A Brand-New Braun Strowman, Overbooked Asuka and More WWE SmackDown Fallout

Kevin Berge@TheBerge_Featured ColumnistAugust 15, 2020

A Brand-New Braun Strowman, Overbooked Asuka and More WWE SmackDown Fallout

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    Credit: WWE.com

    With WWE SummerSlam 2020 on the horizon, Friday's edition of SmackDown was all about titles. New challengers were established, while one champion returned a new man.

    Braun Strowman came back without hair and more anger than ever. The Monster Among Men threw away distractions by blasting Alexa Bliss with a press slam. The Fiend arrived, only for Strowman to disappear, laughing at Bray Wyatt's dangerous alter ego from the Titan Tron.

    In a Battle Royal to crown the new No. 1 contender to the SmackDown Women's Championship, Asuka ran the field. After Bayley and Sasha Banks accidentally saved her from elimination, The Empress of Tomorrow took out Shayna Baszler to win the match and a second title opportunity at SummerSlam.

    AJ Styles called out the entire SmackDown roster, stating that no one could defeat him. Jeff Hardy arrived with a message that The Phenomenal One could not ignore. He signed his name for a future Intercontinental Championship opportunity.

    Kalisto returned from injury looking better than ever before, and he was the deciding factor in a match between Shinsuke Nakamura and Gran Metalik.

    SmackDown might not have been the greatest show of the week, but it might have WWE's most memorable. From the bizarre ending to the surprise twists and turns along the way, the blue brand presented a big show worth reflecting on.

Braun Strowman's Transformation Could Revitalize Him

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    Alexa Bliss explained how much she cared about Braun Strowman but said she knew he had changed. At the end of the show, The Goddess confronted The Monster Among Men and slapped him. The Fiend protected Bliss after she was press-slammed by Strowman.

    The universal champion won the title on a last-minute decision before WrestleMania 35. Since that time, it has been easy forget he is the champ. Bray Wyatt has made more of an impact as the challenger.

    The problem is that The Monster Among Men is too simple a character. He is just a big man who can throw around others. He needed more to stand out as a champion. He was more of a character as a heel, destroying everything in his path and never flinching.

    This new attitude may not be a full-blown heel turn, but it might work just as well. In fact, it could be better. Strowman can show he is a top star with a dark, angry personality that makes people want to see him destroy everything.

    The Fiend is still a more compelling presence than the champion, but that should not stop The Monster Among Men from standing on his own two legs with the right gimmick.

Asuka Pulling Double Duty Is Disrespectful to the Rest of the Women's Roster

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    Bayley and Sasha Banks watched the best Superstars on all three brands fight for an opportunity at the SmackDown Women's Championship in a Battle Royal. The Boss and Role Model accidentally saved The Empress of Tomorrow from getting eliminated before she sent Shayna Baszler to the floor to win.

    This should have been an opportunity for fresh competition. Asuka should not have even been allowed to compete. Instead, The Empress of Tomorrow has earned a shot at both champions come SummerSlam.

    While the women's rosters need a shake-up, the overall talent in the company is staggering. Bayley could have had a dangerous challenge in Baszler, Bianca Belair or Tegan Nox. Even if each one of them would have lost, it would have shown off more of the roster.

    The biggest problem with the decorated pair's run is TV time. Bayley and Banks dominate all three brands, which leaves limited spots for everyone else.

    Together with Asuka, the three women may be the most talented in the company, but they are not the only women WWE has. Many are extremely talented and in need of opportunities. Give a fresh hand a chance.

Jeff Hardy vs. AJ Styles Feels More Like a Filler Title Feud Than It Should

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    Credit: WWE.com

    AJ Styles walked out to the ring with a WWE official, Christopher Parks, to unveil a foolproof ranking system to find his next challenger. He showed a blank white board, explaining that no one was worthy of challenging him. Jeff Hardy came out, hit him with a Twist of Fate and signed his name on the board.

    The Charismatic Enigma continues to feel out of place in WWE. His spotlight does not match his talent at this point in his career. Hardy is not the performer he was 10 years ago. He is not even the star he was at that time.

    This story would have been better developing over a longer time rather than being hastily tossed together for SummerSlam. It seems unlikely that Styles vs. Hardy is a long-term plan for the blue brand since The Phenomenal One has mostly battled rising talent over established veterans.

    This does not fit the story at all for Styles. Daniel Bryan challenged him to put his title on the line against those who never got opportunities. Hardy has gotten more opportunities than just about anyone else in WWE.

    This is a filler match for SummerSlam that could lead to a title change. However, it would lack any sort of weight.

Lucha House Party Needs Kalisto, but He Still May Not Be Enough

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    Lucha House Party stole the SmackDown Tag Team Championship belts, leading into a match between Gran Metalik and Shinsuke Nakamura. The Artist's partner, Cesaro, was distracted at ringside by Lince Dorado and the returning Kalisto. In the chaos, Metalik connected on a diving elbow drop to win.

    Kalisto injured his shoulder in December 2019 and Friday marked his return to action. The clearest star of Lucha House Party has been sorely missed; he brings more attention and credibility to a group in need of a spark.

    However, he is not enough to get these luchadors to the next level. He struggled to do so when he was healthy, and the only reason Metalik and Dorado were in title contention was a lack of tag teams on the blue brand.

    Cesaro and Nakamura have far too much cachet to fall so quickly after winning gold. Hopefully Lucha House Party will at least maximize the spotlight and show off in a big way. There will be too much talent in one match for it not to shine.

    Kalisto clearly worked hard to get back into ring shape. He should not lose and fall into the background, but that seems more likely than not.