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WWE SmackDown preview (Aug. 14, 2020): Too late?

WWE SmackDown returns tonight (Aug. 13) from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. They are building towards the SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV) on Aug. 23.

The Headliner

RETRIBUTION has only been on TV for three shows, and I can say with a strong degree of certainty that this faction sucks.

Seriously, they’re lame as hell, highlighted by last week’s SmackDown appearance.

This league of undersized dweebs waited for the main event to end to storm down to the ring as if they were important. One idiot started hitting the ring mat with a crowbar as if he was cool. They wouldn’t shut up encouraging their brand of dumb chaos. Sure, they eventually kicked the crap out of some poor PC audience members, perhaps people they stood next to in weeks past. And they took a chainsaw to the ring. But it was still all really stupid.

Compare this to the Nexus debut, another time a new group actually unleashed hell on TV. They didn’t wait for the main event to end. No, instead they beat the hell out of John Cena, the top star in the company. The had a cool look. It was a real impact. Not flickering some lights.

On Monday, RETRIBUTION’S vandalism was almost comical. Maybe they really are just a spoof on Vince’s interpretation of Antifa and nothing will come of it. Because at this point, nothing really can unless they find a creative way to flip the whole thing on its head.

If the end goal is to send out these guys (and at least one gal) to face the roster, they’re already dead in the water. Given SmackDown has faced the brunt of RETRIBUTION’S antics, we’ll see if the group does anything more tonight than look ridiculous.

The Title Scene:

Universal Champion Braun Strowman is vowing to meet Bray Wyatt face to face. Last week’s installment to this feud felt like a bit of a hiccup. Alexa Bliss has been.. possesed by the Fiend maybe? In response, Braun cut a promo on the video tron that was supposed to sound menacing/intimidating but came off more comical than anything else. Alexa will explain her interaction with the Fiend this week. She’s talented on the mic and should be able to get them where they need to be.

There will be a tri-branded battle royal to decided Bayley’s SummerSlam opponent for her SmackDown Women’s title. It has to be tri-branded because they have not built up any legit challengers for that title on Fridays. At this point, the Women’s tag team championships, which Bayley holds with Sasha Banks, likely won’t be defended at the PPV.

AJ Styles still needs someone to face for his Intercontinental title at SummerSlam. The Phenomenal One wasn’t on the show last week so any match for him will have a quick build.

Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura will eventually defend their SmackDown tag team championships against the Lucha House Party. This feels like a match that’ll end up on the SummerSlam kickoff.

Other things to keep an eye on:

- Big E’s singles run continues with a match against John Morrison. E’s match with Miz was fine, but this bout should be better given JoMo is stronger in the ring than the Miz.

- Sheamus is not happy with King Corbin because his King’s Ransom on Matt Riddle has interfered with the Celtic Warrior, costing him a win last week. Are Corbin and Sheamus feuding now? That’d be an odd one.

- Nikki Cross wants to apologize to Alexa Bliss for shoving her the other week. Though the shove wasn’t the big thing. But left Bliss alone for a Fiend attack, though that’s not Nikki’s fault. We’ll see if this is leading to a crazier Nikki like we saw in NXT.

What will you be looking for when SmackDown returns tonight at 8 PM ET on Fox?

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