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WWE SmackDown Live preview (July 18, 2017): Ghost aliens

Birmingham, Alabama goes blue for the last pitch for the brand’s next pay-per-view (PPV).

The Headliners

Personally, I don’t know a whole lot of people who were begging for more of WWE champ Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton, but here we are for the third straight event. WWE seemed to know there wasn’t a ton of hype for this trilogy fight, either, so they pulled out the big stipulation bells and whistles, making it the first Punjabi Prison match in years.

So rather than just give us another couple of promos from the combatants, a RKO (out of nowhere, natch) from the challenger or a three-on-one beatdown from the Modern Day Maharajah and the Singhs, SmackDown will refresh our memory on their other, other “structure”.

And probably a couple more promos from Randy and Jinder, an RKO and maybe a three-on-one beatdown from the heels.

But that’s not all!

We’re also getting the old two-PPV-match-into-one-tag-bout remix for two other programs we’ll see in Philadelphia this Sunday. United States champion AJ Styles and one of the other big babyfaces WWE is teasing he’ll square-off against soon, Shinsuke Nakamura, get paired up to face Kevin Owens and Mr. Money in the Bank Baron Corbin.

Corbin and Nak have been making a habit of kicking each other’s asses before they even make it to the ring, so this may end up being a pull apart brawl. Or maybe if those two can’t wait to start Battleground, we could even get a replay of the Madison Square Garden affair where AJ beat KO for the red, white and blue belt a couple Fridays back.

The Title Scene

Naomi is waiting for the outcome of this weekend’s elimination five-way between Tamina, Natalya, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Lana before she knows who her neck challenger for the Women’s title will be.

Meanwhile, tag team champions The Usos are looking to get a little more momentum back on their side heading into their defense against The New Day this weekend. The Princes of Positivity won a rap battle (albeit in somewhat controversial fashion) and then Xavier Woods pinned a loss on Jey. Can the twins turn things around before Sunday?

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- A patriotic gimmick match was low on my list of ways SmackDown could have brought John Cena and Rusev back, but here we are. Ahead of his July 23 flag match against the Bulgarian Brute, Cena gives an interview about his return tonight.

- Mike & Maria Kanellis followed up their debut at the last PPV by... not making it onto the SmackDown broadcast. Luckily, they’ve found themselves in a feud with the entertainingly annoying Sami Zayn since then. And we’ll finally get Mike’s in-ring debut against the Likeable One in Birmingham this week.

- Fashion Files believes the Truth is Out There, as Breezango take a page from The X-Files in pursuit of answers about who keeps trashing their office.

- How will Chad Gable respond to his (old?) tag partner’s big news?

- At least you don’t have to stay up for Talking Smack! Too soon?

It’s the Battleground ‘go home’ show!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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