WWE SmackDown Results: Winners, Grades, Highlights and Analysis from April 2
The April 2 episode of WWE SmackDown Live represented the main roster's penultimate stop on The Road to WrestleMania, headlined by the contract signing for the WWE Championship match between Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston.
Those two Superstars put an emphatic exclamation point on an incredibly focused show in which every segment was devoted to putting over a match on Sunday's card.
It succeeded, even awarding time to the afterthought Battle Royals.
Find out exactly what went down, how it graded out and why with this recap of Tuesday's live broadcast.
'The Kevin Owens Show' with Randy Orton and AJ Styles
Ahead of a showdown at WrestleMania 35, AJ Styles and Randy Orton joined "The Kevin Owens Show" to kick off this week's edition.
A short-lived back-and-forth gave way to physicality...but not before Owens bailed on his own show.
Styles attempted a Phenomenal Forearm, but Orton caught him in midair with an RKO that left him lying in the center of the ring.
The Viper stood tall to close out the segment.
This was short, sweet and to the point.
There wasn't an abundance of talk; there wasn't any sort of overbooking or ridiculousness. Orton once more brought up Styles' indy background, and The Phenomenal One brought up The Viper's failed drug tests, adding more heat to the program.
The physicality was a nice tease for Sunday's match, which may well steal the show if the Superstars get the time to tell their story.
The Usos, Aleister Black and Ricochet vs. The Bar, Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura
The SmackDown tag team division took center stage as the in-ring portion of this week's show kicked off. Champions The Usos and the tandem of Aleister Black and Ricochet battled Rusev, Shinsuke Nakamura, Sheamus and Cesaro.
The heels isolated Jey Uso for the majority of the bout, cutting off the ring and keeping him from his partners.
Jimmy Uso got the hot tag, and the action broke down. Ricochet starred, Black blasted Cesaro with Black Mass and The Usos delivered a double superkick to Rusev to set up the finish.
After the win, the champions stood in the center of the ring as WrestleMania host Alexa Bliss appeared and announced The Usos will defend against Black and Ricochet, Nakamura and Rusev, and The Bar in a Fatal 4-Way match at The Show of Shows.
A brawl broke out, which led to Black and Ricochet standing tall to close out the segment.
The Usos, Black and Ricochet defeated The Bar, Rusev and Nakamura
The action was solid, if not formulaic, but it was the announcement by Bliss that carried the most weight.
After all, signs pointed to a multi-team match for the SmackDown tag titles, and that is exactly what was announced Tuesday night. The addition of Black and Ricochet is interesting in that it felt like we were destined to see them defeat The Revival for the Raw brand titles.
With that no longer being the case, and the team standing tall to close this one out, a Black-Ricochet victory no longer seems like a sure thing.
The IIconics Address WrestleMania
Peyton Royce and Billie Kay made their way to the ring Tuesday, ready to address their match for the women's tag team titles Sunday against Sasha Banks and Bayley, Natalya and Beth Phoenix, and Tamina and Nia Jax.
The brief promo ended with the promise of an iconic championship win.
Like so much on this show, this was short and sweet.
Kay and Royce made their point, never overstayed their welcome and did enough to put over a title match that had already been heavily hyped on Raw.
Taking that into consideration, this was a successful segment that allowed the charismatic stars to shine.
3-on-1 Handicap Match: The Miz vs. Sanity
The Miz cut a promo on Shane McMahon, calling WrestleMania his retribution.
From there, The A-Lister squared off with Sanity's Killian Dain, Alexander Wolfe and Eric Young in a Handicap match arranged by McMahon.
The self-proclaimed Best in the World made his presence felt, watching from a distance as his WrestleMania opponent fought against three of the most dangerous competitors...in NXT. On the main roster, they have been afterthoughts and tackling dummies.
That did not change here.
Fueled by McMahon's verbal insults and photos of him laying hands on Miz's father, George, the former WWE champion took the fight to his opposition.
Even as McMahon announced it would be a Falls Count Anywhere match, Miz continued to show resiliency, eventually pinning Young to score a huge victory.
