What enemies await the stars of WWE SmackDown?
Tyler Breeze and Fandango may be done tangling with The Usos, for now, thanks to The New Day’s arrival. Luke Harper ran into one half of The Vaudevillains, perhaps hinting at his next rivalry as well as a tweak of his character. The women’s division will determine the next No. 1 contender via a Money in the Bank ladder match, but will anyone else join the fray?
As SmackDown moved a step closer to the June 18 Money in the Bank pay-per-view, these were the biggest questions to emerge from Tuesday’s show.
Breezango can’t be tangling with The Colons long term, can they? And Harper is not going to do a retread of Erick Rowan’s old Rubik’s Cube gimmick, is he?
Let’s dig into those stories, as well as the women’s Money in the Bank field and Shinsuke Nakamura’s future in the latest look at what SmackDown left the audience wondering about.
Moments after The New Day made their way to SmackDown, the trio had a tag team title shot against The Usos lined up. The New Day will take on the title-bearing brothers at Money in the Bank.
Breezango, meanwhile, took down The Colons in a short match on Tuesday.
This came after Fandango discovered cologne in his and Breeze’s headquarters and saw it as a sign that The Colons were involved. Was that merely a one-time collision between those teams? Will Breezango be going up against The Colons or someone else or will it work its way back into the title picture?
As fun as Breezango has been of late, a feud with The Colons would be a major letdown.
But with The Usos busy with The New Day, there aren’t a ton of options left on the table. The Ascension is a non-factor. The Vaudevillains are no longer a team.
If WWE sticks to tradition, it will pit Breezango against The Colons. If the company is willing to think a bit outside of the box, a babyface-against-babyface feud against American Alpha would be far more fun.
Harper didn’t appear on Tuesday’s SmackDown. He was relegated to a brief crossing of paths with Aiden English backstage.
Normally, this kind of post-show clip isn’t newsworthy, but Harper showed a different side of himself here.
He spoke more than usual, apparently knew his Shakespeare and was calmer and smoother than normal. Was this a hint of a shift in his gimmick? Will WWE just drop this in a week or two?
Is he headed for a feud with English?
If Harper is going to be the unexpected smart guy, it’s hard to buy in. Sean Rueter of Cageside Seats wrote: “I’m a longtime fan of the Chikara vet and would love for this to be the gimmick which helps him finally breakout in WWE, but I’m just not feeling it.”
Rueter can’t be alone. This doesn’t appear to be a great idea.
But any kind of direction for Harper would be an improvement at this point.
The King of Strong Style is a magnetic ass-kicker, a rock star with an MMA-flavored offense. WWE hasn’t fully tapped into that yet.
Tuesday’s SmackDown was the latest example of the company trying to have him connect through promos despite his limited English-language skills.
He was involved in the opening segment and did more speaking than fist-swinging. That’s the wrong formula.
As Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful pointed out, the verbal side of his game may be what holds him back.
Sean Ross Sapp @SeanRossSapp
Nakamura does not need to talk to be a big star. Talking might keep him from being a big star
5/31/2017, 12:19:36 AM
So why is WWE so intent on featuring him in talking segments? Why isn’t it assigning a manager to be his mouthpiece? Will the company realize the best route with him is to make him a silent, brooding assassin?
It’s early in Nakamura’s main-roster tenure, but it’s hard not to get nervous at this point. Somebody in the back has to convince Vince McMahon to go a different direction with The King of Strong Style.
As much as WWE has struggled to find the right recipe for Roman Reigns, it wouldn’t be surprising if it screwed around with Nakamura and asked him to spit out catchphrases far too often.
The first women’s Money in the Bank ladder match is on its way.
SmackDown general manager Shane McMahon made it official on Tuesday night. He booked Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Carmella and Tamina in the battle for the briefcase.
There is no set number for these bouts, but they have generally featured from six to eight wrestlers. The current field is five.
Will WWE add bodies to the contest? Will it borrow a talent from NXT to round things out? Or will this be where Lana makes her debut as an in-ring performer.
The Ravishing Russian already made it clear that she wants to be a part of the action:
CJ (Lana) Perry @LanaWWE
Dear @shanemcmahon, can I please negotiate being put in the first ever MITB women’s match ? I’d like to be apart of history. Thank you. @WWE
5/31/2017, 8:11:18 PM
Bringing in Nikki Cross from NXT would be a smart way to showcase her. She would be a good fit in the chaotic environment of the ladder match. Including Lana, however, would be a mistake.
Lana is a manager trying to shift into a wrestling role. She’s inexperienced and unproven. Making her a part of a match this dangerous is asking for injury.
It’s better to slowly work her into the mix with traditional bouts.
There’s no reason five women can’t be put on a show amid the ladders and disorder sure to be a part of Money in the Bank. Unless WWE can bring in someone who will boost the match, it shouldn’t look to expand it.