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Even with sloppy finish, SmackDown’s Battle Royal did its job

Wednesday’s Rude Awakening looks at SmackDown’s successful Battle Royal, Naomi giving up her title, and Braun Strowman’s big moment.

We publish a whole lot of content here at Cageside Seats. We’re also [looks around and whispers so the bosses can’t hear] not the only place producing wrestling content on the internet. So, as a service to you on the weekdays, we’ll be producing a wrestling newsletter, "Rude Awakening." Well, it will be a newsletter eventually: for now, it’ll just be part of your experience here at Cageside, collecting the news, recaps, and social moments from the greater wrestling universe daily so you won’t fall behind, with a newsletter format to come.

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SmackDown advertised that we’d find out who would compete against Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania for the WWE World Championship, but the Battle Royal that would determine this opponent finished in a draw. Well, in story line, anyway: it was very clear that AJ Styles hit the ground before Luke Harper did, meaning Harper should have won, and the question would be answered as expected. Instead, we got a sloppy finish where Harper hit second and everyone ran with the idea that they hit at the same time due to the lack of a working camera angle to prove otherwise, because controversy had been the actual plan from the start.

Sloppiness aside, the Battle Royal did its job, both in its finish and with other stories being told throughout the match. Wrestling is about suspension of disbelief pretty regularly, and given we’ll get to see AJ Styles vs. Luke Harper in an important one-on-one match that determines WrestleMania placement, we should be able to just roll with what WWE is telling us here. It’s even easier to do so given what else the match either enhanced and solidified in the lead-in to Mania: John Cena once again took down the Miz as he did at Elimination Chamber, and Miz — motivated by both these dual losses and Maryse’s recent issues with Cena’s girlfriend Nikki Bella — came back into the match to toss John out. While Cena has already stated Nikki’s business is her business, now her business is his business, too, and the foursome’s direction for Mania 33 seems set.

Baron Corbin and Intercontinental champ Dean Ambrose continued to ratchet up their tangible dislike for the other in this match. AJ Styles is now in a tough situation where he has to clear yet another hurdle put in front of him by the people running SmackDown, even though he still hasn’t received his one-on-one rematch for the WWE World Championship — like it or not, that likely means Shane McMahon is in his future. Even Dolph Ziggler and Apollo Crews managed to further their story here, and the possibility of Luke Harper facing Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania remains alive. Sure, Harper hit the ground second and we all have to pretend that’s not the case, but don’t let what amounts to misfired misdirection distract you from the successful stories being told.

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