After the unofficial announcement that the blue brand will have a new home come October 2019, Smackdown Live airs from Worcester, Massachusetts. There’s already a ton of matches scheduled for tonight, including a Jeff Hardy/Daniel Bryan match that’s sure to be a barnburner. As well, Lana will face Billie Kay in a MITB qualifying match, and Sonya DeVille will get chance #2 at entering the annual ladder match when she takes on Naomi in another qualifier.

As always, I’m Spencer Love with your preview of tonight’s Smackdown Live!

A Quick Recap:

  • Daniel Bryan opens the show with an in-ring interview with Renee YoungBig Cass interrupts and is subsequently beaten down.
  • The New Day def. The Bar in a Money in the Bank qualifying match; one member from the New Day will be in the MITB ladder match.
  • Paige announces that Sonya DeVilla, Mandy Rose and Becky Lynch will compete in a Money in the Bank qualifying match later in the night.
  • AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura both cut backstage promos
  • Andrade “Cien” Almas def. local talent in his Smackdown Live debut. Post-match, Zelina Vega cuts a promo on their disappointment with Smackdown Live, and how they came to take over the blue brand.
  • Rusev Day grace our screens, and it’s announced that Lana will have a Money in the Bank qualifying match next week against Billie Kay
  • Carmella hosts her ‘Mellabration, and is interrupted by Paige – who announces that Asuka will challenge for the championship at Money in the Bank!
  • Shinsuke Nakamura is interviewed by Renee Young, where he claims he’ll win the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank
  • Becky Lynch def. Sonya DeVille and Mandy Rose in a Money in the Bank qualifying match.
  • Samoa Joe vs Big Cass is announces as a Money in the Bank qualifying match for Smackdown on the 21st. Samoa Joe and The IIconics cut cell phone promos
  • Shinsuke Nakamura def. AJ Styles in the main event, and will pick the stipulation for their Money in the Bank match.

One Big Thought:

The big news from the blue brand this week has nothing to do with their in-ring product. As reported by multiple outlets yesterday, WWE and FOX have agreed to a five year, $1 BILLION DOLLAR deal in exchange for the rights to air Smackdown Live.

I’m just here for the cheap pop.

It’s an absolutely unfeasible amount of money to me; recently, I had to pay half debit, half cash for a medium fries, so you can understand how this boggles the mind. Rumours have already started flying that Smackdown will move to a three-hour format under the new regime, which would be a poor decision in this writers mind. However, the move to FOX does open up a whole new realm of possibilities to WWE; we could genuinely see RAW and Smackdown competing with each other, which only can improve the quality of the product.

All in all, things are exciting folks – but that’s then, and this is now. Let’s get to tonight!

State of the Belts:

Shinsuke Nakamura faced off with WWE Champion AJ Styles in last week’s main event for the right to pick their match stipulation at Money in the Bank. While I’m definitely of the belief that they’ve overplayed this match in recent weeks, it was definitely the best showing of the four matches we’ve had thus far between the two former NJPW superstars. With Nakamura pinning Styles, he’ll have the chance to select the match conditions for their scheduled championship bout on June 17th; will we find out tonight what the King of Strong Style has planned?

Last week, it was announced that Asuka will challenge Carmella for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Money in the Bank. After her loss at WrestleMania, a switch to the blue brand hasn’t exactly revitalized Asuka’s dominance; in fact, the Empress of Tomorrow seems to have lost a lot of her shine since tapping out to Charlotte Flair nearly two months ago. While not exactly deserving of a championship opportunity – she’s won a match and lost a tag match since moving over to Tuesday’s – a feud for the top women’s prize may be exactly what Asuka needs.

In a very exciting development, Jeff Hardy will face Daniel Bryan in a Money in the Bank semi-final, if you will. After Big Cass potentially suffered an injury on WWE’s European tour – more on that below – he was removed from his qualifying match with Samoa Joe that was scheduled for tonight’s Smackdown. Now, the Samoan Submission Machine will face the winner of tonight’s Hardy/Bryan match – what a great time to be a wrestling fan.

How far can the tag team division fall? In only a short time, it’s gone from the hottest division in the WWE to an absolute afterthought. That’s being said as a fan of the Bludgeon Brothers, too; however, Harper and Rowan have done little-to-nothing as champions, with the rest of the division nowhere to be found. Are we in a holding pattern until SAniTy finally debuts? Is there a long-term plan in place? I would assume yes to the first and a definite “no” to the second.

Three Things to Watch For:

  • After sustaining an injury in Amsterdam – still no word on if it’s an official injury or if it’s purely storyline – but Big Cass will no longer face Samoa Joe tonight for the right to enter the Money in the Bank ladder match; however, the fans benefit in the form of a Daniel Bryan/Jeff Hardy match in it’s place tonight. As Paige announced on Twitter, the winner will face Joe next week in a MITB qualifier.
  • Zelina Vega was right – both her and Andrade “Cien” Almas deserve better than they got last week. Will he have a meaningful segment tonight? While I understand the decision to have him hastily defeat a jobber on last week’s episode, El Idolo is destined for better things – and soon, I hope.
  • The New Day will join The Miz on a MizTV segment tonight after defeating The Bar last week for the right to have a member enter the Money in the Bank ladder match. Will we find out which member will be participating? Will we get a hastily thrown together tag team match? My heart says the former, but my brain says the latter.
WWE Last 5:
Smackdown Live Preview: May 22
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Spencer Love

Once stood in front of Cedric Alexander in line at a hotel. Slightly big deal.

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