For the first time since the historic and highly-praised 2017 Royal Rumble at the Alamodome, the WWE returned to San Antonio for Smackdown Live, the first time Smackdown has broadcast a live show from the Alamo City.
While Monday Night Raw is still bringing in higher ratings, Smackdown Live has been putting out a superior product since the "brand split" that he seen its viewership consistently grow with wrestling fans touting the "blue brand."
So what will San Antonio wrestling fans remember about what they saw at the AT&T Center? Let's take a look:
5. AJ Styles: New United States Champion
In a rare moment for WWE, last Friday, a title exchanged hands in a match that wasn't broadcast live on TV or the internet when AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens at Madison Square Garden for the United States Championship.
Styles's first live appearance as U.S. Champion was in Corpus Christi the next day, but his first TV appearance for all of the WWE universe to see was at the AT&T Center on Smackdown Live. His first act as new U.S. Champion was to bring back the U.S. Open Challenge that John Cena popularized in 2015.
The first man to answer the challenge was John Cena, who returned to Smackdown Live last week. And it looked like we would get a rematch of the excellent clash the Alamo City saw at the Royal Rumble. Unfortunately, Kevin Owens and Rusev had other ideas.
4. Women's No. 1 contender elimination match announced
The women's match was kind of a downer, with no appearance from Smackdown Women's Champion Naomi (who's new glowing belt is lit) and Tamina and Natalya beating Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch. But the most exciting development is the announcement of a No. 1 contender elimination match at Battleground for the right to face Naomi at SummerSlam.
It would've been nice to have Naomi appear. For theatrics and creativity, her entrance is among the best in the company.
3. Shinsuke Nakamura
Shinsuke Nakamura's entrance is so beloved that I'm not sure it's ever going to get old. At first, it was worrisome that when he premiered on the main roster, his entrance was all that was featured. But since his first match against Dolph Ziggler, as an active wrestler with consistent matches, there's more to his appearances than just the entrance, which has given new life to his presence on Smackdown Live.
His current feud is with the current Mr. Money in the Bank, Baron Corbin. It's perfect for Nakamura because it's a solid mid-carder for him to beat. Plus, as the Money in the Bank contract holder, it's common for whoever owns the briefcase to not have to win every feud because they get enough of a rub from the briefcase that their power is hard to diminish with losses.
Seeing Nakamura get aggressive with Corbin and put on a beatdown before the match started was also refreshing. We didn't get to see Nakamura in a match in San Antonio, but we got the entrance and he looked really strong.
I'll take it.
2. Runway Walkers: Texas Rangers
This one wasn't their best work, but their silliness and solid work in the past guarantees the audience's attention as we're waiting for the next amazing joke.
The middle wasn't so good, but the beginning and the end of Runway Walkers: Texas Rangers was worth the time spent on this sketch with the Hype Bros:
"The Truth is Not H." Brilliant.
1. Styles teams up with John Cena to take on Kevin Owens and Rusev
While John Cena officially returned on the Fourth of July, his first match was in San Antonio, which everyone in attendance will remember as he teamed up with U.S. Champion AJ Styles to take on the two men that interrupted what was supposed to be an amazing match at the start of the show.
It's a pretty rare team-up as well. The last couple of years, John Cena's place on the card has been separated from everyone else because of his part-time status, meaning that his feuds don't cross with others, generally. But this time around, it was fun to watch him team up with Styles.
After the match, Cena was quick to show his respect for Styles while reminding him that he's coming for that U.S. title. It's an excellent way to build to their eventual match, which will likely happen at SummerSlam if the WWE plays its cards right. Because the last time these two faced off, it was immediately considered among the best matches of the year.
205 Live is broadcast on the WWE Network immediately following Smackdown, but even after that, there are still "dark matches" that will take place at the end of the show.
A dark match is a match that isn't broadcast for a TV or internet audience, but one put on specifically for the live audience in attendance. It's something special that only those in the building get to share.
Baron Corbin wrestled in the dark match at the AT&T Center and, afterwards, was caught on video comforting a child that was crying ringside.
Full clip. pic.twitter.com/X0XKOMaC0s— Ultra (@UltrixCrow) July 12, 2017
Not one to break character, Corbin quickly tweeted out an explanation that matches his bad guy persona:
Actually that was family I don't care about other people's kids . Know your fact before tweeting like you know something.— Baron Corbin (@BaronCorbinWWE) July 12, 2017
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