WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 13

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterMarch 14, 2018

WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 13

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Days after Fastlane made it clear what the blue brand's top matches would be at WrestleMania 34, Tuesday's WWE SmackDown went to work hyping those bouts.

    AJ Styles, by virtue of winning the Six-Pack Challenge at Sunday's pay-per-view, assured he would face Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship. The two men locked eyes in Indianapolis on Tuesday as they spoke of their upcoming clash.

    Asuka invaded Fastlane to confront Charlotte Flair. She followed that up with her SmackDown debut, letting the women's champ know why she chose to pursue her title.

    Tuesday's episode revealed what Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens will be doing at The Show of Shows. At least until their growing tensions with the show's authority change things up. 

    SmackDown also saw the United States Championship scene sag, a pair of rivals team up and Carmella zero in on her foe's hair. Read on for a full breakdown of the show, from those moments to the main event picture. 

AJ Styles vs. Rusev

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    A confident Styles kicked off the show by recalling how the Fastlane main event unfolded. He talked about his respect for Nakamura. The King of Strong Style emerged to confront Styles.

    Rusev and Aiden English soon interrupted before champion and challenger could come to blows.

    Once the bell rang, Rusev outmuscled The Phenomenal One. Styles withstood a series of strikes and countered with his usual high-energy offense.

    The Lion of Bulgaria controlled the bout for a good while, overwhelming the champ. Rusev's size prevented Styles from using his full arsenal. As he tried to clamp on the Calf Crusher, English attacked.

    Nakamura stepped in to fight off the heels.

                

    Result

    Styles wins via disqualification.

             

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • "Unbelievable, not impossible."—Styles on his successes.
    • "Wait a second. I earned it."—Styles to fans chanting "You deserve it!"
    • Rusev flings Styles high in the air for a back body drop.
    • Styles nearly gets Rusev up for the Styles Clash.

              

    Grade

    B-

               

    Analysis

    With as much as fans want to see Styles vs. Nakamura, WWE didn't have to do much here. Just putting the two guys in the same ring and letting the audience soak up the reality of the bout happening was plenty.

    WWE appears to be going the patient route with this build, saving the violence between them for later.

    Rusev getting involved was a welcome sight. He put on a strong performance to follow up on his one against Nakamura. The more the company can make use of his popularity, the better.

The Bludgeon Brothers vs. Jimmy Uso and Big E

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    Jimmy Uso and Big E teamed together because they were the only two men still able to compete after The Bludgeon Brothers' assault on Fastlane.

    Luke Harper and Erick Rowan didn't even get a chance to take off their jackets before the babyfaces pounded on them. Big E and Uso grabbed steel chairs; The Bludgeon Brothers armed themselves with their trademark mallets.

    Referees struggled to keep order and get the match officially underway.

    The Bludgeon Brothers smashed through the opposition once the bell began. Uso took the pinfall, and Big E took the post-match punishment.

              

    Result

    The Bludgeon Brothers win via pinfall.

               

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • "I will hold down my brothers. I will represent The New Day."—Big E.
    • "The Earth just shook when Rowan collided with Big E."—Corey Graves.
    • The referee darts out of the ring as the rivals charge at each other.
    • Rowan smashes Big E into the ring steps.

             

    Grade

    B+

             

    Analysis

    The New Day-Uso team-up was a deft move to advance this story. It made the babyfaces look gutsy for fighting hurt, and The Bludgeon Brothers got a chance to display their dominance again.

    WWE has done a tremendous job in rebuilding Harper and Rowan. Their momentum meter is 10 times fuller than before the gimmick chance.

    Big E's promo work has been on a headliner level of late. The intense version of the powerhouse that we saw here acted as a preview of what he would look like in a world title chase. 

Asuka Arrives on the Blue Brand

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    Flair told the crowd she was excited about Asuka choosing to fight her. When The Empress of Tomorrow stepped into the ring, the champ told Asuka she was hoping to fight her in order to cement her legacy.

    Asuka said that she sought Flair because she enjoys a challenge.

    Randy Orton strolled to the ring seconds into Flair and Asuka's staredown.

