The Superstar Shakeup has passed us, and we are starting to see some of the effects. SmackDown Live lost some key players, specifically The Miz, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose and Alexa Bliss but gained some suitable replacements in the form of Charlotte Flair, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and more. SmackDown Live has praised itself as being the land of opportunity, so lets see this weeks winners and losers.
Kevin Owens (Winner, Praise America)
Kevin Owens is the United States Champion, which means the return of U.S. Open Challenge, sort of. While it remains to be seen, it appears that Owens’ version is going to rely more on squash matches and ability for him to get over his new gimmick as “the face of American”. But this is great way for Owens to rebuild his character after a disappointing run with the Universal Championship where he was seen as a coward, rather than the ruthless character we have grown to love. Expect him to go on a lengthy run of comedic challenges before facing A.J. Styles in what should be an instant classic.
Jinder Mahal (Biggest Winner, Surprisingly)
Ask any wrestling fan if they could imagine Jinder Mahal challenging for the WWE Championship and they would laugh and ask if your serious. Well WWE is serious, as they pulled the biggest swerve in recent memory by crowning Mahal the #1 contender after defeating Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper and Mojo Rawley with assistance from the debuting Bollywood Boyz. Going into this match, most people would have predicted a win for the underdog Zayn, or maybe allow Harper to win to restart the family blood with Orton, but Mahal took storm and proceeded to cut a crisp promo after promoting himself as the “New American Dream”. Will this win lead to a sustained push, that will remain to be seen.
Dolph Ziggler (Loser, Not Surprisingly)
Oh Dolph Ziggler, you continue to excite the fans, but for what. Frankly this is not surprising at all to see Ziggler lose, as ever since he turned heel he has been stuck in the mid-card (maybe the lower mid-card) losing match after match. As a former World Champion who had potentially the feud of the year last fall with The Miz, this is a big down point for Ziggler in 2017. The heel turn should have done wonders, but as just lead to him “stealing the show” again and that’s it. Maybe if the Mahal experiment fails, WWE will put Ziggler back into title contention, but don’t expect him to win any big matches.
Charlotte Flair (Winner)
The Queen has arrived, and she has already staked claim to the throne. She started the show and dished out a strong promo arguing her claim to a title shot. She got an opportunity later to earn it by facing Naomi in a non-title match and won clean. Obviously Charlotte was carrying the Raw Women’s division, but she has already claimed SmackDown as her own, cutting the line immediately. She possesses a certain aura that elevates her presence to new heights, making her a potential “franchise player” for WWE. The question isn’t will she win the SmackDown Womaen’s Championship, but when.
America Alpha (Losers, You Hate to See That)
What ever happened to this team, like really though. At one point they were carrying NXT with their amazing feud with The Revival, then they entered SmackDown and proceeded to dominate the tag team division. But recently things have changed. They lost the titles to The Usos in a thriller, but did not make the cut for WrestleMania 33. Now they are jobbing out to The Colons, a tag team that has not been relevant since their first ridiculous gimmick years ago. Is America Alpha just stuck while WWE figures out their long-term plans, or are AA truelly lost within the shuffle.
SmackDown Live took advantage of the Superstar Shakeup, elevating new arrivals immediately. Jinder Mahal could be the new face of “the land of opportunity” if he can prove his doubters wrong and pull the biggest upset and beat Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. Will it happen, unlikely. But SmackDown has proven time and time again that they don’t follow the norm, and maybe that what’s needed to keep the product fresh for the viewers.