WWE SmackDown returns tonight (June 5) from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. They are working towards Backlash which is on the 14th of June. That is also Flag Day so plan your festivities accordingly.
It was announced via WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle last week that Matt Riddle will be joining the blue brand.
It probably won’t be tonight. They’ll likely have a few weeks of hype packages to get the main roster television audience a bit more familiar with him. But when he finally does make his debut, it’s possible he’s going to be a big star.
My first exposure to Riddle was in NXT, having really zero knowledge of his indie career prior. Sometimes, people come to NXT with hype and I just don’t see it. Sometimes they need time to get there and others they just don’t. But Riddle seemed to shine right away.
Much of that is because he’s a unique wrestler, something we can’t say about many wrestlers nowadays. (It’s a big reason a man like Otis is over.) His wrestling style is an MMA-infusion/catch style that isn’t the typical WWE style. His personality is enormous, whether it be his laid back, slacker stoner side or the times he actually gets pissed off. There’s no one like him in WWE today.
Of course, the counter argument is that many people do well in NXT and then flounder on the main roster. And yes, that can happen to anyone. But Riddle feels like a guy who is in a great position to get past that.
Outside his uniqueness, he also has the innate ability to elicit a reaction. Any time we write a post about Riddle on this site, many of the comments are either “Man, I love this guy” or “Seriously, F this guy.” WWE often doesn’t care what reaction a performer elicits but just that their audience is emotionally invested in them one way or another.
Is it possible that he doesn’t get that chance or he gets too much heat to the point it hinders his success? Maybe. But I think it’s more possible we get to see Matt have a serious of great matches against guys like Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, AJ Styles, and Shinsuke Nakamura while showing of his charming/obnoxious personality (depending on how you see him) as he makes a name for himself.
The title scene:
The Miz and Morrison plan to make life a living hell for Universal Champion Braun Strowman ahead of their Backlash title handicap match. Whatever they do the next two weeks, it needs to instill some doubt in the mind of the fans in regards to the finish or add other drama to it all. Because right now, I don’t think anyone thinks Braun Strowman is losing and there’s no other reason to be invested in this match.
Bayley will put her SmackDown Women’s champion duties aside as she teams with bff Sasha Banks to face Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross for the Women’s tag team championships. The most likely way this goes is the champs retain and the rift between Bayley and Sasha becomes deeper. But as someone who’s skeptical that feud will ever happen, who knows.
My guess for weeks now has been that the Forgotten Sons would face the New Day for the SmackDown tag team championships. After the Sons’ Jaxson Ryker clearly has heat with some folks in the locker room after his ill thought out, unempathetic tweet, you’d wonder if maybe they slow that for a bit. Maybe not. The New Day are professionals so will do business with whom they have to and it wouldn’t be fair to the other members of the Sons who distanced themselves from Ryker’s tweet. But it’s possible they wait on it a bit.
In a week, Daniel Bryan will face AJ Styles for the Intercontinental championship. It will be a very good match. They’ll come face to face tonight to help build a match that needs little building.
Other things to keep an eye on:
- The big story last week was Jeff Hardy being framed for a DUI that took WWE’s resident Wile E. Coyote Elias out of action. Hardy attacked Sheamus last week, but we don’t know if he knows it was him who attacked him prior or if he just suspects that. He’ll give his side of things tonight so we should learn at least that much. And if it’s not Sheamus, who? Man, if only we had some sort of all-seeing oracle that could tell us these things.
- Last week, Otis and Mandy had themselves a little Fast Times a Ridgemont High moment, with Otis playing the role of Phoebe Cates. Maybe this week, he’ll lift Mandy up Patrick Swayze/Jennifer Grey style.
What will you be looking for when SmackDown returns tonight at 8 ET on Fox?