SmackDown Live has been in dire need of a boost over the last six months. Last week, what seemed impossible became reality. Daniel Bryan stood in the middle of the ring and announced that he had been cleared to return to the ring. Very quickly, WWE was reminded of how over Bryan is with the WWE Universe.
The angle that closed the show with Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Bryan completely changed the entire dynamic of SmackDown Live. Zayn and Owens, who were getting cheered during their feud with Shane McMahon, became the hated heels. Tonight, we get to see the continuation of this feud.
With that in mind, here are five questions that we need answered on tonight’s edition of SmackDown Live.
What will Daniel Bryan’s response be?
They didn’t take it easy on Bryan for his first night back. He was left a mess by Zayn and Owens, needing to be carried off on a stretcher. Shane McMahon took a kayfabe leave of absence and has a real-life injury that could keep him out at ‘Mania. That leaves Bryan as the only person in charge for SmackDown Live. Can he even make it to Pittsburgh to have a response?
He needs to balance still being the general manager of the blue brand with the fact that he can return as an in-ring competitor. Will Bryan be able to keep that balance or does the urge for revenge take him over the edge?
How does the dynamic between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura change just two weeks before ‘Mania?
Twelve days. That’s how long we have until the dream match that WWE fans have wanted from the moment that Shinsuke Nakamura signed with WWE. So far, there has been respect between Styles and Nakamura. There are moments where that respect has been put to the test, just look at last week when Styles took his time saving Nakamura. Despite their being respect, these two are world-class athletes that want to be the best. They want to win on the grandest stage of them all.
With the big match drawing near, the dynamic between these two surely has to change from respect to wanting to defeat one another. This feud doesn’t need a true babyface and heel, but it does need something to distinguish between the two characters.
Can the New Day stand up to the Bludgeon Brothers?
For the first time since the beat down at Fastlane, the New Day are back as a group. Their first task in their return is to attempt to get revenge on The Bludgeon Brothers. Since being repackaged, Harper and Rowan have laid waste to the entire tag team division. Now, they have their eyes locked on the Usos and the WWE SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships. The New Day are trying to stand in their way.
This feels like a way to set up for another multi-way match for ‘Mania, with all three teams fighting it out for the belts. The New Day’s title shot at Fastlane was ruined. It seems like a perfect way to go.
Does Charlotte regain momentum before her big WrestleMania showdown?
I’ll spare regular readers of the five questions of my normal hatred for WWE pinning their champions in non-title matches, but Charlotte lost last week. Natayla pinned her after Carmella attempted to cash-in on the champion. Charlotte does get her chance at revenge, taking on Natayla again this week. In the land of 50-50 booking, Charlotte should get her win back and we should all forget about what happened last week.
By the way, this is your weekly reminder that Carmella still has the Money in the Bank briefcase.
WWE, do you know Rusev exists?
Seriously. Vince McMahon. You do know that you employ Rusev for your television show, right? This is one of the most over acts in the company right now. What is Rusev doing for WrestleMania? Nothing.
He will probably end up being in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which will end up on the pre-show. WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year, yet two of WWE’s hottest acts (Braun Strowman being the other) don’t have featured matches for the show. I get it. It’s hard to get everybody a spot and a match on the card. Rusev is still one of the most over acts, and deserves to get a featured spot.
Maybe he can fill in for Shane McMahon at WrestleMania.