Smackdown After Mania: The Women Take Front And Center

A new general manager takes control and an Iconic debut leads to a new Women’s Champion. While the “fantasy match” of Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles may have main evented the show, it was three big moments involving women that highlighted Smackdown After Mania, as Paige re-appeared on WWE TV in less than 24 hours as the new Smackdown Live General Manager, while the Iconic Duo‘s main roster debut lead to Carmella cashing in to become the new Smackdown Women’s Champion.


Last night on Raw After Mania, Absolution leader and former Women’s Champion Paige announced her retirement from in-ring competition, following months of speculation following a brutal neck injury. She gave an emotional speech to the New Orleans crowd stating she was moving on to other endeavours.

But just 24 hours later, Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon announced that Daniel Bryan was leaving his post as General Manager to return as a full-time competitor and revealed that the new Smackdown General Manager would be none other than the newly retired Paige. In Paige’s first booking decision, she announced the main event of Daniel Bryan facing AJ Styles.


Following her huge victory at WrestleMania 34 defending her Smackdown Women’s Championship (and ending Asuka’s winning streak), Charlotte came out to reflect on the match and postulate about the future. The Queen of the WWE was interrupted by the debut of NXT’s Iconic Duo, the Australian pairing of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce. The two former Australian indie stars Jessie McKay (Billie) and KC Cassidy (Royce) started together in NXT in 2015 and have been paired together practically since day one in the WWE Universe. The two have transformed into arguably the two best heels NXT has had in ages and for the past six months or so, NXT fans within the WWE Universe have long wondered when they were getting their call up, no longer if they were getting called up. The two made their presence known loud and quickly, leaving the Women’s Champion in a crumpled mess in the ring. For their main roster debut, they have been slightly renamed, going simply as The Iconics on the main roster.


Which lead to the next internet rumor swerve of WrestleMania week. It was long reported by various places that the plan was for Carmella to finally attempt to cash in and lose, making her the first woman to lose the MITB briefcase contract as well. When she didn’t cash in at WrestleMania, it seemed to many that it was likely the case. But following the Iconics beat down on Charlotte Flair, Carmella ran to the ring and after 20-year WWE official Jack Doan seemed to take 10 minutes to clearly understand what Carmella could possibly be trying to be implying by literally shoving the contract briefcase in his hands and yelling “I’m cashing in!” over and over, the bell was finally rung. In all seriousness, the lengthy delay in the cash-in only built up the drama that Charlotte was going to recharge in time to squash Carmella’s attempt. But Charlotte remained groggy and after a quick superkick from Carmella and a three count from the referee, the New Orleans crowd erupted in excitement as the Fabulous One won her first Women’s title.