. Sane quickly regained control.

Sane tagged in Asuka, who stomped away at Cross in the corner. Cross caught Asuka with a quick elbow out of the corner, then knocked Sane off the apron. Cross caught Asuka with a roll up for a two count. She crawled toward Bliss, but Asuka caught her. Asuka attempted a German suplex. Cross countered into a bulldog and made the hot tag into Bliss.

Asuka tagged in Sane. Bliss caught her with a pair of clotheslines and then the double rolling knees. Sane popped up and caught Bliss with a spear for a near fall. Bliss slapped Sane in the face then tagged in Cross. Cross and Bliss looked to execute a double team move, but Asuka hit the ring and delivered a swift kick to Cross. Sane tagged in Asuka. Asuka lifted Cross into a powerbomb position. Sane came off the top rope with a leaping clothesline in homage of the Doomsday Device. Asuka immediately transitioned into an arm bar. Cross rolled it into a pin, but Asuka kicked out.

Asuka transitioned into the Asuka Lock. Alexa Bliss rushed into the ring and broke up the hold. Sane returned to the ring and tossed Bliss to the outside. Asuka tagged in Sane. Sane set up fo the Insane Elbow. Cross rolled out of the way and tagged in Bliss. Bliss caught Sane for a DDT. Asuka pulled Sane from the ring.

Cross tried to attack Asuka on the outside, but Asuka dropped her with a knee. Alexa Bliss climbed to the top rope and flew to the outside, hitting Asuka & Sane simultaneously with a Twisted Bliss. Alexa tossed Kairi back in the ring. She jumped from the top, but caught herself as Sane rolled through. Bliss backed into the corner. Cross tagged herself in. Bliss engaged with Sane. Bliss caught her with a big right hand. Cross followed up with a neckbreaker for a three count.

WINNERS: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross in 13:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: Not a bad match. I’d say it was a bit stronger than their encounter at WrestleMania, though there was nothing particularly special going on here. Bliss and Cross make a good team and I think they’ll continue getting strong reactions in front of live audiences now that they’ve been fully established during this down time as an effective babyface tag team.)

-Out of the break, Greg Hamilton introduced Elias, who stood atop the perch across from the ring. Elias said he put an end to King Corbin at WrestleMania. He said he wrote a song to commemorate, called “Walk with the King.” Elias sang about his fall from the perch, his return (which he compared to Simba’s in The Lion King) and foreshadowed winning Money in the Bank and turning the briefcase into a guitar case. He made it through the whole song, then said goodnight.

-At the announcers desk, Michael Cole and Corey Graves discussed WrestleMania being the most “social event” in WWE history. Cole said the feel good event of the show was Otis and Mandy. He threw to a video recap.

(LeClair’s Analysis: It’s interesting that Graves has now joined Cole at the table. He’s been absent throughout the entirety of this Performance Center run, and, though, I generally dislike his commentary, a second voice has been sorely missed on these weekly shows. If WWE plans to keep taping dates, it may help to freshen up the available talent, though I question the safety of this method.)

-Dolph Ziggler headed to the ring with Sonya Deville. They chastised Cole and Graves for joking about Mandy and Otis. Tucker interrupted their diatribe.

Tucker said he has some pictures for Dolph and Sonya to see. He showed images from Mandy’s Instagram – showing Mandy lifting weights while Otis supplied bananas. Tucker said Otis is very serious about his potassium. Tucker said Otis and Mandy are busy, but he has unfinished business with Ziggler. Cole said they’d face off after the break.

-A commercial aired advertising the “25th anniversary celebration of Triple H.” It announced the event would begin on Smackdown in two weeks. This appears to be the first glimpse of what’s to come from WWE once they run out of taped footage.

(2) DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/ Sonya Deville) vs. TUCKER KNIGHT

Dolph Ziggler charged after Tucker as soon as the bell rang. Tucker quickly cut him off, but Sonya provided a distraction long enough for Dolph to continue his attack. Tucker regained his composure quickly, took Dolph down, and began stomping away. He scooped Ziggler up for a deadlift suplex for a two count.

Both men returned to their feet. Ziggler caught Tucker with a quick elbow. Tucker battled back, dropped Ziggler and gave him a slingshot into the corner. Ziggler fell to the outside, where Sonya tried to coach him up. Tucker followed him to the outside and slammed his head against the announcers desk. He tossed Dolph into the ring steps, then rolled into the ring to break the count.

