SmackDown airs tonight (Apr. 8) with a live show from Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is the first SmackDown episode during the five week build towards WrestleMania Backlash on May 8.
Get ready for another year of Roman Reigns on top
WWE says tonight is the beginning of a new era. That’s because Roman Reigns defeated Brock Lesnar to win the WWE championship at WrestleMania 38, which makes Roman the first ever Undisputed WWE Universal champion.
When you dig a little beyond the surface level, though, not much has really changed. Roman Reigns has been pushed as the top star in WWE ever since he returned to the promotion in August 2020. He’s held on to the Universal championship for nearly that entire time. Now he also has the WWE championship draped around his shoulder, at least until WWE actually comes up with a singular unified belt design. Until WWE actually consolidates the two titles into one physical belt, it’s hard to see how this is a new era.
Brock Lesnar was the ultimate final boss. Now that Reigns has beaten him twice over the last six months, there’s really nobody else on the WWE roster who can beat Roman for the Universal title. If WWE is going to ditch the unified title concept later this year, as expected, then maybe Cody Rhodes can take the WWE championship at some point. But that Universal title isn’t going anywhere. Roman will probably hold it through WrestleMania 39 as WWE hopes to promote a match between Reigns and The Rock.
The main event of this week’s Raw was a segment where Roman Reigns came out and told the audience to tune into SmackDown to see what’s next. That presumably means a new challenger will step up to the champ tonight, whether it’s Rhodes, Drew McIntyre, or Shanky.
Will WWE tie up the Brock Lesnar loose end by booking yet another suspension angle for him? Or will they come up with a new era reason to explain away any upcoming absence of the Beast?
The rest of the title scene
SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair proved that she is the best woman on the roster when she pinned Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 38. That’s one way to look at it. The other way is that Flair tapped out and should have lost the match, but the referee failed to do his job. Is Lil’ Naitch in cahoots with The Queen? Regardless, look for Flair to brag about her big win tonight, while Rousey makes excuses for the loss.
Not only did Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick BOOGS fail to win the SmackDown tag team titles at WrestleMania, but BOOGS suffered a major injury in the process. That leaves Shinsuke without his hype man and partner. Can Pat McAfee still rock out to Shinsuke’s entrance if BOOGS is missing? As for Jimmy and Jey Uso, they continue marching along as the longest reigning SmackDown tag champs in history, and there are practically no credible challengers left to face them. Even
the New Day Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods don’t belong in the title mix after losing like chumps in less than two minutes at WrestleMania.
Intercontinental Champion Ricochet missed out on competing at WrestleMania because mid-card titles aren’t all that important in WWE. He did defeat Angel and Humberto in a triple threat match last week on SmackDown, though, so he has that going for him. Their brief story seems like it’s over, so a new challenger for Ricochet’s belt should emerge very soon.
Sasha Banks and Naomi won the Women’s tag team titles at WrestleMania in a Fatal 4-Way match. They already have a championship defense scheduled for next week’s Raw against Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan, who somehow earned the title match despite losing a
non-title championship contender’s match. Does this mean Sasha and Naomi won’t appear on SmackDown tonight?
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Drew McIntyre ended Happy Corbin’s pathetic undefeated streak at WrestleMania 38. Meanwhile, Madcap Moss won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal last week on SmackDown. Corbin will likely blame his failure on Moss while allowing jealousy over Madcap’s recent success to seep into their relationship.
- Poor Sami Zayn was put through hell by Johnny Knoxville and the rest of the Jackass gang at WrestleMania. I can only imagine what shape Zayn will be in tonight after his balls were crushed by a bowling ball. And that’s just one of many ways this Canadian alpha male was tortured on the grand stage.
- Are Shayna Baszler and Natalya still a team after they came up short at WrestleMania? Where is Shotzi? Does Xia Li still exist?
- Are Sheamus, Ridge Holland, and BUTCH still looking to kick the New Day’s ass even after they already kicked New Day’s ass at WrestleMania?
- This is the WrestleMania fallout show, which means we could see some NXT call-ups or surprise returns. In fact, one surprise return has already been reported for tonight.
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?