SmackDown airs tonight (Mar. 18) with a live show from the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is the fourth SmackDown episode during the six week build towards WrestleMania 38 on the weekend of April 2 and April 3.
Pete Dunne is already fighting an uphill battle as Butch
WWE often makes it needlessly difficult for new wrestlers on the main roster to get over; Pete Dunne is the latest example.
Pete’s overall booking last week during his SmackDown debut was actually pretty solid. He joined up with Sheamus and Ridge Holland, who described him as a vicious and tough man. Dunne then caused a distraction to help his boys win a tag team match over
New Day Big E and Kofi Kingston. After the match, Dunne got in the ring and put a beating on Kingston. He had to be pulled off Kofi’s body by Sheamus and Ridge.
That’s all well and good, but there’s one glaring problem overshadowing all of it that cannot be ignored. For reasons that defy basic logic, WWE decided to change Pete Dunne’s name to Butch and give him silly new clothes to wear. Of course that’s what they did.
To be fair, Sheamus and Ridge acknowledged that Butch is only a nickname. However, the name “Pete Dunne” was not uttered once during the broadcast. Nickname or not, Butch is the guy’s ring name going forward on SmackDown.
A bad ring name can put a ceiling on how high up the card a wrestler can climb. Stone Cold Steve Austin has explained that he never would have gotten over if he approved one of WWF’s truly terrible names for him like Fang McFrost. That’s why Dunne is already fighting an uphill battle on the main roster. How does a name this awful actually get approved?
The hoopla over the name Butch wasn’t the main story coming out of last week’s match between Sheamus/Holland and New Day. Unfortunately, Big E suffered a legitimate broken neck on a Holland overhead belly-to-belly suplex that went horribly wrong. It’s not clear yet what this devastating injury means for Big E’s future in pro wrestling.
Xavier Woods is cleared and should be back tonight to help Kofi Kingston deal with Sheamus and his cronies. We’ll find out tonight how WWE addresses Big E’s neck injury.
The title scene
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar is advertised for a collision with Universal Champion Roman Reigns tonight. That’s WWE’s new way of saying there will be some kind of confrontation between the two most important stars on the roster. Reigns wasn’t in the building last week, so Lesnar is still looking for blood after what the Tribal Chief did to him at Madison Square Garden.
Jey Uso lost a singles match last week against Rick Boogs. That means the Usos have to defend the SmackDown tag titles at WrestleMania 38 against Boogs and Shinsuke Nakamura. Nothing is advertised tonight for these four men. Maybe we’ll get the alternating singles match of Jimmy vs. Shinsuke. If not, perhaps the babyfaces will get a tune up match against Los Lotharios.
Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair are promising to tap each other out at WrestleMania when they fight over Flair’s SmackDown women’s championship. Flair got the last laugh last week when she beat up Rousey on top of a car in the loading dock as the show went off the air. Nothing is advertised for them tonight, but they are expected to be in the building.
Sasha Banks and Naomi finally competed in a tag team match together last week after multiple changes were made to the card throughout the day. They demonstrated their proficiency as a team by defeating Natalya & Shayna Baszler. The latter pair is still rumored to join the Women’s tag team championship match at WrestleMania, so perhaps we’re in line for some 50/50 booking tonight.
Ricochet successfully defended the Intercontinental title last week in the main event against Sami Zayn. Will a new foe will emerge for Ricochet to fight heading into WrestleMania 38? Could it be someone from Raw who is still looking for a WrestleMania match, such as Omos or Seth Rollins?
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Austin Theory physically provoked Pat McAfee once again last week, and this time Pat whooped his ass. Michael Cole suggested McAfee’s unprofessional behavior may have negative consequences, so this could be where Vince McMahon enters the story.
- Drew McIntyre was supposed to team up with the Viking Raiders last week in a six man tag team match against Happy Corbin, Madcap Moss, and Jinder Mahal. Unfortunately, Drew’s partners were jumped in the back by the heels, leading to all the heels then coming out to the ring to get Drew. McIntyre survived the onslaught, beat up all of Corbin’s lackeys, and stood tall holding his flame-generating sword. Corbin will need to come up with a better plan than this, because right now he looks like a dead man at WrestleMania when he steps into the ring with McIntyre.
- Johnny Knoxville flew a banner with Sami Zayn’s phone number over Los Angeles last week. Zayn was unable to prepare for his title match with Ricochet as a result, leading to a loss. If the Jackass Forever star shows his face tonight, you better believe Zayn will try to kick it off.
- Xia Li has disappeared from television again after winning her debut match on SmackDown three weeks ago. I can’t make any sense of her main roster rollout, which actually began three months ago but has barely included anything of substance.
- Does WWE realize they have somehow not yet booked Shanky for WrestleMania 38?
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?