SmackDown Live returns tonight (July 9) from the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. It is the go home show for Extreme Rules this Sunday.
Last week, WWE Champion Kofi Kingston revealed a new edge to his personality, likely because WWE is trying to add a new edge to their product.
After Samoa Joe cut a strong promo telling the champ that if he shook his hand, Joe would promise not to attack any of Kofi’s friends ahead of their title match this Sunday. Instead of taking Joe up on his offer, the champ gave Joe the finger. And he did it with a smile on his face.
This extra layer to Kofi wasn’t necessary for his success. He’s been great as champ, consistently mixing his goofy side and serious side perfectly. Kingston was arguably the best champion in the E prior to delivering Joe the bird.
But that edge only helps Kofi sell this feud, and much of it is because he did it like only he could.
After listening to Joe spew some BS for five minutes, Kingston delivered a message that would get under the skin of his opponent like no other could. Kofi didn’t just give him in the finger. He gave it with a giddy smile on his face, as a way of telling Joe that he wasn’t buying an ounce of that garbage. Giving the Samoan Submission Machine the finger would have angered him, but doing it with that smirk infuriated Joe.
That delivery wasn’t out of character for Kof. It’s completely on brand for the New Day. It was the most positive middle finger anyone could give. But at the same time, it showed us one more side of a champion who had already been killing it. Now that we know it’s there, it just gives him another extra layer to use in his feuds. And this feud, including Joe’s rage fueled response, will be better for it.
The Championship Scene
Bayley’s upcoming defense of her SmackDown Women’s championship against Alexa Bliss is really more a story about Bliss manipulating Nikki Cross’ friendship to get what she wants. Because of that, her title is probably safe this Sunday as Cross and Bliss likely take their story to the next chapter.
Almost all non-title matches are used to set up the eventual title match. That’s what tonight’s match between Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor and Shinsuke Nakamura likely is. The other option is Finn wins and Shin doesn’t get a title shot down the line, and that’d be disappointing. It’d just be nice if they found a way to set up title matches that isn’t just a rematch.
We get a SmackDown tag team championship summit tonight involving all the participants in Sunday’s triple threat match. It’s a chance to get the champs of Daniel Bryan and Rowan in the same ring as Heavy Machinery and the New Day one more time. That’s a lot of big personalities and could make for a pretty wild segment.
The Kabuki Warriors get a Women’s tag team championship match against the IIconics at one point. We don’t yet know when though. It’s not booked for Extreme Rules, but it’ll happen one day. Prob.
Other things to keep an eye on:
– The Kevin Owens/Dolph Ziggler team lasted less than two hours as they imploded during their trial tag team match last week. They’ll fight tonight. It’s a curiously quick diversion for both men, but it’s a fun way to bide a couple weeks if they have other plans in mind for one or both men after the PPV. Or if this is part of a longer story, that could be intriguing too.
– We finally find out who’s been knock knock knocking on Aleister’s door. Venture your guesses below.
SmackDown is in session tonight in New Hampshire. What will you be watching for?