The biggest winners and losers from last night's SmackDown (July 17th)
The build to WWE SummerSlam has officially begun, and the blue brand left its older red sibling in the dust as it began laying out its feuds for the biggest party of the summer. With the exception of its catastrophic women's division (more on that in a moment), it's an exceptionally strong lineup, and all of the blue brand's feuds are better than the red's, doing far more in two hours than Raw did with the three it gets every week.
It's a testament to SmackDown's roster. Now let's see if the writing can stay this good. That's always the challenge. With the competition SmackDown faced last night, there was an incentive to do something good. Will that stay in place as the build continues?
In addition to all of this, an NXT call-up finally made the major splash we've all been waiting for.
Who got the most out of last night? Let's take a look.
Winner: Andrade "Cien" Almas
Undoubtedly a way to counter stiff competition in the MLB All-Star Game, this match was the first on the show. Andrade "Cien" Almas has had some of the best matches all year (for those unaware, his matches with Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black remain two of the ten best of 2018), so putting him in the ring with AJ Styles was guaranteed to draw attention. It lived up to the hype.
This match did everything it needed to. It showcased Andrade's skills in a major way, presenting them to a wider audience, made the champion look like an actual champion, and teased a bigger, better encounter in the future.
Andrade tapped out pretty quickly to the calf crusher, but that won't matter much in the long run. This was a performance that established his presence on the blue brand. Let's hope he gets something good for SummerSlam.