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WWE SmackDown Live preview (April 24, 2018): Future past

The new roster comes together* on April 24 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Headliners

We were so excited by the possibilities presented by Daniel Bryan’s unretirement and Miz moving back to Tuesdays in the Shakeup, we covered it in last week’s preview - before The A-Lister had even made his way to Team Blue.

WWE and SmackDown creative were pretty excited as well, because they’re jumping back into the long-running rivalry between the former NXT mentor and mentee tonight during Miz’s “premiere”:

Will there be face-punching? The Beard definitely owes Miz some receipts for all the taunts thrown his way on Talking Smack when Maryse’s man thought Bryan would never wrestle again, at least for WWE. Which doesn’t even address the ongoing gimmick infringement of things like the YES/IT Kicks...

Whether or not WWE views this program as pay-per-view (PPV) main event-caliber, and what that means about how quickly they’ll blow through it en route to something “bigger” for DB, isn’t the only blue brand-related thing fans on the internet have been spending a lot of time discussing. There’s also been a lot of talk about women’s tag teams, inspired by the arrival of IIconics prompting WWE to do a lot of talking online about women’s tag teams.

Peyton Royce and Billlie Kay have made their presence felt in two Tuesday night appearances, targeting Charlotte Flair and helping Carmella take down two of the Four Horsewomen when Becky Lynch put down her quinoa and came to her friend’s aid. Tonight’s match was set-up when a woman the Aussies know quite well from NXT arrived to help the Tea Time duo.

Should SmackDown debut Women’s Tag Titles any time soon, Asuka and Becky probably won’t be one of the teams. But the former Iconic Duo certainly would be, and Kay and Royce would probably be the centerpiece of a new division. If they go over here, and put a second loss on The Empress’ record after so long without any, it could be the latest sign WWE is building them for something greater than the upper mid-card enhancement act (aka, female Miz-es) they were on Wednesday nights.

The Title Scene

I don’t know if WWE champion AJ Styles usually wears a protective cup when he works, but he should probably look into one. Because heading into their rematch at Greatest Royal Rumble, Shinsuke Nakamura’s strategy is focused squarely on the area below The Phenomenal One’s belt.

The Queen is anxious to prove the Women’s title wouldn’t be around Carmella’s waist if it weren’t for James Ellsworth, the Money in the Bank briefcase and the IIconics. She’s cashing in her rematch for Backlash on May 6, and they’ll sign the contract tonight.

Before their tag team championship match this Friday in Saudi Arabia, Jimmy Uso will battle Bludgeon Brother Rowan in The ‘Ville tonight. But he better tell his own brother, Jey, to keep an eye on Harper. The former Intercontinental Champion’s been acting real creepy about Jimmy’s wife Naomi after she successfully got the champs to not put the hammers to The Usos last Tuesday.

The Shakeup may be over, but the secondary belts are still up for grab. Jinder Mahal wants to take the United States title to Raw with him, but he can’t even beat Chad Gable, so Jeff Hardy might not have too much to worry about. Intercontinental champ Seth Rollins should probably be a little more concerned, because Miz has quite a history with the belt, and another guy just moved to Team Blue, Samoa Joe, is well... Joe’s been known to kill some folks.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Rusev is still here, and he and Aiden English ran into a brick wall when they faced Styles and Bryan in last Tuesday’s final match. Should be good practice, because in a couple days, The Handsome One will be facing Undertaker in a Casket Match... which is a lot like running into a brick wall.

- General Manager Paige was widely praised for her kayfabe moves in the Shakeup. That included bringing her Absolution charges Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville to SmackDown, which should only increase the women’s tag belts talk.

- Shelton Benjamin’s a heel! Well, he already was. But he was a real jerk to former tag partner Gable, so he’s like a double-heel now.

* The logistics of getting folks to the Arabian Peninsula means a few of Team Blue’s newest acquisitions like Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy aren’t listed as featured Superstars for the KFC Yum! Center tonight. But then again, neither is Asuka and we know she’s got a match and definitely not headed to Jeddah, so its also possible the events page hasn’t been updated with the post-Shakeup roster yet.

Two weeks until Backlash - and it’s the Greatest Royal Rumble ‘go home’ show!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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