By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Episode 1,172)
Live from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at Paycom Center
Aired February 4, 2022 on Fox
A video package aired that focused on the story between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns that played out at the Royal Rumble PPV. After the video, Pat McAfee and Michael Cole joined in on commentary, and Roman Reigns made his entrance in the arena. Roman was joined by The Usos and Paul Heyman. As he made his entrance, more footage aired of the match between Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.
Once in the ring, Paul Heyman opened on the mic and said he was there as special counsel to the Tribal Chief Roman Reigns. He said they bothered to come there tonight to acknowledge what really happened. Paul mentioned uncomfortable truths, and said there was no plot or conspiracy to make Brock Lesnar look foolish, even though he looks like a damn fool anyway. He said the trajectory of the entire industry unfolded on Sunday, and he was forced to acknowledge what he said in Chicago a few weeks ago that made him look foolish.
Paul said he got fired after telling Roman Reigns that he was protecting him from Brock Lesnar, but he knew in his heart that wasn’t the truth. Heyman admitted to making the biggest mistake of his career, and that he deserved to be fired for him. Paul then said COVID infected the wrong person, and Roman Reigns couldn’t make Day 1, and so he pulled some strings to save his own career and got Brock Lesnar into the Fatal Five Way.
Heyman then said everything was in place except him, because he knew all along he could never be happy with a farmer from Saskatchewan who just wanted to take people to suplex city. So when Roman Reigns offered him the hand of family, forgiveness, and the hand of the bloodline, he accepted it and took his rightful place at his side. That allowed Roman to smash Lesnar in the face with the WWE Title, and allowed Bobby Lashley to defeat Brock Lesnar. He then said that the title vs title winner take all match will never happen, because Brock Lesnar will not get what he wants, he will get whatever Roman Reigns allows him to have.
Paul then acknowledged Roman Reigns, and led the crowd in acknowledging Roman as their Universal Champion. Before he could finish, Bill Goldberg’s music hit and he headed to the ring. Roman looked at Goldberg in disbelief as he got to the ring. Goldberg told Roman Reigns that he acknowledged him……..as his next victim. He then laid out a challenge for the Elimination Chamber for the Universal Championship, and said you’re next. Cole said this match was supposed to happen at WrestleMania two years ago, but didn’t happen.
The announce team hyped up Drew McIntyre, Ronda Rousey, and Ricochet vs. Ridge Hollard for later. Sheamus and Ridge Holland made their entrance…[c]
My Take: An uneven opening segment. Parts of Heyman’s speech were fun, but others kind of meandered and didn’t make a lot of sense. It’s condensed in my report because trying to follow it was a little harder than usual. Goldberg’s return will be divisive as usual. He might be a draw in Saudi Arabia, but he’s long past his prime, and the matches tend to reflect that.
Ricochet made his entrance after the break. His new music sucks. He was accompanied by Cesaro.
1. Ricochet vs. Ridge Holland: Ricochet danced around early on, but Holland quickly took over by using his power. Ricochet adapted and sent him to the floor. He attempted a baseball slide, but Holland caught him and bounced him face first off the apron. Cesaro jawed with Sheamus on the outside, and Holland tossed Ricochet back into the ring. Ricochet quickly landed a facebuster of sorts and got the win.
Ricochet defeated Ridge Holland at 2:20
After the match, Sheamus yelled at Ricochet and Cesaro but everyone remained at ringside. Incoming impromptu match…[c]
My Take: Nothing to get very excited about here…
2. Ricochet and Cesaro vs. Ridge Holland and Sheamus: The match was joined in progress with Sheamus landing clubbing blows. He then clotheslined Cesaro back into the ring from the apron. Holland tagged in and landed elbow and knee drops. Cesaro created some separation with a jawbreaker. Ricochet and Sheamus entered the match, and Ricochet took him out with a flying forearm and a cross body. Cesaro tagged in again and landed a heavy clothesline.
Ricochet dove on Holland on the floor and nobody was home. Holland then sent him into the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Ceasro and Sheamus traded blows in the ring. They climbed the turnbuckle in the corner and Cesaro pulled Sheamus back into the ring with a suplex. Holland blind tagged Sheamus while he was on his way down, and landed and planted Cesaro with a slam for the win.
Ridge Holland and Sheamus defeated Ricochet and Ridge Holland at 5:34
After the match, the announce team threw to a sneak peak of WWE 2K22…[c]
My Take: That match felt like what was supposed to happen on the Day 1 Pre-Show. I understand why they want to establish the Holland and Sheamus partnership, but Cesaro and Ricochet could use more to do. They are desperately underutilized.
