Wrestling Review: WWE SmackDown, April 30 2019

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We’re well past WrestleMania now, and the Superstar Shake-Up is firmly in the rear-view mirror. This means that Money In The Bank is at the top of WWE’s agenda, along with the fallout of Kevin Owens backstabbing The New Day last week.

Kofi Kingston Promo

The show opened with Michael Cole (brand split?) interviewing Kofi Kingston. The initial portion lasted almost ten minutes, with a very casual discussion of Kofi’s path to the WWE Championship complete with clips of past obstacles for Kingston to overcome. We finally got to the main point, which was Kevin Owens betraying Kingston and Xavier Woods last week. Kofi noted how “The Big O” should have simply asked for a WWE Title shot if he wanted one, but Kofi would now be willing to face Owens for the gold at MITB to get his retribution. KO came out and accepted the offer, before stating how people don’t see Kofi as WWE Championship material despite currently holding the belt, including Kingston himself. This led to Xavier Woods attacking Owens from behind, only for KO to assault Xavier with a superkick and quite literally run away.

Backstage, Kofi tried to explain to Xavier that he “had this”, but this didn’t prevent the strange decision for Woods to agree to be a guest on The KO Show later on (shouldn’t the segments have been the other way round).

Becky Lynch vs. Bayley

Before this match began, it was announced that The Hugger would be in the women’s Money In The Bank Ladder match, with further participants to be confirmed later in the show. This was their first ever meeting outside of NXT, and it was a good match, though a bit brief when you factor in the commercial break. Becky got the win with the Dis-Arm-Her, but was booted in the face afterwards by Charlotte Flair, one of her two foes at MITB. I’m not sure where this leaves Bayley, other than the probability that she will get a title opportunity of her own sometime in the near future whether she seizes the briefcase or not. For now on the SmackDown side, we have at least two more weeks of Becky vs. Charlotte, which surely has to end at that PPV, for fear of this becoming a rivalry lasting so long that it becomes more frustrating than entertaining.

The Hardy Boyz Promo

After a short backstage monologue from Aleister Black, we had The Hardy Boyz with some bad news: because of a knee injury to Jeff that will see him sidelined for quite a while, they would have to vacate the SmackDown Tag Team Titles. The blame was placed on Lars Sullivan, and wouldn’t you know it, the Freak himself came out to firstly pummel Matt and then target Jeff. Brother Nero was on a crutch and hobbling, but he did arm himself for an attack; R-Truth then whacked Sullivan with a steel chair, but once again, he was left laying by big Lars.

The four SmackDown combatants for the men’s Money In The Bank Ladder match were confirmed: Ali, Finn Balor, Andrade and Randy Orton. We later learned that these would square off in a doubles bout later in the night.

Kairi Sane & Asuka vs. Enhancement Talent

I say that because their names were never given, and none of the commentators identified the opponents of Kairi and Asuka in any meaningful manner. This was partly because The IIconics were on commentary, and if you’re familiar with Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, you shouldn’t be surprised that they handled so much of the talking. The In-Sane Elbow finished things off, with Kay and Royce staring on at their probable MITB challengers.

Roman Reigns Promo

After Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville agreed on Mandy entering MITB rather than Sonya (I assume we’ll find out Deville’s motives in the coming weeks), we then had Roman’s explanation for Superman Punching Vince McMahon two weeks ago upon his move to SmackDown. He simply said that he wanted to make an impact, and Vince just happened to be the recipient. He also pointed out his plans to beat Elias at Money In The Bank, only for Shane McMahon to come out. After humorously requesting and receiving a short, underwhelming ring introduction from Greg Hamilton, Shane O Mac placed Reigns in a typically controversial situation: he would have to face The B-Team in a handicap match, with Elias on hand as the special outside enforcer.

Roman Reigns vs. The B-Team

Tom Phillips noted how the odds had been stacked against The Big Dog. But given how low Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel have been on the totem pole in recent months, it was impossible to believe that they had a chance of winning this match, even with the numbers advantage enhanced by Elias as the outside enforcer. The B-Team did enjoy the early advantage, especially when Elias caught Reigns with a running clothesline at ringside, but it was a matter of time before Roman made the big comeback. That ultimately came, with his major moves including when he hit Curtis with a Samoan Drop while also drilling Bo with a DDT. A Superman Punch to both led to Reigns pinning Axel, only for Elias to drag Mike Chioda out to ringside. This led to a brawl with Curtis hitting Roman with the Perfectplex, only for Elias to reach two rather than three. Elias grabbed his guitar as Axel held up Roman, but Reigns battled away, Superman Punched Elias and Speared Axel for the pinfall win.

Ali & Finn Balor vs. Randy Orton & Andrade

After a repeat showing of the second vignette for the Firefly Fun House, we had our aforementioned tag team clash between the men hoping to snatch the MITB briefcase on May 19. Beforehand, Andrade noted how he does not respect either Ali or Balor, and while he did seem to respect Randy, he offered to teach him whenever he needed anything to learn courtesy of El Idolo. This only seemed to tick off Orton, who looked particularly angry when targeting his opposition, such as pushing Ali away so that the former Mustafa walloped his face on the apron as he attempted an aerial manoeuvre. The hot tag led to Balor coming in and taking over, pounding Andrade in the ring and striking Orton (who he has yet to face one-on-one) on the apron. Balor launched himself senton-style onto Andrade as Ali flew through the ropes to take out Randy. In the end, Finn overcame Zelina Vega’s attempted interference to Slingblade Andrade, who was finished off with a 450 by Ali. Post-match, Orton RKO’d Finn, but Ali kicked him out of the ring to be left standing tall.

Backstage, Ember Moon and Carmella were both confirmed as the final two SmackDown participants in the women’s MITB Ladder match. A friendly argument between the two ensued; you could cut the lack of tension with a knife.

The KO Show w/ Xavier Woods

Closing the show was Kevin Owens’ interview segment, and with very little air time remaining. Owens noted that all of his graphics and set parts were absent, because he didn’t want to be like The New Day, and simply said that he was “The Show”. He stated again that Kofi was drowning under the pressure of being WWE Champion, but that he was positive that he would relieve him of that burden. Owens then called out Woods, but being hurt from earlier, he didn’t show. This led KO to use his Plan B: an action figure of Xavier, which he mockingly interviewed. He did the same with a Big E figure, before kicking them away as he continued his outburst, only for Kofi himself to come out looking for a fight. A brawl ensued, with Kofi getting the best of Owens, which included him sending KO over the announcer’s table and whacking him with a swivel chair. KO escaped through the audience, as Kofi stayed in the ring and shouted how this was what Owens wanted, yet he was walking away.

This was a “meh” episode of SmackDown, which was only a slight improvement on the largely mediocre Raw the night before. Storylines moved along and the push to MITB continued, but with little to show for it. Okay, so the doubles gold (or silver?) were vacated, and Kofi vs. Owens has been established as the most heated feud in WWE right now. Otherwise, though, if you didn’t catch SmackDown this week, there’s very little that you would need to catch up on ahead of next week’s edition.