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WWE SmackDown Live preview (June 18, 2019): The 24/7 challenge

Drake Maverick’s Twitter

SmackDown Live returns to us tonight (June 18) from the Citizen’s Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California. It is the go home show for the Stomping Grounds pay-per-view (PPV) this Sunday.

The Headliner

For the Raw preview yesterday, we looked at whether or not the traditional titles were more entertaining right now than the 24/7 championship. It’s all subjective, but things weren’t looking good for all of the titles on Raw.

So we may as well go for the entire WWE and evaluate the entertainment value of all the championships on SmackDown against R-Truth’s comedy title, which has been a genuine blast since it’s been introduced.

Is it a bit lazy to rerun the same gimmick for previews two nights in the row? It could be conceived that way. But it’s also lazy for SmackDown to rerun another Moment of Bliss segment with Bayley weeks after they just did it and book mainly rematches for Stomping Grounds. So outside rewriting this halfway through, it’s the best way to get into WWE mode.

So let’s take a look.

WWE championship

Kofi Kingston will be facing Dolph Ziggler for the WWE title in a steel cage at Stomping Grounds. Kofi and Dolph faced off at Super ShowDown where Kofi got the win with a little help from Xavier Woods, hence the steel cage stipulation. Dolph will face Woods tonight.

This isn’t a feud that’s lighting the world on fire. Dolph Ziggler isn’t a serious threat to take the WWE title. But at the same time, it’s an enjoyable story before Kofi moves onto his next challenger. They used Super ShowDown to set up the reason for the cage stipulation so at least this rematch has a reason. Plus, I’m enjoying Kofi’s title run more than I predicted I would. I worried after the chase, it would lose steam, but he’s been doing a great job as champion.

Because of that, I’m giving a nod to the WWE championship, but the 24/7 title isn’t that far behind.

SmackDown Women’s championship

The women’s title match is one of the few matches that is not a retread from a recent PPV. Bayley will face Alexa Bliss in a rematch from a couple years back. It’s the fact it is a rematch that makes it interesting. Alexa Bliss was the challenge that Bayley could not overcome when she was Raw Women’s champion in 2017. And it was rather uninspired feud at that. Now Bayley can prove she’s someone different.

The reason I’m reluctant to give this feud the nod over the 24/7 title, outside the fact the challenger is from Raw, is that they haven’t been really playing into that past. I feel that I’m connecting the dots for them and more interested in the story that they’re not telling.

Maybe they will focus on that during the Moment of Bliss segment tonight and if they do, it may intrigue me enough to give it the nod. But right now, it’s just a Raw talent who gets a lot of title opportunities challenging for the SmackDown title, so it’s a slight advantage for the 24/7 title.

Intercontinental championship

Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor wasn’t even on TV last week and doesn’t yet have a match at Stomping Grounds. If he does, we can guess it’ll be a rematch with Andrade (+/- Ali).

That would be a good match, but given Finn isn’t on TV much right now, the 24/7 title is more entertaining.

SmackDown tag team championships

The Planets tag team champions of Daniel Bryan and Rowan don’t have anything set for Stomping Grounds either. However they’ve been feuding with Heavy Machinery, which gets us more Otis on TV.

This one is going to be very close. It’s not a match I’m dying to see, but I really enjoy the quirky Otis. Plus Daniel Bryan is always incredible. It’s a very close call, especially because much of what I like about this is the quirky comedy stuff Otis does, which is why I like the 24/7 title scene. (Side note: Would enjoy seeing an Otis/R-Truth interaction very much.)

This is damned close, and I’m actually going to call it a wash. And of all titles that are OK with being on a par with the 24/7 titles, it’s the ones that have Otis in their championship scene.

Women’s tag team championships

No change from yesterday. The IIconics actually won a match against real talent last night, but they don’t have any direction. WWE created a ragtag team in the Kabuki Warriors specifically to fight for the tag titles and that hasn’t happened yet.

The qualifier from yesterday still stands. This is all subjective. I feel that SmackDown fares better than Raw does. But it’s still too close. The 24/7 title should be an entertaining sideshow to supplement the bigger stories. And it’s not. It’s close to being as entertaining as most of the title’s on SmackDown.

It’d be hard to argue that WWE isn’t in a slump. When the comedy title is some of the most fun on both brands, that’s an issue. The silver lining is that WWE has been known to turn things on a dime. Hell, even Raw last night was way more enjoyable than it has been lately. Hopefully, when they reset their stories after Stomping Grounds, they are able to really turn it on.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Shane McMahon is a two night event nowadays. SmackDown’s Roman Reigns is feuding with Raw’s Drew McIntyre, but the Scottish Psychopath is really a proxy for Shane O’Mac. Last night, Shane took a beating from Reigns, perhaps aiming to distance himself as Roman’s big bad for now.

- Xavier Woods is taking on Dolph Ziggler. It’s doubtful that Woods will pick up a clean win. At best, this can go to a no-contest. Dolph can’t take or else he won’t seem credible at all at Stomping Grounds.

- It feels like WWE has completely forgotten about the Kabuki Warriors.

Will SmackDown buck the trend and give us an exciting go home show? Find out tonight when they roll into Ontario, California.

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