WWE needed something big to wrap up its week in Brooklyn after an up-and-down RAW on Monday night. So on SmackDown Live, they decided to make some news behind a major main-roster debut and a belated return.
The big debut happened early in the show. Aiden English came out without an opponent, and started his typical introduction. However, he was interrupted with the sound people had been waiting for since Saturday night: the chorus of “GLORIOUS”. Yes, Bobby Roode made his main-roster debut, thoroughly demolishing English on his way to a win. He then cut a promo in front of the crowd, saying how SmackDown Live was going to get glorious.
Some expected Roode to hang around in NXT for a little while longer to get his rematch, maybe moving up to the main roster around the Rumble. But if they want to push Roode quickly, this was the right time and place to do it. The crowd erupted when they heard the opening word of the theme. They sang along. They cheered for every moment, and Roode had them reacting to his every movement. He instantly felt like one of the most important people on the roster. If they did that anywhere else, the feeling would not have been the same, and he could have floundered. They still need to follow up on the debut, or Roode could end up like Tye Dillinger. But it's a good start for a man who could be a star — if used properly.
The return came from a backstage segment featuring Daniel Bryan and Chad Gable. Bryan apologized to Gable for allowing Jason Jordan to go to RAW. But he revealed that he didn't just let Jordan walk without compensation. Instead, he had Kurt Angle place a call to a friend that Bryan could sign to SmackDown Live. Shelton Benjamin introduced himself to a star-struck Gable. Bryan said they could tag next week.
Ok, yes, this felt like an outrageously easy out, and more like something you would see on a message board. Gable and Jordan received Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas comparisons since they started teaming in NXT. But, while obvious, this could work. Gable first got over when he started acting like the excited newcomer in NXT, and he can work that angle again with Benjamin. And fans will cheer for Benjamin. When he was supposed to show up a year ago, the fans got excited. The year of waiting through Benjamin's injury doesn't change that. Now, they'll have to be booked well, and can't just be used as a novelty or, worse, a comedy act. But it could end up being a chance for WWE to rectify the mistake they made with American Alpha.
The rest of SmackDown Live:
- The feud between Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon continued to simmer. Owens complained about McMahon's refereeing at SummerSlam, leading him to demand a match in which he gets to pick the referee. While McMahon didn't like it, AJ Styles agreed to it, and McMahon added that if Owens lost, he wouldn't get another shot at the U.S. title. After Owens struck out recruiting Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin agreed to ref, as long as he had a shot. During the match, Corbin and Styles got into it several times, leading to Corbin to try some fast counts on rollups, bringing out McMahon. As McMahon and Corbin argued on the outside, Owens low-blowed Styles and tried to get a pin. This caused McMahon to pull Corbin out mid-count. Corbin got fed up, took off his ref shirt and gave it to McMahon, making him the ref. Styles quickly hit a Phenomenal Forearm and got the pin.
This is clearly leading towards McMahon and Kevin Owens. However, as McMahon gets more involved, it starts to raise the question whether Owens has a point that McMahon has it out for him.
- Shinsuke Nakamura beat The Singh Brothers in a handicap match. Jinder Mahal attacked from behind after the match, but Nakamura was able to counter and hit Mahal with the Kinshasa. These two clearly are facing off again down the road. The only question is whether they can wait until the next pay-per-view or not.
- Naomi and Becky Lynch beat Natalya and Carmella in a tag match. This teased the wariness between Natalya and Carmella because of Carmella holding the Money in the Bank briefcase.
- Dolph Ziggler cut a promo making fun of some of the other wrestlers, talking about how they have to sing or rap or play a guitar to be a star.
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