WWE SmackDown Live preview (May 22, 201: Pins and needles 3 By Sean Rueter@s1rude May 22, 2018, 10:00am EDTSHARE The soon-to-be billion dollar blue team returns to the United States for a show in Worcester, Mass on May 22. The Headliners When a dual-brand women’s Money in the Bank ladder match was first mentioned, one of the concerns raised by fans was whether or not the current WWE roster supported it. That seems crazy - even if the line-up is only 20 wrestlers deep, surely there are 8 with enough in-ring skill and connection to the audience to merit entry into the match, right? Probably, but it may be just barely. And that’s driving more than just Raw’s second chance qualifier featuring talented women eliminated from contention earlier (likely because they were needed to make the first round of qualifiers watchable TV matches... but why they had to be Triple Threat matches is a whole ‘nother question). It’s also led to what I’d argue is a lack of suspense for tonight’s SmackDown qualifiers. Sure, the powers-that-be could decide to have Lana defeat Billie Kay, then more or less write her out of the match with an early spot on June 17. But a Kay win seems much more likely. WWE has been pushing IIconics since they arrived, and while Billie and Peyton Royce aren’t exactly ring generals, they’re seasoned workers in a way The Ravishing Russian isn’t. Plus, rumors indicatethe Lana-as-wrestler experiment may be ending soon as she returns to a more prominent role as Rusev’s manager. In the other qualifier, Sonya Deville shows promise - and thanks to General Manager Paige repeatedly declaring “Absolution is Dead”, has more of a storyline right now than her opponent. But Naomi is a former champ coming off a WrestleMania win that hasn’t really been built on, and a Sonya loss fuels the angle she and Mandy Rose are being unfairly targeted by their former faction-mate. So, maybe the lack of suspense is a sign of progress? There are multiple angles going on in the division, featuring characters with different personalities and motivations. The build to Money in the Bank also puts a spotlight on the roster’s growing pains, with young, green or personality-first workers mixed in with seasoned vets and more talented athletes. It’s a situation which even colors the current Women’s title feud, where inaugural briefcase winner Carmella will defend the belt against Asuka. And the lack of suspense theme would seem to continue here, as well. It seems unlikely WWE would want to pin another loss on the Empress of Tomorrow after spending years establishing her as an unbeatable wrestling machine. But as her win in last year’s ladder matches proved, Carm is the poster child for booking that infuriates internet wrestling fans. Can we really rule out the possibility of a sneaky win for the Princess of Staten Island? So in all of this, there’s one clear way WWE could go, but we can’t rule out their going another. Pro wrestling, everybody! It wasn’t covered in WWE.com’s preview for tonight, but the above commercial from Monday says Shinsuke Nakamura will announce how he plans to use the advantage he gained when he finally defeated AJ Styles in a WWE ring last week. We don’t know what this means, but hopefully Nak retains sufficient language skills to tell us what stipulation he’s choosing for his next/final shot at Styles’ WWE Championship at next month’s pay-per-view (PPV). Big Cass is hurt, in trouble, or both. But that gives us a couple weeks of “dream match” caliber bouts on the blue brand. First, United States Champ Jeff Hardy and Daniel Bryan get a second chance at getting into the Money in the Bank ladder match when they face each other for the right to advance to face Cass’ originally announced opponent, Samoa Joe. Then next week, one of them will face Joe. Or someone interferes and we get a Triple Threat on Tuesday, May 29. No matter what happens, we win. There are tag team titles. They’re held by Bludgeon Brothers. Maybe they’ll be on the show this week. Other stuff to keep an eye on: - Nakamura isn’t the only Superstar making a decision. The New Day earned their way into a Money in the Bank opportunity, and on Miz TV, they’ll tell the world whether Kofi Kingston, Big E or Xavier Woods will try to climb the ladder and grab a briefcase they can freebird. - Andrade “Cien” Almas debuted by squashing a guy last Tuesday. Which puts him ahead of another set of former NXT titleholders, SAnitY, who are still waiting for the call to appear on television in anything other than a hype video. Four weeks until Money in the Bank! What will you be looking for on SmackDown Live tonight?