WWE SmackDown Location: Manchester, NH Date: April 28, 2016
Sami Zayn, Cesaro and WWE United States Champion Kalisto defeated Sheamus, Rusev and Alberto Del Rio by count out. Rusev and Del Rio end up walking out on Sheamus as The League of Nations breaks up.
In classic Team Heel vs. Team Face action, the good guys win on a count-out, as Del Rio, Sheamus and Rusev fight amongst themselves and leave the ring one at a time. Backstage, the arguing continues and it is confirmed that the League of Nations is no more, as Sheamus declares he doesn’t need his now former European brethren.
There’s not much logic behind the participants on Team Face other than that’s how it was booked, but it’s pretty clear what the point of this match was. Despite a victory over the New Day in a non-title match at WrestleMania 32, the League had lost any momentum it had and recently kicked Wade Barrett out of the group. Hopefully, these men can gain some traction as individuals that they weren’t quite able to get as a group, for some reason.
Next, it’s announced that Women’s Champion Charlotte will appear on the Ambrose Asylum along with Payback opponent Natalya.
Baron Corbin def. Damien Sandow
This wasn’t a particularly long match, as Corbin quickly mowed down Sandow as a final televised match before his Payback showdown with Dolph Ziggler.
It seemed we were spared the disappointment of seeing Sandow return just to get squashed by Corbin when Ziggler got revenge on “The Lone Wolf” Monday on RAW before the match could start. That relief was short-lived, though, and it’s unfortunate that Sandow got the spot here. It’s understandable that the WWE would want Corbin to be built properly, but Sandow hasn’t gotten near enough time on the air recently.
The Ambrose Asylum is up next with Natalya, Charlotte and Ric Flair joining the Lunatic Fringe in the ring for his new talk show. The segment was good for what it was, but Ric reportedly finished it off by telling Natalya to kill herself, which will almost certainly not make the final cut for the television program.
The time may have come for Flair to step away from the WWE again. He seemed drunk when he was introducing Sting at the WWE Hall of Fame, an introduction that included more stories about Flair and Ricky Steamboat than anything else. Now, he’s brought a highly sensitive subject like suicide into the mix, something that is obviously not tolerable in 2016.
This was a battle of solid microphone workers that went the expected way in the ring, but things got a little crowded. The New Day made their way to the ring area first to do commentary for the match, making Byron Saxton sit on the floor. Then the Vaudevillains came out to the stage area to watch the match.
The build to the match between Enzo and Cass and the Vaudevillains at Payback to determine the No. 1 contender for the tag team titles has been really well done. The Vaudevillains have done their best to keep up on the microphone, and they’ve more clearly established their character as a team. It would still be preferable to see Enzo and Big Cass get the victory, but the Vaudevillains have shown they may be able to stay afloat on the main roster.
Apollo Crews def. Stardust
These two put on their second solid match of the week after an under-the-radar gem on Monday.
It’s hard to say what the immediate plans are for Crews, but he’d be an ideal matchup for Ryback for the United States Championship if the “Big Guy” takes the belt from Kalisto on Sunday. As for Stardust, could it be that we’re finally getting to the transition back to Cody Rhodes?
This was a non-title match all the way around, with all the expected interference. Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, The Usos and AJ Styles all got involved or appeared in some way.
This world title feud has really been built well, especially considering the match was set up almost a month ago on the Monday night after RAW with little to no previous animosity between Reigns and Styles. Further, the WWE has managed to keep some suspense as far as which man is going to work as the face and who is the heel going forward, leaving plenty of options for the finish to the match at Payback.
Titus O’Neil made his return to the WWE ring in a dark match victory over Tyler Breeze during the evening’s festivities. O’Neil had been suspended for 60 days following an incident involving contact with Vince McMahon.