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WWE SmackDown preview (Feb. 17, 2023): This is how Ronda Rousey redeems herself

SmackDown airs tonight (Feb. 17) with a live show from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This is the final SmackDown episode during the three week build towards Elimination Chamber, which takes place tomorrow night (Feb. 18).

This is how Ronda Rousey redeems herself in WWE

Ronda Rousey’s second run with WWE has never really clicked ever since she returned to the company over one year ago at Royal Rumble 2022. Her matches have (for the most part) been underwhelming or bad, she often seems uncomfortable on the mic, and WWE didn’t really give her much to work with as far as the top of the SmackDown roster was concerned. Ronda had multiple runs with the SmackDown women’s championship, but it just didn’t work.

Rousey took a break from from WWE in January and finally returned to TV last week. She joined forces with Shayna Baszler to take out Shotzi and Natalya, setting up a tag team match on tonight’s show. This will be Rousey’s first wrestling match of 2023.

Outside of kayfabe, Ronda has made it clear that she wants to get away from singles gold and do more tag team work with Shayna. It looks like WWE is letting her do that now, just in time for WrestleMania 39.

Will Ronda fare any better in the tag team scene than she did last year as a singles wrestler? We don’t know the answer to that question yet, but we do know that the women’s tag team division needs all the help it can get right now. WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions IYO SKY and Dakota Kai might be the only established team in the division; only having one or two teams around at a time has been a common problem for the division ever since it was created a few years ago.

WWE thinks Ronda Rousey is a big star and a difference maker for them, so putting her in the tag team scene could very well be the impetus needed for the company to focus more on building up the division. That’s the optimistic outlook. The pessimistic outlook is that WWE just needs something for Ronda to do right now, and putting the tag team titles on her is one way to pass the time and keep her happy.

There isn’t much reason to think Rousey’s presence will significantly improve the way the women’s tag team division is presented in WWE, but pulling off that feat is the best way for her to redeem herself after a very disappointing 2022.

The rest of the title scene

Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER puts his gold on the line tonight against Madcap Moss. Moss earned the right to have his chest chopped to pieces by pinning Rey Mysterio in a four-way match last week.

Roman Reigns defends the WWE Universal championship against Sami Zayn at Elimination Chamber. Zayn is the local hero who will receive the loudest cheers in Montreal tonight and tomorrow night. Zayn has yet to stand tall over Reigns to end a segment, so maybe that’s coming on this go home show. It would certainly be one way for Sami to convince himself and others that he has what it takes to beat Roman.

The Usos won’t be defending the SmackDown tag team titles this weekend because the Tribal Chief has ordered them to stay home, according to Paul Heyman. Will Jey Uso defy Roman Reigns once again?

SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair is getting ready for her title defense at WrestleMania against Rhea Ripley. Rhea is scheduled to be in Montreal for the PPV, so maybe she’ll get up close and personal with The Queen tonight.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- The rematch between the Banger Bros and the Viking Raiders is scheduled for tonight’s broadcast. Will Erik and Ivar get their win back after Drew McIntyre and Sheamus eliminated them from a tag team tournament last month?

- The murder clown is coming to SmackDown for a match against Liv Morgan. Will any of the remaining four women in the Elimination Chamber match (Raquel Rodriguez, Natalya, Nikki Cross, Carmella) try to interrupt Asuka vs. Liv and establish their dominance over the field?

- Bray Wyatt has been very slow to make his next move following his victory over LA Knight at Royal Rumble.

- Speaking of LA Knight, he is done talking about that Mountain Dew Pitch Black match, so I assume that means he is ready to move on to Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

- Which jabroni will be the next victim of Lacey Evans’ Cobra Clutch?

- Is Legado del Fantasma turning babyface? Santos Escobar showed Rey Mysterio respect last week, which won’t sit too well with Karrion Kross.

- Rey might have to deal with Dominik and The Judgment Day tonight, considering that the group is scheduled to be in Montreal this weekend.

- Braun Strowman and Ricochet came up short in their attempt to win the SmackDown tag team belts last week. Is this the part where they go their separate ways, or will they remain as a team heading into WrestleMania?

- Kevin Owens hasn’t been seen since The Bloodline destroyed him at Royal Rumble. Will he return tonight in front of his adoring fans in Montreal, or is he saving the big moment for Elimination Chamber?

- Did you know that Top Dolla once botched a dive over the top rope? If you happened to forget about it, Michael Cole will be sure to remind you many times tonight.

What will you be looking for on SmackDown?

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