Roundtable: Making sense of Cena, American Alpha losses

(Courtesy of WWE.com)
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Moment of the night?

Brandon Jackson: The story told in the Usos vs. American Alpha match. Jason Jordan knowing his partner is hurt, and knowing he was the best chance for them to win was a great way to go. This is a great way for American Alpha to expand their characters beyond great athletes that want to win. And it was good because The Usos didn’t have to cheat to win, just because they are heels. They still are the best tag team in the WWE right now kayfabe-wise as longevity and chemistry is concerned, so it’s good they still know how to win.

Adam O’Brien: I thought the finish to The Miz’s Intercontinental Championship defense was done quite well, so I’ll say that. It’s still a bit of a head scratcher why WWE is going forward with The Miz-Daniel Bryan rivalry since there’s almost zero chance of it actually resulting in a match — the only fitting end to such animosity. Right now, with all the title matches he’s been making, the only likely outcome is that Bryan lets his power overcome his better judgement and he loses his job as a result. Nevertheless, Miz is still champion, and despite winning in desperate fashion once again, it still showed his passion for holding onto the title and proving his naysayers wrong, and I’d dare to say it helped him bounce back from his main event loss last week.

Joseph Nardone: I will go with Alexa Bliss’ coming out moment. She finally got to introduce her character by way of a promo on Tuesday.

Now, to be fair, the promo itself wasn’t revolutionary or all that awesome it. It was rather run-of-the-mill heel work by the talented performer. But in comparison to the rest of the show, she stood out a bit.

There is an argument for the Miz-Ziggler match too, but we’ve seen those guys do scripted battle a million times at this point. I guess what I am trying to say is that Bliss is getting the nod out of default — mostly because it felt fresher since she is new to the SmackDown roster.

Chris Schubert: The Miz against Dolph Ziggler. When the match was first announced, I was a little skeptical about giving this match away on SmackDown, and then potentially doing it again at No Mercy. These two put on a show and told a great story in the ring. The finish was booked to perfection, and allows them to go for a third match in this feud. Hopefully No Mercy is the end of the Ziggler-Miz drama. Something tells me that Daniel Bryan will be sticking his nose back into this feud, which will make the No Mercy match happen. Everything The Miz does now is must-see television, whether or not that’s because of Bryan is a fair question to ask. For now, it’s enjoyable.

Ronnie Rowlands: Probably the promo-off between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss. The way that they’re elevating the latter is pretty solid. I like that this is a straight-up wrestling storyline for a title — something which SmackDown is doing better than Raw at the moment. The Raw division is getting a little tired, and while the slow Stockholm syndrome type thing we’ve got going on with Dana Brooke is decent enough, it doesn’t match up to plain old physical storytelling, the likes of which we’re getting on SmackDown.

WWE’s decision to book The Usos in the title match at No Mercy over AA was _________.

BJ: The right choice. It seems WWE is putting an emphasis on selling injuries on both shows and it is definitely making an impact. The WWE Universe may not be fully behind American Alpha yet, and this gives them the opportunity to keep building momentum. And on the other hand, The Usos should definitely be the team to face Slater and Rhyno at No Mercy because they are the heels. Slater and Rhyno aren’t a good enough tag team to compete in a face vs. face title match.

AO: The right endgame, but the means of getting there were questionable. Given the state of SmackDown’s tag team roster, the premier clash they have at their disposal right now is American Alpha vs. The Usos, so I don’t quite understand the WWE’s infatuation with giving it away so often. Regardless, The Usos facing Slater and Rhyno at No Mercy is the right call, because having earned his contract for the blue brand, Slater’s current story has already reached its pinnacle, so there aren’t all that many reasons to keep the titles on he and Rhyno when the ongoing feud between Alpha and The Usos still has as much heat to it as ever, and really should be contested over the SmackDown Tag Team Championship. The Usos are really picking up speed as heels, so to see them dethrone everyone’s favorite “One Man Band” will only serve to get them to the next level as the top team on Tuesday nights.

JN: Fine. Predictable. But still very much fine.

