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WWE SmackDown preview (Oct. 1, 2021): The draft is all about Roman Reigns

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SmackDown airs tonight (Oct. 1) live from Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. This is the first SmackDown episode during the three week build towards Crown Jewel on October 21.

The WWE Draft is once again all about Roman Reigns

Night one of the annual WWE Draft is taking place tonight on SmackDown. And for the second year in a row, the draft is all about Roman Reigns.

The Tribal Chief has successfully defended the Universal championship for over a full year, and it’s time to feed him some new opponents. That means you can expect several of the men he beat during the last year (Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Finn Balor, Rey Mysterio) to be shipped off to Raw. In their place, SmackDown could receive a new slate of potential main event opponents for Roman to fight, such as Drew McIntyre, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, or Bobby Lashley.

It sounds like there’s pressure on WWE from the television networks to spread the wealth equally in the draft between Raw and SmackDown, so it won’t be as simple as SmackDown just raiding the top players on Raw. Perhaps SmackDown will have to part ways with Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch to land some of the above names, for example.

Regardless of how it shakes out, WWE’s decisions regarding the top of the draft will revolve around whatever their long-term plans are for Roman Reigns. The short-term plan is still a title defense against Brock Lesnar at Crown Jewel.

The end of the draft is also worth paying close attention to. Last year’s draft order was an eye-opener about how little WWE really thought of Andrade and Aleister Black, for example, and they both now work for a different wrestling promotion. So while the draft is firmly grounded in kayfabe, the scripted draft order can still provide insights into how WWE values each wrestler.

The rest of the title scene

Sasha Banks returned to WWE at Extreme Rules to attack both Bianca Belair and SmackDown women’s champion Becky Lynch. It seems likely that at least one of these three women will be moved over to Raw during the draft, so maybe we will get a match tonight to settle some of their differences. At the very least, we should hear what they all have to say about the disqualification finish on the pay-per-view.

The injuries Montez Ford suffered last week at the hands of The Bloodline lingered into Extreme Rules, putting the Street Profits at a disadvantage against The Usos. That’s why Jimmy and Jey were able to retain the SmackDown tag team titles. Montez won’t quit so easily, so he’ll probably be looking to take out a member of The Bloodline tonight. He might not have much time left to gain revenge if the Street Profits are one of the tag teams that will be split up in the draft.

Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Apollo Crews last week to retain the Intercontinental title. The one true king of WWE doesn’t have his next opponent for the title lined up just yet, but there are rumors that a King of the Ring tournament is coming up this month. Is Nakamura’s time with the crown coming to an end in just a few weeks?

Shotzi & Nox made it clear last week they are coming after the Women’s tag team champions, Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley. I wonder how many times the challengers will have to beat the champs in non-title matches before they are granted a shot at the gold.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Edge is returning to SmackDown to answer the call of Seth Rollins. This angle feels a bit rushed considering the nature of injury angle that occurred just a few weeks ago, but there are only three episodes of SmackDown before Crown Jewel, and it’s a good bet they will be wrestling each other in Saudi Arabia.

- Liv Morgan defeated Carmella on the Extreme Rules pre-show. Will this set the stage for Morgan to be drafted over to Raw and finally receive a push?

- Sami Zayn advised Dominik Mysterio to trust his own instincts over whatever guidance he is receiving from his father. Dominik is struggling to find his groove in a singles role, so he might just go ahead and follow Sami’s approach.

- Sonya Deville and Naomi really don’t like each other. But there’s no way the draft will split them up, considering Deville and Adam Pearce can throw their weight around on both Raw and SmackDown.

- Remember that time when The Demon was about to beat Roman Reigns for the Universal championship, but then the ropes broke from under his feet and he suffered his first loss on the main roster? Hopefully we’ll get a better explanation for what happened there besides divine intervention.

- The rumor mill indicates a Queen’s Crown Tournament is set to take place this month. If that’s true, WWE should probably let us know a few details about it tonight.

What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?