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WWE SmackDown Live preview (Jan. 15, 2019): Passing the torch

A WWE show with a slightly less chaotic main event scene than its Monday night counterpart comes our way from Birmingham, Alabama on Jan. 15.

The Headliners

The official preview for this week’s episode leads with the latest match in an “epic series” between Andrade Almas & Rey Mysterio.

While I ain’t mad at the company doing some over-the-top promotion of one of their programs - especially considering it’s been a while since we’ve seen anything less than a very good Almas match and Mysterio is, well, Mysterio - it would be nice if we knew a little bit more about what they’re fighting for.

On social media and in online exclusives, Andrade’s been leading the charge here, declaring 2019 the year of El Ídolo and hyping last week’s tag team victory over the legendary Master of the 6-1-9 as “The Past vs. The Future”. This week, all involved should follow his lead and start talking up the significance of this rivalry.

Many are hoping/predicting the United States championship is the next step in Cien’s rise up the card, but with signs pointing to Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura continuing to feud over the red, white and blue belt*, that next step may still be a few months away.

Without a tangible prize at stake, why not add another way to determine a clear winner and loser? They’re already calling it an “epic series”, and its been a while since WWE has done a best out of seven. Plus, that would fit with the more sports-oriented approach we hear the blue brand will be moving to as it gets ready to move to Fox this fall.

Anyone who doesn’t like this idea should try being a little more, what’s word...

Andrade “Cien” Almas

* By the way, while there is a storyline to Lana getting injured during Shinsuke Nakamura’s attack on Rusev, there’s no mention of it in the promotion for this week. So SmackDown’s secondary men’s title remains very, very secondary.

The Title Scene

Vince McMahon used some ruthless aggression to bring out the “Real” AJ Styles. But after the he jumped his Royal Rumble opponent the “New” Daniel Bryan last Tuesday, the WWE champ is promising to show off another facet of his personality - the vicious side.

After Becky Lynch won a Triple Threat over Charlotte Flair and Carmella for a Rumble shot at Women’s titleholder Asuka, The Man and The Empress had an intense staredown and screaming match. A follow-up Twitter beef was entertaining, but probably didn’t go as Lynch hoped. Will the champ’s unorthodox ways continue to keep Becky off balance on the road to Phoenix?

They beat back a challenge from The Usos, but tag team champions The Bar still picked up new #1 contenders of their own when Miz and his Best Tag Team in the World partner Shane McMahon showed up and threw down the (likely custom designed) gauntlet. The A-Lister is throwing his partner a birthday bash tonight - something which will certainly go well. Question is, how will Cesaro & Sheamus be involved in ruining it?

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- We should get a few more names thrown in the hat for the men’s and women’s Rumble matches, and possibly a few vay-kay-shee-own videos from #30 entrants R-Truth and Carmella.

- Speaking of Mella, her own social media beef with Sonya Deville has led to a match between them for this week. Plus, Deville’s partner-in-crime Mandy Rose is still creeping on Naomi’s man. Hey, multiple storylines for women! It’s almost like there’s new titles coming soon or something.

- The NXT call-ups are getting test runs on both brands. Outside of Nikki Cross, they didn’t get a ton of time on Raw. Will a two hour show have more for her, EC3, Lacey Evans & Heavy Machinery?

Two weeks until Royal Rumble!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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