5 Ups & 2 Downs From Last Night's WWE SmackDown (Nov 21)

In which effective storytelling trumps formulaic formatting.

Sami Zayn Kevin Owens

With Raw delivering a lively, eventful Survivor Series follow-up earlier in the week, the pressure was on SmackDown to match the apparent A-show with two hours of television that not only drew a definitive line under the pay-per-view, but set the brand's course for their next big event - 17 December's Clash of Champions.

What we got was another enjoyable offering from the blue brand, though one that couldn't match the high standards set last week. AJ Styles and Jinder Mahal set a date for their WWE Championship rematch, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan's struggles to contain perma-pests Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn continued, and another NXT trio debuted. Elsewhere, the Bludgeon Brothers stepped in the ring for the first time since rebranding, while Natalya challenged for Charlotte Flair's Women's Title.

It was a functional show, and most of the night's segments succeeded in pushing their storylines forward, but repetition was a problem throughout. The episode's formulaic nature wasn't enough to derail it entirely, though it did take the gloss off a number of the night's biggest segments.

With that in mind, let's have a closer look at all that pushed SmackDown forward, along with the unavoidable letdowns.


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