|In-ring promo with Charlotte; Naomi to the ring; separated by referee; Shane McMahon comes out to announce a #1 contender’s match for the SmackDown Women’s Title; scuffle after the announcement||Naomi’s aggression in going after Charlotte to open the show was awesome. As well as the scuffle after Shane coming out. Unfortunately, the way this is unfolding likely means that their feud will be short-lived. Which is too bad, as they demonstrated what a great match they are capable of putting on later in the show.
Instead of Naomi answering the call, why not use Tamina here? She is the other new SmackDown Live superstar; have her come out and say she deserves the same opportunities that the Queen does, and put these two in a match right away.
I think a slower build to Naomi vs. Charlotte benefits the whole division. You can use other pieces to keep everyone involved until the inevitable PPV clash, which could really extend through multiple PPV’s until Charlotte comes out on top, and a new challenger is established.
|Backstage with Natalya and Shane; Carmela, James Ellsworth & Tamina join; 6-Pack Challenge for #1 contender for WWE Championship; Erick Rowan vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Mojo Rawley vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Luke Harper vs. Sami Zayn; Jinder Mahal wins via pinfall off a distraction from the Bollywood Boys; Jinder Mahal in-ring with Renee Young; Randy Orton comes to the ring to confront Jinder; Bray Wyatt on the monitor||I suggested Tamina answering Charlotte’s call only because they were the two new superstars, but what if instead it was a group of them? Natalya, Carmela and Tamina all appear on the ramp and stake their claim to be the #1 contender. As long as they made it a singles tournament vs. a fatal four-way, I’d be all for it.
I feel the same way about the 6-Pack Challenge. This should have been a singles tournament leading to a new #1 contender. So many questions to ask here, but the way they are booking the WWE World Championship makes it feel like a mid-card title.
No Nakamura in this match, yet we get Ziggler? No AJ Styles either? I know he is set to take on the winner of Owens & Jericho. Their whole storyline makes it feel as if the US Title really is the most prestigious belt in the business.
All those factors aside, JINDER MAHAL?!? I saw Jinder Mahal lose in a singles match in a house show to Big Cass 3 weeks ago. Now he’s the #1 contender for the big belt? It’s crazy; intriguing, but crazy. Harper should have won here. He has backstory with Orton, who will likely emerge as champion following Payback. Harper puts on great matches and would be best at the top of the card, involved with Orton, Styles, Owens, Shinsuke, etc. JINDER EFFING MAHAL?!? I mean, I’ll certainly keep watching, but what is Vince smoking and can I have some?
The end bit with Orton coming down and Bray on the monitor is what it is; I think it would have been more effective and relevant had Bray not popped up on RAW the night before.
|Renee Young backstage interview with AJ Styles; Baron Corbin interrupts; Backstage with Charlotte, Natalya, Carmela, Ellsworth & Tamina||The AJ Styles and Baron Corbin bit was set-up for the main event. It’s good to see Corbin continuing to get a push, though I’m not sure where he’s ultimately headed. Possibly a continued clash with Styles after AJ wins the belt from Owens?
The run in with Charlotte and the rest of the locker room begged for an ambush. Something to heighten the drama and tension of the whole division. Nattie is obviously the instigator in this equation. I think setting her up as the initial feud for Charlotte would be a good choice to postpone the war with Naomi.
|#1 Contender’s Match for SmackDown Women’s Title, Charlotte vs. Naomi; Charlotte wins via pinfall||Okay… no backstage confrontation… no interference in the match… just a clean Charlotte win.
What does this say about the rest of the locker room? They are all just content to sit back and idly watch on as Charlotte moves up the ladder I guess. Why not interrupt this match so Naomi can get the win, and send Charlotte to the back of the line?
|Primo & Epico vs. American Alpha; Primo & Epico win via pinfall||So I’ve literally forgotten who is even in the SmackDown tag team division. I guess New Day is coming, who I suppose will challenge the Usos for the titles? I wasn’t ready to let go of The Usos vs. American Alpha feud. I thought they had a good thing going.
Primo & Epico were a pleasant surprise here though. They have appeared to completely drop the terrible “Shining Stars” gimmick, which is great. And in this match, they prove they can hang with the best.
I just thought of the missing tag team – Breezango.
Okay, so let’s say when The New Day arrives next week, they have to pass inspection by first feuding with the fashion police. That would lead The Usos to still be involved with American Alpha. Perhaps The Usos could even be in collusion with Primo & Epico?
In the match we got, keep Primo & Epico going over, but with interference from the tag champs. American Alpha could be distraught; what is this conspiracy against them? This could even be heightened the following week when The Bollywood Boys align with The Usos and Primo & Epico. Take all the international superstars and align them to procure all the American gold. Now you have classic heel vs. face platforms to build off of, and American Alpha can finally get some time to ascend to glory and show what they are really capable of.
|Backstage interview with Tye Dillinger; Face Of America open challenge Kevin Owens vs. Gary Gandy; Owens wins via pinfall||So we got a Nakamura vignette earlier, but no Shinsuke in-ring, and now we get the same but with The Perfect 10 Tye Dillinger.
Instead of that bit, and in-place of the Face Of American challenge, let’s at least get a Tye Dillinger match. I still like my Breezango angle – Tye Dillinger against the two pretty boys in a handicap match. Let see who the real Perfect 10 is, by wrestling, in the ring. Pulling in a hometown jobber for KO to smash is a disservice to unused talent on the SmackDown roster.
|AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin with Kevin Owens on commentary; AJ Styles wins via countout||Consider this alternative – with the apparent face push of AJ Styles, have Baron Corbin and Kevin Owens team up and just pulverize AJ to close the show. And just because it isn’t exactly in The Lone Wolf’s nature to embrace teamwork, have him land a last second End Of Days on Owens before we fade to black.
Both SmackDown and RAW are in holding patterns until we get through Payback; it’s an awkward PPV with bizarre crossover matches that are essentially predictable due to the Superstar Shake-Up. I think since we’re in this grey area, we should embrace it. The WWE attempts to be using this time to set up a series of #1 contenders – Styles last week, and Charlotte and Jinder Mahal this week.
An emerging talent like Corbin figures to get lost in the shuffle and relegated to the lower-midcard without some kind of victory. By making an impact and standing tall at the end of the show, it provides uncertainty to the US Title picture. Keep him involved and maybe at Backlash, have Corbin also challenge for the belt in a triple threat set-up. I would even put the US Title on him in that scenario. Then inject Styles and Owens back into the world title picture – a place where someone like Jinder Mahal simply does not belong.