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Roundtable: Ambrose toeing the line between face and heel

Summerslam
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

Moment of the night?

John Brown: The moment of the night goes to Dolph Ziggler getting the pin at the end of the night.  Dean Ambrose is a loose cannon and his character justifies hitting Ziggler with Dirty Deeds at the end of the match.  However, Ziggler got the clean pin in the match.  This shows that the investment in Ziggler is most certainly underway, and is not simply a fleeting thought made to be cast aside.  Ziggler deserves this shot, and moments like this are only going to help his stock continue to rise.

Chris Schubert: Is it bad that it took a while to think of one? Overall SmackDown was alright this week, and missed a golden opportunity to one-up Raw this week. Looking at the moment of the night, would it have to be Eva Marie’s wardrobe malfunction? Maybe it should be given to American Alpha, who the WWE clearly view as a top team and proved that this week. So let’s give it to them, because they looked really, really strong this week.

Ronnie Rowlands: Hard to say. Every second of that show felt unimportant and uninspired, and the actual wrestling matches left an awful lot to be desired. There was no lasting image apart from at the very end, with Dean Ambrose letting Dolph Ziggler know exactly where he stands. So let’s go with that; if it doesn’t hint at a heel turn for Dean Ambrose, it at least shows that the WWE can still get the “tweener” right.

Adam O’Brien: The Dirty Deeds on Ziggler. This was the first time we’ve seen Dean Ambrose actually compete on SmackDown Live since the brand extension came into play, and considering the amount of exposure Dolph Ziggler has been getting since week one, Ambrose really needed to come out on top here. Ziggler is still the underdog of course, but for that to work we need to believe in Ambrose as the top competitor on the roster. Hitting the challenger with his finisher, after a successful effort against The Wyatt Family, was a simple yet effective means of letting everyone know why his name’s on the strap.

Brandon Jackson: The only answer to this question is the shot when Renee Young comes back from the Apollo Crews video package and The Miz and Maryse are both up on the table gazing into each other’s eyes as close as possible. WWE doesn’t always do comedy well, but when it does, most of the time The Miz is a part of that segment. This may not serve well to get Crews over as a credible challenger, but it definitely makes fans want to see Miz lose.

What is WWE’s endgame with Eva Marie? 

JB: Well, she is certainly not going to go the route of being inspirational.

Eva Marie is never, ever, ever going to make it in WWE as a babyface.  She represents an era of women’s wrestling that does not fit the New Era, but the era that found the likes of Christy Hemme and Kelly Kelly simply be attractive, and yet win titles. Due to this, she is living, breathing heat vacuum and will only find success in this role. This is the perfect spot for her, and her automatic heat she draws needs to be utilized to boost the status of those she works with.

CS: The goal of all of this is to get more heat on Eva Marie, obviously. Getting out of matches via these excuses and everything is  a great way to get the fans to hate her. The endgame? That’s tough. And it’s not because of anything Eva did, but because there really isn’t an endgame for the women’s division on SmackDown. Until that gets figured out, which probably involves their own championship, the endgame for each woman on SmackDown is in this weird state of flux. It’s why we are getting this weird and random segments each week. It’s why Natalya and Carmella have had their feud as well. Treading water until this all gets figured out.

RR:  To induce a mass walkout from live audiences, presumably. Do you know, I am so sick of all these people saying that the booking of Eva Marie is “genius.” Yes, she does draw heat like a black shirt in the desert, but it’s “go away” heat. I’ve even seen some people suggesting that even this kind of heat is good, because “nobody boos heels anymore.” Well, I’d rather cheer a bad guy than boo Eva Marie. All of this ducking and diving out of matches is a good device. Seth Rollins does it all the time, but the thing about him is that he’s actually a good wrestler, and is worth the wait. Unless she has seriously improved her wrestling ability, we’re on course for a match that absolutely nobody is going to enjoy. Pretty much like the women’s division was for years until it was drastically improved.

AO: To give people an acceptable reason to boo her. WWE knows better than anyone else that the fans loathe Eva Marie for one reason, and one reason only: Because she can’t wrestle. But the way they’re going with her now, they can pass her immense heat off as a result of constantly weaseling out of matches. It’s working too. At this rate, Eva Marie could become the most hated woman across both Raw and SmackDown and WWE would be able to take the credit for it. When the blue brand introduces its own women’s title, don’t be surprised if Eva Marie ends up capturing the gold at the end of this whole thing. The first woman to forfeit her way to a championship.

BJ: The endgame at this point is to put Becky Lynch over eventually. Unless Eva finding new ways to not wrestle every week becomes even more entertaining, and accidentally becomes a babyface. But barring that miracle, she will become hated enough for fans to care when she’s beaten. The problem is that this doesn’t help Becky much. People love Becky Lynch already and they want to see her win something meaningful (like the women’s title.) So, Eva’s going to lose to Becky, but she should probably be saved for a feud with someone like Bayley.

American Alpha has unofficially taken out The Vaudevilains, The Ascenion and The Hype Bros. Is that a problem?

JB: This is absolutely not a problem.  There is very little difference between the NXT and WWE fanbase, so American Alpha’s ability is well-documented.  This ability finds them being far superior to the tag teams they share the SmackDown roster with.

The other tag teams need to take a lesson from the WWE’s victory over WCW in the Monday Night Wars. For a brief period of time, WCW had superior programming, which forced WWE to improve theirs. If the other tag teams don’t like being made to be Alpha’s stepping stones, they should step up their own game or step aside.

CS: Not exactly. Ask anybody and they will tell you that American Alpha are the best team on SmackDown and maybe even WWE television in general. Putting them over in this way is fine, establishing them as main event tag team players. This is more of an indictment on the real lack of tag teams on the SmackDown side. They need to rebuild The Vaudevilains and The Ascension. The Hype Bros haven’t teamed on SmackDown yet, which needs to happen. So while they figure out the bottom of the division, they need a top dog. There’s nobody else for that spot but AA.

RR: Yes. For the tag team division on SmackDown as well as for themselves. Last week, I wrote that AA really ought to plough through some jobbers while the rest of the division worked matches on the same show and built themselves up a little. The WWE went with only my first idea, it seems.

AO: Yes. It’s great that they’re making American Alpha look as formidable as possible in their first few weeks on the main roster, but to do so at the expense of the brand’s tag-team division is just plain stupid. Even with The Usos and Breezango thrown in there, the division is weak as it is without the WWE magnifying that for the whole fanbase to see. All this week did was showcase exactly why SmackDown Live doesn’t deserve its own tag team titles. In a perfect world, we’d see The Revival or Ciampa & Gargano get called up soon to add some depth to it, but as for right now, all WWE has done is whittle its SmackDown tag-team roster down from six to about three at best.

BJ: No, but it did look bad for the other teams. The other teams will have a chance to redeem themselves eventually, but they had the numbers advantage, so there was nothing stopping them from getting in the ring again to beat AA down. In a regular match, all the teams can put up a good fight, but we know they will ultimately lose. It is very telling, however, that the two teams that were not out there are the teams that can give them the best matches: The Usos and Breezango. I would very much like to see Tyler Breeze take Jason Jordan’s hot tag.

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