We are all set for the first episode of WWE SmackDown after WrestleMania 39. The biggest wrestling show of the year is in the history books. WWE Superstars have a huge task ahead of themselves in exploring opportunities in the fallout from WrestleMania.
With Backlash only four weeks away, WWE will look to start paving the way for multiple feuds ahead of the premium live event. Fans desperately want SmackDown to make up for RAW's seemingly horrific display earlier this week, but are the expectations from the blue brand too high?
Here, we look at things that could transpire on SmackDown this week. So, without further ado, let's begin.
#1 Triple H addresses WWE Universe on SmackDown
WWE has confirmed that Triple H will appear on SmackDown this week. The Game also kickstarted the show on RAW after WrestleMania earlier this week, where he promised that nothing has changed for the promotion. However, the episode was disappointing, barring a couple of promising segments, and drew a lot of criticism from fans.
Backstage reports later claimed that Vince McMahon took charge of the episode and made several last-minute changes. The WWE Universe has enjoyed the product since Triple H took over but now fears that The Game will walk out and take that fall for things to go downhill.
Furious fans in the audience even started "Fire Vince" chants during NXT, and #Firevince has been trending on Twitter for days. We might see the same chant take over SmackDown during Triple H's segment. Hopefully, The Game will provide some clarity on what to expect going forward.
#2 Roman Reigns takes a vacation, and tensions boil in The Bloodline
Roman Reigns appeared on RAW earlier this week, where he was almost involved in a tag team match against Brock Lesnar and Cody Rhodes. However, The Beast turned on Cody and brutalized The American Nightmare on the show, which allowed The Tribal Chief to escape. As has been customary with Reigns' big title defenses, he is expected to take a short vacation after retaining his gold against Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania.
With Cody now focusing on a feud with Brock Lesnar, WWE could keep Reigns off television for some time. We might see the champion come back in time to start a rivalry for his title defense at the King and Queen of the Ring event, scheduled for the same day he reaches 1000 days as Universal Champion. However, his absence could lead to chaos among The Bloodline members.
#3 Sami Zayn locks horns with Jey Uso on SmackDown
WWE has confirmed that Sami Zayn and Jey Uso will lock horns in a singles match. This will be the first time the two superstars will meet since Zayn and Kevin Owens defeated The Usos to win the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania 39. Their in-ring talent, coupled with their storied history, is bound to deliver an epic contest.
It is worth noting that there is tension boiling within The Bloodline. The Usos were present on RAW, but Roman Reigns didn't meet them. Instead, Paul Heyman lied to the tandem and got them to leave. Jey Uso already has enough reasons to turn on Roman Reigns, and in his frustration about the situation, he might start hurting his relationship with Paul Heyman.
#4 The Judgment Day members booked for a big match against WWE Hall of Famer
Rey Mysterio defeated his son Dominik at WrestleMania 39, and no one was happier than Michael Cole. The legendary SmackDown commentator will get a chance to relive his experience on tonight's show. WWE has confirmed that Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar will team up for a match against Dominik and Damian Priest.
The Judgment Day members interfered in Rey Mysterio's match earlier this week on RAW. Escobar is not fond of the disrespect Dominik shows to his father and has backed Rey Mysterio through the latter's feud with his son. Fans are excited to see this bout unfold, and it will be interesting to see if any twists are planned for this matchup.
#5 Rhea Ripley meets her next challenger on SmackDown
Newly crowned SmackDown Women's Champion Rhea Ripley will address fans on the blue brand tonight. She won the title at WrestleMania and dethroned Charlotte Flair in one of the best matches of the entire weekend. The Queen is set to take some time off, omitting a potential title rematch at Backlash.
Ripley will look for her next challenger in the SmackDown women's division in Charlotte's absence. Unfortunately, no SmackDown superstar with undeniable momentum can currently assert herself as a credible title challenger. Thus, unless a surprise is planned for this segment, someone might come out for a one-off encounter against The Judgment Day member on SmackDown.
#6 The Brawling Brutes take on Imperium in a 6-man tag team match
Gunther defended his Intercontinental Championship against Sheamus and Drew McIntyre in a triple-threat match at WrestleMania 39. Several in the WWE Universe hailed it as the best match of the night. Tonight on SmackDown, The Ring General and Sheamus will lead their respective teams when they lock horns against each other in a six-man tag team match.
Imperium's Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci are no strangers to Butch and Ridge Holland. The two teams have squared off multiple times in the past and have delivered great matches every time. This booking has Triple H written all over it, and fans are concerned that this might be the last time that The Game has complete control over WWE creative.