SmackDown airs tonight (May 13) with a live show from Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. This is the first SmackDown episode during the four week build towards Hell in a Cell on June 5.
Only one woman can save WWE from this mess
Ronda Rousey won the SmackDown women’s championship at WrestleMania Backlash in an “I Quit” match, and she fractured Charlotte Flair’s radius in the process. Flair is now out of action indefinitely.
Given Flair’s absence, combined with all the time SmackDown recently wasted on Lacey Evans’ inspirational life story only to see her abruptly move to Raw as a heel, the SmackDown women’s roster is a joke right now compared to Raw. Raw is loaded with stars like Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch, Asuka, Rhea Ripley, and Alexa Bliss.
Meanwhile, the top of the SmackDown women’s roster currently includes Rousey, Sasha Banks, and...Shayna Baszler? Naomi? Natalya? The latter four women are all wrapped up in a tag team championship feud at the moment. So as far as singles competition goes, Rousey is already out of credible challengers for her title even though she hasn’t even been the champ for a full week yet.
There’s only one woman who can salvage this mess and step right into a championship feud with Ronda. Who might it be? Ding dong, hello! I’m talking about Bayley, of course. The former women’s champion has been on the shelf since last July and should be back imminently. When I see that WWE has recently positioned Asuka, Bliss, and Evans on the Raw roster, it makes me think Bayley has to be on her way back to SmackDown. Otherwise WWE would be foolish to put all their top women stars on Raw while failing to address SmackDown’s roster woes.
If Bayley isn’t ready to return quite yet, then Ronda will probably bide her time this week with a filler angle before moving onto something with Banks, Natalya, Baszler, or Naomi next week. Rousey does have a long history with Baszler and Natalya, so there is a natural story to tell there. It’s just that WWE hasn’t bothered to give fans much of a reason to care about Baszler over the last six months, so suddenly elevating her to Ronda’s level would require some work. Bayley’s return seems like the more viable option for Rousey’s next feud, so we’ll see if the role model shows up tonight.
The rest of the title scene
Roman Reigns didn’t defend the WWE Universal championship at WrestleMania Backlash, and it sounds like he’s off the Hell in a Cell card and won’t be defending the title there either. Drew McIntyre is the only SmackDown star who has any kind of credibility to challenge Reigns for the gold, but WWE is likely saving that match for one of their stadium shows this summer.
That leaves Roman free to continue helping out SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos in their conflict with Raw Tag Team Champions RK-Bro. Randy Orton and
Matt Riddle have vowed to show up tonight and demand a tag title unification bout with Jimmy and Jey.
Sasha Banks and Naomi will defend the Women’s tag team titles tonight against Natalya and Shayna Baszler. Baszler defeated Banks but lost against Naomi in recent singles matches, while Natalya has been distracted with NXT appearances. I don’t like the challengers’ chances in this championship bout.
Intercontinental Champion Ricochet successfully retained his title against Shanky and Jinder Mahal last month. Which mid-card heel will be next to step up to the champ?
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Madcap Moss defeated Happy Corbin with a sunset flip at WrestleMania Backlash. It wasn’t exactly a definitive way to end their feud, so I don’t think Madcap has seen the last of Happy’s bald head just yet.
- BUTCH showed up out of nowhere to help Sheamus and Ridge Holland win a Tables match against Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston last week. The New Day could certainly use a third guy to help them out given the numbers disadvantage they are consistently working with.
- Sami Zayn talked his way into a match with Shinsuke Nakamura last week, and it resulted in a Zayn victory by count out. I imagine we’ll be seeing at least one rematch here, if not more, before all is said and done.
Gonzalez Rodriguez is establishing herself on the main roster with hype videos and the jobber squash match.
- Gunther is also doing the jobber squash match thing, though it may be time to graduate into a feud with an actual wrestler on the SmackDown roster. Well, he did beat Drew Gulak last week. But is Gulak even considered a wrestler anymore in kayfabe?
- Will main roster manager LA Knight’s “Knight Model Management” gimmick with Mansoor and MACE the FACE make it onto television sometime soon?
- Xia Li is apparently still on the SmackDown roster, but it’s hard to tell given her utter lack of television time.
- It’s Friday the 13th. Which wrestler will suffer the most bad luck tonight?
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?