SmackDown airs tonight (Feb. 4) with a live show from Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This is the first SmackDown episode during the three week build towards Elimination Chamber on February 19.
Goldberg’s return casts a shadow over SmackDown
Roman Reigns’ Universal championship defense against Seth Rollins at Royal Rumble ended in a disqualification loss for the Tribal Chief. The champ got himself disqualified after Rollins pushed his buttons too far, so he choked Seth out and refused to let go. It was a smart strategy for the champ, because Seth has already moved on to chase a different title at Elimination Chamber. There is apparently no downside to a champion saving his belt by intentional disqualification in WWE, so he might as well take advantage of that fact.
Later at Royal Rumble, Reigns decided to screw Brock Lesnar out of the WWE championship, with a huge assist from Paul Heyman betraying the Beast Incarnate. Heyman has promised to “reveal all” tonight about his traitorous decision. Was Paul’s ouster from the Bloodline a ruse this entire time?
The actions of Reigns and Heyman had a ripple effect where Lesnar decided to join the men’s Royal Rumble match. He won it and will now challenge Reigns for the Universal title at WrestleMania 38. It’s funny how that works, huh? If Reigns put more thought into this situation, he would have realized that he’s better off when Brock is the WWE champion, and there was no upside to screwing Brock over and pissing him off at Royal Rumble. Male ego getting out of control and inciting reckless behavior is nothing new, however.
At any rate, with Lesnar and Rollins both competing inside the Elimination Chamber match on Feb. 19, Reigns needs a new opponent this month. WWE is returning to Saudi Arabia for that event, and it wouldn’t be a WWE card in Saudi Arabia without the return of Goldberg. There’s a new report that says Goldberg will indeed be on hand to challenge Reigns for the Universal title. Goldberg’s last match with Bob Lashley worked out well, but come on, WWE should know better than to book Goldberg in title matches. This will be his third title bout in four matches going back to the start of 2021.
Will Goldberg return tonight to shoot an angle for this title match? There are only three episodes of SmackDown before Elimination Chamber, and next week is a double taping, so Goldberg will have to appear very soon to get things going here.
We know what to expect from Goldberg by now, and in most cases it’s not all that exciting. His work in the ring is no good, and his presence in these title matches is a reminder of WWE’s inability or refusal to try something new. It just feels very deflating when the way-past-his-prime part-timer walks right in and gets the top spot handed to him over the rest of the roster. It especially stands out after seeing part-timers dominate the Royal Rumble matches last weekend. It’s almost like nothing matters in WWE outside a handful of wrestlers.
Let’s just get this one out of the way, I guess.
The rest of the title scene
Charlotte Flair needs a new challenger for the SmackDown women’s championship, and Ronda Rousey happens to be in the building tonight. She is supposed to announce her decision on which championship she will pursue at WrestleMania 38. The rumor mill indicates Ronda will choose Charlotte, so they will very likely have some kind of face-to-face confrontation tonight. But what about Elimination Chamber? The Events page on WWE’s web site is advertising Flair for the Feb. 19 show in Saudi Arabia. Could Sasha Banks get a shot at the champ before Rousey?
The Viking Raiders will challenge the Usos for the SmackDown tag team titles at Elimination Chamber. With only three weeks of television left to go, WWE will need to pick up the pace a bit with this story if they want fans to believe Erik & Ivar have a shot to take down the Bloodline.
Sami Zayn is the number one contender to Shinsuke Nakamura’s Intercontinental title. Sami eliminated Jackass star Johnny Knoxville from the Royal Rumble. With that distraction now out of the way, will Sami finally get an official date for his upcoming title match with Nakamura?
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Naomi eliminated Sonya Deville from the Royal Rumble, but then Devile returned the favor several minutes later. This feud must continue.
- Drew McIntyre made his surprising return at Royal Rumble and obliterated both Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss. Given the report that Roman Reigns will have his hands full with Goldberg at Elimination Chamber, it’s a good bet that McIntyre will remain in a program with the happy duo over the next few weeks. Don’t take Madcap lightly, Drew, because he did manage to eliminate Iron Man AJ Styles from the Royal Rumble match.
- Xia Li disappeared from SmackDown for over a month, returned one week to save Aliyah from Natalya, but was not part of the Royal Rumble match. Who knows when we’ll see her on television again. Maybe she has a monthly quota of exactly one appearance.
- I guess Big E really is officially back on the blue brand again. He has missed the last three episodes of Raw while appearing on the last two episodes of SmackDown, so there really isn’t any other conclusion to draw. It’d be nice if WWE bothered to explain roster moves like this in kayfabe. The former WWE champion didn’t do anything noteworthy in the Royal Rumble match and could use a boost to remind folks that he’s kind of a big deal.
- Will Kofi Kingston’s Royal Rumble botch be turned into a storyline tonight?
- If the Royal Rumble is any indication, Ronda Rousey’s return to WWE could mean more consistent television time for Shayna Baszler.
- Sheamus and Ridge Holland both lasted for a while in the Royal Rumble match. Ricochet did not last for a long time in the match, and Cesaro wasn’t even in the match. Maybe these four men should have a tag team rematch tonight to reiterate that the heels are much better than the babyfaces.
- A Saudi Arabia event is right around the corner, which means it’s probably time for WWE to dust off Mansoor and give him another three week push to improve his undefeated record in that country. Mansoor should try his best to get added to the WWE championship Elimination Chamber match. It’s the only time he’ll ever stand a chance against the likes of Brock Lesnar or Bobby Lashley. Now that Shane McMahon is gone from WWE, at least Mansoor won’t have to worry about accidentally taking a dump in McMahon’s locker room.
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?