Has SmackDown Live turned a corner as a brand?

After Hell in a cell and the following Smackdown, the show seems to be on the way back up. In this article, I look into the future potential of the show.

Following the superstar shake-up after WrestleMania, many thought that the SmackDown roster had been taken to the next level, and many thought the future was bright for the blue brand which up to that  point had been outperforming Raw. Unfortunately, after the tenure of The Modern Day Maharajah and various booking mistakes, SmackDown has taken a tumble. However, following ‘Hell in a Cell’ and the SmackDown after, it’s looking like Tuesday nights have finally turned a corner and are on the way back up, but is caution needed in the short term? 

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens

One of the most promising story lines at the moment is the rekindled friendship between Zayn and Owens and the subsequent heel turn from Zayn. Since his feud with Strowman, Zayn has failed to be used in a meaningful role and his move to the blue brand had up to this point, yielded anything good. Yet, finally, SmackDown writers have woken up and smelt the coffee and given Zayn the storyline he deserves. Although it was not the role many envisaged, it has the potential to be one of the best story lines in recent history. If Sami and Kevin can use their telepathic connection built up through years of actual friendship, they could become the stable of the blue brand and propel it into the future. Who knows how long it will go on, but regardless it has the potential to be brilliant. 

Steadily improving tag division

At an under-10 end of season football awards ceremony, the SmackDown tag division would have cleaned up the ‘most improved’ award. The Usos and New Day’s feud has been arguably one of the best tag team feuds in recent years and the high caliber of matches, reaching a scintillating climax at Hell in the Cell, has drawn attention to the division. Furthermore, the recent push of Benjamin and Gable and the vignettes involving Breezango have made the tag division of great interest. 

I can’t speak for everyone, but I am also really excited for the debut of The Bludgeon Brothers (Luke Harper and Eric Rowan) and all of this together means that the tag division has a bright future. The upcoming feud with the Usos and Benjamin and Gable seems interesting and could further propel the division.

The United States Championship

The US title feud between Owens and Styles unfortunately failed to live up to standards and the early stages of Corbin and Styles’ feud were rather disappointing. Their match at ‘Hell in a Cell’, although not a show-stopper, certainly moved the feud on and after their match on SmackDown, it seems as if the feud is over. Corbin has the potential to move on to great things and the belt can be used as a device to help him improve. Moreover, and more importantly, the changing of the belt finally frees up AJ Styles to go onto better things and hopefully start a feud with someone new.  Personally, I would love to see a heel Roode, who is another upside of SmackDown at the moment, face AJ Styles and hopefully those two as well as Zayn and Owens can help SmackDown turn a corner.

The elephant in the room

It is important to remember however that SmackDown has a long way to go. Firstly, Jinder Mahal is still the champion and still remains the laughingstock of the wrestling community. Unfortunately, as long as he is champion, SmackDown can’t hit their pre-WrestleMania heights. It really says something that, as SmackDown Live feels like it is back on the right track, it comes after a week where the WWE Champion wasn't even on television. I hope Nakamura finally wins the belt, but I feel he has been damaged so much by this programme that someone else needs to win it. Moreover, the women’s division still seems unable to develop a coherent second feud and this means that all the women just end up in one mess of a title feud. This needs to be solved quickly and hopefully an influx of talent from the Mae Young Classic or NXT can help that.

Overall, SmackDown still faces problems with Jinder and the women’s division. However, more than ever, the future looks bright and hopefully the original promise of the superstar shake up can come to fruition and stars like AJ, Zayn, Owens, Roode, and Nakamura can take SmackDown to the next level.

Do you think SmackDown Live is back on the right track after Hell in a Cell? Let us know in the comments below!

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