The second half of the London doubleheader emanated to our screens last night, and it was a perfectly acceptable show, largely carried by one big match and one big moment. Let's talk about the match first - Styles and Nakamura went at each other for the fourth time in the last month and a half, and they had a fun match! You could make an argument it was the best of their matches in this feud, on account of a clever finish. Nakamura pretended to be the victim of a nutshot and used the distraction to destroy Styles with the Imploder and the Kinshasa for the clean three. It's also the first time Nak had actually won a match against Styles in the feud. Nakamura earned the right to choose the stipulation for their MitB match, so let the speculation begin - Balls Count Anywhere (tm KJames)? Two-out-of-three Balls (tm ekedolphin)? Iron Nuts Match? It's all on the table!
Now you could go either way with this - you could say it's lazy booking to build to a match by presenting the same match over and over, and you could say it diminishes the special quantity of the match, and you'd be right. At the same time, we're getting Nakamura and Styles on a near-weekly basis, and I feel like there are more pressing things on the show we could complain about.
The biggest thing to complain about was probably the Mellabration. The town crier was a good touch, but it went downhill from there because the crowd just didn't buy in. Eventually Paige interrupted to introduce Asuka as the #1 contender for the title. Since they didn't have Asuka doing anything else, this was pretty telegraphed. I wonder if Carmella's lack of in-ring prowess has pushed management to take the title off her, since Asuka as champion certainly leads to much better matches and probably richer storylines. Or they could go in the other direction, and use Asuka (whose title opportunity is largely undeserved based on what she's done on SDL) as a stepping stone to really cement Mella, but that seems less likely.
If Seth Rollins is Raw's main man in terms of pure babyface reactions, D-Bry is that guy on SmackDown. Last week's loss seemed to have taken no shine off him, and he laid a righteous beating on Cass after the big man ran his mouth for far too long. Credit to Cass for doing a good enough job on the mic to have the crowd baying for his blood. His material's been pretty good, though the delivery hasn't been quite as good as I remember from his Raw days. The dynamic of this feud is very interesting, on paper it seems a standard David v Goliath setup, except David has kicked Goliath's ass at virtually every opportunity and would be considered a heavy favorite in any match between them. It's a fun wrinkle.
There were two MitB qualifiers, too: Becky Lynch won hers in a triple threat against Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. (BTW BECKY LYNCH WON A MATCH!!?!?!?!?!!!) Is Mandy Rose basically Emmalina? Rumors on Cageside Seats would have you believe it. Mandy and Sonya continued to have issues with Paige, though so far those issues haven't been severe enough to define what the former Absolution members are on SD. New Day won a tag match against the Bar to earn a spot in MitB, and now they must choose one member to participate in the match. If the long-rumored Big E push is coming, this would be a great place to kickstart it. You could also go into a dissension/dissolution of New Day angle, or hell, you could combine the two and have Big E emerge as a mega-heel.
Andrade Cien Almas debuted and demolished a local talent; there weren't too many signs of the tranquilo version of him. Afterwards Zelina Vega cut a promo saying she was disappointed in the level of competition on SD, though there was no answer from anyone on the main roster. I wonder who Almas's first feud will be. Speaking of promos, Samoa Joe cut a pretty savage one (youtube.com) on Big Cass to set up a qualifier next week, and Rusev Day announced their MitB intentions (twitter.com). I breathed a sigh of relief when Lana didn't push the Rusev-Is-Too-Good-for-Aiden angle.
Of course, the very best promo on the show, heads and shoulders above the rest, hands down, no questions asked, is this one (youtube.com) right here. The future? Iiconic. You damn right.
I think you're right with the Mean Street Posse being the first ones to ask for protection -- They were still called the Acolytes for awhile after that when they made their entrance -- before that, they were just two space-fillers in Undertaker's Ministr...