               

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • "What if The Queen went one-on-one with The Empress of Tomorrow? Who will bow down?"—Flair.
    • "Asuka bows to no one."Asuka.

            

    Grade

    C+

              

    Analysis

    Asuka and Flair's interactions were quite cordial. Things have to grow more intense in a hurry. Nakamura and Styles have a similar dynamic but with more underlying hostility.

    Each woman's motivations were laid out clearly in the segment, which will provide a strong base to build on.

    It's baffling that WWE cut off the women's moment with Orton's entrance. The scene felt short and unfinished as a result.

Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Orton celebrated his United States Championship win before Bobby Roode reminded him he has a rematch coming to him, one he wants to exercise at WrestleMania. Jinder Mahal stepped in and promised to beat Roode.

    Once the match kicked off, Roode had Mahal retreating early. He was able to stay in control of The Maharaja with a relentless attack.

    A distraction from Sunil Singh allowed Mahal to nail his finisher and grab the win. Mahal had little chance to celebrate, though, as Orton floored him with an RKO.

             

    Result

    Mahal wins via pinfall.

           

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • "This title is mine now. The United States Championship is mine, and I'm taking it to WrestleMania."—Orton.
    • Roode counters the Khallas into a DDT attempt.
    • Roode kicks Singh into the ring post.

        

    Grade

    D

          

    Analysis

    The U.S. title scene is a flat tire keeping SmackDown from reaching full speed. It's been lackluster for weeks, and there's little chance of that changing with these three guys involved.

    Roode is miscast as a babyface. Orton's current character has little spark. And WWE keeps playing the same old "distraction finish" song with Mahal. 

    It's clear The Maharaja is earning his way into the U.S. title WrestleMania match, which means we're getting more Orton vs. Mahal despite how little life that feud had the first time.

Naomi vs. Carmella

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Carmella pounced on Naomi, tugging at her hair. She dominated the babyface early on. Naomi, however, battled back and slapped her foe around.

    A slip on the ropes opened Naomi up for a hair yank and a three-count from Carmella.

            

    Result

    Carmella wins via pinfall.

           

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • "You're nobody, Naomi. I'm Ms. Money in the Bank."—Carmella.
    • Carmella squeals as Naomi smacks her repeatedly.

         

    Grade

    C-

         

    Analysis

    It's good to see WWE portray Carmella as vicious and dangerous. She's too long looked ineffective since winning the Money in the Bank contract. 

    The match, though, had few highlights. And even though the announcers tried to sell this as a means to increase momentum ahead of the Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal, it didn't feel like it meant much.

Shane McMahon's WrestleMania Announcement

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    Zayn and Owens each ranted about the current situation with them and McMahon in separate backstage interviews.

    McMahon explained why he's had so much animosity with Zayn and Owens. He admitted that his conduct has been "unbecoming." He announced he was taking a leave of absence as commissioner.

    Shane-O-Mac informed the crowd Owens would be facing Zayn at WrestleMania.

    KO came out to wish McMahon luck. He and Zayn walloped their boss in the ring. Eventually, they dragged McMahon through the arena before powerbombing him onto a ladder.

            

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    • "I have no problem being the one to teach Sami a lesson."—Owens.
    • "I can beat the hell out of Sami Zayn anytime I want. I don't have to wait for WrestleMania."—Owens.
    • Owens holds down McMahon so Zayn can deliver the Helluva Kick.
    • Zayn and Owens smash McMahon into a steel post with a chair around his neck.

          

    Grade

    A-

             

    Analysis

    Zayn fired off one of his best promos to date. Owens was his usual sharp-tongued self on the mic

    The beatdown was uncomfortable and powerful. The heels came out of it looking like heartless jackals. This was the kind of emphatic statement they have long needed.

    The biggest issue with the moment is that McMahon isn't a sympathetic character right now. Yes, he's looking to avenge his father, but he's acted unscrupulously for months.

    As for the WrestleMania announcement, it's Owens vs. Zayn right now, but that's not going to last. McMahon will get involved somehowmost likely a tag team match it seems.