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WWE SmackDown Live preview (Mar. 6, 2018): Numbers game

The man who told us last night he’s winning his 17th WWE title on Sunday at Fastlane isn’t even advertised for the ‘go home’ show in Green Bay on Mar. 6.

The Headliners

John Cena helped deliver SmackDown some nice ratings last week when he showed up and picked up a clean win over AJ Styles to blaze a new trail to WrestleMania. But the other 5/6’s of this weekend’s WWE championship match might have to make up the slack unless the Free Agent has a free night on his calendar and WWE decides to call an audible.

He’s not on the “Feature Superstars” list for the show, and his name doesn’t come up in an unusually detailed official preview on (he could make the drive across Wisconsin, but he’s a busy man and may already have other commitments). Which is probably why we’re getting AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler, and a series of run-ins from Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin, instead of a six-man tag or one of the usual ways The ‘E likes to promote multi-wrestler pay-per-view (PPV) matches.

The Show Off tried to steal the show at the end of last Tuesday’s episode, first saving Styles and Cena from Corbin, Zayn and Owens, then attacking them himself to stand tall. So The Phenomenal One certainly has a bone to pick with Dolph, and not having the numbers for a trios match doesn’t mean we won’t see the Lone Wolf and the Yeppers get involved to sell Sunday’s main event. Zigs superkicked a bunch of them last week, too.

Does any of it matter if Cena’s plan for getting to WrestleMania with the belt for a Triple Threat with AJ and Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura pans out? We’ll find out Sunday night in Columbus, Ohio... and next Tuesday in Indianapolis, which is when rumors point to someone’s gong sounding.

The Title Scene

Things have been very respectful between Bobby Roode and Randy Orton heading into their United States title fight this weeend. The Viper is trying to win the red, white and blue strap for the first time in his career (in his first match for it, no less), Roode is just trying to stay Glorious. But Jinder Mahal’s been trying to drive a wedge with General Manager Daniel Bryan’s Top 10 list - and the fact DB tried to give the Modern Day Maharajah a shot before Orton until commissioner Shane McMahon overruled him. Tonight, Orton and Mahal duke it out in a match which we’re guessing sets up a Triple Threat for this weekend.

After going through the Queen’s allies Becky Lynch and Naomi, #1 contender Ruby Riott and Women’s champ Charlotte Flair will meet face-to-face on Tuesday night. And while I’m a big fan of the Riott Squad leader, is there much suspense about this or Sunday night when even Charlotte keeps talking about Royal Rumble winner Asuka?

Their friendly rivalry got less friends when The New Day and tag team champions The Usos went mic-to-mic (this time without Wale and Don DeMarco drops). That and their amazing series in 2017 should be enough to sell their Fastlane title bout.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Another women’s match! Barring a last minute change, the fight Becky Lynch set-up online with her old rival Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella should hit our screens tonight.

- It was not Rusev Day when Nakamura beat Aiden English a week ago. Let’s not focus on wins and losses, though. Can Rusev get on television two weeks in a row.

- Wouldn’t bet on a similar streak for Breezango. After they solved the case of Big E and showed up that guy on the Biggie and Tupac show, they deserve a week off.

It’s the Fastlane ‘go home’ show!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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