WWE SmackDown: Spoiler-Free Preview for April 18

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WWE SmackDown: Spoiler-Free Preview for April 18
Credit: WWE.com

Star power is scarce for the April 18 edition of WWE SmackDown.

Nashville, Tenn., hosted the action that will air on the Syfy channel on Friday night. Cesaro, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, The Wyatt Family, The Shield and Randy Orton were among the big names missing from the show.

The Cesaro section in the Bridgestone Arena couldn't have been pleased.

WWE instead offers Batista vs. Sheamus and Hornswoggle's first singles match in ages.

With the buzz of WrestleMania quieting, the hype for Extreme Rules takes its place. While Raw and Main Event set up matches for that event, SmackDown is less focused on building toward the pay-per-view. Instead, warm-up matches are the order of the day. 

The following is a look at all those bouts set to air on April 18, with the results left unspoiled.

 

Paige vs. Aksana

The new Divas champ faces her latest challenger after putting away Alicia Fox on Monday's Raw.

Tamina Snuka earned a title shot against Paige by winning a Battle Royal on Tuesday's Main Event. In preparation for AJ Lee's bodyguard, Paige takes on Aksana, best known for fracturing Naomi's eye socket with her knee.

Aksana seeks a future title shot of her own. Paige looks to add to the win total, gather momentum and continue to showcase her skills to the portion of the audience who didn't watch her work at NXT.

 

Santino Marella vs. Fandango

Fandango has changed dance partners, but not rivals. He enters yet another battle with Santino after spending much of 2014 trading wins with him.

Layla is now in Fandango's corner rather than Summer Rae. That new combination led to a win in mixed-tag action on Monday's Raw. Does it lead to another victory for the ballroom dancer?

This rivalry has little in the way of story. Friday's SmackDown could either be another case of just tossing these two guys out there for a quick match or a chance for WWE creative to add some animosity to this feud.

Fans won't be holding out hope for the latter.

 

Alexander Rusev vs. R-Truth

Rusev, now 3-0 in singles competition, looks to continue his dominance. On Monday's Raw, he manhandled Xavier Woods. R-Truth had a ringside view of the dismantling.

R-Truth tried to help his fallen friend, only to become Rusev's second victim of the night.

Thanks to R-Truth's hunger for revenge, Friday's match should be Rusev's most intense since joining the main roster. Fans will be curious to see if this blossoms into an actual feud or if Rusev will simply trample over R-Truth en route to other opponents.

Having Woods in his corner will give R-Truth a boost, but it's still going to be tough going against WWE's latest monster heel.

 

El Torito vs. Hornswoggle

WWE is sometimes akin to Shakespeare and sometimes a goofy, embarrassing form of entertainment. In the case of El Torito taking on Hornswoggle, the latter will be true.

These two met in a six-man tag match on Tuesday's Main Event. The bad blood they brewed that night should spill over into SmackDown.

Hornswoggle joined forces with 3MB. This match may answer if that is a lasting alliance and if perhaps the former cruiserweight champ is set to replace Heath Slater as the group's frontman.

 

Big E vs. Alberto Del Rio

Del Rio is no longer in the running for a title shot against Big E.

He can thank Rob Van Dam's Five-Star Frog Splash for that. Van Dam eliminated Del Rio as the Intercontinental Championship No. 1 contender on Monday's Raw.

"Mexico's Greatest Export" must now settle for the spoiler role. He can hurt the champ and make somebody else's job easier.

Big E, meanwhile, can charge into Extreme Rules with a victory over a former world champ on his resume. 

These two have met several times in the past, often with exciting results. Their styles mesh well and the chance for a standout bout here is excellent. Other than the main event, it's the most promising match on the schedule.

 

Batista vs. Sheamus

Batista joined forces with Orton and Triple H again on Monday's Raw, as fans witnessed Evolution reforming thanks to a shared hatred of The Shield.

One has to wonder how much Evolution will affect this matchup and whether or not The Shield get involved.

For Sheamus, he only has revenge on his mind. On the March 28 SmackDown, "The Animal" attacked him mid-match with a steel chair.

Batista tried to use him as a way to gain momentum before WrestleMania. Sheamus now needs some of his own as he's involved in a tournament for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship. His second-round opponent, Bad News Barrett, will be hoping for "The Celtic Warrior" to come out of this clash limping.

On a night with several marquee names not performing, it will be up to Batista, Sheamus, Rusev and Paige to make it a SmackDown worth tuning in for.

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