SmackDown deviated from its usual formula last night, delivering a strong, wrestling-centric show that started with 20+ minute match, and told most of its stories through what happened between the ropes. There was close to an hour of total bell-to-bell time. That's a lot, and it meant sacrificing several title divisions all-together, but the episode largely delivered.
Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch's latest Women's Championship bout was always going to be the biggest talking point. Announced ahead of time, their scrap at least promised a different outcome to Super Show-Down, where 'The Lass Kicker' retained her belt after taking a DQ loss. Here, her champion's advantage was gone, and the stipulation created a bout largely in-line with their recent encounters, but different enough to prevent staleness.
Elsewhere, the road to WWE's World Cup continued with two qualifiers in Randy Orton vs the returning Big Show and Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe, while AJ Styles met Shelton Benjamin in a non-title clash. Miz TV hit the airwaves as 'The A-Lister' hosted both Styles and Daniel Bryan, a huge comeback was announced, and Rusev and Lana got to the bottom of Aiden English's Milwaukee tape.
Not everything worked, but this was a step in the right direction after last week's disappointments...
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