Ziggler caught Tucker with a thumb to the eye while Sonya distracted the referee. Dolph ran at Tucker, but Tucker scooped him up and dumped him onto the announcers table. Tucker tossed Dolph back in the ring, then hit him with a big powerslam for a near fall.

Ziggler caught Tucker with a couple of body blows, but Tucker quickly dropped Ziggler with a big short arm clothesline. He caught Ziggler with a springboard cross body off the second rope for another near fall. Ziggler went for a super kick, but Tucker blocked it and shoved Dolph away. Tucker advanced but Ziggler sidestepped him. Tucker crashed into the ring post and stumbled out of the corner. Ziggler caught him with a super kick on his second attempt. Ziggler fell on top of Tucker for a three count.

WINNER: Dolph Ziggler in 4:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: I’m a big fan of pairing Sonya Deville with Dolph Ziggler. It freshens both of them up and adds something to each of their characters, and, in general, I think Ziggler works incredibly well with a female manager. This whole feud has been a guilty pleasure of mine, and Ziggler’s contributions should not go unnoticed. I do wonder, though, if we’ll ever see a follow up to the big reveal from last week involving a mystery figure manipulating cameras. Probably not.)

-Back at the announcers desk, Cole threw to the finish of the triple threat match for the Smackdown tag team titles from WrestleMania. Cole plugged The Dirt Sheet, featuring The Miz and John Morrison coming up after the break.

-After the break, The Miz and John Morrison sat in the ring with their Tag Team Championships. Morrison said his glass is always half full, even when it’s full. He said they had some good news to share. Miz said first, they retained their Smackdown Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania. Morrison said he retained them, becoming the first to retain tag team titles by himself.

Miz said he became the first person to retain the tag team titles by sitting on his couch. “That’s good news!” they said. They talked about A.J. Styles being buried by The Undertaker at WrestleMania. “Better him than us,” they decided. They said it was good news to have a Universal Champion who “shows up to most of the shows.” Miz and Morrison then turned to the Firefly Funhouse match, saying it was good news that John Cena finally disappeared.

They then turned to their “hit single,” “Hey Hey, Ho Ho.” They performed it live, dancing embarrassingly. They were interrupted by The Usos’ music. The Usos said out of respect, they were going to let them finish, but they couldn’t. Miz and Morrison accused them of being “downers.”

“Why are you two here?” Miz questioned. The Usos said it’s supposed to be two on two. Miz said it’s New Day and The Usos fault that he couldn’t compete at WrestleMania. He said he’s still not medically cleared. Miz and Morrison left the ring. Big E’s voice cut off the arguing. New Day walked onto the stage.

Big E said since the original match from WrestleMania didn’t go as planned, it only makes sense that the other members of the team get to compete for the tag team titles. Miz asked what they didn’t understand. Kofi Kingston said they had a conference call with management, Fox executives, and a host of other random celebrities. Kofi said there’s going to be a triple threat match for the tag team titles on next week’s show – The Miz vs. Jey Uso vs. Big E.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Reports have indicated that this show may be airing live, or perhaps was just recently taped, and was not part of the round of tapings that evidently concluded with the post-Mania Raw on Monday. This is apparent given Corey Graves rejoining the commentary team, and now the return of Miz to TV.  The “other” triple threat match is interesting, I suppose, but I’d rather them just do the original match they intended, even if they just leave out the ladders.)

-Cole teased Braun Strowman vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in the main event. Graves said The Forgotten Sons would debut on Smackdown next.

-Lucha House Party headed to the ring after the break for a match against the debuting Forgotten Sons.

(3) LUCHA HOUSE PARTY (Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik) vs. THE FORGOTTEN SONS (Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler w/ Jaxson Ryker)

Steve Cutler began the match with Lince Dorado. He quickly dumped Dorado into the corner, delivered hard chops, then tagged in Wesley Blake. Blake scraped his elbow against the neck of Dorado. Dorado fought out of the corner and headed to the top rope, but Blake cut him off and carried him to the corner, tagging in Cutler.

Cutler continued pounding Dorado. He hung his face up in the bottom rope and drove his boot into Dorado’s chin. Cutler tagged in Blake and they hit a double backbreaker. Dorado kicked out of a cover from Blake at two. Blake slapped on a chin lock. Dorado slowly fought out of it. Blake tagged in Cutler. Dorado caught him with a springboard stunner. Cutler stumbled into his corner and Blake tagged himself back in. Dorado tagged in Metalik.

