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WWE SmackDown preview (Oct. 22, 2021): Sasha Banks needs to make a change

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SmackDown airs tonight (Oct. 22) live from Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas. This is the first SmackDown episode during the five week build towards Survivor Series on November 21.

Sasha Banks needs to make a change

The WWE Draft took place earlier this month, and this is the first night where the new rosters go into effect. Looking at the top of the women’s division, it’s clear that Sasha Banks will need to turn babyface fairly soon.

The top two women on the new SmackDown roster are Charlotte Flair and The Boss. Flair is clearly a heel and there’s no reason to expect that to change. Shayna Baszler and Naomi are up next in the pecking order. Baszler is a sadistic breaker of elbows, while Naomi won’t be in the championship mix until she settles her issues with Sonya Deville. The point is, there’s really no good babyface challenger ready to take down Flair. Banks will have to turn babyface to fill that void and feud with Flair like it’s 2016.

The bigger issue at the moment is, of course, the fact that Becky Lynch has taken the SmackDown women’s championship over to Raw, while Flair brings the Raw women’s championship over to SmackDown. Is Lynch allowed to appear on Friday nights while she holds the brand’s championship? With Survivor Series 2021 and brand warfare right around the corner, these new rosters are probably not all that locked in despite WWE’s claim. Lynch and Flair may have to swap the titles or fight over them before it’s time for Sasha Banks to make her next move.

The rest of the title scene

After he was screwed over by The Usos at Crown Jewel, Brock Lesnar will be at SmackDown tonight looking to beat the crap out of Universal champion Roman Reigns. Will The Beast or the Tribal Chief be upset with Paul Heyman for not making a stronger attempt to interfere on their behalf at Crown Jewel, or will they not be suspicious about Heyman’s ambiguous approach to interference?

The Usos are the SmackDown tag team champions and will need some fresh challengers on the new roster. That could include the Viking Raiders, Angel Garza & Humberto Carrillo, Jinder Mahal & Shanky, and their long-time rivals the New Day. This is probably not a pressing concern for tonight, because Jimmy and Jey will very likely be taking a trip to Suplex City courtesy of Lesnar.

The Intercontinental champion Shinsuke Nakamura is no longer the one true king of WWE, but that won’t stop him from rocking out with Rick Boogs and Pat McAfee on the commentary desk each week. Their routine interrupted last week’s Happy Talk, so there’s a decent chance that Madcap Moss and Happy Corbin will return the favor tonight. Nakamura is the guy who stole Corbin’s crown and sent him into a downward spiral several months ago, so Corbin has a deeper reason to look for payback.

Rhea Ripley and Nikki A.S.H. are the only women’s team left in WWE following the draft. The women’s tag team champions are relegated to watching John Morrison meditate backstage and serving as the welcoming committee on Raw. WWE will likely come up with a makeshift team or two to address this situation. After all, Ripley and A.S.H. are also a makeshift team that didn’t even exist two months ago. Some of the lower card women on SmackDown who might be candidates for a new makeshift team include Natalya, Toni Storm, Shotzi, Aliyah, and Xia Li.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Drew McIntyre is now the top babyface on the blue brand. After spending his last two months on Raw putting over Damian Priest and Big E, he’ll probably need to feast on a mid-carder or two before stepping up to Roman Reigns. His former best friend and recent rival Sheamus is also new to SmackDown and is right there waiting for a Claymore. If Drew is looking for someone new to beat up, how about Sami Zayn or Cesaro?

- Sonya Deville teamed up with Shayna Baszler to humiliate and defeat Naomi last week on SmackDown. Earlier this week on Raw, WWE Official Adam Pearce didn’t bother addressing Sonya’s blatant abuse of power, so it would appear that she has free reign to continue making life miserable for Naomi.

- Xavier Woods is the King of the Ring! What kind of proclamations will King Xavier have in store for us tonight?

- Hit Row’s arrival to the main roster has received a ton of hype over the last few weeks, so they should be debuting tonight with a splash.

- One of the last things Jeff Hardy did before departing Raw was threaten to bring “a new ego” to SmackDown. Will Vince McMahon actually let this guy use the godawful Willow the Wisp gimmick in WWE?

- Mansoor and Mustafa Ali were drafted together to SmackDown, but their partnership has since disintegrated. Now that Mansoor got his mandatory victory in Saudi Arabia over Ali, both men can go back to struggling for television time on a show that is one hour shorter than Raw.

- Some of the other SmackDown roster members who I have not mentioned yet include Drew Gulak, Ricochet, Ridge Holland, and MACE. Do any of them have a chance to break out on Friday nights?

What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?