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WWE SmackDown Live preview (May 16, 2017): The ride before the fall

We’re less than a week away from Backlash... how will team blue send it home from Manchester, New Hampshire?

The Headliners

Well, for starters, with a couple of pretty fresh match-ups...

Jinder Mahal will challenge for Randy Orton’s World title on Sunday, but tonight, he deals with a former champion who’ll be going for a different belt in Chicago. It’s hard to believe AJ Styles would lose before he challenges for another championship - or that he’d lose to a former member of 3MB at all. But this is where we are. Should we expect shenanigans, or another upset win for the Maharajah?

Meanwhile, the Viper will look to regain some momentum after his Payback loss to Bray Wyatt and being pinned by Mahal last week. To do so, however, he’ll have to beat a guy who hates independent wrestling as much as he does - Baron Corbin. The Lone Wolf is currently without a match for the upcoming pay-per-view (PPV), so there’s probably not as much suspense here. And probably not a lot of ....dives, either.

The Title Scene

The Women’s championship has an event off this month, as Naomi’s title will not be defended at Payback. But we will still get to Feel The GLOW when she teams with Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch to try and take out Natalya’s new faction before they gain a foothold on the blue brand. All six ladies in Sunday’s tag match - and James Ellsworth - will take part in a contract signing tonight, which surely won’t devolve into chaos.

While the #1 contender for his United States title deals with Jinder, Kevin Owens will still be roasting his old rival & best friend Chris Jericho when he takes over as host of “The Highlight Reel”. Who will be KO’s first guest?

Jimmy & Jey Uso made it perfectly clear they’re not impressed or intimidated by Breezango’s wrestling, or their “Fashion Files” skits. Are the tag champs looking past Tyler Breeze & Fandango because of their good looks and comedic chops? We’ll find out in twelve five days.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Rusev will be in New Hampshire tonight, and he wants answers from commissioner Shane McMahon. The injured Bulgarian Brute wants a World title shot at Money in the Bank, or he’s taking his ball and going home. Will SmackDown management give in to his demands?

- We’re also less than a week away from Shinsuke Nakamura’s first official main roster match (televised match, anyway - he and Backlash opponent Dolph Ziggler have been plenty busy working dark matches and house shows). The Show-Off’s attempts to get the upper-hand on “The Artist” haven’t quite worked yet, but he’ll probably try, try again.

- Like Corbin, Sami Zayn isn’t currently booked for this weekend. AND he doesn’t like Baron. Hmmm....

- Mojo Rawley also isn’t on Sunday’s card, but he sure does respect Andre the Giant.

It’s the Backlash ‘go home’ show!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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