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WWE SmackDown preview (May 22, 2020): An Inevitable Letdown?


WWE SmackDown returns tonight (May 22) from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. They are building towards WWE Backlash which is on June 14.

The Headliner

For months now, we’ve gotten teases about the mystery hacker.

It started very subtle with just blips of an odd graphic interrupting the regular broadcast. Finally, that was revealed to be the mysterious hacker who introduced themselves by exposing Sonya Deville & Dolph Ziggler’s plan to keep Otis and Mandy Rose apart.

Since then, we’ve gotten a few taped promos and some fun twitter mysteries. But it’s getting to the point where we’re going to need more. Something like this can only be teased for so long before it’s lost its luster.

Unfortunately, the reveal has a very high chance in being a let down.

More often than not, the reveal of a mystery in WWE (or wrestling in general) is disappointing. Surely it’s not always the case. See many of Jericho’s returns for that. Unfortunately, I see this not being one of those exceptions. Part of that is because of lack of strong options to be this hacker.

Let’s say the reveal is Mustafa Ali, which is the front runner guess given that the symbol the hacker uses is the same that Ali has had on his gloves. While it would be great to finally see Mustafa back on his TV screens, is this the best role for him? Is it better than the underdog babyface role he does so well in?

Right now, the answer can only be maybe. But casting Ali in a role that is further from his natural state is going to run a higher risk of failing. Granted new clues have him possibly targeting Kofi Kingston, who took his spot in the gauntlet match last year which led Kofi on the path to a huge WWE title win. That story is at least there for the taking. There’d actually be a plan in place instead of having no actual plan of a payoff. That’s the best possible scenario, even if it is going to be an odd role to cast Ali.

Chad Gable/Shorty G has also been a named tossed around. His voice has been uncovered as one of the doctored sounds. He’d make even less sense than Ali. At least Ali has had talked about the “truth” or “being the light” and this could be a perverted way of delivering that. But Gable makes less sense. At least it would get him out of those damn basketball shorts though.

They’ve used Xavier Woods’ voice for these promos, though I think that’s mainly to throw people off the scent. However that could be an intriguing reveal. Targeting Kofi Kingston could take on a different meaning and Woods has the character talent to pull it off. But Woods is still recovering from his achilles injury and only just started running on it. I doubt they’ll stretch it out until he’s able to get between the ropes.

In end, expecting disappointment has more to do with the creative equity that WWE has than who is under the hood. It’s not that WWE gets everything wrong. But a lot of times we’ve seen these type of reveals either be let downs or they didn’t have a long term plan in place for the gimmick to succeed. Rumor that they didn’t even know who it would be when they started it doesn’t instill confidence.

Time will tell, and hopefully not too much more time. They can only tease this reveal out for so long before we tire of it. And then, they’ll need a plan for success or else it’ll go in the heap of other disappointing surprises.

The Title Scene:

Braun Strowman has to watch out for Otis now given Blue Collar Solid holds the Money in the Bank briefcase and Braun is Universal Champion. But really, he should be looking out for the Fiend, who clearly is going to have something to do about Strowman’s antics at Money in the Bank.

Bayley will face NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair tonight. It’s champion vs. champion, but not title vs. title. But pardon me if I’m starting to worry that Charlotte is going to hold all three titles at once, including eventually defeating Bayley for the SmackDown Women’s championship.

The Intercontinental title tournament has a banger in AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (a rare heel vs. heel bout) and the first match of the Jeff Hardy/Sheamus feud.

The New Day were off TV last week, so the SmackDown tag team champions will likely be represented this week. It is still looking like a date with the Forgotten Sons are in their future.

Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross successfully defended their Women’s tag team championships against the IIconics. It looks like the IIconics are going to be too worried about not breaking up (don’t do it, WWE!) to try to challenge again, so the champs are free to find new challengers. I have no idea who that’d be on SmackDown though.

Other things to keep an eye on:

- Otis and Mandy Rose will team against Dolph Ziggler & hopefully the new Batwoman in a mixed tag grudge match.

- Drew Gulak has left WWE so Daniel Bryan is going to have to find his way on his own.

- Naomi took another L to Dana Brooke. Are we heading towards a heel turn for Naomi?

What will you be watching when SmackDown returns tonight at 8 PM ET on Fox?

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