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WWE SmackDown Live preview (May 23, 2017): Maharajah party

Still reeling from a shocking end to Backlash on Sunday, the blue brand sets up shop in Toledo, Ohio tonight!

The Headliners

You’ve had a little more than 24 hours to accept the fact Jinder Mahal is WWE World champion. How’s that working out for you?

For The Maharajah, and his assistants the Singh Brothers, it’s working out great. He’s happy, his boss is happy, the second most populous country on Earth (and somewhere his boss has targeted for expansion) is happy.

It’s probably not working out as well for Randy Orton. The Viper got his licks in at Backlash on all three members of Team Mahal, but that ended up costing him the belt. He’s got a rematch coming - and it may be happening on the Money in the Bank ‘go home’ show for all we know - but he’s not alone in eyeing the prize Jinder has over his shoulder.

Rusev may not have made it onto television last Tuesday, but he’s demanding a shot at the June 20 pay-per-view (PPV). Whoever claims the briefcase at that event in St. Louis will be gunning for him. Kevin Owens wants it.

Enjoy your moment, Maharajah.

The Title Scene

Speaking of Owens, the United States champion defeated AJ Styles to retain his belt in Chicago, but his countout win didn’t impress everyone. The Phenomenal One’s leg is pretty banged up, but look for the blue brand brain trust of Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan to likely give AJ another shot ASAP.

What’s going on with the Women’s championship? Will Naomi actually get back to defending it now that Natalya’s Welcoming Committee has proven to be the dominant force in the division? And is James Ellsworth’s homegirl Carmella right when she says she’s the top challenger by virtue of her pinning the champ?

Much to the chagrin of my boss, Breezango was unable to take the tag titles from The Usos on Sunday. But they looked good (even better than usual) - and as long we get a new “Fashion Files”, do Tyler Breeze & Fandango even need to accessorize?

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Shinsuke Nakamura took everything Dolph Ziggler had and won his main roster television debut. Is The Show-Off done trying to prove “The Artist” doesn’t belong?

- After his third straight win over Aiden English on the pre-show this weekend, Tye Dillinger is raising his sights. In the past he’s talked about KO and the red, white and blue belt... anyone interested in that feud?

- Despite his brother’s plans to punish him, Luke Harper emerged victorious against Erick Rowan... just as Sami Zayn won a big one against Baron Corbin. Does that position them for a shot at, say, a briefcase?

- Could some big names (possible spoilers at that link) show up and shake things up?

UPDATE:’s full official preview came out after this was written, and brings word of a tag match between Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair and Carmella & Natalya that Ellsworth will surely take a bump during, and commissioner McMahon’s big Money in the Bank announcement. Read more about the latter here.

It’s the Backlash fallout show!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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