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WWE SmackDown preview (May 19, 2023): Triple H doesn’t do title swaps

SmackDown airs tonight (May 19) with a live show from Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina. This is the second episode of SmackDown during the three week build towards Night of Champions, which takes place on May 27 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

I was wrong about WWE ending Belair’s title reign in the stupidest way

WWE put itself in an awkward position during the recent draft when Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair was moved over to SmackDown, and SmackDown Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley was locked into Raw. As a result, those championship belts are now on the wrong shows.

This sort of scenario has been booked by WWE multiple times in the recent past, and the problem was solved with the very dumb idea of having the champions swap their belts. That’s why I assumed WWE would simply do it again.

Well, it turns out that I’m an idiot, as some of you already knew or suspected.

Triple H is running WWE Creative now, and it looks like there won’t be any title swaps occurring under his watch, at least not yet. There has been no mention of Belair and Ripley swapping their belts. As a result, Belair’s year-long run with the Raw belt marches on, with no end in sight, even though she no longer appears on the Raw brand.

The status quo is not ideal, but it’s still better than a very dumb title swap would have been. I imagine WWE will come up with a solution to this dilemma at some point, but they aren’t in a rush to figure out what to do about it. Simply renaming the belts might just be the most practical way to move forward.

Belair is set to defend the Raw gold against Asuka in a championship rematch at Night of Champions. Asuka turned heel last week on SmackDown when she crashed Bianca’s hometown celebration and spit poison mist in her face. We’ve rarely seen Bianca in such a state of distress in WWE. How will the champ respond tonight after The Empress crossed the line?

The rest of the title scene

WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns is the big dog who has decided to show the little puppies how to get the job done. That was the analogy used on WWE commentary last week after Paul Heyman revealed that Reigns and Solo Sikoa will challenge Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for the WWE tag team titles at Night of Champions. Roman shamed Jimmy and Jey for failing in multiple title matches last month, especially when they dedicated one of those matches to him. As a result, Roman is looking to hold on to more championship gold for 1000 day reigns. Owens and Zayn are in the building tonight for a face-to-face confrontation with Reigns and Sikoa.

The World Heavyweight Championship tournament is down to the finals between AJ Styles and Seth Rollins at Night of Champions. AJ and Seth are on different rosters and presumably won’t be allowed to cross paths before the fight in Saudi Arabia. That leaves AJ to deal with Grayson Waller tonight. Waller is bringing his talk show to the main roster for the first time, with Styles as his guest. This is Grayson’s first impression for a lot of fans, so it’s important for him to quickly establish what kind of an obnoxious douchebag he truly is.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez suddenly have their hands full with Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler on Raw. Morgan missed a title match earlier this week due to injury, so I don’t expect that we’ll see the champs tonight.

United States Champion Austin Theory came up short in last week’s World Heavyweight Championship tournament triple threat match. Sheamus was the other loser in his match, so Austin is probably going to blame him for the result. Could a title match between Sheamus and Theory be a late addition to the Night of Champions card?

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Speaking of Brawling Brutes, Ridge Holland and BUTCH will be in action tonight against Pretty Deadly. Deadly insulted the Brutes last week in a backstage segment, so the babyfaces are looking to beat some respect into them in their debut match on SmackDown television.

- LA Knight loves to run his mouth, which is why he finds himself standing across the ring from the Street Profits in a tag team match tonight. Knight claims he can beat them with anybody as his tag team partner, so he’ll try to back up those words with Rick Boogs tagging along for the ride.

- The LWO caught Jimmy and Jey Uso in a foul mood last week after they were humiliated by the Tribal Chief. That’s why the two teams are fighting tonight, with Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar representing the LWO.

- Cameron Grimes debuted on the main roster last week with a squash victory over Baron Corbin. Will Baron demand a rematch in order to show it was just a fluke?

- Karrion Kross still needs to pick a fight with the next babyface who will inevitably beat him on SmackDown.

- Bayley is the type of leader who is not interested in taking accountability for her team’s failures. This isn’t going to end well for Damage CTRL.

- What will Bobby Lashley’s new direction be after losing last week’s tournament match against AJ Styles? The same question can be asked about part-timer Edge, who has retirement on his mind.

- WWE is taping two episodes of SmackDown tonight ahead of next week’s trip to Saudi Arabia, so there might be opportunities for a few additional low or mid carders to get on TV. This would be a good time to bust out Shotzi’s tank, for example.

What will you be looking for on SmackDown?

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