SmackDown Live preview (Mar. 12, 2019): Keep it simple, stupid

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WWE returns to the Nutter Center tonight at the home of the Wright Brothers in Dayton, Ohio for SmackDown Live tonight (Mar. 12). Now that Fastlane is behind us, they look to take off towards WrestleMania. That’s right, I’ve got flight puns for you.

The Headliner

The biggest story on SmackDown (and maybe all of WWE now that they’ve successfully cooled off Becky Lynch some), is Kofi Kingston’s goal to get a one on one WWE championship match.

He was supposed to be the main event of Fastlane but Vince McMahon didn’t feel he was “blockbuster” enough so he put in Kevin Owens (who apparently is) instead. Then the Chairman toyed with Kofi at Fastlane when he invited him to his office, made him wait an hour, and then made Kingston think he’d be added to the title match when he really had to endure a two on one handicap match beat down from the Bar. Xavier Woods and Big E tried to help, but they were attacked by Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura, who they bested earlier in the night on the Kickoff.

The WWE title match was a triple threat, but it was Mustafa Ali who took that spot. For some reason, they felt a man who’s the most natural babyface should get the spot Kofi deserved, ensuring he’d get booed. To the credit of Owens, Bryan, and Ali, they wowed the crowd enough to lessen the boos. (They “We want Kofi!” chants persisted.)

Now they need to get from there to Kofi vs. Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania in four weeks. And I implore WWE not to overbook this.

Take one look at how badly they’ve bungled a super hot match on the Raw Women’s title side. Knee injures. Suspensions. Apologies. More suspensions. It was a bucket of ice water for a red hot angle.

Now I ask they don’t do it all with Kofi and Bryan. Fastlane was a bit overbooked, but still kept within the story that Kofi isn’t who Vince wants, and the boss is playing games with him.

Inserting Vince in general can be considered an overbook, but I give WWE a bit of leeway because this was not the plan prior to Elimination Chamber. They had to book on the fly in response to the massive crowd support for Kofi. But that doesn’t mean this needs to be complicated.

Yes, they should give us a little more reason why Vince is so anti-Kofi like my colleague Brent discussed yesterday. Hopefully they’ll do that tonight when Vince McMahon addresses Kofi. But outside that explanation, let’s keep this simple. Let’s find a way to get Vince to change his mind and go from there. (I personally love the idea of a pseudo-Yes movement being used against Daniel Bryan.) Then let the story of Kofi tell itself.

The Title Scene

Asuka successfully retained her SmackDown Women’s championship against Mandy Rose. Not that it was all by merit. No, the woman who tapped Becky Lynch at Royal Rumble needed Mandy Rose to pretty much slip on a banana peel to beat her. That type of booking doesn’t scream “featured single’s match at WrestleMania.” She’ll need a new challenger and most people think it’ll be the woman who’s gimmick is walking in Lacey Evans. But it’d be even less surprising if Asuka has to defend her title against multiple women in New Jersey.

Samoa Joe proved his United States Championship win last week was no fluke as he retained it in a Fastlane fatal 4-way against the same three men he won it against. Tonight, R-Truth gets a one on one rematch which is more likely to remove him from the title scene so Joe can move on. But move onto whom? If I had to bet, I’d say he’s defending it at WrestleMania against John Cena, who has wanted to work Joe before (though recent rumor is leaning away from this match). If I had to choose, I’d say he defends against Mustafa Ali as they were building a little thing prior to Ali’s injury.

The Usos defended their SmackDown tag team championships successfully against the now-defunct Daddy Issues tag team of Shame McMahon and the Miz. Since those two are no longer a team (more about that momentarily), who’s next? This could be another multi-team affair, but I’m one who thinks title a match between the Usos and the recently reformed Hardy Boyz is exciting enough to earn a singles match at WrestleMania. The fact that the Hardyz are part of an 8-man tag tonight, teaming with Aleister Black & Ricochet to take on the Bar and Nakamura/Rusev, doesn’t have me hopeful for that singles match.

Women’s tag team champions Sasha Banks and Bayley have made more trips to NXT than they have SmackDown Live. But these are titles that are likely getting the multi-team treatment on April 7. If that’s the case, they’ll need a blue brand representation. And the IIconics (Peyton Royce and Billie Kay) have been looking for Sasha and Bayley for awhile now.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

– Shane McMahon turned on his partner the Miz after they took another loss to the Usos at Fastlane two nights ago. Plus, he put his hands on Miz’s dad, who was mildly concerned about his son’s beatdown. The Cleveland crowd rained boos down upon Shane, who is normally one of the more cheered McMahons. This next four weeks will be a good test for a babyface Miz after a good start the last couple months. It’ll kick into a higher gear tonight when Shane McMahon addresses his actions.

– At Fastlane, AJ Styles delivered a Phenomenal Forearm outta nowhere to Randy Orton, who had just delivered an RKO outta nowhere to Elias. Randy had been interrupting AJ’s backstage interviews talking trash the last few weeks. Now we’re past the words stage.

– Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville are having issues again, this time stemming from the fact that Sonya’s attempts to help Mandy at Fastlane shockingly backfired.

It’s the Fastlane fallout show!

What will you be looking for as WWE touches down in Dayton tonight?

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