The blue brand was going to have to answer some questions coming out of SummerSlam. How would Kevin Owens react to what happened with Shane McMahon? Nakamura was defeated by Jinder Mahal, but is he out of the title picture? How would the show move on without John Cena, after he moved to Raw?
The post-SummerSlam edition of SmackDown Live included surprises, new ideas and, unfortunately, some of the same old ones. The debuts of Bobby Roode and Shelton Benjamin made the tops of our list of winners and a repetitive idea between Shane-O-Mac, Owens and Styles made our list of losers. Where did we put everyone else?
Here are your 5 Winners and 5 Losers from SmackDown Live August 22, 2017.
5. Loser - Chad Gable
It's good to see Shelton Benjamin back and in a way, teaming him with Chad Gable (they were parts of very similar tag teams over their careers) makes sense, but why? Gable is in the midst of a singles push and Benjamin could have come in and made an impact on his own. To team these two together puts both of their single's pushes on the back-burner and smells of lazy writing.
Is it lazy? Only time will tell, and it depends greatly on what they choose to do with this storyline. At first glance though, both Superstars would have been better off on their own. Hopefully, this leads to more time for Gable who has all the tools but needs to air time.
5. Winner - Shelton Benjamin
Despite being placed with Gable and that looking like a confusing decision, the fact that Benjamin is back and on SmackDown Live is a good thing. Sending him to Raw likely would have buried him down the card, and sooner or later, he would have felt irrelevant. On the blue brand, he should get a chance to showcase his incredible in-ring skill.
So too, standing next to Gable and Daniel Bryan, Benjamin looked huge! It's probably easy to look big when you're standing beside two of the smallest guys in the company, but Benjamin looks ready to go.
4. Loser - Dolph Ziggler
The WWE appears to have missed an opportunity here. Ziggler showed up in a backstage interview in the middle of a SmackDown Live that was full of debuts - that was kind of the point. His new character is one of a man being held back and not flashy, so forgotten.
It appears WWE is trying to turn Ziggler into The Miz 2.0 and will be pulling out shoot promos in an effort to get the crowd to feel he's being under-appreciated. This is not what people expected when they heard Ziggler was being repackaged. This has a very good chance of coming off as already done before and that's the last thing Ziggler needs. He doesn't have the chops to pull it off like The Miz does.
4. Winner - Baron Corbin
After losing convincingly to John Cena, it appeared Baron Corbin was going to be in no-man's land. The good news for Corbin is that they found a way for him to play a significant role on the show and while he doesn't necessarily have a feud in the works, there is some appearance that he may have something going with A.J. Styles.
If the WWE is punishing him, the key is to keep him active and doing something useful. He's too big and too good to be completely wasted. He'll rebound from these setbacks and should be stronger because of it. Perhaps a little humility is all he needed to get the wake-up call.
RELATED: IS BARON CORBIN'S PUSH OVER?
3. Loser - Hypes Bros.
It was good to see them back on television and in a match, but they got handily defeated by The Uso's. If this is leading to a rift between Ryder and Rawley, that's one thing. If it's just a way to put a new team up against The Uso's so they have a new set of opponents to defeat, that's not good for the Hype Bros. who should have more room to grow on the show.
This wasn't a great way to have them return. Keeping them together will be a sure-fire sign that the company has no real plans for them.
3. Winner - Kevin Owens
Even though the feud between Styles and Owens is starting to feel a little old, Owens is making the entire idea entertaining. He's so good when he's playing the angry, "I've been cheated" role and you truly start to believe Shane McMahon is screwing him over, even though he isn't.
The first promo of the show was actually better than the match in that it was set up nicely to show that this was it for Owens. He gets no more shots after tonight. No excuses and no amount of whining will help him. You knew he would end up losing, but it was still fun to watch.
2. Loser - Natalya
In every way, Natalya deserved a shot with the SmackDown Live Women's Title. The fact that she was then thrust into a tag team match on SmackDown Live is silliness. If the idea is that Natalya is going to act better than everyone, she should be taking on everyone and she can start by doing a promo or squashing someone in a single's match.
These tag team matches for the sake of having people on the show needs to stop. Take the time needed to tell a good story and don't jumble that story in a match that has no point and no end payoff.
2. Winner - Tamina
Oh my goodness, is Tamina's story actually interesting? Her vignettes with Lana have been productive and the dynamic between the two are making for an intriguing character arc for Tamina, who should be a monster on SmackDown Live, but has been anything but.
It was also wise to slow the progression of Lana who was not ready for a full-time wrestling role. This gives two very useful pieces of the SmackDown Live puzzle something to do, and it means that the blue brand is adding another wrestler to the Women's Division who has both wrestling skill and a story!
1. Loser - Owens vs Styles
The good news here is that it appears the story between Styles and Owens is finally coming to an end, with the story between Shane McMahon and Owens taking center stage. The matches have been great, but there is only so many times you can pit these two against each other and keep it unique and entertaining. This was the first time the matchup felt old and repetitive and it had run its course.
Owens has enough of a reason to go after McMahon now. He doesn't need Styles to remotivate him. Styles can and should move on. It appears he might do so with Baron Corbin.
1. Winner - Bobby Roode
SmackDown Live just went from good to "Glorious" with the debut of Bobby Roode. There were rumors Roode would be making his debut at Raw, but it was wise to put him on SmackDown Live where he has an opportunity to be one of the brands biggest heels. Outside of Owens and Mahal, the blue brand doesn't have a lot of quality bad guys.
The only issue here could be that the WWE didn't seem to debut Roode as a heel. He entered to a chorus of cheers, pandered to the crowd and took on Aiden English. This is a major deviation from what worked for Roode in NXT and that could be a big problem if this is where the WWE wants to go with it.