WWE SmackDown Results: Charlotte Steals Becky Lynch's Thunder and Top Takeaways
The July 31 episode of SmackDown Live continued the blue brand's march to SummerSlam with the return of Charlotte Flair, the latest chapter in Daniel Bryan's rivalry with The Miz, another brutal display of Randy Orton's unchained fury and a message from Samoa Joe to WWE champion AJ Styles.
The show, jam-packed with angles and matches that will directly affect the build to the second-most-significant pay-per-view of the year, was another strong presentation by the SmackDown brand at a time when it most needs it.
What were the biggest takeaways from the night's broadcast, though, and how do they impact the show in the coming weeks?
Charlotte's Return Sets Up Becky Lynch Heel Turn in Near Future
Charlotte returned at the top of Tuesday's SmackDown, rescuing Becky Lynch from an attack by women's champion Carmella. Moments later, Charlotte was plugged into a match against The Princess from Staten Island in which a victory would earn her entry into the title match at SummerSlam.
Much to the dismay of Lynch, who admitted that she was not looking forward to a Triple Threat match for the title she had worked so hard to get back to.
When Charlotte actually defeated Carmella, there was a visible look of disappointment on Lynch's face, strongly hinting that Lynch's frustration over her predicament may lead to a character change in the lead-up to SummerSlam or the pay-per-view itself.
Lynch has worked so hard to get back into title contention that the sudden return of Charlotte and her instant inclusion in the championship match makes for a compelling story. There is not a single person in the audience that cannot sympathize with Lynch, who earned her shot the hard way and now does not even have the luxury of a one-on-one championship opportunity.
How she expresses her frustration is key.
As of now, it would not be a surprise to see Lynch betray her friend, setting up a red-hot rivalry the SmackDown brand can ride right into Evolution in October.
The Miz Is Right; the Yes Movement Is Dead
Yes, Miz, the Yes Movement is dead.
Don't believe the Hollywood A-Lister? Take a look at the reactions Daniel Bryan receives when he enters the arena. Sure, there is a sizeable pop and the YES! chants are there, but the raw emotion and passion that previously accompanied Bryan's arrival are gone, relics of a bygone era.
Bryan's three-year in-ring absence, coupled with lackluster creative upon his return, have left fans less enthused by the babyface who was, at his height, the most beloved star in the industry.
Even Tuesday's promo exchange with Miz lacked the fire on Bryan's part and the crowd support one would expect for Bryan in the midst of this otherwise hotly anticipated program.
We need the fiery, angry, determined Bryan that was a staple of his journey to the WWE title at WrestleMania XXX. We need the writing to stop portraying Bryan as cowardly in the face of Miz's verbal onslaughts. Until that happens, the Yes Movement and Bryan's immense popularity will remain a thing of the past, and the upcoming match between him and The Miz will underwhelm due to the lack of emotion.
Jeff Hardy Rivalry Is Perfect Reintroduction to Heel Randy Orton Character
Randy Orton's return to the dark side has been phenomenal. Vicious, vile and unforgiving in his assaults of Jeff Hardy, and convincing on the microphone as he criticized fans for disrespecting and forgetting him, The Viper has freshened his character up to the point that it may be the best thing about SmackDown Live right now.
The third-generation star and veteran of WWE programming for the last 16 years, he has dug deep down within himself to brutalize and victimize Hardy, battering him and leaving him lying. Tuesday was no different as The Legend Killer obliterated The Charismatic Enigma with two straight draping DDTs. From there, he humiliated the former United States champion, washing away his face paint and "erasing the enigma."
It was another outstanding performance from Orton and one that will only serve to get his character more over with an audience still somewhat torn on chanting "RKO" in support of the veteran competitor.
Shinsuke Nakamura's involvement in the segment and his intriguing interaction with Orton made for some compelling television and should create some questions fans will be looking for answers to in the coming weeks.
Regardless of what those answers are, there is no denying that the once-stale Orton has been rejuvenated by his heel turn, and the darker he goes, the better the television.
Samoa Joe Introduces Emotional Edge Ahead of WWE Championship Match
The match between WWE champion AJ Styles and Samoa Joe at SummerSlam would have been a superb wrestling match just based on their previous bouts alone. Tuesday night, though, Joe introduced an emotional element to the match, criticizing Styles' fathering.
He took shots at the WWE champion, who was not in attendance Tuesday, poking at the one part of Styles that is sure to incite a rage we have not seen out of The Phenomenal One since his brutal attack on Shane McMahon prior to WrestleMania 33.
And in doing so, Joe may well capitalize on a rage-fueled Styles and win the title.
It is smart storytelling and a look into the cerebral mindset of Joe, who has been good throughout his WWE run but has yet to really enjoy that sustained main event run that nets him championship gold.
There is no guarantee he leaves Brooklyn with the title, but Joe set the tone for what should be an immensely personal, hard-hitting rivalry that will show fans of WWE what fans of other independent promotions have known for a long time: Styles vs. Joe is a damn fine in-ring rivalry.