WWE SmackDown Live waltzes back into our lives tonight (May 7) from the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. I still can’t believe that’s the name of the arena.
One big takeaway from this year’s Superstar Shake-up, outside the fact they had no real idea what they were doing, is that WWE tried to stack up Raw’s tag division at the expense of SmackDown.
The Usos, one of the best tag teams in WWE, went to Raw (as did the mainly unused Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows). The Shake-up also broke up the Bar. In return for losing three teams, they got Heavy Machinery and the B Team. Not to disparage the charismatic new comers and a team that happened to hold gold on Raw, but that’s a very lopsided deal. SmackDown lost their best tag team and two established teams that could have helped the void and received rookies who are used more in backstage segments and two guys who just lost two on one to Roman Reigns.
Right now, only one of the four teams that fought for the SmackDown tag belts at WrestleMania are still on the blue brand and that’s the ragtag duo of Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura. (Aleister Black and Ricochet were initially moved to Raw in the Shake-up and then split up the next week when Black moved to SmackDown. Again, this was a haphazard Shake-up.)
Perhaps they thought that the SmackDown tag champs at that time, the Hardy Boyz, were enough to fill that void. And why not? The Hardyz are one of the most decorated tag teams ever. They could make that division work.
But then Jeff Hardy injured his knee and will be out for 6-9 months, exposing how weak the Shake-up left Tuesdays tag division.
Tonight, SmackDown will crown new SmackDown tag champions, but who could that even be that wouldn’t feel very underwhelming.
An injury to Big E, coupled with the fact that Kofi Kingston in the WWE champion, takes the New Day off the list. It’s possible they could ask Kofi and Xavier Woods to also do that and they’d be up to the task, but they likely just want to focus on Kofi’s title feud with Kevin Owens.
That leaves Heavy Machinery, the B-Team, the makeshift team of Rusev & Nakamura, and the Colons (yes, they’re still on SmackDown). Perhaps Daniel Bryan and Rowan can officially team up. Or they can use the weird new wildcard rules to add one more team to the fray, but we don’t know if these wildcard teams can challenge for the other brand’s championships. They probably don’t know either.
The division is so thin that WWE.com’s own piece discussing possible champions had to add two duos that aren’t teams in Shane McMahon & Elias and Finn Bálor & Ali. Though I think it more likely Shane just awards himself both belts.
The Title Scene:
As we touched on briefly, WWE Champion Kofi Kingston is feuding with Kevin Owens. Last week, Kofi got serious (happy now, JR?) and put a beating on Owens after the former Big O disparaged both Xavier Woods and Big E in a promo. Owens will respond again tonight and should watch his mouth unless he wants a repeat of next week.
Becky Lynch and her two belts (including the SmackDown Women’s championship) are still pulling double duty. Last week, she picked up a win over Bayley before Charlotte laid both women out. Is Becky going to be able to defeat both Lacey Evan and Charlotte AND possibly a Money in the Bank challenger in the same night at Money in the Bank? The odds really aren’t in her favor.
Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor is in the Money in the Bank ladder match so that title may not get a program for awhile.
Women’s tag champs Peyton Royce and Billie Kay look like they’re headed for a date with Kairi Sane and Asuka. Perhaps they’ll defend at Money in the Bank?
Other Stuff to Keep and Eye On:
- Roman Reigns showed up on Raw as part of the new wildcard, but he’s still feuding with Elias and Shane McMahon on SmackDown. Will the Miz show up to SmackDown to inevitably team up with the Big Dog against Shane and Elias?
- Daniel Bryan is back and while rumors were he was going to be reinserted back in the WWE title picture, last night on Raw, he lost his rematch to Kofi clean. Does that mean the planet’s champion is moving on?
- Random 6-woman tag alert! Charlotte teams with Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose to face Bayley, Carmella, and Ember Moon. Charlotte and Bayley have issues from that post match attack the Queen delivered the Hugger last week. The others (except for Sonya Deville who stepped aside for Mandy) are in the Money in the Bank ladder match.
- Ali will face Andrade. Does the winner get their full name back? Probably not. But this match should rule.
SmackDown Live is off to the races tonight in Kentucky. What will you be watching for?