This was an interesting edition of SmackDown. It was coming off a very successful brand-exclusive pay-per-view, and had a ton of questions to answer.
There isn’t another brand-only PPV for SmackDown until December. The next network special that SmackDown is a part of will be Survivor Series event in November. That means SmackDown has to share the spotlight, and will only get a couple of feuds on the card.
Tuesday night’s show was the beginning of SmackDown putting together its half of the Survivor Series card. Some of this show could have been done better; so let’s rebook this week’s edition of SmackDown.
Survivor Series proposal
A staple of Survivor Series is the traditional five-on-five elimination tag match that takes place. Recently, the event has seen multiple versions of these matches on the card. Last night, General Manager Daniel Bryan and commissioner Shane McMahon laid down a challenge to Raw. SmackDown’s five best male Superstars against Raw’s five best male Superstars. Then they took it a step further, saying they want the two brands tag teams to collide, and have their women’s divisions collide as well.
This is wrong on so many levels. First off, were are just getting to the point were the two brands are completely separate, and now the WWE is potentially going to bring them back together. It just feels like a move that isn’t in the best interest of each brand’s long-term success. Secondly, wouldn’t SmackDown’s five best Superstars include their champion AJ Styles? Does this mean that he isn’t going to defend the title at Survivor Series and instead help Team SmackDown beat Team Raw?
These Big 4 PPVs are the perfect way to get casual fans invested in the product. These are the events that they tend to buy. When the WWE takes over Canada, each brand needs to showcase its premier feuds. Having the two brands compete against each other doesn’t do that. It’s a one-off chance for the brands to try to beat each other, and the matches themselves have no lasting power.
Team Cena vs. Team Authority from a couple of years ago is one of the best Survivor Series tag matches in recent memory. That’s because the match meant a lot, it had huge implications. Raw and SmackDown competing for bragging rights doesn’t have that flair.
The blue brand, and the red brand, need to focus on highlighting their premier players and premier feuds, competing to gain viewers by the quality of their feuds.
AJ Styles loses to James Ellsworth
This might classify me as the old man on the lawn, but I really could have done without this. The James Ellsworth joke was funny the first couple of times around, but pinning the WWE World Champion? Not sure that’s a good look. At the end of the day, it needed to further something. It was supposed to further the tension between Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles. When the match was over, that result was achieved. So much was spent in building up Styles for this spot and reign, that I’m not sure these types of gimmicks help the feuds he is in. Styles’ character isn’t ruined by this, by no stretch.
A simple promo between Styles and Ambrose could have achieved the same result, without having to result to this match and finish. As the heel, Styles needs to get some comeuppance from time to time, but that should be by losing matches that comprise his grasp on the World Championship. Losing to Ellsworth doesn’t do that. And with that, get off my lawn.