WWE SmackDown Live waltzed back into our lives last night (Oct. 24) from the BMO Harris Bank Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with the fallout from the SmackDown attack on Raw. You can find all the results in the live blog here.
A Looming Threat
The big story coming into SmackDown this week was Team Blue’s siege of Monday Night Raw.
The big angle seemed to have fans divided. Personally, I was definitely interested in it but had plenty of questions that I hoped would eventually be addressed. Would SmackDown be booked as heels or would this all be shades of gray? How would this affect the stories they’re currently telling on the brand? Is everyone on board? The angle has potential to be really good but they’d need to show some attention to detail and not make it just about big moments, as my colleague Sean Rueter discussed today.
Tonight, they got off to a good start with it.
Shane McMahon, the aggressor in this brand war, opened the show to a heroes ovation. Despite SDLive being the brand who shot first, and therefore would traditionally be the heels, the crowd loved Shane. This is a SmackDown show so of course you’d figure fans would cheer. However, most people who watch SmackDown watch Raw as well. They can be fans of both brands.
But this crowd was firmly behind Shane and, with that, Team Blue. Hopefully this continues because it works for the story. If crowds continue to cheer the home brand, it’ll accentuate that home turf feel. It’ll also leave fans at home with the ability to pick a side. And that’s likely the aim for WWE: To allow the fan to choose the which brand they’re rooting for.
In his opening statement, Shane explained his actions pretty simply. He was taught that when you know you’re going to be in a fight, you throw the first punch. Sounds like something his father would teach him and despite Shane being a good guy, he’s still a McMahon. There’s evil in those genes. I have no trouble believing Shane would do this.
We received most of the explanations from the major siege participants on Twitter afterwards and didn’t get any further explanations last night. No wrestler on the SmackDown roster seemed to show apprehension regarding the attack. But one major member of the show did: Daniel Bryan.
Daniel confronted Shane backstage upset not only was he not consulted but he didn’t agree with the tactics. This is a fantastic detail. A blindside attack isn’t in Bryan’s nature. Teasing tension between the powers of SmackDown adds a nice wrinkle to the story.
All night, they hinted at the possibility of retaliation from Raw. Michael Cole told us there was added security all throughout the building. We got ominous camera shots of the doors into the arena.
But the attack never came.
Despite teasing the possibility of a Raw invasion, that did not happen last night. But that’s the better way to go here. To run pretty much the same angle two nights in a row would be a bit lazy. Plus, there are only so many big brand brawls they can have on the road to Survivor Series. Don’t use two in the same week. The big bang was the night prior. Here they let it breathe.
It’s coming. Daniel Bryan made sure to tell Shane that as the show went off the air. While the attack didn’t happen, the anticipation that it can happen at any time will be forever present until the pay-per-view.
I hope they’ll make sure to really focus on the details of this big angle as it goes forward, but tonight, things got off to a good start.
It was great to see that Shane’s issues with Sami Zayn weren’t going to be forgotten just because the focus is on the big Survivor Series match. Shane’s opening salvo was soon interrupted by the Unlikeable One, who obnoxiously danced his way to the ring.
(I said last week he’d need to change his theme song eventually, but I completely take that back. He has found a way to dance to the ring like a complete ass that makes me want to punch him in the face. It’s excellent.)
Shane was not happy to see the man who cost him at Hell in a Cell and he made it known. Zayn wasn’t fooling around though and told the Commissioner that if they were to fight, Sami would drop him in one punch. But since Shane was acting as the leader, Zayn kindly volunteered the services of him and Kevin Owens for Survivor Series.
McMahon wasn’t going to accept that. Instead he made Sami try to earn it by defeating Randy Orton.
Unfortunately, Sami was not successful.
His best friend and brother Kevin Owens tried to distract the referee when Sami was in trouble. However, in an act of revenge from last week, Randy Orton used the distraction to deliver a low blow to Sami Zayn. He then looked Kevin in the eye as he delivered the winning RKO to Sami.
It looks like Zayn will be on the outside looking in when it comes to the blue brand’s Survivor Series team. Kevin Owens faces Nakamura next week for the right to join the team so we’ll find out if both Kevin and Sami are left out in the cold... and how that may impact SmackDown’s chances.
I Don’t Get No Respect
SmackDown is juggling two stories when it comes to WWE Champion Jinder Mahal: His feud with AJ Styles and his upcoming match with Brock Lesnar.
When it came to Brock, Jinder cut a promo about how it’s actually Brock who’s not in his league, which is ridiculous. But it should be a ridiculous lie. Mahal is a heel. He also said he dominated Randy Orton and out wrestled Shinsuke Nakamura, which were also ludicrous claims. He barely escaped Orton three times and certainly didn’t outwrestle Nak. Once again, his promo was about demanding respect (that he hasn’t earned) and less about American xenophobia. That’s good.
However, the best jab at Brock (really Paul Heyman) were the Singh Brothers calling themselves the Advocates to Jinder Mahal, who they referred to as the reigning, defending, undisputed WWE champion. I may be more into the Singh Brothers/Heyman aspect of all of this.
Speaking of the Singhs, to further the AJ Styles story, Sunil Singh had to wrestle the Phenomenal One. And he didn’t stand a chance. He was quickly tapped by AJ.
After the match, Jinder was furious and stormed into Daniel Bryan’s.... area and demanded that Samir get to fight AJ next week. Second verse will surely be same as the first.
That story didn’t advance much at all, but they made sure to address both of Mahal’s programs.
Building the Contenders
With the Usos watching at ringside, Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable defeated the New Day (Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston). Shelton, who wasn’t legal, delivered a kick to Woods from the apron, allowing Gable to get the win.
The idea is for the challengers to get a win over the team that took the Usos to the limit to build them up. That being said, it’s odd to use the New Day in that way so close to the end of the Usos/New Day rivalry. Both teams came out of that feud feeling like epic tag teams. The New Day losing here without much fanfare slightly undercuts that. After the Usos/New Day feud, defeating either of those teams should be a big deal and not a throw away.
But that’s a nitpick. In the end, this was fine.
All the Rest:
Captain: Daniel Bryan announced that Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Carmella, & Tamina would be the SmackDown women’s Survivor’s Series team. (He also made it known that Lana was not on the team.) Bryan then booked them in a fatal 5-way to decide who’d be team captain. Becky Lynch won.
I don’t know what the appeal of being team captain is, outside the title of captain, when the team has already been decided. Do they have any extra duties?
Brutal Baron: Baron Corbin wanted revenge against Sin Cara for his count out loss last week. He was so angry that he wouldn’t stop beating the hell out of Sin Cara during a referee count and got disqualified. He continued his attack with an End of Days on the floor.
While it’s a bit funny that Baron lost yet again, brutal Baron is the best version of his character. He’s relentless and uncaring. It makes him seem dangerous and that’s a good way to present him.
Pulp Fashion: The Ascension have quietly become the best part of the Fashion Files. From goofily trying to get Breezango to be their friends to pointing out that Breezango have never actually solved any case, they’re fantastic.
This episode had an underlying theme, which was of course the threat of invasion and fallout from last night. It didn’t end with a big explosion, and it’s probably better that it didn’t, but the thread helped connect the entire show.
SmackDown was a fun time this week.
Sound off below.