WWE SmackDown preview: Ricochet might actually be the number two babyface

SmackDown airs tonight (Mar. 4) with a live show from FTX Arena in Miami, Florida. This is the second SmackDown episode during the six week build towards WrestleMania 38 on the weekend of April 2 and April 3.

Ricochet might actually be the number two babyface

The rumor mill is a big part of the pro wrestling discourse, and there was one particular rumor from the last week that got a big laugh out of me as soon as I read it: Ricochet is apparently slated to be the number two singles babyface on SmackDown behind Drew McIntyre.

This rumor can’t possibly be true, right? Ricochet has been a punching bag for at least the last year, losing far more matches than he wins. Well, it might sound crazy, but there might be something to the rumor. That’s because the SmackDown men’s roster basically has no depth on the babyface side of the equation.

Drew is clearly the number one babyface. The next guy in line after him is Shinsuke Nakamura. But now that Shinsuke is no longer the Intercontinental champion, perhaps he will focus more on tag team wrestling with Rick Boogs. That pretty much leaves glorified jobber Ricochet as the next guy in the pecking order, and with a straightforward path towards being the number two babyface on the blue brand. This is what happens when Cesaro and Jeff Hardy leave WWE, former WWE champions Kofi Kingston and Big E are removed from singles competition, and WWE doesn’t pull the trigger on Shanky.

So technically there is a logical way to argue that Ricochet is very close to being the number two babyface on SmackDown, but that’s not the same thing as saying he’s about to receive a meaningful push. It will take a lot more than one recent win over Sheamus for WWE to change the perception that Ricochet is anything but a loser.

Ricochet is challenging Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental championship on tonight’s episode of SmackDown. Zayn is mixed up in a celebrity feud with Johnny Knoxville that will likely culminate in a title match at WrestleMania 38. That means Ricochet is unlikely to win the gold tonight. But will WWE protect their number two singles babyface in defeat? Or will he just be a stepping stone for Zayn as the champ prepares for a bigger showdown with Knoxville at WrestleMania?

The rest of the title scene

The Usos were supposed to defend the SmackDown tag team titles against the Viking Raiders a couple weeks ago in Saudi Arabia. But it was one of the least important matches on the card, so the match was bumped from the event and postponed until tonight. Can Erik & Ivar find a way to dethrone the longest reigning SmackDown tag team champions in history?

Ronda Rousey is the number one contender to Charlotte Flair’s SmackDown women’s championship. They’ll fight over the gold at WrestleMania 38. As far as tonight is concerned, Rousey is looking for revenge on corrupt authority figure Sonya Deville after last week’s ambush. Rousey vs. Deville is scheduled for tonight, and it’s being hyped up as Ronda’s first ever match on the blue brand.

Universal Champion Roman Reigns and WWE Champion Brock Lesnar will compete against each other at WrestleMania 38 in a Title vs. Title Winner-Take-All match. It’s also claimed the biggest WrestleMania match of all-time, per WWE’s marketing. It’s such a big match, in fact, that Brock Lesnar isn’t advertised to appear on SmackDown tonight. I guess the enormity of the match is too much for him to handle this week. How will the Tribal Chief pass the time if Lesnar isn’t in the building? He’ll probably cut a promo, along with his special counsel Paul Heyman, about how Brock is going to lose the WWE championship at tomorrow night’s MSG house show against an opponent to be determined.

Sasha Banks and Naomi are set to challenge Carmella and Zelina Vega for the Women’s tag team titles at WrestleMania 38. Despite the booking, I’m hesitant to refer to Sasha and Naomi as an official team until they actually wrestle a match together in 2022. They earned the title match by simply grabbing a microphone and saying they want the gold. If it was only that was easy for Shotzi & Nox to earn a tag title match last summer. At any rate, we may finally see the current Women’s tag champs show up on SmackDown for once.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

SmackDown commentator Pat McAfee accepted Vince McMahon’s offer for a match at WrestleMania 38. No opponent has been named yet, but the rumor mill suggests it will be McAfee against the 76 year old McMahon. Sure, what can possibly go wrong?

– Drew McIntyre is on a WrestleMania The collision course with Happy Corbin, whose undefeated streak is somehow worse than all of Madcap’s terrible jokes. McIntyre has been toying with Moss in recent weeks, so it’s only a matter of time until the heels figure out a way to get one over on him.

New Day Big E & Kofi Kingston took care of business last week against Los Lotharios and then had a bit of a backstage squabble with Sheamus and Ridge Holland. I wonder if the heels will wreck Big E’s ATV when his back is turned.

– Xia Li finally wrestled on SmackDown last week and picked up a victory over Natalya. The crowd chanted “Hershey’s chocolate” at one point during the match, though, which isn’t exactly the reaction Xia was hoping to receive.

– What’s going on with Shayna Baszler? Her only in-ring action since the start of February was a dark match loss at last week’s SmackDown taping against Aliyah.

What will you be looking for SmackDown tonight?

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