There was a lot of news coming out of WWE Day 1. All three of the biggest stories point toward a potential absence of star power at the top of the SmackDown card. Drew McIntyre is out with an injury. Brock Lesnar may be moved over to Monday Night Raw with the WWE Championship. Roman Reigns was forced off the card due to COVID-19. The first episode of WWE SmackDown is four days away and there’s a gaping hole at the top of the card.
WWE is already lacking in star power. Even though the promotion features some of the best names in professional wrestling, uninspired booking has limited the ability of the majority of the performers to become eye-catching draws. SmackDown is looking at a potential situation where Roman, Lesnar, and McIntyre are all off the card for an extended period. With this unfortunate opening comes an opportunity to create excitement around the unpredictable.
First, WWE must use this as an opening to better leverage the women’s division. Charlotte Flair is one of the most important stars in professional wrestling and she wasn’t on WWE’s first PPV of the year. That’s so indicative of how poorly the company has booked that division. There was an opportunity to build Toni Storm into a strong face for the brand but that was missed and she’s no longer with the company.
Plus, video has surfaced of former WWE Women’s Champion, Sasha Banks suffering what looked like an ankle injury, potentially removing yet another big name from the SmackDown board. No official word has been released about whether she’s injured, although Banks took to social media to update her fans on her status.
Naomi versus Sonya Deville is the only other “feud” going on in the division. It’s a long time to bring that to a close with Naomi getting the victory. WWE should look at leveraging her as a top name, using this time to build to a potential match against Flair before WrestleMania gets here.
Then there’s the men’s side of the equation. With those three names gone, there isn’t another individual who can quickly supplant them for a few months as the top draw. Shinsuke Nakamura is the current Intercontinental Champion but that title isn’t worth a lot currently. There isn’t a lot of believability in Nakamura and the title.
One would expect WWE to lean on Baron Corbin and Madcap Moss which would be another turnoff to fans. Corbin is a capable worker and Moss could be too, but again, their poor booking doesn’t create any interest in seeing them in a top position. This should be an opportunity to let names like Ricochet and Mustafa Ali run with quality time and development, but that is a far wish. Booking the men’s division is really going to be a challenge for the next few weeks.
Just like in other professional sports, a sudden string of injuries can hamper a team’s momentum. WWE SmackDown is going through that as the three biggest names on the brand may be away for an extended period. WWE has to capitalize on this moment using the rest of the roster as the stars they can potentially become.