As SmackDown Live took their roster to Hell in a Cell this Sunday, the blue brand wouldn't have to work terribly hard to produce a show better than what Raw produced on Monday. Still, with the pay-per-view not exactly one that screams excitement, a good showing would have meant a lot in terms of producing interest.
Brie Bella was going to get a chance to improve on her recent in-ring stumbles as she took on Maryse, Jeff Hardy would get a shot at the United States Title and perhaps no match was more important than the meeting between The Bar and Rusev Day, the winner moving on to fight The New Day at Hell in a Cell.
With a lot on the line, here are your winners and losers for SmackDown Live, September 11, 2018.
Loser: Jeff Hardy
It's best not to give Jeff Hardy a mic. He's never been strong and his opening of the show was painful to watch as he tried to sell the audience on the idea of him touting his willingness to go to war against Randy Orton. WWE would have been much better suited to show a promo of some kind teasing the idea of what Hardy might do at a pay-per-view that includes a cell and a ton of space for Hardy to drop.
The match itself was quite long considering it ended in a DQ finish. Not really the best way to open the show.
Winner: AJ Styles and Samoa Joe Promos
These empty arena promos on SmackDown Live are kind of neat and Styles made the most of the quiet in his messaging to Joe. AJ's straightforward promo talking to the camera was effective. Meanwhile, remind me never to let Joe read a bedtime story to my kids. His version of "Night Night AJ" was extremely fun to watch and the fact is, Joe can make reading the back of a cereal box interesting.
This match should be the reason to watch Hell in a Cell on Sunday. The actually quite silly concept of the family dynamic is just background noise to what's really going to happen between these two in the ring. That's all WWE needs to do but these two pros are selling the rest of the story well.
Hopefully, WWEShop.com sells a copy of that bedtime book. It would move like hotcakes.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Lynch continues to prove WWE had a magnificent heel under their nose for years and missed it. Dressing up to watch a pretty good match between Charlotte and Sonya Deville only to attack Flair as she posed with fans was a nice touch heading into their match on Sunday.
It would behoove WWE to give Lynch a title run but they likely won't. We've seen this story before with Shinsuke Nakamura who found his groove as a heel only to lose repeatedly and not get the belt. Maybe Lynch has the eye of the writers and Vince will learn from his earlier mistakes.
Winner: Rusev Day
The chances are this win by Rusev and Aiden English is only going to lead toward a breakup at Hell in a Cell when they fail to win the titles off of New Day, but it was still fun to see them get a big win and the fans will be behind the underdogs on Sunday.
This is a team that should have gotten a chance a long time ago and it's probably too little too late but it doesn't have to be. Their victory on Tuesday makes them technical winners and on the long shot odds they actually win the titles on Sunday could make them the winners of the week. It would be long overdue.
Loser: Maryse Versus Brie Bella
While it's all well and good to give the females of WWE a chance to main event their respective flagship shows, this was not a good time to close SmackDown Live with Brie vs Maryse. This match was not worthy of the main event spot and it was chaotic at best and sloppy at worst.
Like Raw on Monday, WWE could have done a better job closing the show and sending fans to Sunday's pay-per-view. Daniel and The Miz are doing their best and this chapter which includes getting the wives involved was inevitable but it will be a nice change when the feud goes back to just the two of them.