WWE SmackDown returns tonight (May 29) from the... checks notes... WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. They are building towards the Backlash pay-per-view (PPV) on June 14.
The Universal title match for Backlash is a weird one.
After the champion Braun Strowman ran over the Miz and John Morrison in separate one on one matches, JoMo issued a handicap match challenge for the Universal title. The Monster Among Men accepted and now we have a bit of a throw away title match at the PPV.
The reason is probably two-fold. One of those reasons is to extend Strowman’s real feud - the feud with Bray Wyatt. Braun defeated Bray Wyatt at Money in the Bank, but that was sweater wearing Bray Wyatt. He has to face the Fiend eventually. And that’s a match he very well may lose. So this would serve as a successful defense against two men
The other reason is to start a split to Miz and Morrison. Because that’s what a loss would do here. If a legit tag team cannot beat one man, they’re not really a legit tag team and can’t really continue to function as such. And there already seems to be some fraying around the edges of this team after Morrison made the challenge without consulting Miz.
Now they’re a really great team. Mc M.I.Z. and Johnny Drip Drip are wildly entertaining. But they don’t need to be a team. There’s plenty they can do as singles stars too.
There’s a feud between the two that should be had. John Morrison was written off from WWE in 2011 after losing to the Miz in a Last Man Standing match, being shoved head first into the big WWE sign they had on stage and then taking a Skull Crushing Finale on the metal. That’s a thread waiting to be picked back up.
And despite them feuding a decade ago about who was the “Jannetty” of their team, both men are accomplished singles stars and will do just fine on their own. Miz can continue to be the boisterous heel who can sell a feud with a single episode of Miz TV while Morrison can mix it up with a roster vastly different than when he was last in WWE.
Maybe they don’t go that way. Maybe they lose and stay together. But it’s tough to rebound after losing to Strowman in a handicap match. The Bar were able to do it (yes, there was technically a child there so it wasn’t a handicap match), but it’s a hard hill to climb.
The Championship Scene
Bayley successfully defeated Charlotte Flair last week in a non-title match, knocking down yet another contender for her SmackDown Women’s title. There are some feud retreads they may go to, such as Lacey Evans, but they probably don’t even know. Rumor has it the plan was finally run that Bayley/Sasha Banks program but that may once again be on hold.
The Intercontinental tournament continues this week with AJ Styles vs. Elias and what should be a banger in Jeff Hardy vs. Daniel Bryan.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions New Day haven’t been on TV the last couple weeks. It feels like the Forgotten Sons will be their next challenger.
The IIconics look like they’re going to get another shot at Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss’ Women’s tag team titles, meaning those belts will be seeing more time on Raw.
Other things to keep an eye on:
The hacker, who goes by The Message, vows to expose liars. We’ll see if anything ever comes of this.
I don’t think Otis & Mandy are done with Dolph Ziggler & Sonya Deville after the heel picked up the win last week.
What will you be looking for when SmackDown airs tonight on 8 PM ET on Fox?