SmackDown, RAW, and NXT have all had at least one episode since Triple H assumed the role of Head of Creative in WWE. There have been visible improvements across all brands since former CEO Vince McMahon retired from the promotion.
Things have been going a certain way in WWE for years, so it might take longer for changes to be made. But after the last two weeks, it's evident that these changes are happening and happening fast.
The latest episode of SmackDown is another testament to the changes in the WWE landscape. In this article, we look at four things that improved the latest edition of the blue brand.
#4. A new wrinkle was added to the Sami Zayn/Bloodline angle
Throughout Sami Zayn's involvement as an 'honorary' member of The Bloodline, he's been loyal and helpful. On the most recent SmackDown, he attempted to talk to Roman Reigns following SummerSlam. Each time he went to the locker room, he was stopped by The Usos.
Jimmy told him that he would be able to see Reigns while Jey looked disinterested. After his third visit, Zayn stuck up for himself as The Usos were purposely stalling and preventing him from seeing Reigns. Jey snapped and yelled that The Honorary Uce would have to "pull his own weight" if he wanted to remain a member of the group.
The former Intercontinental Champion hasn't stuck up much for himself when opposed by The Bloodline. The exchange is a new wrinkle and a sign of tension between the parties. It could also signal a future face turn for Zayn.
#3. A fresh spotlight for Ricochet
For the last few years, Ricochet has had his share of ups and downs on the WWE roster. While he has had a few title reigns here and there, he has mainly been used in the midcard.
Following his loss to Pat McAfee at SummerSlam, Happy Corbin was once again featured in this week's episode, but it was in a losing effort against Ricochet. The Future of Flight is one of the most talented in-ring stars in the promotion but was used sporadically under Vince McMahon.
He had runs as both the United States and Intercontinental Champion, but those seemingly set up the stars who took the titles from him (Samoa Joe and Gunther).
A good win over Corbin in a ten-minute match could signal the stronger spotlight Ricochet might see under The Game.
#2. Shayna Baszler earns a title shot on SmackDown
Another star who was strong in NXT, Shayna Baszler, also had a spotlight on the latest SmackDown. The Queen of Spades won the seven-woman gauntlet to become Liv Morgan's challenger for Clash at the Castle. The match featured some of the most formidable women on the SmackDown roster, including Raquel Rodriguez and Natalya.
Baszler entered last and earned the right to face Morgan. After being one of the most dominant stars in NXT history, she's been primarily relegated to the tag team division on the main roster. Baszler has also been used as a stepping stone for stars like Rodriguez, who defeated her to qualify for Money in the Bank.
The Queen of Spades has all the tools to be a top star in WWE but never really seemed to make it to the big stage. She had a ton of momentum when she debuted and battled Becky Lynch in 2020, but that momentum has arguably dissipated. A renewed focus on Baszler from Triple H might finally lead to her first main-roster title.
#1. Bringing back Karrion Kross and making him a big deal
The biggest improvement from the latest SmackDown was arguably the return of Karrion Kross. Like Baszler, he was booked as unbeatable and dominant in NXT, even becoming a two-time champion.
However, his credibility was seemingly damaged as he lost his debut match to Jeff Hardy. In his months on the main roster, he lost all of the memorable parts of his NXT character. His valet and real-life wife, Scarlett Bordeaux, didn't accompany him on the main roster and his attire was also drastically changed.
In the closing segment of this week's show, Kross and Bordeaux returned with a vengeance. He blindsided Drew McIntyre as she left their signature hourglass in the ring for Roman Reigns.
Being immediately inserted into a major title feud made Kross seem like the big deal he should have been when first called up to the main roster.
Do you think Karrion Kross will become a world champion soon? Let us know in the comments section below.