When Raw and Smackdown drafted their rosters, Heath Slater was left without a home. That was just the latest in a string of stinging failures for the One Man Band. With an uncertain future, Slater took control of his fate. He crashed Raw a couple times. Once losing to his friend Jinder Mahal and subsequently losing out on a Raw contract. The other time he was destroyed by Brock Lesnar. Slater got his lucky break when he convinced Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan to allow him to enter the Smackdown Tag Team Champion tournament so long as he found a partner. Slater turned to his recent rival, Rhyno. The rest is history. He’s now secured his place in the record books as one half of the inaugural Smackdown Tag Champion. With the crowd firmly on his side, Slater is poised for an excellent Fall.
The Irish Lasskicker is your first ever Smackdown Women’s Champion. To the surprise of many, Daniel Bryan made Becky Lynch his first female draft pick over Sasha Banks and NXT’s Bayley. But on Sunday night, Becky showed why she deserved that spot. After failing to capture the much celebrated NXT Women’s title during her time there, Becky now has the opportunity to step out of the shadow of her fellow horsewomen and build a legacy of her own for the Smackdown women’s division.
Few superstars get a second chance, let alone a third but here they are, the Shining Stars are on the upswing. After ditching the Primo and Epico names years ago and adopting a Matadores persona, things didn’t look bright. The real life cousins took some time away from the ring and regrouped in their homeland of Puerto Rico. When they returned, they spent a lot of their time pitching the admittedly gorgeous Puerto Rico as a hot tourist destination. But now that they’re starting to utilize their wrestling talents again, they’re winning. In back to back weeks, they’ve toppled Enzo and Cass. If they can continue to dominate top stars, Primo and Epico could find themselves in the tag title conversation!
A few weeks ago, we wondered whether Sasha Banks’ career was over before it started. After swerving us (and Dana Brooke) with a faux retirement speech, Sasha announced that she was fine and ready to re-capture her title. Despite having a re-match clause, Sasha still had to earn her title shot. That she did. Sasha pinned Bayley on Raw to earn her opportunity against Charlotte at Clash of Champions. Can she win? Well, after being so wrong about her future, we won’t make the mistake of doubting the Boss ever again.
A month ago, AJ Styles was on pace to be the 2016 wrestler of the year. With his WWE World title win on Sunday, Styles locked up that award and more than likely punched his ticket for the WWE Hall of Fame. AJ Styles is a bonafide WWE superstar. So just how good is he? Well, for the first time ever, John Cena will be an underdog in a WWE title match when he meets Dean Ambrose and the champ at No Mercy.
Styles’ win is the most significant win of the New Era to date. Not because he’s a young star and it signifies a changing of the guard. It’s actually the opposite. He’s nearly 40, he’s a former TNA guy and he still won the title. Anything is possible in the new era. If his career ended tomorrow, he would have had one of the most amazing runs in the company’s history. But his career isn’t ending tomorrow. As a matter of fact, it feels like it’s just beginning.
Bray Wyatt is the face of fear, eater of worlds and loser of matches. His collision course with Randy Orton at Backlash was derailed when the Viper was unable to compete due to injury. Instead, Bray found himself face to face with the Demon Kane. After Orton interfered, Bray was pinned 1-2-3. By Kane. On Smackdown, Bray spooked Orton for a second but Orton ended the night with the upper hand after Bray’s lackey Erick Rowan appeared and took an RKO. Will Bray Wyatt ever win a feud or even a match? Hard to say, but Bray’s real life brother Bo Dallas now has more televised wins in 2016 than him. Not good.
Kalisto would have been on this list weeks ago, but we forgot he existed. After losing his US title, being split from Sin Cara, being drafted to the show without cruiserweights, having a terrible post-draft interview and losing in an IC title number one contenders match a month ago, Kalisto’s future is uncertain. Is he injured? We’re not sure. But as the Smackdown brand rolls on, Kalisto is being left in the dust.
New Day rocks. There is no doubt about that. But their feud with The Club has started to expose some chinks in their armor. On Monday, The Club showed a more serious side and it lead to a victory over the 2 time tag team champs. Can the New Day regain focus and handle the threat or are we about to see the end of one of the longest title reigns in WWE history? Getting to the top is hard, staying there is even harder. New Day faces their toughest challenge ever at Clash of Champions.
Alicia Fox tried, but you have to do more than try to beat Nia Jax. Perhaps the two will meet again or maybe this was a one and done for Foxy. Either way, Fox is free falling in the WWE. She’s no where near the title picture. If she can beat Nia, that can change everything. But who would be willing to bet against Nia at this point? Foxy is in trouble.
Losing a championship doesn’t automatically put you on the downside, but losing your title to AJ Styles is a different situation. Now to regain his title, Dean has to overcome not only a surging AJ Styles but a returning John Cena. Gaining a victory over both would be career defining but seems nearly impossible. If the former champ can’t overcome all odds at No Mercy, it might be a long time before he sniffs championship gold again.