The first SmackDown Live of the Wild Card Era had a low bar to match thanks to Raw the night before.

    Luckily, SmackDown Live was able to clear it and then some on the strength of two title matches. The SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships and the WWE Championship both had excellent matches on the show, and the SmackDown Live side marched ever closer to Money in the Bank. Let’s take a look at what five things we learned from this week’s SmackDown Live.

    1. ‘Wild Card Rule’ Is a Mixed Bag

    The Wild Card Rule that was instituted by Vince McMahon on Monday night continued here on SmackDown Live. A.J. Styles and Sami Zayn came over to challenge Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship. The Usos returned to lose to Daniel Bryan and Rowan in a match for the SmackDown Live Tag Team Titles. Miz popped up once more to beat up Shane McMahon. While this could lead to some temporary bumps in ratings due to the intrigue, I think it will fade over time if the segments get repetitive. The Miz-Shane stuff was a 50/50 version of what happened on Monday night, and the opening segments were very similar both nights. Repeating the same things is exactly why the ratings are going down in the first place.

    2. The RKO Will Never Not Be Over

    I don’t think this is a surprising development to anyone. Randy Orton interrupted a match between Andrade and Ali, two of his fellow Money in the Bank participants in two weeks, and hit them with RKOs. Orton was initially booed when he hit the ring, but the Louisville crowd popped hard for both of his RKOs. One was a pop-up to Ali, the other was catching a flying Andrade out of mid air. Even if he isn’t a favourite to walk away with the briefcase, the popularity of Orton never waivers with the RKO on hand.

    3. The SmackDown Tag Division Is At Least Interesting

    As mentioned before, Bryan and Rowan are the new SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions. They won them in a stellar match against the Usos, proving their mettle as the new champions. If Big E wasn’t hurt, then he and Xavier Woods would have made for a perfect first feud for Bryan and Rowan given the champs’ past issues with Kofi Kingston. Who matches up as the first contenders now is anyone’s guess. Is Heavy Machinery ready for a featured, serious feud like this one would be?

    4. Mandy In The Bank Is A Real Possibility

    This spot was almost going to be talking about how all the women’s storylines were featured in only one segment during the show. Instead, through the power of positivity, we’ll talk about how Mandy Rose seems to be getting the most limelight of all the Women’s Money in the Bank participants. Is this all misdirection in order for a surprise winner to emerge? Or will her somewhat strained relationship with Sonya Deville pay off and earn Rose the briefcase? A breakup between Rose and Deville has been teased for a while now, and their breakup could be the push Rose needs to make it to the Women’s Championship level.

    5. The WWE Title Is Now The Workhorse Belt

    On back to back nights, the WWE Championship was the star of the main event segment. With the Wild Card Era upon us, WWE decided to use the more prestigious of it’s two major belts to be the main event of both Raw and SmackDown Live. With that decision, Kofi Kingston gets a huge boost. He’s the man who has taken on all comers for his newly won WWE Championship and has looked like a tough champion in doing so. Both matches he had this week were excellent, especially his triple threat with A.J. Styles and Sami Zayn on SmackDown Live. The boost to the WWE Championship does hurt the standing of the Universal Title and its holder, Seth Rollins. The big red belt just doesn’t feel as important as the WWE Championship. That might be Brock Lesnar’s fault for keeping it at home so often, but WWE will need to boost the profile of the Universal Championship going forward.

    Overall, a better SmackDown Live than Raw thanks to the two title matches on the show. SmackDown also felt more held together, and was an entertaining show even without blue brand stars like Finn Balor or Roman Reigns. WWE needs to put together shows with consistency and purpose like this one in order to eventually turn around their ratings slump.

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