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WWE SmackDown preview (Jan. 1, 2021): Not Big Enough

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WWE SmackDown returns tonight (Jan. 1) from Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida. They are building towards the Royal Rumble pay-per-view (PPV) on Jan. 31.

The Headliner

Seth Rollins may or may not be returning to SmackDown tonight.

When he does, it’ll be an interesting dynamic with Roman Reigns on the roster as well. Both former Shield members are top heels, Roman the mob boss and Seth the cult leader. Both are arguably doing the best work of their career. But there’s only one title to go around, and right now, Roman holds it.

That’s why I always thought it odd that WWE moved Rollins to SmackDown in last October’s draft. With Roman as the heel champion, and a long run very likely, Seth won’t get the chance to take his character to the peak. If he stayed on Raw, he could have had a longer program with Drew McIntyre. Their initial one May of 2020 was brief and early in Drew’s reign and Seth’s character.

Both Seth and Roman are heels so a feud is unlikely. Roman’s run as the Tribal Chief is relatively new so they can’t alter his course to fit this feud. Rollins character isn’t the type that lends itself to an easy face turn. He’s such a bastard that cheering for him isn’t happening easily.

This means until the next draft, these men are likely not going to cross paths. Perhaps they forge an alliance, but I imagine it’d be tenuous since their current personalities clash. More likely, Rollins will be villain 1B on the show, feuding with the top babyfaces (Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, & Big E) who aren’t feuding with Reigns.

As for who’s next for Roman Reigns and his Universal championship, we’ll most likely find out tonight. The Tribal Chief has a request of management, but in the preview on WWE’s website, the graphic has Reigns and Owens together. KO will likely get one more shot against the Big Dog at Royal Rumble before Reigns moves on.

The title picture:

SmackDown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks will team with Bianca Belair to face Bayley & Carmella. The winner could be in line for a Women’s tag team title match against Charlotte Flair and Asuka down the road. It’s also possible this is going to be used to set up Sasha’s next title challenger - one of the three women in this match with her.

Big E is the new Intercontinental champion after defeated Sami Zayn in a lumberjack match last week. King Corbin was one of those lumberjacks and attacked E every time he found himself outside of the ring near Corbin. That’s the set up for their match tonight. This could be to give E a good win to follow up his title victory. Or Corbin can steal a win to set up a title program between the two. Bet on the latter.

The Street Profits are still the SmackDown tag team champions but they need a challenger.

Other things to keep an eye on:

- Hopefully we see a good Brodie Lee tribute video tonight.

- Daniel Bryan is going to enter the Royal Rumble match and if he wins, he’s coming for Roman Reigns. Who else declares tonight?


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