SmackDown Live recap: Breezango proves 'Land of Opportunity' isn't just a tagline

Breezango shocked the world and, seemingly, themselves, by winning Tuesday's "Beat the Clock" challenge and becoming the No. 1 contenders to the SmackDown tag team championships. Courtesy of WWE

If only the Brooklyn Brawler were in his prime. Or Gillberg, parody and all, had started his career 20 years earlier. Ah, heck, even Tugboat or the Red Rooster could have had legit gold aspirations in this land-of-opportunity theater that is SmackDown Live.

A week after Jinder Mahal unexpectedly rose to relevancy and became the No. 1 contender for the WWE championship, Breezango emerged from Tuesday night as the top challengers for the tag-team titles.

Roll your eyes if you'd like, but SmackDown has made it clear that it is going to give new faces a chance. It's a vast, and welcome, changeup from the A-listers on Monday Night Raw who are running around in circles, failing to figure out streamlined storylines.

It's difficult to say exactly where Mahal and Breezango will eventually end up after their respective shots in the spotlight, but with a more limited roster, in terms of size, and fewer top-level pillars, generating new, compelling talent is part and parcel to the future of the show.

Still, it doesn't mean the main staples are going anywhere. On Tuesday, AJ Styles took on Baron Corbin in a heated matchup with Kevin Owens sitting ringside, just clamoring for the opportunity to interfere. After Styles countered a failed power-bomb attempt from Corbin into a rollup and pin, Owens bounced into the ring and began his assault on Styles with help from The Lone Wolf.

But out came Sami Zayn, to the rescue, hoping to neutralize the melee. It was an interesting for the fact that Styles, on paper still a heel, was made to look like a sympathetic figure -- and especially so with Zayn, a hugely popular face in the company, as the one coming to his aid.

Styles is as over as pretty much any current star in the company, and the subtle moves over the past few weeks to take some of the edge off of his approach makes you wonder how his role will change in the coming weeks and months. As it stands, SmackDown has few elite faces at the very top, and Styles is seemingly being positioned to embrace that opportunity head-on.

No matter how Styles' character develops -- even if he's more or less undefined in the game of hero and villain -- he is set to have months' worth of top feuds, whether it's against Corbin or Owens.

Jealous, anyone?

A week after Charlotte Flair beat Naomi to earn a title match Tuesday, it was the rest of the women's pack that foiled a tremendous affair in the main event of SmackDown.

Flair and Naomi put on a sensational show, with the champ starting quickly by converting a bulldog on Flair. Naomi, who won the SmackDown women's championship for a second time at WrestleMania, also clobbered Charlotte with a jawbreaker and series of massive kicks.

The two competitors have had great chemistry throughout, despite only a handful of matches with one another. The athleticism was top-notch. But moments after Flair's trademark moonsault from the top rope was cut short by Naomi's knees, the resentful trio of Natalya, Tamina Snuka and Carmella (and, sigh, James Ellsworth looking on) stormed the ring and interfered, ending the match.

A valiant attempt by Flair and Naomi to rid themselves of their unwanted foes proved unsuccessful, and Natalya and her cohorts stood in the middle of the ring, heads held high.

While it's not an ideal outcome in the short term, as far as fans are concerned, the timing of this incident was perfect, as SmackDown doesn't have a high-profile event until Backlash in late May. It goes without saying that the more the show can build up the women who are currently on the outside looking in on the title picture, the better off SmackDown will be in the long run.

Flair will always be main-event worthy, and Naomi has taken what looks like a permanent leap into the spotlight. When Becky Lynch returns to the ring, she will help create a three-way fiasco a la what we had on Raw before the "shakeup" with Flair, Sasha Banks and Bayley.

Natalya and Snuka are veterans in the WWE, but neither has never found a long-lasting niche. In many ways, they have been career sidekicks, aside from one Divas title reign for Natalya. Carmella is young and charismatic, but she has failed to build upon the momentum of her recent feud with Nikki Bella in any significant way. Not everything will work in SmackDown's push toward making new stars, but with opportunities like this, the women's division's future seems bright.

