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WWE SmackDown preview (Sept. 3, 2021): It’s not safe to assume Reigns vs. Bálor will actually happen tonight

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SmackDown airs tonight (Sept. 3) live from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. This is the second SmackDown episode during the five week build towards Extreme Rules 2021 on September 26.

Let’s hope WWE actually gives us the advertised match

Finn Bálor returned to SmackDown last week to interrupt Roman Reigns’ family celebration. Bálor wisely realized that shit is so messed up in WWE, with snakes like John Cena hanging around every corner looking to steal his title matches away, that there’s no upside to waiting until Extreme Rules for his rightful Universal championship match against the Tribal Chief. That’s why Finn challenged Roman for a championship match tonight.

The title match was made official, which means there is still probably a 50 percent chance that it won’t happen. That number might even be a generous probability given that not a single one of the three advertised matches for this week’s Raw actually took place. This is what happens when WWE false advertises matches and performers so frequently; it’s difficult to have much confidence that they will actually deliver on their word the next time.

There are a few ways this match can play out, if Reigns vs. Bálor actually does happen tonight. One scenario is that shenanigans will be afoot and we’ll get a screwy finish, leading to Bálor getting another title shot at Extreme Rules. The worse scenario for Finn is the one where Vince McMahon already has a better challenger in mind for Roman at Extreme Rules, and so Bálor will simply lose tonight and be shuffled out of the title scene going forward.

That’s where the looming presence of Brock Lesnar puts Finn in an awkward position. It seems clear that Brock is the real threat to Roman’s title, with Finn merely being a placeholder opponent due to Brock’s limited schedule.

Is there a chance that Bálor will just straight up defeat Reigns for the title? I’d say that’s extremely unlikely to occur, given that Roman has held the title for over a year, this match is a bit rushed, and Lesnar awaits. But hey, nothing can be ruled out. Perhaps the Brock match won’t happen until next year, in which case there might be some wiggle room for Roman to drop the title for a month before winning it back.

The rest of the title scene

Becky Lynch is back in WWE and she’s already become the new SmackDown women’s championship. She’s not going to apologize for the underhanded way she won the gold from Bianca Belair at SummerSlam. Becky isn’t too interested in a rematch with the EST of WWE, but Belair forced the issue by outlasting Carmella, Liv Morgan, and Zelina Vega in an elimination match last week.

Shinsuke Nakamura is riding high as the Intercontinental champion and the one true king of WWE. He also sometimes tags with Rick Boogs to defeat heel teams like the Dirty Dawgs. What I’m trying to say is that Nakamura is pretty much a Renaissance Man. Hopefully we’ll find out tonight if Apollo Crews still has his eyes set on regaining mid-card gold, or if the thermodynamics of the situation point to a different heel emerging as Shinsuke’s next challenger.

Jimmy and Jey Uso appear to be done with the Mysterios after defeating them once again at SummerSlam. Last week’s episode of SmackDown ended with the Street Profits getting physical with the Bloodline, so it’s reasonable to think Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins will be challenging for the SmackDown tag team titles soon enough. Otis would normally be in the mix too given his recent dominance over the Street Profits, but unfortunately for Otis, his partner Chad Gable is a jabroni.

Natalya & Tamina have held onto the Women’s tag team titles since May. They won the belts on an episode of SmackDown, but have yet to make a title defense on the blue brand. The champs have lost three non-title matches against Shotzi & Nox. Tegan and Shotzi need to demand a title match the next time these two teams meet up, because they’ve clearly earned one by now.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Edge cut a promo last week saying he’s done with Seth Rollins and focused once again on winning the Universal championship. I guess he didn’t notice the part where Seth never lets anything go and will drag feuds out for months on end until he wins or extracts his opponent’s eyeball. Seth acknowledged that he needs to be a little more like Edge in order to become champion again, so we’ll find out what exactly that means in the coming weeks.

- Fresh off his big winnings in Las Vegas, Happy Corbin showed up on SmackDown last week and unsuccessfully attempted to buy the Money in the Bank briefcase from Big E. It seems that Corbin is determined to get that briefcase back in his possession. Big E might want to cash that thing in sooner rather than later, given how easy it is to lose property in WWE.

- The Street Profits aren’t the only wrestlers who have trouble dealing with Otis. Cesaro returned to TV last week and felt what it’s like to be splashed off the top rope by the big man.

- Naomi is officially on the SmackDown roster and is already on shaky terms with authority figure Sonya Deville.

- Rey Mysterio said he and Dominik have accomplished as much as they can as a team, and so it’s time for Dominik to go solo. Dominik followed that up by losing a match against Sami Zayn. The failures and frustrations are mounting for the younger Mysterio.

- Will Toni Storm ever return to television?

What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?