SmackDown airs tonight (Feb. 18) with a taped show from Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. This is the final SmackDown episode during the three week build towards Elimination Chamber tomorrow in Saudi Arabia.
A glorious trainwreck
SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair retained her title against Naomi last week. A post-match angle set up a tag team match for Elimination Chamber pitting Ronda Rousey & Naomi against Flair & Sonya Deville. WWE is advertising a “WWE Elimination Chamber Contract Signing” featuring these four women tonight so they can officially put pen to paper.
This will be Rousey’s first match since Royal Rumble, and it can easily turn out to be a glorious trainwreck.
First let’s talk about tonight’s contract signing. This is a taped episode of SmackDown (you can check out the spoilers here, if you are so inclined), and a video made the rounds last weekend showing a hilarious botch that occurred during this segment. For the sake of this preview I won’t go into too many details beyond that, but let’s just say it brought up memories of last year’s disastrous WWE Women’s Title Exchange between Flair and Becky Lynch. This time it wasn’t a live show, so WWE will try their best to edit the footage and make the bad stuff go away.
This week also gave us a rumor about a potential new stipulation for this tag team match, where Ronda Rousey might have to wrestle with one arm tied behind her back. The rumor mill has been wrong before, believe it or not, so take that with a grain of salt for now.
When you consider Ronda’s awkward physical interactions in the ring during this return, Charlotte’s reputation for being difficult to work with, Rousey flipping the switch between heel and babyface at her whims, the hilarious contract signing botch, a potential ridiculous gimmick for this tag team match, and that this bout is taking place in Saudi Arabia where all four women may very well be dressed in oversized trash bags, we could be in store for a trainwreck of a match at Elimination Chamber.
As far as tonight’s contract signing goes, I think the two most interesting things to look for are: how will WWE edit out the botch, and will they actually announce a hand-tied-behind-your-back stipulation for Rousey?
The rest of the title scene
Goldberg will have a face-to-face confrontation with Universal Champion Roman Reigns tonight. Didn’t they already go face-to-face two weeks ago when Goldberg arrived and acknowledged Roman as his next victim?
The Intercontinental title is up for grabs tonight when Shinsuke Nakamura defends the gold against that jackass Sami Zayn. Zayn earned this title fight back in December. After Johnny Knoxville showed up last week to vandalize Zayn’s merchandise, will he appear once again to screw Sami over in this mach? Or will Sami win the title and use it as the basis for a WrestleMania 38 program with Knoxville?
The Usos will defend the SmackDown tag team titles at Elimination Chamber against the Viking Raiders. Erik & Ivar have gotten nothing on Jimmy & Jey so far in this feud, and it’s hard to buy them as a threat to the champs. Will things finally change tonight for the challengers?
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Drew McIntyre has a giant sword and it sounds like he can legally use it in Saudi Arabia to murder Madcap Moss in their Falls Count Anywhere match. Yeah, someone in WWE thinks this is a good idea.
- Natalya finally defeated Aliyah last week. But she couldn’t leave it there. A post-match attack brought out Xia Li to confront The BOAT. Xia still has not wrestled a match on SmackDown television, and she is not advertised for one tonight either. What a strange rollout for the main roster newcomer.
New Day Big E & Kofi Kingston lost a match against Los Lotharios last week. Angel and Humberto appear to be getting a push, with commentators emphasizing that they are lethal lovers, and also using a Kiss Cam gimmick during their entrance. We’ve been here before with these two guys, though, so it will take more than just one win to think there are any legs to their push this time.
- Last week’s episode of SmackDown didn’t actually continue the series of meaningless matches between Sheamus, Ridge Holland, Cesaro, and Ricochet. Maybe that jabroni Cesaro just needed to lose to someone else for once, so he did the job for Happy Corbin instead. At any rate, I fully expect last week was a fluke and there will once again be a no stakes match tonight featuring some combination of these four men against each other. I know your tricks, WWE.
- Sasha Banks has disappeared from WWE television following Royal Rumble. Is she not fully recovered from her pre-Rumble injury?
- Mansoor is curiously missing from WWE’s Elimination Chamber card tomorrow. Is there still time to find a mid-card heel for him to beat in Saudi Arabia?
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?