Last night’s episode of SmackDown Live was the go-home show for the first SmackDown-exclusive pay-per-view in the so-called “New Era” – Backlash. As such, it saw a greater focus on promos, as well as the brand-exclusive women’s and tag team titles that will be contested for the first time at the event. It also saw what many believe was a long-overdue character change – The Usos’ heel turn on American Alpha.

Usos are stars of the night with first villainous run in five years

The semifinal matches for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship continued on Tuesday night, as the favored American Alpha took less than a minute to beat The Usos, while Heath Slater and Rhyno continued their hot streak with a win over The Hype Bros.

But it’s not all over for The Usos and The Hype Bros, particularly the former tag team, who turned to the dark side for the first time since 2011. This should give SmackDown’s tag team division an established heel team, instead of the division’s bad guys primarily serving as jobbers.

After a quick loss to American Alpha, Jimmy and Jey Uso finally released their pent-up rage at being ignored despite their hard work (as they explained after the match), beating down on Chad Gable and Jason Jordan, and injuring Gable’s leg in the process. Due to this storyline injury, American Alpha has been pulled out of the tag team tournament, and Backlash on Sunday will feature last night’s semifinal losers – The Hype Bros and The Usos – facing off to determine who meets Slater and Rhyno later that night for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.

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SmackDown women show their stuff on the mic and in the ring

All six women on the SmackDown brand (save for the suspended Eva Marie) were in the ring last night, with SmackDown Live kicking off with a “Women’s Championship Forum” and each of the six competitors at Sunday’s Six-Pack Challenge at Backlash having their turn at the mic.

The so-called forum, as expected, turned into a brawl, and it was settled later that night in a six-woman tag team match. That match saw the heels (Carmella, Alexa Bliss, and Natalya) defeated the faces (Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Nikki Bella) as Carmella made Bella submit to the Code of Silence. Both the opening segment and the match were solid, as SmackDown appears to be serious in making its women’s division a key part of its brand identity.

An evening of solid promo segments

Aside from the Women’s Championship Forum, the other non-Wrestling segments on last night’s SmackDown were all noteworthy; even Kane’s attack on Fandango (who gave a dance lesson to, then insulted a tattooed woman in the audience) had some entertainment value in it.

Likewise, so did Heath Slater’s reveal of his “family,” which featured actors playing his wife and children, and some of the “kids” sucking up to SmackDown authority figures Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan upon their storyline dad’s prompting.

As for the main event segments, Bray Wyatt cut one of his trademark cryptic promos on Randy Orton ahead of their match at Backlash, and that too didn’t feel too tired as some of Wyatt’s recent promos had been. But the big non-wrestling highlights came from AJ Styles, who showed how vicious he could be as a heel competitor. He acted like a total bully to a few WWE employees backstage, destroying one of the worker’s phones, then took part in an intense confrontation with WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose to close out SmackDown Live. It was Styles standing tall at the end of that confrontation, having attacked Ambrose with a low blow, after both men hyped up their championship match at Backlash.

Quick results:

The Miz d. Apollo Crews (non-title match)

Alexa Bliss, Carmella, and Natalya d. Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Nikki Bella (six-woman tag team match)

American Alpha d. The Usos (SmackDown Tag Team Championship semifinals)

Heath Slater and Rhyno d. The Hype Bros (SmackDown Tag Team Championship semifinals)