WWE SmackDown Live preview (Feb. 19, 2019): Shine on

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WWE head to New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center for SmackDown LIVE on Feb. 19. There’s no way it can be worse than the Cajundome, right?

The Headliners

Miz took the fall on Sunday night at Elimination Chamber as the Best Tag Team in the World dropped the blue Men’s Tag Team belts to The Usos*. He got caught. It happens (although not usually after you’ve hit your finisher). Miz’s bestie and partner Shane McMahon wasn’t there to make the save because his big moves incapacitate both his target and him, so he was still in the wreckage of an announce desk with Jey Uso when Jimmy Uso rolled through and pinned the A-Lister after a Skull Crushing Finale.

The soon-to-be father of two was heartbroken and took all the blame, apologizing profusely on camera and apparently off (unless there was a fallout video I missed, I’m not sure where WWE.com’s recap of Shane sending Miz “home from Houston” because he wouldn’t stop blaming himself for the loss comes from). It’s all prelude to a segment they’ll have on tonight’s show where Miz will again tell McMahon he’s sorry.

You don’t need to be a former WWE creative team member to see that this will probably be a big moment in whatever is planned for these men at WrestleMania 35. Word is they’ll be feuding with one another, and I could honestly see either man being cast in the hero role.

But, as unfortunate as his first babyface run was, I think it should be Miz. He’s ready.

We’ve crossed the threshold of fans thinking he doesn’t deserve a top role in WWE, or that he’s the worst wrestler in the world, or any of the things people thought about Mike Mizanin prior to 2015-16 (it’s hard to pinpoint one moment where public perception of the reality star-turned-wrestler shifted, but I think for most it was somewhere between the break-up of Mizdow and his Intercontinental title run post-brand split). He’s not Daniel Bryan in the ring, but he’s so good at everything else that goes into the job, he doesn’t have to be. And he’s not bad at the wrestling part, either, just not capital-G great.

Over the last year or so, Miz has slowly transitioned his same egotistical, star-chasing heel gimmick into a fan-friendly one. The Miz TV intro has become something people anticipate rather than jeer. “When my hand goes up, your mouth goes shut,” can now be directed at people he’s feuding with in addition to the crowd.

It could just be a set-up for a bigger heel turn, of course, and I’m not ruling that out. Shane O’Mac’s spot-reliant ringwork is always going to draw cheers, and the McMahon family is all over the place alignment-wise right now, so it wouldn’t be shocking if Miz’s “public apology” tonight was a trap. Being jealous of Shane’s NCIS: LA gig would certainly fit his heel gimmick.

But if they decide to give the Awesome One a run as the hero, getting attacked for being too sorry they lost the belts days after announcing his wife is expecting a second child would be a heck of a way to start it off. And I for one believe Miz is ready to make it work in the long-run this time.

The Title Scene

We’re supposed to find out who WWE champion Daniel Bryan will face at Mar. 10’s Fastlane pay-per-view (PPV) tonight. Regardless of who he wrestles in Cleveland, I’m already on record with who I think he should face come April in New Jersey. We should here more from Kofi Kingston and his boys tonight, too.

There remains no mention of Women’s champ Asuka in the official preview. I’m out of words on that topic, myself.

We haven’t seen R-Truth and the United States title since he won it on the Royal Rumble fallout show. And he hasn’t even gotten a cool video package like the one the Empress got a couple weeks back.

Women’s Tag titleholders Sasha Banks & Bayley are taking their new straps everywhere. At some point that will mean SmackDown, but it’s not clear if they’ll be here tonight. When they do arrive, Fire & Desire probably have the best case for a title shot.

* Not sure what’s next for Jimmy & Jey… The Bar? Heavy Machinery? Maybe they’ll lose to some guys from NXT? Not having a clear direction is pretty much par for the course for blue brand champs, though, so they’re in good company.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

– Despite struggling to find time for the people holding the brand’s titles, or the round of NXT call-ups announced at the end of last year, WWE is teasing SmackDown appearances by the four men who debuted on Raw last night.

– A big thing taking up time on Tuesdays night is the pursuit of the red brand’s Women’s title. Ronda Rousey got a rare night away from suspended/injured Rumble winner Becky Lynch and her as-of-now official WrestleMania opponent Charlotte Flair last night, but it looks like the Queen will tonight be addressing the Elimination Chamber crutch attack she suffered at The Man’s hands.

It’s the Elimination Chamber fallout show!

What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?

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