March 7, 2017
Following Raw’s lead, WWE SmackDown is set to make definitive strides toward WrestleMania.
Tuesday’s show is bound to clear up a number of championship pictures ahead of the April 2 pay-per-view. Who will challenge for the SmackDown women’s title at The Showcase of the Immortals? Who will step up to American Alpha with tag team gold in their sights?
AJ Styles will fight Randy Orton to determine the new No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship Bray Wyatt has in his possession.
Indianapolis will host a show sure to lay a number of bricks as the construction of the WrestleMania card continues. Will Wyatt have an ally back in his corner in time for the event? Is the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal field going to begin forming?
Backstage news, the SmackDown preview on WWE.com and storyline analysis help provide answers to those questions ahead of Tuesday’s show, which kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on the USA Network.
News, Potential Spoilers
The Wyatt Family story may get more complicated with the arrival of Erick Rowan. The big man has been out for months due to a shoulder injury, but Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet reported, “Rowan‘s been cleared to return.”
Luke Harper and Orton have both broken away from Wyatt recently, but Rowan could give the WWE champ another ally in his corner.
There’s little chance that Jack Swagger shows up on Tuesday’s SmackDown. He may in fact be headed out of the company.
There is some confusion surrounding the situation, however. As Dave Meltzer wrote on Figure Four Online, WWE contends that Swagger is still under contract despite the former world champion revealing on the Beyond the Fight podcast that he has been released.
And while WWE says Swagger is still with the company, Titus O’Neil and others have said goodbye anyway:
Titus O’Neil @TitusONeilWWE
@RealJackSwagger Tough as Hell,Strong as an OX and as Good of a Man as you’ll find. THANK YOU!! See you soon my friend👍🏽💯
3/4/2017, 5:50:26 PM
Swagger would have been a candidate to join the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal field. SmackDown may have to seek other representation instead.
Although Harper has been in a prominent spot on SmackDown of late, he has no victories to show for it.
Styles outlasted him last Tuesday in a No. 1 Contender’s match. The audience couldn’t have been surprised. Per CageMatch.net, Harper has lost six SmackDown bouts in a row. He’s also 0-6 in PPV and TV matches in 2017.
Hopefully, WWE finds a way to get Harper some momentum post-WrestleMania. It doesn’t make sense to have someone so talented be everyone’s punching bag.
Nikki Bella isn’t having any better luck. As seen on CageMatch.net, she hasn’t won on SmackDown since last October. She has, though, been victorious in her last two PPV appearances.
Her luck is bound to change come Tuesday night. She and John Cena are set to face a duo quite low on the pecking order in James Ellsworth and Carmella.
Constructing the WrestleMania Card
Tuesday is poised to shed light on who will challenge for SmackDown Women’s Championship, SmackDown Tag Team Championship and Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania.
Alexa Bliss has been tangling with Becky Lynch, but Natalya has been sniffing around the women’s title, too. American Alpha doesn’t have a clear set of rivals. Baron Corbin is charging toward Dean Ambrose and the IC crown, but will WWE look to add other Superstars to the mix?
Some clarity should be on the way in all three title pictures.
Bliss may find herself facing a number of opponents at one time so that SmackDown can showcase several women at once. The WWE.com SmackDown preview pointed out how wide open the race to be No. 1 contender is: “Any of Team Blue’s female competitors could step up to try and take Alexa’s place on top of the mountain.”
Bella won’t be in that club, though. She and her boyfriend Cena look to be on a collision course with The Miz and Maryse.
A warm-up bout for that presumed WrestleMania clash is on the way Tuesday. As announced last week, Cena and Bella will take on Ellsworth and Carmella.
NEXT WEEK: @JohnCena & Nikki @BellaTwins battle #CarmEllsworth: @RealEllsworth & @CarmellaWWE on #SDLive on @USA_Network! https://t.co/wvvZvHwiDq
3/1/2017, 2:32:07 AM
The field for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal should begin to form, too. The SmackDown preview on WWE.com asked, “Who will be the first SmackDown LIVE Superstar to enter the colossal contest?”
That annual Battle Royal will provide hopes for Superstars like Mojo Rawley and Kalisto of making the WrestleMania card.
Tuesday’s main event will be the latest attempt to crown a No. 1 contender. After a Battle Royal and a bout between Styles and Harper last week, it’s still not official who will face Wyatt at The Show of Shows.
That should all be settled in Indianapolis when Orton battles Styles.
Don’t miss @AJStylesOrg vs. @RandyOrton with a @WrestleMania opportunity up for grabs TOMORROW NIGHT on #SDLive at 8/7c on @USA_Network! https://t.co/kaKQTFJxTC
3/7/2017, 1:28:21 AM
The Viper relinquished his title opportunity weeks ago, claiming allegiance to Wyatt. Styles swooped in and earned the No. 1 contender’s spot. Last Tuesday, Orton changed his mind, burned down the Wyatt Family compound and complicated things in a hurry.
Styles’ recent issues with SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon suggest that those two will clash at WrestleMania, leaving Orton to face Wyatt, but the blue brand has refused to be predictable on the road to WrestleMania. Nothing is for certain as WWE continues to move its puzzle pieces around.