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SmackDown Live Recap & Review – Episode 974

WWE SmackDown Live
Episode 974

Original Air Date: April 17, 2018
Event Date: April 17, 2018 (aired live)

City: Providence, RI
Venue: Dunkin Donuts Center

Commentary: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton


Last week, Shinsuke Nakamura gave a fake apology for attacking Styles at Wrestlemania. Later that night, Nakamura attacked Styles again.

Ring Area
AJ Styles heads to the ring. Styles says we all found out who Nakamura really is after his loss at Wrestlemania. He says Nakamura is a con artist. Styles says he isn’t leaving the ring tonight until Nakamura comes down to face him.

Instead of Nakamura, Rusev and Aiden English come out to the stage. English sings that Nakamura isn’t here, and he raps about Rusev Day. Styles wants a fight, so he invites Rusev down to the ring.


Match 1
AJ Styles (WWE Champ) vs Rusev w/ Aiden English
(referee: Ryan Tran)

Show/Hide Results

Result: AJ Styles wins via DQ when Aiden English attacks
Time: 0:28

Match Thoughts
This wasn’t really a match, it was just a half-minute setup for tonight’s main event.


Ring Area
As Rusev and English attack Styles, Daniel Bryan runs to the ring to help Styles fight them off.

Paige informs Shane McMahon that she has an idea for tonight’s main event based on what just happened in the ring.

Ring Area
Shelton Benjamin heads to the ring. Chad Gable is headed to RAW, and Shelton isn’t sad. He says he never needed Gable, but what he does need is to remind everyone that he’s one of the biggest threats on SmackDown Live. With that in mind, he went to Paige to ask for some big competition. Randy Orton heads toward the ring, but his music stops. Instead, the new US Champ Jef Hardy runs down to the ring.


Match 2
Shelton Benjamin vs Jeff Hardy (US Champ)
(referee: Jason Ayers)

Show/Hide Results

Result: Jeff Hardy wins via pinfall after a Swanton Bomb
Time: 8:20

Match Thoughts
Good match. Benjamin dominated a lot of the early part of the match which led to Hardy fighting back towards the end. I think this was a good first match on SmackDown for Jeff, and I hope this turns into a decent first solo match for Benjamin.


The Miz isn’t in Providence tonight, he’s at his home in L.A. with Maryse and their daughter. Next week though, SmackDown will be awesome.


Match 3
Jey Uso w/ Jimmy Uso vs Harper (SD Tag Champ) w/ Rowan (SD Tag Champ)
(referee: Mike Chioda)

Show/Hide Results

Result: Harper wins via pinfall after a discus clothesline
Time: 0:52

Match Thoughts
This wasn’t really much of a match. Rowan caused a distraction and Harper dominated among the chaos.


Ring Area
After the match, the Bludgeon Brothers continue to attack The Usos. Rowan picks up a hammer and closes in on Jimmy Uso, but Naomi runs down to the ring to save her husband. Harper and Rowan slowly back away.


Match 4
Sin Cara vs Samoa Joe
(referee: Danilo Anfibio)

Show/Hide Results

Result: Samoa Joe wins via submission with the Coquina Clutch
Time: 1:33

Match Thoughts
This was another match that was barely a match. Joe destroyed Sin Cara in a little over a minute and a half.


Ring Area
After the match, Samoa Joe thinks everyone has had it easy on SmackDown. “The Land of Opportunity” has really been “The Land of Handouts.” The SD superstars have been coddled, but that changes now. Samoa Joe is going to take all of the opportunities presented to him, such as destroying Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, and AJ Styles. Joe also promises to put the big dog out to pasture after the Greatest Royal Rumble.

Superstars lip sync about co-branded PPVs.

Chaos arrives on SmackDown Live soon.

Renee Young asks Daniel Bryan why he helped Styles earlier tonight. Bryan says he did it because he respects Styles. He is proud to fight beside Styles tonight, and he can’t wait to fight Styles one on one again in the future.

Big Cass walks up behind Bryan. Big Cass is not impressed with Daniel Bryan.

Ring Area
The new SmackDown Women’s Champ Carmella heads to the ring. Carmella celebrates her recent ascent to the top of the women’s division and gloats about beating Charlotte Flair. She says her win will go down as one of the biggest moments in wrestling history. She then introduces a video showing Carmella’s Money in the Bank win and her journey to the title.

Carmella reveals that she named her briefcase Frankie. The SD Women’s Title has been named Cleopatra. She continues to talk when Charlotte interrupts and comes out to the stage.

Charlotte says Carmella’s video left some things out. Namely, it left out James Ellsworth helping her win the MitB and The Iconic Duo beating up Charlotte before Carmella cashed in. Charlotte tells Carmella that it’s more difficult to stay at the top than it is to get there. The Iconic Duo, now named The Iiconics, come out to the stage.

Peyton Royce makes fun of Charlotte, calling her a whiny baby. Royce and Kay say they created magic last week, and Charlotte’s loss will go down in history. Charlotte pauses for a second, thinking about who to attack. She decides to attack The Iiconics, but she is quickly overwhelmed. Becky Lynch runs down to ringside to help Charlotte as the show cuts for a commercial break.


Match 5
Charlotte Flair w/ Becky Lynch vs Billie Kay w/ Peyton Royce
(referee: Ryan Tran; at ringside: Carmella)

Show/Hide Results

Result: Charlotte wins via submission with a Figure Eight
Time: 7:55 (joined in progress)

Match Thoughts
Pretty good match. I liked that Billie Kay was the first of The Iiconics to get a match. It gives them room to grow since Peyton Royce was really the only one who saw action in NXT towards the end of their time there. This match was fine, thought Charlotte did outdo Kay.


Ring Area
Carmella attacks Charlotte after the match. Becky tries to help Charlotte, but Carmella and The Iiconics are too much to handle. After a few seconds, Asuka emerges as the newest member of the SmackDown roster. Asuka runs to the ring and helps Charlotte and Becky fight back.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are headed to SmackDown.

The Bar set the standard in the RAW tag division, and now they will do the same on SmackDown Live.

New Day encounters R-Truth backstage. Tye Dillinger walks up and stares at Truth for a few seconds before they do a bizarre handshake. R-Truth is happy to be here on RAW. Oh, wait…

Andrade Cien Almas and Zelina Vega are headed to SmackDown Live.


Match 6
AJ Styles (WWE Champ) & Daniel Bryan vs Rusev & Aiden English
(referee: Mike Chioda)

Show/Hide Results

Result: Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles win via DQ when Big Cass attacks Bryan
Time: 9:00 (1 break)

Match Thoughts
Pretty good match. I liked it, but in the end it was a long excuse to have Nakamura attack again and to re-introduce Big Cass.


Ring Area
Renee Young comes out to the stage and asks Nakamura why he attacked Styles again. Nakamura again says “no speak English” and walks away.


Show Impressions
An okay show, but not as exciting as RAW. I think RAW did a better job of making the most of some of their new acquisitions while SmackDown relied on a lot of videos for many of their debuts. I don’t think Big Cass is the most exciting person to appear on SmackDown tonight, but he is who they chose to spotlight at the end of the main event. I would’ve gone with Joe or Almas.

Match of the Night
Shelton Benjamin vs Jeff Hardy
This one had a clean finish and solid action. I liked it. The main event was fun, but the finish made it not something I’d ever watch again. The women’s match was fine, but they’ll both probably have better matches.


Official Results:http://www.wwe.com/shows/smackdown/2018-04-17



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