This week's edition of SmackDown Live was an attempt to set the stage of the upcoming Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on Oct. 8, 2017. Focusing mostly on four competitors, Rusev, Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura and Jinder Mahal, this blue brand will have some work to do to make the show interesting and increase the viewership from their last SmackDown Live exclusive pay-per-view Battleground.
With continued feuds and in-ring debuts, it's hard to say, at least for now, whether or not the WWE is succeeding in their efforts.
Shelton Benjamin, returned to the company for the first time in seven years, Bobby Roode stayed a babyface and The Singh Brothers proved to be the most entertaining part of the Jinder Mahal character.
Here are your 5 Winners and 5 Losers From SmackDown Live August 29, 2017.
5. Loser - Bobby Roode
It appears as though the WWE is intent to make Roode a babyface, and it's hard to understand why. Yes, he's popular thanks to his glorious entrance music, but that's not a good enough reason to change a formula that worked so well in NXT and almost completely abandon that character for cheap pops.
The company is missing the boat on Roode if they continue to go down this road. There is nothing about his character that screams baby face.
5. Winner - Shelton Benjamin
Benjamin looks like he's a good twenty pounds heavier than he was seven years ago, but he still looked like he can go in the ring. His return was the most exciting part of the match and it was a return long overdue.
It's hard to love the idea of putting him with Chad Gable unless he's there for a mentorship role and not a significant singles push, but it will be interesting to see where this story goes. A tag team title reign is likely in the cards.
4. Loser - Mike Kanellis
Man, the WWE has dropped the ball with Mike and Maria Kanellis so far. The gimmick was never strong, and since his debut, he's been nothing but enhancement talent caught up in feuds that go nowhere, and never seem to get the full attention of the WWE writing staff. If you're going to try a gimmick like this, the least you can do is go full-steam ahead with it.
If the company wants to take advantage of Mike's skills, they'll need a quick about-face to get him going. He has the talent to make it work, he just needs a gimmick he can get into. Maybe, not even a gimmick. More a dropping of the idea and just being himself.
4. Winners - The Singh Brothers
Who would have thought when The Singh Brothers first debuted in the Cruiserweight Division that they'd be tied to a failing enhancement talent and then be part of the championship scene on SmackDown Live. I'll bet they didn't. But, they are making the most of their opportunity and giving themselves a shot at long-term employment regardless of when the Mahal push ends.
They did a fabulous job of being the right amount of annoying, pathetic and powerful to make you love hating them.
3. Loser - Rusev
The Bulgarian Brute is quickly becoming the WWE's current Barry Horowitz. Sure, right now you believe he has a shot thanks to his sheer power and reputation, but that reputation is quickly fading into one that resembles a jobber of year's past. He ate another pinfall in the tag team match between Mahal, Rusve, Orton, and Nakamura.
Was this punishment for the rumor that he and Lana had asked for their releases? It's hard to explain another reason the WWE seems to hate him so much.
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3. Winner - Kevin Owens
Considering that SmackDown Live was not a great show this week, it's easy to call Owens the winner above most others. His feud with Shane McMahon is the number one storyline on the program, and it will be the match that has the most interest onlookers.
When Owens finally snaps on McMahon (which he will) it will become the best angle on the blue brand by a country mile.
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2. Loser - A.J. Styles
This is not how the U.S. Championship Open Challenge is supposed to work. It doesn't make Styles look good when a challenger like Ty Dillinger is beaten up outside the ring by Baron Corbin and then loses to Styles who makes an injured wrestler submit in under a couple minutes.
The idea here is to have a wrestler like Styles, who can go with anyone and set new standards for matches that debut new talent or showcase the skills of in-ring performers. This did not do that at all.
2. Winner - Tamina
It's not so much that it was the most entertaining segment on the show, but it's nice to see WWE doing something useful with Tamina who should, by most accounts, be a monster female competitor on SmackDown Live. She's the blue brand's version of Nia Jax, but she's not been viewed as such lately.
There should be more squash matches like this in her future. It will build credibility to her in-ring dominance and make her a believable threat to any woman in the division.
1. Loser - Sami Zayn
Like Mike Kanellis or Rusev, Sami Zayn is being wasted. This time it was in an effort to put over Kevin Owens' anger and frustration. The match itself was pointless other than to serve as an opportunity to Owens to prove a point by screwing over others in an effort get back at Shane-O-Mac.
Remember when Sami Zayn actually beat Owens in a five-star match? Oh, how things have regressed for the always happy Sami Zayn.
1. Winner - Nakamura vs Orton
In an interesting twist, the main event served to actually get viewers interested in what might come next Tuesday. The match itself was nothing to write home about, but with Orton RKOing Nakamura, it sets the stage for their number one contender match. It seems logical to suggest Namakura gets the nod, but stranger things have happened.
If not for this switch-up, it would have been hard to sell the idea of tuning into next week's show. Not much else eventful took place this week.
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