It was a very efficient episode of Smackdown Live Tuesday, as WWE got a lot done in only two hours and 30 minutes, which includes Talkin' Smack on the WWE Network.
Even with Talkin' Smack, which featured a tremendous promo from The Miz, it still felt like more happened on Smackdown Live than it does on a typical three-hour episode of Raw.
Before I dig into all of the happenings, here are the full match results from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.:
- Becky Lynch def. Alexa Bliss
- The Usos def. The Ascension
- American Alpha def. Breezango
- AJ Styles def. Dolph Ziggler
Styles to challenge for WWE World title at Backlash
Coming off the heels of the biggest victory of his career at SummerSlam, Styles continued his avalanche of momentum on Smackdown Live by defeating Ziggler after a stellar main event.
In doing so, he kept his pending championship match against Dean Ambrose at Backlash Sept. 11 to a one-on-one affair.
If Ziggler had won the match, the Backlash main event would have been turned into a triple threat.
WWE could have easily made the title picture very clunky and hazy by inserting Ziggler into the mix, but it didn't. Instead, it opted for the simple, yet effective approach of having Styles continue his hot streak and head into Backlash as the lone No. 1 contender to Ambrose's title.
Scenarios like this usually make too much sense to WWE, therefore making it its mission to find a way to complicate things.
But much like everything has been on Smackdown Live since the brand extension began, it is clear as to what is going on. There is no need for Ziggler to get involved in this and create a muddled situation.
Styles just handed the top man in the industry a rare clean loss. The only logical step from there is to put him in a championship match. The next logical step after that would be for him to defeat Ambrose and become the WWE World champion.
But let's do one logical step at a time.
New women's, tag team titles coming to Smackdown
With all of the talk about championship belts on Raw, it was only fitting that Smackdown Live chose this week to unveil the brand new Smackdown Women's and Tag Team championships.
As far the designs, they are nothing new. The women's title looks exactly like the other women's title except the background is blue. The same goes for the tag titles, which unfortunately look like the current titles The New Day are holding with the exception being that they have a blue strap. Oh, and the main plate looks silver.
I can harp on all day about why I'm not a fan of the majority of the titles looking exactly the same, but it won't make a difference. The designs aren't going to change anytime soon.
I will say, however, that it doesn't help the brands feel distinctly different from each other. They have the same exact championships, but I digress.
The first Smackdown Women's champion will be crowned at Backlash via a six-pack challenge featuring the entire division sans Eva Marie, who is serving a 30-day suspension for violating the company's wellness policy.
As far as the tag titles, the first champions will be determined via an eight-team tournament that started Tuesday and will culminate at Backlash.
There were only seven teams to start, but Heath Slater interrupted the proceedings and demanded that he have a shot at the tag team titles. Smackdown Live general manager Daniel Bryan and commissioner Shane McMahon ordered Slater to find a partner by the end of the night in order to find his way into the tournament.
If he and his partner win the tournament, he would finally be granted a contract. After asking The Miz and even Arn Anderson, Slater eventually partnered up with Rhyno.
The tag team tournament kicked off with The Usos defeating The Ascension and American Alpha topping Breezango after a very entertaining match.
While all of that is entertaining and logical, I'm still not a fan of all of these championships. I understand that the brands are separate, but it instantly waters down who the real tag team and women's champs are because there are two.
No matter how distinct Raw and Smackdown Live feel from each other, they are still under the same company and that company is WWE. It is still only one boss and one man calling the shots for both shows and that man is Vince McMahon.
The authority figures are simply figureheads. Just like everything else in wrestling, it's all part of this elaborate storyline to make you feel like the brands are competing against each other when all of the money they make funnels back to one company.
With that said, why have all of these championships if no one is really ever going to buy these brands as being completely separate.
Shane McMahon-Brock Lesnar situation is just beginning
When Lesnar delivered an F5 to Shane McMahon at SummerSlam, it left many speculating as to if it would eventually lead to Lesnar facing Shane McMahon one day.
That speculation only grew after Smackdown Live when Shane McMahon reacted to the fine, or lack thereof, his Raw counterpart Stephanie McMahon levied upon Lesnar for putting his hands on an authority figure.
In storyline, Stephanie McMahon only fined Lesnar $500 for what he did at SummerSlam, which is pocket change to the multi-millionaire.
This angered Shane McMahon and he told a backstage interviewer that this situation was far from over.
If that means Shane McMahon eventually stepping into the ring against Lesnar, count me out. Lesnar against anyone on the WWE roster is barely believable because he has a legitimate fighting background with major success.
You put a middle-aged man with no fight experience against Lesnar and I don't see how anyone could take that seriously. I barely bought Shane McMahon beating up The Undertaker and he was older and way more beat up than Shane McMahon.
That is not the case with Lesnar, who is still in his physical peak — enhanced or not — is younger and could rip Shane McMahon's arms off if he really wanted to.
Carmella shows a mean streak
Arguably my favorite segment on Smackdown Live was Carmella attacking Nikki Bella and her surgically repaired neck.
Bella was scheduled to have a match against Carmella and was about to conduct and interview with Renee Young when Carmella attacked her from behind.
Carmella, still smarting from being pinned by Bella at SummerSlam, pinpointed Bella's neck and showed quite the mean streak. She even attacked Bella again on Talkin' Smack.
I liked everything about this. Firstly, Carmella turning heel is a smart move on WWE's part because she wasn't quite clicking as a babyface since her move to the main roster. She clicked with the NXT audience, but hadn't caught on yet with the main fans.
Secondly, Carmella targeting the neck got her instant heat and instant sympathy for Bella, which is not easy to do, but it worked Tuesday night.
WWE could have easily just had Bella waltz out there and defeat Carmella in her return to television. Instead, it did something creative and shot an angle. What a novel concept?
Bray Wyatt confronts Randy Orton
After planting the seeds last week, WWE kicked off a program between Wyatt and Orton Tuesday when Wyatt confronted Orton in the ring.
Although I like both men involved, it feels like we have seen this episode before and it is mostly due to the lack of creativity surrounding Wyatt.
The most creative thing WWE has done with Wyatt over the last couple of years was the backwoods fight with The New Day, and even that was inspired by TNA Wrestling's Final Deletion.
Other than that, it has pretty much been the same formula when it comes to Wyatt. He targets someone for no apparent reason, explains his reason, people still don't quite get it and then he loses to the person he targeted.