Gran Metalik hit a springboard second rope elbow, followed by a dropkick. He covered Blake, but Cutler broke it up. Dorado hit the ring and served Cutler with a kick. Cutler dumped Metalik of the top rope. Metalik caught Blake with an enziguri. He flew off the ropes, but Blake hit him with a hard clothesline. Blake tagged in Cutler. He and Blake hit a falling reverse DDT/second rope stomp combo finisher for a three count.

WINNERS: The Forgotten Sons in 4:00

(LeClair’s Analysis: Passable tag team match. The Forgotten Sons never really got any traction at all in NXT, so it makes sense to move them up to the main roster following WrestleMania and see if they can piece something together there. It’s hard to tell whether or not it, or anything for that matter, is working, until they’re in front of live audiences again.)

-Backstage, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross were shown celebrating their successful tag title defense. They were approached by Carmella and Dana Brooke. They challenged Bliss and Cross to a tag team title match. Bliss said she feels bad they didn’t get a WrestleMania match, but that doesn’t mean they get to jump the line. Bliss asked for a brief “pow-wow” with Nikki. They came back, and Nikki instantly accepted the challenge. Bliss told Nikki she needs to switch to decaf.

-Back in the PC, Sasha Banks headed to the ring. Bayley followed shortly behind. Cole and Graves discussed their friendship and how they may have underestimated it. Cole said we’d hear from Bayley and Banks after the break.

-Out of the break, Bayley said it’s been just a few weeks since Paige put her in an unfair five way elimination match for her title at WrestleMania. She said she’s the best, Sasha’s the best, and they’re the ultimate role models. Bayley said they have two words for people who thought they’d ruin their friendship. “Screw you,” Banks volunteered.

Tamina’s music cut the duo off. She headed to the ring. Banks and Bayley nervously said hello to Tamina. Bayley said she’s happy to see her. She said she wanted to congratulate Tamina on a dominant performance. Tamina told Bayley to shut up. She said “no one” beat her at WrestleMania. “It took all you women to eliminate me.” She challenged Bayley to a one on one title match. Bayley laughed.

Sasha stepped in and said there’s a pecking order. She told Bayley to hold her back. Bayley obliged. Bayley said she likes to be fair. She offered Tamina a match if she can beat Sasha Banks. Sasha seemed annoyed by this. Tamina accepted the challenge. “Your bestie just screwed you,” Tamina said to Banks.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I don’t think Tamina is the person to resurrect the Smackdown Women’s division, but I appreciate them developing storylines on a week to week basis while continuing to tease dissent among Banks and Bayley. There’s a clear shift in story-telling tonight and a this segment, like many before it, seem to have been laid out with far greater confidence than what we’ve seen in recent weeks. Banks and Bayley were really good here, effective in their roles and natural sounding, which I think is something they, especially Bayley, have struggled with as of late.)

-Sheamus headed to the ring after the break. Cole said he and Graves spoke to Sheamus earlier in the day and found that he’s seething after not being able to compete at WrestleMania.


Bloom was already in the ring, awaiting Sheamus. He game out hot as soon as the bell rang, delivering several punches and kicks to Sheamus. Sheamus quickly battled back with a hard elbow to the chin. He followed up with his patented ten beats Bodhran.

Bloom stumbled back in the ring and got caught with a Brogue Kick for a quick three count.

WINNER: Sheamus in 2:00

Sheamus stared down Cole and Graves on his way out of the ring.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Fine squash match to reintroduce Sheamus. I thought his last reintroduction got off to an incredibly rocky start, so perhaps this reset will give him an opportunity to pick up some momentum. I’d certainly hope they get him into a program relatively quickly.)

-Michael Cole and Corey Graves turned their attention to “another returning Superstar,” Jeff Hardy. They threw to part one of a series highlighting Jeff’s career.

-Out of the break, Cole and Graves teased Triple H’s 25th anniversary celebration beginning in two weeks. They then turned to next week’s show, teasing several matches, including two Money in the Bank qualifiers (Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro, and Naomi vs. Dana Brooke.)

-Braun Strowman headed to the ring for the main event. Shinsuke Nakamura followed, accompanied by Cesaro.


Braun Strowman charged at Shinsuke Nakamura as the match began. Nakamura ducked it and caught Braun with a pair of quick kicks to the shin. Strowman shrugged them off, then gave Nakamura a boot to the chest, sending him flying across the ring. Nakamura retreated to the corner. Strowman tossed him across the ring.

