SmackDown airs tonight (May 20) with a live show from Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is the second SmackDown episode during the four week build towards Hell in a Cell on June 5.
There’s a reason why WWE wanted Sasha Banks to lose against Ronda Rousey
The big story this week is Sasha Banks and Naomi walking out of Raw as the show went on the air live. Follow-up reporting has indicated that WWE planned to book Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks for Hell in a Cell 2022 in a SmackDown women’s championship match, with Rousey going over.
Looking at the landscape of the SmackDown women’s division, it’s not hard to see why WWE wanted to book that match. Charlotte Flair is taking time off to get married and won’t be back in time for the pay-per-view. With Flair out of the mix, Banks was the biggest name around who could step up to Rousey. The Raw women’s roster boasts stars like Asuka, Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch, Rhea Ripley, and Alexa Bliss. Meanwhile, Rousey’s list of potential challengers on Friday nights was extremely short as long as Banks and Naomi were occupied by the tag team division.
I suggested last week it was a good time for Bayley to return and start a program with Rousey. If Bayley’s return is not imminent, however, and Banks and Flair both remain unavailable in the short-term, it’s slim pickings trying to find a new challenger for Ronda. WWE has done nothing to establish Shayna Baszler or Natalya as deserving of a title shot over the last six months. Xia Li, Shotzi, and Aliyah are complete non-factors on television. Raquel Rodriguez just lost a title match against Rousey last week. Who is left? This is why WWE wanted to put the Women’s tag team titles on the backburner and shift towards Rousey vs. Banks.
With Sasha gone for now, the best course of action might be to continue the Rousey vs. Rodriguez angle from last week and find a way to book a rematch for Hell in a Cell. There’s some obvious history WWE can tap into with Rousey and Baszler if WWE prefers that route, but Baszler hasn’t been a singles championship threat in quite some time. They should probably take more than a couple weeks to build her back up for that spot.
The rest of the title scene
Tonight’s main event is a title unification match between Raw Tag Team Champions RK-Bro and SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos. The rumor mill indicates WWE has no intention of actually unifying the titles despite booking a title unification match. If that’s true, this one will likely have a garbage finish with no winner. If it’s not true, then The Usos are more likely to walk out holding all the gold. There’s also the possibility that the match has a screwy ending regardless, and a title unification rematch is booked for Hell in a Cell. Let’s see which path WWE chooses.
It’s not clear how WWE will handle the Women’s tag team titles in the aftermath of Naomi and Sasha Banks walking out of the company. It might just be time to retire the belts since WWE gives zero shits about them and the tag division rarely ever has more than two teams in it anyway.
Hell in a Cell apparently isn’t an important enough pay-per-view to warrant a title defense from WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. Either that, or there’s simply nobody left on SmackDown who has enough credibility to challenge him (both things are true).
Intercontinental Champion Ricochet gave Drew Gulak an inspirational pep talk last week, but Gulak was quickly humiliated by Gunther. Will Gunther come for Ricochet next?
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Madcap Moss was brutally assaulted by Happy Corbin last week. Corbin used the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy to give Moss a cervical contusion, whatever that is. The rumor mill suggests Moss might just come back with a new look, new entrance music, and new attitude. It’s a much needed change, but he should probably be out selling this injury for a bit before that happens.
- BUTCH defeated Kofi Kingston last week thanks to some help from Sheamus. The New Day will keep falling short against the trio of BUTCH, Sheamus, and Ridge Holland as long as the babyfaces remain at a 3-on-2 disadvantage.
- Sami Zayn was pinned by
Matt Riddle last week and then taunted backstage by Shinsuke Nakamura in the aftermath. Sami surely won’t let that one slide.
- Shotzi and Aliyah argued last week over who was more deserving of a match. Maybe they’ll resolve their squabble by fighting each other in a match tonight?
- Last week, Roman Reigns stated that nobody on the SmackDown roster was willing to come out and challenge him. That’s when Drew McIntyre...didn’t come out and challenge him. Drew doesn’t have a clear direction for Hell in a Cell after failing to answer Roman’s call.
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?