For the first time in 13 years, Smackdown Live takes place in Montreal, Quebec.

Last Week’s Smackdown:

Last week’s main event featured AJ Styles and his fellow members of the Club take on Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev Day. It was a fairly standard six-man tag match; however, as with most of the interactions between Styles and Nakamura, there was a ton of intrigue to their post-match actions. After pinning Luke Gallows following a Kinshasa, Nakamura and Styles brawled with an all-too-familiar ending. Not only did the King of Strong Style hit yet another low blow to Styles, he hit Karl “Machine Gun” Anderson with a Kinshasa as he dove in Styles way. Rather than slow Nakamura down, he continued to taunt the WWE Champion, hitting him with a patented “Come On!” taunt while hitting Anderson with another strike to the face.

Heel Nakamura is ruthless, and I love it.

A Quick Recap:

  • The Miz opened the show by cutting a promo on Daniel Bryan, and called him out. Instead of Bryan, however, Big Cass enters. He cuts a promo on the YES! Man and leaves the ring.
  • The camera cuts backstage to Daniel Bryan injured in the back after being beaten down by an unknown assailant.
  • The Iconics cut a promo on both Charlotte Flair and their opponents for the night – Becky Lynch and Asuka – but are interrupted by Becky’s entrance.
  • The Iconics def. Becky Lynch and Asuka after Becky Lynch took out her partner; Peyton Royce rolled up Lynch with her feet on the ropes for the win.
  • AJ Styles was interviewed backstage, and announced that he’ll be facing Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev Day in the main event. His partners? The Club!
  • Hype vignette for Andrade “Cien” Almas
  • The Usos and Naomi are involved in a backstage segment; Naomi is worried about Jimmy Uso heading into his solo match against Rowan of the Bludgeon Brothers.
  • Jimmy Uso def. Erick Rowan after Naomi provided a distraction
  • Renee Young introduced Carmella for her contract signing with Charlotte Flair, and Carmella quickly took the microphone away. She cut a terrific promo, and proceeded to play her highlight reel from last week – twice.
  • Charlotte Flair entered and signed her contract for her match with Carmella at Backlash. She also WOO’ed in her face and flipped a table.
  • Aiden English appeared in a backstage segment when a reporter knocked on Shinsuke Nakamura‘s door, simply stating “no interviews”.
  • Jeff Hardy came out for a rematch against Shelton Benjamin, but Randy Orton interrupts Hardy’s entrance and answers Benjamin’s challenge. Hardy sits ringside for the match.
  • Shelton Benjamin def. Randy Orton after Orton is distracted by Sunil Singh, who takes out Jeff Hardy’s knee while dressed in a luchador mask.
  • The New Day appear in a backstage promo to plug their new book. They’re interrupted by the Bar, making their first appearance on Smackdown.
  • Vignette for SAniTy’s impending debut.
  • Daniel Bryan updates Renee Young on his injury, and announces that he’ll face Big Cass at Backlash.
  • Samoa Joe appears via videoscreen to cut a promo on how he’ll win the Intercontinental and Universal Championships.
  • Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev Day def. AJ Styles and The Club via pinfall after Nakamura hit the Kinshasa on Luke Gallows. Post-match, Styles and Nakamura brawled, and the King of Strong Style hit Styles with another low-blow. He set up for another Kinshasa, but Karl Anderson dove in the way to protect AJ. Nakamura taunted Styles again, and hit another Kinshasa on Anderson. Ruthless.

One Big Thought:

We’re now three weeks removed from the Superstar Shakeup, and Team Blue is still waiting on two – well, perhaps four – of their biggest acquisitions.

We’ve sung our praises about Paige’s job in her first test as general manager already, but it’s truly a testament that Smackdown seems completely revitalized despite the lack of two major additions. Former NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas is the blue brand’s answer to RAW’s Drew McIntyre; however, rather than pairing with a current Superstar such as McIntyre did with Dolph Ziggler, Almas comes paired with long-time associate Zelina Vega. It’s been beaten to death, but Almas has experienced a complete 180 career-wise since Vega joined him in NXT; El Idolo looks primed to be a major player on Smackdown, evidenced by his two hype vignettes heading into their expected debut tonight. Will we actually see him? That remains to be seen, but if we don’t see Almas tonight, we may see Smackdown’s other major coup of the shakeup.

SAniTy was also signed by the blue brand last week after a dominant run in NXT that included an NXT Tag Team Championship run. Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe are long-time favourites of Full Sail University, and one of the most unique factions to be coming to the main roster since the Wyatt Family made their debut. However, they’ll be coming without one of their key pieces in Nikki Cross. Will the faction continue their dominance? Or will Cross’ absence influence their fortunes? Hopefully we find out sooner rather than later.

State of the Belts:

Shinsuke Nakamura is an excellent heel, full stop. After weeks of low blows to WWE Champion AJ Styles, Nakamura will receive his third championship opportunity at this Sunday’s Backlash. However, prior to Sunday’s event, the King of Strong Style – yes, I’ll continue to call him that – has demanded A FREAKIN’ PUBLIC APOLOGY from Styles for his ruthless attack after their match at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Let me reiterate – a man who has been going out of his way to strike a former friend in his nether regions is now demanding a public apology. I personally think that it’s one of the greatest heel moves I’ve seen in a while, and I’m excited for their go-home segment.

Carmella and Charlotte Flair are set to face off at Backlash after ‘Mella cashed in her Money in the Bank Briefcase the night after WrestleMania. Since becoming champion, the Princess of Staten Island has been fantastic; not only has she continued to be a great promo, but is quickly joining Kevin Owens/Bray Wyatt territory as someone to look out for on Twitter. Everyone’s gunning for Carmella – everyone, that seems, except for the IIconicsPeyton Royce and Billie Kay joined the main roster the night that Carmella cashed in – in fact, they were the women who gave Flair the beating that loser her the Smackdown Women’s Championship. The three women will join together to take on the team of Flair, Becky Lynch and Asuka on tonight’s episode; which team will stand tall? Will Asuka continue to lose in tag-team action after last week’s defeat? Will the IIconics take another pinfall only three weeks after debuting? Find out on tonight’s Smackdown!

After winning it on RAW and defending it at the Greatest Royal Rumble, Jeff Hardy returned home with his United States Championship in tow. Now, the Charismatic Enigma is left without a challenger; however, that may not be the case for long. Hardy is scheduled to be on Miz TV tonight, and while the Miz has a scheduled rematch for his Intercontinental Championship on Sunday, could the A-Lister be counting his chickens before they hatch and setting his sights on a second title? I certainly hope so; a Miz/Hardy feud sounds money.

Despite the shakeup over the past few weeks, the Bludgeon Brothers are without challengers for their Smackdown Tag Team Championships after retaining the titles against the Usos in Saudi Arabia. Nothing is advertised on WWE.com’s official preview for tonight, but expect their next opponents to be set up tonight – potentially for a match at Backlash.

Three Things to Watch For:

  • Samoa Joe is on Smackdown Live. As long as I live, Samoa Joe will be something to watch for. He’s got a match this Sunday against perpetual loser Roman Reigns; however, with the two being on separate brands post-Shakeup, will we see him begin to build towards his next feud?
  • Daniel Bryan is back, and finally involved in one of those dream feuds that has been put on hold for years – Big Cass. Let’s just move on from this, shall we?
  • Has anyone seen Tye Dillinger?
WWE Last 5:
Smackdown Live Preview: May 1
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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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