Strowman tossed Nakamura to the outside of the ring. Strowman talked some trash, then headed outside to chase Cesaro away from Nakamura. Shinsuke tried to take advantage of the distraction, but Strowman cut him off and tossed him back in the ring before getting in Cesaro’s face. Strowman eventually returned to the apron. Nakamura caught him with a knee to the face. Braun dropped to the floor. Nakamura followed him out. Shinsuke ran at Braun, but Braun tossed him up in the air and dropped him on the barricade. Cole sent the show to commercial.

Out of the break, Strowman caught Nakamura with a flapjack in the ring. He scooped Nakamura up, tossed him into the corner, and gave him a running body blow. Nakamura managed to fight back, catching Braun with a kick to the head. Cesaro then distracted Braun long enough for Nakamura to catch the champion with a knee to the face for a two count.

Strowman and Nakamura battled to their feet. Shinsuke caught Braun with a kick, but Braun hit a nasty clothesline to flip Nakamura. Nakamura rolled to the outside. Strowman ran after him and dropped him with a shoulder tackle before tossing him back in the ring. Braun hit a running shoulder tackle on Cesaro before sliding back in the ring.

Upon returning, Nakamura caught Braun with another running knee for a two count. He set up for a Kinshasa, but Strowman scooped him up and hit the running power slam for the three count.

WINNER: Braun Strowman in 8:00

Braun celebrated, but was quickly cut off by the Firefly Funhouse title card. Bray Wyatt hat a marker board that said “The history of Bray Wyatt and John Cena.” He tossed to a quick recap of his match with Cena at WrestleMania. “I guess we really can’t see him!” Bray exclaimed.

He turned his focus to Braun. He heard a voice coming from his severed head lantern. He said he’s sure Braun has learned from that. Clips of the Wyatt Family flashed. Bray said Braun turned his back on his creator. He offered to forgive him, but his puppets offered various reasons not to. Ramblin’ Rabbit was the sole exception.

Bray said he’ll forgive Braun if Braun says he’s sorry. Strowman refused. Bray said Braun’s next lesson is going to be about sharing. He told Braun that he has something Bray wants back. “As one circle closes, another begins again.” Bray said since he brought Braun into this world, he’s going to have to take him out. He laughed and waved goodbye.

Strowman told Bray to wait. He said anytime Bray wants, he’s ready to let him in. He mimicked Bray’s “bye, see ya later!” Bray stared angrily. The show faded to black.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Not much to say about Strowman’s match with Nakamura. It’s a bit hard to take what was an Intercontinental title program seriously as a main event feud just a number of weeks later after Strowman received no build up to becoming Universal Champion. Transitioning to The Fiend feud next on Braun’s plate, this, like most of Wyatt’s programs, comes with the conundrum of needing to have Wyatt go over to keep up the intensity, and believability of the character. I assume that Braun was simply plugged into Roman’s spot, so we have to assume Wyatt vs. Reigns was the plan for post-Mania. I’m not sure I like that feud, but I think I like this one even less. I do, however, think Braun was given a clever one up at the end of that promo that actually worked. Let’s see where they go from here.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: This felt like a markedly different program than this week’s Raw, the last several weeks of programming, and even WrestleMania. It was clear, almost from the get-go, that this was filmed with a better understanding of how to run these tapings. I still wouldn’t call these shows good, or consider them an improvement on even the lowest bar of shows held in front of normal television audiences, but this feels far more sustainable than the last several weeks of programming have. This is both good and bad. On one hand, it tells me that WWE can, hopefully, remain focused on story-telling and vigilant in producing tight shows that don’t drag horribly. On the other hand, it means that in order to do so, they likely have to continue taping on a live, or semi-live basis. I don’t know if this show aired live, or on short delay, but all indications are WWE is returning to a relatively normal taping schedule going forward. We’ll see if that changes with the upcoming Triple H anniversary celebration events (whatever those may wind up being), but for the time being, it seems like they’ve got a plan to pack these shows full of in-ring action (a stark departure from their previous strategy) and pretend it’s just business as usual.

Overall, I liked the direction of this show. I like how much they set up for next week. I don’t necessarily like the idea of continuing to expose the talent on a week-to-week basis if they are indeed going with this taping schedule going forward, but I do think it will ultimately lead to a better product. This still isn’t a show I’d go out of my way to recommend, but I’m a lot more intrigued to watch a show like this than anything they’ve produced since moving to the PC about a month ago.


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