WWE SmackDown: Burning Questions to Address After Feb. 28 Show

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2017

Credit: WWE.com

SmackDown was in full swing building momentum to WrestleMania 33 with this week's edition of the show.

Many feuds saw a big step forward, helping to solidify several matches fans were speculating about for the past few weeks and months.

The Miz and Maryse are now wholly invested in a fight with John Cena and Nikki Bella after a stellar Miz TV segment, while Baron Corbin and Dean Ambrose are clearly on a path of destruction in however they choose to clash for the Intercontinental Championship.

However, everyone knows that a great show keeps its audience guessing at least a little bit so they will tune in next week.

With that being said, a handful of questions were posed that were left lingering without an answer.

Let's take a look at some of those things we'll be thinking about over the next few days until they are addressed on next week's SmackDown.

Who Is the No. 1 Contender for the WWE Championship?

Back when Randy Orton outlasted 29 other men to win the 2017 Royal Rumble, John Cena had just won the WWE Championship, making it seem like those two would be facing each other at WrestleMania this year.

Just two weeks later, everything changed as Bray Wyatt was victorious in the Elimination Chamber to dethrone the 16-time world champion, but Orton refused to fight his brethren and a new challenger needed to be determined.

Last week's 10-man Battle Royal ended in controversy with Luke Harper and AJ Styles falling out at the same time, leading to their match on this episode which saw Styles coming out on top.

Later in the show, though, Orton appeared at the Wyatt Compound to not only renounce his association as a member of The Wyatt Family but to burn down Sister Abigail's gravesite and declare that he would be coming for Wyatt at WrestleMania.

So who is the rightful challenger to Wyatt's WWE Championship?

Is it the original No. 1 contender who won the Royal Rumble, or is it Styles, who—as he mentioned on Talking Smack—jumped through every hoop to earn that title opportunity?

The situation was only momentarily addressed between Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon, who said they had a lot to talk about, but the implication seems to be a rather negative outlook for Styles.

The final outcome is most likely going to be Orton vs. Wyatt while this sets up a match between McMahon and Styles when he's no longer in the running for the WWE Championship, but how does WWE plan on getting to that point?

One option would be to have Styles and Orton face off in a match to see who gets the chance to fight Wyatt, but the easier method is to just have The Viper's original status as No. 1 contender nullify The Phenomenal One's efforts.

While the end result seems to be a given, the route to reach that destination should be very interesting.

What Happens to Luke Harper Now?

While it's still up in the air as to whether Orton or Styles is the rightful challenger for the WWE Championship, it seems pretty set in stone that Luke Harper is out of the running.

During his match against Styles to determine the No. 1 contender, he came up short in two different ways.

At first, Styles was victorious in what was ruled an invalid pinfall when Shane McMahon pointed out that Harper's foot was on the rope. The match was restarted, and a few minutes later, Styles was able to win yet again, giving him the title shot.

Now that he's out of the title picture, what is WWE going to do to keep Harper from losing momentum and being pushed aside come WrestleMania?

There is still a chance he could be factored into the title match to turn it into some sort of Triple Threat with Orton and Wyatt, but since those two have moved past Harper, including him might do more harm than good.

Since Styles will be busy with McMahon, that leaves Harper with nobody to properly feud with as everybody else has their own storylines outside of him.

Harper isn't involved in the Intercontinental Championship feud between Ambrose and Corbin, he has no tag team partner to be tossed in the mix with The Usos and American Alpha, there's certainly no precedent to put him in the women's division and he can't jump ship to Monday Night Raw, so what will he do instead?

Most likely, he will simply be entered into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which is what WWE does with everyone who doesn't have something better to do.

If that's the case, it's not only a shame to see him fall from grace so quickly, but it also poses another question: Why has absolutely nothing been announced for that match on either brand so far?

Not a single person has been made an official competitor for the Battle Royal, nor has WWE even made any solid references to it to indicate it will be returning this year.

