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WWE SmackDown preview (May 5, 2023): One of these men is no longer Triple H’s favorite

SmackDown airs tonight (May 5) with a live show from Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is the final SmackDown episode during the five week build towards Backlash, which takes place tomorrow night in the very same venue.

One of these men is no longer Triple H’s favorite

One of the key matches on tonight’s episode of SmackDown is Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Karrion Kross. Shinsuke is moving over to Raw when new rosters go into effect next week, so this appears to be a short-lived feud that is ending just as soon as it got off the ground.

There’s a good argument to make for either man as the winner of this match, and they both kind of need it. Shinsuke has already thrown his name into the hat when it comes to his interest in winning the new World Heavyweight Championship on Raw. A loss to a jabroni like Kross will hurt any kind of main event credibility that Nakamura is hoping to establish once he becomes a fixture on the red brand.

Meanwhile, there’s a reason why I just used the word jabroni to refer to Kross; he has come up short in his most important matches on the main roster, and it has hurt his ability to rise up the card beyond mid-card status. He’s the guy who is staying on Friday nights when new rosters go into effect, and heading into that new era with another loss on his ledger will be a sign that his main roster fortunes aren’t changing any time soon.

Both Kross and Nakamura have been favorites of Triple H in the past. Kross was famously the undefeated NXT champion under Triple H’s creative direction once upon a time, while the last official match of Triple H’s career was actually a tag victory with Nakamura in Japan in 2019.

But only one of these men can be his true favorite coming out of this match. Who will it be? My money is on Nakamura, but we’ll have to tune into SmackDown tonight to find out for sure.

The title scene

SmackDown Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley will defend her title at Backlash against Zelina Vega. Vega is a massive underdog but has used her quick wits to get some shots in on the champ. What will the challenger’s final statement be on the eve of their fight?

WWE Tag Team Champions Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will team up with Matt Riddle at Backlash to take on The Usos and Solo Sikoa. Will tensions be running high backstage between The Bloodline members after they failed to win back the tag titles last week despite dedicating the match to Roman Reigns?

Speaking of the Tribal Chief, he’s a part-timer who doesn’t have to show up in Puerto Rico to defend the WWE Universal championship. But it sounds like he’ll be back next week to address all of his family business.

Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER was drafted to Raw and doesn’t currently have a match scheduled for Backlash. Did he make the trip to Puerto Rico to at least say farewell to the blue brand?

WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez also don’t currently have a match scheduled for Backlash. However, they dropped a match to Damage CTRL earlier this week, so there could be something brewing there.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Bad Bunny is set to appear on SmackDown tonight for one final segment to hype up his street fight at Backlash against Damian Priest. Does The Judgment Day have a trap set up for Bunny to walk right into?

- Cody Rhodes is also in the house, and you already know what he wants to talk about. This is his chance to deliver a very dramatic go-home promo for his match against Brock Lesnar at Backlash.

- AJ Styles returned to WWE last week, and it looks like the rest of The O.C. suddenly aren’t pushovers anymore as a result. The Viking Raiders tried to ruin AJ’s return, but they failed. Will they fail again tonight when they take on Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in a tag match? This is Erik and Ivar’s final match before they leave the Friday night territory and head over to Mondays.

- Current Raw stars Austin Theory, Bobby Lashley, Bronson Reed, Bianca Belair, IYO SKY, Seth Rollins, and Omos all have matches booked at Backlash, so they should be in Puerto Rico by now. Which ones, if any, will show up on tonight’s broadcast?

- Megastar LA Knight has some momentum on his side after picking up a win over BUTCH last week. Does Knight plan to beat up the rest of the Brawling Brutes given they will all remain on SmackDown together when new rosters go into effect?

- If that little shithead Dominik Mysterio steps foot into the ring tonight holding a microphone, how many consecutive minutes will he be heavily booed by the live audience before he can utter a word?

What will you be looking for on SmackDown?

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