Outside of Becky Lynch, who was the biggest winner of the women’s title match?
Brandon Jackson: Carmella. She looked like she belonged in the ring with the other veterans. Alexa Bliss did a fine job as well, but who would’ve known Carmella would work as a heel? The whole match was very good and there weren’t very many slow periods in the match. The Carmella-Nikki Bella feud can continue, and since Carmella eliminated Bella, there is some real conflict there and they have a reason to continue their program.
Joseph Nardone: Alexa Bliss. Sure, she was the first one kicked to the curb, but she was the woman who performed the best in the ring. So much so, in fact, I was waiting for the crowd to ignore the fact that she’s a heel and cheer her on. While it was hard to tell from watching on the Network, that moment “felt” like it almost happened a few different times.
I can see the people backstage being thrilled with how she performed, too. With Nikki Bella and Carmella in a magical feud, I can see Bliss getting pushed as the other top heel.
Adam O’ Brien: Carmella. Her journey from a minor babyface to arguably the biggest heel in the SmackDown women’s division has been really fun to watch, and lasting until the final two at Backlash was the best way to have the crowd pop big when Becky got the win. Who would have thought that Carmella, the very last draft pick in July, would be so close to becoming the face of the SmackDown women’s division without looking out of place? She now goes forward maintaining her heated rivalry with Nikki Bella and having already proven that she can stand toe-to-toe with the new champion if needs be. Expect big things from this lady on the blue brand from now on.
Ronnie Rowlands: Carmella! I would never have expected her to get all the way to the end, and she really got to show some personality throughout that match. The match itself was… OK. Some poor psychology and an awful lot of stacked top rope three woman power moves, and the stream of eliminations came a little too thick and fast after the first for my liking. I genuinely thought Bella would be in the final two, but Carmella being there as a solid heel was good enough for me. The women’s division continues to impress.
Chris Schubert: Honestly, Carmella. That would have been the last name I would have thought of before this match. Bella was possible, and so was Bliss. Putting Carmella as the final heel was a great decision. She needed the big stage to fully sell her as a heel, and her interactions with Bella were wonderful. Also, this sets up the future of the women’s division on SD. They can now have a main title feud between Becky Lynch and whoever they want her to face (hopefully Bliss). While that is going on, Bella and Carmella can have their grudge feud, building up the division nicely.
How much longer can WWE continue doing this to Bray Wyatt?
BJ: It looks like they can do it forever. Bray Wyatt has so much potential that everyone sees except for WWE. I understand the Orton-Wyatt match not happening because of injury, but putting Kane in Orton’s place is bad enough. But then having Kane pin Bray Wyatt? Shocking by even WWE’s standards of booking. I’ve said in the past you can feel better about Wyatt if you look at him as a power ranger villain. He keeps losing but every episode he truly believes he’s good enough to win. And since WWE is technically a kid’s show, I guess that’s OK.
JN: Man, I don’t know. Oddly, we all whine and moan — and, obviously, complain — about Wyatt losing to other talent at every Network Special, but we are all also so vehement in his mattering that losses don’t really hurt him.
It is as if the WWE’s knows this. So they just do whatever they want with Bray because they know we will still be here to consume him whenever the company decides to utilize him in a more proper way.
AO: As long as they like. I love Wyatt, but I’ve given up hope after Sunday that he will ever get on a monster run. He’s lost big feuds to John Cena, The Undertaker and Roman Reigns, and been embarrassed by The Rock at WrestleMania, and just when an impromptu change of plans gave Wyatt a clear opportunity to earn back a little dignity, the company squandered it by having Kane beat him. It’s a poor decision, but at this point it’s what’s expected whenever Wyatt starts picking up speed.
RR: Oh, as long as they wish — he’ll always have the steam to bounce back. For what it was, the match between him and Kane was worth watching, and let’s not forget that it was a screwy finish. Dominating a guy like Kane is not something to be scoffed at (hey, his purpose at this stage is to be the solid impasse), and he did get in some impressive, hardcore offense. I don’t think as lowly of that result as others seem to, and a finish like that is always fuel on the fire for a continued feud.
CS: It should have stopped a really long time ago. I don’t think that one particular moment killed Bray Wyatt as a legitimate threat. Over time, Wyatt has been built into this superstar that doesn’t win the big feud. So nobody expected him to actually beat Randy Orton. Somehow, the WWE found a way to make it worse. They decided to give Kane an impromptu victory over Bray. His character is dead at this point. Nothing he does matters, because everybody knows how the story ends.
If somebody would have told you 12 months ago that AJ Styles would be WWE World Champion, you would have _______.
BJ: Called them a liar. We know he deserves to be champion. We know he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world. But WWE fans have been conditioned to know who can and can’t be a world champion. If you had any type of a big name outside of WWE, then you couldn’t be world champion. You had to be a Vince McMahon success story. Maybe a Ring of Honor guy could be a champion like Seth Rollins. Never a TNA guy like AJ Styles. I would have believed he eventually made it to WWE, but never in a million years would have I expected him to win the WWE championship. But I am so happy that he did.
JN: Asked them if they were on drugs. Seriously. A year ago I was unsure how Styles would translate. Not only from the standpoint of worrying of the WWE would use him right, but if the WWE Universe would accept him. After all, he doesn’t exactly fit the cookie-cutter mold the WWE — and a large section of its fans — prefer.
AO: Laughed. This time last year, WWE wasn’t in a bad place as far as hiring talent goes, but it was still long before they started bringing in guys like Nakamura, The Club, Aries and Roode, not to mention those involved in the Cruiserweight Classic. Very few would have expected that one of the biggest stars in TNA history, and one of the best workers in the industry at that, would have gone over cleanly on John Cena, never mind become the WWE World Champion within the year. As unexpected as it may be, it’s a distinction that nobody deserves more than “The Phenomenal One” right now, and I hope he has a lengthy reign to really cement himself as the kingpin of WWE.
RR: … Been able to see it. I certainly never doubted that the WWE would bring him in — these days, the company is making a big deal of guys who were huge on the indies. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan were parachuted in from the likes of NJPW and RoH, and they achieved some great things in WWE. If you’d told me three years ago, at a time when WWE was more concerned with giving all the accolades to its home-grown talents, I may have scoffed. But the company is moving in a new direction, and Styles is a perfect guy to steer WWE through it.
CS: Been shocked. A TNA superstar has never come in and gets shot to the moon the way AJ Styles has. This guy beat John Cena twice, with the second match being clean on a really big stage. Then he beat Dean Ambrose to become the top guy on SmackDown. Take out how he did it. Vince McMahon decided to put the top title on SmackDown on a guy that made a name for himself in TNA. This is a big deal. It shows how Vince has changed his tune to outside guys and that if he sees money in somebody, he will go with him. Now, it will be interesting to see where they go with Styles.