After RAW's huge night on Monday, Smackdown had to come up with something big for their first show of the brand split. And while the heights may not have reached Monday's, they left us with an equally big surprise, as Dolph Ziggler become No. 1 contender to the WWE title.
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan started the show by bringing everyone to the ring, and announcing that they'd have to find a new No. 1 contender for Dean Ambrose's title. To do that, they would have a 6-man match at the end of the night between five previously selected wrestlers (Ziggler, John Cena, AJ Styles, Bray Wyatt, and Baron Corbin) and the winner of a battle royal, which proved to be Apollo Crews. At the end of the night, the six had a fun, fast-paced match, which ended with Ziggler catching Styles with a Superkick and getting the pin.
Dolph winning can be looked at in two ways. It was a surprise, there's no doubt about it. And people have been hoping he would be more relevant for years now. But to go from zero to 60 weeks before the second biggest pay-per-view of the year is a weird move for WWE.
WWE has spent the better part of two years basically screaming at us that Ziggler is irrelevant. He hasn't won on the main card of a pay-per-view since September of 2015. So for them to suddenly make us think he's a threat to the title with three weeks left to build SummerSlam feels like a stretch.
It will be a good match, no doubt about it. But it's a match that I feel could get buried on the card, behind matches like Orton/Lesnar, the inevitable Cena/Styles match, as well as the Universal Title match between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor. It's not the best look for Smackdown to have a title match be buried on the card right off the bat.
Having said all that, is it a bad thing to have Dolph win? No, as long as this is the start of a true push. If Dolph is going to have a sustained run at the top of Smackdown consistently, then yes, how he gets there will eventually become relatively meaningless. We can accept that they're pushing the reset button here. And for one night at least, it provided a shocking, and memorable moment.
The Rest of Smackdown:
-Heath Slater came out to complain about not being drafted. I love the potential gimmick here, but this was used as a way to debut Rhyno. If you weren't aware, Rhyno has been a semi-regular competitor on NXT for the past year and a half. So they decided to call him up to fill out the Smackdown roster. Another wrestler who will be returning? We saw a promo for Shelton Benjamin on Smackdown. If they don't do anything with Shelton and American Alpha, it's an epic fail.
-Becky beat Natalya, but it served as a way to introduce the rest of the women's division. Alexa Bliss came out to introduce herself, which brought out Naomi, Carmella, and then Eva Marie. Eva Marie had a ridiculous heel entrance with a narrator spouting off her various attributes and superlatives.
-Randy Orton had his first match back since his injury, beating The Miz in a match after appearing on MizTV.
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