WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Major names added as Superstar Shakeup concludes
Roman Reigns and Finn Balor popped the SmackDown Live crowd in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
One night after Raw mixed things up with big changes to the roster, the blue brand did the same in Tuesday's episode of SmackDown Live. Yet outside of some entertaining moments, including Kevin Owens' honorary addition to one of WWE's most beloved groups, the show failed to live up to the lofty expectations which began last week in the days that followed WrestleMania 35.
WWE chairman Vince McMahon saved the show's final segment for the biggest reveal of all by announcing an addition he called "the most important acquisition in SmackDown history." But like this week's episode of Raw, Tuesday suffered from an overall mailed-in feel and the reliance on too many tropes, including six- and eight-man tag team matches.
Considering how much of a dead zone creatively the first month following WrestleMania typically has been for WWE in recent years, the combination of last week and this doesn't necessarily bode well for the excitement of what the near future brings.
Kevin Owens named honorary member of The New Day: The KO Show opened with Owens welcoming Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods to lead the crowd in a standing ovation for Kingston's WWE championship triumph. Woods addressed the injury to Big E suffered on last week's episode of SmackDown that contributed to his absence. A hilarious segment ensued with Owens offering to join the trio only to be told he doesn't have the right moves — i.e. ability to swivel his hips and grind — to join their trio. Owens surprised by showing he did, which led to Woods calling him "Big O," Kingston placing his half shirt onto Owens and both knighting him by applying the unicorn headband. Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura watched on a monitor backstage before being approached by Cesaro to join them in a six-man tag team match against The New Day. Grade: B+
Finn Balor def. Ali via pinfall: This non-title SmackDown debut for the Intercontinental champion very much felt like a special treat between two elite workers. Ali's top-shelf athleticism was on display from a suicide dive outside the ring to an insane hurricanrana off the top rope that produced a two count. But after Ali missed a 450 splash off the top rope, Balor landed a stiff missile drop kick before hitting his Coup de Grace for the pin. After the match, Balor helped Ali up for a double babyface embrace. Balor and the blue brand seem perfect for each other. Grade: B+
Charlotte Flair def. Carmella via submission: Carmella looked strong in holding her own against Flair in a surprisingly good match. A storyline tweaked knee led to Carmella's demise, however, as Flair packaged a chop block into a Figure Eight for the tap out. Grade: B-
Lars Sullivan makes another statement: One night after destroying Rey Mysterio on Raw, Sullivan hammered home his official announcement as a member of SmackDown by crashing the ring during R-Truth's consoling of Carmella following her defeat. Truth got off a fair bit of offense, which Sullivan no sold and laughed. He then landed a one-armed slam before scaring Carmella out of the ring with his creepy laugh. Sullivan followed up with a sit-out power bomb on Truth. Sullivan interrupting things has quickly become old, it's time to get him into a feud. Grade: C+
New additions to SmackDown women's roster: Becky Lynch brought out her two belts to cut a promo on her future plans to run through Lacey Evans "and batter every single one of them dopes" on both rosters. Out came Ember Moon, who called herself "The Shenom," to get into her face and begin a challenge. Moon was interrupted by Bayley, who announced her blue brand arrival and began her own challenge to Lynch until The IIconics came out to heckle them all. Next came Paige, who was hoping to introduce the new tag team she is managing until former Absolution teammates Mandy Rose and Sonia Deville interrupted. Finally, Paige introduced Asuka and Kairi Sane as her new team and ended the brutally overbooked segment by ordering them to attack and begin a melee. The lack of mention regarding Sasha Banks' future and the continued marginalization of Asuka were far from positive developments. Grade: D+
Bayley, Ember Moon, Asuka and Kairi Sane def. The IIconics and Fire & Desire via pinfall: No, Teddy Long didn't come out to announce this match but he probably should have given how predictable it was following commercial. The action turned out to be decent down the stretch with Asuka going on a tour de force to clean house before tagging in her new partner Sane to deliver her Insane Elbow on Peyton Royce for the pin. While the match was largely unnecessary, it didn't help seeing the tag team champions, The IIconics, forced to take pinfall defeats on consecutive nights during non-title affairs. Grade: C+
Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Kevin Owens def. Rusev, Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro via pinfall: Outside of the puzzling lack of explanation on Sheamus' absence, seeing Owens substituting for the injured Big E turned out to be a success. Was the match ultimately a worthless way of closing the show? Undoubtedly. But KO added humor between passing a pancake eating backstage and mimicking Big E's pre-match announcement to hype the crowd. The finish saw Rusev get caught with a Trouble in Paradise from Kingston followed by a stunner from Owens for the 1-2-3. Grade: B
Vince McMahon announces 'biggest acquisition in SmackDown history:' If you had Elias in your pool for VKM's prized choice, please stand up! Not surprisingly, the crowd booed McMahon's selection. Elias played it off well, praising McMahon for knowing what his audience wants before announcing SmackDown as the new "Temple of Elias." Out came Roman Reigns to punch Elias and floor him with a Superman Punch. An angry McMahon got in his face and ordered him to leave only for Reigns to floor him with one of his own. "I don't care what he said, SmackDown Live is my yard now," Reigns told the crowd. He added a spear on Elias before walking off to cheers. Although moving Reigns to SmackDown is certainly a big move, especially ahead of the show's move to primetime on Fox this fall, the handling of this final segment was painfully predictable and a microcosm of how haphazard the Superstar Shakeup has felt. Grade: C-
WWE also announced that Buddy Murphy was on SmackDown, and it listed three more additions on its website.
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