WWE SmackDown: 5 Things to Watch for During Pre-SummerSlam Edition
With SummerSlam set for Sunday in Los Angeles, SmackDown represents the final WWE event prior to its No. 2 pay-per-view of the year. Much of the SummerSlam card is set, and many of the loose ends have been tied together, but there is still plenty to be done on SmackDown.
The most obvious is the resolution of the World Heavyweight Championship match. General manager Booker T canceled the SummerSlam bout between Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio when Del Rio had some cronies attack Sheamus last week, and now Booker has a decision to make with regard to the title match's status.
Also, WWE is promoting a match to determine Booker T's new assistant, while there are plenty of other things to watch for as well, including whether some of the higher-profile superstars not currently on the SummerSlam card will be added.
Here are the top five things that you should keep an eye on while watching this week's go-home edition of SmackDown.
What Will Become of the World Heavyweight Championship Match?
SummerSlam is just a couple of days away, but there is currently no World Heavyweight Championship match scheduled for Sunday's event.
Booker T had grown tired of Alberto Del Rio's antics and canceled his contest with Sheamus, but with time running out, he will likely have to figure something out on SmackDown.
There are several possibilities, but the most popular school of thought has been that the match will either become a triple threat or fatal four-way.
The Sheamus vs. Del Rio feud has dragged on over the past couple of months and has been extremely boring, so it wouldn't be surprising to see guys like Randy Orton, Christian, Cody Rhodes or perhaps even a returning Wade Barrett thrown into the mix.
This match needs something to liven it up, because I'm not sure anyone wants to see Sheamus vs. Del Rio for the millionth time. With that said, it wouldn't be surprising to see Booker T reinstate the match or perhaps even leave the situation unresolved until Sunday.
Regardless of what happens, this is obviously the main storyline worth keeping tabs on during this week's SmackDown.
Will Eve or Kaitlyn Become Booker T's New Assistant?
Power-hungry as ever, Eve tried to strong-arm her way into the role of assistant to new SmackDown general manager Booker T last week, but Kaitlyn showed some interest in the job as well.
Thanks to a little interference from Teddy Long, Booker decided to settle it this week by putting Eve and Kaitlyn in a match with the winner becoming Booker's assistant.
I'm not usually very interested in Divas matches or feuds, but I'm a bit intrigued by this one. Eve and Kaitlyn are both passable in the ring, so the match itself won't be too shabby, plus I'm curious to see what route the creative team goes with this, as there would be a very different vibe depending upon who gets the job.
My hope is that Eve wins, because her heel persona would obviously clash with Booker's face character. Also, Eve did a really nice job in an authoritative role under John Laurinaitis on Raw, so I wouldn't mind seeing her in a similar position on SmackDown.
At the same time, Kaitlyn wouldn't be a terrible choice either, since she has a good personality and might shine if given more of a featured role.
Whatever the case, this is actually one Divas match that I'm looking forward to.
Will Randy Orton Be Added to the SummerSlam Card?
The second-biggest event of the year is a couple of days away and arguably the second- or third-biggest name in the company has yet to be put in a match.
Randy Orton was asked via Twitter why he wasn't featured in the SummerSlam promo, and he responded that he wasn't going to be working the show.
Perhaps that is actually the case, but I'm more inclined to believe that Orton may be trying to cover a bigger angle. The WWE has to realize that Sheamus vs. Del Rio isn't getting it done for the fans and that they want to see something more.
Because of that, I could definitely see Orton being added to the match, especially since he faced Del Rio in a match a couple of weeks ago, and Sheamus aided him in hitting Del Rio with an RKO.
Even though the higher-ups may be trying to punish Orton for his drug suspension by leaving him off the card, that simply isn't good business.
I would have liked to have seen him in the Intercontinental Championship match against The Miz, but Rey Mysterio got that spot, so having him compete for the World title is the next, most logical choice.
Leaving Orton out in the cold is a possibility, but I would be pretty surprised if The Viper isn't coiled and ready to strike at SummerSlam.
Will Wade Barrett Make His Long-Awaited Return?
Vignettes have aired over the past couple of weeks featuring Wade Barrett, who figures to be returning from an elbow dislocation in the very near future.
Barrett has been working some dark matches, so once the ring rust is totally knocked off, he should be ready to make his televised re-debut.
I'm not sure if the WWE would be willing to have him return on a taped show, but it is definitely possible that Barrett could come back on this week's SmackDown. With the World Heavyweight Championship picture in flux, he would be an absolutely fantastic addition to the SummerSlam match, and his return would probably create quite a bit of buzz.
Barrett was on a hot streak prior to getting injured, and his new character looks intriguing, as he seems a bit more menacing and the WWE appears to be drawing from his background as a bare-knuckle boxer.
Sheamus really needs an opponent that can truly challenge him, and a returning Barrett would fit the bill in a big way.
Even if Barrett doesn't come back on SmackDown, I feel as though he'll play a role on Sunday by attacking Sheamus after his match and perhaps setting up Dolph Ziggler to cash in his Money in the Bank contract.
Who Will Ryback Squash Next?
He hasn't exactly been booked all that well, but Ryback continues to get a good crowd reaction. That reached a fever pitch on Raw when he squashed JTG and "feed me more" chants rang throughout the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Ryback is a physical specimen and an interesting guy to watch in the ring, so he is always worth keeping an eye on during SmackDown.
It seems like Ryback has finally gotten past the point of beating two local jobbers at once, and he has moved on to WWE enhancement talent instead.
Ryback has been engaged in a mini-feud of sorts with Jinder Mahal, as Ryback has beaten Mahal by countout and disqualification but has yet to roll through him like all of his previous opponents.
Because of that, I could see Ryback finally giving Mahal what he has had coming to him on SmackDown.
At the same time, the WWE may be saving that match for SummerSlam, so a match against a random jobber like Drew McIntyre or Hunico could happen. My hope is that he wrestles an actual match against someone such as Tensai, though.
Ryback eventually needs to take on somebody who appears to be a physical threat to some degree, and since Tensai has been falling off as of late, he makes sense as Ryback's next victim.