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WWE Smackdown preview (February 26, 2015): Not just for Thursdays anymore

What you need to know

Randy Orton is not the guy who takes 20 minutes to deliver an opening monologue.  But he will be part of a group of guys (and one gal) who take 15.

The Viper came back to strike at The Authority, and Seth Rollins, but by Stephanie McMahon and Big Show's powers of persuasion, he was brought around to working with the heel power faction again.  Kane, Triple H, Rollins and his boys in J & J Security weren't too sure, but Steph did have a good point about Orton having done worse to her than The Authority did to him.  Seems like a good plan, putting everyone back together.  What could go wrong?

As if Dean Ambrose absconding with the belt wasn't enough, the Intercontinental championship scene has gotten pretty crazy with the inclusion of R-Truth, and more than a little flamboyant with the return of Dolph Ziggler.  The Lunatic Fringe is holding the title, and cutting killer promos, while the man listed as champ on the books, Bad News Barrett, can't buy a win.

That Roman Reigns is good, and you should treat him like a big deal.  If you weren't convinced by his Fastlane performance, the man he defeated there will tell you as much.  And the Advocate for the man he'll face at WrestleMania will remind you.  But Paul Heyman will also tell you that his client, Brock Lesnar, is still better than the Big Dog, and will walk out of Levi's Stadium the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.  Unless he's still pissed and doesn't show.

Exercising their rematch immediately, The Usos looked like they might get the tag belts right back from Tyson Kidd & Cesaro.  But then Natalya went all the way to the dark side and crotched Jimmy.  The Masters of the WWE Universe now look to be a full-fledged trio, and they still hold the straps.  In tag team news of the you-probably-don't-care variety, The Ascension are feuding with the re-formed Primetime Players.

From the former tag teams currently-or-about-to feud department, we can tell you that Stardust did not respond well to falling prey to a distraction from his brother Goldust that caused him to lose to Jack Swagger, and may be turning his family issues into a crusade against others who came up in WWE with the Bizarre One.  Meanwhile, Damien Mizdow has landed his own leading role, without The Miz, who just entered the Andre the Giant battle royal at WrestleMania to try and win one of the only WWE prizes that's eluded him in his Awesome career.

A couple of other big WrestleMania programs continued to simmer this past Monday night.  Bray Wyatt is playing with caskets and waiting on a response from The Undertaker.  John Cena has his response from U.S. titleholder Rusev about a rematch - it doesn't matter whether John ackowledges his defeat or not, Vladimir Putin's favorite sports entertainer is moving on to bigger challenges than the Ce-nation.

Paige, Emma and the Bellas had a 30 second match won by the twins.  Curtis Axel's latest push for a WrestleMania main event also ended quickly when former tag partner Ryback Shell-Shocked him.  One of these things has had wider ranging consequences for WWE than the other.

Our obligatory show-ending Authority tag team match featured recent opponents Reigns & Daniel Bryan against guys we thought would soon be opponents in Rollins & Orton.  After the heels were thrown off their game by a bling tag, the good guys made the best of one to win.  Just when we thought Mr. Money in the Bank might be about to get his, the Apex Predator RKO'd one of his security team instead, and walked off with a threatening/reassuring pat on the chest for Seth.

What to look out for

WWE went down to Georgia...Atlanta to be precise...and filmed them some television shows.  The one that still airs on television in the United States will show up on SyFy tonight at 8PM Eastern.  If you're so inclined, get the scoop ahead of that time by reading these spoilers right here.

Outside of the tag title match, Raw was mostly free of pay-per-view (PPV) rematches.  We get a big one tonight, that also provides our obligatory show-ending Authority tag team match, when Team Fired gets another shot at Rollins, Kane & Big Show.  Ryback, Erick Rowan and Ziggler were taken down by that same trio on Sunday...we'll see if they can get a different outcome on cable television.

The Beard will address his path to 'Mania, now that he and his fans know that it won't involve the WWE championship this year.  That announcement is set to kick-off the show, so plan to get angry or happy early.

Lunatic champ Ambrose has promised to fight anyone who comes for the Intercontinental title.  Barrett has promised to get it back.  Who knows what R-Truth is even doing handing around their beef, since I don't think he'd been on television in weeks prior to Monday night.  Regardless, the chaos started by Dean at Fastlane has made this a car crash worth watching, and it should get ample time to develop on Smackdown.

Well, that and #Axelmania.  There are still a bunch of spots to fill in that Andre the Giant match, Curtis.  You're probably not getting Lesnar, but you've got  good enhancement talent gimmick, and there's always a battle royal...

(Note: I know some folks have come looking for a more definitive match listing - that will be posted behind spoiler text in the comments. If releases more information on anything that's officially going to take place on tonight's show, that'll be updated here)

A lot of folks found Raw's fallout show to be disappointing...will tonight do better by Fastlane?

The best way to find out is with your fellow Cagesiders...tonight in the live blog!

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