He won’t have to go 500 miles to win it, but Kofi Kingston will be trying to go the distance when SmackDown sets up shop in Indianapolis tonight.
We’ve been on the “give Miz a run at the top as a babyface” train for a while. The story has always been there – guy with a lifelong love of the business does whatever it takes to get into said business, silently endures hazing from the boys in the back about not getting into it the way they did, persists despite that and fans rejecting him for similar reasons to climb the mountain not once, but twice.
There was an ill-advised, Ric Flair-assisted turn in 2013 which stands as a prime example of not reading the room. There were times during his Intercontinental title run where it seemed like it might be about to happen (but that may just have been my personal dislike of Dolph Ziggler). Heck, even during the epic exchanges with a retired Daniel Bryan, the A-Lister was saying things which would make a lot of sense coming out of a good guy’s mouth.
But now we’re here, and WWE has carefully put the pieces in place to make Monroe Sky’s poppa a fan favorite. WrestleMania 35 should be the moment The Miz breaks through as a wrestling good guy.
His opponent at the Showcase of the Immortals, Shane McMahon, continued to set the stage last Tuesday. Not only are all of the real world (pun semi-intended) elements of Mike Mizanin’s backstory still in play, with the added twist that his tag title run with Shane was all to please his old man, but McMahon’s promo established him as the “born better” villain – the perfect foil for Miz’s self-made hero.
Mike gets a chance to retort to Shane O’Mac’s words tonight. It’s a huge moment, as he has to prove he can deliver a sincere face promo without coming across as pandering or cloy. WWE couldn’t have set the stage any better for him, though, and our money is on it being his time to shine.
The Title Scene
Meanwhile, a man who is already a great babyface will kick off the show by trying to overcome five of the blue brand’s best heels. Kofi will attempt to beat United States champ Samoa Joe, Randy Orton, both members of The Bar and Daniel Bryan’s intellectual peer Rowan in order to grab Vince McMahon’s elusive brass ring and get a ‘Mania shot at Bryan’s WWE championship.
Guess who’s not mentioned in WWE.com’s preview for tonight’s show? You probably already answered, but just in case, we’ll tell you. It’s Women’s champion Asuka (again). Expect more focus on the issues between her rivals Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville, and probably a few great memes on the Empress’ Instagram.
She’s got good company, though. The Usos and their Men’s Tag Team belts, whose latest reign has pretty much just been set-up for the Miz/Shane story, weren’t on TV last week and aren’t mentioned in this week’s official preview, either.
The Women’s Tag champs will be on the blue brand, though! Sasha Banks & Bayley haven’t spent much time on Tuesday nights since winning the straps at Elimination Chamber. The IIconics have been sure to point that out to them every chance they’ve gotten. The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection will be on hand in Indy and will almost certainly be confronted by Peyton Royce & Billie Kay. Will the Aussie duo end up in the ‘Mania mix for the titles along with Divas of Doom?
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
– Joe’s helping out with Vince’s big project tonight, but the guys chasing his title might not be content to just take the night off. Will R-Truth, Rey Mysterio or Andrade get involved in the gauntlet?
– What about the guys Bryan faced at Fastlane, Kevin Owens & Mustafa Ali? And of course, there’s Kofi’s brothers Big E & Xavier Woods. This thing could get chaotic.
– Orton and the newly re-signed AJ Styles set up their match for April 7 at MetLife Stadium last week. We’ll see if the battle of the builders even gets much time with the gauntlet hopefully taking up a lot of the show.
– The preview is promising some posturing between Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair, as they fight among themselves while their other ‘Mania opponent fights the company and the fans on Mondays.
Three weeks until WrestleMania!
What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?