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WWE SmackDown preview (May 12, 2023): Roman Reigns is about to make a very stupid decision

SmackDown airs tonight (May 12) with a live show from Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee. This is the first episode of SmackDown during the three week build towards Night of Champions, which takes place on May 27 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Roman Reigns is about to make a very stupid decision

The WWE Draft is in the books and the new rosters for Raw and SmackDown are now in effect.

Here is the full list of wrestlers who were drafted to SmackDown:

  • The Bloodline (Roman Reigns, Solo Sikoa, Paul Heyman)
  • Bianca Belair
  • The Street Profits
  • Edge
  • Bobby Lashley
  • The O.C. (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson & Michin)
  • Damage CTRL (Bayley, Dakota Kai, IYO SKY)
  • Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn
  • Hit Row (Top Dolla & Ashante “Thee” Adonis, B-Fab)
  • Lacey Evans
  • Austin Theory
  • Charlotte Flair
  • The Usos
  • The LWO (Rey Mysterio, Santos Escobar, Cruz Del Toro, Joaquin Wilde, Zelina Vega)
  • Asuka
  • The Brawling Brutes (Sheamus, Ridge Holland, BUTCH)
  • Karrion Kross
  • LA Knight
  • Shotzi
  • Pretty Deadly
  • Rick BOOGS
  • Cameron Grimes
  • Tamina
  • Grayson Waller

The top star on this roster is still WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. The part-time Tribal Chief has been off WWE television for the last five weeks, but he finally returns tonight to deal with all the drama going on within The Bloodline.

The most glaring issue that Roman needs to address is the current status of The Usos within The Bloodline. They recently dedicated a tag team championship match to Roman but ended up losing the fight, which could be interpreted by him as an unacceptable form of disrespect.

As their failures have piled up, WWE has used Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa to tease that The Usos may soon be exiled from The Bloodline at Roman’s command. Less than one week ago, Sikoa was seconds away from nailing Jey with the Samoan Spike. Roman has been cold to Jimmy and Jey over the last month, not taking their calls or letting them in his presence. Will The Bloodline’s win at Backlash be enough to save their asses?

While The Usos’ potential ouster from The Bloodline is one clear way to start the downfall of The Tribal Chief’s reign as champion, I can’t help but scratch my head over why Roman would want them out of the group. He should be smart enough to know that they have saved his title reign a ridiculous number of times, and he needs that advantage in the numbers game to remain the Head of the Table. Roman shouldn’t really care too much that they lost the tag team titles at WrestleMania, because their long reign with those belts was always a smokescreen for their number one priority in The Bloodline, which is to ensure that Roman never loses.

That’s why this should all be some kind of mind game that Reigns is playing with Jimmy and Jey to make them feel even more dependent on him to provide for them going forward, rather than a serious thought of actually kicking them out of The Bloodline. That is, unless Roman has other names in mind to replace them with.

If Roman goes through with expelling The Usos from The Bloodline tonight, then he is making a very stupid decision, and hubris really has gotten the better of him after nearly 1000 days as champion. It’s worth noting that Reigns needs a new challenger for Night of Champions, so he may get interrupted by a babyface (or a free agent like Omos) before he makes an ultimate decision on Jimmy and Jey’s future.

WWE has generally done a great job with the major story beats of The Bloodline, so they have earned the benefit of the doubt here to see what’s next for Roman Reigns after his very unpopular win over Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania 39.

The rest of the title scene

The World Heavyweight Championship tournament continues tonight. AJ Styles will compete in a triple threat match against WWE Hall of Famers Edge and Rey Mysterio. There will be another triple threat match featuring Bobby Lashley, Sheamus, and United States Champion Austin Theory. The winners of these two matches will then fight each other in tonight’s main event, with that winner advancing to the title match against Seth Rollins at Night of Champions. Theory is the only heel among these six wrestlers, and he already beat Lashley in a triple threat match this past weekend. If WWE wants a heel to face Seth, he’s the only choice. Meanwhile, things are pretty wide open on the babyface side, with Sheamus and Rey Mysterio being slight underdogs compared to Edge, Lashley, and Styles.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez will defend their titles tonight against Bayley and Dakota Kai. Will Damage CTRL have another miscommunication and fall apart after Bayley accidentally screwed over IYO SKY at Backlash?

WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have been feuding with The Bloodline for many months now. Their goal of ending Roman’s reign remains the same, but they might be distracted by some of the SmackDown teams coming after their belts, such as the Street Profits, The O.C., and Hit Row Pretty Deadly.

SmackDown Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley is now on the Raw roster, and Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair is now on the SmackDown roster. Even though the belts are currently on the wrong shows, WWE did not do a title swap (yet) this week. Ripley was still recognized as the SmackDown champion on this week’s Raw. Will Bianca follow suit tonight with the Raw title, or will WWE finally let us know how they plan to resolve this problem?

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Cameron Grimes will have his debut match on the main roster tonight when he takes on free agent Baron Corbin. Corbin is a losing loser who loses, so I like Cameron’s chances in this one.

- There is a rumor that LA Knight might have a chance to win this year’s Money in the Bank contract. That show is less than two months away, so if there’s any truth to the idea, WWE should be pushing him right out of the gate now that new rosters are in effect.

- Karrion Kross is a jabroni who once again talked a big game but failed to deliver when the bell rang last week against Shinsuke Nakamura. The King of Strong Style is now on the Raw roster, so Karrion and Scarlett will have to find a new babyface to lose against.

- How will WWE capitalize on the LWO’s popularity coming out of last week’s Backlash event in Puerto Rico? Will the lack of Bad Bunny and The Judgment Day on SmackDown hurt the group’s momentum?

- Are Charlotte Flair and/or Asuka ready to return to WWE television yet? Both stars have been away from WWE following their respective losses at WrestleMania 39.

- Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander are both free agents. Will they look to sign with SmackDown and reform the Hurt Business with Bobby Lashley?

- Elias is also a free agent. Will he show up on SmackDown to maintain his partnership with Rick Boogs?

- How much longer will it be until BUTCH turns back into Pete Dunne?

- Shotzi was actually selected in the televised portion of the WWE Draft. Is that a sign that she will receive more TV time going forward?

- It looks like Grayson Waller might try to make a splash on the main roster by getting involved in Edge’s business via his talk show. Which other NXT call-ups will make a strong first impression on Friday nights?

What will you be looking for on SmackDown?

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