Here's how Breezango became a thing

The No. 1 contenders for The Usos' tag titles was determined by a "beat the clock" challenge Tuesday night -- a first in the tag team division. The rules:

  • Four teams compete in two matches

  • Winners of first match will set time to beat

  • Winners of second match must win before that time expires

  • Team with fastest becomes No. 1 contender

Really, it was just a complicated way of allowing Tyler Breeze and Fandango to be this week's Cinderella story.

The competition began with American Alpha taking on the newly rebranded Colons, formerly known as the Shining Stars. It was a high-energy match from start to finish, highlighted by American Alpha's Grand Amplitude on Epico to win the match in 5 minutes, 17 seconds.

Later, it was time for Breezango and The Ascension who battled to try to beat that time. No chance, right? After all, neither team had nearly the appeal, nor the potential, of American Alpha. The Ascension started quickly with a leaping corkscrew uppercut by Viktor and a power bomb by Konnor moments later.

But the momentum quickly ended. A huge supermodel kick by Breeze and a Falcon Arrow by Fandango won the match -- with 2 minutes, 36 second to spare.

So there you have it. In just a few weeks' time, Mahal could be your WWE champ and Breezeango your SmackDown tag-team title-holders. Is this the beginning of a new era that no one saw coming?

Since the teaming together following a double-turn on R-Truth and Goldust last year, Breezango has more or less been booked as quick comic relief, but what we saw Tuesday night were two performers in Breeze and Fandango who, if you take away their historically unappealing gimmick, have excellent athletic skills and command of the ring.

We'll mention it again: SmackDown lacks depth in star power, but more than its Raw compatriots -- and perhaps more importantly -- the show is full of surprises. With a willingness to take chances on new names, especially recently, the odds of finding a diamond in the rough have increased dramatically.

Hits and misses

  • Enjoyed the juxtaposition of the suave-speaking Dolph Ziggler and Shinsuke Nakamura trading barbs to open the show, although there were some questionable choices in "The Showoff" insinuating that Nakamura is a reincarnated Michael Jackson. Nakamura's lack of command of the English language made him endearing in his retort, especially the innocuous profanity. This is a perfect first main-roster feud for Nakamura to build his character and connection with fans who don't know him, and establish himself as a top performer on this level.

  • One of these days we'll see The New Day on SmackDown Live, right? While Raw has more star tag-team power, SmackDown has a nice array of teams, from veteran stars like the New Day to incredibly athletic ones in American Alpha and the Usos. And if Breezango and The Colons can keep up their momentum, there's little reason to believe they won't have multiple chances to vie for the titles too.

  • Speaking of MIA, it was nice to hear from Rusev, who, perhaps more than anyway, will benefit from the move to SmackDown. In a pre-taped segment, Rusev expressed his ire toward GM Daniel Bryan and Commissioner Shane McMahon. Oh, and he demanded a championship match at Money in the Bank ... in mid-June. Guess this means the Bulgarian brute will be out quite a bit longer while rehabbing his shoulder.

  • If Randy Orton is the champ and no one is talking about it, is he really the champ? Well, of course he is, but The Viper continues to slide down the relevancy pole with his exhausted feud with Bray Wyatt. Once again, after taking care of Erick Rowan, Orton established he has no idea what a "House of Horrors" match is and spewed more diabolical discourse that doesn't jive with his character. Here's hoping the payoff at Payback makes up for the weeks of worn-out weirdness.

  • Still, a big congratulations are in order for Orton, who made his main-roster debut 15 years ago Tuesday. Thirteen world championships later, he's still in top form, and by the looks of it, once he ends his storyline with Wyatt, he isn't going anywhere ...

  • ... Unless Jinder Mahal has anything to say about it. The new face of heel came to the ring after Orton's victory Tuesday and vented about his disrespect he gets from the entire WWE universe. "Randy, you disrespect me because I look different; because of your arrogance and lack of tolerance," he said. Of course, the Bollywood Boyz appeared again and helped Mahal beat up Orton. Later a funny scene ensued when Mahal was shown riding off in a stretch limo with Orton's title in tow.