A fairly uneventful SmackDown Live last week did not deter WWE from producing a much better show for the blue brand this week. Setting the stage for what looks to be a pay-per-view caliber edition of SmackDown Live on September 12, three storylines will lead to three championship matches.
Not to be forgotten, Shinsuke Nakamura pinned Randy Orton to earn the number one contender spot, Kevin Owens plans to sue everyone, and Vince McMahon will be making his return to likely deal with a suspended Shane-O-Mac.
Here are your 5 Winners and Losers for SmackDown Live September 5, 2017.
5. Winner - Kevin Owens
Like the John Cena and Roman Reigns promos that garnered attention on two consecutive Raw programs, SmackDown Live pushed the envelope with Owens getting personal when talking about Shane McMahon's family. Shane attacked and Owens became the best part of his character.
He's so good when he's conniving and twisted that you end up cheering for his opponent and him. He's a joy to watch when he's on point like this.
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5. Loser - Sami Zayn
The WWE is teasing something for Zayn with these losses, but this approach doesn't feel new. Zayn has been the underdog who loses to nobodies all the time and he didn't come out smelling like roses either.
This is just a shame to watch now, and to lose in a matter of a couple minutes is heartbreaking. To make it happen twice against Aiden English (as if to suggest he's got Zayn's number) is an odd choice.
It's hard to know what is happening with Carmella. First, she dumps on James Ellsworth and acts like the heel she should be, then she takes him back and makes out with him for no reason. Just when you're wondering what's going on, she slaps him.
It's weird but that's what makes it kind of fun to watch. How can you not want to see where this is going? The cool tease here is the fact that somehow Ellsworth might cause Carmella to lose her briefcase.
Not for a lack of trying, Ziggler is just being saddled with a makeover that isn't a makeover. As mildly entertaining as his segment was, the WWE Universe didn't seem to care and Ziggler is whining to deaf ears.
Ziggler could be the best talker in the business, and he's going to be in tough to get this idea to fly. There's no long-term plan with a storyline like this, at least not one that's clearly visible.
This was the most SmackDown Live has used Daniel Bryan in a long time and it was a nice change to see him so involved. His acting during the Shane McMahon suspension segment was strong and while the plot is a bit thin, it works for the intended purpose of Shane eventually meeting up with Owens.
Bryan has been a passenger most nights, and with a missing Shane, he might get a bigger role and that's a good thing.
Styles did fine in his limited role on the show, but the fact that there was no U.S. Open Challenge was disappointing. This, we suppose, is one of the few examples of SmackDown Live being only two hours suffers compared to a three-hour Raw.
Dillinger getting a shot is cool, but one of the things that worked so well when Cena did the open challenge was that you never knew who'd answer the call. Styles always seem to have his opponents telegraphed.
Lost in the fast and furious action of Tuesday was the fact that this was the first show for Corey Graves on SmackDown Live commentary. He was a welcome addition and the chemistry between him and Tom Phillips (and even Byron Saxton) is much stronger than it was with JBL and his cohorts. It didn't feel forced or over the top, It was simply natural, and you could tell everyone enjoyed being at the table.
It will be nice having Graves help call the action from here on in. It was a wise choice by the WWE and his transition was smooth.
Orton did his job in putting over Nakamura, but it leaves him a bit up in the air in terms of where to go next. Wherever that is, it will probably be at the expense of someone who shouldn't have to give Orton the rub, but will.
Orton needs a new start and that may be best served on Raw. If the Superstar Shakeup that is rumored does happen, expect Orton to be a name that moves. He didn't move the first time.
Nakamura will get another chance at Jinder Mahal and should the WWE Universe expect him to fail twice? This victory should lead to The King of Strong Style's first ever WWE title and that is a change the WWE Universe has long been awaiting.
Jinder Mahal has done more with the title than anyone ever thought he might, but it's time for someone to take it back from him. Even if it means he gets a rematch, the WWE has kept the belt on him longer than anyone would have expected.
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SmackDown outperformed Raw even with Raw's fantastic main event between Braun Strowman and The Big Show. The blue brand has real momentum, and Raw will have to come out strong next week to beat a heavily loaded SmackDown Live show that is set to air next Tuesday.
If SmackDown Live continues to put on shows like the one they did in this episode, Raw will have its work cut out for it. The downside is the risk SmackDown Live runs in ruining potential pay-per-view matches, but the television is great.
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