There was no chance SmackDown was going to compete with the previous 48 hours of wrestling extravaganza. Not after an all-around hair-raising SummerSlam performance.
And certainly not after Braun Strowman kicked the stuffing out of Brock Lesnar to open up Monday Night Raw. And certainly not after John Cena ditched the blue brand to join the flagship show and team up with Roman Reigns, while teasing an impending feud between the two most polarizing figures today. There's only so much emotion we can consume before we have no choice but to walk away and exhale.
You'd be forgiven if you were tapped out from more than nine hours of hysteria and needed to pass on SmackDown this week.
But then again, you might have missed something special -- make that glorious. That's right, Bobby Roode, the former 203-day NXT champ, made his main-roster debut to the elation of the Barclays Center fans and whupped Aiden English in just minutes.
- WWE (@WWE) August 23, 2017
Sure, there's still an inequity between the two shows when it comes to the elite names, but here's one thing we can tell you: SmackDown now has the two best entrances in the business, between Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura.
Roode wasn't alone in replenishing SmackDown's roster. For the first time in seven years, Shelton Benjamin appeared on WWE television. Between the Intercontinental, United States and tag-team divisions, he held a title on six separate occasions before leaving for the independent circuit. Benjamin will team up with Chad Gable, who recently lost partner Jason Jordan to Raw.
Oh, and we'd be remiss not mentioning Dolph Ziggler's return to television after a seven-week hiatus. OK, so perhaps that isn't quite as exciting, but he did promise to come back to the ring next week with a guitar or lasers, or even a fancy new robe. Maybe even with a woman by his side -- one that glows! In other words, Ziggler claims to have unearthed the secret to the success of many others, success he hasn't had in what seems like years.
On Tuesday, SmackDown continued a theme from the past few weeks that it's forgoing long-term methodical builds to leverage the moment. While we're not getting Braun-Brock, the show is a stronger-than-advertised, land-of-opportunity undercard. Ah, all this drama following a strong SummerSlam swing, and we didn't even get to the main event yet.
Speaking of which ...
AJ Styles and Kevin Owens continued their feud, which shouldn't come as a surprise after the somewhat scrutinized ending at SummerSlam. On Tuesday, they were again going to meet for the United States title, but with the added stipulation of another special guest referee that Owens would choose.
So, what swerve would come into play? Corbin wants a shot at the title and made a deal with both Styles and KO beforehand that he would get first dibs against whomever comes out on top.
But that didn't mean Corbin would be impartial. Toward the end of the match, he began to fast-count with Owens covering Styles.
Shane McMahon, however, would have none of that and beelined his way to the ring to reprimand a fighting-mad Corbin, who tore the referee attire off his chest and gave it to the commish.
- WWE (@WWE) August 23, 2017
Not surprisingly, Styles immediately caught Owens with a Phenomenal Forearm and McMahon made the three-count. If you weren't already convinced, you should be now. Owens and McMahon will duke it out; it's just a matter of when and where. The bottom line here is that SmackDown didn't allow the feud between Owens and Styles to become worn, even after a months-long series of matches in which we've seen nearly everything with these two.
But this rivalry appears to be over for now, as Styles will likely get some one-on-one Corbin time, while Owens and McMahon will continue to take their tug of war to the next level until the ultimate payoff.
To the next chapter we go.
Hits and misses
Strong opening segment, highlighted by real-life events, when Owens mentioned how McMahon recently survived a helicopter crash, yet couldn't count to three Sunday night. There are others such as Alexa Bliss, The Miz and Dean Ambrose who are stellar on the mic, but for now, Owens has taken the top spot in my Promo Power Rankings.
It's finally time to concede that Natalya and Carmella are here to lead the women's charge for the foreseeable future. Natalya in particular exudes a tremendous heel-like vibe, while the scheming Carmella has done a great job in boasting about her Money in the Bank free shot at the title, only to fall short in any aspirations she has had to cash it in. It looks like Becky, Naomi and perhaps even Charlotte, when she returns, will live in the shadow of the heels, lending much-needed depth to the women's roster.
The Hype Bros made a rare appearance Tuesday in a loss to the Usos. But their presence reminded us that the SmackDown tag-team roster is on its way back up between these two squads, Benjamin-Gable, The New Day and The Ascension. Now if only we could get Breezango back in the ring.
The Nakamura-Mahal feud is far from over. On Tuesday, the Japanese star took care of the Singh brothers in a two-on-one handicap match, but the concern is whether he and the champ can have a straight encounter without the extraneous hoopla of the cronies or any other Punjabi prisons and props. It's time for Mahal to break out of his comfort zone and start working on his in-ring execution if he wants to take steps in becoming a memorable champ.