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WWE SmackDown Live preview (Mar. 13, 2018): Second fiddle

Get ready for Team Blue’s next stop on the road to WrestleMania 34, Mar. 13 in Indianapolis.

The Headliners

General Manager Daniel Bryan was at a family wedding over the weekend, so he missed the drama that unfolded at Fastlane... namely the latest turn in his boss’ slow descent into villainy. Sure, the guys commissioner Shane McMahon is obsessed with keeping down are also pretty villainous - but maybe Sami Zayn is just conflicted? He always seemed like such a nice boy until he figured out that wasn’t getting him anywhere in WWE and he decided to just try being a good friend to one his oldest friends, regardless of whether or not what Kevin Owens was doing was honorable.

Phew... this story gets deep. It just probably would have meant more if it hadn’t been strung out over the better part of a year, and woven through a bunch of other less-good stories, and didn’t seem like it was setting up a Bryan/Shane match that probably can’t even happen, and...

All of which brings us to McMahon’s WrestleMania announcement tonight in Bankers Life Fieldhouse:

A Triple Threat seems likely, and probably the best way to pay off this chapter in both the Shane-is-becoming-Vince and “Fight Forever” stories. Booking himself into a match where he can try to beat up his enemies and turn them against each other is a very McMahon thing to do, Zayn will see it as a way to thwart Shane O’Mac’s abuses of power and save his friendship, and KO will just be angry about the whole thing.

Where does Bryan fit in? Finishing out his WWE run as the exasperated voice of reason character is kind of a bummer, but it might be the reality of things.

Does this angle deserve to be atop SmackDown heading into ‘Mania?


The Title Scene

With John Cena out of the picture (and maybe taking his story to Mondays, despite rumors it would happen on this show - he’s listed as a “Featured Superstar” for Raw only the next couple weeks on’s tickets page) WWE champion AJ Styles can focus in on defending his title against his old Wrestle Kingdom 10 rival, Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura. This one doesn’t need to be much more than two of the best trying to prove which one is better. And that’s good, cause it might continue to be treated like a B-story on the B-show.

A feud deserving of top billing is Royal Rumble winner Asuka finally deciding that “to be the woman, you’ve got to beat the woman”. Things got off to an epic start when the Empress challenged the Queen Sunday night. She still has business to wrap up on Raw as a supporting character in that show’s championship program, but she’ll make her SmackDown debut tonight to really kickstart her quest to take on this brand’s Women’s title from Charlotte Flair.

Now that he’s won the United States championship Randy Orton is a Grand Slam champion. But don’t cry for Bobby Roode. He’s probably getting his rematch on The Grandest Stage of Them All, even if it will likely include the still-very-much-involved Jinder Mahal. And he’s got the burgeoning romance with Charlotte on Mixed Match Challenge!

The possible Triple Threat train for ‘Mania doesn’t stop there, either! After the bludgeoning brothers Harper and Rowan took out on tag team titleholders The Usos and The New Day - especially poor Xavier Woods - look for more multi-man mayhem as Jimmy, Jey, Big E and Kofi Kingston seek revenge!

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Unlike on the red brand, most of SmackDown’s top stories (aside from the McMahon-centric ones) are happening for belts. I mean, it’s possible Tye Dillinger’s pre-show pin of Mojo Rawley leads somewhere, but...

- Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella did earn a pinfall victory over Becky Lynch (not that pay-per-view (PPV) wins against the Lasskicker are anything special), so remember she’s still out there, and can actually beat people and not just accidentally concuss referees.

- Rusev also doesn’t win on PPV, but he is very popular.

It’s the Fastlane fallout show!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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