SmackDown Live has been hyping a big show, surrounding the return of commissioner Shane McMahon to confront both Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. If there’s one thing that last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw showed us, it’s that the push toward Survivor Series is fully underway.
Here are five things to watch for on tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live.
The Return of Shane McMahon/Raw’s response
The last time we saw Shane McMahon (on a SmackDown Live show), Sami Zayn was costing him the Hell in a Cell match against Kevin Owens. Last week, both Owens and Zayn were basking in their own glory, despite general manager Daniel Bryan trying to put them through the ringer. Last night, McMahon returned to WWE television to invade Raw with the blue brand’s roster.
They laid waste to everybody in their path and fired the first shot in this brand supremacy war. Tonight should provide answers as to the why. Hopefully it’s more than just red vs. blue. If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that Raw will strike back. Kurt Angle may choose tonight, or he may wait and try to catch McMahon by surprise with his team.
Notably absent from the blue side’s invasion was Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Shane was supposed to confront those two tonight, and even though a brand war is on the commissioner’s mind, he hasn’t forgotten what happened. There is a scenario where these two storylines crossover and intertwine, and tonight should let us know if that is the case.
Jinder Mahal vs. Brock Lesnar
Kurt Angle somewhat ruined this match being made official by Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, but it is going to happen at Survivor Series. The two top champions for Raw and SmackDown Live will meet in the squared circle in the main event of Survivor Series.
Heyman took the approach that was feared when this feud began, putting Mahal down and saying that he isn’t a worthy challenger. It’s still unclear how this match is going to help either superstar, especially with the tone that is being set from the outside.
Tonight will be Mahal’s chance to respond to Heyman and Lesnar, attempting to paint himself as a serious contender to Lesnar. So far, we haven’t seen that.
SmackDown Live’s team
We also learned on Raw that there would be two traditional Survivor Series matches. One would take place between the red and blue brand male competitors and the other between the female competitors. With just four or so weeks separating us from the PPV, putting together these teams through qualifying matches are sure to be on tap for both shows going forward.
The WWE was in a tough spot when Bray Wyatt wasn’t be able to compete at the TLC pay-per-view. They called quite the audible, flying Styles back from the SmackDown Live Latin America tour to take on Finn Balor in a ‘dream match.’ The match delivered and seeing what SmackDown Live was getting back for doing Kurt Angle this favor was the next logical step in this story.
Instead, WWE just decided to have Styles step in and team with The Shield on Monday. That wasn’t part of the original deal that we were told about on the PPV. Did Styles do this on his own accord? It certainly seemed out of place after we heard Angle talk about the brand rivalry that would take place in November. Could Styles be the key to how SmackDown Live was able to invade so easily?
There needs to be some sort of explanation for all of this, and tonight may provide that opportunity.
We now know what Survivor Series is going to be, Raw vs. SmackDown. We will see champion vs. champion up and down the card. Well, that will work for Raw, as they don’t have a single-brand PPV for the rest of the calendar year. For SmackDown, however, there is Clash of Champions in December. As of this writing, it is the last PPV before the Royal Rumble.
SmackDown began to lay the groundwork for some feuds for their brand, including a potential title feud between Mahal and Styles. Furthering that feud, and creating new ones is going to be a subplot to the build toward Survivor Series, but an important one.