Live from ThunderDome!
Like my guy Cain and most of the wrestle web, my reaction to last night’s news that Royal Rumble winner Bianca Belair and her WrestleMania 37 opponent, SmackDown Women’s champ Sasha Banks, will again challenge WWE Women’s Tag Team champions Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler at the next PPV was some combination of surprise and trepidation.
The duo lost at Elimination Chamber, and haven’t interacted with Jax & Baszler since. There’s only a little more than a month until ‘Mania, and continuing this program (which was impromptu in the first place) either means pinning a loss on two wrestlers that could main event on the Grandest Stage of Them All, or giving them some belts their story doesn’t need/further establishing that the tag titles are just additional props in the singles champ’s story.
Beyond the annual “Rumble winner picks a title to go after” angle, and the way this version of it includes the very cool wrinkle of giving us two Black women in one of ‘Mania’s top feuds, there is another element to Sasha & Bianca’s rivalry. It’s from there that I think something potentially worthwhile could come from Banks & Belair vs. Baszler & Jax II, and tonight’s one-on-one encounter between The EST and the Submission Magician.
At Elimination Chamber, a big reason why the tag titles didn’t change hands is because The Boss declined when offered a dishonorable way to ensure they would. Reginald the sommelier has been trying to work his way to Sasha’s side since he was pouring vino for Carmella during her pursuit of the blue brand’s top women’s prize. When Banks turned down the champagne bottle he offered her as a weapon, she ended up taking a pin from Nia.
With a few weeks to think on that, and with Paul Heyman’s words from a recent Talking Smack ringing in her ears, would Sasha like a do over? Could she decide that Belair isn’t just a worthy rival she can make history with, but a threat she needs to put down – even if it means reverting to her cutthroat ways?
The seeds have been planted. And while a face vs. face Banks/Belair feud would be fine, Bianca chasing, and ultimately defeating, a heel Boss could be electric. Let Bianca overcome Sasha in all her backstabbing, screaming in little girl’s faces glory.
Does WWE need to book them in another Tag title match to turn The Blueprint? No. But if they’re going to, and probably put another loss or two on a rising star like Belair’s record in the process, they should do it in service of the kind of classic good vs. evil WrestleMania tale that will cement The EST’s legacy.
The title scene
Belair vs. Baszler isn’t the biggest story tonight, of course. That would be Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso in a steel cage. If DB wins, he gets a shot at Roman Reigns and the Universal title at Fastlane. We all know a cage won’t stop the Tribal Chief from trying to put a finger on the scales here, but maybe Reigns’ WrestleMania challenger Edge will help keep things fair for Bryan? Or maybe not, since we’ve seen some tension between those two. Intrigue!
To sell his beating from the now fully villainous Apollo Crews, Intercontinental champ Big E took last week off. It gave Crews the stage to fully unveil his new character, but I doubt he’s gonna get much more time before a pissed off E comes looking for payback.
Rather than be pissed off that Sonya Deville won’t give them a rematch against Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler for the SmackDown Tag Team championship, Street Profits have committed to winning their way to a title shot. They’ll probably need to beat the surging and freshly turned Alpha Academy duo of Chad Gable & Otis to get there.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
– Cesaro is done being condescended to by Seth Rollins. But Rollins will probably be looking to make sure the epic Giant Swing ride he took last Friday isn’t the final word in their argument.
– Not sure where it’s going, but Sami Zayn & his documentary crew are super entertaining.
– Even without Billie Kay to blame, The Riott Squad can’t find a way to beat Tamina & Natalya.
Three weeks until Fastlane!
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?