SmackDown airs tonight (Apr. 1) with a live show from American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. This is the final SmackDown episode during the six week build to WrestleMania 38.
This is the closest Finn Balor and Ricochet will get to WrestleMania
Finn Balor and Ricochet both hold mid-card gold in WWE, and that’s actually a liability for their chance to compete on Apr. 2 or Apr. 3 at the stupendous two night extravaganza known as WrestleMania 38. It’s the biggest pro wrestling show of the year, yet titleholders Balor and Ricochet are both on the outside looking in right now.
In the case of Ricochet, after a few weeks on the rise, he was left off an episode of SmackDown and then returned the following week by losing two matches in one night. He was also defeated very quickly by Austin Theory on this week’s Raw. Just like that, WWE quickly reminded their audience why this guy is a chump. Instead of getting a spot on the WrestleMania card this weekend, Ricochet is stuck defending his Intercontinental championship tonight in a three way match against Humberto and Angel.
Then there’s United States Champion Finn Balor. It’s not really clear why he’s missing from the WrestleMania card. His ongoing feud with Damian Priest always looked like a good bet to be showcased at WrestleMania 38, particularly with Balor’s Demon form available to use on the grand stage. But last week’s announcement that Balor and Priest will compete tonight in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal introduced the very real possibility that this is the closest they will get to WrestleMania this year.
The rest of the field in the Andre Battle Royal includes assorted low card and/or tag team wrestlers like Mansoor, R-Truth, Viking Raiders, Apollo Crews, Robert Roode, former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, and so forth. Balor and Priest are the obvious strongest candidates to win, though Madcap Moss, Shanky, and random WWE legends from the past shouldn’t be ruled out either.
The rest of the title scene
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and Universal Champion Roman Reigns will unify their titles at WrestleMania Sunday in what WWE is calling the biggest WrestleMania match of all-time (alongside the two previous times they’ve faced each other at WrestleMania, I suppose). Nearly the entire WWE roster has been sacrificed to put over these two men and this feud, and tonight is WWE’s final chance to sell you on their ‘Mania match.
Charlotte Flair will defend the SmackDown women’s championship against Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 38. Their feud is one of the few WrestleMania stories that was not represented on this week’s Raw, so they need to have something interesting planned for tonight’s go-home angle. Flair has been dodging Rousey after taking her out with kendo sticks a couple weeks ago, and it’s not clear if they will actually cross paths tonight.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs have been training for their SmackDown tag team championship match against The Usos by doing very strange things with lemons. Hey, nothing else seems to work against Jimmy and Jey, so they might as well think outside the box.
Carmella and Queen Zelina Vega will defend the Women’s tag team titles at WrestleMania in a Fatal 4-Way match against Sasha Banks & Naomi, Rhea Ripley & Liv Morgan, and Natalya & Shayna Baszler. These women have been fighting each other in different combinations over the past few weeks. The most recent outcome was Ripley pinning Vega in an 8-woman tag team match on Raw.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Happy Corbin stole Drew McIntyre’s sword last week and will interview it tonight on Happy Talk. Didn’t Drew already say last year that he isn’t stupid enough to carry the real sword around with him at WWE events? If so, he shouldn’t be too bothered that Corbin and Madcap Moss stole the replica. Either that, or McIntyre is now stupid enough to bring the real sword with him to WWE events.
- Austin Theory has been tuning up for his WrestleMania match against Pat McAfee by fighting mid-carders Finn Balor and Ricochet. McAfee has been preparing for his WrestleMania match against Theory by rocking out with Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs. I think Pat’s training will prove to be more successful this weekend. As far as tonight’s show goes, it would be nice if they escalated tensions beyond face-slapping and running away.
- Sami Zayn can’t wait to ram his foot through Johnny Knoxville’s face at WrestleMania 38. But their match now has the “Anything Goes” stipulation attached to it, so perhaps tonight Knoxville will give us a taste of what horrors could await Zayn at WrestleMania Sunday.
King Xavier Woods returned to SmackDown last week and scored a quick win over Ridge Holland, will the nefarious and rabid Butch finally have his first match on the main roster tonight?
- The WWE Hall of Fame ceremony takes place immediately following SmackDown in the very same venue. Does that mean we’re getting cameos from a few WWE legends during the SmackDown broadcast?
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?