The second half of the Superstar Shakeup takes place tonight in Providence, Rhode Island as Smackdown Live looks to respond to Monday’s gutting of their roster.

Last Week’s Smackdown:

One week before the Superstar Shakeup, Paige descended from the heavens to grant us the gift of AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan as the evening’s main event. With rumours abound that Styles was headed to Monday Night RAW in the Superstar Shakeup, it was a (potentially) perfect send-off to the Phenomenal One.

That is, until superjerk Shinsuke Nakamura interfered. The King of Strong Style proceeded to lay out the former general manager with a Kinshasa, following up with another low blow/Kinshasa combination to the champion before leaving in a parade of boos.

It’s only been a short time, but Nakamura has been money as a heel so far. His half-hearted apology during an interview with Renee Young last week was excellent, and interrupting a true dream match such as Bryan/Styles is a simple, yet effective way to gain some heat. With Styles (apparently) sticking around on Tuesday nights after now showing up on RAW last night, this feud is primed to continue throughout Backlash – which is music to the ears of this wrestling fan.

A Quick Recap:

  • Paige was named the new General Manager of Smackdown Live after Daniel Bryan resigned, and announces Bryan will face AJ Styles (!!!!!!) as the main event.
  • The Usos def. the New Day for the right to challenge the Bludgeon Brothers at Greatest Royal Rumble
  • Naomi def. Natalya after she was confronted in a backstage segment.
  • Shinsuke Nakamura acted like a jerk, you guys.
  • Charlotte Flair cut a promo, but was interrupted….
  • BY THE DEBUTING ICONIC DUO!!!
  • Peyton Royce and Billie Kay – now known simply as the IIconics – beat down Charlotte Flair after cutting a promo
  • CARMELLA CASHED IN HER MONEY IN THE BANK BRIEFCASE, BECOMING SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION!
  • Randy Orton def. Bobby Roode and Rusev to become #1 contender to the United States Championship
  • AJ Styles def. Daniel Bryan by DQ after Shinsuke Nakamura interfered.

One Big Thought:

It was mentioned in the introduction, but Smackdown lost some big names in the Superstar Shakeup. All is fair in the scripted world of WWE, and it only seems fair that RAW would acquire some major talent after Smackdown brought in names like Charlotte Flair and the New Day in the last shakeup.

On last night’s RAW, it was confirmed that the following names would be taking their talents from Tuesdays to head to the flagship show: Jinder Mahal, Bobby Roode, The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan), Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Zack Ryder, Natalya, Dolph Ziggler and Breezango. Unfortunately, Baron Corbin was also lost to Monday night’s in what can only be described as disappointing, mostly because it means Corbin is still in the WWE. Chad Gable, Mojo Rawley, and the Ascension were all moved after RAW ended. In perhaps the biggest coup of the night, Drew McIntyre – the former NXT Champion long rumoured to be headed to Smackdown – made his re-debut on Raw. All of the above are huge coups for the flagship show, and on the surface leaves Smackdown struggling for star power.

That being said, the door is now wide-open for wrestlers from the flagship show to take their talents to the blue brand. One move that we do know heading into tonight’s episode is that Smackdown’s prodigal son will return to the blue brand, as the Miz was traded midway through last night’s RAW. However, the A-Lister comes alone after the Miztourage left him hanging to end Monday’s flagship show. Who else can we expect to see show up on the blue brand? Find out on tonight’s Smackdown!

State of the Belts:

As mentioned earlier, the WWE Championship scene is hotter than ever with the recent heel turn of Shinsuke Nakamura. It’s finally given a story to a feud that wasn’t built on much more than the two’s prior history in New Japan. While it certainly was a dream match in the WWE, there wasn’t much of an overarching story to the two’s matchup. That’s not the case anymore, however, with plenty of questions begging to be answered. Why did Nakamura turn on Styles? Why would he interrupt his match last week? Will the two square off at Backlash? All remain to be seen.

Technically, there’s currently no secondary belt on Smackdown Live, as the United States Championship was sent packing to Monday nights along with then-champion Jinder Mahal. While Mahal subsequently lost the championship to Jeff Hardy, there’s been no word on the blue brands championship situation since then. Could we see Seth Rollins appear on Smackdown tonight with the Intercontinental Championship? Could Hardy himself move to Tuesdays with the U.S. Title in tow? Either option would be great for me, but personally I would prefer Hardy. Not only would it give him some separation from his now-Woken brother, but would allow the Architect to continue his run of dominance on Monday Night RAW.

Smackdown Live has a new women’s champion, as Carmella cashed in her Money in the Bank Briefcase on Charlotte Flair after the Nature Girl suffered a beating at the hands of the IIconics, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. The former Iconic Duo made their eagerly-anticipated debuts on the main roster last week, and already look to be a big part of the division. Will they align with the Princess of Staten Island? Or, were they simply looking to wreak havoc on their first night? Either way, WWE.com is asking how Carmella will kick off her run with the women’s top title on Tuesdays, so expect some tension – especially if Charlotte comes looking for her championship back.

Last week, the Usos defeated the New Day to become #1 contenders to the Smackdown Tag Team Championships. They’ll now challenge the Bludgeon Brothers at The Greatest Royal Rumble next Friday. Hopefully, we’ll get a conclusion to this feud, and perhaps some new challengers for Harper & Rowan – perhaps we see the debut of SAniTy?

Three Things to Watch For:

  • More speculation on the Superstar Shakeup, but it seemed as though an unusual number of tag teams made their way over to Monday Nights. As well, Chad Gable made the move to RAW without Shelton Benjamin, rendering the Smackdown tag division to little more than the Usos, Bludgeon Brothers and the New Day. Who will we see come in to replace the departing squads?
  • While Smackdown has yet to start, the Miz has already been announced as making his return to the blue brand. During last night’s announcement, RAW commissioner Kurt Angle let it be known that the trade was a direct result of Daniel Bryan requesting the move – will we finally get a payoff to their fantastic 2016 feud with Bryan as GM? This writer certainly hopes so, and I’m definitely looking forward to the A-Listers second run on the blue brand.
  • Tye Dillinger‘s beard continues to get longer, and this writer continues to double-down on his impending heel turn. Could I be wrong? Absolutely, but it wouldn’t be the first time.

That’s it, that’s all! You watching tonight? You can always let us know your thoughts by tweeting us @WCSportsCA or @SpennyLove_WCS!

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Smackdown Live Preview: April 17
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Spencer Love

Once stood in front of Cedric Alexander in line at a hotel. Slightly big deal.

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