SmackDown airs tonight (Feb. 11) with a live show from Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. This is the second SmackDown episode during the three week build towards Elimination Chamber on February 19.
Goldberg showing up and getting title matches needs to stop already
WWE booked a disqualification finish in the Universal championship match at Royal Rumble between Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. Given how effectively Seth got under Roman’s skin in that match, as well as the champ actually losing the fight, it appeared to be the first chapter of a longer feud between Seth and Roman.
So how did WWE follow up on their story last week on SmackDown? They decided to drop the whole thing and instead brought back Goldberg to just be awarded the next title match. It’s like the match between Reigns and Rollins never happened, and their DQ finish was just a way to get out of booking either guy to be pinned. If Roman can get away with getting himself disqualified with zero negative consequences, then he should do it in every title fight.
On the one hand, bringing in Goldberg right now isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The big match that WWE is building towards is Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 38, so the idea that Roman might lose the title in Saudi Arabia was always going to be a hard sell. If WWE is willing to pick up on the Rollins/Reigns feud sometime down the line, their story will be better positioned when it’s not placed in the shadow of Lesnar.
On the other hand, we’ve seen Goldberg just show up and be awarded title matches so many times that it’s worthy of all the eye rolls at this point. Having the guy show up and get in someone’s face to loudly shout that they are next just doesn’t work anymore. We’re going on 5+ years of Goldberg mostly doing the same thing over and over again,. Every once in a while something interesting comes from it, but those are the exceptions to the rule.
Goldberg will be in the building tonight. Will he find something more interesting to say to Roman other than declaring that he’s next? I guess we’ll find out.
The rest of the title scene
Charlotte Flair will defend the SmackDown women’s championship against Naomi tonight. Naomi’s chances of winning the title are slim. After all, it was just one week ago that WWE set up a WrestleMania 38 title fight between Flair and Ronda Rousey. Naomi’s chances will get even worse if abusive authority figure makes herself the special referee again, just like she did when Flair and Naomi wrestled on Jan. 21.
The Viking Raiders will challenge the Usos for the SmackDown tag team titles at Elimination Chamber. After two years of underwhelming booking, Erik & Ivar need a lot of help to be presented at the same level as Jimmy and Jey. They didn’t get that help last week when Erik was pinned by Jimmy in a very quick singles match.
Sami Zayn is the number one contender to Shinsuke Nakamura’s Intercontinental title, and that championship fight is scheduled for next week’s episode of SmackDown. Nakamura had a tune up match last week against Jobber Mahal, pinning him with a Kinshasa. Maybe it will be Shanky’s turn to get smashed by Nakamura tonight.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Drew McIntyre returned to SmackDown last week and made it clear that he’s focused on hurting Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss every single week. That sounds like no laughing matter for those two buffoons.
- Natalya has lost all three of her matches against Aliyah over the last month, but only once by pinfall. They’ll square off once again tonight in a “dungeon style” match where pins and submissions are the only way to win. Xia Li is hanging around the periphery of this one, ready to act if Natalya crosses the line.
- Former WWE Champion Big E is back to being a mid-carder on SmackDown. He and Kofi Kingston defeated Los Lotharios in a tag team match last week.
- Ronda Rousey is in the building tonight. She put her hands on Sonya Deville last week, so perhaps there will be some repercussions for her actions.
- It feels like this current series of matches involving Sheamus, Ridge Holland, Cesaro, and Ricochet will never end. The main issue is that every single match has been meaningless up to this point. The matches are just there to fill out TV time.
- Sasha Banks didn’t appear on last week’s episode of SmackDown. It’s not clear what her creative direction will be on the road to WrestleMania 38.
- WWE forgot to dust off Mansoor last week to start his fleeting push towards their premium live event in Saudi Arabia. Maybe tonight they’ll remember that they always book him in a match on those Saudi events.
- WWE is also taping next week’s episode of SmackDown tonight, so that might force them to use a few wrestlers in longer matches than usual, or come up with some extended talking segments.
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?