It should be assumed that the concept hasn't been dropped from the potential card, but with zero promotion for it, putting people like Harper in there will seem like a prominent demotion rather than a chance for the spotlight.

What Is the Endgame for Dolph Ziggler's Feud with Kalisto and Apollo Crews?

Dolph Ziggler was victorious in a chairs match against Apollo Crews, showing off that he is firmly a heel as he resorted to a low blow to get the win.

This feud has been going on for quite some time, but there doesn't appear to be anything actually substantial behind it, nor does it seem to have a resolution coming soon.

There was no appearance by Kalisto in any fashion, so is he now not part of this story and it is just between Crews and Ziggler, or was there just no time to have him come out to check up on his friend?

Is WWE just going to follow this up with a chairs match next week between Ziggler and Kalisto where the same thing happens?

All this feud seems to be accomplishing is perpetually reiterating that Ziggler is good enough to beat both of them but not good enough to move past their spot on the card.

Since the three of them have been locked into this program together for a long enough time to wrestle each other on multiple shows, it clearly won't be some sort of prominent match at WrestleMania as nobody would care to see it.

With that in mind, how will WWE wrap things up before April 2 in a way that feels like it wasn't all for nothing?

At this point, it feels like all three men will be more additions to the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal with the rest of the stragglers, which isn't exactly a step up on the hierarchy for someone like Ziggler who thinks he should be in the main event.

Who Is Next in Line for Alexa Bliss' SmackDown Women's Championship?

Naomi's injury surely changed the plans for WrestleMania regarding the SmackDown Women's Championship, but it's WWE's responsibility to turn that into something positive and make the best out of what is still available.

Thankfully, WWE has plenty of amazingly talented women on SmackDown to work with, but that brings up the question of just how to utilize them and in what ways.

This week, Becky Lynch scored a rather decisive victory over Mickie James in a 2-out-of-3 Falls match, which in many ways could point to her being the No. 1 contender.

In fact, Dasha Fuentes even seemed to endorse that idea when her first question to Alexa Bliss in their interview was to address Lynch's win, which got under the skin of the champion.

During that same segment, though, Natalya threw her name in the hat to take the title from Bliss, trying to argue that her win over Nikki Bella the previous week was justifiable grounds for her to be the next in line.

On top of this, the ending of the match between James and Lynch saw Bliss getting involved and being inadvertently struck by James, so will there be any backlash from that between the two friends?

The women's division on Raw has been heading toward a Fatal 4-Way or possibly even a Fatal 5-Way if Dana Brooke is included in the mix, and right now, it seems like the same thing may happen with SmackDown.

Will Alexa Bliss face off against Becky Lynch, Mickie James, Natalya, all three of them or possibly even four competitors if Carmella isn't left to be the only woman sitting out the show?

Will the SmackDown Tag Team Championship Matter at WrestleMania 33?

There isn't enough time to fit everybody onto the WrestleMania card in their own separate matches, and the closer we get to the pay-per-view, the more likely it seems the tag team titles on SmackDown will be an afterthought.

This is potentially true for Raw as well, as both brands have feuds going on but are also sacrificing time to build to them in favor of spending it elsewhere.

On Raw, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson have been fighting Roman Reigns while the rest of the tag teams deal with each other, but on SmackDown this week, none of the teams were featured at all.

American Alpha mentioned on Talking Smack that they wished they had the opportunity to confront The Usos but didn't have a chance to.

Instead, Jason Jordan pulled out his cellphone to show that Jimmy and Jey were spying on them backstage. It was riveting to say the least.

Does this illustrate how WWE doesn't value the SmackDown Tag Team Championship enough to give them even a few minutes to address the current feud, or was this just an oversight with poor time management?

Perhaps the Miz TV segment went too long and something needed to be cut, wherein the tag team champions had the easiest portion of the program to remove from the night.

If that's the case, WWE should be trying to sort out options for how to make up for it next week by putting more attention on that feud to counteract the lack of screen time given to them here, unless it is truly a bad omen of things to come.

Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.


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