SmackDown airs tonight (June 25) live from the ThunderDome in the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. This is the first SmackDown episode during the four week build towards the upcoming Money in the Bank 2021 event on July 18.
The window is closing on Roman Reigns vs. Big E
Roman Reigns is holding a victory celebration tonight after successfully defending the Universal championship last week against Rey Mysterio inside Hell in a Cell.
As is typically the case for Roman, he now needs a new babyface challenger for the next pay-per-view cycle. It’s doubtful that his program with the Mysterios will continue, given how easily Reigns has taken out both Rey and Dominik. With Hell in a Cell out of the way, Roman doesn’t have anything left to prove there.
So what’s next for the Head of the Table?
I’m not 100% convinced that Jimmy Uso has fallen in line, so it’s possible a new twist develops in their tense relationship.
If not, what about Big E? There are frequent rumors that Reigns will match up with John Cena in August at SummerSlam, and then WWE will essentially hit the reset button with a draft right after that. One specific rumor has Big E moving over to Raw, presumably separating him from Roman Reigns. That means if WWE has any interest in pursuing a PPV match between Roman Reigns and Big E, the window to book it might be rapidly closing.
That’s a pretty big “if”, though. Big E has had enough trouble dealing with Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez in recent months. In general, a babyface who is getting the next title shot should be hotter than Big E is right now. Big E has been stuck in limbo ever since WWE decided to release Aleister Black.
We should know by the end of tonight what Roman’s direction is for July, because his victory celebration is almost a lock to be interrupted or ruined by some outside party. That’s just how it is in pro wrestling.
The title scene
SmackDown women’s champion Bianca Belair is scheduled to team up with Cesaro tonight for a mixed tag team match against Bayley and Seth Rollins. This is a regrouping of two singles feuds from Hell in a Cell, and there are reasons to believe that both of these stories will continue into July. In the case of Belair, her very confusing promo at Hell in a Cell left the door open for another match with Bayley. As for Cesaro and Rollins, their feud could change its focus towards the Money in the Bank ladder match.
Apollo Crews is riding high after Commander Azeez made his in-ring debut last week and had his way with Kevin Owens in a tag team match. It’s possible that the Intercontinental champion will simply continue his past rivalry with Big E over mid-card gold for July, but WWE should probably move on to a new story. Perhaps Shinsuke Nakamura can use his new status as the one true king of WWE to challenge Apollo’s royalty.
Rey and Dominik Mysterio are the SmackDown tag team champions, but they might need some time off after the beatings they’ve received at the hands of the Tribal Chief. Whenever the Mysterios do show their faces again, Alpha Academy and the Usos should both be looking for those belts.
Natalya and Tamina are still the only women’s tag team left on Friday nights. The women’s tag team champions have no reason to show up to the blue brand, so I may have to consider removing them from these SmackDown previews until WWE actually addresses this situation.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Raw was filled with several Money in the Bank qualifying matches this week, and it’s reasonable to assume SmackDown will follow suit. Although given SmackDown’s smaller roster and shorter airtime, maybe some of the wrestlers will directly appeal to Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce for automatic entry into the annual ladder match, rather than earning a spot through a qualifying match. We shall see.
- King Corbin was in tears after losing his crown last week. Will we hear some thoughts from the disgraced former king tonight, or is he still sulking in a dark corner somewhere?
- You just know that Sami Zayn will obnoxiously gloat about winning at Hell in a Cell and putting Kevin Owens on the sidelines for a while.
- Liv Morgan and Carmella have each scored a win against each other in recent weeks. If a rematch is booked tonight, it should probably have implications for the Money in the Bank ladder match.
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?