Two weeks into the WWE Brand Extension (Part II), and WWE has flipped upside down in short order. Finn Balor is in the main event of WWE SummerSlam, Roman Reigns is challenging for a title… the US Title, and Brock Lesnar appears on Smackdown? What is this craziness!?
Brock Lesnar: Advantage Push
Brock Lesnar was drafted to Raw, while Randy Orton was drafted to Smackdown. However, these two clash at SummerSlam in a ‘dream match.’ So, how would we get any interaction between the two leading up to the big show? WWE answered that question this week, as both Orton and Lesnar invaded each other’s brand to deliver their signature move. Orton appeared at the close of Raw to nail Lesnar with an RKO. Lesnar returned the favor on Smackdown, planting Orton with an F5 before being escorted out of the arena. With Lesnar and Orton appearing on both brands this week, the match instantly felt like the true main event of the August 21 PPV in Brooklyn.
Heath Slater: Advantage Push (and Heath himself)
Don’t be sad for Heath Slater. He’s one of only three guys on the roster who gets paid for TV twice each week, rather than just once. Heath, not an official member of either brand, appeared on both Raw and Smackdown this week to get laid out by a prospective free agent.
On Raw, Heath Slater brought back Jinder Mahal as his ally. An awful move, as Mahal quickly turned on Slater to earn a Raw contract.
Tuesday, Republican candidate for State Representative of Michigan’s 15th District, RHYNO, again interrupted Slater’s bid for a job with Smackdown. It was revealed that on next week’s episode, Slater would wrestle Rhyno for a contract with Smackdown. It continues Smackdown’s early trend of building something up for the next episode, giving fans a reason to tune in next week. Even if that reason is just a Rhyno vs Slater match.
WWE Women’s Championship(s): Advantage Raw
Sasha Banks won the WWE Women’s Championship last week on Raw, and now defends her title against Charlotte at SummerSlam. Not only was that announced on Raw, but the two female Superstars opened the episode in a change of pace from the usual male main eventer 20 minute segment.
On Smackdown, however, the division couldn’t have been treated more differently. Not only did the two planned matches not take place, giving us zero minutes of women’s wrestling on the episode, but also a focal point in the division seems to be Eva Marie. Her entrance is great, she has potential as a heel, but she shouldn’t be a focal point right now.
I’m actually fine with the fact no matches took place, as both segments continued interesting character arches.
Take Eva Marie: She’s so engrossed with being a superstar, feeling she’s the most important female in WWE… but the whole wrestling things, she won’t do it unless conditions are absolutely perfect. It’s hilarious, and fits her perfectly.
Becky Lynch: Becks just wants to wrestle. That’s it. She’s beaten Natalya, and wants to impress Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan into making her a centerpiece of the female division on Smackdown. However, if her opponents keep faking leg injuries, she can’t do that. Frustration will grow, and we could see a more fiery Becky later on. Great!
Natalya: Nattie doesn’t need to wrestle young lions like Carmella. She beat Becky Lynch at Battleground. Give her a damn championship to contend for. She’s a pissed off superstar with nothing to prove until a title in on the line. Great!
The division won’t consist every week of zero wrestling, so let’s give them one week of storyline building before we all go nuts. As we found out this week from Daniel Bryan, a WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship is coming. The division has an endgame, it’ll be okay!
SummerSlam Undercard: Advantage Smackdown
Last week, we knew the three major matches for WWE SummerSlam: Brock vs Randy, Finn vs Seth, and Dean vs Dolph. This week, we got some advancement with the undercard.
On the Raw side, it certainly appears that Roman Reigns has been knocked down a peg. Rusev’s US Championship reign may be in jeopardy, as Roman Reigns has his sights on it. Sasha vs Charlotte in a women’s championship rematch was also added. That’s a pretty good two-some, really.
On Smackdown, Daniel Bryan couldn’t get Apollo Crews’ name right. Oh well, he’s still going to battle The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship on August 21. Crews won a triple threat match over Baron Corbin and Kalisto for the right, so hooray. The big one of all, though, is the cementing of John Cena vs AJ Styles for Brooklyn. The potential blowoff match between Styles and Cena should finally see a true one-on-one affair without outside interference. In addition to Brock vs Randy, we now have a pretty star studded set of matches for summer’s biggest event.
The Extras: Advantage Smackdown
American Alpha debuted on the main roster, defeating the Vaudevillains in a basic tag team match to usher in a new era of the tag team scene on Tuesdays. Bray Wyatt also made his significant presence felt, albeit oddly timed. Bray, in conjunction with Erick Rowan, took out both Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler before Smackdown went off the air. So, yeah, Bray’s around in a big way. But where does he fit for SummerSlam? STAY TUNED!
On Raw, the New Day suffered a loss. Not in the ring, as the team beat Gallows & Anderson via a fluke rollup. However, after the bout, Big E suffered an injury at the hands of The Club members. Questions still remain about the rest of the card heading into SummerSlam, too. We don’t have a clear direction for Sami Zayn, who lost to Seth Rollins on Raw. Plus, Owens & Jericho as a team vs Enzo & Cass? Promo battles will be great, but the match isn’t lighting the world on fire.
I’ll take the excitement over American Alpha, the returning rise of Bray Wyatt, and impending debut of Shelton Benjamin over the rest of the undercard Raw offerings this week.
Conclusion: Smackdown wins week two!
We’re evened up at 1-1, as WWE Monday Night Raw took home the week one victory. With that said, Raw still came off as the much more important show for the week. While Smackdown’s offering was better overall, Raw came off as the must-see show. That’s a trend that worries me, but not an all that surprising situation.