Cole mentioned Ronda Rousey again. The Usos were already in the ring. The Viking Raiders then made their ring entrance. Erik and Jimmy are competing in a singles match.
3. Erik vs. Jimmy Uso: Erik landed a slam early and then a driving knee. He went to the second rope, and Jey Uso jumped on the apron for a distraction. Ivar attempted to even the odds, but Jey avoided him and he crashed and burned on the floor. Jimmy then dropped Erik with a kick and landed an Uso splash for the win.
Jimmy Uso defeated Eric at 2:10
After the match, The Usos quickly bailed and the announcers transitioned to a video package about the ongoing feud between Aliyah and Natalya. They will face each other next. Aliyah made her entrance before the break…[c]
My Take: We might fit 6 matches in before the second hour at this rate.
Natalya made her ring entrance.
4. Natalya vs. Aliyah: Natalya rushed in, but got rolled up for two right out of the gate. Aliyah followed up with a head scissors and then a bulldog for a near fall. The match spilled to the outside, and the referee began the count. At the last moment, Aliyah sent Natalya into the barricade and snuck into the ring to get a count out win.
Aliyah defeated Natalya via Count Out at 4:08
After the match, Drew Gulak appeared next to Shotzi backstage. Drew McIntyre walked by them with his sword…[c]
My Take: I guess Aliyah’s winning streak against Natalya stays alive. The crowds seem to be getting behind her, but I think she needs to develop a better defined personality at some point to really find success.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance while video of the attack on him by Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss was shown. Drew addressed his injury, and said a doctor told him after Day 1 that he wouldn’t make the Royal Rumble or WrestleMania. He then said he told the doctor to kiss his ass, and got to rehab 3 times a day for 7 days a week and now he’s back. Drew said he had something to settle with Brock Lesnar, and they’d get to that, but right now his full attention is on Corbin and Moss after they tried to end his career.
Corbin walked out and asked Drew if it was worth it to do all that work to come back just to get thrown out like a bag of garbage by Brock Lesnar. Madcap Moss tried to sneak up on McIntyre from behind, and he pointed his sword at him. Drew asked Moss to tell a joke. Moss started a joke about Oklahoma, but he was interrupted and asked him to tell a Drew McIntyre joke. He then mocked McIntyre for not getting to go to WrestleMania, and in response Drew gave him a Claymore. He then told Corbin he’d make his life hell every single week, and this was just the beginning.
The announce team then aired some footage at the Jackass Forever premiere, and showed the confrontation between Johnny Knoxville and Sami Zayn. Knoxville hit him with a Cattle Prod until he left. Backstage, Zayn demanded to know why Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce allowed that footage to make it to television. He demanded his Intercontinental Title Match, and they offered it next week. Sami said he wouldn’t be ready next week, and so it will happen on 2/18. Sonya offered to invite Johnny Knoxville, and Sami said she was a comedian.
Natalya then stormed in and demanded a dungeon style match next week with Aliyah, pinfall or submission only. Sonya said that sounds great. In the arena, Rick Boogs made his entrance for Shinsuke Nakamura, but his guitar didn’t work so it was really awkward…[c]
My Take: Poor Boogs, he was stuck with a very expensive air guitar. Drew McIntyre must have sneezed in front of Vince McMahon, because this whole Corbin angle feels like an extended punishment.
Jinder Mahal made his entrance after the break. Sami Zayn then walked out to join in on commentary.
5. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jinder Mahal: Nakamura landed an axe kick and a sliding dropkick to start. He then sent Mahal into the corner and placed him in the ropes for a sliding German Suplex. Mahal recovered and avoided Nakamura’s attempt at Kinshasa. He then landed a side slam and followed up with strikes. Mahal landed a rising knee strike and covered for a near fall. Nakamura weathered the storm and made a comeback, eventually finishing off Mahal with a Kinshasa.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Jinder Mahal at 3:09
After the match, Nakamura laid the title down on the mat and pointed at Sami Zayn. The announce team then aired footage of Golderg’s return earlier in the show…[c]
My Take: Shinsuke Nakamura could have had a great IC Title run if they would have had him regularly defend it against a variety of guys. But instead it just feels like he’s been hiding in plain sight for six months.
