Smackdown revolved around last week's surprise No. 1 contender, Dolph Ziggler. But while it revealed how the WWE intends on pushing Ziggler for the next few weeks, it also may have accidentally revealed some problems with the sudden push.
The first in-ring segment of the night was WWE champion Dean Ambrose coming out and calling out Dolph Ziggler for a conversation.
When they faced each other, Ambrose talked about how he resepcts Ziggler, but Ziggler is a whiner and a complainer. More than that, he's a loser. He used the past storylines, where Ziggler has done promos about how the powers-that-be held him down, to illustrate that point.
Ziggler's response was that Ambrose had been given everything his entire career. His argument was that Ambrose entered as part of The Shield, immediately moved to the top of the card, and has remained in that area the entire time. Ziggler on the other hand, acknowledged, I believe for the first time in character, that he came in as a member of the Spirit Squad, and had to fight his way to the top.
This should have been a fine way to establish the stakes for both characters going in, even if it made Ambrose feel slightly heelish.
However, what happened next raised some eyebrows. After Ambrose left the ring, Bray Wyatt teleported to the ring and attacked Ziggler. He said that Ziggler stole the No. 1 contendership from him, and that Ziggler should put his title shot on the line in a match against Wyatt later that night. While Ziggler had no obligation to, he went back to Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan and insisted the match happen.
He said nobody believed in him, including Shane and Bryan (despite the fact that they hand-picked him to be in the match last week), so he wanted to prove himself. Then, in the main event, he won, retaining his title shot (though Erick Rowan did attack after, so this may not be over).
All of this, on paper, seems to tell an easy story. Ziggler is trying to overcome his past demons, the fact that he couldn't really get over the hump, and try to win the WWE title. However, fans may not be buying it. When Bray Wyatt came out and demanded that Ziggler put his title shot on the line, fans cheered.
Perhaps they just liked the match, but it really seemed like they wanted Wyatt to face Ambrose instead of Ziggler. The fans may not be as invested in a Ziggler redemption story as much as the WWE believes. It could just be a one-week aberration, and by the end of the storyline, the fans are fully behind him. However, if not, the whole build could fall flat.
I've said before that Ziggler has leaned on the Daniel Bryan underdog crutch a bit over the past few years. It seems like they're going that route again. The question is, will the fans react?
The Rest of Smackdown...
-Brock Lesnar got his revenge for Monday night, as he interfered during Randy Orton's match against Fandango and F5'd him. This could end up being the last interaction for these two until SummerSlam, and they did a pretty good job of it. People were concerned about the brands crossing so quickly, but I feel like they treated it like a big deal, and as long as they don't do it too frequently, this was fine.
-Other matches were cleared up for SummerSlam this week. Miz will defend his Intercontinental title against Apollo Crews (who was accidentally called Apollo Creed by Daniel Bryan), after Crews won a triple-threat match against Baron Corbin and Kalisto. Also, the AJ Styles/John Cena singles match was made official after an in-ring encounter between the two that echoed back to the first encounter between the two back in May.
-The women's division continues to be a bit muddled on Smackdown. Becky Lynch was supposed to face Eva Marie, but Eva Marie was “injured” getting into the ring. I gotta say, they're building great heat towards Eva, but they have to be careful about going too far with it. Meanwhile, Carmella and Natalya seem to be building a feud, as Natalya attacked Carmella as she was heading to the ring. Unfortunately, you could hear a pin drop when Carmella got to the ring. They need to figure out a way to convey her character to the crowd, because right now, she's getting no reaction, and it will be a problem if she's supposed to be the second face on the Smackdown roster.
-American Alpha made their debut, beating The Vaudevillains pretty handily. They're clearly pushing American Alpha quick, and I look forward to it.
Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section here, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://soundcloud.com/jobbingout