One day after dropping a huge announcement about the upcoming WWE brand split between Raw and SmackDown, USA Network presents one of the strongest Thursday Night SmackDown lineups in recent memory, weeks before the show moves permanently to Tuesday nights. WWE has decided that the influx of New Era talent has overloaded the roster to the point that WWE Monday Night RAW and WWE SmackDown will once again have distinctive brands and rosters, complete with a WWE Draft.
The brand split doesn’t go into effect until July 18 and 19, when SmackDown begins airing live on the USA Network just 24 hours after RAW. On this week’s WWE SmackDown, WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz defends his title against Cesaro, while WWE United States Champion Rusev defends his strap against former champion Kalisto. In addition to the title matches, Zack Ryder faces off against Alberto Del Rio to claim one of the three remaining MITB Ladder Match spots. Seth Rollins will be on hand to address his WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match against Roman Reigns, and Michael Cole is scheduled to interview Dean Ambrose.
— WWE (@WWE) May 25, 2016
SmackDown spoilers are currently available for tonight’s show, but a spoiler-free preview follows. Following the spoiler-free match list for this week’s SmackDown is an updated card for next month’s Money in the Bank 2016. This episode of WWE Thursday Night SmackDown, airing on the USA Network on May 26, was taped in Norfolk, Virginia, on May 24.
WWE SmackDown match-list preview: May 26, 2016
- Money in the Bank Qualifying Match: Zack Ryder vs. Alberto Del Rio — Three spots remain for next month’s marquee match-up, and one of them will go to the winner of this match.
- WWE United States Championship Match: Rusev (c) vs. Kalisto — Kalisto dropped the title to Rusev at Extreme Rules. This is his obligatory rematch.
- Natalya vs. Dana Brooke — After causing a distraction that would lead to Charlotte’s victory at Extreme Rules, Dana Brooke could be the object of Natalya’s wrath.
- Goldust & R-Truth vs. Fandango & Tyler Breeze — Will the outcome be any different in the rematch between Golden Truth and their eccentric opponents?
- WWE Intercontinental Championship Match: The Miz (c) vs. Cesaro — After defeating Maryse’s husband on RAW, can Cesaro do it one more time when the title is on the line?
Intercontinental Champion— Zakiokawwe (@Zakioka_wwe) May 23, 2016
with Maryse pic.twitter.com/wYJSnaJsa0
In addition to those matches tonight, the following story arcs are addressed.
- Michael Cole interviews Dean Ambrose about the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. It should be duly noted that several of Dean’s MITB opponents will be in the building while he’s conducting this interview.
- Enzo Amore and Big Cass cut a promo and are paid a visit by an opposing team that doesn’t like listening to Long Island’s contribution to WWE’s New Era.
- A backstage interview with Rusev and Lana, and another with AJ Styles.
I wish somebody would look at me the way Lana looks at Rusev pic.twitter.com/Ie75Ea7jXv— JOSHUA (@JoshuaGraham93) May 23, 2016
- Charlotte provides guest commentary during the match between Dana Brooke and Natalya.
- A video package airs for the Golden Truth.
- Seth Rollins will address the WWE Universe regarding his upcoming match with Roman Reigns at WWE Money in the Bank.
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Updated WWE Money in the Bank 2016 Match-List
- WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match — Roman Reigns (c) vs. Seth Rollins
- Money in the Bank Ladder Match — Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro vs. Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose vs. TBD vs. TBD vs. TBD
Where To Watch
USA airs WWE Thursday Night SmackDown weekly at 8/7c. Episodes of WWE SmackDown are made available to stream on-demand through the WWE Network several weeks after the episodes air on the USA Network. Replays of SmackDown are made available on-demand with a Hulu Plus subscription beginning Friday.
WWE Money in the Bank 2016 airs live on the WWE Network on Sunday, June 19 at 8/7c. The Money in the Bank Kick-off Show begins at 7/6c.
[Image via WWE]