Video aired of Naomi and Sonya’s conflict at the Royal Rumble PPV. Backstage, Naomi approached Sonya and demanded she meet her in the ring in 5 minutes. Sonya replied that next week she already had a match against Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Naomi said she didn’t believe her because she’s a liar, and Adam Pearce stepped in and confirmed the match. Naomi thanked him.
The announce team then aired a video package that featured Golderg’s history, in case you forgot. Back in the arena, Big E and Kofi Kingston made their entrance. They will face Los Lotharios next…[c]
My Take: Commercials might outpace the match time tonight.
Madcap Moss vs.Drew McIntyre was announced for Elimination Chamber. Backstage, Natalya was interviewed and asked about her Dungeon Style match for next week. She decided to go tell Aliyah right now, but when she approached the trainer’s room, Xia Li walked out. Natalya thought better of it and left. Los Lotharios made their ring entrance in the arena. Footage was shows of Kofi and Big E clowning on them during a photo shoot earlier.
6. New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston vs. Los Lotharios (Angel Garza and Humberto Carillo): Big E speared Garza in the corner to start. Kofi then tagged in and did a splash in the corner, followed by a lariat from Big E. Carillo tagged in, and ate a lariat from Big E as well. Kofi entered and kicked Carillo in the chest. Garza then caused a distraction, and the heels started beating down Kofi in their corner. The action spilled outside, and Kofi got clipped by a superkick in midair from Garza as he tried to dive on Carillo…[c]
Carillo and Garza dominated Kofi. They landed a double team splash and a leg drop. Garza threw his shirt at Big E, which caused the ref to keep him out of the ring. They then landed a double team kick and a suplex for a near fall. Carillo took to the top rope and went for a moonsault, but Kofi got his feet up.
Big E got the hot tag and landed some overhead throws on Garza, followed by a belly to belly suplex. He then gyrated and landed a Big Splash. He fired up the crowd with New Day Rocks chants, and went for the Big Ending. Garza landed a backstabber. Big E fired back with a uranage. New Day landed a double team bulldog, but Garza broke up the pinfall. Big E missed a spear to the outside and took a nasty fall. Carillo and Garza landed a Doomsday Dropkick for a close near fall.
Garza went for the Wing Clipper, but he escaped to tag Big E. They then hit a double team Big Ending DDT for the win.
New Day defeated Los Lotharios at 8:58
After the match, we got a video recap of Rousey’s presence at the Royal Rumble. After the video, Charlotte Flair’s music played and she headed to the ring…[c]
My Take: A very good tag match. WWE has to be more aware of the optics of doing New Day’s entrance, and then immediately showing their Black History month video package with Jackie Joyner Kersey.
Sonya Deville was with Charlotte in the ring. Sonya informed her that she spoke to Becky Lynch before they went on air, and was informed by her that Ronda has planned to choose her for a match at WrestleMania. She then offered Charlotte the floor, and said if she defeats Naomi next week, she could choose her opponent for WrestleMania.
Charlotte grabbed the microphone and said she understood why Ronda would take Becky Lynch, because Mom vs. Mom was the easier path. She then said she would choose her own opponent, and called out Sasha Banks, who wasn’t at the show tonight. She said WrestleMania would be the best and worst day of her life, and said she’d have a contract waiting for her.
Ronda walked out and said it was a game of she said/she said and everybody liked talking about her. Ronda said she didn’t fly across the country in an ice storm to have a chat, she came to show her the family tradition of kicking ass, and she was just one of many she owed an ass beating to. She soaked in the crowd reaction and told Charlotte that she was not special, she was just first, and she would see her at WrestleMania….bitch.
Charlotte dangled the Smackdown Women’s Championship in front of Ronda and said the opportunity would be back in the Main Event of WrestleMania. She called the title her baby, and said it was prettier than Ronda’s. Things started to get physical, but Sonya Deville intervened. She told Ronda that she called the shots, and not her. Charlotte tried a Big Boot in a surprise attack, but Ronda avoided it. Sonya jumped on Ronda’s back, and Charlotte escaped. Ronda then applied an Arm Bar on Sonya, and she tapped out. Ronda stared down Charlotte to end the show.
My Take: You could kind of see the swerve coming, as Becky isn’t a terribly reliable source of information these days, along with the rampant rumors of the planned match. But Ronda was a bit better here than she was on Monday, and going up against Charlotte will make her a bit more sympathetic. Hopefully they can get Ronda through a couple of promos without having the crowd completely turn on her. This leaves Becky without a dance partner at WrestleMania, and I’m hopeful they’ll make the call to pay off the story they started to tell with Bianca Belair at SummerSlam.