Miz stared down McMahon in the parking garage to close out the segment.
The Miz defeated Sanity
Miz looked like a total badass here, a description not typically used in relation to him.
With that said, this put him over big time and intensified his rivalry with McMahon.
Unfortunately, it came at the expense of Sanity, a faction as dead in the water as any other act in all of WWE. Once destined to do big things, the group is somehow less credible than The Ascension and just got beat down by a guy no one has ever confused with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
It was certainly curious booking to utilize the team in that role.
Becky Lynch Promo
Just 24 hours after being arrested in Washington, D.C., on Raw, Becky Lynch graced the WWE Universe with a promo hyping her Triple Threat Winner-Takes-All match against Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania.
The Man made mention of WWE's original plans to book Flair vs. Rousey, but that all changed when she turned on The Queen.
She put over Sunday's main event and vowed to return to SmackDown as the new unified women's champion.
Lynch has such charisma and such a strong connection with fans right now that she could have come to the ring and sold the WWE Universe a vacuum cleaner, and she would have succeeded.
There was nothing to this we haven't heard before, but it was still strong enough to capture the attention of fans.
Everything that needs to be said about the WrestleMania main event already has been. This was just icing on the cake by wrestling's most popular Superstar.
18-Person Mixed Tag Team Match
R-Truth, Heavy Machinery, The Hardy Boyz, Carmella, Naomi, Asuka and Nikki Cross battled EC3, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Andrade, Shelton Benjamin, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Lana and Zelina Vega in the largest Mixed Tag Team match in WWE history Tuesday.
There were fun-filled spots, such as Otis Dozovic's Caterpillar maneuver to EC3 and the renewal of the rivalry between Naomi and Mandy Rose, but the end of the match saw chaos reign supreme and the referee call for the bell.
Each Superstar took turns eliminating the other, culminating with Asuka dumping Jeff Hardy and standing tall in a cool spot.
As a preview for the Battle Royals on Sunday's show, this was harmless fun.
No one was any better or worse off for having been involved, and both the men's and women's matches Sunday night were put over as well as they are going to be at this point.
Best of all? Asuka took center stage a week after a crushing defeat and should be the favorite to win the women's Battle Royal on Sunday.
Ali vs. Samoa Joe
Just five days before he is slated to defend his United States Championship against Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania, Samoa Joe battled Ali in a non-title match.
The agile, fast-paced cruiserweight took the fight to Joe, staggering the champion early.
Unfortunately, a big tornado DDT represented the most impressive offense he was able to present. He tried for a 450 splash, but Joe blocked, applied the Coquina Clutch and tapped him out.
Samoa Joe defeated Ali
This was a sprint of a match meant to put the spotlight on Joe, give him a relatively competitive win and do it against a guy who loses nothing in defeat.
It accomplished all of that and has Joe on a roll...even if his match with Mysterio feels like an afterthought of sorts on a loaded card.
WWE Championship Contract Signing
WWE champion Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston sat across from each other, ready to sign the contract that would make their WrestleMania match official.
Bryan signed the deal and then took the time to "educate" the WWE Universe. He blamed Kingston's 11-year frustration on complacency. He implored the masses not to wait for someone to push you the way the New Day man has.
The No. 1 contender heard enough of Bryan dictate his own brand of education to the masses. He rose from his seat, told him he had watched and studied the champion's journey to the title. "You don't know me. You don't know what I've been through!" he exclaimed.
Kingston signed the contract, tossed it to Michael Cole and ended the show as intense and focused as we have ever seen him.
A rivalry that did not need to be any more hype got it in the form of a phenomenal promo by two guys who may have just elevated their contest to the "most must-see" status.
Kingston has been phenomenal over the last two months, and Bryan has been as quietly consistent a fantastic heel as anyone in recent memory. His character has been truly fun to watch evolve and develop with every passing week, and he has earned this right to defend in a high-profile bout.
In the most significant promo of his career, Kingston made the fans a believer and now enters WrestleMania as the Superstar expected to leave with gold around his waist.