The April 16 episode of WWE SmackDown LIVE continued the 2019 Superstar Shake-up and introduced viewers to a blue brand with a very different women’s division and some exciting, high-profile male wrestlers from RAW.
After a summary of the roster moves from the previous night’s RAW, SmackDown began with a hometown hero’s welcome for Montreal’s own Kevin Owens, as he entered to host his talk show segment. He cut part of a promo in French and welcomed WWE Champion Kofi Kingston to the ring, accompanied by Xavier Woods.
When Woods bemoaned how Big E is out with an injury and almost everyone who was usually on his video game YouTube show UpUpDownDown is on RAW now, Owens volunteered himself as the honorary third member of The New Day for their tag match against Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura later that night. “Big O” proved himself with hip-swiveling and the crowd’s love and was given an undersized New Day shirt and a unicorn headband.
Backstage, Cesaro approached Rusev and Nakamura and asked to be the third member of their team. The former U.S. Champions accepted and a graphic told us that the tag match had been changed to a three-on-three bout.
Later in the show, we learned that Owens actually had not fully initiated himself into the New Day yet—he first had to beat Big E’s time in eating a huge plate of pancakes. Big O revealed he had never eaten a pancake in his life—an insane piece of trivia—but he still managed to beat the time.
After Owens announced his team in Big E-style, the trios match began. The opposing team initially dominated, with Rusev and Nakamura keeping Woods trapped in their corner due to their newfound teamwork, but a tag to Kingston turned the momentum in favor of The New Day. To the crowd’s delight, the good guys won after some exciting teamwork and a Stunner from Owens to Rusev.
There were several other matches on this week’s episode of SmackDown. The first was Finn Balor’s debut for the blue brand (those blue trunks he wore on RAW were foreshadowing!) against Ali. The Intercontinental Champion won the short, enjoyable match with the Coup de Grace.
Charlotte Flair had a similarly dominant showing against her old rival Carmella. Carmella held her own for a while, but Flair showed her ruthless side. “The Queen” targeted her opponent’s left knee throughout the match and tapped her out with the Figure Eight.
After the match, “The Freak” Lars Sullivan made his presence on the blue brand known. He slowly, ominously advanced toward R-Truth and the recovering Carmella in the ring. Sullivan and Truth started to fight, but the giant from NXT basically shrugged off Truth’s cool offense and menaced Carmella a little bit before leaving.
More dramatic events in the SmackDown women’s division occurred after double champ Becky Lynch returned to the blue brand. Her speech about her intention to be a fighting champion was interrupted by Ember Moon, looking for a fight, and then Bayley, looking to establish herself as a singles competitor
After some talk about the Women’s Tag Team Championships, The IIconics entered to talk trash… and be interrupted by Paige. Paige’s introduction of the new tag team she promised last week was interrupted by her previous wards, Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose, but “Fire and Desire”
All these cut-off promos led to a chaotic eight-woman tag team match: Bayley, Moon, Sane, and Asuka vs. Rose, Deville, Royce, and Kay. A very hot tag to Sane from Asuka led directly to the drop of the InSane Elbow on Royce for the win, establishing her super cool finishing move to an audience who may not have seen it before.
The episode closed with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon entering the ring to absorb chants of “You screwed Bret!” and introduce the Superstar who had been teased as the biggest acquisition in SmackDown history. The man who had earned Mr. McMahon’s rare seal of approval was revealed to be Elias! As the crowd booed, Elias thanked and complimented his boss, then insulted the audience as he prepared to play a song.
However, Elias was interrupted by the wrestler who is definitely the actual biggest acquisition of SmackDown LIVE: Roman Reigns. Reigns slapped and Superman Punched Elias in the face. To the audience’s glee, McMahon also ate a Superman Punch before Reigns declared that the blue brand is his yard now. He teased an exit but headed back to the ring to spear Elias for emphasis.