Slyno (Heath Slater and Rhyno) being SmackDown Tag Team Champions has never been about them hanging onto the titles for a long time. Since it would make little sense for American Alpha (faces) to beat them for the gold, a heel team works out swimmingly.

Not to mention that the feud between The Usos and AA has already been built. Assuming The Usos get the gold off Slyno, we are going to get a Usos-AA battle shortly thereafter — which is the bigger deal out of this situation.

CS: Perfect. Predictable. Logical. Any of those words work there. Heath Slater and Rhyno are babyfaces. Basic wrestling logical pits faces against heels. They need a heel team to defend against at No Mercy, so plug in The Usos. Turning heel was a recent development for Jimmy and Jey, capitalize on the heat and momentum that those guys currently have. The only issue I have with it is who they defeated to get the spot. If it were me booking the show, keeping American Alpha away from television as long as possible is a better option. After The Usos dispatch of Breezango or The Hype Bros, they can win the titles at No Mercy.

RR: I didn’t like it at first, but on closer inspection it makes perfect sense. The Usos are interesting for the first time in years, and since American Alpha are so over with the fans anyway, having The Usos go savage on them and exacerbating injuries is a great way to get heel heat. Assuming Slater and Rhyno lose to The Usos at No Mercy, AA will be in a perfect spot for a title feud. If The Usos don’t pick up the win, we’ve still got a superb blood feud to look forward to.

What, if anything, does Ambrose’s win over Cena tell us about WWE?

BJ: It tells us WWE is taking its champions and former champions seriously. Since the brand split, the top champions have been more protected than they were previously. AJ Styles beat John Cena clean. Styles had to cheat to beat Ambrose. In a vacuum, all WWE did was make the call that made the most sense. But since John Cena was involved it throws how we view things out of whack. This win says more about how WWE views Dean Ambrose than about how they view Cena.

AO: That they still have faith in Dean Ambrose to be a top draw. He may have won via roll-up, but a victory over John Cena via roll-up is still a victory over John Cena, which is not something WWE likes to just give away. As it stands, Dean Ambrose really has the most to lose at No Mercy considering a loss for Styles would still accompany a rematch clause, and a loss for Cena, well, hasn’t exactly kept WWE from keeping him in the championship picture before. But for Ambrose, it’s really do or die in his title rematch, and if he can put in enough work over the course of the month prior to the match, he might just be able to survive on the SmackDown roster if he comes up short. A win over John Cena is the best way to get that done, and albeit a questionable booking mechanic, his championship opportunity next week will do the same.

JN: That it has no idea what it is doing. Cena couldn’t give a clean, full rub to Kevin Owens last year, but can to Dean on a ho-hum SmackDown episode? Cena had to have his ups and downs with AJ Styles, but the “Lunatic Fringe” was able to topple him with a roll-up? Boo, WWE booking decisions.

I am half-joking there. This doesn’t mean all that much. The WWE just needed Ambrose to feel more credible heading into the triple threat, and Cena doesn’t need to win a single match for the rest of his career because we are so conditioned to think he will win that it is still shocking when he loses.

Also, since we now know Ambrose is going to fight Styles for the title on the next edition of SmackDown, giving him the win to give him momentum makes logical sense.

Hooray, logic!

CS: That the WWE is starting to view John Cena as more of a part-timer, maybe? I’m not really sure how to read into this decision. They love Dean Ambrose. If they didn’t, he wouldn’t have won and then cashed-in Money in the Bank on the same night. He carried the start of SmackDown Live as WWE World Champion. He may be the best babyface option of the former Shield brothers. So, it’s no surprise that they would give him a victory over Cena. When looking at the future of the WWE, the “Lunatic Fringe” is in the conversation for faces at the top. If it was Apollo Crews or Bray Wyatt getting this victory, it would mean a little bit more.

RR: That it is serious about its new stars. I said in an article last week that the company has finally injected some much-needed vulnerability into John Cena. You’re getting a lot of smarks on Twitter who immediately jump in and say “oh wow, Cena lost clean…” which is a bit dumb because he’s been doing it all year, but it shows that there is finally something to invest in when watching a John Cena match. All of a sudden, no one is sitting there waiting for Cena to win anymore.

Roundtable: Making sense of Cena, American Alpha losses

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