WWE SmackDown is on the road to WWE MITB 2023. On this week’s episode, AJ Styles and Mia Yim are set to battle Karrion Kross and Scarlett in a mixed tag team match and there will be a tag team gauntlet featuring Street Profits, Brawling Brutes, The O.C., Legado Del Fantasma, and Pretty Deadly to determine the next number one contenders for Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s Undisputed Tag Team Titles. Since Karrion Kross and Scarlett are a legitimate power couple and Pretty Deadly is the only heel team in the gauntlet, they will win their respective matches.
There are other big title matches scheduled for the next two weeks of SmackDown, such as Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler vs. Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn for the Undisputed Women’s Tag Titles and Asuka (c) vs. Charlotte Flair for the WWE Women’s Championship. Meanwhile, the MITB Ladder Match seems to be set on the SmackDown side of things with Iyo Sky, Bayley, Zelina Vega, Butch, Santos Escobar, and LA Knight qualifying on the past two episodes. LA Knight is the most popular choice in the MITB Ladder Match, but he very well could be a red herring after all is said and done.
Speaking of LA Knight in the MITB Ladder Match, the following will focus on what’s next for Goldberg in what should be an exciting episode of WWE SmackDown.
WWE SmackDown is scheduled to take place on June 16, 2023, live on FOX and Goldberg will replace LA Knight in the MITB Ladder Match.
Whose game is it? Goldberg’s game! Indeed, Goldberg still has that itch to add some closure to his career. Instead of waltzing into the ring to tell the champ that he’s NEXT and request a title shot, he can just use MITB to cash in whenever he wants and go on one last run with the world title before passing the torch to someone else. The MITB was created for rising stars to make a name for themselves and finagle their way to a title shot, but WWE does have a proclivity of giving MITB to established stars and even part-timers like John Cena, Randy Orton, and Brock Lesnar.
This year, the WWE has six scheduled contestants for the MITB Ladder Match this year: (1) Ricochet, (2) Shinsuke Nakamura, (3) Damian Priest, (4) Butch, (5) Santos Escobar, and (6) LA Knight. Although all the participants are full-time wrestlers chomping at the bit, the WWE’s field of Men’s MITB Ladder Match participants is as mid as it can get. The MITB is supposed to lead to a future world title shot. Other than Nakamura, who got more than one world title shot in his career, the other five contestants either got one title shot or none at all on the main roster.
Ricochet had one embarrassing world title shot in his career against Brock Lesnar and is merely in this match for the high spots. He has been booked as Bronson Reed’s punching bag and will likely be screwed by Reed in the match since Reed is salty about losing to him on Raw. Damian Priest only recently had a world title shot against Seth Rollins and he is way too entangled in Judgment Day dissension to the point that it is highly possible he will get screwed by either Finn Balor or his protege, JD McDonagh, after their recent tensions and suspicious conversations backstage.
The superstars who never got a world title shot on the main roster are basically all the SmackDown participants: (1) Butch, (2) Santos Escobar, and (3) LA Knight. Butch is merely in this match because he is from the UK, where MITB is located, but he is just a sidekick in the Brawling Brutes and has not been booked with the credibility and momentum to be a future world champion. Like Butch, Santos Escobar is also just a sidekick in the LWO and has also not yet been booked with the credibility and momentum to be a future world champion.
Quite ironically, the most popular pick and the current betting fan favorite for this year’s MITB is actually one of those superstars who got absolutely no world title shots on the main roster and his name is LA Knight. LA Knight is the classic example of someone who is trending and getting over for his meme-like catchphrases rather than his pro wrestling skills and long-term storytelling abilities. To be a world champion, a superstar needs those diversified, multifaceted attributes. Unfortunately, for LA Knight, his gimmick is one-dimensional and has a short shelf life.
If the WWE and its fans truly face the facts here, LA Knight has not done one compelling story since he arrived on the main roster. His feud with Bray Wyatt was eminently boring and uneventful to the point that the fans are still waiting on the reveal of Uncle Howdy. LA Knight was not even booked well enough to have a match or segment at WrestleMania, yet WWE is pushing for him to be Mr. MITB and a future world champion of this company. They should build him up as a mid-card champion before taking this massive leap within the grand scheme of hotshot booking.
It would have been nice to see him prove himself as a U.S. Champion in WWE territory before entering the main event scene. At the end of the day, of course, it is beneficial to strike while the iron is hot once a superstar resonates with the crowd, and WWE can still do that for him in the mid-card. However, it should not be done under the circumstances of a knee-jerk main event title shot for someone who has not been built with enough momentum and credibility for such a feat. It will only lead to his downfall, and such a move can be pernicious for the future of pro wrestling.
Furthermore, the last thing anyone wants is for LA Knight to either fail his MITB cash-in or even cash in on a mid-card championship like Austin Theory did last year. The MITB Briefcase needs its prestige back with long-term storylines, teased cash-ins for storyline purposes, and successful cash-ins. If WWE cannot provide that this year with its current lineup, it may be time to call up Goldberg to replace LA Knight and get the job done because at least he is someone WWE can undoubtedly count on to cash in successfully and win the big gold. YEAH!
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