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WWE SmackDown preview (Aug. 20, 2021): They picked a bad night to advertise nothing

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SmackDown airs tonight (Aug. 20) live the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. This is the final SmackDown episode during the five week build towards tomorrow night’s SummerSlam 2021 event.

They picked a bad night to advertise nothing

Tonight is one of the most anticipated nights in wrestling during the last seven years. That’s because CM Punk is expected to return to pro wrestling and debut for AEW on Rampage.

WWE decided to capitalize on this buzz by advertising nothing for tonight’s episode of SmackDown. All we really know is that the Summer of Cena is winding down, and we will presumably get one more segment in the ring with John Cena and Roman Reigns before they clash over the Universal championship at SummerSlam.

Perhaps WWE’s lack of urgency is a sign that they truly don’t care about what’s going on with AEW and CM Punk. But considering that SummerSlam is one of WWE’s biggest shows of the year and could certainly use more hype, the lack of specifics on what we’ll see tonight on SmackDown is most likely because WWE hasn’t figured it out yet.

The brand is the star and you’ll tune in anyway, right? I guess we’ll find out if that’s the case.

The rest of the title scene

There is some uncertainty regarding the SmackDown women’s championship match at SummerSlam given that Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks missed weekend house shows due to “unforeseen circumstances.” The latest report suggests they’ll be in Phoenix tonight and are cleared for SummerSlam, but we can’t be sure about that until we see them on screen.

Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Apollo Crews to win the Intercontinental championship last week on SmackDown. Will Apollo go the typical heel route of blaming his failures on others (such as Commander Azeez), or will he instead regroup and come up with a scheme for taking the title back from the one true king of WWE?

The Usos and Mysterios are going to fight for the SmackDown tag team titles at SummerSlam. Rey and Dominik defeated the Dirty Dawgs last week, but the younger Mysterio doesn’t seem to understand how difficult it will be to win the tag titles back from Jimmy and Jey.

The Women’s tag team titles are sidelined while Natalya recovers from ankle surgery. Tamina has already wrestled and lost against Tegan Nox in a singles match after she was distracted by a missile being shot at her from a tank. Perhaps tonight we’ll see Shotzi try to take Tamina down.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Seth Rollins flapped his gums a whole lot last week. It’s the go home show for SummerSlam, so Edge should be in the building for one final attempt to shut Seth up before they fight on Saturday night.

Sad Baron Corbin stole Big E’s Money in the Bank briefcase last week. WWE often abides by a nonsensical set of rules where, for example, John Cena can sign his name on Finn Balor’s contract and steal the guy’s championship match away. Therefore it’s at least possible that Corbin will find a way to make his theft stick and transfer the Money in the Bank contract over to him. But that sounds like it might require all sorts of legal fees that he simply cannot afford.

- The Street Profits came looking for Alpha Academy last week, and they pinned Chad Gable in the process. Chad Gable is a jabroni, so the result is not that surprising. The bigger test will come when it’s time to take down Otis.

- Will Toni Storm, Cesaro, or Liv Morgan make an appearance on SmackDown on the eve of SummerSlam? Stranger things have happened.

What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?