WWE SmackDown: Burning Questions to Address After April 18 Show

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterApril 19, 2017

Credit: WWE.com

After a startling WWE SmackDown, fans had to be knee-deep in questions.

Jinder Mahal emerged as the new No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship. The Shining Stars wiped away their names. Kevin Owens faced a foe no one has heard of before.

What does all this mean? How high will WWE push Mahal? What will be the fate of Primo and Epico Colon now that they ditched their shady real estate agent act?

Tuesday's SmackDown was as much a reboot as the Superstar Shake-up the week before. The brand is clearly going in some unexpected directions. That has created a number of unknowns. 

The following is a look at all of those, trying to make sense of a SmackDown filled with curveballs. 

Will The Colons Find Success After Gimmick Change?

The Shining Stars are no more. Primo and Epico are now known as The Colons.

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The heel team beat American Alpha on Tuesday night to celebrate the change.

The Shining Stars gimmick was an ill-advised choice from the beginning. It was only a slight improvement over their previous run as Los Matadores. It was impossible to take either incarnation seriously. 

So far, embracing their family history and being more serious suited them. The Colons looked better without campiness holding them down.

Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet wondered why WWE hasn't ditched the silly gimmicks earlier:

Will this be enough to allow The Colons to be major players in the tag team division? Will the change prove merely cosmetic?

WWE was smart to try and found out. If the Puerto Rican grapplers can't make it with this shtick, then so be it. At least the company will know it wasn't because of a cartoon gimmick getting in the way.

The Colons are solid workers and have the skills to make the most of this opportunity, especially within a tag team division in need of depth.

Is an Alliance Forming?

Charlotte Flair knocking off Naomi to become the No. 1 contender for the SmackDown Women's Championship was no surprise. The Queen has reigned everywhere she's been, winning titles on both NXT and Raw.

Her backstage interactions were actually more newsworthy. 

On the way to the ring, Flair saw a welcoming party waiting for her. Natalya, Tamina, Carmella and James Ellsworth all glared at her. They crossed paths a handful of times throughout the night.

Natalya's crew had previously expressed frustration over Flair getting a title opportunity so soon after joining SmackDown.

Is this the start of a new stable? Will Natalya lead the way as these overlooked stars fight for their space on the stage?

If so, that's an excellent move.

The limited Tamina is better off as part of a group. Natalya needs a new direction. And Ellsworth would be a good fit as these femme fatales' mascot.

Is the Open Challenge Back for Good?

Owens looked to be bringing back John Cena-style United States Championship open challenges. Instead, he brought in a jobber to assert his power.

KO flattened a guy named Gary Gandy.

This was not an instant classic as so many of Cena's battles were. Owens is doing things differently, as he should. He's a heel after all, not a gutsy fighting champion.

Was this a one-time thing? Can we expect Owens to play the bully like this every week?

Hopefully, the answer is "yes" to the latter question.

Owens can showcase his character with these open challenges. They won't produce great matches, but it will be fun watching The Prizefighter pretend his battles wth ham-and-eggers is an arduous gauntlet.

Perhaps one of them scores a near upset along the way to add drama.

The amount of hype around Owens' first open challenge suggests there are more to come. Bring them on.

Is This Mahal Push for Real?

Believe it or not, Mahal is now the No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship. He won a Six-Pack Challenge on Tuesday night and now has a future date with Randy Orton with the gold on the line.

How far will WWE take this transformation of midcarder to man on the marquee?

Is this R-Truth in 2011 all over again or a sustained effort to elevate Mahal as a top heel? Is Mahal a stopgap rival? Would WWE actually consider crowning him champ?

Turnbuckle Magazine pointed out a major issue with Mahal's sudden rise:

The plan may be to build him up after the fact. WWE is acting like he's a big deal right now.

He will have The Singh Brothers (formerly The Bollywood Boyz) at his side. The cruiserweight team aided Mahal on Tuesday by holding down Sami Zayn's leg midbattle.

WWE has shown flashes of being high on Mahal in the past. It looks as if the company will go all-in this time.

Mahal, though, will likely have a limited window to impress. If after being backed by the WWE machine, he doesn't make a big impact in a hurry, expect the higher-ups to move on quickly.

SmackDown has other heels on the rise who would be happy to reach for the proverbial brass ring.