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WWE SmackDown preview (Jan. 22, 2021): The Closest We’ll Get

WWE SmackDown returns tonight (Jan. 22) from Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida. They are building towards the Royal Rumble pay-per-view (PPV) which is on Jan. 31.

The Headliner

Carmella is still looking for another shot at Sasha Banks’ SmackDown Women’s championship. So last week, the champ extended an offer: She’ll give Mella her title match if the Boss gets to fight her sommelier Reginald.

Given Carm will do anything to get another go at the gold, she’ll probably force poor Reginald into action. So you know what that means. We could be getting a WWE style intergender wrestling match.

I always find it interesting when WWE dips the very tip of their toe in the intergender waters. It’s not something that happens often. In fact, the last time it officially happened was in 2017 when Becky Lynch defeated James Ellsworth in a comedy match. More recently, Nia Jax took some bumps when entering the men’s Royal Rumble match in 2019. It’s rare, and when it is done, it’s so diluted that you can barely call it an intergender match.

In WWE, women can occasionally strike men, but you’ll never see the opposite. Once a couple years ago, Becky Lynch took an End of Days from Baron Corbin, which is probably the most you’re going to get from this promotion. So even if this match gets booked, there’s no way Reginald is actually punching Sasha Banks. Maybe he’ll shove her at one point to get some heat, but most of his (likely very minimal) offense, would be from a hold of sorts. And in reality, this is likely going to be a match where the sommelier gets humiliated by the Boss and ends up tapping in no time.

Honestly, I don’t fault WWE for not taking it any further than what they do. The wider audience who hasn’t seen an independent match in their life is likely not ready for a full on intergender bout. The company is beholden to advertisers and stockholders and dependent on casual fans who just don’t want to see a man strike a woman, even if it is in a match where it’s totally legal. It’s entirely possible as years go by and more fans get comfortable with it within the wrestling bubble, it’ll become more prevalent. But even then, WWE will be the last to take up the trend.

The segment last week happened, and while WWE has a very short term memory with events they don’t want to follow up, it probably means Sasha will get her wish. We’ll see some sort of match between her and poor ol’ Reggie. When we do, expect nothing more but some comedy and an asskicking from the champ. And in this instance, it’s really all we need.

The Title Scene:

Adam Pearce pulled the ol’ “Get your opponent to sign a title contract, fake an injury, and then book Kevin Owens in your stead” trick last week. Such a classic that I can’t believe Universal Champion Roman Reigns fell for it. So Roman will now be defending his gold against KO in a Last Man Standing match at the Royal Rumble. Unless KO tweaks his knee and then Shinsuke Nakamura can take his place.

Big E has to defend his Intercontinental championship against Apollo Crews again. But this time, Apollo is getting some advice from the Head of the Table and Paul Heyman. Could that shift the odds to Crews’ favor?

There wasn’t much motion on the SmackDown tag titles front last week. But that’s OK. On a two hour show, some acts aren’t getting featured. Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler are our champs. The Street Profits are probably first in line.

The Women’s tag team champions are still on Raw and I’m not sure if Asuka and Charlotte Flair are making any trips soon.

Other things to keep an eye on:

- The Mysterios are going to get back up to deal with King Corbin and the Knights of the Lone Wolf. (Ironically, the reason the Knights exist is because Corbin needed backup against the Mysterio family.) You think they’d call up their future son-in-law Murphy, but they’re probably go with someone else.

- Bayley challenged Bianca Belair to an obstacle course this week. Sounds a bit too gameshow NXT for my likings. Hope there’s no keg run.

- Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Jey Uso last week and Cesaro, who picked up a big win against Daniel Bryan on the same episode, seemed very happy for him. But I have a feeling these two are going to be feuding sooner than later.

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

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