As the WWE gets ready to present Battle Ground on pay per view, SmackDown Live was dedicated to trying to promote that show and the feuds that would be the central storylines heading into it.
Some stories were advanced in a logical way, while others didn't do as well, simply because they were part of a jumbled mess of over-used tag team matches. Fans got teased the return of a very popular feature of the U.S. Title and Barin Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura will meet officially at Battle Ground and Kevin Owens is not pleased.
Here are the 5 Winners and 5 Losers From SmackDown Live.
One week after a very cool rap battle segment, the WWE seems to have stalled the momentum created by that segment. It's difficult to build steam for tag teams when one member fights another and there is a clear winner. The better bet would have been an all-out brawl with no match or a non-contest match. There wasn't a reason to make one member of either side look weaker here.
The fact that the U.S Title Open Challenge might be back on a regular basis is fantastic. Especially considering Styles ability to perform in the ring. It was a great way to introduce new talent when John Cena did it and it made the belt feel relevant. That fans almost got to see John Cena answer the first-ever AJ Styles version of this go-around was a nice touch.
The match between Jinder Mahal and Ty Dillinger served a purpose, but the same purpose could have been served by having Mahal squash a nobody or cut a promo for Randy Orton. Dillinger may never be more than enhancement talent, but having him get beaten so easily in a short match didn't do anyone any good.
It makes sense that Owens isn't pleased he lost the U.S. Title and that he interrupted the first possible open challenge match was a smart play by the WWE to build heat for his character. The fans will have to wait a little while longer for that bout between Styles and Cena since Owens isn't done with the U.S Title by a long shot. That's the right play.
Some might argue that Corbin hitting people from behind is starting to show a flaw in his character.The WWE should tread carefully. One of the things that make Corbin so watchable is the believable quality he exudes when it comes to legitimately not liking his opponents. So, in some way, it makes sense he wouldn't be ethical 100% of the time. But, if his character is going to stay believably tough, he needs a decisive and legit leg-up every now and then.
These backstage snippets get better and better, even as they get sillier and sillier. In this instance, it helped add to the Breezango characters but also gave fans another hint that the Hype Bros. are heading towards an unsavory ending. This continues to be a strong way to get this obviously thrown together Tyler Breeze and Fandango team over and they are quickly becoming one of the more popular duos on the show.
It's great to see the WWE pushing the U.S. Title again. That said, in its wake is the WWE Championship which feels second-rate now. With no Randy Orton on the show and a quick squash match by Mahal, the WWE Title is losing steam which is not a good thing. That the WWE is bringing the actual Punjabi Prison to SmackDown Live next week will hopefully help.
If there's one member of the Fatal 5-Way match for the SmackDown Women's Championship that appears to be the underdog, it's probably Tamina. Despite being the biggest of the five women, she hasn't been a real threat since her return. Superkicking Charlotte Flair to earn the pinfall helped put her in the conversation. In a way, she's the only woman who could come off as a monster. She should get a bit more respect in that fashion.
It still feels strange to see Lana try and make a go of things with no Rusev. And while Rusev got some good heat with John Cena, it's odd to not have her by his side. The two should be together, even if Lana wants to be taken more seriously as wrestler, the dancing gimmick (which thankfully was not a part of the show this week) needs to go.
We're not sure if what the WWE is doing with the Mike and Maria Kanellis character is going to work, but the only way to really know for sure is to give them some time on television and get them involved in the action. Finally, in standing up for Maria, Mike Kanellis has a beef and he chose to have it with Sami Zayn. Hopefully, this leads to more action from the two.
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