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WWE SmackDown preview (June 26, 2020): Disarray

WWE SmackDown probably returns tonight (June 26) from the petri dish that is known as the WWE Performance Center in the petri dish known as Florida.

The Headliner

I’m going to open this with a peek behind the curtain of me writing this preview. Now let me be clear. It’s not going to be some exciting peek. This is about writing a preview after all. But I feel it’ll set the stage for what we’re going to get into.

While this publishes on 9 am on Friday, I write it the night before. Because of that, there may be things that happen after I write it but before this publishes that negates things I write. And because this isn’t my full time job, I’m unable to check right before to alter anything.

Normally, it’s not a big deal. This format is meant to serve as a broader look at SmackDown for just that reason. Maybe there’s not anything previewed on the WWE website, but we can at least discuss what’s been happening and where the stories are headed.

And as I’m writing this, a good 12 hours prior to you reading it, tonight’s show has a shadow of uncertainty surrounding it to the point it doesn’t make sense to focus on a single story like we usually do to open. Because WWE is currently dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 that’s likely tossing everything on its head.

Right now, only three people definitely have it. Renee Young, Kayla Braxton, and Producer Adam Pearce have all said so themselves. We obviously wish them a quick recovery and hope their cases are mild. But rumors and reports have the number more in the dozens category, affecting all operational departments.

Meaning as I write this, WWE probably has no idea what they’re going to do for a show they were planning to tape hours before it aired. Whatever plans they had are going to go out the window due to the talent that actually has the virus and the talent who is wisely staying home to avoid exposure to the virus. (And honestly, this week, that should probably be all of them.)

It’s not surprising that the only thing advertised on WWE’s site as this is being written is a replay of Undertakers Boneyard match from WrestleMania. It plays into the end of the Last Ride documentary but more importantly, they can kill a good 30 minutes with this replay.

The safest plan is to call this week “A tribute to the Undertaker” and show two hours worth of classic Undertaker footage. Let all the talent stay home, get tested, and reconvene next week.

We’ll see soon if they advertise anything else for tonight, if they haven’t already. Otherwise, we may be greeted with a glorified clip show when we tune in tonight at 8 ET. And given this circumstances, that may be for the best.

The Title Scene

Last week, Bray Wyatt resurrected his Bayou Cult Leader gimmick for a promo against Universal Champion Braun Strowman. If I had to venture a wild guess, I’m going to say this leads to a House of Horrors match, given the new tag line of the Extreme Rules event, between Bray as this character against Braun. Bray will once again lose so that he turns to the Fiend to beat Strowman at SummerSlam.

Bayley Dos Straps is all over the place defending the Women’s tag team championships alongside Sasha Banks. However she still doesn’t have an opponent for her SmackDown Women’s championship. Banks is currently focused on Asuka’s Raw Women’s champion and a chance to really solidify this Two Woman Power Trip, so Bayley doesn’t have to worry about her for awhile. There are some women like Lacey Evans or Naomi on the blue brand, but the champ has really run through this division.

AJ Styles was booked to defend his Intercontinental championship against Drew Gulak. Gulak beat Styles clean prior to AJ winning the belt. Whenever this match happens, whether it be tonight or down the line, it’ll be another good one.

The New Day are embroiled in a feud with Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro for the SmackDown tag team championships. Last week the presumed challengers unveiled a sick double team move.

Other things to keep an eye on:

- Matt Riddle’s big debut, where he defeated AJ Styles clean, was undeterred by allegations of sexual assault. Rumor has it that these claims against Riddle were known to WWE when they signed him so it’s likely not going to have much of an effect on his push. But things can always change.

- More bullshit with Sheamus and Jeff Hardy was advertised. Unlike the advertised Intercontinental title match, I wouldn’t be bummed if COVID denied us this segment.

We’ll see how WWE handles putting on a TV show during a coronavirus outbreak tonight at 8 PM on Fox.

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