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WWE SmackDown Live preview (Nov. 6, 2018): Response

Another Manchester show, which means a hot crowd and spoilers!

The Headliners

With the battle for belts essentially on hold for the next few weeks, attention turns to the battle for brand supremacy.

Raw laid out most of their men’s elimination tag team, and handed the reins for their women’s squad over to captain Alexa Bliss. Naturally, WWE’s official preview for tonight’s SmackDown leads with how commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Paige will respond for the blue brand. It looks like a lot of that story will be focused on Shane being the Best in the World™, and reportedly a heel, in the wake of his World Cup win at Crown Jewel last Friday. But Paige, who looks poised to play her version of the beleaguered face authority figure under the thumb of an evil McMahon we’ve seen from Mick Foley and Kurt Angle on Monday nights, actually tried to get a head start on this last week. She offered Charlotte Flair the captaincy of the women’s team. And the Queen turned it down.


Here on the internet, we often lament the lack of stakes in WWE’s stories. We point out how little characters change from one program to the next. That’s a big part of why I’m so fascinated by shaken Charlotte - because it’s a logical example of her being changed by her last feud. But I also didn’t expect it, and in our first glimpse of this development on Oct. 30, Flair really nailed her performance.

She’s still putting her best representing-the-company face forward, and enough of a Flair to soak in some praise from Paige for her match at Evolution. But coming off not only a loss there, but the months long rivalry born of her best friend chosing personal glory over their relationship - and accusing Charlotte of long having done the same - the seven-time champ isn’t ready to lead a team. She probably can’t bring herself to trust four other women. Coming off the most high-profile loss of her WWE career, she may not even feel confident enough to assume the mantle.

It’s not clear where she goes from here, and that’s intriguing. How will she reclaim the spotlight, and how will she act when she gets there? The blue brand’s big SummerSlam women’s match continues to be a gift that keeps on giving.

The Title Scene

... looks set for a couple weeks of posturing.

On Raw last night, Ronda Rousey fired back at Becky Lynch in their Women’s champion vs. Women’s champion program. The Badlass isn’t going to leave it at that.

With Brock Lesnar’s win at Crown Jewel setting up a rematch from last year’s Survivor Series, how will WWE champ AJ Styles convince us he can get a different result in Los Angeles on Nov. 18? The Phenomenal One gave the Beast his best match in recent memory, but still came up short. Is it a prediction or a spoiler to say we’ll get the same thing this year?

Looks like tag team titleholders The Bar have their opponents now that AOP are holding the red brand’s straps. The Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Akam & Rezar hoss fighting should be great, but I’m really looking forward to Big Show/DRAKE MAVERICK shenanigans.

There’s no story to a show down with Seth Rollins, but that’s pretty much par for the course with Shinsuke Nakamura’s United States championship reign.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- After he used his title shot early, and got taken out by Samoa Joe, Daniel Bryan is probably looking for revenge. And since Joe came up short again in Saudi Arabia, he’s probably looking to take it out someone.

- Miz was collatoral damage en route to getting Shane a trophy he could heel it up with. How will the A-Lister respond to being cast in a supporting role? What about the big names who checked out even earlier in the final, including two pinned by Miz, like Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio & Randy Orton? Good thing there’s another multi-man gimmick on the horizon!

- That doesn’t help The New Day or The Usos, who would seem to be on the outside looking in for the pay-per-view (PPV).

- And don’t hold your breath for much in the way of stories for the rest of the women’s roster, but at least Paige (and maybe Charlotte?) will have to round up four or five of them to take on Alexa Bliss’ squad.

It’s Crown Jewel fallout show / Two weeks until Survivor Series!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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