When the WWE announced that they would bring the brand split back to life, a lot of fans wondered how the rosters and titles would be divided. At the conclusion of the draft, it appeared (and still does) that RAW was superior to Smackdown in terms of their tag team and women’s divisions.
Technically, the first pay-per-view following the WWE’s brand extension draft was Battleground. But SummerSlam was the first major show that was the result of a month’s worth of building storylines on each separate show. But because that pay-per-view incorporated the top angles from both RAW and Smackdown, it offered slightly less opportunities for those aforementioned tag team and women’s divisions.
Fans were concerned about the lack of depth on Smackdown, but because the primary focus on Tuesday nights centered around the WWE World Championship feud, John Cena and AJ Styles and the Randy Orton portion of the cross-promotional angle with Brock Lesnar, they were able to mask any of those deficiencies, at least for the month of August. That all changes in the aftermath of SummerSlam.
The women of Smackdown, many of whom were new and inexperienced, were lumped together for a six-woman tag match originally scheduled for the kickoff show. It was only moved to the main card when Eva Marie was suspended for violating the WWE Wellness Policy, opening the door for Nikki Bella to return, which was deemed important enough for the change. The same six women will battle it out again on the first Smackdown-exclusive pay-per-view next month, Backlash, but with a lot more on the line.
Nikki, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, and Naomi will compete in a six-pack challenge match for the new Smackdown Women’s Championship in an effort to separate at least one of them from the, well, pack. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon have another initiative in place to help do the same for the blue brand’s crowded tag team division.
Shane and Daniel announced that a tag team tournament would begin last week, with the finals taking place at Backlash to determine the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Perhaps the two favorites to win it all advanced last week when The Usos eliminated The Ascension and American Alpha dispatched of Breezango. According to Cageside Seats, fans should expect Jimmy and Jey Uso to face Jordan & Gable in the championship match at Backlash, with a twist to make things interesting.
Seeds were planted for this on the SummerSlam kickoff show, but the idea is to have The Usos and American Alpha face off for the new tag team titles on Smackdown, with The Usos likely coming out on top and turning heel in the process. There’s a clear push for Jordan and Gable to become the top babyface team on Tuesday nights for a long time to come, but they need an established team to help put them over before they officially grab that spot. Because the other two heel tag teams (Ascension and Breezango) don’t fit that mold, and the fact that they’ve already been eliminated, The Usos slide into that position and potentially get a run with the titles in the process.
Also, the Golden Truth and the Hype Bros have yet to establish themselves as serious contenders, but every team mentioned will have to step up if the Smackdown tag team division is to stay afloat. The other factor to keep an eye on is that Heath Slater was able to recruit Rhyno to be his tag team partner, adding a seventh team to the tournament. Daniel Bryan said that if Heath could find a partner, he would add another team to the mix to make it an even eight.
According to Wrestling Inc, that eighth team could be former WWE superstars, Mosh and Thrasher, aka The Headbangers. The tag team, who had a run with the company in the late 1990’s, included a stint as WWE Tag Team Champions, took to social media this weekend to announce their return.
It’s not yet known the extent of the Headbangers’ contract terms, but their signing comes on the heels of The Dudley Boyz parting ways with the WWE just last week. It will be interesting to see if the Smackdown creative team continues to use Slater as fodder for other talent or if the pairing with Rhyno is a sign of change for the one man band. It’s unlikely the tag team would advance to the finals considering the plans noted above, but if booked seriously, they could certainly add another element to the division.
[Image via WWE]